44th Mississippi Infantry,
aka Blythes Regiment
(raised from 1st MS Infantry Battalion)
(from Dunbar Rowlands "Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898";
company listing courtesy of H. Grady Howells "For Dixie Land, Ill Take My Stand")
Company A -- Tombigbee Rangers (raised in Lowndes County, MS)
Company B -- Mississippi Swampers (raised in Coahoma County, MS)
Company C -- Calhoun Avengers (raised in Calhoun County, MS)
Company D -- Capt. Dockerys Company & Blythe Rifles (raised in Yalobusha County, MS); also, DeSoto Beauregards (raised in DeSoto County, MS)
Company E -- Blythe Rifles (raised in Yalobusha County, MS)
Company F -- Palo Alto Confederates (raised in Chickasaw County, MS)
Company G -- Autauga Guards (raised in Alabama)
Company H -- Pettus Rangers (raised in Marshall County, MS)
Company I -- Sawyers Independent Company (raised in Alabama)
Company K -- Amite Mississippi Rangers, aka Amite Rangers (raised in Amite County, MS)
Company L -- Tom Weldon Rebels, aka Polks Body Guard (raised in Adams County, MS)
September 7, 1861, the battalion of Lieut.-Col. Blythe was assigned to the brigade of Gen. B.F. Cheatham, near New Madrid. Later, Preston Smith commanded the brigade and Cheatham's Division, which included it.
Cheatham, at Columbus, Ky., defeated Grant at Belmont, Mo., November. At his suggestion Melancthon Smith's Mississippi Battery came down to the Kentucky shore and showed that it could bombard Grant without harming the Confederate troops. He took over the Mississippians, then increased to a regiment, under Colonel Blythe, with other regiments, and Preston Smith reported that the men of his brigade "displayed the greatest coolness and determined courage, and although under fire for the first time, bore themselves like veterans, sustaining the reputation of Tennesseans and Mississippians on the glorious battle-fields of New Orleans and Buena Vista." The regiment took part in the attack on the gunboats as Grant was re-embarking.
March 9, 1862, the regiment was listed in Preston Smith's Brigade of Polk's grand division.
Gen. Bushrod Johnson commanded the brigade at the battle of Shiloh, who mentioned the command as Blythe's Mississippi Regiment, Col. A. K. Blythe. In describing the action of the brigade, April 6, General Cheatham said: "Blythe's Mississippi advanced to the left and attacked the enemy, and, wheeling to the right, drove one of the enemy's batteries, with its support, from its position; but as it advanced upon the enemy Colonel Blythe was shot dead from his horse while gallantly leading his regiment forward in the charge. Within a few minutes of his fall Lieutenant Colonel David L. Herron and Capt. R. H. Humphreys, of the same regiment, both officers of merit, were mortally wounded and the command devolved on Major James Moore, under whose direction the regiment was actively engaged during the remainder of the day and throughout the subsequent action of the 7th. The regiment at all times eminently manifested the high spirit which has always characterized the soldiers of Mississippi and no braver soldier than its heroic leader was lost to our cause." Col. Preston Smith, who took command of the brigade after Johnson was wounded, found about 200 men of Blythe's Regiment fit for duty in the next engagenent, but they were of such quality that they were entrusted alone with the support of a battery after the other regiments had fallen back for ammunition. The remnant went through the battle of the 7th also. Colonel Smith gave honorable mention to Lieutenant Brownrigg, Captains Sharpe and Nesbit, and the other company officers whose conduct came under his observation.
With Marcus J. Wright's Tennessee Regiment and Joe Wheeler's Alabamians they reinforced Chalmers in time to take part in the last desperate charge against overwhelming odds. At Corinth, April 26, the regiment was transferred to Trapier's Brigade of Withers' Division, Braggs' Corps. In the reorganization under General Bragg, the regiment was assigned to Chalmers' Brigade, with which it participated in the Kentucky campaign. They took possession of L. & N. at Cave City, and moving thence, Sunday, September 14, 1862, Chalmers attacked the garrison at Munfordville, under Colonel Wilder, strongly fortified, apparently under misapprehension of its strength and advised that Wilder would probably surrender to an assault, being isolated from the Federal army. The result was disastrous. Blythe's Regiment, under Lieut.-Col. Moore, attacked with the Tenth, and endeavored, under heavy fire, to force its way through an abatis. Moore was mortally wounded, and the command fell upon Maj. J. C. Thompson. Capt. W. P. Malone commanded the left of the regiment, which included 281 rank and file. The report of Surgeon D. A. Kinchloe showed 4 killed, 38 wounded. The post was surrendered on the 17th to General Bragg, and Chalmers' Brigade ordered to take possession.
