The Civil War in Mississippi
This regiment was enlisted for one year in the service of the Confederate States and organized in the Eighteenth Regiment, under the direction of Gen. J. L. Alcorn, June 7, 1861. They started to Virginia June 10, arrived at Camp Walker near Manassas Junction on the 18th, and were brigaded with the Seventeenth Mississippi and Fifth South Carolina under Gem D. R. Jones, which brigade was posted on the extreme right of the army at Bull Run. They were near McLean’s ford when the first attack was made by the Federal army July 18. For the battle which Beauregard planned for 21 July this brigade was ordered to cross Bull Run and support General Ewell's attack upon Centerville. They crossed the ford early in the morning and confronted a force of the enemy, when the advance of the right wing was countermanded, and the brigade was ordered back. In retiring they were exposed to a dangerous artillery fire. Later in the day they advanced on the enemy up Rocky run, co-operating with Longstreet and Early. In attempting a charge over ground with unexpected difficulties under a murderous artillery fire the Eighteenth was compelled to retire, with the exception of Company H. Captain Fontaine and his men were particularly praised for their tenacity by General Jones, who also mentioned the valuable assistance of Colonel White and Mr. Davis, independent volunteers accompanying the Mississippi regiments. Colonel Burt reported: "Among the killed was Captain Adam McWillie of the Camden Rifles, a gallant soldier of the Mexican war, having fought bravely at Monterey and Buena Vista. He was killed by a canister shot while endeavoring to rally his command. Lieutenant Seary was killed on the field while making the charge. Lieutenant York was badly wounded at the same time. Lieutenant McLaurin was seriously wounded by the explosion of a shell. Six privates were killed and twenty-one wounded. This was the part of the battle toward Centerville, coming late in the day, when the Federal army was falling back from its defeat in another part of the field, that produced such a prodigious panic. Soon after this the Thirteenth Mississippi was substituted for Jenkins' regiment, and the brigade, under the command of Gen. N. G. Evans, was marched to Leesburg, where they held the extreme left of Beauregard's army until March, 1862, within which time fell the battle of Leesburg or Ball's Bluff.
In the battle of Leesburg Welborn's and Campbell's companies were first in battle, as part of a detachment, after which the remainder of the regiment marched to the scene of conflict. Colonel Burr, Auditor of the State, fell mortally wounded while gallantly leading the charge upon the Federal battery, and the command fell upon Lieutenant-Colonel Griffin. Reinforced by the Seventeenth the two regiments, under Colonel W. S. Featherston, drove the enemy into the river, capturing several hundred prisoners. Among the wounded were Captain A. P. Hill, Lieutenant Fearn and Captain Welborn. Lieut. F. Bostick was killed. Major Henry ably commanded a detachment of the companies of Luse and Kearney, who were joined by Welborn and Campbell, and Fletcher of the Thirteenth. The casualties of the regiment were 32 killed and 63 wounded, a loss that speaks eloquently for its prominence in this little battle, which was at the time a famous event. The aggregate Confederate strength was only about 1,700, which would be about 500 to the regiment. On that estimate the regiment sustained a loss of about twenty per cent.
Near the close of 1861 the Twenty-first Regiment was added to the brigade and General Griffith took command December 21st. In March, 1862, they joined the main army at Rapidan Station, and were soon transferred to the Peninsula, where the regiment was reorganized and re-enlisted for two years April 26, 1862. They began the retreat from the Yorktown line during the night of May 3.
In the seven days' campaign before Richmond they reached the field of Savage Station, where Griffith fell, after dark, and slept upon the battlefield. At Malvern Hill, July 1, they had part in the desperate attack made by the brigade a little before dark upon the steadfast and strongly posted line of Federal infantry and artillery. Here Colonel Griffin was wounded and Lieutenant-Colonel Luse took command. The men held the position they gained and resolutely returned the enemy's fire, though they lost more than a third of their number, Luse reported. He praised the conduct of Capt. E. G. Henry, acting Lieutenant-Colonel, and Capt. F. Bostick, acting Major, both of whom were mortally wounded; Sergeant Smith, color bearer, wounded; Sergeant Goodloe and Privates Cooper, Green, Berry, Tyler and Corporal Huston. The loss of the regiment was 16 killed and 126 wounded.
They did not leave Richmond until the final evacuation of the Peninsula by McClellan, and then took up the line of march for Maryland.
