A Confederate Infantryman’s travels through theWestern andEastern Theaters Ray W. James Sul Ross Camp 1457 Sons of Confederate Veterans
William E. James Pvt. 11 Miss Cav William M. Malone, Jr Pvt. 41st Ala Inf Thomas F. Proctor 3rd Mo Bn(?) Leslie C. James Orena Belle Malone Warren C. Proctor Avie Stella James Raymond Pickett James Orena Ruth Proctor Ray W. James (...no yankees in this woodpile!)
My G-GF Reuben Jeptha Pickett • Born 23 Jan. 1845, Baker County, Georgia • (during his parent’s westward migration from NC to Texas…) • Was a 16 year-old student living near Burnsville, Mississippi, when he enlisted in Co. D, 26th Miss Infantry on Aug. 20, 1861 at Iuka, Mississippi • Enlisting officer: Capt. D.M.B. Reid
The 26th Mississippi Infantry • The 26th Miss Regt was organized and commanded by Col. Arthur E. Reynolds • Said to be the first regiment to leave the state for CSA service • Mustered 401 soldiers in Feb. 1862 • (12 surrendered at Appomattox!) • R. J. Pickett had a lifelong affection for his regiment
His military record • Enlisted as a Private on 8/20/61 • His Co. D was mustered into service 9/1/61 • Appointed Corporal on 9/1/63 • Promoted to 5th Sgt on 4/1/64 • Promoted to 1st Sgt (Orderly Sgt) on 1/6/65 • “He has a phenomenal fighting record. He didn't miss a single engagement in which the 26th participated until 2/6/65 when he was absent due to sickness,” 26th Miss. historian Steve Hardwick.
The 26th Miss at Ft. Donelson • The 26th Miss, in Baldwin’s Brigade, Pillow’s Division, was stationed at the extreme left of the Confederate lines • The 26th Miss was in the thick of the battle on 15 Feb (the third day), leading the charge as the left pushed forward, breaking through the encircling federal forces • Forrest’s Cavalry Brigade accompanied the infantry in this action
The frustration of surrender • On 16 Feb 1862, he was surrendered with Gen. Buckner’s forces at Ft. Donelson. • The surrender was the result of poor and uncoordinated leadership in the West early in the war. • Forts Henry and Donelson were poorly located, poorly designed and inadequately supported. • Floyd and Pillow together proved too incompetent and indecisive to allow Gen. Buckner any chance at success. A. S. Johnston was inadequately informed and unable to manage from a distance.
To a yankee POW camp... • After the surrender at Ft. Donelson in February 1862, he was imprisoned first at Camp Chase (Columbus,Ohio) and then at Johnsons Island, in Lake Erie. • Most privates were sent to Camp Morton (Indianapolis)--Camp Chase held mostly officers.
Paroled and exchanged • In Sept. 1862, after 7 months as a POW, he was paroled at Vicksburg, and he rejoined his regiment to participate in the Vicksburg campaign. • His regiment was reorganized and assigned to Van Dorn at Holly Springs, Miss. • Fought at • Coffeeville, Miss. (Dec. 5, 1862) • Ft. Pemberton on the Yazoo (Mar.-Apr. 1863) • Served as Orderly for the Chief of Artillery
Chasing Grierson’s raiders • His regiment was mounted as “mule cavalry” in a “bootless search for Grierson” during the most famous yankee cavalry raid (600 miles from Lagrange, Tennessee to Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
In the Vicksburg campaign • Willow Creek, Miss (May 3, 1863) • Champion Hill, Miss; also known as Baker’s Creek (May 16, 1863) • The 26th Miss, detatched and serving in Gen. Tilghman’s brigade, supported the battery where “the brave Lloyd Tilghman fell” in a rearguard action and held open “at all costs” the Raymond Road over Baker’s creek. • This valiant rearguard action allowed the escape of most of Pemberton’s army into Vicksburg. • However, the 26th, with Loring’s division, was cut off and in a forced night march escaped to rejoin Johnston’s army at Jackson.
From the diary of S. Byers,5th Iowa Inf, at Champion Hill “...On the edge of a low ridge we saw a solid wall of men in gray, their muskets at their shoulders blazing into our faces and their batteries of artillery roaring as if it were the end of the world. Bravely they stood there. They seemed little over a hundred yards away. There was no charging further by our line. We halted, the two lines stood still, and for over an hour we loaded our guns and killed each other as fast as we could. The firing and the noise were simply appalling.”
