Abert's Volunteer Regiment



    At Pensacola, Florida, as at Key West and Charleston, the situation was different, the Commander showing no disposition to submit without actual conflict. The military power of Florida being slight, Governor Moore of Alabama ordered several companies of his troops to Pensacola, and Governor Pettus [of Mississippi] took like action. In his message to the special session of the Legislature, January 15, Governor Pettus wrote: "Seven companies of volunteers, of this State, have been sent from the counties of Chickssaw, Lowndes, Noxubee and Clarke, to aid Florida and Alabama in taking possession of the forts and navy yard at Pensacola. The result of the expedition is not yet known to me. Major Mims was sent by me to meet the Mississippi Volunteers at Enterprise, with instructions to provide them with all necessary camp equipage and provisions, that the sons of Mississippi might not be required to suffer more privations and hardships than are necessarily incident to the life of a soldier." This was the first military corps sent out of the State in the war for the Confederacy. It was, of course, not in the service of the Confederate States, which government was not then formed, but was for service under the control of the Governor of Florida, and there was no law requiring the troops to obey such an order. A history of this episode has recently been written by one of the volunteers, Judge Baxter McFarland, of Aberdeen, under the title, "A Forgotten Expedition to Pensacola." (Publications Miss. Hist. Society, vol. ix). It is also described by Dr. L. W. Lipscomb, in an article, "Columbus During the Civil War" (Columbus Dispatch, 1902). The companies received orders to proceed to Mobile, January 11, 1861, and they took their departure promptly and amid great excitement.

    On January 12, Lieutenant Slemmer, commanding the United States artillery detachment at Fort Barrancas, transferred his command to Fort Pickens, on Santa Rosa Island. Next day the movement of the Mississippi battalion was begun by rail to Mobile and thence by boat to Pensacola. At Mobile they were joined by two Alabama companies, one under the command of Theodore O'Hara, author of the famous poem that commemorates the battle of Buena Vista. Arriving at Pensacola harbor the Mississippians were stationed half a mile west of Fort Barrancas, in view of Fort Pickens. January 17 they organized themselves into a regiment, with the following officers:

    Lieutenant Baldwin was elected Captain of the Columbus Riflemen, with S. D. Harris, J. W. Benoft and R. A. Bell Lieutenants. Lieutenant Lipscornb was elected Captain of the Lowrides Southrons, with T. P. Shields, W. C. Richards and Jacob Isaacs as Lieutenants.

    The time at Pensacola was spent in drill, the anticipated hostilities being strictly forbidden by orders from the Senators at Washington until the Confederacy could be organized.

    The State Convention, January 23, adopted an ordinance to regulate the military system of the State, which was a revision of the Law of 1860, providing the same number of regiments, but under the name of "The Army of Mississippi," and giving the general officers proper rank. These general officers were immediately elected and commissioned, as follows: Jefferson Davis, Major-General, commanding; Earl VanDorn, Charles Clark, James L. Alcorn and Christopher H. Mott, BrigadierGenerals. All of these, except Alcorn, were veteran officers of the war with Mexico, and men of high military reputation. With the Governor they constituted the Military Board, to have entire control of the army and military property. Richard Griffith, Adjutant of the First Regiment in 1847, was made Adjutant-General; William Barksdale, Quartermaster of the Second Regiment in Mexico, Quartermaster-General, and Samuel G. French, who had been on General Taylor's staff in Mexico, Chief of Ordnance. The Board adopted, as the Mississippi uniform, gray frock coat and trousers, with red trimmings for infantry, yellow for cavalry, and orange for artillery; hat of black felt, looped up on three sides with horse-hair pompon for men and plumes for officers [i.e., a black tricorn, like Revolutionary War Patriots wore].

    The membership of the Military Board changed rapidly. General Davis was soon elected President of the Confederate States, and was succeeded by Van Dorn and he by Clark, both of the latter taking commissions in the Army of the Confederate States, after which Reuben Davis became Major-General July 1, 1861. Griffith and Barksdale, of the staff (succeeded by Beverly Matthews and Madison McAfee) became Brigadiers and then went to the front as Colonels. Mott also took a regiment, and in the place of these, A. M. West, John W. O'Ferrall and Charles G. Dahlgren were made Brigadiers.

