By Bobby J. Mitchell
Vol. XII, No. 3, May-June 1993
Lt. Col. James Lockhart Autry
In this issue we are honoring Lt. Col. James Lockhart Autry of Holly Springs, Mississippi.
James L. Autry was born January 8, 1830 near Nashville, Tennessee. His father, Micajah Autry, was one of the approximately 187 heroes of the Alamo, killed in March of 1836.
James and his mother moved to Holly Springs after the death of his father. He was educated at St. Thomas Hall in Holly Springs where E.C. Walthall, James R. Chalmers, and Christopher H. (Kit) Mott were among his schoolmates.
After he graduated from St. Thomas Hall, he entered into a law practice, forming a partnership with L.Q.C. Lamar and Kit Mott. From 1854-1859 he served as state representative from Marshall County. During his last two years he was Speaker of the House.
When war came he enlisted in the Home Guards, a company of the 9th Mississippi, where he was made a Lt. After a year's service, he was made military governor of Vicksburg. In May of 1862, Admiral Farragut demanded the surrender of Vicksburg, to which Autry replied, "Mississippians do not know how to surrender and do not care to learn."
Lt. Col. Autry transferred to the 27th Mississippi Infantry later in 1862. While cheering his men forward in the Battle of Murfreesboro he was struck in the head with a minie ball and killed. After his death on Dec. 31, 1862, his body was returned to Holly Springs and interred in Hillcrest Cemetery with this epitaph: "He died for his country."
Vol. XI, No. 3, May-June 1992
General Samuel Benton
This month we are honoring Gen. Samuel Benton. Gen. Benton was born on October 18, 1820, probably in middle Tennessee's Williamson County. He married a "Miss Knox" and was survived by her and a child. Gen. Benton was a prominent lawyer in Holly Springs and also published a newspaper there, The Mississippi Times, Number I of which appeared in April of 1853. In politics he was an Old Line Whig but a States Right man also as befits one of his political persuasion. He was a member of both the Union Convention of 1855 and the Mississippi Secession Convention of 1861. He served on the Ways and Means Committee at the Secession Convention. In 1852 he served in the state legislature.
When the War began, he was first a Captain in the 9th Miss., then elected Colonel of the 37th Miss. Inf. Regt. This Regiment was later consolidated into the 34th Miss. Inf. While serving in the Battle of Atlanta he received a mortal wound. He received his Brigadier's Commission to date from July 26, 1864. He died of his wounds two days later at Griffen, Ga. And was temporarily buried there. After the war, he was reinterred in Hillcrest Cemetery in Holly Springs.
Benton County Mississippi is named for Gen. Benton. Samuel Benton was the nephew of Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. Benton County was formed in 1870 from parts of Marshall and Tippah Counties. It is unlikely that in 1870 the Federals would have wanted a county established to honor a fallen Confederate General.
A local story has it that the legislature was led to believe that Senator Benton from Missouri, and uncle of Sam, was the intended honoree. Until recently, editions of the Mississippi Blue Book had indicated that Benson County was named for Col. Sam Benton. Members of Kit Mott Camp wrote the Mississippi Secretary of State, and included a Biography of Gen. Benton. The next issue of the Blue Book had Gen. Sam Benton as the man the county was named for.
Vol. XII, No. 2, Mar-Apr 1993
General Aexander Blackburn Bradford
This month we highlight one of Holly Springs' members of the Provisional Congress of the CSA, Gen. Alexander Blackburn Bradford, admitted December 5, 1861 as a representative.
Gen. Bradford was born in the late 1790s. He fought under Gen. Jackson in the War of 1812. In the Florida campaign in 1838, he served as Col. of a regiment of Tennessee Volunteers in Armstrong's Mounted Brigade, where he acquired the title, "the hero of Withlacoochee". In the Mexican War, he rushed to arms, organized a company, the Marshall Guards, and raced to Vicksburg. In the voting in Vicksburg for the colonelcy of the First Mississippi, he received 350 votes to 300 for Jefferson Davis, with a smattering for others. Desiring a majority, he declined the position and Davis was subsequently elected, and Bradford became a Major. Although he was always addressed as "Gen." Bradford, there is no evidence that he was ever entitled to the rank. It is possible he was awarded this title to distinguish him from the many "Colonels" in the county. (Among others in the Marshall Guards was Kit Mott.)
The General, a staunch Whig, was a candidate for Governor of Mississippi in 1847. He lost to Joseph Matthews, another Marshall Countian.
Bradford was a small man, and it is said that he would pull his coat up tight around himself, strut in front of a full length mirror in his office, and inquire of all comers if he did not have a remarkable resemblance to Napoleon Bonaparte.
