From Dunbar Rowland’s
"Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898"
with supplement by H. Grady Howell
Unit Names Command & Organization
Like almost all Civil
the 31st Mississippi Infantry was frequently known in the field by the
name of its commanding officer. Names of this type used by or for the
include: Jehu A. Orr’s Infantry
John W. Balfours Infantry
Marcus D. L. Stephens’ Infantry
James W. Drane’s Infantry
Francis M. Gillespie’s Infantry
Harvey E. Topp’s Infantry
Robert A. Collin’s Infantry
John F. Menahan’s Infantry
muster rolls in
department; the companies are not entered in the Register of
This list is from the recollections of Colonel Stephens, whose
regimental history is drawn upon for this sketch.
Colonels: John A.
to Congress; Marcus D. L. Stephens, wounded at Franklin, TN
M. D. L. Stephens,
promoted February 17, 1864; James W. Drane.
Majors: H. E. Topp,
MS; James W. Drane, promoted; Francis M. Gillespie, killed at Peachtree
Creek, GA; Thomas J. Pulliam.
Surgeons: J. M.
Blackwell, H. C.
C. Orr, J.
Adjutants: J. N.
Campbell, J. C.
Rasberry, W. J. Vandegraff.
Holmes, A. A.
John R. Ketchum
Joy, P. B.
J. W. Prude, J. C. Youngblood, J. C. Morrow
Captains: J. C.
Butts, W. W.
killed at Franklin
J. S. L. Hill
Lieutenants: James F.
W. D. Carradine, killed at Peachtree Creek, GA
Company D (Dixie
March 15, 1862
Captains: M. D.
Lieutenant-Colonel; F. M. Gillespie, promoted Major; S. D. Powell.
S. D. Powell.
W. S. Hudson.
C. C. Broom.
Captains: T. J.
Captains: J. A.
J. Frank Manahan
Captains: G. W.
Captain: J. M.
Captains: B. F.
Lewallen, captured near Atlanta.
McBreyer, killed at Baton Rouge, LA; J. M. Knight, J. N. Blancit,
The higher commands to which
regiment was assigned were:
-- Garrison: Vicksburg, Mississippi, Department of Mississippi &
August 1862 -- Helm's
Brigade, Clark's Division, Breckinridge's Command, District of the
September 1862 --
Brigade, District of the Mississippi, Department #2
October 1862 -- Helm's
Department of the Mississippi and East Louisiana
December 1862 --
Brigade, Rust's Division, 1st Corps, Army of North Mississippi,
of Mississippi and East Louisiana
1863 -- Rust’s Brigade, Loring’s Division, Fourth Military District,
of Mississippi & East Louisiana
March 1863 --
Brigade, Loring's Division, 2nd Military District, Department of
and East Louisiana
Apr 1, 1863 --
Maury’s Division, Department of Mississippi & East Louisiana
May 30, 1863 -- Second
Brigade, Loring’s Division, Department of the West
Sep 30, 1863 --
Brigade, Loring’s Division, Department of Mississippi & East
Jan 20, 1864
-- Featherston’s Brigade, Loring’s Division, Department of Alabama,
& East Louisiana
Apr 15, 1864 --
Brigade, Loring’s Division, Army of Mississippi
1864 -- Featherston’s Brigade, Loring’s Division, 3rd Corps, Stewart’s
Corps, Army of Tennessee.
took part in more than 35 actions during its career. Some of the more
are grouped below by year:
Bombardment Vicksburg, MS
Engagement Baton Rouge, LA
Mar 25, 1863
Skirmish Fore's Plantation, Fort Pemberton, MS
Battle Jackson, MS
May 15-Jul 3,
Campaign Vicksburg, MS
May 16, 1864
Battle Champion Hill, MS
Campaign Meridian, MS
May 25-Jun 4,
Engagement New Hope Church, GA
Campaign Atlanta, GA
Siege of Atlanta, GA
Battle Peach Tree Creek, GA
Battle Ezra Church, GA
Aug 31-Sep 1,
Battle Jonesboro, GA
Battle Nashville, TN
Orr's 6th Battalion, the regiment was raised by Colonel John A. Orr,
by Lieutenant-Colonel Marcus D. L. Stephens, who had served one year in
Virginia with the 17th Mississippi Infantry Regiment. The 31st
Mississippi Infantry was organized by the increase of the 5th Infantry
Battalion to a regiment during the winter of 1861-1862.
