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Dated:  Nov 23, 2011
Henry Cole
       The Saga of

      Henry A. Cole
      & Family

     During the Civil War

Military service of Henry Cole, his father, his brother and brother-in-laws.

Including Footnotes to 18 substantiating documents and references. 

Documented and compiled by Steve Cole in 1992.  Research at the Fort Worth Public Library and the National Archives Federal Records Center in Fort Worth. .

Photo of Henry A. Cole probably taken in early 1900's.  He appears to be wearing a medal for a Civil War veteran's association on his lapel.

At the outbreak of the War, Henry Asbury Cole was 16 and living with his family in Black Hawk, Mississippi. His parents were Richard W. Cole and his wife, Eliza Jane (Jones). His older brother, Robert E. Cole, was 19. An older sister, Jane, was married to William H. Ball1 . This is the story of this family's participation in the Civil War.  Benjamin F. Tucker and Jane's husband are included since they enlisted in the same unit as the members of the Cole family.

The country erupted into civil war in April 1861.  Many young men were moved with emotion to join and fight for their new country, the Confederate States of America.  This fervor caught on at Black Hawk as several men enlisted to form a regiment that was named after the town: the "Black Hawk Rifles".  Among those who enlisted on April 20 were Robert E. Cole and his brother-in-law, William H. Ball, and James S. Purcell
2, 19.  James S. Purcell also enlisted and he would someday marry one of Henry’s sisters.

Once formed, the new company reported to the main training base near Grenada.  There other companies from around the state were formed into regiments.  When the Black Hawk Rifles arrived, all the regiments had been formed. 
For months, the unit could not find enough men to assemble together. Several members became discouraged. Captain H. J. Reid traveled to Richmond to obtain an order from the war department to have their companies mustered into Confederate service as independent companies. On Sept. 6, 1861, 78 officers and men re-enlisted into a unit that became the "22nd Mississippi Regiment, Company G"3. The regiment was sent directly to the campaign in Kentucky.

The regiment was bivouacked at Camp Beauregard near Feliciana, Ky., from Nov. 1st to Dec. 25th.  During this period from Nov. 1st to Dec. 25th, the regiment participated in night marches in the freezing rain. Many soldiers became sick due to exposure to the elements18. Several of the regiment were discharged due to illness or died of pneumonia. Even the regiment's commander, Col. Bonham, became ill and died8. Private Robert Cole died on Dec. 1, 1861. His father, Richard Cole, traveled to Kentucky to claim his son's body. He signed discharge papers that described Robert as a student and included a physical description as:  dark hair, brown eyes.  He also received his son's back pay of $11/month and $4 clothing allowance. Richard Cole brought his son back to Carroll County for burial in Black Hawk cemetery. The inscription on his tombstone reads:
Robert E. Cole
son of R.W. & E.J. Cole
Sept 18, 1841 - Dec 1, 1861

During this time the young Rebel army was forming, Henry Cole was still too young to enlist. The family records say that he ran away from home to try to join the army. No record of his enlistment can be found until 1863. (There is an enlistment record of another H. A. Cole, 37th Mississippi, Co. A,5 but this person was killed in action.) Henry enlisted in Company A, 30th Miss.6 , which consisted of men from Carroll County. In this same unit was a soldier 10 years older than Henry by the name of Benjamin F. Tucker7. After the war, Henry would marry Benjamin Tucker's widow, which suggests the two must have become very acquainted during service. Private Tucker's records indicates he was occasionally assigned wagon duty and transported injured soldiers to the hospital8. It is possible that, prior to his enlistment, Henry Cole was assigned as a contract mule skinner to assist Private Tucker. The two were most likely acquaintances in Carroll County before the war. Another possibility is that Henry Cole joined a local home guard unit that was disbanded after the fall of Vicksburg and eventually made his way to Chattanooga.

During the Vicksburg Campaign, General Grant attempted to enter Vicksburg by the Yazoo River with a small armada of river boats.  They were stopped at Fort Pemberton located on the conflux of the Tallahatchie and Yazoo Rivers at present-day Greenwood.  Confederate General Loring organized some units that successfully stopped this flotilla.  One of the units sent to Greenwood was the 22nd Mississippi Regiment.  This battle was very close to Black Hawk.  Surely the family members heard of this threat.  It may have influenced Richard and maybe Henry Cole to take up arms to defend their country.  Vicksburg would fall on July 4, 1863.