Being quite vain, after proposing marriage to a young lady, and being refused, he asked, "Well, if you won't marry Gen. Alexander B. Bradford, who the hell will you marry?"
Always alert to the political benefits of soldiering, he became piqued when both Col. McClung and Jeff Davis were wounded in the Mexican War, providing each of them with much publicity and glory. The General had been unscathed to that point. He had high hopes that Buena Vista would help him out by providing a suitable wound, but this was also in vain. He rushed frantically up and down the line, in the very front of action in a frenzy crying, "My God, Can't one bullet hit me?"
Gen. Bradford died on July 9, 1873 and is buried in Hillcrest Cemetery in Holly Springs.
General James R. Chalmers
General Chalmers was born in Halifax County, VA, on January 11, 1831. He graduated from SC College at the age of twenty. He practiced law in Holly Springs, MS, and served as the district attorney. He was a member of the secession convention that removed Mississippi from the Union in 1861.
Source: General In Gray - Lives of Confederate Commanders
Vol. XII, No. 5, Sept-Oct 1993
Vol. XVI, No. 1, Jan-Feb 1997
Judge Jeremiah W. Clapp
Excerpts from Sept-Oct 1993
Judge Clapp was one of the first to realize that Holly Springs needed a trade outlet. The end result of his, and many others, work was the Mississippi Central Railroad, later the I. C. Mr. Clapp built his home on a 35 acre site on Salem Avenue in 1858, after Gen. Bradford's frame home on the same site burned. This house was near the location of the Federal Cavalry when Van Dorn raided Holly Springs in December of 1862.
Due to his activities, Federal soldiers made many attempts to capture him. He was a very small man and would flee to the attic of his home when threatened and hide in the capital of one of the four large columns which were on the front of his house. One time the raiders were so swift in their decent on his house that he had to flee in a nightshirt through the nearby woods. His son helped delay the raiders by offering them buttermilk to drink, and insisting that they join him.
This issue we will look briefly at one who served the Confederacy as an elected official. Jeremiah W. CLAPP was an early settler of Marshall County and was a member of the Bar in Holly Springs. He became active in Democratic politics and running for public office. He was narrowly defeated in 1851 in a bitter election that involved feelings about the Compromise of 1850. The whole Democratic slate which even then in Marshall County was beginning to call for secession, was defeated by the Whig slate by 200 votes, He served as a delegate to the Charleston Convention in 1854 and was selected to one of the county's posts as representative to the Mississippi Secession Convention. He served on the flag committee, the State Coat of Arms Committee, and the Committee on Postal, Financial, and Commercial Affairs. He also received a number of votes to serve as a delegate to the Montgomery Convention, even though he had asked that his name not be considered.
Judge Clapp served with distinction in the House of Representative of the Confederate States of America for two years, from 1862-1864. He was on the Board of Trustees of the University of Mississippi for 15 years, from 1852-1867. He assisted in reorganizing the school after the War. From 1856-57 he was a member of the state legislature.
Because of his prominence in Confederate government, whenever the Yankees came to town they would try to hunt him down. Judge Clapp was a very small man, not much over five feet tall. When he would hear the Yankees were in town looking for him, he would crawl into the attic of his home, and climb down into one of the large columns which supported the porch of his house. He was able to evade capture throughout the War using this procedure.
Vol. XI, No. 2, March-April 1992
General Winfield Scott Featherston
With this article we continue our series highlighting Confederate officers who associated with Marshall County. Gen. Winfield Scott Featherston was born in Rutherford County, TN on August 8, 1820. His father, Charles, and his mother, Lucy Pitts, were natives of Virginia, having been married there in 1795. In 1815 they moved to Tennessee where Charles engaged in farming. W.S. was the youngest of seven children. He attended various academies in Tennessee and Georgia, and while attending one of them, he enlisted in the Georgia War against the Creek Indians, in which he distinguished himself for bravery. He then entered business with his brother in Memphis. He soon tired of this and studied law, and became a member of the bar at Houston, MS. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives for four years, from 1847-1851. As a member of Congress he introduced one of the first bills to levee the Mississippi River. He was a Pierce elector in the election of 1852, and declined the Democratic nomination for Congress in 1853. He moved to Holly Springs in 1857 and resided there for the remainder of his life. In 1860 he served as state "Ambassador" to Kentucky, making an effort to have Kentucky secede.
