18th Battalion Mississippi Cavalry
(aka Chalmers' Battalion & 18th Regiment)
Company F, Pettus Rangers
A number of men from DeSoto County served in various companies of the 18th Battalion/Regiment of Mississippi Cavalry, especially in companies C, D, F, G, H & K. Companies C, F, H & K were raised to a large extent in DeSoto County. Based upon the 1860 Census, companies C and F were primarily recruited in the northern portion of the county, while companies H and K were more from the southern part of the county in what is now Tate County. Nevertheless, it is likely that at least one man from DeSoto County served in each of the Battalion's companies at some point during the war.
The 18th Battalion, later known as the 18th Regiment, was organized mainly from independent companies of partisan rangers that had been formed for the protection of the northern part of the State after the evacuation of Corinth. Gen. James R. Chalmers, of DeSoto, was assigned to command on the northern frontier with the duty of organizing these commands after the Kentucky campaign of October, 1862. A battalion was organized under the command of Major Alexander H. Chalmers, which is mentioned in the official reports in April 1863 as present with General Chalmers' command. headquarters in Panola.
Five companies of the 18th were posted at Holly Springs, Coldwater and Wyatt at the time of the Federal raid from the Big Black River and LaGrange, Tennessee, to Grenada in August 1863. Major Alex Chalmers, with two companies (94 men) guarding the river at Wyatt, fell back before one column of the enemy to find Grenada occupied by the other. The other companies did not return, but in September 1863 remnants of two companies were reported near the Memphis and Charleston Railroad.
On September 10, 1863 the command received the name of the Eighteenth Battalion, Mississippi Partisan Rangers. About this time Major Chalmers was authorized to increase his command to a regiment by enlistment of men not subject to conscription. The companies of Captains Middleton and McCain were then in the battalion. The companies of Mitchell and Smith were ordered to report on pain of treatment as deserters. Through these vigorous measures by S. D. Lee the battalion was enlarged. General Chalmers announced on October 7, 1863 that, the battalion having been increased to six companies, Major Chalmers was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. The battalion was assigned to McCulloch's Brigade of Chalmers' Cavalry, in October 1863, with an effective strength of 225.
At the Coldwater Ford, near Holly Springs on October 5, 1863 Chalmers' Battalion was distinguished in the fight with McCrillis' Brigade of Hatch's Federal Cavalry which was on a raid from LaGrange, Tennessee. Both Federal and Confederate commanders agree that the battalion made a gallant charge, though they differ as to results. The total Confederate loss was 1 killed, 27 wounded. Chalmers, reinforced by Richardson's command, remained in line of battle next day near Salem, while considerable forces of Federal cavalry moved against him, but without serious attack. He then moved to Holly Springs, and Major Mitchell, with 100 men, was sent out at night to tear up the track of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, over which General Sherman was about to move troops to the support of Rosecrans at Chattanooga. On the 11th Chalmers and Richardson attacked the fort at Collierville, Tennessee. The fort was strong and gallantly defended. Chalmers was compelled to retire with a loss of 3 killed and 48 wounded. On the retreat Chalmers' command was engaged in battle near Byhalia and Wyatt on the 12th. The Eighteenth Battalion had 18 wounded in this campaign.
The unit is listed in the organization of S. D. Lee's Cavalry Corps in January 1864. They were in McCulloch's Brigade, Chalmers' Division, Forrest's Cavalry, on March 9, 1864. The battalion, with Chalmers' Division, took part in the capture of Fort Pillow, Tennessee on April 12, 1864, and was the first command to enter the fort, over which the battalion flag was quickly flying. Among the mortally wounded of the battalion was Lieutenant Hubbard [Co. H], a young and promising officer. General Chalmers mentioned the gallantry of Capt. C. T. Smith [Co. C], commanding his escort company, who led the charge from the first to the second fort, and Private Samuel Allen [Co. C] of the escort, who was killed in the charge.
On May 24, 1864 the Eighteenth was brigaded with Duff's Mississippi and Duckworth's Tennessee Regiments, under Col. E. W. Rucker. Capt. B. F. Saunders' scouts were ordered to report to Rucker, who was instructed to gather up detached bodies of men and form them into companies to raise the battalion to a regiment. This became known as the Sixth Brigade of Forrest's Cavalry.
General S. D. Lee sent the brigade to Booneville on June 8th to assist General Forrest against the approaching expedition under General Sturgis, then at Rienzi. They went into line of battle at Brice's Cross Roads on June 10th on the left of Forrest's line. Rucker's attack, Forrest reported, was "made with vigor, rapidity and precision.'' "His brigade displayed conspicuous steadiness during the fight." The victory achieved was famous. Over 1,600 prisoners were taken and practically all the artillery and wagon train. Duff's Regiment and Chalmers' Battalion were the only Mississippi commands engaged. Chalmers had 7 killed and 41 wounded.
Rucker's Brigade was dissolved July 18, 1864 and Chalmers' and Duff's Battalions returned to McCulloch's, Brigade, Chalmers' Division. As of August 30th McCulloch's Brigade included the Fifth and Eighth Mississippi, First Partisans and Chalmers' Battalion (Eighteenth), with McCulloch's Regiment.
In August 1864 Union Gen. A. J. Smith raided Oxford, Mississippi and burned the town. Forrest, unable to give battle, raided into the city of Memphis. With Forrest in this renowned performance were the Mississippians of the Eighteenth Battalion, who lost one killed and one wounded.
In September 1864 McCulloch's Brigade was sent to Mobile. The Eighth and Eighteenth Mississippi, operating in West Florida in October 1864, encountered a Federal expedition to Milton, Florida.
In February 1865 the Eighteenth was assigned to Stark's Brigade. On March 16, 1865 at Columbus, Mississippi, General James R. Chalmers ordered the battalion reorganized with part of the Fifth Regiment Mississippi Cavalry and Saunders' company to form a consolidated regiment known as the Eighteenth Cavalry. The regiment was in the field during Wilson's raid through Alabama and Georgia in April and May, 1865 and at Maplesville, Alabama. The regiment was paroled at Gainesville, Ala., in May, 1865.
Below is a roster of men who served in Company F extracted from the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System of the National Park Service. Because the same soldier was sometimes listed more than once due to variations in spelling his name, the total number given is inflated. The listing has not been changed because there is no way to determine where these spelling errors have occurred.
DeSoto County Coordinator: Tim Harrison
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