3rd Mississippi Infantry

 

(from Dunbar Rowland’s "Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898"; company listing courtesy of H. Grady Howell’s "For Dixie Land, I’ll Take My Stand’)

 

Company A -- Live Oak Rifles (raised in Jackson County, MS)

Company B -- Sunflower Dispersers (raised in Sunflower County, MS) [also listed as Co. E]

Company C -- Downing Rifles (raised in Hinds County, MS) [also listed as Co. I]

Company D -- Chunkey Heroes (raised in Newton County, MS) [also listed as Co. B]

Company E -- Biloxi Rifles, aka Biloxi Rifle Guards (raised in Harrison County, MS) [also listed as Co. F]

Company F -- Shieldsboro Rifles (raised in Hancock County, MS) [also listed as Co. H]

Company G -- Gainesville Volunteers (raised in Hancock County, MS) [also listed as Co. K]

Company H -- Dahlgren Guards (raised in Harrison County, MS) [also listed as Co. D]

Company I -- John M. Sharps, aka Yazoo Rebels (raised in Yazoo County, MS) [also listed as Co. C]

Company K -- McWillie Blues (raised in Copiah County, MS) [also listed as Co. A]

 

Colonels -- John B. Deason, until reorganization; Thomas A. Mellon, wounded at Peachtree Creek; James M. Stigler, Third Consolidated, April, 1865. Lieutenant- Colonels -- Robert Eager, resigned; Thomas A. Mellon, to reorganization; E. A. Peyton, resigned; James B. McRae, resigned; Samuel M. Dyer. Majors -- Thomas A. Mellon, E. A. Peyton, Samuel M. Dyer, W. H. Morgan. Adjutants -- Benjamin Jones, 1861; Junius Poindexter, 1862; Fred S. Hewes, 1864.

Total original enrollment, 806 officers and men.

This was the Third Regiment, Third Brigade, Army of Mississippi, Charles G. Dahlgren, Brigadier-General, M. R. Clark, Adjutant-General, headquarters Camp Clark, at Shieldsboro. The organization was not completed until other regiments bearing higher numbers, were in the field. The nucleus of the regiment was the Shieldsboro Rifles and Gainesville Volunteers, which Captain Deason reported in camp at Shieldsboro under his command August 1, 1861. The regimental field officers were elected September 25, 1861. Company I was assigned to the regiment October 14, at Pass Christ/an.

In the fall of 1861, when the coast was menaced by the expedition to Ship Island under General Butler, General Polk, who had established a post at Columbus, Ky., made an urgent demand for reinforcements. In meeting this Gen. Mansfield Lovell, in command of New Orleans and the Mississippi coast, sent north nearly all the troops he had. In the latter part of November, General Lovell called the Third in from Mississippi Sound, and sent it, 800 strong, to the aid of General Polk at Columbus, Ky. There was protested against this by Governor Pettus and President Davis and General Lovell secured the return of the Third in January, 1862, as "a regiment peculiarly adapted to, and indeed, raised mainly for the defense of the intricate coast of Mississippi Sound." It was the plan of Governor Pettus to have three regiments, including the Seventh, Colonel Goode, and a battalion already organized (December, 1861), for coast defense. He said: "The Legislature has made an appropriation of $250,000 to build gunboats on the coast, and force will be required to protect the points at which they are to be constructed."

General Lovell reconnoitered, the enemy January 19, and found twenty-four vessels at Ship Island. "Two of the steamers got under way and drove us back to Pass Christian. Biloxi is not and never has been occupied by the enemy," he then wrote. "The reports about outrages and communications with the enemy are grossly exaggerated." The Third was stationed at Handsboro and Pass Christian. In February, 1862, General Lovell manned two one-gun launches with men of the Third for the defense of Bay St. Louis and Biloxi, but the boats were soon ordered sent to Mobile.

