Hancock Rebels honored with state historical marker

Published 1:02 am Sunday, May 22, 2011

It was March 12, 1862, and 123 men from the Picayune area gathered, probably at the Hermitage on Hobolochitto Creek, and formed what was to become C Company, 38th Mississippi Infantry (Mounted), Confederate States of America.

Picayune then was known as Hobolochitto and was located in what was northern Hancock County at that time. Pearl River County would not be formed until 1892.

Those forming Company C were a roster of prominent early pioneer families who settled northern Hancock County and what would later become Pearl River County and Picayune: Smiths, Bilbos, Burges, Seals, Henleys, Spiers, Burkses, Jordans, Thigpens, Wheats, Stewarts, Pentons, Jarrells, Stockstills, and the list goes on.

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The 123 men were family men, nonslave-owners, most a lot older than regular infantry soldiers. The average age was 29.

They had no idea what they would face for the next three years; the winds of war would sift and winnow the 123 volunteers from Hobolochitto.

Only eight would return to the Picayune area after the “Lost Cause” and the Civil War ended in the Spring of 1865.

Some of those who survived were so debilitated that they had to be fetched by relatives from prisoner of war camps in the North. They were not able to travel on their own.

Although innocent about what was about to happen to them on their way to Grenada for training, they would see action at Corinth, Iuka and Vicksburg and then the few remaining served under Gen. Nathan Bedford Forest at the Battle of Harrisburg.

Twenty-one of what was called the “Hancock Rebels” would die, many from disease, and only eight would survive the ordeal and return home.

At one time the company was able to muster only one trooper, who joined his regiment to continue the fight. The rest were sick and wounded, or dead.

“Most people do not realize the sacrifices and suffering these men went through, all from what would one-day become Picayune and Pearl River County. Because this was a part of Hancock County then, and they are called the Hancock Rebels, people don’t realize they should have been called the Picayune Rebels, but of course, at that time, Picayune was known as Hobolochitto. They probably met at the Hermitage to form the company, but we don’t really know,” said Jim Huffman of Picayune, the adjutant of the Gainesville Volunteers, Camp 373, Sons of the Confederacy, who emceed the program on Saturday at the Mississippi Welcome Center just north of the Nicholson Exit on I-59.

Unveiled and dedicated, too, was a state historical marker that Civil War enthusiasts and history-lovers here have been working to obtain for four years through the Mississippi Archives and History Dept.

“It is not easy to garner one of these historical markers and to have it planted here at the Welcome Center for everyone passing through to see is even more of a victory. We owe honor to those gallant and brave men who fought and died in one of America’s most terrible wars,” said Huffman.

Priscilla Davis and Huffman unveiled the historical marker. Davis represented the 27th Finner’s Battery. The Washington Artillery was also on hand. Finner’s Battery and Washington Artillery had a number of re-enactors on-hand, who presented rifle and canon salutes to the men of Company C.

Company C was organized in March, 1862, by Capt. D.B. Seal, who was also the state representative from this area. Picayune then was known as Hobolochitto and the main attraction here then was the trading post and toll bridge across Hobolochitto Creek at the Hermitage plantation, which covered most of what was to become Picayune.

The Hancock Rebels became Co. C, 38th Mississippi Infantry, C.S.A. on May 12, 1862, while stationed at Jackson.

They saw action at Corinth, Iuka, and Vicksburg and transformed into mounted infantry in 1864 and at the end of the Civil War served under Gen. Nathan Bedford Forest, says the historical marker, which is posted at the entrance to the Welcome Center between Exits 1 and 4 on the northbound side of I-59.

When they left Hobolochitto, they traveled to Grenada for training, were then sent to Jackson in May and on May 27 were sent to Corinth where they saw their first action on May 28.

The Rebs withdrew from Corinth on May 29, and for three months Co. C saw garrison duty at Tupelo. On Sept. 19, they were in the Battle of Iuka and then joined the second Battle of Corinth.

They then helped block Grants march to Vicksburg, spent six months just north of Vicksburg protecting that approach to the city, but in May 1963, the Hancock Rebels found themselves in trenches helping repulse Grant’s repeated charges.

They endured 47 days of siege and suffered 50 percent casualties.

They next were sent to Jackson, some to patrol the Pearl River and also participated in the Battles of Concord Church, Franklin and Sipsey’s Bridge, Ala. When Confederate forces surrendered in Alabama and Mississippi on May 4, the unit was in Brewersville, Ala., or what was left of it.