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From left: A.Q. Porter, Eli Cupit, J.S. Burns, Emery Summers & O.T. Synnott. Masthead (c) 2003 David E. Godbold. USE BY PERMISSION ONLY.
 
Battles & Engagements
Biographies & Photos
A Brief Synopsis of the 33rd's History
1862 Chronology
1863 Chronology
1864 Chronology
1865 Chronology
Letters & Diaries
Original Officers
Rosters & Enlistment History
 
 

Click to view a larger version of the 33rd Mississippi Infantry flag

 

 

 

"The enemy being discovered to be in strong force behind a strong line of fortifications, our men were ordered to retire, which they did, and took up position a little in advance of their original line. In this engagement Featherston's brigade suffered severely for the number engaged."

Maj.-Gen. W.W. Loring Re: New Hope Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I regret to state that ... Col. J.L. Drake ... a gallant and excellent officer, fell beyond the enemy's first line of works (at Peachtree Creek), leading his regiment in the charge and displaying the highest qualities of the true soldier."

--- Brig.-Gen.
W.S. Featherston,
July 23, 1864

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"After being shot down, Joe Burns sprang to his feet. Seeing Abe Nations near he called, "Abe, I'm wounded, what must I do?" The answer came, 'Oh, Law, Joe, do the best you can.' Joe thought it good advice and hobbled out as hard as he could."

--- Battle of Franklin,
as reported by A.M. Summers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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1864

January: Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk, who had been assigned command of theLt. Gen. Leonidas Polk
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.

Maj. Gen. W.T. Sherman


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 33rd Casualties.

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.


Kennesaw Mountain


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]


Lt. Gen. A.P. StewartJuly: 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.

Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood
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 battle. 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 Fred Kimbrell's site.]


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 losses]

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 fields.

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 impenetrable abatis.

"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 members.
Maj. Gen. E.C. Walthall
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.Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest 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
History of the 33rd Mississippi Infantry

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