The Neshoba Fair Association scheduled several historical events to mark the 100th anniversary of the great American Civil War, which began with the firing on Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861.

On Tuesday, August 8, 1961, several reenactment groups performed: First Cavalry Company (Union, Mississippi); Waynesboro (Mississippi) Riflemen; Forrest Raiders (Hattiesburg, Mississippi); Starkville (Mississippi) Observation Group and infantry companies from Newton and Decatur, Mississippi.

Later that day, Vicksburg's nationally famous Centennial Players Troupe (about 50 actors/actresses ranging in age from 13 to senior-plus), performed excerpts from the production of "Gunboats 'Round the Bend" at the Grandstand stage.

That drama recreated the Balfour Ball, an 1862 Christmas Eve gala, hosted by Dr. William Balfour and his wife Emma, for high-ranking Confederate officers.

While the Southern officers and their belles danced the night away, a Federal armada under the command of Admiral David Dixon Porter slipped down the river toward Vicksburg, the Gibraltar of the Confederacy.

A young black girl rushed into an isolated Confederate telegraph outpost at Point Lookout, about eleven miles below Lake Providence, Louisiana, to inform the sentinels of an approaching danger.

Stumbling through the darkness to the river bank, the two soldiers that manned that station, made out huge dark shapes in the water and recognized then as gunboats and transport, loaded to the gunwales with troops headed for Vicksburg.

Immediately, the sentries sent the news by wire to DeSoto Point, opposite Vicksburg.

Confederate soldier Phillip Fall decoded the message, and after recognizing the importance of the intelligence, rowed across the Mississippi River and raced through the quiet streets to the Balfour House.

The courier then pushed through the festive crowd to report the news to Major General Martin Luther Smith, commander of the Vicksburg garrison.

After hearing the message, Smith exclaimed: "The ball is at an end; the enemy are [sic] coming down the river, all non-combatants must leave the city."

The troops defending the city then prepared to face the Federal menace under the command of General of William T. Sherman.

Later during the week, the racing program at the 1961 Fair produced both triumph and tragedy.

A national known pacer, six-year-old gelding Mac Abbe, jointly owned by Don Carloss of Jackson, Tennessee, and Morris Therrell of Philadelphia, Mississippi, set a new track record in the one-mile race with the time of 2:07 2/5 on Thursday, August 10, 1961.

On the following day, Mac Abbe, under the drive of 20-year-old Charley Therrell, son of Morris Therell, suffered a severe, fatal heart attack before crossing the finish line of the championship race.

Charley Therrell remembered: "The horse started slowing down 30-40 feet from the wire, and I knew immediately something was wrong. The horse had almost come to a stop when he fell, and it was such an easy fall I just vaulted over him and landed on my feet."

Dr. Rudolph Posey, vice president of the Fair Association recalled, "He was a magnificent animal. He was strong and outclassed the field when he ran."

Almost 29 years later, Therrell still thought about his champion, "He stood 17 hands high. He was a big horse... solid black. I don't think he had a patch of white on him anywhere. He carried a look of proud elegance onto the track. Whether he was jogging, parading or running at full stride, Mac Abbe had an appeal about him that attracted the masses."

As racing officials removed the body of Mac Abbe to the stable area, someone noticed that the "gallant six-year old horse was wearing the number 13, and the horse had died on a Friday."

The racing great now rests in peace in the center of the Neshoba track - his grave site marked by a memorial stone that reads, "Race Horse, Mac Abbe, Pacer, Age 6 Years, Neshoba Co. Fair Track, Record, Aug. 10, 1961, 2:07.2, Owners Therrell & Carloss, Driver, Charles Therrell."

Civil War Veterans

Herrington, Hampton J. - Private; enlisted September 8, 1861, at Camp Jones near Bristoe Station, Virginia, in Company D, 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment; nick-named "Hamp;" age twenty-nine; farmer; absent sick at the Warrington Hospital, Warrington, Virginia, September-October 1861.

Hospitalized with febris typhiodes at the Seminary Hospital at Williamsburg, Virginia, April 29 to May 1, 1862; admitted with pneumonia to Chimborazo #3 at Richmond, Virginia, May 3, 1862; transferred to Camp Winder General Hospital at Richmond, May 8, 1862; wounded at Seven Pines, May 31, 1862.

Wounded in the right leg and foot and captured at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863; transferred to the Provost Marshal, July 14, 1863; hospitalized at the U.S.A. General Hospital at Chester, Pennsylvania, July 31, 1863; exchanged at City Point, Virginia, September 23, 1863.

Hospitalized with gun-shot wounds at the Episcopal Church Hospital at Williamsburg, September 23 to September 28, 1863; furloughed, thereafter; retired for six months, August 24, 1864; paroled at Meridian, Mississippi, May 17, 1865.

World War II Veterans

Therrell, Morris Marline - Private to Staff Sergeant; enlisted April 1, 1944, at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in the United States Army; age twenty-nine; manager- retail automobile parts store.

Served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations at a motor vehicle operators school at Fort Belvoir, Virginia; stationed with Company A, First Regiment Ordnance Replacement Center, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, May 1944.

Served also in the European Theatre of Operations as a mess sergeant with the 3580th Quartermaster Truck Company, April 1945 to March 1946; participated in the campaign in Central Europe; awarded the American Campaign Medal, European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

Discharged at Camp Shelby, March 21, 1946, demobilization; described as five feet eight and one-half inches tall, weighing 169 pounds, with brown hair and grey eyes.

Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum

Steven H. Stubbs, Curator

303 Water Avenue South Philadelphia, Miss. 39350

(601) 656-1284

10 a.m. - 3 p.m.;

Tuesday thru Friday