Monday, January 2, 2012

A Mississippi Civil War Gasm

Me at the grave of Brigadier General Joseph L. Hogg

       Well, I finally had a day off without kids to baby sit and went on a mini-Civil War Gasm with my buddy Jerry in Mississippi. If you know Jerry, you know we had a blast. We have begun a hobby of visiting as many Confederate generals graves as possible and having our pictures taken with them. Our first stop was in Corinth, Mississippi at the museum located on the site of Battery Robinette where Confederate Brigadier General Joseph Lewis Hogg is buried. He didn't die in battle here, but from dysentery about three months after his promotion to brigadier general and without seeing any action whatsoever. Colonel William Peleg Rogers is also buried there, killed in the charge that overran the small earthen fort. He commanded a brigade in the action there and by all rights should have been a general officer. Despite the fact that a petition was signed begging President Davis to promote the man, he remained a colonel. The reason being that he and Davis had an argument during the Mexican War and Davis being the type person who held grudges would never forgive Rogers. 
       This brings us to the funny part of the story. Jerry and I wore our shell jackets on this trip. We were in a hurry because after all it was a Civil War Gasm. (Civil War Gasm definition is where you hit as many places as quickly as possible and we had places to go before dark.) We entered the museum to find the park ranger talking to a group of people. The entire group paused to watch us pass right by and out the back door of the museum at a high rate of speed. We exited the museum and walked around to the gate to find it locked. We then re-entered the museum by a side door and exited through another door out of sight of the ranger and group. We made each others picture beside General Hogg and Colonel Rogers graves, walked back around the building to Jerry's truck and left. It was only later that we decided that this is how ghost stories begin. We can just imagine someday reading about ourselves as the park ranger writes a book about the first sergeant and private that passed right through the museum and beyond a locked gate to be seen no more. 

Me at the grave of Colonel William Rogers one of my personal hero's.

       We left Corinth and headed southwest toward Ripley, Mississippi. About six miles beyond Ripley is a small town called Blue Mountain. Here in Blue Mountain Cemetery is the resting place of Brigadier General Mark Perrin Lowrey. His grave was easy enough to find, the cemetery not much more than an acre and his being the only one with an obelisk. General Lowrey was one of Patrick Cleburne's brigade commanders. He had fought in the Mexican War and returned home determined to become a preacher. Despite the fact that he couldn't read or write, he proceeded to accomplish his goal. His wife taught him reading and writing and he became a Baptist minister. He rose to the rank of general during the Civil War and following the war returned to the ministry and also founded a female college in Blue Mountain which later became Blue Mountain College. He died in the railroad depot in Middleton, Tennessee while awaiting a passenger train. 

Grave of Mark Perrin Lowrey

       Leaving Blue Mountain, Mississippi, Jerry called my attention to something I had never realized before. It seems the laws of mathematics cease to exist in this old southern state. We arrived at a sign that declared the intersection a four way stop. The problem was, we only counted three roads. One might think this was a simple accident, but we'll come back to this later. 
       We then drove west to Holly Springs, Mississippi where there are four generals buried in one cemetery. We arrived and entered the first cemetery entrance we came to. There on the right within twenty feet of the entrance we found the grave of Major General Edward Cary Walthall. If you know my luck, you'll know this was a complete accident. Walthall was the little known Confederate general that Forrest chose to help him fight the rear-guard for Hood during the retreat from Nashville. It would prove to be Walthall's best performance of the war. 

Major General Edward Cary Walthall

       We then got lucky and found the graves of Samuel Benton and Winfield Scott Featherston. Benton was only a colonel leading a brigade at the Battle of Atlanta when artillery shrapnel nearly tore his foot off and a piece lodged just inches from his heart. His foot would be amputated and his promotion to brigadier general would arrive from Richmond just two days before his death. The authorities in Richmond had not known he'd been wounded. 

Brigadier General Samuel Benton

       Brigadier General Winfield Scott Featherston began the war in the Virginia army and made a name for himself at the Battle of Ball's Bluff. From that point on he would serve as a capable officer but made no special name for himself. He would be shipped to the west where he would finish the war with the Army of Tennessee. His grave was as easy to find as Walthall's which was a good thing because it was about a ten degree windchill factor and I told Jerry that if a limb was to hit my ear, it would shatter like glass. 

Brigadier General Winfield Scott Featherston

       This brought us to the most difficult part of finding Brigadier General Daniel Chevilette Govan's grave. His marker is relatively flat without the enormous obelisks to mark the position. Jerry has a sixth sense or so he claims, sometimes it gets a bit off on him. He told me to check some markers about forty yards from the truck. I almost left my camera in the car because I don't trust Jerry's sixth sense, but I carried it along just in case. Lucky for me because, it did indeed turn out to be General Govan. This was truly our lucky day, my ears having lost all feeling along with my fingers, toes, and nose. Govan is the Arkansas brigadier who stood next to his close friend Patrick Cleburne at Franklin and said, "General, there won't be many of us to return home to Arkansas after this battle." Cleburne simply replied, "Well, Govan, if we are to die, let us die like men."

Brigadier General Daniel Govan

       It was at this point that Jerry's sixth sense began to get goofy or at least I think it did. He still claims he was right, but on that point I still remain dubious. He claimed he had an intuition that there was someone buried beneath a cedar tree he could see across the cemetery. He refused to leave the cemetery without investigating this mystery person. We drove across the cemetery to the cedar tree in question and sure enough, there was someone buried beneath the tree. I simply shook my head. Of course there was someone buried beneath the tree, it is a cemetery. He argues that he never said it was anyone buried there that had anything to do with the Civil War, he simply said there was someone buried there. 
       Leaving Holly Springs headed back home we again encountered a four way stop sign with only three roads. Jerry wanted to stop and take a picture of the intersection, but luckily he chose to pass on by this time. It was a typical Civil War Gasm for me. Out prowling the country with a fellow Civil War nut and we got photographs of us by six Confederate generals graves. I only wish I could do this everyday. 


  1. This has got to be the funniest blog you have done. I love hanging out with Jerry and I would give anything if I could have been just a little bird following you guys around. Someone buried under the tree, huh! Oh my word!!! LOL!!! That one is gonna be as hard to live down as the mule story! (sorry you gotta be in on that one to understand it) You did a great job on this one babe! Love it!!!

  2. Yea, this is a good story! I also joined your blog, and you need to join mine.