6th 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 -- Rankin Rough & Readies (raised in Rankin County, MS)

Company B -- New Guard (raised in Rankin County, MS)

Company C -- Quitman Southrons (raised in Leake County, MS)

Company D -- Lowry Rifles (raised in Smith County, MS)

Company E -- Lake Rebels (raised in Scott County, MS)

Company F -- Crystal Springs Guards (raised in Copiah County, MS)

Company G -- Rockport Steel Blades (raised in Copiah County, MS)

Company H -- Simpson Fencibles (raised in Simpson County, MS)

Company I -- Rankin Greys (raised in Rankin County, MS)

Company K -- East Mississippi Greys (raised in Scott County, MS)

 

Colonel -- John J. Thornton, wounded at Shiloh, resigned; Robert Lowry, promoted as Brigadier-General February 4, 1865. Lieutenant-Colonels -- Enoch R. Bennett, to May, 1862; A. Y. Harper, Thomas J. Borden. Majors -- Robert Lowry, to reorganization; J. R. Stevens, Thomas J. Borden, W. T. Hendon. Surgeon -- William Aills. Assistant Surgeon -- Jackson L. Riley. Quartermaster -- John P. Stevens. Commissary -- Edward G. Williams. Adjutant -- Abram B. Willis; William Thornton, to May, 1862. Chaplain -- Joseph W. Ard. Sergeant-Major -- William Sharkey, discharged, disability, 1861.

Aggregate original enrollment, 601 officers and men. No data to show promotion of company officers.

These companies were assigned to the Sixth Regiment, Army of Mississippi, one of the eight provided for by the State organization. The Colonel, Dr. J. J. Thornton, of Brandon, had been commissioned as Captain of the Rankin Greys in 1858, and in 1860 he was commandant of the Second Battalion, Second Brigade, State troops, with the rank of Colonel of Militia. He was noted as the one member of the Constitutional Convention who refused to sign the ordinance of secession.

The companies were mustered into the Confederate States' service for twelve months at Grenada, 24 August, 1861, and the field officers of the regiment were elected September 5. In this election Capt. Cornelius McLaurin received a large vote for Lieutenant-Colonel, but was defeated. September 9, Colonel Thornton was ordered by Gen. Reuben Davis, commanding State troops, to concentrate his companies in a regimental encampment. Later in the same month the regiment was at Trenton, Tenn., whence it moved to Union City, where, October 14, the regiment received orders from General Polk, at Columbus, Ky., to be in readiness to follow General Hardee to Bowling Green. Under the orders of Col. P. R. Cleburne, Brigade Commander, the regiment moved to Kentucky in the last of October, and was reviewed by General Hardee at Bowling Green, November 3.

When the regiment was received into the Confederate service it was numbered the Seventh by the War Department, and that number was applied to it in official documents for some time, though in November the original number was restored.

In the organization in Kentucky, the Sixth was in Cleburne's Brigade, the Second of the First Division, Central Army of Kentucky, Colonel Thornton being the senior Colonel of the brigade, and when Cleburne took command of Hindman's Division February 12, Thornton commanded the brigade.

In Kentucky the regiment suffered from typhoid fever and measles so that only 150 men were fit for duty, some of the companies being reduced to 10 or 25 men. Some died in hospital at Nashville and elsewhere and many officers were compelled to resign on account of sickness. So severe was this affliction that nearly all the company officers joined in a "round robin" asking that the regiment be sent to some fixed station to recruit.

After the fall of Fort Donelson the Confederate forces were concentrated at Corinth under Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, whence they moved early in April, 1862, to attack Grant's army at Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River. The Sixth Regiment went into the battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, with Cleburne's Brigade of Hardee's Corps.

The first attack, on the morning of the 6th, was by Federal skirmishers upon Hardcastle’s Battalion, pickets of Hardee's Corps, after which Hardee ordered an advance. Cleburne's Brigade rushed forward toward the Federal camps, in a place where they were outflanked and embarrassed by a morass in their front that broke the line. "They came under a very destructive fire, and though the Sixth Mississippi charged through the encampments they suffered," Cleburne said, "a quick and bloody repulse." But "again and again, unaided, the Sixth Mississippi charged the enemy's line, and it was only when the regiment had lost 300 officers and men killed and wounded, out of an aggregate of 425, that it yielded and retreated in disorder over its own dead and dying. Colonel Thornton and Major Lowry, the field officers, were both wounded. It would be useless," Cleburne wrote, "to enlarge on the courage and devotion of the Sixth Mississippi. The facts as recorded speak louder than any words of mine." Afterward about 60 men reformed, and remained in battle until after noon, when "Captain Harper, commanding the remnant of the regiment, marched it to the rear. Its terrible loss in the morning, the want of all its field and most of its company officers, had completely disorganized it and unfitted it for further service." (Cleburne).