When the War broke out he raised a company and became Colonel of the 17th Mississippi Infantry. He served in the Army of Virginia in this capacity in 1861 and 1862. For gallantry in the Battle of Leesburg he was promoted to Brigadier General on March 4, 1862. He was at 1st and 2nd Manassas, Leesburg, Seven Days, Lee's campaign into Maryland, the capture of Harper's Ferry, First Battle of Fredericksburg before being transferred to his brigade to Vicksburg in January 1863. He headed the expedition to meet Porter's gunboats on Deer Creek, fought at Baker's Creek, and Jackson, MS. He participated in the Battle of Franklin, and covered Hood's retreat from Nashville. He fought at Reseca, Ga. In 1864, and surrendered with Johnston in North Carolina, where he was paroled at Greensboro with the rest of the Army.
After the war he returned to practice law at Holly Springs. He became the Grand Commander of the Mississippi United Confederate Veterans. He served in the Mississippi legislature in 1876 and '77. There he offered the resolution to appoint a committee to impeach Adelbert Ames for his conduct as Governor. He led the fight which purged the capital of this group of carpetbaggers and scalawags. In 1880, again in the legislature, he was chairman of the group which drew up the new Mississippi code. He was one of the Marshall County delegates to the Mississippi Constitutional Convention of 1890. He served as a Circuit Judge for six years, and refused reappointment. He was married twice, once to Miss Mary Holt Harris of Columbus, in 1842, and later to Miss Lizzie McEwen, daughter of Alexander C. McEwen, an early and prominent citizen of Holly Springs. He had eight children. Two died in infancy and two died, along with his wife, in the yellow fever epidemic in 1878. He died at Holly Springs, May 28, 1891, of paralysis and was interred in Hillcrest Cemetery.
Vol. XVI, No. 3, May-June 1997
Vol. XVI, No. 4, July-August 1997
Vol.XVI, No. 5, September-October 1997
General John Wesley Frazer
Holly Springs and Marshall County, MS, have claimed for years to have 13 Confederate Generals who lived here. There is even a historical marker on the square indicating this "fact". These were men who lived here prior to the WBTS, during the War, or who moved here after the War. The most we have been able to account for has been 10, and this included two Brigadiers of the Mississippi State troops, General's West and Mott. Some of the others counted locally were clearly never Confederate Generals, but were given titles after the War. Gen. William Ford, for example, was a Brigadier General in the UCV.
Just recently though it has come to my attention, as the result of an off hand remark by a friend, that we do indeed have another fully commissioned Confederate General who was a resident of Holly Springs, one who has never previously been associated with either the town or the county.
This general is Gen. John Wesley Frazer, who was born in Hardin Co. TN, only a short distance from Marshall Co. MS. In his biography in "GENERALS IN GRAY", there is no mention of Mississippi. My friend had called to see if I knew where in Hardin County Gen. Frazer had lived before he moved to Holly Springs. I looked in the "GENERALS IN GRAY" book and told her that so far as I knew he was not ever in Holly Springs.
After talking with Dorothy, I contacted the United States Military Academy at West Point. According to an April 16, 1997, letter from Stephen A. Winsor, Col. US Army, Chief of Staff, Gen. Frazer "who resided at Holly Springs, entered the Military Academy in 1845 and graduated with the Class of 1849. He ranked 34th in a class of 43 graduates".
After I received this information I did a little local research and found that his father was a trustee of the Christian Church here in Holly Springs. So far, that is the only information we have.
In our last issue we mentioned that we had identified another Confederate General from Holly Springs. This General was John Wesley Frazer. After searching through the land records at the courthouse, it appears that the Frazers moved here some time after Oct. 22, 1839, as they purchased a 12 acre lot at that time. The lot is in the vicinity of the old train depot that is now the home of Dr. Wyatt's family. I have not been able to define more precisely where the Frazer's home was, due to the size of the lot they occupied. After the death of John A. Frazer, father of Gen. Frazer, the family apparently moved to DeSoto County, MS as there are a number of proceedings in the records of lawyers acting in behalf of the Frazers, with a power of attorney signed in DeSoto County.
On March 27, 1845, John Wesley Frazer returned his acceptance of his appointment to West Point to Hon. Marcy (?) Secretary of War. "Sir, I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the twenty fourth of February, informing me that the President had conferred upon me a conditional appointment of Cadet in the service of the United States, and to inform you of my acceptance of the same." Signed- Jno. W. Frazer. On the same form we find the following: "I hereby assent to the above acceptance by my Son of his conditional appointment as Cadet, and he has my full permission to sign articles by which he will bind himself to serve the United States, eight years unless sooner discharge." signed, John A. Frazer.