After the recent battles of Vicksburg and Gettysburg, the Confederates needed more recruits to contain the Yankees at Chattanooga, TN.  It was at this time, on Nov. 22, 1863, that Henry enlisted in Company A, "Neill's Guard", 30th Mississippi Regiment. The 30th Mississippi was part of Gen. Edward Walthall's brigade, which was placed on the western base of Lookout Mountain. The night before the battle, the three brigades of the Confederate's left flank were placed under a new commander and repositioned on the mountain.  The next day, Nov. 24, the Yankees had three divisions in position on the west side of Lookout Mountain; one division from each of their three armies. Their plan was to attack across Lookout Creek from the west and advance north along the slope of Lookout Mountain and crush the Confederate left flank that encircled Chattanooga.

Before the Battle of Lookout Mountain began on Nov. 24, the 30th Miss. was under arms an hour before daybreak. Much of the regiment was placed as a picket line along Lookout Creek and Tennessee River. As the Yankees crossed below them, the picket line found themselves being cut off from defenses on Lookout Mountain. Companies I & C were sent forward to strengthen the picket line as it gave way before the Yankee assault. The whole regiment deployed as skirmishers to support it. Men clung to their posts in the rocks until surrounded and captured. The brigade finally rallied after a 3-hour fight just past the Craven's house and held until dark9. Out of his original 1500-man brigade, Gen. Walthall's brigade lost 8 killed, 42 wounded, and 845 missing. Company A of the 30th Miss. lost 1 officer, 1 NCO and 2 slightly wounded with 14 men missing10.

Private Henry Cole was one of those taken prisoner. He was transferred to Louisville, Kentucky, then on to Rock Island Barracks located on the Mississippi River near Chicago6. During the winter months, this camp experienced a fever epidemic. Fifteen hundred men died from exposure to the cold during the first 6 months of the camp. The death rate at this time was higher than any time at Andersonville11.

During this time, Private William Ball, Henry's brother-in-law, was discharged from the 22nd Mississippi due to medical problems, but would later serve in the defense of Atlanta. The patriarch, Richard Cole, was home alone with his wife and daughters. Having lost one son to the cause and knowing little about his other son and son-in-law, Richard felt compelled to go to the aid of the cause. At age 44, he enlisted into Company C, 5th Mississippi Cavalry, on Aug. 11, 1863.  This regiment was formed under the command of Col. James Z. George. In the fall of 1863, the 5th Mississippi Cavalry saw action in northern Mississippi and western Tennessee under Gen. Chalmer's division.

On November 3, 1863, General Chalmers made his second attempt to attack the garrison at Collierville, Tennessee.  The fort was established to protect the Memphis & Charleston Railroad but it was also a valuable target for resupplying their ammunition and horese.  Acting on faulty reports, General Chalmers moved his division quickly to the town and ordered an attack on what he thought would be one lone regiment.  Instead the Union fort was defended by two cavalry regiments with artillery.  The 2nd Iowa Cavalry regiment was armed with 5-shot Colt revolver rifles.  The 5th Mississippi Cavalry lead the charge on foot in the attack to take the Union troops crouched behind the railroad tracks.  They were met by a five volleys from the Iowa cavalry.  Colonel George and two officers were the only men to reach the top of the railroad bed.  Colonel George was captured; the charge was replused.

  In January 1864, the 5th Mississippi Cavalry was assigned to General  Nathan B. Forrest for a period of 6 months13.   A Presbyterian minister from Tennessee, Colonel Wiley M. Reed 12 was picked to be their new commander.  The 5th Mississippi Cavalry participated in the raid into West Tennessee.  General Forrest established his headquarters at Bolivar.  From there, Forrest's brigades made raids to Union, Tennesse and to Paducah, Kentucky.

General Chalmers division was selected for an attack on Fort Pillow that over-looked the Mississippi River.  General Chalmers would be in command but General Forrest would accompany the division.  They departed Brownsville on 11 April and marched all night in rain and mud to reach Fort Pillow early on the morning of the 12th.  Chalmers’ cavalry quickly drove in the pickets and drove the Union troops into the inner earthworks of the fort.  The Union defense consisted of 519 cavalrymen and artillerymen and 6 cannons.  However Chalmers had the advantage as there were several hills that allowed them to fire into the fort.  Soon the Confederates snipers had killed the Union commander, which basically left the fort without a combat-experienced leader.  Forrest sent a surrender demand under the flag of truce.  It was refused.  Time was critical now as a Union gunboat anchored north of the fort.  The bugler sounded the charge and the Confederate troopers swarmed over the fort from three sides.  However the fighting didn’t stop as no one gave the order to surrender.