With McLaw's division they co-operated with Jackson's corps in the movement against Harper's Ferry, the task of McLaws being the capture of the Federal garrison in fortified camp on the Maryland Heights. They scaled the mountain September 12 and 13, with some active fighting, but the enemy escaped. Being ordered thence to Brownsville, they did not reach the field of Sharpsburg until after the battle had been a few hours in progress. The men were worn out with hunger and night marching, and only 186 officers and men went into the battle. The loss was 11 killed and 69 wounded. Major Campbell, commanding the regiment, was seriously wounded while nobly leading his men. Lieut.Col. Luse and Colonel Humphreys reached the field just as the battle was closing and their presence cheered and animated the whole brigade.
After the return to Virginia the regiment rested and recruited at Winchester until November, when it marched to Fredericksburg.
The Eighteenth, with the Seventeenth, were mentioned in the official report of General Lee for gallant conduct at the battle of Fredericksburg December 11, 1862. At an early hour the Eighteenth, Seventeenth and ten men from the Thirteenth, said General McLaws, "were all the troops actually engaged in defending the crossings in front of the city. More troops were offered but the positions were such that but the number already there could be employed....Lieutenant-Colonel Luse with his regiment, who occupied the river bank below the town, drove back the enemy in their first attempt to cross the river and kept them in check until about 3:30." Luse had but seven companies of the regiment at the lower position, three companies, A, I and K, under Lieutenant William Ratilff, being engaged in the same duty in the town, with the Seventeenth Regiment. The work of preventing the laying of a pontoon bridge, where Colonel Luse was posted, near the mouth of Deep Run, was done mainly by three companies of sharpshooters, four companies being held in reserve. When the crossing was effected at sundown Captain Cassell's company had a slight skirmish before it was withdrawn. The regiment lost 5 killed and 27 wounded.
The brigade remained in Fredericksburg during the winter and picketed the river,
At the opening of the Chancellorsville campaign, which was begun by the crossing of the Rappahannock, without resistance, by several columns of the Federal army, Barksdale's brigade was stationed at Marye's hill, with twelve companies along the river in front. No battle was expected at Fredericksburg, and most of the brigade, including the Eighteenth, had started to join the main army toward Chancellorsville, when the approach of Sedgwick's corps compelled them to turn back. Barksdale occupied with his brigade a line of three miles, the Eighteenth being posted behind the stone wall at Marye's house, famous as the decisive point in the Federal defeat in December. After two attacks were made upon the line, on the morning of May 3, and repulsed a grand assault was made along the whole Confederate line. General Howe, of Sedgwick's corps, reported that "Neill's and Grant's columns were moved to assault on our right the main works on Marye's hill. I at once brought all the division artillery to bear upon the works on those heights, and advanced the column led by Colonel Seaver to make an assault on our left of the same work. Neill's column charged and successfully carried the strong covered way leading from the first work on Marye's heights to Hazel Run." Each of these three columns included three or four regiments, eleven in all. General Early reported that the receiving of a flag of truce by Colonel Griffin revealed the weakness of his line, and brought on the assault, but it does not appear from the Federal reports that such an incident had or would have had any particular bearing. Marye's hill was defended by one small regiment, three companies of the Twenty-first and one battery of the Washington artillery, a famous veteran organization, which lost its four guns. "A more heroic struggle was never made by a mere handful of men against overwhelming odds," Barksdale reported. After being driven from their position a part of the Eighteenth and other regiments rallied on the heights and made a spirited resistance, but could not contend against the odds. The loss of the Eighteenth was 25 killed, 43 wounded and nearly the entire regiment was captured.
The regiment fought at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the evening of July 2, 1863, in Barksdale's brigade, at the peach orchard on the Emmitsburg road south of the town. At six in the evening, when Sickles still held the orchard after a terrific fight, McLaws ordered an assault, and soon "out of the circle of fire which surrounded the post on the south and west emerged the storming columns of Wofford's Georgians and Barksdale's Mississippi brigade. Yelling like demons, black with smoke and lusting for hand-to-hand conflict, the enveloping mass of Confederates rushed the enclosures and speedily gained possession of them ....and a great gap was opened in the Federal line." Wofford and Barksdale handled their troops in masterly fashion and turned at once against the flanks of the Federal lines. When the Federals fell back across Plum Run the wheat field became the arena of a desperate struggle. "Barksdale, conspicuous on horseback, led his Southern riflemen, who singlehanded had barred the passage of the whole Federal army at Fredericksburg, right into the hostile masses, where he fell mortally wounded, and whence the remnants of his gallant troops cut their way back with difficulty through the enveloping masses of Blue infantry." (Battine's "Crisis of the Confederacy.") Barksdale's loss in killed and wounded was the heaviest of any brigade in Longstreet's corps, and the heaviest of any in Lee's army, except two North Carolina brigades and Davis' Mississippi brigade. The loss of the Eighteenth was 18 killed, 82 wounded. When the army retreated 31 wounded were left at Gettysburg with Assistant Surgeon C. H. Brown.
