Mississippi


Virtute et armis
Mississippi was the second state to declare succession from the Union. About 80,000 men from Mississippi fought in the Civil War. Northeast Mississippi saw fighting from the war’s earliest days to its final months. Mississippi troops fought in every major theater of the Civil War. In the Battle of Vicksburg, over 3,000 soldeiers lost their lives.

William R. Payne

By Danella Dickson

William R. Payne was born December 13, 1845 in Tishomingo County, Mississippi. He was the son of William B. and Nancy Ann Kizer Payne and grew up on a farm in Tishomingo County.

William enlisted in May 1863 as a Private in Company B, First Battalion Mississippi State Cavalry, also known as Ham’s Regiment. The men were organized primarily for state service and resisted efforts to transfer them to Confederate forces. The men were mustered in for twelve months and when not needed for military service for the most part attended to home duties. In February of 1864 they took part in Forrest’s campaign and at that time were 320 men strong. The battalion was re-enlisted early in 1864, in State service, and transferred early in May to the Confederate State service.
Company muster rolls recording William’s service are few and the dates are not always legible however they do tell us at the time of enlistment he was described as 17 years old, 5 feet 9 inches in height, with dark eyes, dark hair, dark complexion and his occupation was a farmer. In May and June of 1864 he was without a mount and sent to Selma, Alabama to serve guard duty. In March of 1865 William received a $50.00 bounty for re-enlisting in January of that year. The final record was for W.R. Pain on a list of Prisoners of War surrendered at Citronelle, Alabama on May 4, 1865 and paroled at Columbus, Mississippi on May 16, 1865.

Following the war William returned to Tishomingo County where in 1864 he had married Amanda Catherine Bane. They were the parents of nine children. They remained in Mississippi until about 1878 when they moved to Morgan, Sharp County, Arkansas. Apparently William’s parents made the move with him as they were listed in his household on the 1880 census.

By 1889 William and family had moved to the Indian Territory of Oklahoma. When the 1900 census was taken they were living in the town of Duke, Greer County. By 1910 Jackson County had been created from Greer and the family seemed to be firmly settled there.
Amanda Catherine Bane Payne died May 18, 1923 in Jackson County. William spent the last years of his life living with his son Luther. William died March 23, 1932 and is buried beside Amanda in the Cottonwood Cemetery, Jackson County, Oklahoma.

Courtesy of J.B. and Ramona Roberts

Thomas Francis Marion Payne

By Danella Dickson

Thomas Francis Marion Payne was born June 1, 1840 in Tishomingo County, Mississippi. He was the son of William B. and Nancy Ann Kizer Payne and grew up on a farm in Tishomingo County.

Thomas enrolled for military service May 1, 1861 at Corinth, Mississippi in Company A, 2nd Mississippi Infantry. According to company muster rolls he was present for duty in May and June but sick most of the remainder of the year. In 1862 he was on detached service in Richmond during March and April. He then became ill again and was on furlough July through October. In November 1862 Thomas was noted as absent without leave, furloughed from hospital and now at home in Mississippi. In the remarks section on one of the last muster rolls for this service is the notation, “absent without leave since summer of 1862, has since been elected Captain of Cavalry Company in Mississippi” Thomas’s absence from his regiment was commonly described as “French leave”, a temporary and often unpunished absence from his unit. He redeemed himself by joining a local military regiment.

On January 20, 1864 Thomas was mustered into service as a Captain of the First Battalion Mississippi State Troops, also known as Ham’s Regiment. At that time he was described as 23 years old, 5 feet 10 inches in height, with hazel green eyes, dark hair and dark complexion. The last muster roll for Thomas was dated June 30, 1864 but it is reasonable to assume he served until the end of the war.
Thomas married Mary T. Robinson on December 25, 1863 in Tishomingo County. They were the parents of ten children, eight of whom lived to adulthood. Mary died about 1882 possibly in Wise County, Texas where the family had moved about 1878. On October 11, 1883 Thomas married Sarah Margaret Boley and they had seven children, six of whom lived to adulthood.

In the 1890’s Thomas and his family moved to Indian Territory, Oklahoma. He was a member of the John H. Morgan Camp No. 107, United Veterans, Ardmore, IT on March 20, 1896. Thomas died, at the age of 57, December 15, 1897 and is buried in the Dixie Cemetery currently located in Stephens County, Oklahoma.

