(Company H, Morris' Company)
Co. H of the Eighth Mississippi Cavalry was recruited in DeSoto and Panola counties in 1863. Some of the men who served in this company were from the Olive Branch and Cockrum areas. This regiment was originally called the 19th Battalion under the command of Lt. Colonel Duff.
Major William L. Duff, formerly of the Seventeenth Mississippi Infantry, Army of Northern Virginia, returned to Mississippi and received authority from the Secretary of War to raise a battalion for the defense of Northern Mississippi. Col. R.V. Richardson, commanding in Northeast Mississippi reported on October 28, 1863 that "[t]here are now several new battalions and regiments forming in my district. Lieutenant-Colonel Duff has a battalion nearly ready for the field. They need about 500 guns, and saddles, accouterments and equipments."
General Chalmers secured the battalion's transfer to his command, and assigned it to McCulloch's Brigade, with Chalmers' Battalion and the First Mississippi Partisans. Their first active service was in the raid on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad in December 1863, and several were killed and wounded in the fight at Moscow, Tennessee on December 4, 1863.
The battalion was transferred in January 1864 to Col. Jeff Forrest's Brigade. They were with Jeff Forrest in his repulse of Gen. Sooy Smith at Sakatonchee Creek on February 21, 1864, and aided in driving Smith's command through Okolona, Mississippi and took part in the severe fighting five miles beyond on February 22nd when Col. Jeff Forrest was killed. Duff's Battalion had 8 killed and 9 wounded in the fighting.
The battalion took part in the capture of Fort Pillow, Tennessee in February 1864. In his report of the capture of Fort Pillow, General Chalmers especially commended "the lion-hearted McCulloch, with his fighting brigade of Missourians, Texans and Mississippians."
In May 1864 the battalion was filled to form the Eighth Regiment, and attached to Rucker's Brigade, Forrest's Cavalry. This was officially recognized by Order of the Secretary of War, July 19, 1864: "The Nineteenth Mississippi Battalion, Lieut.-Col.. W. L. Duff, having been increased to ten companies by the addition of four companies raised within the enemy's lines, will constitute the Eighth Regiment. Mississippi Cavalry."
The Eighth took part in the battle of Brice's crossroads, or Tishomingo Creek, June 10, 1864. General Forrest reported that in forming his line of battle he held Rucker's Third Regiment, under Colonel Duff, mounted, as a reserve. As the attack was ordered, he placed Duff's Regiment and his escort at the extreme left of the line. "Colonel Duff and my escort, dismounted, were ordered to charge the enemy's position in front of Newsom's Regiment (after it was repulsed), and succeeded in driving the enemy to his second line." In this famous victory the Eighth had 9 killed and 47 wounded.
The regiment was also engaged with A. J. Smith's expedition to Tupelo in July 1864. General Chalmers reported that in this affair that he attacked with Rucker's Brigade, got possession of the train and killed all the mules, so that the enemy was compelled to burn several wagons, but "his infantry rallied, and by superior numbers forced us to retire." General Forrest, who was in the rear with two brigades, came up, and they moved toward Tupelo. In the battle of Harrisburg, July 14th, Rucker's Brigade made a gallant charge in which many fell from heat and exhaustion, and many were killed and wounded. Colonel Rucker and Colonel Duff were both severely wounded.
In September 1864 McCulloch's Brigade was sent to Mobile. The Union commander at Pensacola reported on October 25, 1864 that McCulloch's Brigade was stationed at Pollard, Alabama and companies of the Eighth Mississippi were at Milton, Florida and Pine Barren bridge. A Federal expedition to Milton, Florida reported a skirmish with 70 or 80 of the Eighth Mississippi Cavalry in October, 1864. The Mobile papers reported that about 50 of the regiment were captured.
A newspaper scrap undated records an accident in the camp of the Eighth Mississippi, McCulloch's Brigade, Forrest's Cavalry. Companies H and D were occupying au old building for shelter from severe cold weather, when it was blown down by the storm about 1 o'clock at night, killing 3 and wounding 15.
General Davidson, U. S. Army, led an expedition from Baton Rouge, Louisiana against the Mobile and Ohio Railroad in the latter part of November 1864. After pontooning the Amite, Pearl and Black Rivers and Red Creek, he sent the Second New York Cavalry across the Leaf and Chickasawhay. The regiment was met by McCulloch's Brigade, including the Eighth Cavalry, and driven back. Davidson finding the river impassable December 9, moved his command to Pascagoula.
In the spring of 1865, the Sixth Cavalry was consolidated with the Eighth, Colonel Duff commanding.
Below is a roster of men who served in Company H 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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