The companies were in camp three months at Corinth as State troops, before being called into the Confederate States service. June 17, 1861, is given as the date of organization of the regiment. Captain Carnot Posey, formerly a Lieutenant in Col. Jefferson Davis' regiment, Mexican war, was elected Colonel. His commission was dated from June 4th. July 24 General Polk, at Memphis, commanding the Confederate army on the Mississippi River, telegraphed to the Secretary of War, "I have had a conference with Governor Harris as to your call for six regiments. He says he can spare only five. As your call is pressing, I send you the Sixteenth Mississippi Regiment from Corinth." Gen. Charles Clark telegraphed that the Sixteenth, Colonel Posey, 900 strong, left for Richmond July 26. It was detained at Lynchburg, its destination being Manassas, and was ordered there August 8.
In Northeastern Virginia the regiment was assigned to a brigade commanded by Gen. George B. Crittenden. They remained near Centerville through the winter, and in the spring fell back with the army behind the Rappahannock. When the main part of Johnston's army was moved to meet McClellan before Richmond, Ewell's division, including the Sixteenth Regiment, remained on guard on the Rappahannock until ordered to join Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. They crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains to Luray Valley in May.
Under the command of Colonel Posey, and in Trimble's brigade of Ewell's division, this regiment was the only Mississippi command that participated in the famous Valley campaign of Stonewall Jackson in May and June, 1862. They were at the Front Royal and Winchester battles and shared the forced marches of the army, but were not actively engaged until Cross Keys and Port Republic, June 8-9, where the Sixteenth Regiment was one of the most closely engaged, they and Colonel Posey winning the praise of General Ewell. General Trimble specially mentioned Captain James Brown, of Company A, who, with parts of his command had during the campaign killed twelve of the enemy and captured sixty-four men and twenty-five horses. The loss of the regiment in this last fight of the campaign was 6 killed and 27 wounded.
At Cross Keys five regiments of Blenker's Germans were sent forward to the attack. Their onslaught was directed against the Confederate fight, and here, within the woods, Trimble had posted his brigade in a most advantageous position. The pickets soon gave way and crossing the meadow found cover within the thickets, where Trimble's three regiments lay concealed. The long wave of bayonets following close upon their tracks was within sixty paces of the covert when the thickets stirred suddenly with sound and movement. The Southern riflemen rose swiftly to their feet. A sheet of fire ran along their line, followed by a crash that resounded through the woods, and the German regiments, after a vigorous effort to hold their ground, fell back in disorder across the clearing. Later, sending one of his regiments to attack on the flank, Trimble, reinforced by six regiments from Ewell, threw Blenker's whole line of eleven regiments and two batteries back to the shelter of Fremont's line of guns. (Henderson's "Stonewall Jackson.")
From the valley they started June 18 with Jackson for the flank movement against McClellan's army before Richmond.
In the seven days' campaign Trimble's brigade marched from Ashland June 26, past the battle of Mechanicsville, and on the 27th approached the Federal position at Cold Harbor, where the battle was already on and many Confederate commands were falling back declaring the day was lost. The Sixteenth was particularly distinguished in the gallant charge that followed and drove McClellan's troops from their supposedly impregnable position. Trimble said that "the charge of the Sixteenth Mississippi and Twenty-first North Carolina, sustained from the first movement without a falter, could not be surpassed for intrepid bravery and high resolve." He mentioned the conspicuous gallantry of Captain Brown, shot dead in front of his company cheering on his men. July 1 they were in battle at Malvern Hill. The loss in the two battles was 15 killed, 51 wounded and 19 missing.
After this campaign the regiment was transferred to Featherston's Mississippi brigade of Wilcox's division, Longstreet's corps.
In the second Manassas campaign, August, 1862, General Wilcox reported the gallant action of the Sixteenth and Twelfth, near Kelly's Ford of the Rappahannock, August 21. The companies of Captains Feltus and Hardy, posted as pickets, were surrounded by Federal cavalry, who demanded their surrender, but Feltus gave the command to fire, and the cavalry drew off with considerable loss. A larger body of cavalry charged the line of the Twelfth Regiment, but Posey hurriedly supported them with the Sixteenth, and the volleys from the two regiments repulsed the enemy in confusion and with heavy loss.
At the battle of Manassas, August 30, General Featherston was given command of the division and Colonel Posey commanded the brigade, which behaved with great gallantry during the four hours' action. Their fighting was in the direction of the stone house. The loss of the brigade was 26 killed and 142 wounded. After this Gen. R. H. Anderson was in command of the division.
