Quitman in the Civil War
by: Wayne C. Bengston

Archusa Springs, an Indian derivation meaning "Little River" but for the people of Clarke County, Mississippi they have their own meaning for the Springs, "Sweet Water." The Archusa Springs consist of two streams that flow down to the Chickasawhay River just South of Quitman, Mississippi and flows through Clarke, Wayne and Greene counties where it enters the Pascagoula River and eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The river was a highway for commerce plying steamboats, flatboats, and keelboats to and from the Gulf.

        According to tradition, these springs were first found by the Indians who believed that the waters from these springs had healing powers and would camp by them for months. When the white man started settling the area, they would come for miles for the mineral waters.  Eventually, a gazebo was built over the springs and they became a social gathering place on Sunday afternoons. One of the springs flowed freely from the high banks and into a stone jar. Legend has it that this stone jar was sent to the hospital containing thousands of pounds of snuff for the wounded Confederate soldiers that were brought to this area for care.


It was here, that with the help of citizens of Galveston and Houston, Texas, that a hospital was built in July of 1862 to assure that Texan Confederate soldiers and others would receive proper medical care. They sent Dr. Louis A. Bryan with wagon loads of medicine, purchased in Mexico, since these items were extremely difficult to obtain in the South due to the war.4 Assisting Dr. Bryan was Dr. Enos Thomas Bonney, a prominent surgeon from nearby Enterprise, and who eventually took charge of the hospital, in addition to a Dr. January. The hospital was commonly known as the "Texas Hospital."

        Soldiers sent to the hospital were primarily Texans, however, it served as well soldiers from Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Louisiana. Not only did the hospital treat the wounded from battles at Corinth, Iuka, Jackson and other engagements, but they also treated those with ailments such as dysentery, cholera, croup, tuberculosis and other diseases that caused the majority of deaths during the war. Not only did the hospital serve soldiers, but it also cared for citizens of Quitman and the surrounding area. However, despite the efforts of the medical team, there were deaths, and the dead were buried in a plot near the hospital. In addition to the Texas Hospital, the Quitman Methodist Church was also converted into a hospital in order to care for the sick and wounded Confederate soldiers.


The war was going bad for the South. Lee was defeated at Gettysburg. Pemberton surrendered his army at Vicksburg. Bragg's victory at Chickamauga was over shadowed by his defeat at Missionary Ridge. By sheer numbers, the Union army continued to be victorious over Confederate troops in the Western Theater of the war. It was in January of 1864 that General William T. Sherman received approval from General U.S. Grant to make a raid into the heart of Mississippi at Meridian, and to destroy anything that would be an asset to the Confederacy. Sherman had been planning to make such a raid since October 24, 1863 when he wrote General James B. McPherson about the "destruction in toto of a large section of the railroad at Meridian, the larger and more perfect the better."

        On 3 February 1864, Sherman's expeditionary force left Vicksburg in two wings. The right wing was commanded by Major General James B. McPherson and consisted of two infantry divisions commanded by Brigadier General Marcellus M. Crocker, 4th Division, XVII Army Corps and Brigadier General Mortimer D. Leggett, 3rd Division, XVII Army Corps, in addition to a brigade led by Brigadier General Alexander Chambers. The left wing was commanded by Major General Stephen A. Hurlbut and consisted of Brigadier Generals Andrew J. Smith's and James C. Veatch's divisions of the XVI Army Corps.

        From Vicksburg to Jackson, Brandon, Morton, Decatur to Meridian, Sherman swept aside all Confederate opposition, crossed the entire width of the State, and arrived in Meridian on the 14th of February, eleven days after starting out from Vicksburg. His goal was to destroy.

        On 16 February, Major General Crocker gave the following order to Brigadier General Walter Q. Gresham, Commander of the Third Brigade, Fourth Division, 17th Army Corps. The next day, pursuant to orders from you, (McPherson) I detached General Gresham with his brigade to destroy the railroad bridge in the vicinity of Quitman, across the Chickasawha, and the bridge and trestle-work across Alligator Swamp, this side of Quitman. The standing order from Sherman was to destroy anything that would be of military value to the Confederacy.

        Crocker was a young General that just had celebrated his thirty-fourth birthday on February 6th. He attended West Point for three years, but had to drop out to take care of his mother and the family when his father died when he was nineteen. This expedition was hard on his health, for the coldness and dampness weakened him further since he had tuberculosis. He would die of that disease on 26 August 1865 following the end of the war. He was a veteran of the battles at Shiloh, Corinth, Jackson, and Champion's Hill.