Courtesy of J.B. and Ramona Roberts

Pvt. Alfred White

By SCV Camp 1708, Scottsdale, AZ

Pvt. Alfred White enlisted in the 2nd Cavalry Regiment [also called 4th and 42nd Regiment] that was organized during the spring of 1863. It was formerly the 47th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, which never completed its organization. Its members were from the counties of Adams, Choctaw, Newton, Lee, Lauderdale, Pontotoc, Kemper, and Hinds.

The unit was assigned to W. Adams’, Mabry’s, and F.C. Armstrong’s Brigade. After skirmishing in Mississippi it saw action in various conflicts in North Georgia and Alabama. Some of the men were captured in the fight at Selma, and only a remnant surrendered with the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana.

The field officers were Colonels Edward Dillon and J.L. McCarty, Lieutenant Colonel James Gordon, and Majors J.L. Harris and John J. Perry.

Wright Walker Bonds Jr.

By Danella Dickson

Wright Walker Bonds Junior was born about 1817 in Montgomery County, Tennessee, the son of Wright Walker and Priscilla Eley Bonds, Sr. Wright Walker Jr. married Sarah Jane Nicholson July 17, 1837 in Lawrence County, Alabama.

By November 1839 the Bonds family was living in the newly created Tishomingo County, Mississippi where Wright Walker Jr. became involved in local politics. County records show he served in many capacities; on the Board of Police, as a tax collector, deputy sheriff, circuit clerk, chancery clerk, trustee & secretary of Jacinto Male Academy.

On January 9, 1861 delegates from each county met at Jackson, Mississippi to consider the question of leaving the Union. Wright Walker Bonds Jr. was one of four to represent Tishomingo County. The delegates voted 84 to 15 to secede. On January 9, 1861 Mississippi became the second state to withdraw from the Union.

Wright Walker Bonds Jr. was listed as one of the last county officials to hold office before the War Between the States. His signature is on a list of volunteer soldiers who signed up at Jacinto, whether he served or not is unknown. Wright Walker Jr. died August 20, 1862 in Tishomingo County and his widow, Priscilla Eley Bonds died November 3, 1900 in Prentiss County, Mississippi.
Courtesy of J.B. and Ramona Roberts

James Wright Bonds

By Danella Dickson

James Wright Bonds was born August 30, 1838 in Franklin County Alabama. He was the son of Wright W. and Sarah Jane Nicholson Bonds. By November of 1839 the Bonds family had moved to the newly created Tishomingo County, Mississippi.
James W. married Mary A. Ledbetter on February 5, 1857 in Tishomingo County and they were the parents of two sons: James Andrew, born January 24, 1858 and Wright Walker III born September 25, 1861. James served as a deputy clerk for his father who was Clerk of the Circuit Court and Chancery Court of Tishomingo County.

On March 1, 1862 James W. Bonds enlisted as a Private in Company A, 2nd Mississippi Infantry Volunteers. Before he marched off to war his letter to friends and associates was published in the local newspaper requesting that they look out for his wife and sons should he fail to return. After entering the Army he persuaded friend and fellow soldier John Mecinas Burcham to promise to care for his family should he die.

The 2nd Mississippi Infantry took part in the fighting at First Manassas, Seven Pines and Cold Harbor. They saw action at Petersburg and took part in skirmishes around Appomattox. It is impossible to determine which, if any, battles James W. took part in. The company muster rolls reveal camp life did not agree with James W. as he was reported sick much of 1862. In March thru June 1863 he was present for duty.

An undocumented story concerning James W.’s military service is that he was assigned to serve as General Robert E. Lee’s clerk, which is reasonable considering his civilian occupation. James’s fellow soldiers teased him about being Robert E. Lee’s pet which led to his request to return to regular duty shortly before the Army made the fateful trip into Pennsylvania. James died July 1, 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg, possibly near the railroad cut where the 2nd Mississippi had taken cover, his body was not recovered.

James’s widow, Mary A. Bonds, filed a request on February 4, 1864 through the Tishomingo County Probate Court requesting an accounting for any back pay, bounty or other allowances due him. An account by Captain H.C. Walker showed she was due $136.05 but apparently she collected $76.41. Military records contained the following description for James W. Bonds: age at enlistment, 23; height, five feet, nine inches; with grey eyes fair complexion and dark hair.
When the war ended James’s friend, John Mecinas Burcham, returned home and married Mary. John had served with James at Gettysburg and was taken prisoner the same day James was killed. Mary A. Ledbetter Bonds Burcham died about 1871 leaving her two sons to be raised by their stepfather.