Company K had one man killed at the battle of Perryville, October 8. The brigade was at Danville and Harrodsburg that day, skirmished at Lawrenceburg on the retreat, crossed Cumberland Gap October 20, reached Knoxville on the 31st, and in November advanced from Chattanooga to Murfreesboro.
At the battle of Murfreesboro Chalmers' Brigade was stationed at the right of Polk's Corps, the right of the brigade resting on Stone's River. Rosecrans established his line near them, placing Palmer's Division from the river along the Round Forest and edge of the canebrake. The lines were separated by an open field and Chalmers' men were exposed to the artillery fire from Palmer's line for two days before the crisis of the battle arrived. Polk's Corps attacked at dawn, December 31, but Chalmers' Brigade was not ordered into action until 11 o'clock. The Mississippians charged with gallantry, but the storm of lead and iron that met them at the burnt house struck down General Chalmers and shattered the line of grey. The regiments became separated, but soon rallied, reformed and fought gallantly through the remainder of the battle, which raged about the Round Forest for three days. The casualties of the regiment were 4 killed, 31 wounded, 17 missing.
They fell back to Shelbyville and Tullahoma in January. Order of War Department, June 6, 1863, "the Mississippi Regiment commanded by the late Col. A. K. Blythe, shall be styled the Forty-fourth Mississippi Regiment." In July, 1863, they crossed the Tennessee River, marched over Lookout Mountain and went in camp near Chattanooga. July 13 to August 23, at Bridgeport, Ala., on picket duty; withdrawn as Rosecrans advanced.
The brigade served in the Chickamauga campaign, September, 1863, under the division command of Major-General Hindman, and after the retreat from Chattanooga was in camp at Lee & Gordons mill until the 10th, when the division was ordered to march five miles and go in line of battle against one of the Federal columns coming through the mountains. A battle was expected on the 11th, at Davis' cross roads, Hindman to be supported by Buckner's Corps, but only a skirmish resulted. The brigade was commanded in this affair by Colonel Sharp.
In the battle of Chickamauga the brigade and division were in the command of Lieutenant-General Longstreet, who had brought from Virginia Humphrey's Brigade as a part of his corps. Hindman's was the left division of Longstreet's line. Hood's Division, supported by Humphreys and McLaws, on Sunday, September 20, broke Rosecrans' line of march northward to the support of Thomas. After this, Hindman attacked the Federal line near the Vineyard house, and drove it back upon a strong position near the Widow Glenn house, which, after a severe struggle, Hindman succeeded in taking. He was then sent to support Bushrod Johnson near the Vidito house, and the two divisions, after a long and bloody struggle, gained the heights near the Crawfish Spring road. Bragg could not help them, Thomas having defeated his right wing, but with their success, followed by Buckner's success at the Snodgrass house, the battle was won by Longstreet. Hindman, a veteran of the Second Mississippi Regiment in the Mexican War, was disabled during the battle. He called Anderson to the command of the division, at the close of the day, and Colonel Sharp took command of the Mississippi Brigade. Sharp, in his report for the regiment, told of charging up a hill on which the Federal line was wavering, carrying everything, taking no note of guns taken or the prisoners who passed through the line in great numbers, advanced two miles, captured two stand of colors. Next attacked a blue line strongly posted on a hill and was repulsed three times in confusion, but each time reformed and went in again. "We went into action with 272 officers and enlisted men and lost 81 killed and wounded. Among the killed was Major John C. Thompson, fearless among the fearless." Of him General Anderson wrote in his official report: "A man of education and position at home, of an age far beyond that prescribed by the laws of the land for involuntary service, at the first tocsin of war he enlisted in the ranks and fought as a private at Belmont and Shiloh, having been severely wounded at the latter. His gallantry and services marked him before the men of his State for promotion, which he soon received, and he commanded his regiment with his usual gallantry at the battle of Murfreesboro. On the memorable field of Chickamauga his devotion to the cause of his country has been sealed with the blood of a patriot."