The casualties of the regiment were 48 killed, 247 wounded. Among the seriously wounded were Sergeant-Major Thornton, Captains Alford and Finch, Lieutenants Enochs and Mangum.

Sixth Regiment, 165 effective, in Marmaduke's Brigade of Hardee's Corps, at Corinth, return of April 26. Then transferred to Breckenridge's reserve corps. In camp near Corinth, May 8, the regiment, by order of General Beauregard, had an election of field and company officers. Colonel Thornton was re-elected, Capt. A. Y. Harper was elected Lieutenant-Colonel and Lieut. J. R. Stevens Major. Colonel Thornton’s resignation was accepted May 25, after which Major Lowry was elected Colonel. Corinth was evacuated in the latter part of May and the army fell back to Tupelo. The Sixth was in camp near Baldwyn June 2. Afterward it moved with Breckenridge's command to the support of Vicksburg during the naval attack which began May 20, and continued until July 27, and in this period was included in the brigade of Gen. J. S. Bowen, mainly Trans-Mississippi regiments. Immediately after the operations against Vicksburg ceased Breckenridge moved his command to Louisiana and attacked the Federal garrison at Baton Rouge, August 5. A few days after the battle Breckenridge occupied Port Hudson, and "General Bowen, who had just arrived, was left with his command on the Comite River," to cover the line of communications. August 19 General Breckenridge, in obedience to orders, moved with part of his command to Jackson Miss., where the Sixth, with Bowen's Brigade, was assigned to Major-Gen. M. Lovell's Division of the army of Maj.-Gen. Earl Van Dorn. Van Dorn moved to Davis Mill, while General Price occupied Iuka, where he was attacked by Grant September 19. Van Dorn and Price then concentrated at Ripley and marched September 29 to attack Rosecrans at Corinth, where a desperate battle was fought October 3-5.

Colonel Lowry's Regiment was held in reserve during the carrying of the outer line of defences. On the 4th the whole brigade advanced to within 600 yards of a redoubt and skirmished for some time until ordered to retire, being under a destructive artillery fire. The brigade was again engaged at the Tuscumbia River bridge on the 5th, acting as rear guard for Van Dorn's army. Brigade casualties, 28 killed, 92 wounded, 40 missing.

January, 1863, Col. Robert Lowry, commanding, in Rust's Brigade of Gen. Gardner's Port Hudson army, Third Military District. Rust's Brigade was assigned to Loring's Division by Gen. Pemberton, January 21. The Sixth was not returned as included in the brigade or division January 3 1 1863. Brigade ordered from Jackson to Big Black River February 9. February 22, ordered to Port Hudson from Edwards. April 6, left Port

Hudson for Jackson. April 13, ordered to Tullahoma, Tenn. This order was countermanded when the Vicksburg batteries were run. April 15, General Rust transferred to Trans-Mississippi department. "The brigade of General Tilghman will consist of the following regiments: Twentieth, Twenty-sixth, Fourteenth, Twenty-third, Thirty-seventh, Fortieth, Sixth and Fifteenth Mississippi." April 17, the Sixth, with First Confederate Battalion and a field battery, in all about 800 men, were ordered from Jackson to reinforce General Bowen at Grand Gulf, increasing his force to 5,000 total, April 21, when the regiment arrived.

When General Bowen, on April 30, 1863, learned that Grant was landing his troops at Bruinsburg, he sent General Green with about 450 of his brigade, a section of Hudson's Battery and Colonel Lowry's Regiment (about 300) to occupy the two roads from Bruinsburg to Port Gibson. At 1 o’clock on the morning of May 1, 1863, Green was attacked, but he repulsed the assault. At sunrise the attack was renewed, the Federal force at the front constantly increasing, but Green and Lowry, supported by reinforcements from Bowen, so persistently pushed back the regiments in their front that not much progress was made by Grant. Bowen wrote that, "arriving on the field between 7 and 8 o'clock, and finding our left very much pressed, I called upon the Sixth Mississippi to charge a battery in front of them, to which they nobly responded." When Green was forced back from the position gained by Lowry, Baldwin's Brigade arrived to continue the fight. The Confederate forces engaged in this battle numbered a little over 5,000 men, with 13 pieces of artillery. The total casualties were 68 killed, 380 wounded, 384 missing; total 832. Among the killed Brig-Gen. Tracy. They held in check the divisions of Osterhaus, A. J. Smith, Hovey, Cart and Logan, of which six brigades reported considerable losses, and five brigades slight losses; the total casualties of McClernand's and McPherson's Corps being 131 killed, 719 wounded, 25 missing; total, 875.