into Confederate service the 31st Mississippi Infantry was placed on
duty at Vicksburg. There it was attached to the Department of
and East Louisiana. The regiment served with that command for much of
career. In early 1864 this command was expanded and renamed the
of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana.
in the Army of Mississippi. In the spring of 1864 the unit was placed
the Army of Tennessee. On April 9, 1865 the regiment was consolidated
the 3rd and 40th Infantry Regiments and designated as the 3rd Infantry
Regiment Consolidated at Smithfield, North Carolina.
this regiment was being mustered in at Saltillo, the men could hear the
roar of the cannon at the battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862 . April 11
they arrived at Corinth under orders to report to Gen. Breckenridge,
the Reserve Corps, and were assigned to a Kentucky Brigade commanded by
Col. Trabue. The regiment was engaged in skirmishing during the advance
of the federal army on Corinth, and after the evacuation May 29 were on
guard at Twenty Mile Creek until the sick and wounded had been carried
past, after which they followed the army to Tupelo.
to the support of Vicksburg, then under bombardment by a river fleet,
the regiment reached the vicinity of Vicksburg June 16, moving into the
city July 1. At the close of the attack, in the latter part of July,
brigade, then under Gen. Helm, moved to Camp Moore, Louisiana. Col. Orr
being sick, Lt. Col. Stephens was in command of the regiment.
August 1 the
marched to attack the federal force at Baton Rouge, expecting the
of the ram Arkansas, the passage of which through the federal fleet
had witnessed at Vicksburg. Early in the morning of August 5 a body of
partisan rangers in their front, galloping back, produced some
which led to rapid firing for a few minutes. Gen. Helm was disabled by
a fall from his horse. His Aide-de-camp and brother-in-law, Lt. Todd,
of the wife of President Lincoln,
was killed, and several men of the
Infantry were killed or wounded. At daylight, under command of Gen.
Clark, the attack was made, and the federals were forced back to the
in rear of the penitentiary, where a stubborn resistance was made. The
Arkansas was lost some distance up the river and the battle was in
Gen. Clark was dangerously wounded and captured. Maj. H. E. Topp,
the 31st, was commended for gallant conduct. The casualties of the
were killed and mortally wounded, 16; wounded, 31.
to Jackson, Mississippi, and about September 1 moved to Gray's Creek,
of Holly Springs, where there was a reorganization. The 31st along with
the 1st, 3rd, and 22nd Mississippi Infantry Regiments formed Rust's
under command of Col. Stephens, while Gen. Rust commanded the division
until Gen. Loring took command.
Corinth and neighboring points and were concentrating at Grand Junction
and LaGrange, Tennessee. The regiment took part in VanDorn's advance in
September and the brigade had a light skirmish at LaGrange, after which
they retired to Holly Springs, where Col. Stephens was post commandant
during the battle of Corinth, October 3-4, 1862, his regiment remaining
there on guard. However, they advanced as the army was retreating and
the enemy at Chewalla Creek.
from Memphis down the Central Railroad they fell back from Holly
to the Tallahatchie River and thence in December to Coffeeville, where
they participated in the battle of December 5, Col. Orr commanding the
brigade and Stephens the regiment. The brigade pursued the federal
back to the main army at Water Valley, and then retired to Grenada.
raid to Holly Springs followed and Grant retreated to Memphis.
sent to the support of Gen. S. D. Lee at Chickasaw Bayou. The brigade
met at Edwards as it moved to Vicksburg by Gen. Featherston, who took
the brigade then including the 15th, 22nd,
31st, and 33rd Infantry
and Rayburn's Battalion. Featherston's Brigade was ordered to Snyder's
Bluff March 19 on account of the federal reconnaissance by Gen. Sherman
and Adm. Porter on Rolling Fork and Deer Creek, and toward the close of
the 10 days' operation the 31st joined the 22nd and 33rd at the scene
action. Col. Orr then taking command of the Confederate forces with
After an unique campaign in the flooded swamps with the federal
that were crowding their way through the bayou, the gunboats escaped
Black Bayou, and the regiment took steamer for Fort
Pemberton, confronted by a Federal fleet.
they moved to Grenada, whence the regiment was ordered again to
On May 3 Col. Orr, at Edwards, was ordered, "on the arrival of
with his brigade, your regiment and Snodgrass' Alabama Regiment will go
to the Big Black bridge."
