Information Thanks to the Research of H. Grady Howell’s book “For Dixie Land I’ll Take My Stand”
- Company A — Rankin Rough & Readies (raised in Rankin County, MS)
- Company B — New Guard (raised in Rankin County, MS)
- Company C — Quitman Southrons (raised in Leake County, MS)
- Company D — Lowry Rifles (raised in Smith County, MS)
- Company E — Lake Rebels (raised in Scott County, MS)
- Company F — Crystal Springs Guards (raised in Copiah County, MS)
- Company G — Rockport Steel Blades (raised in Copiah County, MS)
- Company H — Simpson Fencibles (raised in Simpson County, MS)
- Company I — Rankin Greys (raised in Rankin County, MS)
- Company K — East Mississippi Greys (raised in Scott County, MS)
Colonel — John J. Thornton, wounded at Shiloh, resigned; Robert Lowry, promoted as Brigadier-General February 4, 1865. Lieutenant-Colonels — Enoch R. Bennett, to May, 1862; A. Y. Harper, Thomas J. Borden. Majors — Robert Lowry, to reorganization; J. R. Stevens, Thomas J. Borden, W. T. Hendon. Surgeon — William Aills. Assistant Surgeon — Jackson L. Riley. Quartermaster — John P. Stevens. Commissary — Edward G. Williams. Adjutant — Abram B. Willis; William Thornton, to May, 1862. Chaplain — Joseph W. Ard. Sergeant-Major — William Sharkey, discharged, disability, 1861.
Aggregate original enrollment, 601 officers and men. No data to show promotion of company officers.
These companies were assigned to the Sixth Regiment, Army of Mississippi, one of the eight provided for by the State organization. The Colonel, Dr. J. J. Thornton, of Brandon, had been commissioned as Captain of the Rankin Greys in 1858, and in 1860 he was commandant of the Second Battalion, Second Brigade, State troops, with the rank of Colonel of Militia. He was noted as the one member of the Constitutional Convention who refused to sign the ordinance of secession.
The companies were mustered into the Confederate States’ service for twelve months at Grenada, 24 August, 1861, and the field officers of the regiment were elected September 5. In this election Capt. Cornelius McLaurin received a large vote for Lieutenant-Colonel, but was defeated.
September 9, Colonel Thornton was ordered by Gen. Reuben Davis, commanding State troops, to concentrate his companies in a regimental encampment. Later in the same month the regiment was at Trenton, Tenn., whence it moved to Union City, where, October 14, the regiment received orders from General Polk, at Columbus, Ky., to be in readiness to follow General Hardee to Bowling Green. Under the orders of Col. P. R. Cleburne, Brigade Commander, the regiment moved to Kentucky in the last of October, and was reviewed by General Hardee at Bowling Green, November 3.
When the regiment was received into the Confederate service it was numbered the Seventh by the War Department, and that number was applied to it in official documents for some time, though in November the original number was restored.
In the organization in Kentucky, the Sixth was in Cleburne’s Brigade, the Second of the First Division, Central Army of Kentucky, Colonel Thornton being the senior Colonel of the brigade, and when Cleburne took command of Hindman’s Division February 12, Thornton commanded the brigade.
In Kentucky the regiment suffered from typhoid fever and measles so that only 150 men were fit for duty, some of the companies being reduced to 10 or 25 men. Some died in hospital at Nashville and elsewhere and many officers were compelled to resign on account of sickness. So severe was this affliction that nearly all the company officers joined in a “round robin” asking that the regiment be sent to some fixed station to recruit.
After the fall of Fort Donelson the Confederate forces were concentrated at Corinth under Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, whence they moved early in April, 1862, to attack Grant’s army at Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River. The Sixth Regiment went into the battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, with Cleburne’s Brigade of Hardee’s Corps.
The first attack, on the morning of the 6th, was by Federal skirmishers upon Hardcastle’s Battalion, pickets of Hardee’s Corps, after which Hardee ordered an advance. Cleburne’s Brigade rushed forward toward the Federal camps, in a place where they were outflanked and embarrassed by a morass in their front that broke the line. “They came under a very destructive fire, and though the Sixth Mississippi charged through the encampments they suffered,” Cleburne said, “a quick and bloody repulse.” But “again and again, unaided, the Sixth Mississippi charged the enemy’s line, and it was only when the regiment had lost 300 officers and men killed and wounded, out of an aggregate of 425, that it yielded and retreated in disorder over its own dead and dying. Colonel Thornton and Major Lowry, the field officers, were both wounded. It would be useless,” Cleburne wrote, “to enlarge on the
courage and devotion of the Sixth Mississippi. The facts as recorded speak louder than any words of mine.” Afterward about 60 men reformed, and remained in battle until after noon, when “Captain Harper, commanding the remnant of the regiment, marched it to the rear. Its terrible loss in the morning, the want of all its field and most of its company officers, had completely disorganized it and unfitted it for further service.” (Cleburne).
The casualties of the regiment were 48 killed, 247 wounded. Among the seriously wounded were Sergeant-Major Thornton, Captains Alford and Finch, Lieutenants Enochs and Mangum.