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Dated:  Jan 5, 2012


 From Dunbar Rowland’s "Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898"
with supplement by H. Grady Howell

      Unit Names           Command & Organization             Officers
      Companies           Battles & Actions                           Unit History

 Unit Names
   Like almost all Civil War units 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 regiment 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

  There are no muster rolls in this department; the companies are not entered in the Register of Commissions. This list is from the recollections of Colonel Stephens, whose manuscript regimental history is drawn upon for this sketch.

Colonels:  John A. Orr, elected to Congress; Marcus D. L. Stephens, wounded at Franklin, TN
Lieutenant-Colonels:   M. D. L. Stephens, promoted February 17, 1864; James W. Drane.
Majors:   H. E. Topp, killed at Jackson, MS; James W. Drane, promoted; Francis M. Gillespie, killed at Peachtree Creek, GA; Thomas J. Pulliam.
Surgeons:   J. M. Blackwell, H. C. Orr.
Assistant Surgeons:   H. C. Orr, J. R. Ford.
Adjutants:   J. N. Campbell, J. C. Rasberry, W. J. Vandegraff.
Quartermasters:   L. S. Bolling, B. F. Fitzpatrick.
Commissaries:   B. F. Fitzpatrick, Simon Myers. 
Company A (Orr’s Guard)
   Captains: Holmes, A. A. Ponder, John R. Ketchum
   Lieutenants: P. Joy, P. B. Welch, J. W. Prude, J. C. Youngblood, J. C. Morrow
Company B
   Captains: J. C. Butts, W. W. Nokes, killed at Franklin
Company C 
   Captain: J. S. L. Hill
   Lieutenants: James F. Pulliam, wounded; W. D. Carradine, killed at Peachtree Creek, GA
Company D (Dixie Rebels)
    Organized at Sarepta, Calhoun County, March 15, 1862
    Captains: M. D. L. Stephens, elected Lieutenant-Colonel; F. M. Gillespie, promoted Major; S. D. Powell.
    1st Lieutenants: F. M. Gillespie, S. D. Powell.
    2nd Lieutenant: W. S. Hudson.
    3rd Lieutenant: C. C. Broom.
    Enrollment: 142 rank and file.
Company E
   Captains: T. J. Atkinson, G. W. Naron
Company F
Captains: Benjamin Loughridge, H. L. Duncan
Company G
Captains: J. A. Orr, elected Colonel; J. Frank Manahan
Company H
Captains: G. W. Jennings, N. B. Crawford
Company I  
Captain: J. M. Drane, promoted Lieutenant-Colonel
Company K
Captains: B. F. McWhorter, G. W. Lewallen, captured near Atlanta.
    Lieutenants: William Wells, J. M. McBreyer, killed at Baton Rouge, LA; J. M. Knight, J. N. Blancit, killed.

Command Organization
The higher commands to which the regiment was assigned were:
June 16, 1862 -- Garrison: Vicksburg, Mississippi, Department of Mississippi & East Louisiana
August 1862 -- Helm's Brigade, Clark's Division, Breckinridge's Command, District of the Mississippi, Department #2
September 1862 -- Helm's Brigade, District of the Mississippi, Department #2
October 1862 -- Helm's Brigade, Department of the Mississippi and East Louisiana
December 1862 -- Thompson's Brigade, Rust's Division, 1st Corps, Army of North Mississippi, Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana
Jan 31, 1863 -- Rust’s Brigade, Loring’s Division, Fourth Military District, Department of Mississippi & East Louisiana
March 1863 -- Featherston's Brigade, Loring's Division, 2nd Military District, Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana
Apr 1, 1863 -- Hebert’s Brigade, Maury’s Division, Department of Mississippi & East Louisiana
May 30, 1863 -- Second [Featherston's] Brigade, Loring’s Division, Department of the West
Sep 30, 1863 -- Featherston’s Brigade, Loring’s Division, Department of Mississippi & East Louisiana
Jan 20, 1864 -- Featherston’s Brigade, Loring’s Division, Department of Alabama, Mississippi & East Louisiana
Apr 15, 1864 -- Featherston’s Brigade, Loring’s Division, Army of Mississippi
 Jun 1, 1864 -- Featherston’s Brigade, Loring’s Division, 3rd Corps, Stewart’s Corps, Army of Tennessee.

