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5th Regiment, Mississippi Cavalry

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Surnames/tags: US_Civil_War Mississippi
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5th Regiment, Mississippi Cavalry was assembled at Columbus, Mississippi during the summer of 1863. Many of the men had seen prior service in various state commands, and some were from Panola and Kemper counties. It was assigned to Chalmers', W.F. Slemons', R. McCulloch's, Mabrey's, and W. Adams' Brigade and confronted the Federals in Mississippi, Kentucky, West Tennessee, and Alabama. Companies C, D, E, H, and K were captured at Selma in April, 1865, and the remaining companies were included in the surrender of the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana. Its commanders were Colonel James Z. George; Lieutenant Colonels James A. Barksdale, P.H. Echols, W.M. Reed, and Nathaniel Wickliffe; and Majors W.G. Henderson and William B. Perry. [1]

History

The 5th Mississippi Cavalry was formed from the 19th Battalion Mississippi Cavalry, when their term of enlistment expired. Lt- Col. James Z. George commanded the regiment. The regiment was consolidated with the 18th Battalion Mississippi Cavalry. Lt-Col. J. Z. George had previously served as Adjutant General for the State of Mississippi and commanded a non-existent Mississippi State Troops. Even though his official rank in the Confederate Army was lieutenant colonel, he was still referred to as “General George”: and his regiment as "Colonel George’s regiment of cavalry" instead of the 5th Mississippi Cavalry.

The regiment began forming and training in the summer of 1863 as part of General James R. Chalmers’ Cavalry Division, based out of Oxford, MS. During General Chalmers’ West Tennessee raid in October 1864 that culminated in the first Battle of Collierville, the 5th Mississippi Cavalry was used to guard the crossing of the Tallahtachie River at Wyatt (near present day Abbeville). On the division’s return to Oxford, the 5 Mississippi participated in the battle of Wyatt on October 13.

On November 3, 1863, General Chalmers made a second attempt at Collierville, TN. The 5th Mississippi Cavalry was under the command of Col. Slemon’s Brigade. Gen. Chalmers ordered his two brigades to attack immediately since his intelligence told him that only one Union regiment was defending the earthworks. Slemon’s dismounted brigade formed on the right and led the attack with the 5th Mississippi Cavalry in the lead. The Union forces actually included the 7th Illinois Cavalry with small artillery and the 2nd Iowa Cavalry armed with 5-shot Colt rifles. Col. J. Z. George and another officer were the only two to reach the railroad embankment where they were captured. The Confederate attack was repulsed and the division returned to Oxford, MS. The other casualties of the regiment were 4 killed and 14 wounded.

One company of the Fifth was in the gallant fight made at the Wolf River bridge in the Battle of Moscow, TN, on December 4, 1863.

In February 1864, General Chalmers was placed under the command of General N. B. Forrest Cavalry Corps. Lt-Col. James A. Barksdale was placed in command of the regiment which was in the brigade of Col. Jeffrey Forrest, the youngest brother of General N. B. Forrest. At the Battle of Okolona on February 22, both Lt-Col. Barksdale and Col. Jeffrey Forrest were killed. The casualties of the regiment were 3 killed, 3 wounded, 3 missing.

General Forrest selected Lt-Col Wiley M. Reed to command the regiment. The regiment was now under the brigade commanded by Col. “Black Bob” McCulloch when General Chalmers' division joined Gen. Forrest in the famous Tennessee raid of March and April, 1864.

General Chalmers was ordered to take two brigades and attack Fort Pillow. The brigades left Jackson, TN, and rode all day and night in driving rain to reach Fort Pillow on the morning of April 12. After driving in the pickets and occupying the hills around the fort, General Forrest arrived to take command. The Confederates forces totaled approximately 1500 men while the fort was defended by 580 Union cavalrymen and black artillerymen, commanded by officers who had never been in combat. Many of the officers and soldiers were killed and wounded by Confederate snipers firing down into the fort from nearby bluffs. After the Union commander rejected the surrender terms, the Confederates charged over the walls and took the fort. The Confederate casualties included 100 including 14 killed. The 5th Mississippi Cavalry had the highest number of casualties of any regiment, including its commander, Lt-Col. Wiley Reed. The regiment returned to Mississippi. General Forrest remained in Jackson, TN, until May 1st. After marching in the funeral procession for Lt.-Col. Wylie Reed, he lead the remained of his cavalry corps back to Mississippi. (Wylie Reed's body was re-interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Davidson County, TN, in 1887.)

The regiment participated in the engagements between Pontotoc and Tupelo, July 10-15, 1864, including the Battle of Harrisburg (now within the city limits of Tupelo). The regiment was with Wade’s Brigade in August, 1864, contesting the advance of Hatch's Federal Division to Oxford, which the Union troops burned on August 22. They skirmished with the raiders in front of Oxford and on the 23d attacked the retreating column at Abbeville,

In the report of May 10, 1864, the 5 Mississippi Cavalry was commanded by Capt. William B. Peery serving in McCulloch's Brigade, Forrest’s Cavalry. There were several changes of commanders over the next months. The regiment participated in Hood’s 1864 campaign. There was some reorganization of companies which left only 32 men in two companies in the 5 Mississippi. The remnant of the regiment surrendered to Union Gen James H. Wilson on May 7, 1865.

After the war, James Z. George would return to Carrolton, Carroll County, and open up his law office. He also served as a Senator. The high school in North Carrolton, Carroll County, is named after him.

Sources

  1. National Park Service Soldiers and Sailors Database
  • Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.
  • "Military History of Mississippi; 1803-1898” by Dunbar Rowland. New edition with supplement by H. Grady Howell, Jr. Chickasaw Bayou Press, 2003.
  • "Fort Pillow, a Civil War Massacre, and Public Memory" by John Cimprich, LSU Press, 2005.
  • “The Campaigns of Gen. Nathan B. Forrest”. Gen Thomas Jordan and J. P. Pryor. Da Capo Press, 1996.
  • "Brigadier General Tyree H. Bell, C.S.A.: Forrest'S Fighting Lieutenant", by Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes Jr., Unv Tennessee Press 2004,
  • “Hancock's Diary” or "A History of the Second Tennesse Cavalry". by R. R. Hancock, Brandon Printing Co, 1887.




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