Marching into Maryland in September, the Sixteenth waded the Potomac at Leesburg and after reaching Frederickstown were ordered to Harper's Ferry. Colonel Posey continued in command of the brigade through the capture of Harper's Ferry and battle of Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862, and until November, when Featherston returned. Captain A. M. Feltus, commanding the Sixteenth, made a report of the battle of Sharpsburg, which is one of the most remarkable in the annals of the war. They advanced about ten o’clock in the morning toward the Federal line, past a barn and cornfield, under a heavy fire of artillery and fire arms, until they came upon two Confederate brigades lying down in a road. The Mississippi brigade passed over them and confronted the enemy in line of battle. "A murderous fire of grape, canister, shell and small arms played on us. Notwithstanding, this regiment gallantly held its position until ordered to retire, which it did in as good order as could be expected from its thinned ranks. When we retired as far as the road a scene of great confusion ensued from the mingling together of different brigades. We continued to fall back until we reached the barn, where the remnant of the regiment was rallied in its position on the left of the brigade. In this position we advanced again upon the enemy and met them in the cornfield beyond the barn. Here after a desperate fight we fell back, by orders, to our original position, on account of the terrific cross fire of the enemy's batteries. We remained in this position, under a heavy fire of shell and solid shot, for about an hour, when the enemy advanced upon us in line of battle. This was about four or five o’clock in the afternoon. The remnant of the regiment, in its proper position in the brigade, moved forward and met the enemy in the orchard by the barn and drove them back. After this night ensued and the battle ended. The number of men carried into the action was 228, Of them 144 were killed or wounded, leaving only 84 men."
At Fredericksburg, in December, the Sixteenth was in line of battle three days and nights, under artillery fire, which caused them the loss of 3 killed and 17 wounded, among the wounded Capt. G. H. Fulkerson. The Sixteenth and Second Battalion occupied an advanced and particularly exposed position.
"A few days after the battle we were sent out on picket duty, just above Fredericksburg, on the river. While there, late one evening, our band was playing 'Dixie' and the Federals were playing 'Yankee Doodle.' When the bands finished the airs the Yankees struck up 'Home, Sweet Home.' Our band took up the strain, and when the bands quit playing, as far as we could hear on both sides, all were singing 'Home, Sweet Home.'" (The Veteran's Story.)
Near Fredericksburg the brigade remained in camp, with occasional picket duty on the Rappahannock, until posted in February to guard the United States ford on the Rappahannock.
Colonel Posey, promoted to Brigadier-General, commanded the brigade in the Chancellorsville campaign. Posey moved the brigade from the United States ford to Chancellorsville, when the Federal army had crossed the river at other points, and later Posey moved to the intersection of the Mine and Plank roads, where he intrenched. Advancing May 1 with Jackson's corps, the brigade had a brisk battle during the day with the enemy on the Furnace road. May 2 the brigade skirmished throughout the day on the same road. May 3 they advanced by the furnace, capturing many prisoners, until they reached a point in rear of the Confederate batteries on the extreme right of the Federal line. Being ordered to advance again, all the regiments moved forward, under heavy fire of artillery, through a dense wood and over a wide abatis and into the trenches of the enemy about Chancellorsville. The Sixteenth, under Col. S. E. Baker, attacked the enemy's works on their extreme right. The regimental colors were lost, in this manner -- the colorbearer was severely wounded and the flag staff shot in two soon after the regiment was in the Federal trenches. Color Corporal W. M. Wadsworth took up the flag and, being shortly afterward wounded, passed it to Corp. W. J. Sweeny, who fell with severe wounds under a fire of grape shot. The colors were borne to the rear with him, and whether he took the flag to Richmond or it was wrapped around some soldier buried, was not known. All the color guard were wounded. Sergt. S. W. Damphier, Company A, captured a stand of United States colors. The casualties of the regiment were 22 killed, 57 wounded, 25 captured. Sergt. P. I. Stampley, Corporal P. Doran, Privates Alex. Stampley, A. S. Jones, of Company G, were among the killed.
