Our Boys in Gray
By Bobby J. Mitchell
July - Aug 1998
Private John Allen of Tupelo was supposedly the most quoted man in the nation during his time in Congress. He was first elected in 1884 and served 8 terms in the US House of Representatives. He had an extraordinary sense of humor and used it to further his political goals. At the time of his election, there were still hard feelings about the South and he used his humor to help moderate the harsh feelings of fellow Congressman.
Allen was one of 12 children, born to David Allen. The family was originally from VA, but had settled in Tishomingo County MS by the time John was born. His father was a Whig who supported the Union, but when several of the sons joined the Confederate Army, he felt duty bound to support the South.
John Allen was too young to join the army when the war began, but he convinced his parents and a Confederate officer to let him spy in Corinth and report on numbers of troops there. He would take baked goods and sell them to the union troops, make mental notes on what he had seen, and then report to the Confederates.
The Yankees eventually became suspicious of him and tried to capture him at his home, but he evaded capture by fleeing through a window and hiding in the nearby grass. After this, it was decided he would be safer in the regular army in Virginia with his brothers. He never rose above the rank of "Private" during the war but his rank later assisted him in his political career.
After the War, Allen attended Cumberland College and then the University of Mississippi Law School. Here he became a friend of L. Q. C. Lamar. Also, while at the University he was elected to the state Legislature, but was not seated by the Reconstruction government.
In 1884, Allen ran for the US House of Representatives. His two opponents were Gen. W. S. Tucker and Col. S. M. Meek. During one of the rallies attended by all three candidates, Gen. Tucker reminded the crowd that during the War he had spent a night under the nearby grove of trees after a hard fought battle, and asked the voters not to "forget your humble servant when the primaries are held".
When it was "Private" John Allen's turn to speak he said, "What Gen. Tucker says about being bivouacked under yonder clump of trees on that night is true. It is also true my fellow citizens that I was the vidette picket and stood guard over him while he slept. Now all you who were generals and had privates standing guard over you vote for Gen. Tucker and all you who were privates and stood guard over the generals while they slept vote for Private John Allen". Allen was the winner.
Among items he fought for in congress were pensions for Confederate soldiers and widows, a paved road from Corinth to Shiloh, and he was opposed to high tariffs and the Spanish American War. He tried to introduce campaign reform measures, such as prohibiting federal employees from participating in campaigns. This was not passed until 20 years after his death. His goal of providing farmers low cost federal loans also did not pass until long after his death in 1917.
In 1901, he gave up his safe House seat for an attempt at the Senate. Senators at that time were appointed, not elected, and he had made a number of political enemies, which cost him the position.
People of north Mississippi still have fond recollections of the humorous congressman, Private John Allen.
His illustrious career speaks well of the type of men southerners were and still are.
While out for the Thanksgiving Holidays, I took the opportunity to run by the Marshall County Court House to look over a couple of old records I had to copy. While there I opened an old Probate Court book while waiting my turn at the copier. It happened to open to a page that had a Confederate connection.
The case involved Thomas T. Royston, who was a ward of Charles Terry.
A portion of the text is as follows:
Monday Sept. 21st, 1863
The State of Mississippi - be it remembered that at a Probate Court (of?) began and held in and for the County of Marshall in the city of Holly Springs on the third Monday (of?) being the 21st day of September A D 1863. Present the Honorable(sic) Tryon M. Yancy Judge of the said court presiding.
Thomas T. Royston ward
Charles C. Terry Guardian of Thomas T. Royston having presented for allowance his final account by petition as presenting(?) that his said ward departed this life in the month of Oct. 1862 in the State of Kentucky, being killed in the Battle of Perryville between the United States and the Confederate States forces while bravely fighting in the confederate ranks. It is ordered by the court, that Paulaine P. Frazier wife of Dr. ______ Frazier and Harriet----Morehead wife of _____ Morehead and their said husbands who reside in the city of Memphis state of Tennessee - Cornelia Mull, ______ Henry who reside in Marshall County Miss. Dr. Samuel Brown who resides in Lawrence Co. Miss. and Dr. Franklin Brown who resides in Covington Co. Miss. and John Henderson who resides in the state of Missouri be cited to appear before this court on the third Monday (sic) of November next - to show cause if any they can why the said final account should not be allowed and decree made accordingly. And that citation issue and publication be made or notices posted in five of the most public places in this county according to law and declaration of this order.