From the diary of S. Byers,5th Iowa Inf, at Champion Hill “..I have been in what history pronounces greater battles than Champion Hills, but only once did I ever see two lines of blue and gray stand close together and fire into each other’s faces for an hour and a half...” “...Nearby lay the remains of a Rebel battery. Every horse and most of the cannoneers lay dead in a heap, the caissons and the gun carriages torn to pieces by our artillery. Never in a any battle had I seen such a picture of complete annihilation of men, animals, and material as was the wreck of this battery...”
Courier duty...and well-paid! • Mr. Pickett was on special duty as a courier at the Brigade Headquarters of Gen'l John Adams from 6/16/63 to 8/22/63. • (but, he emphasized, “at no time was I not a part of the 26th Mississippi Infantry regiment!”) • He was compensated $99.00 for his service from 10/31/62 to 7/31/63, $11/month
After the fall of Vicksburg • Johnston’s army was forced by the advance of Grant and Sherman to retreat to Jackson • Siege of Jackson, Miss. (July 1863) • Ten days of incessant fighting • Meridian (Miss) Campaign (Feb.-Mar. 1864)
Eastward to join Gen’l. Lee • In March 1864, the 26th Miss was detached with the 1st Conf Bn (mostly Alabama men), and sent to the Army of Northern Virginia • The 26th Miss became part of Davis’ Mississippi Brigade, Heth’s Division, Hill’s Corps, ANV. • Gen. Joseph R. Davis was a nephew of Pres. Jefferson Davis • Pickett was stationed on the Rapidan (he wrote, “Rapid Ann”) River, near Orange Courthouse
In the Army of Northern Virginia • The Wilderness, Va. (May 5-6, 1864) • Spotsylvania, Va. (May 8-21, 1864) • North Anna, Va. (May 23-26, 1864) • Bethesda Church, Va. (May 31, 1864) • Cold Harbor, Va. (June 1-3, 1864) • Siege of Petersburg, Va. (June 1864-Apr. 1865) • Weldon Railroad, Va. (Aug. 18-22, 1864) • Burgess’ Mill, Va. (Oct. 27-28, 1864) • Hatcher's Run, Va. (Feb 5-7, 1865) • Appomattox Campaign (Mar. 25-Apr. 9, 1865)
The Battle of the WildernessMay 5-6, 1864 • Three weeks after their arrival in Virginia, the battle-hardened 26th Miss Inf, brigaded with the 2nd, 11th, and 42nd Miss Regts, the 55th NC, and the 1st Conf Bn marched as the vanguard of Hill’s Corps east on the Orange Plank Road to intercept federal forces, now led by Grant, as they approached the tangles of the Wilderness • The Mississippi brigade was commanded by Col. John M. Stone during Gen. Davis’ absence while attending the funeral of Jefferson Davis’ five-year-old son in Mississippi.
The Battle of the WildernessMay 5, 1864 • Heth’s division easily pushed federal cavalry patrols back, but soon slammed into Hancock’s infantry, pushing through the thick brush • Heth’s division, in the vanguard, was quickly deployed defensively along a slight ridge to hold their position without prepared earthworks until Hill’s third division and Longstreet’s Corps came up • But the Federal forces didn’t wait, attacking before Heth could be reinforced, driving in the sharpshooters serving as skirmishers and charging the brigades of Heth and Cooke.
Stone’s (Davis’) Miss. Bde. Battle of the Wilderness Afternoon of May 5, 1864
The Battle of the WildernessMay 5, 1864 • Stone’s Confederates, holding the left of Heth’s line, were heavily outnumbered (in all Heth had about 6,500 muskets facing 17,000 yankees); but on this day they would repulse seven separate charges by the federal infantry who hammered Heth’s portion of the line • Cooke’s brigade, on their right, was driven back, leaving Stone’s men isolated and flanked on both sides, as they fought frantically for more than 4 hours
The Battle of the WildernessMay 5, 1864 • 55th NC infantryman George Pearsall described his experiences on this day in a letter to his wife: “…I no god was with me and I am truly thankful…I sat in one place and shot my riful 61 times…my co went in with 30 men and came out with 8 only and only 2 taken prisner the rest all killed and wounded.”
