Skip to content

The Mississippi College Rifles

The Mississippi College Rifles in 1863

By Dr. Walter G. Howell The Mississippi College Rifles spent winter quarters for 1862-63 in their entrenched positions behind the destroyed town of Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock River. General Lee’s strategy was to keep his army between the Union army and the Confederate capital at Richmond. Lee faced a new adversary in 1863, after President…

Read More

The Clinton home front in 1862

By Dr. Walter G. Howell While the Mississippi College Rifles fought in the Peninsular Campaign in the summer of 1862, people in Clinton experienced the shortages and inconveniences that war brings to a civilian population at home. President Lincoln’s blockage in April 1861 closed southern ports, and cotton grown around Clinton lost access to foreign…

Read More

The Clinton Home Front: 1861

By Walter Howell The Civil War in 1861 was a distant struggle to the people of Clinton, but the impact of the war was felt immediately.  The Confederate government declared an embargo on the shipment of cotton to outside markets, while the Union government declared a blockade on shipping from ports controlled by the Confederates. …

Read More

The Rifles at Sharpsburg (Antietam)—September 1862

By Dr. Walter G. Howell When General Lee began the Confederate invasion of Maryland in September of 1862, the Rifles for the most part still wore uniforms made before they left Clinton fifteen months earlier. Mississippi started a uniform allowance late in 1862. The Rifles replaced torn and ragged clothing by swapping or buying the…

Read More

The Mississippi College Rifles at Fredericksburg

By Dr. Walter G. Howell After the stalemate at Sharpsburg, Lee pulled his army across the Potomac River into Virginia, ready to go into winter quarters. Lincoln’s new commander, General Ambrose Burnside, ordered the Army of the Potomac to cross the Potomac into Virginia. Burnside moved his army towards the Rappahannock River in the direction…

Read More

The Seven Days Battles

By Dr. Walter G. Howell The Mississippi College Rifles began the Seven Days campaign with 76 men on the company roll. Fifty-four soldiers from the original company of 130 were discharged for various reasons, transferred to other units, wounded and sent home to recuperate, killed in action, died in winter quarters or deserted. The only…

Read More

Captain William Lewis – Commander of the Rifles

By Dr. Walter Howell When he was elected by the soldiers of the Mississippi College Rifles as company commander in December of 1861, William Lewis became the third officer to command the Clinton company.  Lewis was a native of Paris, Tennessee, the son of Patrick and Eliza Lewis, who moved to Clinton in 1935. Lewis…

Read More

Rifles come under the command of Robert E. Lee

By Dr. Walter G. Howell After occupying Yorktown, which was empty of Rebels, General McClellan claimed victory and sheepishly ordered his army towards Williamsburg in pursuit of the retreating Confederates.  The Rifles had no casualties at Yorktown, but Mike Carney, August Styles and George Swegart, all Irish laborers from Clinton, deserted to the Union army…

Read More

The Confederate Army and the Union Army in 1862

By Dr. Walter G. Howell In January 1861, the army of the United States was among the smallest in the world, and the army of the confederacy did not exist.  The federal army, still called the “Old Army,” numbered about 16,000 soldiers, scattered across the country.  The officer corps had 1,098 officers, the majority graduates…

Read More

The Rifles in Winter Quarters, 1861 – 1862

By Dr. Walter Howell After the fighting at Edward’s Ferry in October 1861, the Mississippi College Rifles went into winter quarters at Leesburg, Virginia.  Their first task was to build huts to keep out the winter cold and damp.  Saws were not available, so the men had to use axes to fell trees, then notch…

Read More