This was the first time I had noticed a filing such as this, and since it is a legal document, it would serve as proof of one's Confederate service, even though a regiment is not mentioned. This is another source that can be added to the more common sources of establishing military service, and can help in verifying relatives and descendants of said soldier.
Vol. XII, No. 4, July-Aug 1993
Gustavus Adolphus Palm was born July 11, 1839 in Prussia. After obtaining a thorough Prussian military training he emigrated to the United States. By 1859 he was in Holly Springs, MS. After his first wife, Martha, died in 1871, he married Ada Woodson. When War broke out in 1861, Gus Palm joined the 9th Mississippi Infantry. His knowledge of military strategy and drill service was of great benefit to his regiment. At one time he acted as an instructor for a company of Confederate Officers. During the Battle of Perryville, KY, he received a severe wound and was left for dead on the field of battle. He recovered from his injuries and returned to his regiment.
Some years after the War he became a citizen of the United States. He had lived in Memphis for 30 years when he died at his home on the Raleigh road, near Trezevant. Although his obituary states the body was taken to Hudsonville Presbyterian Church for interment, there is a Palm plot at Hillcrest Cemetery in Holly Springs that has monuments for him, both wives, a child and one other person, who has only a first name on the monument. His obit in the Holly Springs REPORTER of Feb. 1, 1917, was copied from the Memphis SCIMITAR. The following is a quote from the 1917 paper.
"BURY VETERAN WHO ENABLED FORREST TO CAPTURE CITY"
"The funeral of Gustavus A. Palm, 78, Confederate Veteran, who secured the plans of the fortification of Memphis, which enabled Gen. Forrest to capture the city, was held Sunday from his home on the old Raleigh road. The body was taken to Hudsonville, MS for interment. His death occurred Sunday. Mr. Palm was ordered to secretly map the federal fortifications. He returned safely to the Confederate lines, making possible the success of Forrest's raid into the city."
And now we know the rest of the story.
Vol. XI, No. 3, May-June 1992
This month we honor Thomas Jefferson Blythe who served in the 34th Miss. Infantry.
A recent request from John B. Wells, III, Genealogist in Chief of the SCV and MOSB, for assistance in proving that Thomas Jefferson Blythe served the Confederacy has had interesting results. Compatriot Wells was trying to find an ancestor for William Jefferson Blythe, III, also known as Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas. Upon researching the records, I was quite surprised to find that Gov. Clinton's great great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Blythe, and two of his great great great uncles had all enlisted here in Holly Springs on April 27, 1862. All three were in Co. F, 34th Miss. Infantry.
It now appears that several of our Camp members, unbeknownst to themselves until now, are distant cousins of the prospective Democratic Presidential candidate. Among those who are cousins are Don Randolph, Jimmy Hobson and Barry Hobson. Also, by marriage, Wayne McGill is included.
Gov. Clinton's father, William Jefferson Blythe, Jr., was killed in an automobile accident two months before the Governor was born. His mother later married a Clinton. When William became of age, he had his name changed from Blythe to Clinton.
Thomas Jefferson Blythe was born in Alabama in 1829. His father was Andrew J. Blythe, born in South Carolina in 1801. Thomas Jefferson Blythe married Ester Elvira Baum on January 1, 1849 here in Marshall County. Ester Baum was the daughter of Moses Baum, also of Marshall County. Thomas Jefferson Blythe and his two brothers, John Wesley Blythe and Newton Jasper Blythe, all survived the war. Thomas drew a Confederate pension in Tippah County until his death. He is buried in the Lowry Cemetery in Tippah County, Mississippi.