February 24, General Lovell notified Governor Pettus that on the request of General Beauregard he would send the Seventh Regiment to Tennessee: "There will be left as a guard upon the Mississippi coast Colonel Deason's Regiment and two batteries, together with Captain Norman's cavalry. I have heard from Ship Island recently and am convinced that we have little to apprehend from that quarter. I shall add, however, to the troops already near Handsboro, Captains Taylor's and Jones' companies of Mississippi Volunteers, making in all upwards of over 1,200 men."

April 3, 1862, seven companies of the Third were at Handsboro, under Colonel Deason, and three at Pass Christian, when the Federals landed 500 men at Biloxi, the expedition including three steamers. General Mansfield Love1l, commanding on the coast, arranged that Commodore Whittle should attack the enemy's boats with the steamers Carondelet, Pamlico and Oregon, while Deason attacked the troops but the Federals re-embarked, and reinforced with two steamers, compelled the Confederate boats to retire, landed 1,200 men and a battery, at Pass Christian April 4, and burned the camp and part of the clothing and stores of the three companies, which retired to Gainesville. Meanwhile, according to orders, Denson had marched to Biloxi. The regiment afterward returned to Pass Christian. The flag of the Third, captured that day by the Ninth Connecticut, was returned by that command on Connecticut Day at the New Orleans exposition, February 26, 1885, and received on behalf of the regiment by Colonel Dyer and Captain Curran.

In May, 1862, the regiment was re-enlisted for the war and reorganized in camp at Tangipahoa, La.

May 29, 1862, General Lovell, at Camp Moore, La., sent the Third, under Colonel Mellon, and the Twenty-eighth Louisiana, to reinforce Gen. M. L. Smith at Vicksburg. They were on picket duty during the bombardment of May 20 to July 27, 1862, began the work of fortifying Sugar Loaf Hill and remained on the river front guarding against surprise and always ready to meet an attack.

Listed July, 1862, as 35 officers and 476 men present for duty, aggregate present 709, present and absent, 886. In September, in command of Gen. M. L, Smith, Vicksburg, (Col. Mellon), 916 present and absent.

In January, 1863, with Smith and Lee at Vicksburg, aggregate effective 638. During Sherman’s Vicksburg campaign of December, 1862, the Third was stationed at Snyder's Mill, on the Yazoo, an important point, which was threatened but not attacked by land. General Pemberton ordered that the regiment inscribe "Vicksburg" on its battle flag.

January, 1863, Hebert's Brigade, Maury's Division, of Vicksburg army, Gen. C. L. Stevenson commanding. February 13, reported 572 effective present, not brigaded.

General Featherston was given a brigade command about this date, including the Third, which was detached with Hebert at Snyder's Bluff. The brigade operated on the Rolling Fork and Sunflower against Federal expeditions in March, and on March 28 the Third went to Fort Pemberton, at the junction of the Tallahatchie and Yazoo, and was attached to General Loring's command. After this Featherston's Brigade, Loring's Division, was composed of the Third, Twenty-second, Thirty-first, Thirty-third and First Battalion. Colonel Mellon commanding, May 30; Major S. M. Dyer, July 30.

At the battle of Baker's Creek, May 16, Featherstone’s Brigade was first put in line of battle at the right of Pemberton's line, on the Raymond road, and was held in that part of the field, while the battle was raging on their left, where the flank attack was made, until 2 or 3 o'clock in the evening, when they were ordered to the support of Bowen and Stevenson. They marched as rapidly as possible about two miles, preceded by Buford's Brigade, but found no one to give them orders. General Loring formed a line, including a part of S. D. Lee's Brigade, and was about to advance when orders came from General Pemberton that Loring should cover the retreat to Edwards. Featherston accordingly held his brigade in line of battle, the regiments posted to cover the different avenues of approach, and three pieces of artillery playing upon the enemy. Twice the brigade was advanced to new positions, but the last position exposed them to attack in flank and rear, and it was necessary to withdraw. "During this skirmish, and in fact the entire day, my brigade behaved well," Featherston reported. The last position taken was not abandoned until General Loring so ordered, when Featherston moved toward the Baker's Creek Ford, but found that Loring was not crossing there, but seeking a crossing somewhere below. In the night, finding no guide to a crossing. the division turned back toward Crystal Springs and Jackson.