In the reorganization that followed Anderson's division was assigned to A. P. Hill's corps, and was on duty at Fredericksburg in the presence of Hooker's army when Lee was beginning his northward march. (See Nineteenth Regiment for brigade movements.) They marched from their camp near Fayetteville, Pa., July 1, toward Gettysburg, and on the 2d the brigade was posted with the rest of Posey's brigade in an open field in the rear of Major Pegram's battery of artillery. Part of the brigade took part in the battle against the south wing of the Federal line, but the Sixteenth was held in reserve until quite late in the evening, when it went well up in front, but had little opportunity before being recalled behind the Pegram batteries, where the brigade was held under fire during the battle of the 3d. The sixteenth lost 2 killed and 17 wounded. Col. Samuel E. Baker was in command. Surgeon G. Alston Groves, left with the brigade wounded at Gettysburg, died there 5 July, 1863.
Retiring with the army to Hagerstown the brigade was in line of battle and entrenched its position from the 5th to the 13th, after which it moved across the Potomac and took a two months' rest at Orange Courthouse. (For brigade movements see Nineteenth Regiment.)
In October they crossed the Rappahannock with Hill's corps to strike the right and rear of Meade's army. At the battle of Bristoe Station, October 14, 1863, General Posey was severely wounded in the left thigh by a fragment of shell. He died at Charlottesville November 13. Col. Samuel E. Baker had command of the brigade until the return of Col. N. H. Harris, the senior officer, in November. The brigade went into camp near Brandy Station, turned out November 17th to guard the Rappahannock bridge when the garrison there was captured, and later in the month marched to Mine Run and entrenched in line of battle. The winter quarters of the Sixteenth were near the mill on the Rapidan below the railroad crossing, whence they marched May 5, to the battle of the Wilderness. After several changes of position on or near the plank road, the brigade encountered and defeated a Federal force marching against the flank and rear of the brigades of Davis, Perry and Law, and with these brigades they held their position against repeated assaults on the 6th. On May 12 the officers and men of the Sixteenth were among the foremost of the gallant recoverers and defenders of the Bloody Angle. (See Harris' account of brigade service in Nineteenth Regiment sketch.) The loss was heavy. Among the gallant officers killed were Colonel Baker, Lieutenant-Colonel Feltus, Adjutant Lowe, Ensign Mixon and First Sergeant S. W. Dampier, Company B. Major E. C. Councill, promoted to Colonel, was mentioned for conspicuous bravery, also Capt. Harry Smith and Private Edward Perrault. The casualties of the regiment May 6-12 were 36 killed, 84 wounded, 31 missing.
Richard S. Ewell, the Sixteenth's old division commander, promoted to Lieutenant-General and corps commander, wrote to General Harris, December 27, 1864, that he had delayed acknowledging the services of the brigade on May 12 because he wished his thanks "to rest on the solid foundation of official reports. The manner in which your brigade charged over the hill to recapture our works was witnessed by me with intense admiration for men who could advance so calmly to what seemed and proved a most certain death. I have never seen troops under a hotter fire than was endured on this day by your brigade and some others. Major-General Ed Johnson, since his exchange, has assured me that the whole strength of the enemy's army was poured into the gap formed by the capture of his command. He estimates the force engaged at this place on their side at 40,000, besides Birney's perfectly fresh troops. Prisoners from all of their corps were taken by us. Two divisions of my corps, your brigade and two others, one of which was scarcely engaged, confronted successfully this enormous host and not only won from them nearly all the ground, but so shattered their army that they were unable to make a serious attack until they received fresh troops. I have not forgotten the conduct of the Sixteenth Mississippi Regiment while under my command from Front Royal to Malvern Hill. I am glad to see, from a trial more severe than any it experienced while in my division, that the regiment is in a brigade of which it may well be proud."
Part of the brigade was in battle on the North Anna May 24, and the entire brigade served on the lines of Cold Harbor. A famous reconnaissance was made by picked men June 6, with heavy loss. From the 8th to the 12th there was a continuous fire from sharpshooters and artillery, the average loss of the brigade being from ten to fifteen per day in killed and wounded, among the former the gallant soldier and Christian gentleman, Capt. E. Slay, and brave Lieutenant Harry Lewis, both of the Sixteenth (Harris' Diary). After June 18 the brigade was mainly on duty in the works about Petersburg, and they were also in battle out of these lines on June 22-23, on the Weldon Railroad May 24, under extraordinary fire in the battle of the Crater July 30, on the Darbytown road August 18, where Lieut. John B. Coleman was killed, and on the Weldon Railroad August 21, where, after Finegan's brigade had been repulsed, Harris' brigade charged the Federal entrenched line. The alignment was such that the Twelfth and Sixteenth first reached the works and many were killed or wounded and captured. Col. E. C. Councill, a gallant and admirable officer, was mortally wounded. He died at Washington, D. C. Lieutenant- Colonel Bain was also captured. The casualties of the regiment were reported as 6 killed, 28 wounded, 59 missing.