Update Vol. XI, No. 4, July-August 1992
In this column in our last issue we reported that Gov. Bill Clinton's great great grandfather and two great great great uncles had enlisted here in Holly Springs in April of 1862 in the 34th Miss Infantry. Now, using the muster roll prepared by Compatriot Pegram, we find that two of Clinton's great great grandmother's brothers also enlisted in Holly Springs the same day as his other three relatives. They were Robert and Hugh Baum. Five Confederate relatives enlisting the same day in the same unit may be some type of record.
Vol. XI, No. 4, July-August 1992
This is a rather amusing story about our boys that happened in Marshall County in 1869 during Reconstruction. It is also a bit of a departure from what is normally in this column, but, here goes.
During election campaigns, both Democratic and Republican parties arranged elaborate parades and "speakings". On one occasion the Republicans had an extensive program, with ten guest speakers to address the negro Republicans. A stand was erected in the center of the square for the occasion. Several old Confederates decided to attend the rally to hear one of the speeches. None were armed. Col. George Myers, an old one-armed Confederate, jumped onto the platform in response to a false statement and struck the speaker, Nelson Gill, of the Freedman's Bureau. Henry Dancy and others rushed to Col. Myers aid. Mr. Dancy threw a brick at one of the men on the platform and broke his leg. As a near riot scene spread, order was restored when the white store owners around the square emerged from their business places, armed with a variety of weapons.
Henry Dancy had to leave town for a period of time, as the man he had injured with the brick reported him to the occupation troops still in Holly Springs. (At this time, only three places in the state were still occupied by Yankee troops.)
Mr. J.T. Fant was a citizen of Holly Springs, who afterwards served as District Attorney and Circuit Judge. During the turmoil, he looked about for a weapon. One of the Negro Republicans on the platform had a wooden leg. When order was finally restored, Judge Fant had the Negro down and was desperately attempting to unbuckle the man's wooden leg to use for a club.
Official government reports put the crowd at between 3000 and 4000, and stated that a mob attacked them and broke Captain Clark's leg. Clark was running for the office of Commissioner of Public Schools.
Vol. XX, No. 1, Jan-Feb 2001, Page 6
A popular feature of our newsletter is a section with biographical information-obituaries of Confederate Veterans. Portions of our newsletter are found on the Marshall County Genealogy Society Web Page. We have received numerous inquiries concerning these articles. We include a couple more for this issue.
We have mentioned previously the immortal 600 and their place in history. At least four of these men were residents of Marshall County at one time or another. Van Manning, Robert James Howard, John Cason, and Thornwell Dunlap, have all been noted in our newsletter in varying detail through the years. Recently, though, while reading a history of Byhalia, by Barton Williams (Barton died before completing his work and friends finished and published it for him several years ago) I found a group picture of men from Byhalia with Robert Howard one of those identified. Arousing my interest, I went to the Library and looked until I found his obituary.
August 24, 1933, Holly Springs South Reporter, Holly Springs, MS
Robert James Howard, aged 95 years and 2 months, Merchant, Planter and Confederate Veteran, died at his home in Byhalia, Friday night, August 18. He was born at Madison Cross Roads, near Huntsville, Alabama, June 18, 1838, moved to Marshall County in a covered wagon at the age of 4, with his mother. He served four years in the Civil War, as a 2nd Lt., Co. G, 1st Mississippi Regiment. He was the last survivor of his company and regiment. He was the last survivor of the immortal 600, Confederate prisoners imprisoned on Morris Island, South Carolina and fired over by guns of both parties. He was a life long member of the Baptist Church and a loyal democrat. He is survived by 2 daughters, Mrs. H. G. Green of Byhalia and Mrs. J. K. Shaw of Holly Springs, and a number of nieces and nephews, Miss Minnie Howard and Mrs. Wesley Singellton, of Eads, Tennessee, Robert and Walter Howard of Germantown, Tennessee, and Miss Jane Golightly of Holly Springs and J. R. Golightly of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Funeral services were at Byhalia Cemetery Saturday afternoon, by the 2 resident pastors of Byhalia, Rev. Homer McLain of the Presbyterian Church and Rev. E. M. Shaw, of the Methodist Church.