This battle was called the "Fort Pillow Massacre", as the Yankees lost over 250 soldiers, mostly black, and 219 captured.  The Confederates lost only 20 killed and 80 wounded.  The Union loss was a high rate of casualties when compared with the typical battle statistics.  There were several reasons for the reaction of the Confederates.  First they had gone into West Tennessee to search out Union Colonel Field Hurst who was taking private property and extorting money from pro-Southern land owners.  Second, the Confederates felt that it was illegal to take slaves and arm them.  The Union forces consisted of the former slaves serving in the 6th Colored Heavy Artillery and the 2nd Colored Light Artillery.  They also hated the white troops because they were fellow Tennesseans of the 13th Tennessee Cavalry.  Finally, the Confederates had ridden all day and gotten little rest or food.

The final charge against the inner breastworks was lead by McCulloch’s brigade and included the 5th Mississippi Cavalry.  The 5th Mississippi Cavalry suffered the highest number of casualties which included 5 men killed and 13 wounded. The remaining killed in this skirmish included: 2nd Missouri had 2; Duffs’ Mississippi 1; Forrest's Regiment 1; and the 4th Brigade, consisting of 2nd, 15th, and 16th Tennessee with 5 killed14. Private Richard W. Cole was one of these killed in action. Colonel Reed was fatally wounded in the shoulder, bowels and ankle and died two weeks later. General Forrest wrote to Gen. Polk on April 15:

"I sustained a loss of 20 killed and 60 wounded.
Among the wounded is the gallant Lieut. Col. Wiley
M. Reed while leading the Fifth Mississippi."

After only 6 months serving under General Forrest, the 5th Mississippi Cavalry was reassigned to a new command.13

As the War moved into the third year, there were more bad news.  The 30th Mississippi Regiment retreated towards Atlanta.  Private Benjamin Tucker was killed in one of the battles around Atlanta, leaving a widow and two children. Private William Ball appeared on a roster of local militia defending the city.  He was finally discharged from service due to illness
19.  The conflict continued for another year while Henry Cole remained in prison camp.  He was released in March of 1865 from Rock Island prison and sent to Hospital No. 9 at Richmond6. Apparently, this route was the only rail line into the South that remained open.  He was discharged from the Army and arrived home three days before Lee's surrender1.15

A couple of years after the war, Henry married the widow Sarah Land Tucker. They raised the two Tucker children plus four of their own1.  His name appeared on a list of veterans in a book for the Confederate Veterans Reunion of 1904 in Memphis, TN.   He was admitted twice to the hospital at Confederate Soldiers' Home at Beauvoir, Miss.; once in 1914 and again in 1920. In 1920 he applied for his pension benefits while living with his daughter. On May 22, 1922, he again entered the Beauvoir hospital and died there on Aug. 27, 192316.

He was buried at the Beauvoir Cemetery on the grounds of the Jefferson Davis Home. His tombstone, which bears the incorrect unit, reads:

H. A. Cole
Co. A. 37TH Miss.17

The final resting-place of Richard W. Cole has yet to be located.

James Slicer Purcell married Richard Cole's daughter, Frances Melissa Cole, in 1869 and settled in Louisiana.  William J. Ware was a sergeant in the Black Hawk Rifles.  After the war he married Richard Cole's daughter, Virginia "Jennie" Cole, and later moved to Texas.

Henry Jackson Barrentine's daughter Martha Jane would later marry Richard W. Cole's youngest son, Richard Bascum Cole, who was too young to enlist.  Richard B. Cole would move to Texas and have 12 children and many descendants of the Cole family.

Grave marker for Henry Cole
Henry A. Cole
Beauvoir Cemetery at the Jeff Davis Home in Gulfport, MS.
Henry Cole's headstone with incorrect inscription: "37th Miss".
During my visit in October 2003, I added the plaque
at the bottom with the correct information.

