According to the story I heard as a child, on one occasion she summoned all the slaves to the top of a hill on the property. She lined them up and passed out buckets, pots, and pans. She then ordered them to march single-file down the hill, fill their receptacles from a spring at the bottom, march back up, empty the water, and then repeat the procedure over and over to the point of exhaustion.
A one-sentence note added to the official Confederate Army record of Thomas’ original company, Company E of the Third Battalion, Mississippi Infantry (State Troops) gives a brief history of the company (and, by extension, the battalion): “This company was at the bombardment of Sniders Bluff, and at the siege of Vicksburg, Miss.” The Third Battalion was transferred to Vicksburg November 28, 1862 by order of Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton, the Confederate commander there. On January 1, 1863 Thomas’ superior officer at Columbus praised the State Troops:These troops never were mustered into the service of the Confederate States, but have been . . . performing guard and other duties at this post. In obedience to Special Orders . . . I have furnished to these troops subsistence, camp and garrison equipage, arms, and ammunition . . .The battalion had an aggregate of 399, with 197 available for duty on the day it left Columbus. The first muster roll to show the unit “in trenches near Vicksburg, Miss.” was dated April 30, 1863. Thomas’ baptism by fire occurred on the same date, when part of the Union Fifteenth Army Corps, under the command of Major General William Tecumseh Sherman, attacked trench defenses north of Vicksburg. This engagement, the “bombardment of Snyder’s Bluff”, was so insignificant it rarely even rates a footnote in Civil War histories, but it must have seemed horrendous to fresh troops experiencing artillery fire for the first time.
The State troops are styled by the Governor Minute-Men; have officers detailed to drill and instruct them; have consequently arrived at a certain degree of proficiency, and will compare favorably with Confederate States troops of the same length of service.
Colonel Burgin, who left this post in command of the battalion of Minute-Men, is stationed at Snyder’s Bluff, and, I learn, in command of a brigade. These troops are armed with muskets, caliber .69, most of them altered percussion-lock.
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