William W. Knight Writes Home About Old Yellow and Men of the 29th Georgia Infantry

From 1861 to 1863, William Washington Knight served  as 2nd Sergeant in the 29th GA infantry in Company K, the Berrien Minutemen,  a Confederate army unit organized by his father,  Levi J. Knight.  William W. Knight was born March 4, 1829 and grew to a man in the neighborhood of Beaverdam Creek, near present day Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

In October of 1861, William W. Knight left his farm, 26 acres of cleared land and 464 acres forrested, in the care of his wife, Mary (See The Poetry of Mary Elizabeth Carroll). He left Mary with their one horse, $25 worth of farm implements, six cattle, 35 hogs, about 350 bushels of Indian corn, 120 pounds of rice, 50 bushels of peas and beans, 100 bushels of sweet potatoes, 75 pounds of butter, 80 gallons of molasses, and 50 pounds of honey. Their farm was situated next to that of William’s uncle, John Knight, and also the farm of William A. Jones, who was also serving with the Berrien Minutemen.

In a  Civil War letter dated June 3, 1863, transcribed below,  William W. Knight observes that deserter Elbert J. Chapman had rejoined his unit.    Chapman, known to his troop mates as Old Yellow or ‘Old Yaller,’  was shot for desertion about five weeks later, in a tragic episode of military discipline.  In the letter, Knight mentions several other soldiers (see notes below), including his brother, Jonathan David Knight.

As noted in previous posts, this is one of 37  of Civil War Letters of William W. Knight which have been scanned and placed online by Valdosta State University Archives. He  wrote home to his wife, Mary Elizabeth Carroll Knight, and father numerous times while on deployment  with his unit.

In the letter of June 3, the quality of the original document combined with Knight’s affinity for run on sentences makes for rather difficult reading.  For clarity, the transcription below takes some interpretive  liberties with punctuation. Knight’s letter of June 3, 1863 can be viewed in the VSU archives.

Mississippi

Camp Near Yazoo City     June 3rd 1863

Dear Mary,

Again I seat myself to write to you  few lines th[ough] I wish you could see the seat and place we are camped at. We are in a narrow bottom with a creek running through it, clear limestone water.  It is all the running water we have seen in any creek since we have been in this State.  We are below Yazoo city three miles, or rather we are sout[h] of it, fifty miles from Vicksburgh.  There are more men here than you ever saw in all your live, the number I will not give, not knowing but this might fall in the Federals hands. We came here yesterday. We lay up day before two miles from here.

We left our camp at Deasonville, Saturday near twelve o’clock and marched till night.  Sunday was the hardest days march we ever taken, not the farthest, we have marched farther in the day, but the country very broken, the weather very hot and not water enough to barely sustain life. Many men gave out and could go no further. Some fainted in the road and had to be taken up and carried off but none of our brigade died from the march so far as I can ascertain.  This country is the barest of water of any I ever saw.

We are gradually  closing up around Vicksburgh. The Abrahamites are around it, our men inside under Gen. Pemberton, our outside army under Gen. Johns[t]on or he commands the whole army.  We are under Gen. Walker. He is my General now and in command this squad here.  They are from different states.

There is some sickness among the men but none of them dangerous. I think in our company there the following men sick but they can walk about and tend to their business: John S Adams, William Cameron, Henry A. Lastinger, Mathew R. Lindsey, Edmond Mathis, Aaron Mattox, John A. Parrish, Corpl. John R. Patterson, Alfred B. Findley, Jacob J. Truitt.  They are only too weak to hold out to march. They have fever or diarrhea.  Jonathan had the fever two days ago but he is better, he did not have much fever yesterday, he got too hot Sunday of the march. Lt Parrish is well again. All the rest of the Company are well.

Manning Fender got a letter from James Fender last week he was getting better. We left him at Columbus, Ga.

