With the 11th Mississippi at Seven Pines

     On the afternoon of May 31, 1862, Co. F of the 11th Mississippi, the Noxubee Rifles, went into action at the Battle of Seven Pines. As part of General William H.C. Whiting’s division, the Mississippians under the command of Colonel Philip F. Liddell slammed into General John Abercrombie’s brigade of Couch’s division and soon found themselves locked into a hard fight in attempting to charge a Federal battery that raked their lines.

          “We were then thrown into line and ordered to charge,” remembered Corporal James D. Feemster. “The battery was half a mile distant and between us and them was a dense wood and a pond of water nearly waist deep covered with bushes and briars so that it was almost impossible to get through it at all.” The Mississippians attack quickly bogged down in the thick brush and briars of the swamp and casualties quickly mounted, Feemster numbering among the wounded. “I was struck just before dark by a ball, part of the loading of a shell. It entered my jaw just by my ear and passing between my upper and lower jaw before it reached the corner of my mouth. I had it extracted the next evening and it will be well enough in a week longer for me to rejoin my regiment,” he noted. The regiment would end up losing 195 casualties in their unsuccessful engagement at Seven Pines.

During the Battle of Seven Pines, the 11th Mississippi was attached to Whiting’s brigade under the command of Colonel Evander M. Law along with the 4th Alabama, 2nd Mississippi, the 6th North Carolina, and Balthis’ Virginia battery. Corporal Feemster’s letter first saw publication in the June 18, 1862 edition of the Macon Beacon.

 

The 11th Mississippi was organized at Corinth, Mississippi in May 1861 and promptly set off to join the army in Virginia where it took part in the First Battle of Bull Run in July under General Bernard Bee. Corporal Purnell of Co. I, pictured above, numbered amongst the casualties of the regiment at Gettysburg when it participated in Pickett's Charge where only 53 men out of 393 survived unscathed. The 11th Mississippi also lost heavily at Seven Pines with 195 casualties. 

Chimborazo Hospital, Richmond, Virginia

June 5, 1862

 Dear Sisters,

          Here I am at old Chimborazo Hospital again but will be able in a few days to bid it another adieu and I hope a final one. I can only write you a short letter tonight as I have other letters to write and Mr. L. Dupree leaves early in the morning.

          I will give you a brief account of our fight of Saturday the 31st ultimo. The fight opened about 11 a.m. and closed at night. From the best information I can gather, our forces numbered 20,000 and that of the enemy 40,000. The battle was fought in Chickahominy swamp six or seven miles from Richmond. On the night previous to the fight, we had a very heavy fall of rain which overflowed the river covering the swamp and low grounds with water, rendering the roads almost impassable.

          The enemy was attacked in their camps and driven from their position, leaving their camps and a considerable amount of ammunition and army stores. Our brigade was held in reserve and was not let into the fight until in the evening. We were then sent to the right wing where it was thought the enemy would send a heavy force to regain their camps and retrieve their lost fortunes. We came upon their camps when they immediately opened a heavy and destructive fire on us from their batteries. We had no artillery to engaged them, the nature of our ground being such that we could not use it.

General William H.C. Whiting

          General Whiting, seeing that they were likely to make sad havoc of our men with their eight pieces of artillery first ordered the 6th North Carolina regiment to charge and take the battery. They made the charge but were driven back with heavy loss. He then came to the 11th Mississippi and asked us if we would not take the battery and the answer was yes. We were then thrown into line and ordered to charge. The battery was half a mile distant and between us and them was a dense wood and a pond of water nearly waist deep covered with bushes and briars so that it was almost impossible to get through it at all. [Law’s brigade hit General John Abercrombie’s brigade of General Darius N. Couch’s division which included the 65th N.Y., 67th N.Y., 23rd, 61st, and 82nd Pennsylvania regiments.]

          During all this time the enemy was pouring the shot and shell into us like hail. By the time we reached the field beyond, our line was so badly broken that we were led back to reform. We were taken into open ground, our line immediately reformed, and led to the charge a second time but this time through the open field. Colonel Philip F. Liddell snatched up the colors and asked the boys to follow him. On we went amid a perfect storm of bullets and shells.


