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RUTHERFORDs of TIPPAH COUNTY MISSISSIPPI and OUR KIN

 

This web site updated 1 Jan 2011

Steven D. Rutherford

 

 

                                                              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capt. William Williamson Rutherford                
Company A 2nd Miss State Cavalry

William Rutherford was 1 of 6 sons of Thomas and Margret Rutherford who fought for the confederacy. William, the oldest son, was born in Georgia 5 Jan 1833 and came to Tippah County with his family in 1848 to finally settle in Falkner. He was married to Elizabeth Reed (1834-1909) and had 11 children. William enlisted at Ripley, Miss 1 Feb 1863, age 29, in Capt. Soloman G. Street's company. The company was called the 'Citizen Guards of Tippah County' and officially 'Company A 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry. In late August 1863 the 2nd Miss State Cavalry was re-organized at West Point Miss. Capt. William W. Rutherford was acting commander of Co. A as Capt. Street had left the command. In Sept 1863 Street officially resigned his commission and joined the 15th Tenn. Cavalry as its Major. Major Street was then soon to be murdered by one of his own men.

On 1 October 1863 William W. Rutherford was officially elected Captain by the remaining men of Co. A 2nd Miss State Cavalry. On 9 Apr 1864 the regiment was in Aberdeen Miss. Col. W. L. Lowry was made the regiment's commander. On 5 May 1864 the regiment was finally transferred into Confederate service, though it kept its State designation. It was then placed with the rest of Gholson's Brigade in Buford's Division of Forrest's Cavalry Corp.

On 4 Oct 1864 Capt. William Rutherford was detailed for 40 days to return to North Miss. for the purpose of arresting and returning all absentees and deserters from his (Gholson's) cavalry brigade. He was accompanied by Lt. S. N. Rye and others, and most probably returned to the Ripley area.

On 6 Mar. 1865 Capt. William Rutherford was captured with 2 other men in Ripley by the 2nd Arkansas (Union). As a P.O.W. he was first sent to Memphis and arrived there 11 Mar 1865. On 28 Mar 1865 he was sent to Vicksburg Miss. where he was exchanged (for a liked Union prisoner) to the Rebels on 3 Apr. 1865 at about 11am at Camp Fisk. 

When the news reached the Deep South that General Lee had surrendered on 9 Apr 1865, the remaining confederate soldiers east of the Miss. River were then surrendered by General Richard Taylor (son of Ex-president Zach Taylor) on 4 May 1865. Capt. William Rutherford must have been in the vicinity of Jackson Miss. when the news came and he finally went home. There is no record of his parole or oath of allegiance. 

The Rutherford family was very lucky as neither Capt. W.W. Rutherford or any of his 5 brothers were killed during this hard time. All married and had children and lived out their lives, most in Tippah County. Capt. William W. Rutherford died 17 Feb 1890 and is buried at Little Hope Cemetery Tippah County Miss.

Finally legend has it that William was once wounded near his home after he done in a Yankee and hid in a hollow log to escape capture. 

NOTE: According to Andrew Brown's History of Tippah County, a W.W. Mauldin took over as Captain of Co. A after Sol Street left. I have found no information on this Mauldin or his records. So it is not clear who he was or if he was mixed up with Lt. Mauldin and W.W. Rutherford. What is clear is that in W.W. Rutherford's records he was elected Captain after Sol. Street left. After W.W. Rutherford was captured this W.W. Mauldin may have been elected Captain of Co. A. but as this was so late in the war I am hesitant to say. Until I find or hear otherwise, I will believe that Andrew Brown got Lt Mauldin and W.W. Rutherford mixed up. As there were few records on Co. A and Lt Mauldin being a Lt, would have been assumed to take over command, but Andrew Brown must not have known about or looked up W.W. Rutherford's records, for if he had he would not have made this error in his book.

Steven Rutherford Great Great Great Grandson of William W. Rutherford
Ripley, Miss.

 

William W. Rutherford

Captain

Co. A, 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry

  By Roger Hanson (?)

