In the spring of 1861, as one four Southern states (Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina) after another protested the election of Abraham Lincoln’s call for seventy-five thousand troops by passing ordinances of secession, militia units across Mississippi recruited and mustered, camped, equipped and drilled.
Lincoln, of course, had issued his call for troops after South Carolina militia artillery had bombarded Fort Sumter for thirty-four hours, winning its surrender.
Mississippi had passed its ordinance on Jan. 9, after South Carolina led the charge on Dec. 20, 1860. And Mississippi was followed by Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas before the bombardment and Lincoln’s call.
“Travel 200 miles,” was the notation on many a Mississippi recruit’s initial muster roll. Ten companies of about a hundred men each, with such romantic names as The Spartan Band, The Secessionists, and The Lauderdale Zouaves would come together in May at Corinth, a railroad hub in Mississippi’s northeast corner near the Tennessee line.
There their colorful names would be subsumed by ordinary letter designations, A through K (military tradition dictated there would be no J) and the aggregate be named the 13th Mississippi Infantry Volunteers.
Then the fledgling regiment would be ordered to Union City, clear across Tennessee to the state’s northwest corner, on the Kentucky line. The destination: a “Camp of Instruction.” And so the journey began.
UPDATE: Got a little sloppy on my history here, for which I apologize. In trying to avoid the politics of secession (which you can find discussed and argued in many places elsewhere on the Web) I went too far on what I did write. The post has been fixed for accuracy.