The Battle of the WildernessMay 5, 1864 • As troops on their right fell back, the pressure intensified on the Mississippi Brigade. • Eventually the 55th NC and the 1st Conf Bn both broke; the 26th buckled but was rallied in place, and Stone held his four Mississippi regiments, even changing front to face the pressure coming from his right
The Battle of the WildernessMay 5, 1864 • The odds, already long, lengthened as Hancock’s reinforcements, in the form of two divisions under Gibbon and Barlow, arrived • Hancock’s full corps plus Getty’s 6,000 muskets, a total of 33,000 men, were being brought to bear on the four stubborn Mississippi regiments and the remains of Walker’s brigade • But they held their position until darkness stopped the fighting
The Battle of the WildernessMay 6, 1864 • Longstreet’s Corps came up around 6:30 am • As the fresh troops charged through the exhausted Mississippi brigade, the four Mississippi regiments moved back to the positions taken up by Cooke’s rallying brigade south of the Orange Plank Road • When an engineer reported the weakness of the federal left flank and a flanking attack was ordered in the afternoon, Stone’s Mississippians joined the charge, forcing the federals back ¾ mile or more
The Battle of the WildernessMay 6, 1864 • Gen. Longstreet was seriously wounded by friendly fire during the advance, causing a delay in the attack • The federals regrouped and rallied, preventing the rout Longstreet and Hill had hoped for. • But Grant’s advance through the Wilderness had been abruptly ended
Serving in the “Sharpshooters” • Pickett served in the “Sharpshooters” during his service in the ANV • The sharpshooters were a select group of veteran infantrymen used as elite troops and marksmen • They served as skirmishers, flank guards, and special operations forces • Each brigade in the ANV was directed to form a battalion of sharpshooters for such duty,
Serving in the “Sharpshooters” • Davis’ sharpshooters, led by 24-yr old Maj. Alfred M. O’Neal since the Battle of the Wilderness, were armed with Henry repeating rifles captured earlier in 1864 • During the months-long siege of Petersburg, always on the front lines and constantly firing, these sharpshooter each averaged 100 shots per day for weeks
The Siege of PetersburgJune 1864-April 1865 • While Lee shifted to his right to stay between Grant and Petersburg, Davis’ Brigade was held north of the James River for several weeks after Grant’s crossing in mid June • On 29 July Davis moved across the James to a position between Richmond and Petersburg • After the 30 July explosion of the mine and the Battle of the Crater, Davis moved to Petersburg, taking position with Heth just west of the crater
The Siege of PetersburgJune 1864-April 1865 • Davis’ brigade, along with Cooke’ and Walker’s brigades, was used in an August 18 attack on the federal left to drive Warren’s V Corps from astride the Weldon Railroad south of Petersburg • The federals were driven from two lines of entrenchments, but could not be driven from the field • An August 19 attack drove the federals further south, but the remained in position to obstruct the rail line at Globe Tavern • Losses in Davis’ brigade were severe, including field officers
The Siege of PetersburgJune 1864-April 1865 • During October, Davis’ brigade worked to extend the Confederate right, building breastworks as far west as Hatcher’s run at Boydton Plank Road near Burgess’ mill • Hampton’s Cavalry, stationed on their right flank assisted with the work
The Siege of PetersburgJune 1864-April 1865 • In the Oct. 27-28 Battle of Burgess’ mill, Davis threw three of his Mississippi regiments across Hatcher’s run to check a federal flank attack • Meade’s 42,800 man attacking force was turned back; Davis’ brigade suffered 41 casualties in two days of hard fighting • Heth praised Davis’ “exposed” brigade for their “…coolness and soldierly manner which distinguished them on this day—Brigades less resolute might have been shaken…”
Appomattox Courthouse • Pickett was paroled on 9 April 1865, after Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. • Four staff officers/medics, a lieutenant and seven riflemen (including R. J. Pickett) of the 26 Miss Inf are listed in the Appomattox Paroles. • Twelve men remained of the 400 who were with the 26th in Feb. 1863.
Paroled to return home • R. J. Pickett had participated in, by his count, 22 major battles, not counting skirmishes • After being paroled, he walked six hundred miles, partly alone, back home to Mississippi • He had “spent four important years of his life in hard earnest, faithful service to the ‘Lost Cause,’ a cause which still occupies a tender place in his memory and affections.”