A second obituary is for John Creighton. Mr. Creighton was a long time educator in Marshall County. During the war, he was a member of Co. G, 17th Mississippi Infantry. He became ill a few weeks before his death and was brought to Holly Springs to stay with a physician.
The South, Sept. 13, 1893, Holly Springs, MS
John Creighton died Sept. 11, at the Dr. Malone residence. He settled in the South long before the war and fought the Confederacy Army. Ignorant of each others presence, he and his brother fought in opposing armies in one battle. He taught Sunday school at the Presbyterian Church and also at Mahon (a small community outside Holly Springs) near where he lived. John Rogers, Milton Estes, John Cochran, E.C. Cleary, Shelby Richmond, Edward Fant and other old army comrades and neighbors attended the funeral here.
Vol. XVII, No. 5 Sept-Oct 1998, Page 6
Dr. W. R. Burris, a Marshall County native, was a Real Son and member of Camp 635 in Jackson. I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Burris once when he attended the Division Convention in Holly Springs in 1986. Our camp presented him with a Real Son plaque at the convention dinner that year.
A couple of years later, after recounting some of his father's recollections, a typed manuscript of his reminiscences was donated to the Marshall County Museum by a relative of his, Lois Swanee, Curator of the County Museum. We will excerpt some of the rememberances in the next several issues.
Dr. Burris begins his narrative with, “My remarks are not authenticated, so far as I know, by any other person or by history. It is possible that there may be some deviation in details from the specifics of the incidents due to the many years since I have heard them. But I am sure they are basically as they were told to me. With the confidence I have in my fathers integrity, I have no doubt whatever as to the authenticity of his stories….”
He (my father) was one of the old time country fiddlers and pulled a rather good bow, playing such songs as “Turkey in the Straw”, “The Fisherman's Hornpipe”, “Buffalo Gals”, and other old tunes. After he was about 90, my half brother and I measured him for a tailor-made suit. When the samples were presented, what color do you suppose he selected? Powder blue, which he called Confederate Gray!
As most older persons do, things did not always go just as he desired. When he was peeved at my mother he sometimes said, “I'll just go to the Old Soldier's Home.”
William Rufus Burris was born in York County, South Carolina, November 11, 1842, and at age six left with his family on a westward trek, spending part of one year in Alabama to make a crop, before moving to Mississippi. He told of going to the Tombigbee (river), accompanied by a small slave boy, to watch the steamboats plying the river, and leaving imitating the boat whistles. He settled near Waterford in Marshall County, Mississippi, where he was living when the war began. There was probably some glamour in my father's volunteering three times during the course of the war. When emotions are deeply stirred it becomes popular to go with the masses. He often said, “We were fighting for our rights.” He did not say “States rights.” All along I got the impression that HIS rights were somehow related to the fact that he was in line to inherit eight or ten slaves.
I have not been able to find any official record of my father's first enlistment, which was with what he called the “Sixty Day Brigade,” which I believe was the Mississippi Army of 10,000. It is my understanding that he enlisted at Holly Springs, Mississippi. He would jokingly say, “We were pretty simple minded to think we could win the war in 60 days.” I do not recall any specific experiences he had during these sixty days. He recalled sleeping on the ground so close together that one could not turn unless all turned simultaneously. The signal was for someone to call “Right spoon” or “left spoon” and all would follow the call. He told of how snugly they slept and how some mornings they would throw the blankets back to find a deep snow had fallen during the night.
After serving his sixty-day stint, he returned home for a few days to visit his family and his childhood sweetheart.
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