[Note: In order to avoid confusion, the reader should understand that the 3rd Battalion MS Infantry (Hardcastle’s) was expanded into the 45th MS Infantry and then -- due to significant loss in numbers -- reduced again to the 3rd Battalion MS Infantry (Hardcastle’s). Accordingly, this combined capsule history will first discuss the original 3rd Battalion, then the 45th MS Infantry, and, finally, the latter 3rd Battalion.]
COMPANIES COMPRISING THE 3RD BATTALION MS INFANTRY:
Major--Aaron B. Hardcastle.
General A. S. Johnston in November, 1861, authorized the organization of a battalion at Grenada, of which it was expected Lieutenant Hardcastle would be the commander, and ordered it to report to General Polk at Columbus. Hardcastle was a native of Maryland, a graduate of West Point, 1860, who had resigned in May, 1861, from the United States Army.
In December, 1861, the battalion sent from Columbus, Ky., to Bowling Green, three companies, 235 aggregate. It was attached to Wood's Brigade of Hardee's Division.
A battalion of Mississippi volunteers, about 30o strong, appears on returns of Gen. Lovell, New Orleans, January, 1862, and March 9 he writes: "The four Mississippi companies of Hardcastle's Battalion which were here I have ordered to join their own corps, now with Gen. A. S. Johnston."
At the battle of Shiloh Wood's Brigade was composed mainly of Tennessee and Arkansas regiments, Mississippi represented by Major Hardcastle's command, about 280 muskets, and Harper's Battery of four guns, the latter, however, being detached. On Saturday morning, after the march from Corinth, the brigade went into line of battle, between Cleburne and Hindman, the right just across the Bark road. There was no action that day, and at night Hardcastle's command was put out on picket duty. There is a popular tradition that the Confederate army won its success the next day by surprising the Federal army in camp. But General Hardee's report is authoritative: "The order was given to advance at daylight on Sunday, April 6. The morning was bright and bracing. At early dawn the enemy attacked the skirmishers in front of my line, commanded by Major (now Colonel) Hardcastle, which was handsomely resisted by that promising young officer." The Federal attack fell upon Hardcastle's advance picket squads, under Lieutenants Hammock and MeNulty, who fell back upon the third battalion line, which, encouraged by Captain Clare, General Wood's aide, "fought the enemy an hour or more without giving an inch" (Hardcastle's report), losing 4 killed and 19 wounded. About 6:30 the battalion took its place in the line of the brigade, which advanced and charged the first camp in their front, gaining that and then changing front to meet a new Federal position. In this fight 6 were killed, including Captain Hughes, Company D, and Corporal Reeves, of Company E, color bearer, and 17 wounded, including Lieutenant Reeves, Company C, acting Assistant Surgeon. Later they found ammunition in the Federal camp and were posted at the old field where Cheatham had fought. All that night, in the heavy rain, they were marching prisoners to the rear, and in the morning, much exhausted, they started back to the battle of April 7, meeting fugitive regiments that declared all was lost. Hardly a hundred of the battalion were in line when Hardcastle posted his men behind logs and trees at one edge of an open field, where they silenced a battery opposite, drove back the infantry support, crossed the field and took the battery, but were soon compelled to retire, being without support. Here Captain R. H. McNair was mortally wounded while standing exposed to encourage his men, and six others wounded.
"Major Hardcastle's Battalion fired the first shot in our army on the enemy," General Wood said in his official report, "and we only left the field at the close of Monday's fight." He gave honorable mention to the great gallantry displayed by Major Hardcastle, who was slightly wounded and hit more than once, and to Lieut. S. Church, of the battalion, acting Brigade Commissary, who had his horse killed under him while acting as aide.
After Shiloh a regiment was formed, called the Thirty-third, of which Hardcastle was Colonel, and this was merged in the Forty-fifth, or the number changed to Forty-fifth (Hurst's Thirty-third retaining that number). The Forty-fifth, of which Hardcastle was Colonel, was reduced to the Third Battalion again, July 14, 1864. See Forty-fifth Regiment.
HISTORY OF THE 45TH MS INFANTRY:
Colonel -- Aaron B. Hardcastle. Lieutenant-Colonel -- Richard Charlton. Majors -- Theodore A. Jones, Elisha F. Nunn.
