The 6th Mississippi Infantry Regiment was made up of men from Rankin, Quitman, Leake, Scott, Copiah, and Simpson counties. From Corinth they were ordered to carry five days rations and 100 rounds per man. The regiment arrived at Shiloh with only 425 men. There, they would fight in Patrick Cleburne’s brigade.
They were in the front line attacking the Federal army near Shiloh Church in a small field known as Rhea Field. Camped there was the 53rd Ohio Infantry under Colonel Jesse Appler. The Federal soldiers were in a good position on the high ground behind their tents. The 23rd Tennessee Infantry was advancing alongside of the 6th Mississippi. All together they numbered about a thousand men.
As the two regiments advanced from the tree line into the open, Appler’s Ohio infantry opened a devastating fire. Both Confederate regiments quickly withdrew into the cover of the forest. The 23rd Tennessee broke completely and the officers were unable to reform them. This left the 6th Mississippi to face twice their numbers alone. Colonel Thornton would pick up the colors when the color bearer went down and in turn fall severely wounded. Seven color bearer’s would be wounded in the attack at Rhea Field.
Major Robert Lowry
Major Robert Lowry would take command and lead the 6th on another charge. He would fall with two wounds at the head of the regiment. As this charge soon died away, Colonel Appler of the 53rd Ohio panicked. He yelled, “Every man for himself!” He quickly showed them the way by turning and racing toward Pittsburg Landing. Most of the 53rd Ohio followed his example.
Of the 425 men that went into Rhea Field, only sixty would be present to answer roll call following the fight. After the battle, when they returned to Corinth, they would only muster 100 men. The rest were either killed, wounded or missing.
Colonel Thornton would be forced to resign his commission because of his wounds. Major Robert Lowry would survive his two wounds and later be promoted to brigadier general. He would fight through the rest of the war and surrender in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1865. But, from April 6, 1862 forward, the 6th Mississippi would become known as the “Bloody Sixth”.
The burial trench above contains the remains of many of the men of the 6th Mississippi Infantry listed below.
Burkholder, Abraham, Private; killed at Shiloh
Chandler, Wade, Private; killed at Shiloh
Miller, W. D., Private; killed at Shiloh
Myers, Isaac, Private; killed at Shiloh
Ennis, J., Private; killed at Shiloh
Strong, Claiborne F., Private; killed at Shiloh
Hall, W. A., Private; 4th Corporal; killed at Shiloh
Henry, D. F., Private; killed at Shiloh
West, H., Private, 3rd Corporal; killed at Shiloh
Childers, J. W., Private; killed at Shiloh
Cook, J. W., Private; killed at Shiloh
Derrick, Silas H., Private; wounded mortally in lungs at Shiloh
Reeves, W., Private; killed at Shiloh
Hix, Josiah, Private; killed at Shiloh
Whitehead, J., Private; killed at Shiloh
Owen, Gus Roland, Private; killed at Shiloh
James, James M., Private; killed at Shiloh
Willis, Thomas H., Lieutenant; killed at Shiloh
McLendon, Elias, Private; killed at Shiloh
Gordon, Stephen, Private; killed at Shiloh
Webb, J. M., Private; wounded mortally both legs and arms at Shiloh