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Dated:  Jan 3, 2012


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

Command Organization
Grenada, Mississippi, Department #2 (June 1862)
3rd Sub-District, District of the Mississippi, Department #2 (June-August 1862)
Allen's Brigade, Ruggle's Division, Breckinridge's Command, District of the Mississippi,
     Department #2  Co. I only] (August 1862)
Villepique’s Brigade, Lovell's Division, Army of West Tennessee, Department of Mississippi and
     East Louisania (October 1862)
Beall's Brigade, 3rd Military District, Dept. of Mississippi and East Louisania (October 1862-July 1863)
Baldwin's (old)-Sears' Brigade, Dept. of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisania (March-May 1864)
Sears' Brigade, Army of Mississippi (May 1864)
Sears' Brigade, French's Division Stewart's 3rd Corp, Army of Tennessee (July 1864-January 1865)
Sears' Brigade, French's Division, District of the Gulf, Dept. of Alabama, Mississippi, and
       East Louisania (January 1865-April 1865)
Sears' Brigade, French's Division, Dept. of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisania (April-May 1865)

Unit History

   The 39th was enlisted for three years or the war, had it's rendezvous at Jackson, and was organized May 13, 1862.Winchester Bledsoe Shelby, of Brandon, being elected Colonel; William E. Ross, of Jackson Lieutenant-Colonel, and W. Monroe Quinn, of Pike County, Major.  Corinth was at the time occupied by the Army under General Beauregard, invested by the army under General Halleck, which took possession May 30,upon the withdrawal of Beauregard to Tupelo. At about this time the 39th was sent to Grenada, where it became a part of the brigade of General John B. Villepigue, who had just been associated with the Mississippi troops at Pensacola, and had just returned from gallant service at Memphis. June 12, 1862, Gen. Villepigue, and the regiment, advanced, unarmed except for 41 defective flint-lock muskets. When Villepigue was ordered with his brigade to Vicksburg, June 23 1862, it was directed that Col. Shelby's Regiment (the 39th) should remain under the command of Col. W.H. Jackson, to protect the northern border.

    Company I, Capt. Randel, was part of the command of Gen. M.L. Smith at Vicksburg, during the bombardments of May 20 to July 27,1862. This company was with the troops that Gen. Breckenridge took to Camp Moore La, immediately after the failure of the Federal attack on Vicksburg, and in the attack on Baton Rouge, August 5,1862 was attached to the 4th Louisiana. Casualties, killed 1; wounded 1. After the attack Gen. Breckenridge returned with his command to Jackson MS.

   The regiment, in Villepigue's Brigade, of Lovell's Division, was part of the army of Gen. Earl Van Dorn, which advanced to the Tennessee border, when Gen. Sterling Price occupied Iuka in September, but fell back and was joined by Price after the battle of Iuka, then again advancing at the close of September to attempt the capture of Corinth, held by Rosecrans. In the battle of Corinth, Oct. 3-5,1862,Villepigue's Brigade, including the 33rd and 39th Mississippi, took part in carrying the outer line of rifle pits on the 3rd,were engaged slightly on the 4th,and on the 5th at Hatchie Bridge, on the retreat after the failed attempt to capture Corinth, the brigade skirmishers, checked the Union pursuit. Gen. Villepigue mentioned for conspicuous gallantry, Col. Shelby, "who rallied his men from a partial disorder into which they had been thrown by a flank fire of the enemy." The brigade casualties were 21 killed, 76 wounded, and 71 missing.

   After the battle of Corinth, the brigade was ordered from Oxford Ms, to reinforce the garrison at Port Hudson La. General Villepigue died on the march near Port Hudson on November 9.

   January 7, 1863,the consolidated regiment, consisting of the 39th and 1st Mississippi Regiments, commanded by Col. W.B. Shelby, was assigned to the brigade command of Gen. William Beall, on duty in the breastworks at Port Hudson.

   Their first engagement was during the siege, May 25, when the Federal began the investment, the first assault was May 27,and up to June 1, reported 2 killed and 4 wounded. Adjutant J. S. Melvin, June 4th, reported the position of the regiment, right to left, "Capt. J. H. Cofer, 2 companies 39th, near Lieut. Harmans's guns, 80 men; Wilkins Battery, 40 men; Major R.J. Durr, 6 companies 39th, 285 men; Capt. William Weathersby, 2 companies 39th,on ridge in front of my left, 100 men." On June 11, Federal skirmishers pushed into the lines and occupied the slaughter house, and 2 companies of the 39th were sent to drive them out. Col. Shelby's Regiment occupied an important position and was relied upon for faithful service. Col. Shelby was commanding the left wing of the brigade, June 8th and reported the shelling of the mortars so heavy, that it drove his cannoneers from their guns. June 14th an assault was made and repulsed with heavy loss. June 20th Col. Shelby was again menaced, but the enemy failed to charge. Additional artillery was sent to his support.  He had 2 guns of Herrod's 1st Mississippi Light Artillery, among others.

