Wednesday, December 19, 2012 12:00 AM
General Joseph E. Johnston, in late 1861, chose to extend his lines from Camp Jones near Bristoe Station, Va., eighteen miles southwest to Prince William County.
Johnston selected Brigadier General W. H. "Chase" Whiting's brigade, comprising the 4th Alabama, 2nd and 11th Mississippi, 6th North Carolina, and 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiments, along with the Staunton (Virginia) Artillery, to an area named Camp Fisher near Dumfries, Va.
For country boys accustomed to a lot of space and unlimited movement in the outdoors, camp life grew monotonous in a very short time.
The novelty of military life and its routine duties became quickly tiresome to men of north and east-central Mississippi.
The typical day looked something like: "Reveille - 5 a.m.; Roll call; Breakfast - 7 a.m.; Surgeon's call, 8 a.m.; Guard mounting, 9 a.m.; Squad drill - 10 a.m.; Company drill - 11 a.m.; Recess/dinner - 12 noon; Regimental drill - 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.; Dress parade - 6 p.m.; Supper - 7 p.m.; Taps - 9 p.m."
The days came and went as the Mississippians' military education progressed.
Boredom and signs of nostalgia appeared at Camp Fisher, and the Mississippians quickly introduced games and sports.
Marbles was a favorite of the soldiers and a good taw was "worth its weight in silver."
Checkers, chess and cards were also popular.
A gambling epidemic soon broke out and only a few escaped this particular vice.
One Mississippian remembered seeing men give half their rations to have the other half cooked rather than stop gambling.
Some Southerners ignored morality altogether, while ridicule was the order of the day for the soldier who endeavored to live the "right life."
If caught reading his Bible, the gamblers taunted the pious ones with remarks such as, "Hello, parson; what time do you expect to start a revival in camp?"
Later, as forward lines grew closer, serious thoughts of religion prevailed.
When an enemy battery would occasionally send a round of shot or shell into camp, splintering rails and tearing off treetops, many of these "sinners" began to realize the great need of religion.
One private in the 2nd Mississippi noted that one good battery with a good supply of grape shell, holding an elevated position could bring even the "hard-hearted" sinners to repentance quickly.
He became "truly good" then, but the great problem was in keeping him so.
Cannonading, or sometimes just the sound of cannon, would cause a soldier to inquire: "Boys, do you hear that?"
Then when the fire became more frequent, one could hear: "Boys, we are going to get into it."
Then there began the searching of pockets for gambling goods, especially playing cards.
The thought of being killed with such gaming devices in their pockets induced the soldiers to throw them away.
Within minutes, cards, dice and dice boxes littered the camp.
After the shelling ceased, most could be found reading their Bibles, except the ones who could not read, and they soon were anxious to learn.
This new order would last, at most, a day or two before the cards again reappeared.
In less than a week, the Bible-reading would be a thing of the past, and gambling would go on as before. The gaming would not stop until the next signal for a fight or shelling in front, where the same unloading again would take place.
Civil War Veterans
Hester, Henry Tyler*, Private; Fifth Sergeant; First Sergeant; Junior Second Lieutenant; enlisted April 24, 1861, at Philadelphia, Mississippi, in Company D, 11th Mississippi Infantry; age twenty-four; clerk; detailed to the Greenwood Depot to attend sick, July-August 1861; hospitalized as a convalescent at the General Hospital at Charlottesville, Virginia, 20 August to 14 September 1861; appointed fifth sergeant, 21 October 1861.
Re-appointed fifth sergeant at re-organization, 21 April 1862; probably appointed first sergeant, 18 May 1862; wounded at Gaines' Mill, 27 June 1862; promoted to junior second lieutenant, 12 January 1863; wounded in the left foot and captured at Gettysburg, 3 July 1863; treated at the U.S. Twelfth Corps field hospital at Gettysburg; forwarded to a U. S. A. General Hospital, 20 July 1863.
Hospitalized at the U. S. A. DeCamp General Hospital at David's, New York Harbor; imprisoned at Johnson's Island, near Sandusky, Ohio, 18 September 1863; transferred to Point Lookout, Maryland, 14 March 1865; exchanged at Con's Wharf, Virginia, 22 March 1865.
World War II Veterans
Hester, Henry Tyler*, Private to Staff Sergeant; enlisted on 18 July, 1942 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in the United States Army; age thirty-three; clerk; served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations at Atlantic City, New Jersey, with the Army Air Corps, August 1942; attended a technical school in radio operations and mechanics in Illinois, 1942; stationed at the Army Air Base, Fort Benning Georgia, Dunellen Air Base, Florida, and at Baer Field, Fort Wayne, Indiana, to September 1943.
Served also in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre of Operations as a radio operator and mechanic with the 69th Troop Carrier Squadron, 433rd Transportation Corps Group, Fifth Army Air Force, Philippine Islands, September 1943 to September 1945; participated in campaigns in Bismark Archipelago, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Western Pacific, Ryukyu Islands and the Philippine Islands; awarded the Air Crew Member Badge (Wings); Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and the Philippine Islands Liberation Medal.
Discharged at Camp Shelby, 22 October 1945, demobilization; described as five feet eight inches tall, weighing 128 pounds, with brown hair and grey eyes.
*Civil War Veteran H. Tyler Hester was the grandfather of World War II Veteran Henry T. Hester.
Steven H. Stubbs, Curator
303 Water Avenue South
Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350
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