One of the nice things about researching William was the vast amount of information available about the Civil War. As I mentioned in my post I Asked About…William, William enlisted in the 17th Mississippi Regiment Co. E., a company made up of men from his hometown of Burnsville, Mississippi, about eight miles southeast of Corinth.
Robert A. Moore, a Lieutenant in Co. G of the 17th Mississippi Regiment’s Diary transcribed in a book, “A Life for the Confederacy, from the War Diary of Robert A. Moore” chronicled the travels of the 17th Mississippi until his death on September 19, 1863 at Chickamauga. Knowing that my great-grandfather, William, was there with Robert Moore, made this book very real to me.
Directly after the muster, the 17th Mississippi was sent to Manassas, Virgina. Moore writes in his diary about the trip by rail to Manassas. The Regiment left Corinth at noon on June 12, 1861. Their first stop along the route was Burnsville which was twelve miles and an hour and a half trip by train. Prior to arriving at Burnsville, Moore writes about traveling “through a very poor and low country. Crops look very bad, a good deal of pine, mostly small.” Moore, who was quite the lady’s an, writes “many Tishomingo ladies out. Not many pretty ones.” Thirty to forty minutes later, the train arrived in Iuka which Moore describes as “a very pretty little town. Everything looks so white and nice. Saw a good many nice ladies there. Fell in love with a young lady with a yellow dress on. Think I will stop here if I ever return.” The train then passed into Alabama and arrived at Barton at 2:30 p.m. then on to Tuscumbia, and Courtland and finally arriving at Huntsville at 8:00 p.m. The train continued on eastward through Knoxville and on northeastward to Lynchburg, Virginia.
By July 19, 1861 the 17th, along with the 18th Mississippi and 5th South Carolina were at Camp Walker near Manassas Juncton, Virginia “in a beautiful pine grove” and in August occupied the Leesburg area. On Oct. 22, 1861, the regiment was involved in the battle at Ball’s Bluff which resulted in a confederate victory. Moore writes of this battle “we made a charge through the woods as soon as we got to the battlefield and formed a line of battle…orders were given by Col. Featherston to charge and drive the enemy into the river or drive them into eternity. His clarion voice rung up and down the lines was hard by the enemy on this die and rung among the hills of Maryland and stuck terror to the enemy.”
In November 1861, the regiment had established a camp on Goose Creek about four miles southwest of Leesburg. Private Moore writes on November 7, 1861 “several wagons came in this evening from Manassas loaded with winter clothing for our regiment. All who received anything at all, received more than they can carry. I received nothing at all as there are several boxes for our Compnay behind. Capt. Moreland of Co. E was a little tipsy this evening.” The Regiment remained in their winter quarters until March 1862 when they moved on to Culpepper Courthouse. The daily life in the winter camp was tedious and boring for the soldiers. Moore writes “nothing to relieve the monotony of camp life have but few amusements and fewer books.”
Moore continued to document the journeys and battles of the 17th Mississippi. He notes they participated in the battles of Gettysburg, Bunker Hill and Raccoon Ford in Pennsylvaia. On July 3, 1863, Moore writes “our loss has been heavy and we have accomplished nothing. Gen. Pickett’s division badly demoralized. Our army is badly cut up and disorganized and has failed to carry the enemy’s position which was very strong. The footnote reads “at six in the afternoon, with Sickles still possession of the each orchard, McLaws ordered an assault. The storming columns, ‘yelling like demons, black with smoke and lusting for hand to hand conflict’ pushed the Federals back across Plum Run toward the base of Round Top. Barksdale fell mortally wounded and ‘the remnants of his gallant troops cut their way back with difficulty through the enveloping masses of blue infantry.’ The 17th lost more heavily than any regiment in Longstreet’s command–forty killed and one hundred sixty wounded.
Through the National Archives, I was able to receive copies of William’s Civil War records. All of his records are in the name of W. E. Shultz. For this time period of July-August 1863, these reflect that William was docked one month’s pay for a Regimental Court Martial. Did William commit some infraction during this battle that caused his court martial? Or did he need to go home to take care of family affairs? Although enlisted for only one year, the Conscription Act of 1862 required all enlisted men to extend their tours of duty for two more years. This created great hardship on the men and their families.
On September 20, 1863, the regiment participated in the battle of Chickamauga in which the Confederates were victorious. The 17th Mississippi Regiment lost 12 killed and 75 wounded. Among those killed was the diary writer, Robert Moore.
William received a furlough during May and June, 1864. Furloughs were offered by a lottery system based on two soldiers for every 100 present and were not routinely granted. The furloughs would be granted for a time and then stopped, only to be reinstated when the regiment strength allowed.
The last footnote in Moore’s diary states “with some marching and countermarching, the 17th remained with Longstreet in East Tennessee, enduring great hardships. More than half of the men were at times barefooted and almost naked, when the weather was bitter cold and ground covered with snow.”
Moore, Robert A. A Life for the Confederacy. Ed. James W. Silver. North Carolina: Broadfoot Publishing, 1991.