Girls & Guns

Only months before the surrender at Appomattox, it’s doubtful anything like the following was still occurring. Indeed, there is no record of it. But it’s worth remembering the zeal of some young Southern patriots at its peak in the war’s early days. Then even women were rumored to be organizing fighting units. Mississippi apparently was no exception.

Savannah [GA] Republican, July 19, 1861,
“The Mississippi Women.—In the Choctaw county, Miss., a company of ladies has been organized for some time under the name of ‘Home Guards,’ numbering over one hundred.  The Vicksburg Sun tells us what they have done as follows:

“They have been constantly exercising on horseback and on foot with pistol, shot gun and rifle, and have attained such perfection that we doubt if there is a better drilled company in the country.  Each one is almost a Boone with her rifle, and an Amazon in her equestrian skill.

“We have heard that one lady, (our informant, Gen. T. C. McMackin, could not give us her name,) in shooting at a cross mark, one hundred yards distant, with a rifle, struck the centre five times and broke it three times out of eight shots fired in succession.  She had a rest.  If any State can beat this, we should like to see it done.”

But one such report turned out to be a joke.

Natchez Daily Courier, April 1, 1862,
“Women in for the War. We find the following dispatch in the New Orleans True Delta of last Saturday evening.  We publish it for the information of our readers:

“Natchez, March 29.  The girls, one hundred and three rank and file, each in herself a Joan of Arc or a Maid of Saragossa, have completed their military organization, and are in for the war.  They will leave here by steamer for New Orleans on Monday morning.  Give them a warm embrace.  Hurra for Mississippi!

Natchez Daily Courier, April 9, 1862,
“All Fool’s Day.  A large number of persons took a stroll yesterday afternoon on the steamboat landing, with the fond hope of witnessing the arrival of the young female Mississippi volunteers.   But they saw nothing of the kind, though there were at that time on the levee many a Miss Volunteer of another sort.

“It was soon whispered in the crowd that they had been badly sold it being All Fool’s Day, and then one by one they all retired, very much excited against the newspapers, and more particularly the [New Orleans] True Delta, which published on Sunday, with a flaming heading, a telegram from Natchez, “from a respectable party,” in which it was announced the girls would leave that place for this city on Monday.  The female company turns out to be a military canard.–N. O. Bee, April 2.”

Via University of Texas at Tyler & Poore Boys In Gray

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About Dick Stanley

Retired Texas daily newspaperman
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