January: Lt. Gen.
Leonidas Polk, who had been assigned command of the
Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana the previous year, was
headquartered at Meridian. Under his command were Maj. General S.G.
French's division at Brandon and
Maj. Gen. W.W.
Loring's division at Canton. The 33rd was brigaded under the command
of Brig. Gen. W.S. Featherston with
the 3rd Miss., 22nd Miss., 31st Miss., 40th Miss., and the 1st Miss.
Battalion. On the 5th, Col. D.W. Hurst resigned and Lt. Col. Jabez L.
Drake was promoted to lead the 33rd.
February: A Federal force, under the
command of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, advanced from Vicksburg to
capture Meridian and destroy the railroads. The Confederate forces
stiffly resisted but were unable to stop the Federal advance and by
mid-month had fallen back to Demopolis, AL.
Spring: The 33rd,
along with the rest of Polk's army, marched to Montevallo, AL. Over the
next two months, while in camp, religion
became a prominent part of the lives of the members of the 33rd.
May: Sherman undertook the Federal's "Atlanta Campaign".
Gen. Joseph E.
Johnston stood in his way at Dalton, GA. By the 12th, Polk's Army of
Mississippi, with Brig. Gen. W.S.
Featherston's Brigade, reached Resaca, GA with orders to defend the
place. The 33rd anchored the left flank. After brisk skirmishing and
hard fighting, the Confederate forces withdrew across the Oostenaula
River during the night of the 15th and then destroyed the bridges. They
moved first to Calhoun, then to Adairsville, ten miles south, and then
to Cassville --- where the 33rd was positioned in the center of the
battleline on the 19th. Vulnerable to Federal crossfire they evacuated
the following day to Allatoona. Fighting commenced, late in the
afternoon of the 25th, at New Hope Church, approximately 3 miles to the
right of the 33rd. By midnight, the 33rd had formed in reserve in the
church yard. For the next five days members of the 33rd lay in their
ditches and intrenchments, with skirmishing and brisk cannonading going
on all up and down the line.
On May 31st, in response to a request from
Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood
for assistance, skirmishers from the 33rd and others from Featherstons'
brigade advanced to "feel out" the enemy. A galling fire from the
Federal's main line caused heavy losses for the 33rd Regiment.
Lt. Col. John Harrod was
mortally wounded, 11 others were killed or mortally wounded, 9 were
wounded and 1 was captured. For more details on the
May 31st engagement read
Loring's report and view the
June: Heavy, torrential rains began and continued for the next
19-20 days, making troop movements difficult. The Confederate army fell
back to a series of low hills called "Lost", "Pine" and "Brush"
Mountains. On the 14th, Gen. Leonidas Polk was killed by an enemy
artillery shell and
Maj. Gen. W.W.
Loring was temporarily assigned his command. [33rd
losses] During the evening of the 18th the Confederate Army moved
again. Around 2 a.m. the 33rd left their position on the picket line.
Through the chilly rain, pitch darkness and ankle-deep mud they marched
until dawn, when they reached the rest of their comrades. The rifle pits
had been dug and artillery pulled up the steep slopes of Kennesaw
Mountain as Loring's division took its new position.
Featherston had temporarily replaced Loring as divisional commander, and
the 33rd was under the command of Col. Thomas A. Mellon. Positioned on
the right of the Confederate line, the 33rd was east of the big
mountain, past the Western & Atlantic R.R. on the morning of the 27th,
when the Federal forces moved against them. Deadly musketry and cannon
barrages kept the Federals from getting too close. According to Pvt. M.V.
Kees (Co. C), "The enemy drove our skirmishers in on the right of our
brigade, and our artillery opened up on them, and drove them back." By
11:30 the Federal assault was over and had failed. They had been
repelled all along the ten miles of the Confederate line with heavy
losses. [33rd casualties]
In the evening of the 2nd, the Confederates withdrew to Smyrna, then
fell back to the Chattahoochee River, then moved to the outskirts of
Atlanta. On the 7th, Lt. Gen. A.P. Stewart took command of Polk's Corps.