    One of the first duties of General Clark was to proceed to Pensacola and muster out Abert's volunteer regiment, which was done early in February, whereupon the men returned to their homes. Quartermaster William H. Brown became Quartermaster-General of the State army, succeeding Beverly Matthews, and Captain O'Ferrall, as has been noted, was promoted to Brigadier-General of State troops..

    President Davis was inaugurated February 22, 1861, and the first call upon Mississippi for troops followed on March 9, the Governor being asked to send 1,500 men to Pensacola, other troops being called from other Gulf States at the same time for service at Pensacola and Charleston. In acknowledging the receipt of this request Governor Pettus wrote, March 16: "The organization of the Army of Mississippi is not yet complete. Thirty or forty companies have been mustered into service. The material of which our volunteer army is composed, I think, will not enlist in the regular amy of the Confederate States." He obtained assurance that the troops were not for the regular, but for the provisional army, would be enlisted for twelve months, and could select their own officers.

    Twenty companies for Pensacola were forwarded late in March, accompanied by General Charles Clark, as commander. From these companies were organized the Ninth Regiment, Colonel J. R. Chalmers; and the Tenth, Colonel S. M. Phillips, the Colonels' commissions bearing date of April 11, and General Clark, on the 14th, transferred the troops to the command of General Bragg, of the Confederate States Army. These regiments, though the first in the Provisional Army, were numbered as they were, to follow the eight regiments being filled at home for the Army of Mississippi. About the same time Tull's, Kerr's and Lovell's artillery companies entered the Confederate service at Pensacola.


    Aberts Regiment: Colonel -- Charles H. Abert. Lieutenant-Colonel -- William B. Wade. Major -- Samuel F. Butler. Adjutant -- J. L. Duck. Quartermaster -- William H. Brown. Commissary -- Charles S. Morton or Hugh Topp. Surgeon -- W. D. Lyles.

    Assistant Surgeons -- A. B. Vaughn and C. B. Dickinson.


    [Note: Company letter designations were not available for this compilation.]

    CHICKASAW GUARDS: Captain, William F. Tucker; Lieutenants, L. W. Galbraith, J. H. Moore, W. C. White. (This company became Co. H, 11th MS Infantry.)
    COLUMBUS RIFLEMEN: Captain, Charles H. Abert; Lieutenants, W. E. Baldwin, Sam D. Harris, J. W. Benoit. (This company became Co. K, 14th MS Infantry.)
    LOWNDES SOUTHRONS: Captain, W. B. Wade; Lieutenants, George H. Lipscomb, T. P. Shields, W. C. Richards. (This company became Co. D, 10th MS Infantry.)
    PRAIRIE GUARDS (raised in Noxubee & Lowndes Counties, MS): Captain, J. W. T. Hairston; Lieutenants, A. H. Ledbetter, James H. Hairston, William H. Gray. Enrolled: 65. (This company became Co. E, 11th MS Infantry.)
    NOXUBEE RIFLES: Captain, George T. Weir; Lieutenants, J. H. Rives, William Longstreet, Joseph Koger Dixon. (This company possibly became Co. F, 11th MS Infantry.)
    ENTERPRISE GUARDS: Captain John W. O'Ferrall; Lieutenants, W. S. Reynolds, Andrew E. Moody. (This company became Co. B, 14th MS Infantry.)
    QUITMAN LIGHT INFANTRY (raised in Clarke County, MS): Captain J. L. Duck; Lieutenants, F. G. Nicholson, William A. Hughs; J. Elbert Hardy. (This company possibly became part of the 1st MS Cavalry.)
    LAUDERDALE RIFLES: Captain Constantine Rea; Lieutenants, Will Whitaker, Laines Lasley, A. J. Crawford (or Crampton} or William Spinks. (This company became Co. F, 6th Battalion, MS Infantry.)