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6th Mississippi Infantry Regiment

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Early War . . .

In February of 1861, the Rankin Guards were reorganized by Dr. Thornton and renamed the "Rankin Greys". In May, 1861, the Rankin Greys were mustered into state service.

In July, 1861, the Sixth was placed under the command of Brigadier General Absalom M. West and organized at Water Valley, Mississippi. The ten companies that made up the Sixth were:

Company A - Rankin Rough & Readies ( Rankin County), Captain Elijah J. Runnels
Company B - New Guards (Rankin County), Captain L. Alford
Company C - Quitman Southrons (Leake County), Captain William E. Hall
Company D - Lowry Rifles (Smith County), Captain William J. Finch
Company E - Lake Rebels (Scott County), Captain Toliver F. Lindsey
Company F - Crystal Springs Guards (Copiah County), Captain A. B. Lowe
Company G - Rockport Steel Blades (Copiah County), Captain Archibald Steel
Company H - Simpson Fencibles (Simpson County), Captain Enoch R. Bennett
Company I - Rankin Greys (Rankin Greys), Captain W. B. Shelby
Company K - East Mississippi Greys (Scott County), Captain A. Y. Harper

By the end of the summer, the ten companies traveled to Water Valley and became the 6th Mississippi Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Colonel J. J. Thornton from Brandon was the regimental commander, with Enoch R. Bennett, Lieutenant Colonel, and Robert Lowry, Major.

In early September, the Sixth received orders to move to Trenton, Tennessee. From Trenton, they headed to Union City, TN. While at Union City, the regiment was assigned to General William Hardee's Division.

The Sixth left Union City for Dover, Tennessee in October. From Dover, they went to Bowling Green, Kentucky. At Bowling Green, they were placed under the command of General Albert Sidney Johnston. The regiment was assigned to Colonel Patrick Cleburne's Brigade.

Colonel Cleburne immediately began drilling and training the green Mississippi soldiers. The brigade soon became one of the best drilled in the division. The Sixth settled in north of Bowling Green for the winter. The first winter in the Confederacy was not kind to the Sixth. Diseases such as typhoid fever and measles, combined with colds, pneumonia and such, took its toll on the army. May died or were weakened from these infirmities. But by January 1862, the worse was over and many of the sick were well enough to return to duty.

Early 1862 was busy for the new Confederacy. The January battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky was a Union victory. The Confederate troops in that area withdrew from the Cumberland Gap, creating a hole in the Confederate lines. In February, General Ulysses S. Grant captured Fort Henry, then headed to Fort Donelson. The Confederates in and around Bowling Green withdrew because the defenses were inadequate.

Cleburne's Brigade provided the rear guard for the withdrawl from Bowling Green. The weather proved to be the army's worst enemy. Rain turned to sleet, then snow. Roads became muddy and travel was very difficult.

The miserable army reached Nashville, Tennessee on February 17 and left the next day fro Murfreesboro. It took three days to get there and after staying only a week, the army went to Shelbyville. From there, they went to Fayetteville, then to Decatur, Alabama. Finally, at the end of March, the weary army arrived at Corinth, Mississippi and set up camp just south of the town. The Sixth was at about half strength upon arriving at Corinth. The Sixth was issued new clothes, musket and accoutrements and began drilling to become an efficient military unit.

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This page was last updated on August 8, 2000.