Pvt Robert E. Cole, Black Hawk Rifles
Robert E. Cole

Black Hawk Rifles - Company G
22nd Mississippi

Restored headstone with new base.
Black Hawk Methodist Cemetery


FOOTNOTES: 1- National Census Records of Mississippi, Carroll County for 1850, 1860 & 1870.
2- National Archives Records, Civil War Records for R. E. Cole of 22th Miss.
3- "Sketch of the Black Hawk Rifles" by Col. H. J. Reid.; Greenwood Public Library, Greenwood Miss.
4- National Archives Records, Civil War Records for R. E. Cole of 22th Miss. and William H. Ball of 22th Miss.
5- National Archives Records, Civil War Records for H. A. Cole of 37th Miss.
6- National Archives Records, Civil War Records for Henry A. Cole of 30th Miss. that includes the Union records of as a prisoner of war.
7- "Military Annals of Carroll County"; Greenwood Public Library, Greenwood Miss.
8- National Archives Records, Civil War Records for Benjamin F. Tucker of 30th Miss.
9- "Official Statistics & Register of State of Miss."; by Dunbar Rowland. Unit Histories of 22nd and 30th Miss. Infantry Regiments.
10- National Archives Records of Casualties of Gen. Waithall's Brigade at Battle of Lookout Mountain; Federal Records Center, Fort Worth, TX.
11- The Clarion-Ledger-Jackson Daily News; Dec. 9 1984; Section H, Pg 6; Article on Rock Island Barracks.  This article contains names of Mississippians who died at Rock Island.
12- National Archives Records, Civil War Records for R. W. Cole of 5th Miss. Cavalry.
13- "Fifth Mississippi Cavalry"; A Synopsis of Unit's History, 4 pgs, Hill College, Hillsboro, TX.
14- List of Casualties from Fort Pillow; Park Ranger, Fort Pillow Historical Area.
15- National Archives Records, Civil War Pension Records for Henry A. Cole of Carroll County.
16- Letter dtd July 20, 1964; signed by W. A. Blackledge, Manager; Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis Shrine; Bilouxi, MS
17- "Beauvoir Cemetery Records"; Greenwood Public Library, Greenwood Miss.
18- "A History of Camp Beauregard"; Fuller, Lizzie Lowe. Typescript, Pogue Library, Murray State University.
19- National Archives Records, Civil War Records of William H. Ball of 22nd Miss.

This includes rosters and quotes from #3, #7, #10, #11, #13, & #14.
Refer to Main Menu of DixieBoys.
Note that the "Military Annals of Carrol County" states that a Pvt R. W. Cole was killed at Collierville, which does not agree with his National Archive war records.

Link to Black Hawk Cemetery with index of names. {External Link}

Links to Unit histories for the following Regiments:
30th Miss & Roster of men enlisted in this unit from Carroll County.
  22nd Miss  &  Co. G- Black Hawk Rifes

Private James S. Purcell was another brother-in-law of Private Henry A. Cole.  He also served in "Black Hawk Rifles" of 22nd Mississippi Regiment.  His story will be added at a later date.

A Surgeon's Report of the Deaths at Camp Beauregard

   In 1910, Mrs. George Fuller of the Daughters of the Confederacy placed ads in the "Confederate Veteran", the Memphis Commercial Appeal and other newspapers requesting veterans to contact her about their experience at Camp Beauregard, KY.  From this, she published a booklet  entitled "A History of Camp Beauregard" on the history of the camp and the soldiers who died there during the winter of 1861-62.  The funds raised from the sale of the book purchased a monument that was erected in 1920.
   The Tilghman-Beauregard Camp of the SCV re-published Mrs. Fuller's book in the 1970's.  The money from this book was used to make an addition to the monument.
   Among the many letters that were published in this book were some from veterans of the 22nd Mississippi Regiment.  One letter listed the names of the members of Company G who died there.  Included in the name was Private Robert E. Cole.
   The following letter was written by the Surgeon of the 22nd Mississippi Regiment.  It gives a detailed account of the suffering that they experienced.   The letter ends with his remarks that these men should be honored as much as any soldier who died in the field of battle.