 

 

Following the evacuation of Corinth, Mississippi, in late May, 1862, by the Confederate forces, northeast Mississippi was completely defenseless against the enemy and soon felt the heel of the invader; live stock disappeared and homes began to go up in smoke.  To slow down the raiders, home guard units sprang up everywhere.  Captain Solomon G. Street, lately of the Army of Northern Virginia CSA, was commissioned by the State to raise a company in Ripley, Mississippi.  The company was called the Citizen Guards of Tippah County and officially, Company A. 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry.

            In late December 1862, William W. Rutherford, age 29, enlisted in Street’s Company at Ripley for a term of 12 months.  The company was organized and put in saddle in February 1863 with 123 members.  Though organized as part of a regiment, while under Street’s command the company operated independently from it…..and more often, while on raids against the enemy, only a portion (picked men from the company) followed Street.  From February until April 1863, the company earned quite a reputation from its exploits against the enemy.  During this time William himself was on detached duty, probably with Captain Street;  when most of the company’s energy was spent against Union foraging parties coming from Tennessee and out of Corinth.  The men were dressed in makeshift uniforms from their homes with a little captured Federal blue mixed in; they were armed with their personal firearms, mostly shotguns and squirrel rifles.  (See record of Isaac James)

            On Apr 18, 1863, Union General H. B. Grierson began a raid with 1700 troopers from La Grange, Tennessee destined for Baton Rouge, Louisiana, via Mississippi.  On that day the 2nd Iowa Cavalry (vanguard of Grierson’s command) rode through Ripley and exchanged shots with the 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry.  Proceeding to Houston, Mississippi, the 2nd Iowa separated from the main body and struck out for Macon.  The 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry, reinforced with the 2nd Tennessee Cavalry Battalion and Inge’s and Ham’s Mississippi Battalion, intercepted the Yankee cavalry at Palo Alto on April 22.  The short contest that ensued was about equal (500 men apiece) but the Union troopers were forced to turn back towards its main column, whereupon the 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry was given the job of pursuit.  The Mississippians followed them closely, and caught up to them at Camp Creek, near Birmingham (NW of Tupelo) where a two and a half hour engagement was fought before the Federals burned the bridge crossing and ended the pursuit on April 24.  On the 27th, the regiment was in Chickasaw County, near Prairie Mound.

            On May 5, 1863, the regiment was camped at Tupelo with Rebel forces of Generals D. Ruggles and S. J. Gholson when that command was attacked by Cornyn’s Union Brigade of Dodge’s Cavalry Division,  (the attack was a diversion for another being made in north Alabama) in the small battle the 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry was under artillery fire for the first time.  But when night came to the battlefield, the Federal commander thought that he was outnumbered and withdrew from the area.  In late May the regiment was back in Tippah County where Street’s Troopers had a brush with Union Cavalry at Salem (6 miles NW of present day Ashland).

            On June 4, the regiment was turned over from State authority to Confederate, but before the inspecting officer arrived, many of the men had disbanded; probably because of Street himself, who had no regard for Confederate service.  The next day New Albany was burned by the blue coats; the day before the burning (before they disbanded) the regiment had been camped there!  What was left of Street’s command was reported to have followed the 9th Illinois from Ripley to Pocahontas without attacking, on June 9.  The men that remained with the regiment were pulled together and directed to concentrate at Pontotoc for inspection.  The men that showed up were placed in General J. R. Chalmer’s command to confront the Union raid being made on Grenada, Mississippi, and fought a skirmish there August 17.

            In late August 1863, the 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry was re-organized at West Point, Mississippi, and more companies from Carrollton were added to it.  William W. Rutherford was acting commander of Company A, as Sol Street had left the command.  (In September 1863, Street officially resigned his commission and joined the 15th Tennessee Cavalry as it’s Major.  Many men from his previous Mississippi command followed him.  This regiment was with General N. B. Forrest’s command when it was involved in a skirmish at Bolivar, Tennessee on May 2, 1864, when Street was murdered by one of his own men.  The assailant stated later, after he deserted, that Street had killed his father for the purpose of robbery.)  On October 1, 1863, Rutherford was officially elected as Captain by the remaining men of the company and immediately took over the duties of that office.