General Osterhaus, commanding the Federal force near the railroad bridge on the Big Black, during the siege ofVicksburg, reported in his front, June 21, the Third, Sixteenth, Twentieth and Twenty-second Mississippi infantry, mounted, under the command of Colonel Lyon, Eighth Kentucky.

Colonel Mellon commanding Featherston's Brigade, Loring's Division, army of General Polk, at Canton when Sherman began his march from Vicksburg to Meridian, February, 1864. The Third was ordered to Jackson February 4, and thence fell back with Polk's command to Demopolis, Ala.

Transferred in the spring of 1864 to Montevallo, Ala., the brigade moved to Resaca in time to take part in the opening battle of the Georgia campaign. Near New Hope Church, May 31, there was a brilliant charge of the skirmish line of Featherston's Brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel McRae commanding the left of the line. The men were not content with driving in the skirmishers but charged the Federal line of works, and suffered a heavy loss, about 100 killed and wounded out of 400 engaged.

In the battle near Kenesaw Mountain or Marietta, June 27, brought on by Federal attack, the Third Regiment, on the skirmish line, under Major Dyer, with Stigler's sharpshooters, in front of the brigade, sustained the attack and held the Federal line in check through the day. repulsing one advance that came within sixty yards of their position, at four in the evening. Featherston reported, "A brisk fire was kept up on this line during the evening, and both the battalion and Third Mississippi Regiment acted with great coolness, courage and determination." Roll of Honor, published August 10, 1864: "Third Mississippi Regiment of infantry, for gallant and meritorious conduct while on picket duty at Kenesaw Mountain, July 2, 1864." In general orders, Private J. W. Patterson, Company C, was commended for gallantry on picket duty, on Kenesaw .Mountain, July 2. In the battle of Peachtree Creek, July 20, Colonel .Mellon commended the regiment, which joined in the gallant charge of the brigade across the creek and gained a position on the summit of a slight elevation, partially protected by a rail fence. Colonel Mellon was severely wounded as this position was gained, and Captain A. F. Ramsey and Lieutenant John P. Gressett were killed. Lieutenant-Colonel Dyer took command, and after losing many of his best men, and being exposed on both flanks, he withdrew from the attack with the brigade. The casualties were 11 killed, 71 wounded, 6 missing. They were again in battle July 28, and after that served in the trenches around Atlanta until the evacuation, September 1.

In his report of the battle of Peachtree Creek, General Featherston gave honorable mention to his staff: Capt. C. P. Neilson, Capt. W. G. Poindexter, Lieuts. A. N. Parker and W. G. Sykes.

In the October, 1864, campaign on the Chattanooga and Atlanta Railroad, Featherston's Brigade captured the Federal post at Big Shanty, was with Loring's Division in the capture of Acworth, and with Stewart's Corps in the destruction of the railroad between Dalton and Resaca, after which they moved through the mountains to Gadsden, Ala., skirmished at Decatur, October 26-29, and moved thence to Tuscumbia.