 Battles and Actions
    The regiment took part in more than 35 actions during its career. Some of the more noteworthy are grouped below by year:
  Date                           Action        Location
May 18-Jul 27             Bombardment Vicksburg, MS
Aug 5, 1862                 Engagement Baton Rouge, LA

Mar 25, 1863               Skirmish Fore's Plantation, Fort Pemberton, MS
May 14, 1863               Battle Jackson, MS
May 15-Jul 3, 1863      Campaign Vicksburg, MS

May 16, 1864               Battle Champion Hill, MS
Feb-Mar, 1864             Campaign Meridian, MS
May 25-Jun 4, 1864      Engagement New Hope Church, GA
May-Sep, 1864             Campaign Atlanta, GA
Jul-Sep, 1864               Siege of Atlanta, GA
Jul 20, 1864                  Battle Peach Tree Creek, GA
Jul 28, 1864                  Battle Ezra Church, GA
Aug 31-Sep 1, 1864     Battle Jonesboro, GA
Dec 15-16, 1864          Battle Nashville, TN
Feb-Apr 26                    Campaign         Carolinas


Organizational History

     Filled from Orr's 6th Battalion, the regiment was raised by Colonel John A. Orr, assisted 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.

   Upon being mustered into Confederate service the 31st Mississippi Infantry was placed on garrison duty at Vicksburg. There it was attached to the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana. The regiment served with that command for much of its career. In early 1864 this command was expanded and renamed the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana.

   The regiment next served in the Army of Mississippi. In the spring of 1864 the unit was placed in the Army of Tennessee. On April 9, 1865 the regiment was consolidated with the 3rd and 40th Infantry Regiments and designated as the 3rd Infantry Regiment Consolidated at Smithfield, North Carolina.

Unit History
    While 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, commanding 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.

   Breckenridge was ordered to the support of Vicksburg, then under bombardment by a river fleet, and 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, the 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 regiment marched to attack the federal force at Baton Rouge, expecting the cooperation of the ram Arkansas, the passage of which through the federal fleet they had witnessed at Vicksburg. Early in the morning of August 5 a body of partisan rangers in their front, galloping back, produced some confusion, 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, brother of the wife of President Lincoln, was killed, and several men of the 31st Infantry were killed or wounded. At daylight, under command of Gen. Charles Clark, the attack was made, and the federals were forced back to the grove 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 vain. Gen. Clark was dangerously wounded and captured. Maj. H. E. Topp, commanding the 31st, was commended for gallant conduct. The casualties of the regiment were killed and mortally wounded, 16; wounded, 31.

   The troops returned to Jackson, Mississippi, and about September 1 moved to Gray's Creek, north of Holly Springs, where there was a reorganization. The 31st along with the 1st, 3rd, and 22nd Mississippi Infantry Regiments formed Rust's Brigade, under command of Col. Stephens, while Gen. Rust commanded the division until Gen. Loring took command.

   The federal troops occupied 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 met the enemy at Chewalla Creek.

   When Gen. Grant advanced from Memphis down the Central Railroad they fell back from Holly Springs 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 advance back to the main army at Water Valley, and then retired to Grenada. VanDorn's raid to Holly Springs followed and Grant retreated to Memphis.

   The regiment was then sent to the support of Gen. S. D. Lee at Chickasaw Bayou. The brigade was met at Edwards as it moved to Vicksburg by Gen. Featherston, who took command, the brigade then including the 15th, 22nd, 31st, and 33rd Infantry Regiments 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 of action. Col. Orr then taking command of the Confederate forces with Featherston. After an unique campaign in the flooded swamps with the federal gunboats that were crowding their way through the bayou, the gunboats escaped into Black Bayou, and the regiment took steamer for Fort Pemberton, confronted by a Federal fleet.

    Late in April they moved to Grenada, whence the regiment was ordered again to Edwards. On May 3 Col. Orr, at Edwards, was ordered, "on the arrival of Featherston, with his brigade, your regiment and Snodgrass' Alabama Regiment will go to the Big Black bridge."

   Grant landed at Bruinsburg 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 battle 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 left 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 creek. When Loring began to fall back, after sunset, his way was cut off. Featherston's Brigade formed behind the division artillery and repulsed two attacks of 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 part of July they were with Johnston's army near the Big Black River, retreating thence to Jackson after the surrender of Jackson, July 4. At Jackson they entrenched on a hill north of the residence of Col. Withers, and Sherman rapidly following, his entrenched line was established at the Insane Asylum. An assault was made by the federals and repulsed, and in this action Major Topp was mortally wounded and several others of the regiment killed or wounded.

   After the hostilities 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.

   Lt. Col. Stephens was commanding the regiment, in Featherston's Brigade, Loring's Division, army of General Polk, concentrated at Canton, when Sherman began his march from Vicksburg to Meridian in February, 1864. The division moved to Morton and fell back to Demopolis, Alabama.