According to the records obtained from West Point, Frazer was 17 years 5 months at the date of his admission. In 1846, in a class of 61, Frazer ranked 39th in math, 15th in French, and 14th in Eng. Grammar. In 1849 in a class of 46 members, he ranked 37th in Philosophy, 38th in Chemistry and 32nd in Drawing.
On the conduct roll of 1846, Frazer was noted with 93 demerits, and in his senior year he had 153 demerits. There were seven grades of offenses for which one received demerits. A violation of a first grade offense rated ten demerits, on down to the seventh grade of offense which rated one demerit. A sample of offenses and demerits was 3 demerits for absence from reveille roll call and 8 demerits were assigned for introducing spirituous liquors in the barracks. As one progressed yearly from one class to another, a portion of each of the previous year's demerits were added to the current year's number of demerits.
His records at West Point reveal he graduated July 1, 1849, ranked 34th in the class. He was breveted a 2nd Lt. at graduation. He served in the garrison at Ft. Columbus, NY for two years, then was transferred to San Miguel and Camp Far West in California from 1851-1855, after serving at Ft. Monroe, VA he was sent on frontier duty to Ft. Simcoe, Washington in 1858-1859, then served in the other camps in Washington. He was on leave of absence in 1860-1861. He "Resigned, Mar. 15, 1861. Joined the Rebellion of 1861-1865 against the United States."
We will briefly discuss his War record in the next issue.
This is a continuation of an article on Gen. Frazer that was begun in our last issue.
On March 15th, 1861, General Frazer, then a Captain in the US Army, resigned his commission and joined the service of his motherland. In February of 1861, he had been a delegate to the Montgomery convention that organized the Confederacy and elected Jefferson Davis for their President.
In May of 1863, he was made a Brigadier General, commanding the Fifth Brigade in the Army of East Tennessee. The following September, reinforcements which were sent to him at Cumberland Gap failed to reach him, and after holding out until the situation was hopeless, he was forced to surrender to Gen. Burnside. (others think he squandered his chances and surrendered unnecessarily)
He was sent north to a prison camp with other officers. While in prison, many northern women, who were sympathizers with the south, sent boxes of supplies to the prisoners. The ladies frequently included notes of sympathy and encouragement for whichever of the imprisoned soldiers that might receive it.
One of these notes fell to Gen. Frazer's share of mail and provisions. He began a correspondence with the author of the note. When he was released at the end of the War, one of his efforts was to meet the correspondent with whom he had been exchanging letters. A friendship developed which led to his marriage to Miss Kate Tiffany of Utica, New York, in August of 1870.
His wife became an invalid and he tended to her until her death.
His last years were those of suffering and pain, he having been afflicted with cancer of the tongue. He suffered patiently for some time, with very little complaint as to his plight. Friends advised him to go to New York City to take a radium treatment, with the hope of a possible cure. On a stormy and windy night in February, 1906, he was struck by a fire engine while crossing 23rd Street and his hip was fractured. Following a series of complications, he died at Bellevue Hospital on March 31st, 1906.
While he was in the final stages of his last illness the Confederate Veterans conferred upon him the cross of the Legion of Honor, accompanied by a letter of appreciation for one who had been a faithful and true leader.
He was laid to rest by the side of his wife in Clifton Springs, NY. He left a daughter, Mrs. Robert Vincent.
(Most of the above information is from Gen. Frazer's obituary which was published in the ANNUAL REUNION OF THE ASSOCIATION OF GRADUATES.)
Vol. XI, No. 4, July-August 1992
General Daniel Chevilette Govan
This article will complete biographies of officially commissioned CS General Officers buried in Holly Springs. There are still a number of others connected to Holly Springs, but are buried elsewhere.
This month we are featuring General Daniel Chevilette Govan who was born July 4, 1829 in North Carolina. He attended the University of South Carolina, but was reared in Mississippi. Ben McCulloch, a relative who also became a Confederate General, and Daniel joined the 49er's in the gold rush to California. After the gold rush, he returned to Mississippi and remained until he moved to Arkansas in 1861.
When hostilities began, he raised a company which became part of the 2nd Arkansas and was promoted to Lt. Colonel. He was commissioned a Brigadier General February 29, 1863. He was captured at Jonesboro during the Atlanta campaign and was with Joe Johnston at the surrender in 1865.
After the War, Gen. Govan returned to Arkansas where he remained until appointed Indian Agent in the state of Washington by President Cleveland. When he completed his tenure in that position, he lived with various ones of his fourteen children until his death in Memphis, Tennessee on March 12, 1911. Gen. Govan is buried in the family plot in Hillcrest Cemetery in Holly Springs along with his brother-in-law, Christopher Kit Mott.