November 6 Stewart’s Corps formerly known as the Army of the .Mississippi, reported 12,684 aggregate present, and an enrollment of 26,714. On the 20th they crossed the Tennessee River, and after marching to Columbia to confront Schofield's Corps, and toward Spring Hill on the 29th, in the attempt to cut off the Federal retreat, Loring's Division joined in the assault upon the intrenched lines at Franklin November 30. Loring's Division, on the right of Stewart's line, toward the Harpeth River, had to cross a deep railroad cut and an abatis and hedge of Osage orange, exposed to a destructive artillery fire and without much artillery support. The battle raged from four in the evening until late at night, the Confederate line pressing forward again and again with dauntless courage and meeting with terrible loss. General Featherston reported that three flags were lost by his brigade. "The color bearers of the Third and Twenty-second planted their colors on the enemy's works and were wounded and captured with their colors." "The flag of this company [Co. I] was adopted as that of the regiment. James A. Sconyers of this company was the color bearer and the flag of Company I continued to be that of the regiment until the Stars and Bars was chosen by the Confederacy. The flag of Company I was borne in every engagement until the battle of Franklin, when Lieut. John Cherry of the Downing Rifles planted it on the breastworks, and in so doing fell with the flag, wounded, inside the works." (Yazoo County Roster and Sketches.) Lieut.-Col. S. M. Dyer, commanding the Third, was among the wounded. Among the killed were Adjutant L.M. Long, Lieuts. J. T. Young and A. J. Russell, and Ensign J. J. Cherry. The casualties of the regiment were 13 killed, 40 wounded, 20 missing. The casualties of the brigade were: Killed, 16 officers, 60 men; wounded, 22 officers, 178 men; missing, 4 Officers, 72 men. December 9, the return of Stewart's Corps was 8155 aggregate present, 2,317 prisoners of war, and an enrollment of 21,052. On that day Featherston's Brigade had. 1,208 present, 781 effective. They were then before Nashville, Loring's Division occupying an intrenched line one mile long, across the Granny White pike, to support which line redoubts were partly completed on five hills. When General Thomas attacked December 15, Walthall manned the redoubts with his division and French's, and Johnson's Division reinforced them. But two of the redoubts were carried, and the Federal troops pushed down the road, compelling Walthall to abandon the line, "not a moment too soon, and this of itself made it necessary for Loring to withdraw. The latter was also directed to form along the Granny White pike, nearly at right angles to his former position, to check the anticipated rush of the enemy from his and Walthall's fronts. This was gallantly and successfully done by this fine division, the corps retiring to a position between the Granny White and Franklin pikes, when night put an end to the conflict." (Stewart).

Next day, December 16, Stewart's Corps repulsed to the last every attack made upon them, but finally Bate’s line, on their left, was broken, and the entire army retreated in confusion to Brentwood. The old Army of the Mississippi covered the retreat across Duck River December 18-20, and they were again the last to cross at the Tennessee River, December 26-28. Capt. O. H. Johnston was in command of the Third December 10. The return of December 21 showed an aggregate present for the Third of 75, 51 effective. At Columbia, December 20, a rear guard of infantry was organized under the command of General Walthall, including Featherston's Mississippians and six other brigades.

They remained at Columbia confronted by a heavy force of the enemy, until the army had been on the march forty-eight hours, their spirits rising superior to the great misfortunes which had befallen them. On the march they traversed roads covered with snow and ice, numbers of the men without shoes, some without blankets and all poorly clad for the season. At Anthony's Hill, December 25, and at Sugar Creek next day, Featherston's Brigade was distinguished in checking the Federal pursuit, making considerable captures of men and horses.

They reached the vicinity of Tupelo January 8, 1865.

About the first of February, 1865, the remnant of Loring's Division began the movement to reinforce General Johnston in the Carolinas, Sherman having marched to Savannah. They were ordered forward from Augusta. Ga., to Newberry, S. C., February 25. In the Carolina campaign they participated in the battles of Kinston, March 10, and Bentonville, March 19, on the latter day making a gallant charge and suffering heavy losses. Organization of army, near Smithfield, N. C., March 31, 1865, shows Major-General Walthall in command of Stewart's Corps, Featherstone's Brigade commanded by Major Martin A. Oatis, the Third Regiment by Captain John Saucier.

April 9 the Third, Thirty-third and Fortieth Mississippi were consolidated as the Third, Col. James M. Stigler commanding. Stewart's Corps, March 17, including the Mississippi brigades of Featherston and Lowry, had 1,349 present, 890 effective.

Hostilities were suspended April 18, and the army was surrendered, near Durham Station, April 26.

 

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