Aug. 12, 1862, while the Mississippi Brigade was on picket duty between Malvern Hill and Richmond, the 13th’s former colonel, William Barksdale was promoted to brigadier general.
Barksdale, the former fire-eating (i.e. pro-secession) congressman from Lowndes County, MS, who owned 36 slaves, officially assumed command of the brigade.
Although he had fought in the Mexican War as a Mississippi volunteer, Barksdale was a newspaper editor not a professional soldier.
In that, he was not unusual. Indeed, all of the brigade commanders in Gen. Lafayette McLaws’s division were amateurs. They would nevertheless distinguish themselves, as Barksdale already had done at Malvern Hill.
Captain Kennon McElroy of the Lauderdale Zouaves, who was not a slaveowner, was promoted at the same time to lieutenant colonel for his leadership under fire when he replaced the 13th’s wounded commander, Lt. Col. John Carter, at the Battle of Malvern Hill.
The regiment continued on picket all week, the weather turning pleasantly cool at night, until Friday, which brought showers. The next day, at dress parade, wrote quartermaster clerk William H. Hill of the Spartan Band, “The new Band reported for duty and played for the first time.”