Reconstruction • Mr. Pickett moved to Hopkins County, Texas Jan. 23, 1868 • Became a school teacher and merchant • A leader in his church and in the community • Active in Ector Camp #234 of UCV • Married Miss Kate E. Morrill in 1874 • Ten children were born to this union • Moved to Kimble County about 1914 • Pensioned by Texas (#33838) in 1917
Reuben Jeptha Pickett,1845-1925 • The only surviving photograph (known to me) of R. J. Pickett, taken at a picnic on the Kimble Co. Courthouse lawn, Junction,Texas. (c. 1914-1925)
26th Mississippi Infantry--Assignments • January 31, 1862: Central Army of Kentucky, Second (Buckner's) Division, Second (Baldwin's) Brigade (Brigaded with 14 Miss, 26 Tenn, 41 Tenn) • February 12-16, 1862 Detached at Ft. Donelson and placed on the extreme left of the line of defense under the command of Brig. Genl. Gideon Pillow. (Detached with 26 Tenn) • (Feb.-Sept. 1862 Fort Donelson captives in POW camps) • (Sept. 1862 Exchanged and reorganized) • December 6, 1862: Army of West Tennessee, First Corps, First Division (Tilghman), First (Baldwin's) Brigade (Brigaded with 8 Ktky, 23 Miss, 14 Miss) • January 31, 1863: Department of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, Fourth Military District, Loring's Division, Tilghman's Brigade (Brigaded with 50 Ala, 8 Ktky, 14 Miss, 20 Miss, 23 Miss, Heddon's Battery, McLendon's [Miss] Battery)
26th Mississippi Infantry--Assignments(cont’d) • April (?), 1863: Department of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, Loring's Command, First (Tilghman's) Brigade (Brigaded with 54 Ala, 8 Ktky, 20 Miss, 23 Miss, Mississippi [Culbertson's] Battery) • April 15, 1863: Department of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, Loring's Command, First (Tilghman's) Brigade (Brigaded with 6 Miss, 14 Miss, 15 Miss, 20 Miss, 23 Miss, 37 Miss, 40 Miss) • April 24th, 1863: Detached under command of Brig. Genl. John Adams (Detached with 15 Miss and Co. A, Pointe Coupee Battery) • April 30th, 1863: Detached under command of Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman at Big Black River Bridge (Detached with 15 Miss, 19 Ark, 27 Ala, McLendon's Battery, Lowe's Co. [Battery])
26th Mississippi Infantry-Assignments(cont’d) • May 27, 1863: Army of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, First Division (Loring), First (Reynolds') Brigade (Brigaded with 6 Miss, 23 Miss, Cowan's (Miss) Battery, McLendon's [Miss] Battery) • May 30, 1863: Army of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, First Division (Loring), First (Reynolds') Brigade (Brigaded with 1 Conf. Bttn, 6 Miss, 15 Miss, 20 Miss, 23 Miss, 40 Miss) • July 30, 1863: Department of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, Loring's Division, Adams' Brigade (Brigaded with 1st Conf. Bttn, 6 Miss, 14 Miss, 15 Miss, 20 Miss, 23 Miss, Lookout [Tenn] Artillery) • Aug. 20, 1863: Same
26th Mississippi Infantry--Assignments(cont’d) • (July 1863-Feb. 1864 Detached Duty in the Volunteer and Conscript Bureau) • November 20, 1863: Department of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, Loring's Division, Adams' Brigade (Brigaded with 1 Conf. Bttn, 6 Miss, 14 Miss, 15 Miss, 20 Miss, 23 Miss) • January 20, 1864: Department of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, Loring's Division, Adams' Brigade (Brigaded with 1 Conf. Bttn, 6 Miss, 14 Miss, 15 Miss, 20 Miss, 23 Miss, Lookout [Tenn] Artillery, Smith's [Miss] Battery) • February 20, 1864: Department of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, Loring's Division, Adams' Brigade (Brigaded with 1 Conf. Bttn, 6 Miss, 14 Miss, 15 Miss, 20 Miss, 23 Miss, Lookout [Tenn] Artillery)
26th Mississippi Infantry--Assignments(cont’d) • March 10, 1864: Department of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana, Loring's Division, Adams' Brigade (Brigaded with 1 Conf. Bttn, 6 Miss, 14 Miss, 15 Miss, 20 Miss, 23 Miss) • March 20, 1864: Same