Gresham was also a young general of thirty-one years of age, just exactly one month shy of reaching the age of thirty-two when he and his troops destroyed Quitman. He too was a veteran of many battles as commander of the 53rd Indiana regiment. He would be shot in the knee later during the Atlanta campaign that would end his military career. He would however, in later years become Secretary of State under President Grover Cleveland.

        Gresham commanded the 3rd brigade of the 4th Division. The brigade consisted of the 32nd Illinois regiment commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George H. English, the 23rd Indiana regiment commanded by Colonel William P. Davis, the 53rd Indiana commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William Jones and the 12th Wisconsin commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James K. Proudfit. Accompanying the brigade was the 11th Illinois Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Lucien H. Kerr. (A company of this regiment remained with Crocker and served as his escort), and a section (four napoleons) of Spear's battery.

        Gresham's force arrived in Quitman and proceeded to burn the railroad depot, the Methodist Church that was used as a hospital, the town jail, courthouse, stores, a sawmill and a grist mill in addition to other buildings. The troops then also tore up over four miles of the track of the Mobile and Ohio railroad and had stacks of ties from ten to thirty feet high and proceeded to make "Sherman Neckties." To make these, they would take the torn up rails and throw them on a fire, made from the railroad ties, until their middle was red hot. Then they would take the rails and bend them around a tree or a telephone pole in such a manner that they would not be useful again.

        Part of the force proceeded to the Chickasawhay River and destroyed a two hundred foot covered railroad bridge that spanned the river. They then also marched to the nearby Archusa Springs and set fire to all the Texas Hospital buildings. The hospital complex consisted of two large buildings, in addition to twelve or fifteen wooden barracks. There were other buildings as well, including a drug store built for the comfort of the recuperating soldiers.

        Gresham's troops came, they saw, but they did not conquer. They destroyed not only things that would be an asset to the Confederate war effort, but they also destroyed wantonly anything and everything. The Methodist Church Hospital and the Texas Hospital were a place of healing, not a place of destruction. For those patients that were recuperating there, their war was over. They just wanted to get themselves well enough in order to go back home.

       In the cemetery by the Texas hospital, lie over three hundred soldiers who were not able to find health and go home. Gresham was proud that he destroyed these hospitals and so indicated in his report to General Sherman. Instead of being proud, he should have reported his actions as moral shame.


Fifteen miles away, slaves on the Langsdale Plantation saw the smoke of Quitman and the Texas Hospital burning. The staff and patients of the hospital were evacuated upon learning of the approaching Union army, and moved on into Alabama and established a medical facility at Auburn. The Texas Hospital at Quitman was never rebuilt. The cemetery became forgotten for over a half a century.

        In the 1930's, a Black farmer, plowing in order to put in a corn crop, turned up a handful of buttons from a Confederate uniform. He had discovered the long forgotten Confederate cemetery. In a course of time, identifications were made, and headstones were put into place. A story of the exploration was recorded in a compilation name Federal Writers of the WPA. The Quitman Woman's Club and the Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) took interest in rebuilding and honoring those that had fallen for what they had believed in. An arch to the cemetery was designed by George Weir, a veteran of World War I, inscribed "Confederate Cemetery." (This arch was partially destroyed by hurricane Isabel in the 1970's). The Long-Bell Lumber Company donated cement blocks which line the perimeter of the cemetery.

        For years, the cemetery was cleaned by the nearby battalion of the Mississippi National Guard, Boy Scout troops, and interested citizens. Under the direction of V.F.W. Commander and Quitman Mayor, Sam E. Box, the Confederate Cemetery became a project of the Add Riley V.F.W. Post 4982, and that the cemetery would receive perpetual care. On Memorial Day, May 25, 1987, the cemetery was formally dedicated.

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Interred in Quitman Confederate Cemetery

