On May 10, 1864, during the early hours of the Battle of Talley's Mill, Captain William Nelms, in command of Rebel skirmishers of the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, "krept up" a ravine and found that his small group of men was on the right flank of the Federal breastworks.
With Nelms' troops on the flank of Federal General David Birney's defenders, and with Confederate General Jubal Early's main force assaulting the center, Captain Nelms wrote: "The enemy soon gave way and broke, hastily leaving the breastworks and rushing pell-mell in the direction of General [U. S.] Grant's main body of troops." Private Jonathan Y. Allen of Company D, 11th Mississippi, also recalled his participation in this battle: "A small battle that lasted about fifteen minutes. I was appointed litter bearer. These had to be men of courage... The battle was fought on new cleared ground where the stumps were about waist high.
"I ran and jumped on the Yankee breastworks not knowing that some of their men were behind them [breastworks]. When I saw them I said, 'Boys, here they are!' When the Yankees saw me they were surprised and began running, some dropping their guns." Private Allen was later voted "bravest man" of Company D, the Neshoba Rifles, for duty at Talley's Mill.
The short-lived Battle of Talley's Mill cost the Mississippi regiment eleven casualties - two killed in action, three mortally wounded, and six wounded.
One of the mortally wounded was Colonel Frank Green. Captain Nelms later wrote, "A nobler soldier and patriot never went on a battlefield nor drew a sword in defense of his home and fireside."
One of the soldiers killed was the youngest of the six Cook brothers of Company D and Neshoba County, twenty-year old Private John Henry Cook.
Jim and Bill Cook buried their younger brother in a trench they dug with their bayonets after the Yankees retreated from the field. Another soldier to die of his wounds at Talley's Mill was a private in Company A, the University Greys.
Like his fellow University of Mississippi classmate, Fourth Sergeant Jeremiah Gage at Gettysburg, James Robert Montgomery lived long enough to write a last poignant letter home to his father, A.V. Montgomery at Camden in Madison County, Miss.
As his hand grew shaky and his blood stained the page, he wrote: "This is my last letter to you... I have been struck by a piece of shell and my right shoulder is horribly mangled and I know death is inevitable... that I die far from home and friends and of my early youth, but I have friends here to, who are kind to me... My grave will be marked so that you may visit it if you so desire to do so, but is optionary with you, whether you let my remains rest here or in Miss.
"I would like to rest in the grave yard with my dear mother and brothers but it is a matter of minor importance. Let us all try to reunite in heaven. I pray my God to forgive my sins and I feel that his promises are such that he will forgive me and save me... Again, a long farewell to you, may we meet in heaven. Your dying son, J. R. Montgomery."
Eight soldiers of the 11th Mississippi honored for their heroic actions at the Battle of Talley's Mill had their names placed on a Roll of Honor: Private Andrew J. Dew, Company A; Private John H. Cook (killed in action), Company D; Fourth Corporal Dennis O'Sullivan, Company E; Second Corporal Alexander W. Maneese, Company F; Private George M. Dooley (died of wounds), Company G; Third Corporal William R. Holland, Company H; Private Henry C. Moore, Company I and Private Vaiden H. Hughes (wounded), Company K.
Civil War Veterans
Bobo, Pinkney P. - Private; enlisted March 1, 1862, at Philadelphia, Miss., in Company D, 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment; age twenty-two; farmer.
Wounded and captured at Second Manassas, Aug. 29, 1862; leg amputated, paroled as a POW at Warrenton, Va., Sept. 29, 1862; discharged from the General Hospital at Warrenton, Oct. 20, 1862; received $119.00 for pay, clothing and bounty, Oct. 31, 1862; furloughed for ninety days from General Hospital #1 at Richmond, Va., Dec. 20, 1862; received $66.00 for four month's pay at Richmond, Dec. 20, 1862; Muster Roll, July-August 1864: "In Mississippi, wounded, leg amputated;" retired and assigned to the Invalid Corps at Macon, Miss., Dec. 3, 1864.
World War II Veterans
Alford, Bennett Warren - Private to First Lieutenant; enlisted on June 1, 1942 in the United States Navy; age twenty-two; college graduate; nick-named "Ben;" served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations at Parris Island, South Carolina, Fort Pierce, Fla., and Fort Pendleton, Oceanside, Calif., with the United States Marine Corps.
Attended Officer's Candidate School at Quantico, Va.; commissioned as a second lieutenant at Quantico, Oct. 6, 1943; completed post-graduate work at Quantico, Dec. 1943; served also in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre of Operations as a platoon leader with Company G, Third Battalion, 26th Regiment, Fifth Marine Division; participated in the campaigns on Saipan, Marianas Islands, and Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands; awarded the Navy Cross (second highest medal along with the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry and "extreme heroism" issued by the War Department) on Iwo Jima, March 21, 1945; received, also, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal.
Presidential Unit Citation, World War II Victory Medal and the Bronze Star; retired with the rank of colonel, June 30, 1974; described as five feet eight inches tall, weighing 160 pounds, with black hair and blue eyes.
Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum
Steven H. Stubbs, Curator
303 Water Avenue South Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350 (601) 656-1284