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NP: September 8, 1902 New Orleans Times-Picayune: Harris’ Mississippi Brigade at the Siege of Petersburg


Further Recollections of the Featherston – Posey – Harris Brigade.

Brigadier General N[athaniel]. H. Harris Succeeds to the Command.

Fierce Fighting Amid Blazing Underbrush in the Wilderness.

Sergeant Darrah’s Ramrod – Life in the Trenches Before the City of Petersburg.

(Note – This is third of Mr. Foote’s articles. The concluding installment will be published in next Monday’s Picayune.)


[SOPO Editor’s Note: A portion of this article not pertaining to the Siege of Petersburg has been omitted.]

At Petersburg, June 21 [sic, June 22, 1864], the brigade [Harris’ Mississippi Brigade, Mahone’s Division, Third Corps, Army of Northern Virginia] fought a brilliant little action, driving back heavy masses of the enemy, killing, wounding and capturing many of them. General Harris was commended by General A. P. Hill for the masterly way in which he handled the men.1

Life in the trenches of Petersburg from June [1864] to April, 1865, was arduous in the extreme, and many a brave life succumbed to the unerring aim of the Federal skirmishers. Day and night was replete with incidents, many tragic, some of ludicrous, and some that should never have occurred. One day a federal soldier was seen to leave his rifle pit, and running rapidly to his rear in all sorts of movements, in order to distort our aim. A well aimed shot brought him down, and we could hear his calls for help. It was sure harm to anyone to go out to the poor fellow. Directly we heard a hail from the Federal pickets , and saw a litter raised aloft, and then hail: “Say, Johnnie, don’t shoot. Two of us will go out with a litter and get that man if you won’t shoot and will let us go.” “All right, Yank, go out and get your man, we won’t fire on you.” Immediately two of them rose above their pits, and with a litter between them went out to the assistance of their comrade, and we soon saw them safely in their lines, to the rear. It was a soldiers [sic, soldier’s] confidence in an enemy’s words, and that confidence was not misplaced. Later in the day they hailed us, and said that the man’s leg was broken by the ball, and that he was going after water, and ran the gauntlet of our fire because that way was nearer.

On Aug. 21 [1864], the brigade [was] in a heavy engagement, on the Weldon railroad, and [had] the misfortune to lose about 250 men, mostly captured, and this was their first noticeable loss of this kind. They were close up to the enemy and were hotly engaged with them in front. Unknown to them in time to retire, a Union line came out of a corn field to their right rear, and almost before they knew it they were ordered to surrender. It so happened that there was an interval between our right and the left of another brigade, of about two hundred yards, which the enemy perceiving took advantage of and made the capture.  Col. J[oseph]. M. Jayne [of the 48th Mississippi], commanding the brigade in this action, reported “that he never saw the men do better fighting.”2


[SOPO Editor’s Note: If you’d like to keep reading about Harris’ Mississippi Brigade at the Siege of Petersburg, part 4 is available here.]

SOPO Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Ted Linton.

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  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: In the first of two devastating attacks during the Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road, Mahone’s Division, including Harris’ Mississippians, smashed into the left rear of the Union Second Corps and drove them back to the Jerusalem Plank Road in confusion.
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: This was the last day of fighting during the Battle of Globe Tavern on August 21, 1864.  For a good account of this fight and why so many of Harris’ men were captured, see John Horn’s book The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864, pages 188-193, including a map.
  3. “Three Heroes of the Civil War.” New Orleans Times-Picayune. September 8, 1902, p. 6 col. 1-2
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