While checking into the interrupted re-processing of a collection of Confederate quartermaster and ordnance records at the Mississippi State Archives (where I worked before my retirement), I came across an April 1862 inspection report of the 36th Mississippi Infantry Regiment. It gives a snapshot of the arms of the regiment as it joined the Confederate Army shortly after the Battle of Shiloh. But what makes it even more interesting to me is that my great-grandfather, Wesley Washington Pitts, was a private in Company E (Hazlehurst Fencibles) from March 1862 through the end of the siege of Vicksburg (July 4, 1863). I've tried to keep the capitalization and punctuation of the colonel who wrote the report as well as his spelling (which was actually pretty good). I've included a short history note at the end extracted from Dunbar Roland's seminal work, Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898. I hope that you enjoy this. My additions and editorial comments are in square brackets, thusly [ ] .
[Copy of Inspection Report of the Condition of the 36th Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, Colonel Drury J. Brown, Commanding]
Rienzi, Miss. Camp Rives
April 21st, 1862
[To:] Brigadier General. H. Little, commanding
1st Brigade, West. Army
In obedience to Orders No. 83 directing me to inspect the 36th Regiment (Miss.) Colonel Brown commanding and to report in writing, etc. I have the honor to report that I have made said inspection and find said Regiment armed as follows, to wit: thirty seven (37) Rifled Muskets - Forty one cartridge boxes - Thirty seven Bayonets and Bayonet scabbards- Thirty seven Waist and Shoulder belts - Thirty seven (37) cap pouches - 25 screwdrivers - one (1) Thumbvice - 360 Altered Rifles - Two hundred and seventy Double barrel Shotguns and Rifles. The altered Rifles I find almost wholly worthless - badly bored out and the locks of the most indifferent kind. The main spring being entirely too weak to explode our Army Gun caps. The rifled Muskets are all excellent also the accoutrements belonging thereto. The doublebarrel Shotguns are some of them, say enough to arm one company, good as they are of the right calibre to carry the B.B. [buck and ball ?] cartridge. The others are either too small or unfit for service - Some being without tubes [!!] and some without hammers [!!]. Upon the whole, taking into consideration the kind of arms and the way they are distributed; with exception of the 46 cartridge boxes and the 37 waist and shoulder belts I find the Regiment without accoutrements - The Regiment has on hand 18,000 G. D. [?] Percuss. Caps, 15,000 Miss Rifle Cartridges, 1,480 Rifle Musket cartridges, all in good order. In camp and garrison equipage, The Regiment has an abundance of Tents all of [extra ?] size and a fly to each. This leaves nothing to be desired so long as they are transported by Railroad but would be cumbersome to transport by waggons - being composed of Osnaburgh [fabric] without the fly they would not keep out the rain. The men are comfortably clad and shod. The Regiment is composed of a fine body of men and properly armed would doubtless do effective service though now laboring under that curse of all new troops the measels [sic]. I would further state that said Regiment is without waggons [?]fore having been transported by rail, and with exception of the want of a few camp kettles leaves nothing to be desired in the way of cooking utensils.
All of which is respectfully submitted
(signed) D. McRae Colonel
Commanding Regt M [?] Vol
Headquarters Rienzi Station, Miss.
Camp Rives, April 22d 1862
Respectfully submitted with recommendation that if possible Col Brown be permitted to turn in the Arms and Accoutrements now in his Regiment and draw all of one Kind.
(signed) Henry Little
Cg [Commanding?] Station
HISTORICAL NOTE: The 36th Mississippi Infantry Regiment was mustered into Confederate service in March 1862. It was in camp at Meridian, Miss. during the battle of Shiloh (Apr 6-7, 1862). From the above report, it evidently was moved to Rienzi prior to April 21. It was part of the what became the Army of Tennessee at the battles in northeast Mississippi (Farmington, Iuka, Jacinto, and Corinth) during the spring, summer, and fall of 1862. In early 1863 it was posted (along with its brigade) to the Vicksburg area and became part of the garrison through the end of the siege, July 4, 1863. It was reconstituted in January 1864 at the camp of paroled and exchanged prisoners in Enterprise, Alabama. It rejoined the Army of Tennessee near Resaca in mid May, 1864 and stayed with the Army through the Battle of Franklin and the “Siege” of Nashville before being transferred to help at the siege of Murfreesboro, returning to Nashville just in time for the Union counteroffensive. After the retreat they were transferred to Mobile and ended the war defending the Spanish Fort and Fort Blakeley where most of them were captured in the Union attacks in early April, 1865.
Personal Note: My great-grandfather Wesley Washington Pitts was paroled after Vicksburg and was recovering at home in Copiah County, having been in hospital at Vicksburg. He either never saw the notice that he had been paroled and was to report to the camp at Enterprise or he ignored it, deciding that he had enough fighting. Either way his "records" indicate that he was listed as being a deserter from the Enterprise camp. I can't say that I blame him, especially as he married in December 1863. If he had been with the 36th during the Nashville campaign, I probably wouldn't be here today! I've discovered that the notices for paroled soldiers to return to their units were published in local newspapers. I doubt that anyone in the family who were living in the "wilds" of Copiah County, Mississippi, ever saw a newspaper during the latter part of war.
For additional information on the 36th Mississippi during the Vicksburg campaign, please see this article by my former co-worker, Jeff Giambrone.