In August of 1996 a visiting park ranger to the Gettysburg Battlefield found human remains exposed by recent heavy rains. This was the first discovery of remains in more than sixty years and received a great deal of publicity. Analysis by the Smithsonian Institution indicated the individual was a physically active Caucasian male between the ages of 20-25. Based on the location of the find, condition of the bones and presence of a nineteenth century glass button it was determined this was a Civil War burial. The general lack of artifacts (the body had been stripped by scavengers) made identification by Army division, company or by name impossible. The location of the burial on the South bank of the railroad cut suggested the individual was killed during intense fighting in the area on July 1, 1863. It was speculated that the soldier may have been a member of General Davis’ 2nd Mississippi or 55th North Carolina Regiment.

The Bonds family became aware of the discovery and immediately hopeful it would prove to be the long lost James Wright Bonds. They contacted officials at Gettysburg Military Park to question if additional testing such as DNA might be possible but that test was unavailable due to lack of funds. The family suspected the remains were to be used as the centerpiece of the planned 134th anniversary of the battle and if by chance it had been determined they belonged to Private Bonds, a Confederate, proper procedure would be to return them to the family for burial in Mississippi.
On July 1, 1997, the 134th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg the bones of a Civil War soldier were reburied. The program read, “Today we offer a final resting place, with full military honors, for a soldier who perished during the Battle of Gettysburg. We may never know his identity or even which side he fought for, but it is fitting that we honor him today and that he rest here at the Gettysburg National Cemetery.”

The ceremony was attended by James Wright Bonds two granddaughters, Bernice Bonds Janeway and Sara Bonds Pounds, and a great- granddaughter, Ann Sparks, who made the long drive from Booneville, Mississippi. They were convinced they attended the funeral of their ancestor.

In June 2000 a memorial Confederate marker for James Wright Bonds was placed beside the grave of his son, Wright Walker Bonds III, at Holley Cemetery, east of Booneville, in Prentiss County, Mississippi.
Courtesy of J.B. and Ramona Roberts

Editor’s Note:
When standing on the high ground of the Gettysburg Battlefield-Culp’s Hill, Cemetery Ridge, or Little Round Top, it is hard to imagine the sheer numbers of troops, animals, wagons, and artillery that occupied the low ground by the Confederacy during the historic battle. These vantage points also reveal the tactical disadvantage the Confederates found themselves at they had to literally fight uphill. History has told us how bloody and vicious the fighting was each day and history has also told us of the immense number of men that were wounded and killed. However, history cannot fully describe the unimaginable pain and suffering from the close combat which was only compounded by heat exhaustion and dehydration during the hot and humid Pennsylvania summer temperatures. Trying to retreat or evacuate the wounded back downhill also was a problematic and exhausting.

Lee and his troops travelled light, so what little medical supplies were available were greatly inadequate once the scale of the battle was finally known. After the din of the battle subsided, the terrible cries, sights, and smells of the wounded and dying filled the battlefield. Seriously wounded men died of thirst if their wounds did not kill them first. Most of the horribly wounded men died where they fell unless they were lucky enough to be retrieved by a medic or compatriot. One of the few mercies the wounded Confederates had was that Union General Meade failed to follow President Lincoln’s order to attack and capture the miles and miles of ambulances and wagons of wounded Confederate troops as they made their way back home.

After the battle, locals from Gettysburg bravely ventured onto the battlefield in search of wounded and dead Union troops. Wounded Federals were taken to make shift hospitals and Confederates found alive were taken prisoner. If they were lucky, a Confederate surgeon was already a prisoner and could eventually treat the casualties with very limited resources. Generally, dying from infection and malnutrition in a Union prison camp was a death worse than the battlefield.

After the fight was over, disposal of the dead Confederates were the lowest priority. Dying or dead animals got more respect than the Confederates. Confederate dead only got buried in shallow, mass graves for health reasons, but only after the Federals. No effort was made to identify the disfigured and bloated corpses. Many of the makeshift graves were plowed over by local farmers in subsequent years. Many unmarked graves have been lost or forgotten to time.

About a decade after the end of the war, Ladies Memorial Associations from several states made several trips to remove, transport, and reinter the remains of thousands of the Confederate dead in Southern Cemeteries. Most were buried at the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond Virginia; fewer yet in local cemeteries in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Considering that Gettysburg was the Northern most battle of the war, this was a tremendous enterprise and greatly restored the dignity and honor of the gallant, dead Confederates.

Unless by accident, no Confederates were buried in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg as the Confederates were considered enemies of the United States.
Kent D. Worley, SCV Camp 1708