            In December 1863, Captain Rutherford and his company were stationed in Tupelo.  In February 1864, Union General W. S. Smith led a raid from Memphis toward West Point across the State line; his purpose was to destroy anything of value to the Confederates…….especially the railroads.  The war in north Mississippi had become one of arbitration and desolation.  General N. B. Forrest, commanding all the Rebel cavalry in north Mississippi, sent Gholson’s Brigade of State Troops, about 1600 men, (Brigade was made up of 2 regiments and 2 battalions, including the 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry) to Palo Alto “to watch any movements of the enemy from the direction of Houston.”  Ten miles south of Okolona, some of Gholson’s troops “made a warm fight” for the enemy before retiring.  General Forrest defeated Smith’s Union column with his own command near Pontotoc, then sent Gholson’s Brigade after they came up, on the pursuit of the enemy most of the way back to Memphis 

            In March the whole 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry totaled only 350 men from the previous April’s 650 (from the previous 925 in February 1863).  On April 9, 1864 the regiment was in Aberdeen, Mississippi, guarding 550 prisoners with other forces, that Forrest had captured in Tennessee.  Though his enlistment had expired, Rutherford stayed on and was re-elected Captain; Colonel William L. Lowry was made the regiment’s commander.  In the latter part of April William Rutherford re-enlisted for two more years along with most of the regiment and on May 5 the regiment was finally transferred into Confederate service, though it kept it’s State designation.  It was then placed with the rest of Gholson’s Brigade in Buford’s Division of Forrest’s Cavalry Corp, though only temporarily.  At the time Gholson’s Brigade numbered about 2300 men effective.

            In June the regiment was transferred for a short into General Wirt Adam’s command which was in the vicinity of Jackson, Mississippi, and arrived in time to participate in an attempt to cut off a Union expedition as it retreated from the Capitol toward Vicksburg.  When the opposing forces met, there was a severe fight near Jackson on July 6, and on the 7th, the 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry was conspicuous in a fight about two miles east of Clinton, making a bold but ineffectual attempt to capture a battery (of artillery).  The regiment lost 31 out of 110 men according to one newspaper account.

            At the beginning of July 1864, Atlanta, Georgia, an important railroad center, was placed under siege by the Union Army under General William T. Sherman.  Because of the casualty drain on the Confederate Army of Tennessee in the city, many troops were brought in from other theaters of war.  In the middle of July, the 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry was brought in with the rest of Gholson’s Brigade by rail, and placed in the trenches under fire.  On July 27, General John B. Hood, commanding the Rebel Army, noted a gap in the Union siege lines where a Union Army Corp was moving south toward the last open rail lines coming into the besieged city; General Hood ordered an attack at once.  Gholson’s Brigade (including the 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry) was temporarily attached to Reynold’s Brigade, Walthall’s Division of Stewart’s Army Corp for the battle.  The assault opened the morning of the 28th with elements of two army corps smashing against a recently erected salient of earthworks manned by Logan’s and Blair’s Union Divisions.  Walthall’s Division (containing the 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry) was in the center of the Rebel attacking line and struck the Union works just south of Ezra Church (10 miles west of Atlanta) from where the battle gets it’s name.  Though the confederates attacked in earnest, they were slaughtered in the open, losing 5000 men in the battle that lasted all day; the Union loss was slight.  The 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry fought on foot and had 10 casualties.  It was the largest and bloodiest battle the regiment was ever to fight in.  Gholson’s Brigade at the battle numbered only 450 men, of which 144 became casualties.  (After the battle the brigade totaled less than a standard regiment of men; so to avoid confusion, the individual designations will no longer be used and the command involving William W. Rutherford will be just termed Gholson’s Brigade.)

            Following the battle of Ezra Church, Gholson’s Brigade was remounted and served as cavalry for the remainder of the Atlanta Campaign.  From August 1 to the 31st, the Brigade was in position southwest of Atlanta, covering the railroad lines as General Hood stretched his proud army from Atlanta to Jonesboro, Georgia twenty miles.  During the month there was considerable fighting on the lines at Utoy Creek.

            In late August, General Sherman moved part of his army around the west side of the city to completely severe the rail lines leading in.  This led to the Battle of Jonesboro on August 31 and September 1, 1864.  The confederates lost heavily and part of Gholson’s Brigade was engaged in the futile attempt to roll Sherman away.  The railroads were finally cut and the Rebels evacuated the second most important city in the South, on September 2, 1864.  From Jonesboro the Rebels fell back to a position at Lovejoy Station.  (Five days later, General Sherman ordered all civilians residing in the city out of their homes and onto the roads of oblivion.)  From Lovejoy Station General Hood moved his 45,000 men across the Chattahoochee River and into Alabama.