"The brigade suffered heavily in action on the Weldon Railroad on the 21st of August, losing in killed, wounded and missing 254 out of 450 carried into action. The cause of the small number carried into action was owing to the fact that 900 men were on picket duty on this side and north side of the James. The men were worn out and there were a good many stragglers." (Inspection report, August 30, 1864.)
The attack was against Bragg's brigade of Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana troops, who reported the capture of 21 officers and 101 enlisted men, two flags and a number of wounded and a loss killed 8, wounded 38, missing 144. The commander of the Sixth Wisconsin lost a leg immediately after Colonel Councill had surrendered to him. The flag of the Sixteenth was taken by Corporal H. A. Ellis, of the Seventh Wisconsin. For two months after this the brigade occupied the Rives salient on the Petersburg line, in constant battle behind entrenchments, and repairing and building new entrenchments. They were in line of battle at Hatcher’s Run October 27. Returning to the trenches they remained until put in reserve November 12. February 6-7 they fought with Gordon's corps at Burgess' Mill, displaying heroic valor and holding the line. At the time of Sheridan's raid they were on duty in Richmond. Early on April 2 they were ordered to Petersburg from their position on the Swift Run line, and sent to the point on the Boydton road where the
Confederate line had been broken (see account of brigade service in Nineteenth Regiment). The Twelfth and Sixteenth Regiments, under Lieut.-Col. J. H. Duncan of the Nineteenth, the Sixteenth under command of Capt. A. K. Jones, both numbering about 150 muskets, according to Harris, were put in Battery Gregg, with McElroy's section of the Washington artillery of New Orleans. This redoubt was assailed on all sides by troops of Gibbon's corps (see Gibbon's report, Twelfth Regiment). Finally the assailing hosts swarmed through the ditch, over the parapet, and after a hand-to-hand fight of nearly half an hour, the survivors of the gallant defenders were compelled to surrender. The Federal Generals reported that 250 surrendered and 55 were found dead, and their own loss was about 120 killed and 600 wounded. Considering the strength of the works that the Mississippians defended, as well as the vast numbers of the Federal troops at hand, the heroism of the actual combatants, both assailants and assailed, are deserving of a high place in America's record of heroic deeds. "In those nine memorable April days there was no episode more glorious to the Confederate arms than the heroic self-immolation of the Mississippians in Fort Gregg to gain time for their comrades," wrote Francis Lawley, an English observer, in his "Dying Hours and Struggles of the Confederacy." But the Federal General, John Gibbon, said more than this when he wrote that the assault of his men was one of the most desperate of the entire war, and succeeded only through obstinate courage at a fearful cost.
Colonels -- Carnot Posey, promoted Brigadier-General, mortally wounded at Bristoe Station; Samuel E. Baker, killed at Bloody Angle; Edward C. Councill, mortally wounded at Weldon Railroad. Lieutenant-Colonels -- Robert Clark, James J. Shannon; Abram M. Feltus, killed at Spottsylvania; Seneca McNeil Bain. Majors -- Jeff H. Bankston, Samuel E. Baker, E. C. Councill, S. M. Bain, Thomas R. Stockdale. Surgeons -- A. B. Snell; G. Alston Groves, died at Gettysburg. Assistant Surgeons -- Gwin and Groves. Chaplains -- S. H. Ross, died 12 February, 1863; A. H. Lomax, 1863-65.
Company A -- Summit Rifles (raised in Pike County, MS)
Company B -- Westville Guards (raised in Simpson County, MS)
Company C -- Crystal Springs Southern Rights (raised in Copiah County, MS)
Company D -- Adams Light Guard No. 2 (raised in Adams County, MS)
Company E -- Quitman Guards (raised in Pike County, MS)
Company F -- Jasper Greys (raised in Jasper County, MS)
Company G -- Fairview Rifles, aka Claiborne Rangers (raised in Claiborne County, MS)
Company H -- Defenders (raised in Smith County, MS)
Company I -- Adams Light Guard No. 1 (raised in Adams County, MS)
Company K -- Wilkinson Rifles (raised in Wilkinson County, MS) BIBLIOGRAPHY
Howell, H. Grady. For Dixie Land I'll Take My Stand
Rowland, Dunbar. Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898