   The regiment was surrendered with the garrison July 8, 1863. The surrender was unconditional, but General Banks carried out an informal agreement and paroled the non-commissioned officers and privates. The commissioned were sent officers were sent to Johnson's Island. The regiment was in the parole and exchange camp at Enterprise MS, Lt. Col. William E. Ross commanding the nucleus of a brigade including the 39th and Miles' Louisiana Legion of infantry and artillery. When Gen. Sherman advanced to Meridian during the Meridian Campaign in February 1864,the troops at Enterprise were sent to Mobile Alabama. In March the regiment was with Gen. James Cantey's Division at Pollard, Alabama. In April the 39th was attached to the brigade of Gen. Claudis W. Sears, and moved to Selma Alabama. This brigade along with Cockrell's Missourians and Ector's Texans and North Carolinians, formed Gen. Samuel G. French's Division of the Army of the Mississippi, under the command of Gen, Leonidas Polk. After the death of Gen. Polk at Pine Mountain it was known as A.P. Stewart's Corp. They moved to the support of General Johnston in Georgia, leaving Tuscaloosa Alabama on May 8, and Sear's Brigade of which the 39th belonged to reached the vicinity of Resaca May 16, as Johnston was falling back across the Oostenaula River. The regiment was during this time by Lt. Colonel William E. Ross and Major Robert J. Durr.

   General Hood advanced the army in late September to destroy the railroad between Chattanooga and Atlanta in an attempt to destroy Federal supply lines. Stewart's Corp crossed the Chattahoochee River, moved to Lost Mountain October 2, and tore up the track near Big Shanty, after which, on the night of the 4th, French's Division marched to fill the cut at Allatoona.  This cut was defended by redoubts and a star fort, on opposite sides of the road, occupied by a small garrison which was reinforced to about 2000 men 2 hours before French's arrival. At daylight French placed his brigades and demanded a surrender, which was refused by General Corse.  French then attacked with about 2000 of his division and artillery, Sears' Brigade advancing from the north and rear on both sides of the road. A desperate hand to hand fight drove 3 of Corse's regiments into the works, against which the Mississippians pushed up, taking such shelter as could be found, and sweeping the works with a deadly fire.  Major Edson, 4th Minnesota, reported 2 Confederate regiments charged his position with desperation, but were forced back, excepting small detachments of each that pushed forward and took shelter in a narrow ravine, where he captured 80 prisoners, including 1 field officer, several line officers, along with the colors of the 35th and 39th Mississippi Infantry.

   During this fight of about 4 hours, Corse was in communication with Sherman at Kennesaw Mountain by signal flags, and Federal troops were sent to cut off French's Division, fearing which, French withdrew in time to save his command after heavy losses. In Sear's brigade alone there were 425 killed. The causalities of the 39th, Major Robert J. Durr commanding, were 11 killed, 24 wounded, and 77 missing. Lt. G.H. Moore and 21 others of Co. I were among the captured.

After this Stewart's Corps destroyed the railroad between Resaca and Dalton. French's Division captured the blockhouse at Tilton, October 13,and next was in battle before the Federal works at Decatur, October 26-29, and moving thence to Tuscumbia. They crossed the Tennessee River November 20, marched against Schofield's Federal command at Columbia, and on November 29 moved with Stewart's Corp toward Spring Hill, marching till late that night. They followed closely upon the Federal troops as they retreated to Franklin on the Harpeth River, and attacked them in a strong position about 4 in the evening, December 30. The first line was carried, but in advancing across an open space against the second line of works, the Confederate troops were exposed to a destructive crossfire of artillery, and the attack failed with a terrible loss of life. Some of Sears' Brigade pressed forward to the ditch around the inner line of works, where many of them remained, separated from the enemy only by the parapet, until the Federal army withdrew.

   The causalities of Sear's Brigade were 30 killed, 168 wounded, and 35 missing. The remnant marched to Nashville, and was detached to support Forrest in the siege of Murfreesboro. They were in battle at Overall's Creek December 4, and before Murfreesboro December 7. On December 9, the brigade effectives were 210 men. Marching back to Nashville over icy roads, many barefooted, they fought in Walthall's line December 15-16. Walthall's two division remnants were almost surrounded before they gave way. December 26 they crossed the Tennessee River, marching thence to Northeast Mississippi.

   French's Division was ordered to report to General Maury at Mobile, February 1, 1865. The return of March 10 showed the 39th commanded by Capt. C. W. Gallaher.

   The last service of the regiment was in the defense of the fortifications east of Mobile, called Spanish Fort and Fort Blakley. These works, after heavy fighting, were carried by assault by the army of General Canby, the final action being at Blakeley April 9, 1865, and the 5000 prisoners taken included most of the remnant of the 39th. They were paroled after the capitulation of Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor, commanding the department at Citronelle, Ala, May 4, 1865.

~~~ end of history   ~~~

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