(Information for this article was abstracted from GENERALS IN GRAY and local sources.)
Vol. XV, No. 4, July-Aug 1993
Brigadier General Elkanah Brackin Greer
This month we are honoring Brigadier General Elkanah Brackin Greer.
Elkanah Greer was born on October 11, 1825 in Paris, Tennessee. As a young man, he moved to Marshall County, Mississippi and settled near Potts Camp. (There are still a number of Greers' in Marshall County today, one of them being Curtis Greer, a member of Kit Mott Camp.)
When the call to arms came for men to fight the Mexicans in 1847, Elkanah Greer enlisted in Co. I of the Marshall Guards, 1st Mississippi Infantry where he served as a private. (Kit Mott was 1st Lieutenant of this unit.) A large number of men in this unit subsequently served in the Confederate Army.
After he returned from the Mexican War, Elkanah moved to Marshall, Texas where he established a large plantation and entered business. When war again intruded, he answered the call for men again and was made Colonel of the 3rd Texas Cavalry. He was at Wilson's Creek and Elkhorn Taver, where he was superficially wounded. In October of 1862, he was made Brigadier General and Chief of the Conscripting bureau of the Trans-Mississippi Department. After the War he continued to live in Marshall, Texas where large numbers of Marshall Countians had migrated. While visiting a sister in DeVall's Bluff, Arkansas in 1877, he became sick and died. His body was brought back to Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee for burial, thus joining several other Marshall County, Mississippi Confederate Generals in rest there "neath the shade of the trees".
Vol. XV, No. 1, Jan-Feb 1996
2nd Lieutenant Robert James Howard
At least four of the IMMORTAL SIX HUNDRED had a connection with Marshall County or Holly Springs. One of the four, Col. Van Manning, has been written about in this newsletter recently. This issue we will look briefly at Robert James Howard.
Robert James Howard served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Mississippi Infantry. Howard was born June 18, 1838, in Huntsville, Alabama. In 1860, he was living in Marshall County, Mississippi, working as a clerk on a plantation at Oak Grove. He enlisted in May of 1861 in the 1st Mississippi at Iuka. He was captured first at Fort Donaldson, and then was at Port Hudson when it surrendered in July, 1863. He was sent first to Johnson's Island, then to Point Lookout, and then to Fort Delaware in June of 1864. He was subsequently forwarded to Charleston, South Carolina, and then to Fort Pulaski, Georgia, as a part of the Six Hundred. He took the oath and was released May 9, 1865.
He returned to Marshall County, Mississippi, and became a resident of Byhalia, where he became a general merchant. He married Parthenia Eddins in 1866 in Marshall County and had two children. He died August 18, 1933, and is buried in Byhalia Cemetery.
Vol. XI, No. 1, Jan-Feb 1992
Major Gen. Edward Cary Walthall
We are highlighting in this issue the highest ranking officer to serve the Confederacy from Marshall County, Ms., Major Gen. Edward Cary Walthall. Gen. Walthall was born April 5, 1831 in Richmond, Va. At the age of ten he moved with his family to the newly settled area of Holly Springs, then one of the wealthiest and cultured centers of the state. In the 1850s more cotton was produced in Marshall County than any other similar sized area in the world. According to Hamilton's thesis on Holly Springs, "The life was idyllic; wealth, leisure, inspiration, the grand old mansions where upper class southern life was lived encircled young Walthall." He attended St. Thomas Hall, a military school in Holly Springs, where his classmates included Kit Mott and (Gen.) James R. Chalmers.
He studied law with his brother-in-law, then began a law practice in Coffeeville, Ms. When war came he was first a Lt. (1862) in the 15th Miss., then a Lt. Col. of the 15th, then Col. of the 29th Miss. And still, in 1862, he was promoted to Brig. General. In 1864 he was raised to Major General. Space is too short to recount his war experiences. Suffice it to say that, after the War, he returned briefly to Coffeeville to practice law, then moved to nearby Grenada. In 1885 he succeeded L.Q.C. Lamar in the US Senate. Except for a brief interval in 1894 he remained in the US Senate until he died in 1898. He attended all the Democratic National Conventions until his death. He was opposed to War with Spain in 1898 and opposed it in Congress till his death. He is buried in Hillcrest Cemetery in Holly Springs. Walthall County is named for him.
The Gray Ghost is the official newsletter of Kitt Mott, Camp #1379, SCV, 470 North Bonds Drive, Holly Springs, MS 38635
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