            By September 19, Gholson’s Brigade was stationed at Opelika, Alabama and was assigned with other cavalry units as the rear guard of the army as it struck back into Georgia, and at Sherman’s only supply line…..the railroad north of Atlanta.

            The confederate Army of Tennessee recrossed the Chattahoochee near Newnan, Georgia about September 27, and on the 28th, Gholson’s Mississippi Brigade was temporarily assigned to Ross’ Texas Cavalry Brigade of Jackson’s Division.  On the 30th, the Mississippians were placed on the division’s right flank, guarding the army’s rear, when they crossed the Sweetwater and went into camp at Powder Springs, Georgia (NW of Atlanta, 30 miles).  It began raining on October 1 and on the 3rd, Gholson’s Brigade was in a heavy skirmish with the enemy on Mud Creek, near Powder Springs; the 9th Texas Cavalry had to be called up into the fight before the Yanks were repulsed and the shooting died down.  The rain was still falling on October 4; but the cavalry in the rear of the army was in constant contact with the enemy.  On October 5, 1864 an attack was made by part of Hood’s Army on a fortified post on the railroad at Allatoona, but was defeated.  The sad army then moved back into Alabama, later to begin the disastrous Tennessee Campaign of November-December, 1864.

            On October 4, 1864, Captain Rutherford was detailed for forty days to return to north Mississippi for the purpose of arresting and returning all absentees and deserters from his (Gholson’s) cavalry brigade.  Captain Rutherford was accompanied by Lieutenant S. N. Rye to Mississippi and they most probably returned to the Ripley area.

            When the Army of Tennessee began its dark Tennessee Campaign, Gholson’s Brigade was sent back to Mississippi to refit for the upcoming spring campaign in that area.  In the middle of December, Gholson’s Brigade (only 250 men) met the advance of another Federal raid by General H. B. Grierson on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, and fell back to Egypt.  There they were reinforced by 700 men from Mobile, before they were attacked by superior numbers on December 28.  The Yanks were held in check until they mounted a charge, which over ran the Rebel position behind the railroad embankment.  General Gholson was wounded (disabled; lost an arm) with about 20 of his men; the blue coats lost about 150 men in killed and wounded.

            It is most probable that Captain Rutherford did not take part in this fight.  On February 18, 1865, the brigade was under command of Colonel Lowery at Palo Alto when the command was ordered to be consolidated into one regiment (finally), to be commanded by Colonel Ashcraft and assigned to Armstrong’s Brigade, Chalmer’s Division of Forrest Cavalry Corp.  Companies A, H, and F of the old 2nd Mississippi State Cavalry became Company K, Ashcraft’s Regiment.

            It appears Captain Rutherford was still absent from his command at the end of February, as on March 3, 1865, a Union raid comprising 2700 well armed and mounted men left Germantown, Tennessee for the desolated area of north Mississippi, and the lead regiment, the 2nd Arkansas (Union) came through Ripley and captured three men enlisting others into their commands on March 6th; one of these men was Captain Rutherford.

            As a prisoner of war he was first sent to Memphis, and arrived there 11 March.  On March 28, 1865, he was sent to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where he was exchanged (for a like Union prisoner) to the Rebels on April 3, at about 11 am at Camp Fisk.

            The last of his regiment (Companies A, D, and K, Ashcraft’s Regiment) was with General Forrest at Selma, Alabama on April 2 1865, when they were assaulted; many being killed, wounded, captured or scattered.

            The Army of Northern Virginia under General Lee surrendered April 9 at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.  When the news reached the Deep South, the remaining Confederate soldiers east of the Mississippi River were officially surrendered by General Richard Taylor (son of ex-President Zach Taylor) at Citronelle, Alabama (near Mobile) on May 4, 1865.  Captain Rutherford must have been in the vicinity of Jackson, Mississippi when the news came and he finally went home (no record of his parole or oath of allegiance).

            Family legend has it that William Rutherford was once wounded near his home after he had done in a Yankee and hid in a hollow log to escape capture.  If so it had to have been while under Sol Street’s command.

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