This regiment was formed from Hardcastle’s Battalion (see Third Battalion) after the battle of Shiloh, in which the battalion was distinguished. The regiment seems to have been also called the Thirty-third. The State Register of Commissions shows H. Charlton commissioned Lieutenant-Colonel and T. A. Jones Major of the Forty-fifth, to date from April 20, 1862.
The regiment was part of General Beauregard's army at Corinth, holding that position against Halleck’s army until May 30, after which the army retreated to Tupelo, whence the greater part was taken by General Bragg in July to Chattanooga, and from there in August and September into Kentucky. Gen. S. A. M. Wood's Brigade, of which the Forty-fifth was a part, was distinguished for desperate fighting at the battle of Perryville October 8, 1862, capturing the battery of Jackson's Division after repeated charges in which they suffered heavy loss. Bragg's army returned from Kentucky by way of Cumberland Gap, moved to Chattanooga and thence advanced to meet the Federal army which had followed to Nashville.
The regiment was in the fight at Triune, with cavalry, December 27, 1862, in a storm of rain and hail. Four companies were deployed as skirmishers under Major E. F. Nunn, and the four remaining companies supported Coleman's section of Darden's Battery. Lieut. William Fox, with one company, cut the bridge when they left this position. While the brigade fell back two companies under Capt. E. J. Marett and Lieut. H. P. Haynes engaged the enemy. Marching to Murfreesboro they took their place in the line of Hardee's Corps and moved early December 31 to support Polk's Corps, the brigade taking position on the left of Cheatham. They then advanced and encountered and forced back from a strong position Carlin's Brigade of McCook's Division, pushed on and captured a Federal hospital, drove back a battery, and from that position moved to the canebrake, a scene of great slaughter, where they were distinguished for gallantry. Later in the day they took position to protect the ammunition train of the army from a threatened attack. January 1 the brigade was ordered forward to a white house, used as a hospital, on reconnaissance. They were exposed to a heavy and general fire from the Federal line, and lay down, but a portion of the Forty-fifth pushed on, presumably to the shelter of some houses, Wood reported. A Federal force started out to intercept them, when the brigade was ordered back. Lieutenant-Colonel Charlton, commanding the regiment, said that they drove a body of Federals from the stables and gin house; that Major Nunn reported the flanking attack and brought back the order to retire. "The command suffered severely from the fire of the enemy, and about sixty men refusing to come back were left in the hands of the enemy," said General Wood. General Cleburne reported that Wood received "an order direct from General Hardee not to bring on a general battle. He ceased firing and fell back, leaving several killed and wounded on the ground. Some of the men of the Forty-fifth Mississippi Regiment had gone so far ahead that retreat was impossible; they remained where they were and fell into the hands of the enemy. Wood must have lost nearly 100 in killed, wounded and prisoners in this fight. It was now clear the enemy was still in force in my front, and I so reported it." General Cleburne in his report specially mentioned Lieutenant-Colonel Charlton, Major Nunn, Adjutant Frank Foster, Sergeants Asburg, Doolittle, Morrison, Vaughan, Stewart, Lieut. G. W. Williams, Sergeant-Major Kern, Corporals Mallett, Hackler and Read and Private McChadin. Corporal Read volunteered to carry the flag after two color bearers were shot down. He was recommended for promotion. The regimental casualties were reported 5 killed, including Capt. J. D. Frazier, 39 wounded, 70 missing, out of 217 engaged.
From January to September, 1863, the regiment was on duty on the Shelbyville and Chattanooga lines, with the Army of Tennessee.
In the battle of Chickamauga, September 19-20, 1863, the regiment was consolidated with the Thirty-second under Colonel Lowrey, whose command was particularly distinguished and mentioned in the report of Lieut.-Gen. D. H. Hill and Major-General Cheatham, their corps and division commanders. In attacking the log breastworks of General Thomas the consolidated regiment lost 25 killed and 141 wounded. Captain Williams' company of the Forty-fifth, as skirmishers of the brigade, opened the battle of the 19th. (See Thirty-second Regiment.)
The various companies of the regiment selected the following for the Roll of Honor: John J. Mahaffy, A; Sergt. F. M. McGaughy, B; Joel Swindle, C; E. H. Templeton, D; Newton M. Brown, E (killed); Samuel McNeely, F; George W. Young, G; Odum Cox, K (killed).
Col. A. B. Hardcastle, of the Forty-fifth, commanded the Thirty-second and Forty-fifth consolidated in the battles of Tunnel Hill (on Missionary Ridge), November 25, 1863, and Ringgold Gap, November 27. In these engagements the regiment had an honorable part in famous deeds of valor (see Thirty-second Regiment). The casualties of November 25 are not reported; at Ringgold Gap, 1 killed, 17 wounded.
