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This letter has been submitted by J. Frank Jackson of Mathis TX. (magnumto@hughes.net)


It is a letter written by his Great Great Grandfather, Jesse Pepper Anderson, who wrote it to the Pontotoc Sentinel on May 2, 1914, in which he recalls the Harrisburg Battle (as he phrased it).
Jesse Anderson lived in Pontotoc County and eventually died in Springville. From Pontotoc County Cemetery Records I found a J. P Anderson born 5-3-1833 and died 7-19-1922. He lived to be 89 years old. From these records I find he married Margaret Hooker. She is also buried there. Born 10-8-1840 and died 10-9-1908. Pontotoc, Miss., Thursday, July 3, 1969 (Published)

1914 Letter Tells of Fighting - Letter From County Civil War Veteran Recalls Harrisburg Battle

Brother soldier, you who were in the Harrisburg fight of Mississippi, I thought I would give you a little of my experience at that fight, which meant much to me then and which caused me to carry one empty pant leg for fifty years. I belonged to the 7th Miss. Cavalry, Company F, with Capt. E. L. Duncan.

We fought them on the left all the time on the skirmish line. They started to retreat in a northerly direction. We charged them in old man Rook's corn field. My first lieutenant was killed just as we were making the charge. It was a fine field of corn, hardly in good roasting ear. You couldn't see a man twenty steps without you were a squirrel hunter. We charged up within twenty or twenty-five steps of them before we saw them. They were all squatted down with their guns ready to shoot. When our officer saw them, he gave this order, "Fall boys," and we hit the ground.

They fired at us and never hit a man. They shot over us. We lay right there on the ground and shot nine rounds. We were then ordered to fall back. Then it was that we were put to the test in danger. There was a high rail fence all round the field. The couriers came to order us back and throw the fence down. I made for the gap. I had broken my gun stick while lying on my back trying to re-load, and seeing a gun just like mine sitting in the gap, I had my gun raised up in my right hand, thought I would set mine down and pick up the other, and just at that time a minne ball struck my left knee, going through the limb. I pulled myself over the fence through the gap and dragged myself around in the corner of the fence. The Yankees were charging us and came up to the fence and poked their guns through the crack and sent a rain of bullets into our men.

A squad of them came through the gap and passed on by. They never saw me. The last man in the rear looked back and seeing me hollered out to those on ahead, "Here is a damn reb in the corner of the fence."

The officer came up and said, "Well, he can't get away or he would not be there," then I said over my prayers; thought they would surely kill me. But they came on back in a few minutes and said, "Hello my friend, it looks like you are in a bad fix." The officer said, "It is mighty bad that we are shooting up one another like this, but it ain't us; it is our head officers. What can we do for you? Don't you want some water?" I answered, yes, and he told one of his men to bring a canteen of water, and he did so. The officer said, "We had better pull his shoe off, as it is full of blood," and I said, "No, it will hurt too bad." And he said, "No, one of us will hold your leg while the other pulls off the shoe." While they were pulling the shoe off I fainted, and when I came to myself they were sprinkling water in my face and a higher officer came up and said, "What are you doing to that man?" And they replied, "We pulled off his shoe and he fainted," and he said with an oath, "What did you do that for? Why didn't you cut it off?" The reply was, "I didn't think of that." They then left me, said the litter bearers would be after me in a few minutes. Sure enough they were there for me in a little while. They picked me up and put me into the ambulance. I thought that would kill me as it hurt my leg so bad. They drove along a short distance when we came to a dead yankee. They stopped to put him in the ambulance with me, and I told them no, and the driver asked why, I said, "He will roll on my leg. I don't want a dead yankee in here with me for that reason." He said, "Yes, let them put him in, or I will have to come back after him." And they put him in and one of them got in and set down on the big yankee and kept him from rolling on my leg. They carried me down in old Town Creek bottom and laid me down on the ground. Two doctors came around and examined my leg and one said to the other, We will have to cut his leg off," and the other said, "Yes, nine men out of ten would die shot like he is. They would take lock jar." They didn't say anything to me at all. After awhile they came back and said, "We are going to put you on the scaffold and take your leg off." The put chloroform to my mouth and nose. I think I must have hollered, as I remember they slapped the chloroform back to my nose and the next thing I knew I was lying on the ground with my leg off, shaking like a man with a hard rigor. There came along a man and said, "Hello, it looks like you are about to freeze to death, I will wrap you up in my blanket." He did, and after some time he came back by me and said, "You seem to be better" and I said, "Yes, I am about to get warm." I said, "Don't you want your blanket?" And he said, "I believe you need it worse than I do; you keep it." I call him the good Samaritan you read about in the Bible.

They then put me in the ambulance with some other fellows and carried us to a house where Smith had his headquarters. Three women met us at the gate and asked who we were, rebs or yankees, I answered, "Rebs," and they said we are glad of that." Said they had been there with the yankees two days and nights without anything to eat.

We were all calling for water, and the women said, "Law me, the yankees have drawn all the water out of our well" and the girl said, "I will let the bucket down and see if I can get some water," and she brought back enough to give us a half drink each. They then took us out in the hallway of the house and laid us down on the floor and I had my shoe and hat for a pillow. There was a Texan there with his left leg off just like mine, half way from his knee to his hip. We lay there until 10 o'clock next day on the bare floor. I tell them if you would treat a man that way these days, then went back to see after him you would find him dead. I stayed there five weeks. My captain learned where I was and sent me two days' rations that I had drawn before the fight. I gave it to those ladies as they said they were hungry, and told them if I never felt more like eating than I did then I would never want anything to eat. I left there as soon as I was able and came home. I am now 81 years of age, and can go anywhere in my buggy and eat three good meals a day.

Yours for the reunion, J. P. Anderson, Springville, Miss. May 2, 1914 (published in "The Sentinel," Thursday, May 7, 1914)


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