After the return to Virginia Humphreys' brigade was in the movement of Longstreet's corps by rail to North Georgia, by way of Richmond and South Carolina. They arrived at Ringgold after the battle of Chickamauga was begun and arrived on the field on the morning of September 20, after a night march. Going into battle in support of Hood's division, which broke the line of Rosecran's army, they displayed in the west the same effectiveness that had characterized them in Virginia. Their final assault was made at Snodgrass hill, the key of the battlefield, which they aided in winning. The Eighteenth, Capt. J. M. Adams commanding, had Lieut. P. O. Roberts killed, Lieutenants C. Jenkins, W. Lee and C. A. Hoster and six others wounded.
Following Rosecrans' army to Chattanooga, they were in line there until they left the base of Lookout Mountain November 4, for the Knoxville campaign. At Knoxville they were not in the assault of November 29, but they were active on the picket line. After spending the winter in East Tennessee, they returned to Virginia.
The regiment reached Gordonsville April 18, 1864, rested until May 4, and then started with Longstreet for the Wilderness, arriving on the field May 6, just in time, with Kershaw's division, to relieve Davis' Mississippi brigade. Coming into the fight the Eighteenth Regiment led the whole of Longstreet's corps, deploying under a murderous fire, and by its promptness and firmness contributing to check the disorder in the ranks of our troops and the victorious advance of Grant's troop:; which at that moment promised to sweep everything before it. In the battles of May 6-8 the regiment had 11 killed, 74 wounded, 18 missing. Captain W. H. Lewis was in command of the regiment.
From the Wilderness to Spotsylvania and round to Petersburg the regiment participated in every march, every battle and almost every skirmish that marked that wonderful campaign.
May 9 to June 24 there were 5 killed, and 24 wounded; among the killed being T. S. Hill, Ordnance Sergeant.
Being ordered to the valley about August 12, Humphreys' brigade joined General Early at Front Royal August 25 and aided in driving the Federal troops back to Harper's Ferry, thence retreated to Winchester, and from there marched to Berryville and fought in the battle of September 3, when the regiment had 6 killed, 15 wounded, 25 missing. Major Gerald commanded the regiment and took command of the brigade when General Humphreys was wounded. The brigade returned to Winchester and was ordered to Richmond; reached Gordonsville and was ordered back to the valley; rejoined Early at Fort Republic and fought in the battle of Cedar Creek October 19, where the brigade, led by Major Gerald, was distinguished by the capture of a Federal battery. Later in the day the brigade shared in the general disaster, and Gerald and Capt. W. H. Lewis were among the wounded. Casualties of the regiment, 3 killed, 30 wounded, 23 missing. Retired to New Market, made one more advance down the valley and returned to Richmond November 18, taking position and building winter quarters on the Nine Mile road; moved from there December 23 to a position between the Darbytown and New Market roads, before Richmond, where they remained until the evacuation May 2, 1865. In the final returns at Appomattox Lieut. John W. Cower was in command of the remnant of the regiment.
When first organized the Eighteenth had 1,100 effective men. At the first battle of Manassas there were 800 in the ranks. At the first of March, 1865, there were 100 men and five officers present for duty. The regiment had then been engaged in sixteen pitched battles and innumerable skirmishes. In the spring of 1864, when the two years enlistment expired, the regiment and the whole brigade unanimously re-enlisted for "forty years or the war." Its patriotic devotion was again shown early in 1865 by submitting to consolidation and the loss of its old title and number. The entire brigade was commanded at the last by Col. William H. Fitzgerald, who surrendered 20 officers and 231 men.
Here's what's available.
|Hooker, Col. Charles E.|
- Confederate Military History - Mississippi Volume - 288 pgs.
|Rigdon, John C.|
Historical Sketch and Roster of the Mississippi 18th Infantry Regiment
|Rigdon, John C.|
The Civil War in Mississippi
|Rigdon, John C.|
Mississippi Civil War Soldiers Index
|The Southern Historical Society Papers|