Gen. Johnston was relieved of his command on the 17th, which was given
to Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood, temporarily promoted to general.
Hood wasted no time in attacking the Federal forces. "Hood's First
Sortie," on July 20th at Peachtree Creek, was disastrous to the 33rd.
They charged the Federal force and drove them from their first line of
hastily constructed breastworks and intrenchments, but were unsupported
on the right and had to fall back to a sheltered position. According to
the records, Featherston's Brigade of 1,230 men suffered the loss of 616
killed and wounded. Every regimental commander but one was killed or
wounded. Pvt. M.V. Kees (Co. C), in his diary, estimated the 33rd
regimental losses at "about 140 or 170." According to my research, the
33rd losses at Peachtree
Creek were 24 men killed, 18 mortally wounded, 59 wounded, 42 captured
and 18 missing-in-action, for a total of 161 men. Click here to read
Capt. Moses Jackson's report of the
Matthew A. Dunn
(Co. K) wrote a letter to his wife describing the "serious misfortune."
In addition, the 33rd's battle flag was lost to
the Union forces. Its capture by the 26th Wisconsin is disputed by a
member of the 33rd Indiana.
[For more details, and an excellent description of events, see
August: There was cannonading, skirmishing and pickets fighting
around Atlanta throughout the month --- but basically a stalemate, with
neither force gaining the upper hand. [33rd
losses in the trenches.]
September: The 33rd left Atlanta around 10:00 a.m. on the 1st and
marched to Lovejoy Station. There, skirmishing continued until the 5th,
when Sherman's troops returned to Atlanta. On the 18th, the 33rd marched
to Fayetteville, then on to Palmetto. Leaving bivouac at Palmetto on the
29th, the 33rd crossed the Chattahoochee River. [33rd
October: In the evening of the 3rd, the 33rd arrived at Big Shanty.
Pvt. M.V. Kees (Co. C) recorded in his diary, "Our brigade charged the
place and took them (a force of some 100 or more), then went up the (rail)road
and went to tearing it up." The next morning he stated, "We went up to
the next station (Ackworth) where there were about 300 Yankees that
surrendered to our division. Then we tore up the (rail)road until about
3 o'clock p.m." [33rd casualties]
They arrived at Decatur, AL in mid-afternoon of the 26th; skirmished
with Federal forces through the 29th; then moved on toward Tuscumbia,
AL. [33rd losses]
November: Around 11:00 a.m. on the 20th, the 33rd crossed the
Tennessee River at Florence and marched on towards Nashville. By the
following Sunday afternoon, they had reached Columbia, TN. Starting at
sunrise on the 29th, they crossed Duck River and marched until 8:00 or
9:00 p.m. and camped near Springhill. By mid-afternoon of the 30th, the
33rd had reached Franklin where the Federal forces were intrenched.
The land around Franklin was almost a flat plain consisting of open
fields and meadows. The 33rd was positioned on the right of the
Confederate line abutting the Lewisburg Pike. About 4:00 p.m., Hood gave
the order to advance. With their flags unfurled and bands playing, the
long gray line began to advance across the nearly two miles of open
Dr. G.C. Phillips, Surgeon for the 22nd Mississippi and Dr. William B.
Wall, Surgeon for the 33rd, had ridden to the top of a nearby hill to
see the battle. Phillips later wrote, "This was the first and only time
I ever heard our bands playing upon a battlefield and at the beginning
of a charge...When within three hundred yards of their breastworks a
cannon boomed from their fort (Granger) across the little river north of
the town. This seemed to be the signal waited for. A sheet of flame and
smoke burst from the entire crescent of the enemy's breastworks,
answered by the Rebel yell and musketry fire from our men. In a moment
the whole valley was so filled with smoke that nothing could be seen but
the flashes of cannon and musketry."