May 4, and on May 5 the brigade advanced toward Port Gibson in support
of Gen. Bowen, thence returned to Edwards, and participated in the
of Baker's Creek May 14. They were with Loring's Division, on the right
of the army, under artillery fire, while the battle was fought on the
at Champion’s Hill. Late in the day the brigade was moved to the left,
and the 31st was placed in position by Gen. S. D. Lee, where they held
the enemy in check while the Confederate troops retreated across the
When Loring began to fall back, after sunset, his way was cut off.
Brigade formed behind the division artillery and repulsed two attacks
the enemy, and then moved as silently as possible, passing the federal
camps, to Crystal Springs, and two or three days later reached Jackson,
and soon went into camp at Canton.
During the early
they were with Johnston's army near the Big Black River, retreating
to Jackson after the surrender of Jackson, July 4. At Jackson they
on a hill north of the residence of Col. Withers, and Sherman rapidly
his entrenched line was established at the Insane Asylum. An assault
made by the federals and repulsed, and in this action Major Topp was
wounded and several others of the regiment killed or wounded.
at Jackson, July 9-16, the brigade retreated across Pearl River in the
night, and went in line of battle near Brandon to meet pursuit.
commanding the regiment, in Featherston's Brigade, Loring's Division,
of General Polk, concentrated at Canton, when Sherman began his march
Vicksburg to Meridian in February, 1864. The division moved to
and fell back to Demopolis, Alabama.
they moved to Montevallo, Alabama, with the army under General Polk.
arrived at Resaca, Georgia, at the beginning of the battle of May
and several men were wounded by artillery fire while getting off the
The regiment, with its fine band, was rushed at once into the thick of
the fight, and havoc resulted in the musical corps as well as among the
companies. On the last day the regiment marched at the head of the line
led into battle by Gen. Johnston. The retreat across the river to
Station followed. They went into line of battle and were under
fire at Cassville, crossed the Etowah River, and in the latter part of
May fought on the New Hope Church line, the first of a long series of
daily battles or skirmishes, extending as the armies sought to outflank
each other, over the Kenesaw Mountains to Marietta, where Sherman was
in the battle of Kenesaw Mountain, June 27.
July the regiment was in the skirmish at Smyrna Church, July 4, and was
under fire several days on the Chattahoochee River, which they crossed
July 16. Gen. Hood then took command, and the army was ordered to
the federal troops along Peachtree Creek July 20.
Creek the regiment first drove back the federal line in its front and
the main position, where they were outflanked and suffered terrible
in attempting to hold their position. Col. Stephens being sick, the
was commanded by Lt. Col. J. W. Drane until he fell severely wounded in
five places, giving the command to Major F. M. Gillespie, who, already
bleeding from a severe wound, led on until shot down near the Federal
a gallant officer and true patriot. Adjutant W. J. Vandegraff, a
and accomplished officer, took up the colors of the regiment after two
or three bearers had been shot down, and fell with the colors in his
supposedly mortally wounded and was left on the field. Every captain on
the field was killed or wounded, and 1st Lt. Shaw, of Company G, took
until Capt. T. J. Pulliam joined the regiment with a detachment that
been on picket duty.
Of the 22
in the action, 17 were killed, wounded, or captured. Out of a total of
215 in battle, officers and men, 164 were killed, wounded or missing.
commander of the 136th New York reported the capture of the battle flag
of the 31st Mississippi. Dennis Buckley, of the New York Regiment,
to the reports, knocked down the color bearer with a musket and
the colors from him. Seven stand of colors were lost at the same time.
the casualties among the company officers at Peachtree Creek:
B. Ketchum, Lt. J. C. Morrow, Sgt. J. M. Johnson.
Wounded and captured:
Lieutenant J. W. Prude.
Company B: Wounded:
Capt. S. M. Thornton, Lt. W. A. Womack, Lt. W. A. McCarty.
Company C: Killed:
Lt. W. D. Carradine. Wounded: Lt. James
Company D: Missing:
Lt. Thomas Lyles.
Company E: Lt. S. M.
Bobbs, Sgts. J. S. Bridges and J. J. Cudley.
Company G: Wounded:
Capt. J. F. Manahan.
Company H: Wounded:
Capt. G. W. Naron, Lt. W. M. Foster.
Company I: Missing:
Capt. C. W. Richards, Lt. J. C. Hallum.
