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Origins of 5th Mississippi Cavalry

On April 18, 1863 Brigadier General James Z. George (Mississippi State Troops) was ordered to Grenada, Mississippi by Jones S. Hamilton, Adjutant and Inspector General, State of Mississippi, where he was "authorized to raise as many companies of cavalry as will volunteer for twelve months from among the men in your command now in active service . . . You will encourage the volunteering of men not in active service, either in new companies or in those raised from State troops . . . You will order all conscripts between the ages of eighteen and forty-five in your command [district] to be enrolled . . . You will assume command of all State cavalry in district five, State of Mississippi and organize all the companies into battalions and regiments . . . You will report for duty to Brigadier General James R. Chalmers at Panola."

There are very few records of General George's actions over the next five or six months but he apparently spent this time recruiting, organizing, and training troops in and around Grenada, Mississippi.

On Sepember 11, 1863 Major General Stephen D. Lee issued general order number five that said in part, "All captains of unattached companies of cavalry in Mississippi and East Louisiana will at once report their whereabouts, where mustered into service, and on what duty now . . . The organizations of the following Mississippi State troops, viz, First Regiment, reorganized under Brigadier General George; Second, Lieutenant Colonel Lowry; Third, Colonel McGuirk; Ham's Battalion; Davenport's Battalion; Captains Weatheral's, Peery's, and Herden's unattached companies; Perrin's Battalion, and Hartin's, Red's, Hall's, Saunders', and Brookten's companies, organized under a call of General J. E. Johnston, and now in service, are not to be interfered with, and the conscripts now in them, by direction of the President, are to remain till the term of service on these troops has expired. The above State troops, by an understanding with the Governor, and Lieutenant General Pemberton's orders about them, are under the orders of the Confederate States. Brigadier General Ferguson and Brigadier General J. R. Chalmers will at once personally assume command of the above troops in their vicinity . . . and have the State rolls verified by a Confederate officer."

On November 1, 1863 the state Adjutant and Inspector General sent a letter to Governor John J. Pettus that said in part, "I have the honor to submit herewith a report of Mississippi regiments and battalions now in the service of the Confederate States. The report is made as accurately as the records of the department permit . . . There were at first seventy companies of infantry and thirteen companies of cavalry, from which there were organized five regiments and four battalions of infantry and one battalion of cavalry. The remaining cavalry companies were unattached and operated in the northern and northwestern part of the State. . . Most of the infantry served out their term of enlistment in that arm of the service, but cavalry being greatly needed in April last many were permitted to change their service upon condition that they were to re-volunteer for twelve months. By this means nearly two regiments were formed of men whose term of enlistment had nearly expired. . . There are several unattached companies in North Mississippi now being organized into a Regiment under Brigadier General George, but the organization is not yet reported."

Inclosed with this letter was a complete list of these troops including the unattached companies mentioned in the above order from General S. D. Lee. These companies were not designated as either infantry or cavalry but "cavalry companies unattached" were listed separately so they may have been infantry companies. One of these companies was listed as "Mississippi Rangers, Captain W. B. Peery". Company rosters from the National Archives show "Capt. W. B. Peery, Co. A., 5th Regt. Cavalry" and his date of entry or muster into Confederate service was September 11, 1863, the date of General Lee's order (previously quoted).

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