General Green said of the Sixth that "it made a gallant charge in front of the enemy's battery under heavy fire," and of Colonel Lowry that he deserved "the highest commendation for his coolness and promptness in executing every order."

At the battle of Baker's Creek May 16, 1863, Tilghman's Brigade remained on the right of the army and was not engaged except that when the brigade started to move toward the left, "a heavy column of the enemy was seen advancing in line of battle out of the woods immediately around Ellison's house. Col. Robert Lowry, of the Sixth Mississippi Regiment, who was in the rear, was at once directed to throw out a heavy line of skirmishers to protect the movement. Upon the brigade countermarching, this line of skirmishers, composing nearly half the regiment, moving too far to the left, became separated from the brigade, and uniting itself with the left wing of the army, fell back with it; first to Big Black bridge, and thence to Vicksburg, where it is at present under the command of Major J. R. Stevens." (Report of Colonel Reynolds.) The Federal advance occupied the position the brigade had left and skirmishing and artillery firing continued until dark, in the course of which General Tilghman was killed by a shell. The brigade, including a portion of the Sixth, moved with the rest of Loring's command down Baker's Creek in search of another crossing, but turned toward Crystal Springs and finally marched to Jackson. Casualty report: 1z killed, 1 wounded, 27 missing.

The battalion under Major Stevens was attached to Baldwin's Brigade in the Vicksburg lines at first, but reinforced Vaughn's Brigade during the assault of the 19th, continued on active duty with that command during the siege, and was surrendered as prisoners of war, July 4.

May 30, the Sixth, Colonel Lowry commanding, with the Fifteenth, Twentieth, Twenty-third, Twenty-sixth and Fortieth Mississippi, under the brigade command of Col. A. E. Reynolds. Gen. John Adams was assigned to the command of the brigade, which included the Sixth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Twentieth, Twenty-third, Twenty-sixth and Forney's Battalion, return of July 30.

Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, in chief command in Mississippi, with headquarters at Jackson, marched the forces he had collected for the relief of Vicksburg to the Big Black River, encamping July 1 near Brownsville. Vicksburg was surrendered July 4, and Johnston withdrew his troops to Jackson, arriving on the 7th, followed by Sherman, who appeared on the 9th. General Loring's Division occupied the right (or north) of the fortified line, extending around the city west of the river. Sherman intrenched and began a bombardment, planting batteries that commanded the Confederate position and the town. There was continual skirmishing, but the only assault, a weak one, was made on Breckinridge's line, on the left, July 12. When the Federal line had been extended on each flank to Pearl River, Jackson was evacuated on the night of July 16, and the army withdrew to Morton. The total Confederate loss during the siege of Jackson, July 9-16, was 71 killed, 504 wounded, 25 missing. The casualties of the Union forces were 129 killed, 762 wounded, 231 missing.

Colonel Lowry commanding the regiment, Gen. John Adams commanding brigade, in Loring's Division, army of General Polk, January 20, 1864. The division was concentrated at Canton when Sherman began his march from Vicksburg to Meridian. February 1, 1864, General Loring authorized "Colonel Lowry, who is now in command of Adams' Brigade," to go to Jackson and confer with Gen. S. D. Lee, in command of cavalry, concerning the roads and crossings along Pearl River. Loring had given orders to occupy Jackson and attempt to defend it against Sherman, but countermanded the order on the advice of General Lee. Polk's command fell back to Hillsboro and Demopolis, Ala.

March 20, 1864, General Polk detailed Colonel Lowry to "take charge of the expedition against deserters and disloyal men between Pearl River and Tombigbee, south of the Southern Railroad." The general had organized an infantry force for operation in Smith Count)', which started March 21, under command of Lowry, "one of the oldest Colonels in this army and an officer of vigor and decision." Colonel Scott's cavalry and Dumonteil's cavalry cooperated about Honey Island and elsewhere. April 25, Colonel Lowry was thanked for work done and directed to push his operations down Pearl River to its mouth, to clean out Honey Island and drive its occupants into Louisiana. The lower Pearl River country was a refuge for deserters from various regions, who had terrorized the inhabitants of Jones and Smith Counties. General Maury, from Mobile, had failed to restore quiet. Under Colonel Lowry's command was also the Twentieth Regiment. A newspaper report at the time was that he sent from Smith County 500 men and caused the return of at least a thousand to their commands, and from Jones County sent about 150 besides those who returned to their commands. During the expedition 9 men were hung, 2 shot and 1 wounded, and his loss was 1 killed, 2 wounded.