August 17, 1914     
Mrs. Geo. T. Fuller 

Dear Madam: 
   I am in receipt of your favor of the 7th instant in behalf of the Confederate monument to be erected to the memory of the Confederate dead at Camp Beauregard, Ky.
    I can add but little to the facts contained in your printed circular except to correct a few errors as to my Regiment the 22nd Miss. Inf., which at that time was called Bonham’s Miss. War Regiment. We, the Black Hawk Rifles, had enlisted at Iuka, Miss., for the war, early in September, 1861. We were assigned to Col. Bonham’s War Regiment, then at Memphis, Tenn. Col. Bonham having been commissioned by Pres. Davis to raise a regiment for the war. Our company filled his regiment.
    The field officers were appointed by Pres. Davis; Col., D. W. C. Bonham* , Lieut. Col. Frank Schaller (a Frenchman); Major Chas. G. Nelms; Surgeon Dr. John Meyers; Ass’t Surgeon Dr. G. C. Phillips; Quartermaster Wm. Jane; Adj. Wm. Burke. In a few days we were ordered to Columbus to reinforce Gen. Polk, but without leaving the train we were ordered back to Union City. In a week or ten days we were ordered to Camp Beauregard to protect Gen. Polk’s right. In a few days there were between 6 and 7000 troops assembled there; all new and fresh from home, except the 1st Missouri and 9th and 10th Arkansas, who had seen service before crossing the Miss. River.
    Col. John S. Bowen of the 1st Missouri Regt., a graduate of West Point, was made a Brigadier General and placed in command of the Brigade on Gen. Bowen’s staff and Dr. Phillips became acting surgeon and afterwards full surgeon of the 22nd Miss. Regt. { Phillips became sugeon for the Company}
    The measles had gone through the regiment before it was made up of the companies then composing it, in many cases leaving some broncial or intestional {sic} trouble, rendering them easy marks for pneumonia and typhoid fever. The weather became cold and rainy, then sleet and snow. The drilling and picket duty to most of the men was very hard, and the diet was not what they were accustomed to. It was mostly fresh beef and flour, no vegetables, with plenty of coffee, tea, tobacco and whiskey. Soon typhoid fever and pneumonia broke out among the men. There were 75 cases of typhoid fever and typhoid pneumonia in my hospital tent during one month. I speak only of our own regiment. It was as bad or worse than other regiments. Then the most terrible disease, cerebrospinalmeningitis broke out, killing nearly every case attacked, and frequently in a few hours. In one instance the men in a certain mess had just come in from drilling, and whilst waiting for their dinner to cook, one of them commenced to talk queer, then jerk his head back and fell over in convulsions. One ran to the Surgeon’s quarters and burst in his tent, saying - “Come, Dr., quick, one of our men has that thing.” When we reached the tent another one of the men had been taken in the same way and in three hours both were dead. The drs.{sic} were all at sea. None of us had ever seen a case of this disease. We knew the brain and spinal cord were affected, but who so many similar cases? This was an epidemic and more fatal than yellow fever. We knew that a disease very similar in symptoms to this attacked the new recruits in the French Army during Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt, but this did not help us, as no remedy was known for it.
    Col. Bonham* sent for me and asked if nothing could be done to stop this high death rate among his men. It was worse than a battle. The men became depressed and gloomy, each one feared that he would be the next one taken and if so it meant death. Men in apparent perfect health, on going to bed, would be taken in the night, and by the next night might be dead. I advised the Col. to move his camp, if only half a mile, and to have his commissary issue corn meal, bacon, dry salty meat, turnips, potatoes, onions and cow peas as rations to the men, that this was an experiment, but I could advise nothing else. This was done and for the two weeks afterwards that we remained there, (being then ordered to Bowling Green, Ky.) we had no more of this terrible disease and typhoid fever and pneumonia fell very markedly. The troops remaining there continued to suffer.
    These men, who suffered and died at Camp Beauregard, were just as brave and patriotic as their comrades and friends, who fell upon the great battlefields of the War Between the States, and in whose honor and memory beautiful and noble monuments have been erected. They too should be honored in the same way. It was no fault of theirs that they did not live to be killed at Shiloh, Vicksburg or Franklin, where so many of the regiment were killed, and whose resting places are marked by headstones and beautiful monuments - erected by loving descendants and friends in memory of their heroism, courage and glorious death. 

I am Very respectfully yours, 

G. C. Phillips M. D.  
Ex Surgeon  
22nd Miss. Regiment 
Confederate Infantry 
{ * Col Bonham was also one of the casualties of that winter}

Camp Beauregard was abandoned by the Confederates soon afterwards.  All buildings, earthworks, and rail were completely destroyed.  All traces of the camp are now gone---except for the monument erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of the Confederate Veterans.

Grateful acknowledgement of Chuck & Oleen Pollard of Kentucky for the donation of this book.
Kentucky History -  External Link about the area that included Camp Beauregard and the incidents 
                             of the Civil War, with reference to Mrs. Fuller's book.

COLE Family Tree    --  Richard W. Cole family.
Includes sons and the daughters' husbands and their military units.
Cole Family Chart

   Fort Pillow
                          Fort Pillow Recreational Historic Area -  as it appears today.
      Photo of inner breastworks.    The Union troops retreated to this position on the Battle of April 12, 1864.
The front cannon is pointed out across the Mississippi River bed.

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