As the 33rd moved forward, they were forced to their left due to the
curving of the river and the high ground of the railroad. As they neared
the Federal intrenchments, they encountered a hedge of osage orange
which had been cut down, with its thorny branches forming an almost
"The fight was furious, and the carnage awful beyond anything I ever
saw," recorded Capt. W.D. Gale, Stewart's Asst.-Adjt. Gen. "Charge after
charge was made. As fast as one division was shattered and recoiled,
another bravely went forward into the very jaws of death, and came back
broken and bloody, again rallying quickly with their heroic officers,
and again went forward to do what seemed impossible---or die."
"The men..." Lt. Gen. A.P. Stewart wrote in his official report,
"pressed forward again and again, with dauntless courage, to the ditch
around the inner line of works, which they failed to carry, but where
many of them remained, separated from the enemy only by the parapet..."
For the second time the 33rd lost it's battle flag.
"The color-bearer of the Thirty-third was killed some fifteen paces from
the works," reported Brig. Gen. W.S. Featherston, "when
Lieutenant H.C. Shaw, of
Company K, carried them forward, and when in the act of planting them on
the works was killed, his body falling in the trench, the colors falling
in the works."
The fighting continued until 9 o'clock. The
33rd's casualties numbered 51.
Later that night the Federal forces withdrew from the city.
December: "We were all day (the 1st) getting the wounded off of
the field and burying the dead." recorded Pvt. M.V. Kees (Co. C). "In
the evening we moved out about 3 miles, cross(ed) the river, (and)
camped." At sunrise the following morning, the 33rd started toward
Nashville. Arriving at dusk they moved into position on the left of the
army, extending across the Granny White Pike to a hill near the
Hillsborough Pike. On the 10th, in a cold sleet, the 33rd's line was
moved back one-half mile, where they began to construct "self supporting
detached works." In the frozen ground they built one of five log and
earthwork redoubts on small hills along the Hillsboro Pike, capable of
holding from 100 to 150 troops and a section of artillery. At this time
Capt. T.L. Cooper
(Co. F) was commanding the 33rd.
A dense fog blanketed Nashville on the morning of the 15th, as Maj. Gen.
G.H. Thomas' Federal troops advanced toward the Confederate line. By
3:30 p.m., Stewart's extreme left --- redoubts #4 & #5 --- had been
overrun, exposing his flank. By 4:00 p.m. the 33rd was retreating from
their position embracing Redoubts #1 and #2. During the night, the 33rd
took their new position in the center of the Confederate line behind a
stone wall east of the Granny White Pike.
On the 16th, the Federal forces had been repulsed at every location.
Around 3:00 p.m. the tide changed. There was fierce fighting around
Shy's Hill on the Confederate left, which was overrun. Soon the Federal
forces had maneuvered behind Stewart's exposed left flank. The gray line
began to unravel, and in a matter of minutes there was mass confusion
and disorder, as the army retreated back down the road toward Franklin.
There are no records of the killed and wounded in the Battle of
Nashville, nor the retreat to the Tennessee River.
43 members of the 33rd are
recorded as captured or missing-in-action.
By the 21st, when the 33rd had regrouped at Columbia, TN, the tally
revealed that only 68 effectives remained out of an estimated aggregate
of 91. This was all that remained of the 33rd's nearly 1,000 original
The 33rd was temporarily assigned to the command of Maj. Gen. E.C.
Walthall and assisted
Maj. Gen. Nathan B. Forrest's cavalry as the rear guard for the army's
retreat. On Christmas morning, Pvt.
M.V. Kees (Co. C) recorded in his diary, "Our Regiment had some little
fighting to do today." At Anthony's Hill, about seven miles from
Pulaski, TN, a trap was set for the pursuing Federal Cavalry. A small
line of skirmishers was exposed, which the Federals immediately engaged.
As the attacking force neared the hidden Confederate main line they were
hit with destructive musketry fire and artillery. A number of prisoners,
horses and one piece of artillery were captured. On the 28th, the 33rd
crossed the pontoon bridge at Bainbridge, and marched to Tuscumbia, AL.
All photographs of Generals on this page are
believed to be in the Public Domain.
For more information see
Dr. Sidney W. Bondurant's
of the 33rd Mississippi Infantry