   Early in March, 1864, they moved to Montevallo, Alabama, with the army under General Polk. They arrived at Resaca, Georgia, at the beginning of the battle of May 12-15, and several men were wounded by artillery fire while getting off the train. 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 Calhoun Station followed. They went into line of battle and were under artillery 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 almost daily battles or skirmishes, extending as the armies sought to outflank each other, over the Kenesaw Mountains to Marietta, where Sherman was repulsed in the battle of Kenesaw Mountain, June 27.

   Falling back early in 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 assault the federal troops along Peachtree Creek July 20.

     At Peachtree Creek the regiment first drove back the federal line in its front and gained the main position, where they were outflanked and suffered terrible losses in attempting to hold their position. Col. Stephens being sick, the regiment 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 line, a gallant officer and true patriot. Adjutant W. J. Vandegraff, a gallant 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 hand, 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 command until Capt. T. J. Pulliam joined the regiment with a detachment that had been on picket duty.

   Of the 22 company officers 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. The commander of the 136th New York reported the capture of the battle flag of the 31st Mississippi. Dennis Buckley, of the New York Regiment, according to the reports, knocked down the color bearer with a musket and wrenched the colors from him. Seven stand of colors were lost at the same time.

   Following are the casualties among the company officers at Peachtree Creek:
  Company A: Killed:  Capt. John 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 T. Pulliam.
  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.

        Besides those named of the field and staff, Sergeant-Major G. T. Hightower and Ensign J. V. Bailew were also severely wounded.

   The regiment was on duty on the battle field of July 22, east of Atlanta, and actively participated 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 evacuation at the close of August. The regiment was commanded during the Atlanta campaign by Col. M. D. L. Stephens, until the battle of Ezra Church, when Col. Stephens took command of the brigade, and Gen. Featherston of Loring's Division.

   In the October, 1864, 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 26-29, where the regiment had several killed and wounded. Thence they moved to Tuscumbia.

   At the beginning of the Atlanta campaign Polk's Army of the Mississippi had an enrollment of over 40,000 and an aggregate present of over 25,000. On November 6, under the title of Stewart's Corps, its return was 26,714 present and absent, aggregate present 12,684. The corps crossed the Tennessee River November 20 and marched against Schofield at Columbia, on the 29th, making a movement toward Spring Hill to support Forrest and Cheatham, held at bay by Stanley's federal division. In a confused night march they never reached their destination. Hood believed that if they had, history would have been different. November 30 they followed Schofield to the strong entrenchments in front of Franklin, on the Harpeth, and suffered frightful losses in the assault. Out of 250 men in the 31st Regiment, 45 were killed and about 100 wounded.

   The 31st advanced to 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. When he was shot he gave the flag to Col. Stephens, who, with the few then able to advance, charged up to the trenches and was in the act of planting the flag on the works when his thigh was shattered by a rifle ball and he fell 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 Illinois soldier came out of the works and adjusted a bandage to prevent Col. Stephens 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.

   Thomas' army was safely 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 Dec. 10. On Dec. 15 Thomas attacked and carried two of the redoubts, capturing many. Loring's Division gallantly formed a second line to meet the flank attack. On Dec. 16 they repulsed every attack until a fiercer assault was successful on their left. At Columbia, Dec. 20, Featherston's Brigade was selected as one of the seven to be commanded by Walthall as the infantry rear guard, remaining in the face of the enemy until the remainder of the 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 gallantly, checking pursuit at Anthony's Hill and Sugar Creek, Dec. 25-26. They crossed the Tennessee River Dec. 28, and marched to winter quarters near Tupelo.

   A month later the return was 20,071 present and absent, aggregate present 8,909.

   About Feb. 1, 1865 the remnant of Loring's Division began the movement to reinforce Gen. Johnston in the Carolinas, Sherman having marched to Savannah from Atlanta. On Feb. 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 organization of the army under Gen. J. E. Johnston, near Smithfield, North Carolina, March 31, 1865, shows Maj. Gen. Walthall in command of Stewart's Corps, former Army of the Mississippi; Featherston’s Brigade commanded by Maj. Martin A. Oatis; the 31st Infantry by Capt. John F. Manahan. Maj. Pulliam, however, was with the regiment. On April 9 the 3rd, 31st, and 40th Mississippi were consolidated as the 3rd Infantry Regiment Consolidated, Col. James M. Stigler commanding. An Arkansas Brigade, consolidated in one regiment, was added to the old Featherston Brigade.

  Hostilities were suspended April 18, and the army was surrendered near Durham Station April 26.



Dunbar Rowland, Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898, taken from the Official and Statistical Register of the State of Mississippi,
Spartanburg, South Carolina: The Reprint Company, Publishers, 1978 (originally published 1908), pp. 288-294.
Stewart Sifakis, Compendium of the Confederate Armies: Mississippi, New York: Facts on File, 1995.

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