  • Wm. P. Armstrong, Co. C, 10th Texas Cav.  died Aug 28, 1863

  • E.B. Adams, Co. K, 27th Texas Cav, died Sept 28, 1863

  • Hezekiah J. Atkins, Co. A, 12th La., died July 17, 1863

  • Wm. T. Brown, Co G, 55th Ala., died September 12, 1863

  • David D. Conoley (Coneley) Co. I, 39th Ala., died September 15, 1863

  • Alex Chancey, Co I,  27th Texas Cav., died July 20, 1862

  • Allen J. Creed, Co E, 9th Ark, died Sept 14, 1863

  • J.R. Davis, Co. E., 3rd Texas Cav, died July 1, 1862

  • Corp Chas. J., or Calvin J. Espey, Co. G, 43rd GA, died June 15, 1863

  • Prior Frame, Co. D, 12th LA, died July 6, 1863

  • James H. Flaningan, Co. H. 2nd Texas, died on Jan 16 or Feb 16m 1863

  • D.W. Fuller, Co D, 1st Bn, Texas Sharpshooters, died Sept 16, 1863

  • Thos. Fox, Co. K, 40th AL, died in 1863

  • John J. Gilley, Co. H, 2nd Texas, died Nov 17, 1862

  • Wm. Grigsby, Co. C, 14th Texas Cav, died Dec 17, 1863

  • Wm. Green, Co. F, 6th Texas Cav, died Jan 24, 1863

  • John L. Gamble, Co. H, 16th Ark.,died at Quitman or Enterprise, MS., July 25, 1862

  • Sgt. Jos. K. Garrett, Co I, 16th Ark, died at Quitman or Enterprise, MS., July 16, 1862

  • Jerry A. Henson, Co. I, 3rd Texas Cav, died July 10,1863

  • A.P. Hauwood, Co A, 34th Texas Cav, died Oct 16, 1863

  • Sgt. Jos. Herman, Co A, 2nd Texas, died Nov 5, 1862

  • Mathew Holland, Co. G, 39th AL, died June 21, 1862

  • John Holly, Co I, 39th AL, died June 28, 1862

  • Wm. P. Henry, Co A, 27th Texas Cav, died July 20, 1862

  • R. Henry Hughes, Co A, 27th Texas Cav, died July 20, 1862

  • Pinckney L. Jones, Co F, 39th AL, died June 23, 1862

  • J.S. Jolly, Co I, 2nd Texas, died Dec 18,1862

  • Jasper N. Krby, Co G, 2nd Texas, died Nov 27, 1862

  • John King, Co I, 16th Ark, died July 16, 1862

  • James Lewis, Co. C, 9th Texas Cav, died in 1862 or 1863 

  • Wm. M. McGlann, Co H, 39th AL, died Aug 18, 1862

  • P. H. Odell, Co. K, 2nd Texas, died between 1 May and 1 Sept 1863 

  • Thos. H Overstreet, Co D, 7th Bn, MS Inf, died July 24, 1862

  • Jesse Powell, Co B, Waul's Texas Legion, died Jan 16, 1863

  • David H. Peoples, Co I 27th Texas Cav, died Aug 13, 1862

  • Sgt Alex M. Prickett, Co K, 3rd Texas Cav, died Sept 16, 1862

  • Dan'l Ryan, Co H, 24th AL,  died July 14, 1862

  • J.A. Sharman, Co K, 32nd Texas Cav, died Aug 24, 1863

  • Newton J. Smith, Co E, 27th Texas Cav, died July 10, 1862

  • Chas. S. Strong, Co H, 6th Ark, Quitman or Enterprise, died July 21, 1862

  • James Taylor, Co A, 37th MS, died Aug 1863

  • Benjamin Weed, 2nd Texas, date of death unknown

  • W.B. Moore, 2nd Texas, died Feb 16, 1863

  • W.C. Frost, 50th TN, died July 19, 1863

  • B.C. Fife, 4th LA Battery., died Sept 3, 1863

  • W.D. Gilbert, 19th TN Inf, died Oct 12, 1863

  • M. Melchke, 2nd Texas Legion Inf., died Nov 2, 1863

  • W.B. Moon, 2nd Texas, died Feb 16, 1863

  • T.H. Spochlar, 7th KY Inf, died Nov 2, 1863

  • Wiley Lewis, Co. K 31st MS, died July 29, 1863


A Grave By The Hospital

In the woods by the hospital there lay
A new made grave today
Built by man in his thirst for war
A grave forgotten forever more
For here lies a fighting man
Dead in his youthful age
Never to love or laugh again
Trapped in this earthbound cage

A minie ball came flying through the air
Sought its prey and left him there
Leaving him there in a strange land
Covered with his blood and sand
For his country this came to be
For his country his soul is now free
Now over the battlefield silence is golden
For those that fell, we're always beholden

In the far distance, church bells ring
Then one can hear, the bugles sing
Sleep and rest brave one, sleep and rest
No one can say you didn't do your best
Let your rifle rest on the earthen floor
For you'll not need it anymore
The bugle's notes seem to tell
Farewell brave one, Farewell

Your soul shall be where the heroes are
Your short life was a shining star
Sleep well my hero, sleep well
We now bid you a fond farewell