The Sixth was ordered to Rome, Ga., May 14, 1864. Adams' Brigade arrived at Resaca, Ga., May 11, and on the 13th intrenched a line of battle against the advance of McPherson, which was held, with considerable loss from sharpshooters and artillery, until the evacuation, May 16th.

The brigade served with credit during the severe fighting on the New Hope Church line. It was selected for a reconnaissance toward the Federal lines May 31, a movement gallantly made, at a brigade loss of 24 killed, 98 wounded, 4 missing. In the Sixth 12 wounded. They were on the Kenesaw Mountain line during weeks of battle, early in which General Polk was killed. June 27, the Sixth, Colonel Lowry commanding, was the skirmish line of the brigade, and aided in repelling the Federal attack at eight in the morning, and about 10 o'clock, General Featherston reported, "the enemy made a charge on Colonel Lowry with a heavy, close line of skirmishers, supported by a strong reserve immediately in the rear. They charged rapidly with shouting, and were permitted to get in about 150 paces, when a heavy fire was opened upon them and kept up until they got in some seventy yards of the skirmish line, when they wavered, broke, and fled in much confusion." When Johnston's army crossed the Chattahoochee, Adams' Brigade was detached from Loring’s Division for picket duty on the river. At Moore's Mill, on the line of Peachtree Creek, July 19, the evening before the main battle of that name, two companies of the Sixth with the Fifteenth joined in a charge with Reynold's Brigade. About sixty prisoners were taken. The brigade was in the battle of Lickskillet road, July 28, in the trenches during siege of Atlanta until the evacuation, September 1. In the October, 1864, campaign on the Chattanooga and Atlanta Railroad Loring's Division, including Adams' Brigade, captured the garrison at Acworth, October 4, marched as far north as Dalton, thence through the mountains to Gadsden, made a demonstration against Decatur, moved to Tuscumbia and with Stewart's Corps crossed the Tennessee November 20, moved toward the Federal position at Columbia, and marched toward Spring Hill on the 29th. November 30 they pressed closely after Schofield's command, retreating to Franklin and began an attack on the intrenched position about four in the evening. The advanced line was carried, and the men pushed on against the second line of works. The ground over which most of Loring's Division advanced was obstructed by a deep railroad cut and an abatis and hedge of Osage orange, along which obstructions there was a constant and destructive artillery fire, effectually preventing an advance beyond. "With these exceptions," said General Stewart, "the space in front of the enemy's position was perfectly open and swept by a terribly destructive cross fire of artillery from the works and the opposite bank of the Harpeth." "Over this space," wrote Brig.-Gen. J. D. Cox, the Federal commander, "the enemy advanced rapidly and in good order, though suffering very severely, up to the breastworks and made desperate efforts to carry them. Their officers showed the most heroic example and self-sacrifice, riding up to our lines in advance of the men, cheering them on. One general officer (Adams) was shot down upon the parapet itself, his horse falling across the breastwork." "The casualties of the corps," reported Lieut.-Gen. Stewart, "were something over 2,000 in killed, wounded and missing. Among them were many of our best officers and bravest men. Brig.-Gen. John Adams was killed, his horse being found lying across the inner line of the enemy's works." The casualties of Adams' Brigade were the heaviest of the division -- 10 officers and 34 men killed; 39 officers and 232 men wounded, 23 missing. Col. Robert Lowry took command of the brigade, which, on December 9, reported an aggregate present 1,769, effective 1,047, prisoners of war 50. It was the strongest brigade of Stewart's Corps, the old Army of Mississippi. Lieut.-Col. Borden was in command of the Sixth during the operations in front of Nashville. Loring's Division, from December 2, was in position on the front of the corps occupying a front of one mile across the Granny White pike. General Thomas carried this position December 15, Loring's Division gallantly holding a new line and checking a further Federal advance. Next day the corps held its ground until the Confederate line was broken on their left. They recrossed the Tennessee River in the latter part of December and marched to the vicinity of Tupelo.

About the first of February, 1865, the remnant of Loring's Division began the movement to the Carolinas. February 25, they were ordered forward from Augusta, Ga., to Newberry, S.C. In the campaign under Gen. J. E. Johnston against General Sherman, they took part in the battles of Kinston, March 10, and Bentonville, March 19-21. In the latter battle the division was distinguished by a gallant and successful charge. In the reorganization of April 9 a brigade, including an Alabama and a Louisiana regiment, was assigned to Brig.-Gen. Robert Lowry, including the Sixth, Fifteenth, Twentieth and Twenty-third Regiments consolidated as the Fifteenth Mississippi, Lieut.-Col. Thomas B. Graham commanding.

Hostilities were suspended April 18, the army was surrendered April 26 at Durham Station and paroled at Greensboro.

 

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