“When all of a sudden there came a noise as though all of the fiends of hell broke loose and revealed to us that the enemy was not more than 40 yards distant. They poured a volley into our ranks, keeling our men over like chaff. But we got no order to fire. The enemy was in a thicket so we could not get a shot at them; only three of our companies fired at them. The rest of us could not fire for fear of killing some of our own men. The Rebels sent two more volleys into us in quick succession and cut our men and officers down like straw.” ~ Private Thomas Beardmore, Co. K, 23rd Pennsylvania

 

We had advanced more than halfway when there was a regiment of the enemy thrown down on our right. We then halted and were ordered to fire, but after firing a few rounds, we were ordered to retreat. In this position, the enemy had at least four to one besides a battery of eight pieces. The prisoners say the battery was guarded by four regiments and these were in trenches. It was in this charge that we lost so many men. On every side could we see the wounded, dead, and dying, shot and mangled in every possible form. We still held their ground that night, sleeping in their camps.

Private Joseph Lattimore Dupree of Co. F of the 11th Mississippi also numbered amongst the wounded at Seven Pines. 

You can form some idea of the fire we were exposed to when I tell you that we were not exposed longer than an hour and during this short time we lost 195 men killed and wounded; I happened to be among the number wounded. I was struck just before dark by a ball, part of the loading of a shell. It entered my jaw just by my ear and passing between my upper and lower jaw before it reached the corner of my mouth. I had it extracted the next evening and it will be well enough in a week longer for me to rejoin my regiment.

In the list of killed you will find the names of Iley Fant and George Hopkins, two nobler victims never died for liberty. W.J. Fant is among the missing; he was told that Ily at fallen and he went back him where he was either killed or taken prisoner. All of our wounded are doing well. Madison Bell is shot through the breast. I saw him today and he is doing well and I am in hopes he will recover.

 

Your brother,

Jas. D. Feemster

List of the killed, wounded, and missing of Co. F, 11th Mississippi Regiment in the battle near Richmond, Virginia, May 31, 1862

First Sergeant Iley W. Fant                   Killed

Second Sergeant James F. Farrant        slight wound

First Corporal James D. Feemster        slight wound

Second Corporal D.C. Farmer              slight wound

Private George W. Hopkins                 Killed

Private James R. Spann                        Mortally wounded

Private Madison Bell                           Severely wounded

Private Dudley Bell                             Severely wounded

Private J. Davis                                   Severely wounded

Private R. Mahorner                            Severely wounded

Private H. Mahorner                           Severely wounded

Private E.J. Carter                               Severely wounded

Private W.H. Tate                               Severely wounded

Private T.W. Freeman                         Severely wounded

Private J.F. Jones                                Severely wounded

Private T.F. Glass                               Severely wounded

Private C.M. Bowen                            Severely wounded

Private Joseph L. Dupree                     Severely wounded

Missing and supposed killed: William Price, W.J. Fant, F.M. Hill

Killed, wounded, and missing: 21

 

The colors of the 11th Mississippi were captured during Pickett's Charge; note the battle honor for Seven Pines at the left.

Sources:

Letter from Corporal James D. Feemster, Co. F, 11th Mississippi Infantry, Macon Beacon (Mississippi), June 18, 1862, pg. 1

Letter from Private Thomas Beardmore, Co. K, 23rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, East Liverpool Mercury (Ohio), June 19, 1862, pg. 2

Comments

Most Popular Posts

Bullets for the Union: Manufacturing Small Arms Ammunition During the Civil War

Dressing the Rebels: How to Dye Butternut Jeans Cloth

A Buckeye Remembers Scenes of Horror After the Battle of Corinth

Arming the Buckeyes: Longarms of the Ohio Infantry Regiments

Mauled at Resaca: Eight Fatal Minutes for the 36th Alabama

The Cannons are Now Silent: The Field of Death of Tupelo

Buckeye Rapid-Fire: The 21st Ohio and the Colt’s Revolving Rifles

General Buckland Explains the Battle of Shiloh

Dedicating the Gettysburg National Cemetery

A Galvanized Yankee Executed at Tullahoma