Paroled prisoners of war had several options. Some simply ignored the parole, rejoined their units, and continued fighting. Some waited to be exchanged for a prisoner of like rank paroled by the other side. Thomas honored his word, and went home. His war was over. On September 22, 1863, at Columbus, Lowndes County, Mississippi, by order of General Joseph E. Johnston, the Third Battalion of Mississippi State Troops was mustered out of service.
Another memory: The Confederate officerís saber worn by my great- grandfather Thomas Burgin in the Siege of Vicksburg is still in our family. At Thomasí death his son Gus (Daniel Augustus Burgin) inherited it. Gus kept it in the house he built, which still stands in the little village of Mayhew. After Gusís death two of his sons, my Uncles Mel (Melville Gathings Burgin) and T (Thomas Albartus Burgin) shared that house. I remember being fascinated by it as a young boy, hardly taller than the sword was long, on visits to Mayhew; it was kept in an umbrella stand just inside the front door. When no grownups were looking, I loved to take it out of the umbrella stand and brandish it, even though it could not be drawn out of its scabbard--in a misguided attempt to beautify it, my Aunt Irene, Uncle Melís wife, had had the hilt and scabbard gilded, and the sword was stuck tight in gold paint. As I grew, and learned about the Civil War, my thoughts always went back to the dull-gold sword in the umbrella stand. Later, my father had the gilding removed, and kept the sword at Thousand Oaks, our home between Mayhew and Starkville. It hung in its scabbard over the French doors leading out of the long living room, and was reflected in the mirror over the fireplace at the roomís opposite end. It still hung there in the early 1980s when I lived at Thousand Oaks for several years with my then wife and my kids. Later, my brother Bill had the sword and scabbard professionally restored to their original condition, and kept them by the fireplace in his home in Columbus. Now that Bill has passed on, his son Bob has custody of the sword, at his home in Floyd, Virginia. I am sure that Bobís children, too, will appreciate it as a tangible contact with the history of this family and this country.
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