Brig. Gen. Christopher Haynes (Kit) Mott
We have chosen to honor our Camp namesake, Brig. Gen. Christopher Hayes (Kit) Mott, in our new column this month. Mott was born June 23, 1826 in Livingston County, Kentucky. When he was very young, his family moved to Holly Springs, Ms., where he was educated at St. Thomas Hall. He studied law under Roger Barton and later practiced law with James L. Autry and L.Q.C. Lamar in Holly Springs and surrounding counties. He fought in the Mexican War and was elevated to Lt. of the Marshall Guards, Co. I, 1st Miss. Infantry.
Gen. Mott served a term in the State Legislature, was a Judge of the Probate Court and a one-time special commissioner of the US Government to investigate the official conduct of Federal officers in California and Oregon. At the outbreak of the WBTS, he organized the Jeff Davis Rifles, but was then chosen as one of four Brigadier Generals of the State of Mississippi, commanding the Ninth and Tenth Mississippi.
Gen. Mott became dissatisfied with serving in a State position in a State position and his commission as Brigadier General of State troops and accepted a position as Colonel of the 19th Mississippi Infantry. Lt. Col. of the Regiment was L.Q.C. Lamar, Mott's former law partner. Judge Edward Mayes, in his biography of Lamar, mentions that the law shingle of Autry, Lamar and Mott was torn from its post in Holly Springs and was found floating in the Mississippi River on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. Also, according to Mayes, Col. Mott had been recommended for a promotion to Brigadier General of the Confederate States Army when he was killed May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Williamsburg. After the war, his remains were returned to Holly Springs and placed in Hillcrest Cemetery. His widow, Sally Govan Mott, married a Billups and moved to Columbus, Mississippi.
The United Confederate Veteran's Camp in Holly Springs was named in honor of Kit Mott in 1891.
Mott Originally Buried in Williamsburg; Later Moved in Hill Crest on Govan Lot
By Lois Swanee
The Gray Ghost, Vol. XVIII, No. 1, Jan-Feb 1999, page 6
The South Reporter, May 4, 1995 – Section 1, page 12
Enchanting tales of bygone days are what history is made of and such is the story of Sally Govan and her husband, Christopher Mott.
Mott was born in Kentucky in 1826 and moved to Holly Springs with his parents at an early age. He went to school at the original St. Thomas Hall with E. C. Walthall, James Autry and other Holly Springs notables. He fought in the Mexican War in 1845, as a lieutenant, with the Mississippi unit as a brave, exciting “hero”.
After the 1845 war, he studied law under Roger Barton, and became a lawyer and his Holly Springs partners were James Autry and L.Q.C. Lamar from Oxford.
After the Civil War, a sign saying “Attorneys at Law, Mott, Autry, Lamar” was fished from the swirling waters of the Mississippi River. Nobody knows how it got there or where it is now.
Christopher married Sally Govan in 1853. By this time he had taken a job with the United States government and they moved him to the west coast. He and Sally went to New York where they took a "Steamer" to Mexico. There was no Panama Canal so they walked across Mexico and took another “steamer” when they got to the Pacific coast to San Francisco. They lived in Oregon Territory and California for awhile.
When the War Between the States came along, Christopher was a general in the state militia and began forming the “Jeff Davis Rifles” to fight. He was being sent a commission as brigadier general in the Confederacy.
Sally was living in Virginia to be close to Christopher when he was killed in the Battle of Williamsburg. Motts' manservant was with him in the battle. After Mott died, the servant picked him up and carried him off the field of battle. Mott was buried there and later interred in Hillcrest in the Govan lot. He didn't live to receive his Confederate commission as a general.
I recently saw Christopher Mott's beautiful sword, inscribed with his name, and his battle flag and letters to him from Robert E. Lee and Jeff Davis. He was an important character and he crammed a lot of living into the few short years he lived.
Sally lived at “Snowden”, a plantation along the Sylvestria Road with her family. The Yankees came to burn her house but the commanding officer told Mrs. Govan that he would hold the torch long enough for her to retrieve one possession. She ran back inside the house and saved a beautiful blue and white pitcher which I also saw last week.
When it was the Confederacy's turn to search the Holly Springs' houses, Col. Griffin (from Texas, he was in Van Dorn's unit) sent men to the Walter Place to search for General Grant or anything else that was great.
Sally Govan was at the Walter Place with her mother, Mrs. Eaton Pugh Govan and her sister. All three ladies were known for their great beauty. When Col. Griffin's troops arrived to search Walter Place, all three ladies stood across the gate and refused entry into the house. The men returned to Col. Griffin and said, “We can't search Walter Place as the ladies won't let us”. Col. Griffins said, “Go back. Don't touch the ladies. Don't even touch the hem of their garments. Just search that house.”; The third time Col. Griffin himself went. The Govan ladies were still at the gate (Col. Griffin thought that Mrs. Govan was Mrs. Grant.) Griffin ordered the fence on either side of the gate removed. So with the ladies still standing in front of the gate, the fence portions were removed on each side and the search was made. The Grant's were living at the Walter Place at this time. Mrs. Grant, her slave Jule, and the Grant's son, Fred, and of course, the general, U.S. Grant. The Govan ladies had been burned out of their plantation and had moved to town and were keeping the Walter Place for the Walter's in their absence. They treated Mrs. Grant as a guest, except she wasn't allowed free reign of the house. Mrs. Govan had teas in the parlor so the town ladies could meet Mrs. Grant.
Sally went on a trip to Columbus after the War. She was crossing the river on a ferry boat when Mr. Billups saw her and fell madly in love with her. They married and had several children. Sally named her house there “Snowden” also. She is buried in Hillcrest by General Mott.
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