Company K: Missing:
Capt. G. W. Lewdon, Lt. P. G. McGraw.
named of the field and staff, Sergeant-Major G. T. Hightower and Ensign
J. V. Bailew were also severely wounded.
duty on the battle field of July 22, east of Atlanta, and actively
in the battle of Ezra Church, July 28, west of the city, after which it
was on duty during the siege, entrenching and skirmishing, until the
at the close of August. The regiment was commanded during the Atlanta
by Col. M. D. L. Stephens, until the battle of Ezra Church, when Col.
took command of the brigade, and Gen. Featherston of Loring's Division.
campaign on the Chattanooga and Atlanta Railroad, Featherston's Brigade
captured the Federal post at Big Shanty, was with Loring's Division in
the capture of Acworth, and with Stewart's Corps in the destruction of
the railroad between Dalton and Resaca, after which they moved through
the mountains to Gadsden, Alabama, skirmished at Decatur, October
where the regiment had several killed and wounded. Thence they moved to
the Atlanta campaign Polk's Army of the Mississippi had an enrollment
over 40,000 and an aggregate present of over 25,000. On November 6,
the title of Stewart's Corps, its return was 26,714 present and absent,
aggregate present 12,684. The corps crossed the Tennessee River
20 and marched against Schofield at Columbia, on the 29th, making a
toward Spring Hill to support Forrest and Cheatham, held at bay by
federal division. In a confused night march they never reached their
Hood believed that if they had, history would have been different.
30 they followed Schofield to the strong entrenchments in front of Franklin,
on the Harpeth, and suffered frightful losses in the assault. Out of
men in the 31st Regiment, 45 were killed and about 100 wounded.
the attack across the railroad and through an abatis, under heavy fire,
and then fixed bayonets and charged. One after another 10 color bearers
had been shot down until Color Sergeant Spence Neal carried the flag.
he was shot he gave the flag to Col. Stephens, who, with the few then
to advance, charged up to the trenches and was in the act of planting
flag on the works when his thigh was shattered by a rifle ball and he
in the ditch. He gave the flag to Sgt. Hunter, who was shot as he took
it, but managed to obey the order to carry the colors to the rear. An
soldier came out of the works and adjusted a bandage to prevent Col.
from bleeding to death, and when the Federal army retreated that night
he was carried across the river and left warmly wrapped and with a fire
at his feet to be found by his men next day.
concentrated at Nashville, and Hood began fortifying a line around that
city. Loring's Division held the front of Stewart's position, a line of
one mile in length across the Granny White pike, supported by redoubts
on five hills. Capt. Robert A. Collins was in command of the 31st on
10. On Dec. 15 Thomas attacked and carried two of the redoubts,
many. Loring's Division gallantly formed a second line to meet the
attack. On Dec. 16 they repulsed every attack until a fiercer assault
successful on their left. At Columbia, Dec. 20, Featherston's Brigade
selected as one of the seven to be commanded by Walthall as the
rear guard, remaining in the face of the enemy until the remainder of
army had marched two days. Dec. 21 the regiment had a total strength of
93 officers and men. On the retreat from Columbia they fought
checking pursuit at Anthony's Hill and Sugar Creek, Dec. 25-26. They
the Tennessee River Dec. 28, and marched to winter quarters near Tupelo.
was 20,071 present and absent, aggregate present 8,909.
the remnant of Loring's Division began the movement to reinforce Gen.
in the Carolinas, Sherman having marched to Savannah from Atlanta. On
25 they were ordered forward from Augusta, Georgia, to Newberry, South
Carolina. In the Carolinas Campaign they participated in the battles of
Kinston, March 10, and Bentonville, March 19, on the latter day making
a gallant charge and suffering heavy losses.
the army under Gen. J. E. Johnston, near Smithfield, North Carolina,
31, 1865, shows Maj. Gen. Walthall in command of Stewart's Corps,
Army of the Mississippi; Featherston’s Brigade commanded by Maj. Martin
A. Oatis; the 31st Infantry by Capt. John F. Manahan. Maj. Pulliam,
was with the regiment. On April 9 the 3rd, 31st, and 40th Mississippi
consolidated as the 3rd Infantry Regiment Consolidated, Col. James M.
commanding. An Arkansas Brigade, consolidated in one regiment, was
to the old Featherston Brigade.
April 18, and the army was surrendered near Durham Station April 26.
History of Mississippi, 1803-1898, taken from the Official and
Register of the State of Mississippi,
Spartanburg, South Carolina:
Reprint Company, Publishers, 1978 (originally published 1908), pp.
Stewart Sifakis, Compendium
Confederate Armies: Mississippi, New York: Facts on File, 1995.