At the close of the battle Longstreet proposed to Bragg to cross the Tennessee River and flank Rosecrans out of Chattanooga, a plan which Bragg adopted long enough for Longstreets troops, including Sharp's Brigade, to march to the Red House ford, whence they were recalled to go into the line of siege around Chattanooga.
November 25, 1863, they participated in the battle of Missionary Ridge and joined in the retreat to Dalton, where they went into winter quarters.
In January, 1864, Col. James Barr was commanding officer of the Tenth and Forty-fourth.
They were in the repulse of Sherman at Rocky Face Ridge, May 8, 1864, and on the field but not actively engaged at the battle of Resaca. "The Fifth Brigade, which was posted in my rear for support, though it had the shelter of the ridge," wrote General Walthall, "sustained considerable loss, mainly from the enemy's artillery. Its commander, Brig.-Gen. W. F. Tucker, was severely wounded while observing the enemy's movements from my position during the first day's engagenent (May 14), and was succeeded in command by Col. Jacob H. Sharp, of Blythe's Regiment. To both these efficient officers I am indebted for valuable suggestions and repeated offers of assistance, for which their command was kept in a constant state of readiness." After this the regiment was commanded by Lieut.-Col. R. G. Kelsey, and at the close of the campaign the Tenth Regiment was also under his command.
The brigade served under General Hood in the constant fighting along the lines of New Hope Church and Kenesaw Mountain in May and June, and until after the battles of Peachtree Creek, July 20, and Atlanta, July 22, in which latter the regiment had considerable casualties. Lieut.-Gen. S.D. Lee took command of the corps July 27, and was ordered to drive the Federal troops from the Lickskillet road west of the city. Sharp's Brigade, which had been moved from east of the city the day before, moved out three miles and attacked the enemy in a strong position on the road. But the right of his line, in traversing a space of more than a quarter mile in front of the Federal line, and flanked by a portion of it, was shot to pieces. "The Forty-fourth," he said, "which was on the extreme right, lost within two of half of its entire number." Gen. Patton Anderson took command of the division, succeeding Gen. John C. Brown, and the men intrenched a line of battle along the hills, constantly approached by the Federal works with incessant skirmishing, which continued until Lee's Corps marched to Jonesboro to meet Sherman's flank movement. General Anderson wrote of the battle of Jonesboro, August 31, that the troops of his front line "were lying down within sixty yards of the enemy's breastworks, and at many points much nearer, keeping up a hot fire upon everything that appeared above the defences. From these defenses, the enemy, too, poured an unremitting fire upon the assailants. Sharp's gallant Mississippians could be seen pushing their way in small parties up to the verry slope of the enemys breastworks. Officers could be plainly observed encouraging the men to this work. One on horseback, whom I took to be General Sharp, was particularly conspicuous." While riding up to Sharp's line, General Anderson was wounded.
In the assault at Franklin, Tenn., November 30, 1864, Johnston's Division charged the works after dark and Sharp's Brigade was distinguished in the desperate struggle, taking three battle-flags and leaving their dead and wounded in the trenches and along the works. Among the wounded was Lieutenant-Colonel Sims, commanding the Tenth and Forty-fourth. Adjutant Humphrey Hardy was the field officer of the regiment, and was missing after the battle. Lieut. B. T. Robertson commanded Companies A, B and K; Capt. T. A. Maxwell commanded Companies C, D, E, F and L. The total casualties in the fragment of a regiment were 2 killed and 13 wounded.
December 15-16 the brigade was in the battle of Nashville, and on December 26 they recrossed the Tennessee River.
The brigade was furloughed until February 12, 1865. Under orders for the Carolinas 274 were assembled a1 Meridian February 14 and started east on the 18th. They were detained some time at Montgomery, on account of the Mobile campaign, but were ordered to Augusta March 4, and thence to North Carolina. April 3 the aggregate present was 420 in the brigade.
Organization of the army near Smithfield, N. C., March 31, 1865, Tenth and Forty-fourth Regiments and Ninth Battalion consolidated under the command of Maj. W. C. Richards. April 9 Sharp's Brigade consolidated as the Ninth Regiment.
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