January, 1864, report -- Col. W. H. H. Tison commanding Thirty-second and Forty-fifth, in Lowrey's Brigade, encamped near Dalton, Ga. Col. Aaron B. Hardcastle was in command of the regiment in April and June, 1864; Major Nunn in July.
The regiment shared in the record of Lowrey's Brigade through the Atlanta campaign, beginning with Dug Gap, May 8, and Resaca, May 14-15, 1864. Hardcastle's Regiment was named by General Cleburne in his mention of the important action of the brigade at the battle of New Hope Church, May 27. "The fighting was very severe and lasted until night, Cleburne driving the enemy back in every attack. A night assault was also made on him, which he very successfully repulsed. This fighting was marked by great daring on the part of the enemy, some of them getting up as close as thirty feet to our lines. The slaughter among the Yankees was terrific, and his loss could not have been less than 5,000; 700 dead bodies were counted before Granbury's and Lowrey's Brigades. We captured some 200 prisoners and 1,200 or 1,500 stand of arms. Our loss a fraction over 500." (Journal of Adjutant-General Hampton, Hardee's Corps.)
The campaign along the Kenesaw hills followed in June, after which the army crossed the Chattahoochee to the vicinity of Atlanta. The Forty-fifth then, on account of its greatly lessened numbers, was reduced to the Third Battalion, under the command of Lieut.-Col. John D. Williams (which see).
HISTORY OF THE LATTER 3RD BATTALION, MS INFANTRY (WILLIAM’S) [POST-45TH MS INFANTRY]:
Formed July 14, 1864, near Atlanta, from remnant of Col. A. B. Hardcastle’s command. See Forty-fifth Regiment.
The Third Battalion was listed in Lowrey’s Brigade, Cleburne's Division, Army of Tennessee, in return of July 31, 1864, as with the Fifth Regiment under command of Col. John Weir. Mentioned by General Lowrey in his report of the battle of Atlanta, July 22, as Third Mississippi Battalion, Lieut.-Col. J. D. Williams, in line of battle. In the fatal assault upon the Federal trenches the battalion had 2 killed, 33 wounded, and 2 officers captured. After this the brigade was in the trenches near Chase Street, Atlanta, and was moved thence to East Point. August 30 they marched to Jonesboro, where they were in battle August 31 and September 1. Their last battle of the campaign was Lovejoy's Station, September 2. (See Thirty-second Regiment.)
A list of casualties given out by Major Nunn, commanding, for the period July 22 to September 5, 1864, shows the following organization:
Lieutenant-Colonel -- John D. Williams (captured).
Companies A and G, Captain Thomas P. Connor, commanding; Lieutenant C. G. Liddell, fatally wounded; Lieutenant W. K. Daniel, wounded. Total, 1 killed, 7 wounded.
Companies B and D, Lieutenant William Fox, commanding; 2 killed, 11 wounded, 1 captured.
Companies C and F, Captain J. J. Higgins, commanding (wounded); 14 wounded, Lieutenant W. M. Street and Corporal Collins missing.
Companies E and K, Captain A. T. Wolfe, commanding (wounded): Lieutenants J. A. Stewart (killed), S. E. McNulty (wounded), A. M. McGowan (wounded); 3 killed, 17 wounded.
The brigade took part in the October, 1864, campaign on the Chattanooga and Atlanta Railroad. including the capture of Dalton; moved thence to Gadsden, Ala., skirmished in front of Decatur, crossed the Tennessee River November 13, began the march to Columbia on the 21st, and on the 29th participated in the battle of Cleburne's Division against Stanley's Division at Spring Hill. Next day, November 30, they joined in the assault upon the Federal works at Franklin, where General Cleburne was killed and the brigade suffered heavy loss. A report of December 10, the brigade being on the line before Nashville, with a total strength of 837, shows the battalion consolidated with the Fifth Regiment under command of Captain F. M. Woodward. The brigade had a creditable part in the battle of Nashville, December 15-16, joined in the retreat, and crossed the Tennessee River December 26, marching thence to Tupelo.
In the Carolina campaign the brigade was consolidated into the Eighth Mississippi Battalion, Captain J. Y. Carmack, commanding, and was included in Sharp's Brigade of D. H. Hill's Division, Lee's Corps.