Elbert J. Chapman, or as the boys called, Old Yellow, is with us again. William D. Warren of the Sharpshooters from Thomas County found him at Canton.  Warren did belong to our regiment before he was put in the Sharpshooters battalion. Chapman is heartier than I ever saw him, he was in the 20th Mississippi Regiment of mounted infantry. He had been there five months and two day[s]. The regiment has been in several battles since he has been in it. He went by the name of Manning Coleman. He says he does not know any thing of Benjamin Garrett, that he has not seen him since last December. They got parted at Brookhaven in this State.

We have no tents in our regiment, we take the world and weather as we find it. We have four fry pans and one oven for our company. The rest of the companies are no better off than our[s]. Where we are stopped we get enough to eat, but when we are marching we do not have any chance to cook enough to eat, and water to cook with is often not to be had.  We marched seven miles Sunday. After sunset we stopped to camp where it had been represented we could get water but it was not there to get, and we had to come seven miles further before we could get it, and then there was not enough and what there was was very bad.

I will describe the kind of water we have been using until we come to this place. That is, if your imagination will help draw the picture.  It is in holes in the creeks, the soil thick yellow mud void of sand, the water yellow muddy stuff with a green scum on it – but seldom over a foot deep – some times half covers holes. And no more near enough to be got at, and that the chance for several thousand men, and a great many of them like hogs.  If they are not minded out, they will be in it, washing there hands, face, feet or old, nasty clothes. Its astonishing how many men there in this world that are only animals in human form. Ask one and he will tell you it is wrong, but he saw somebody else do so and he had as well do so as any body else. That is always the answer you get. They have a kind of elastic consciences that expand to fit any case.

This is a very rich farming country. They make fine corn with the least work of any country I have ever been in. They break up their land, plant their corn, side the corn, turn the dirt from it, hoe it out, let it stand about two weeks, side it again turning the dirt to the corn, let stand about the same time, and plough out the middles, and they are done that crop.  They make from thirty to fifty bushels to the acre. Their lands are nearly all bottom lands. It averages fifty bushels to the acre.

Mary, I got two letters Saturday from you dated the 9th & 17th of last month. I was very glad to hear that you and the children had been well since I left Savannah.  I say had been, for the[y] had been written so long they were almost out of date, but I recon mine are quite as old before they get to you if they ever get there.

Well, Mary, I recon you need not be uneasy for fear I will suffer for money because of what I sent you. I have quite as much as I will need, I hope. If I had not have left Savannah I should have sent you as much more.  I have sent you this year one hundred and ten dollars in money and a little over thirty dollars worth of things.  I  have about sixty dollars with me now. I recon it will last me till we draw again.  I had much rather see you and the children than any amount of money we will ever have at one time.

I am in hope I will keep well and able to do all the duty that may be required of me.  I think all the men in our company would get well in a week if they could have that long to rest.  There is no chance for them to write when we are on a march. We have but one ambulance for the regiment. It will not carry more than eight men.  I will write when ever I have a chance.

Your Faithful Husband

William W. Knight

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Some additional notes on the men of the 29th Georgia Regiment mentioned in Knight’s Letter:

William W. Knight,   Enlisted as a private Company D, 29th Georgia Regiment, October 1, 1861 in Berrien County, GA.  Made 2nd Sergeant in December, 1861.  Was sent for Camp equipage in December 1862. September 5, 1863 receipts show he accepted at camp in the field a delivery of two pairs of shoes. Receiving equipage in the field, October 31, 1863, “the men being in a destitute condition.” Requisition records show he was at Dalton, GA on December 6, 1863 where he received additional equipment for the unit.  Died of chronic diarrhea at Milltown, GA. December 27,1863. A son of Levi J. Knight, and husband of Mary Elizabeth Carroll.

John S. Adams was from Duval County, FL. He enlisted as a private in Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment on April 3, 1862 in Savannah, GA.  By the late spring  of 1863 service records show he was a patient at the Confederate hospital at Point Clear, AL.  He apparently recovered to return to his unit, but in the summer of 1864 he was again sick, this time appearing on the register of patients at Ocmulgee Hospital, Macon, GA and suffering with chronic diarrhea. He was furloughed on May 16, 1864.

Alfred B. Finley,  private, Company D, 29th Georgia Infantry. Born in Georgia on January 15, 1840. While in the Confederate service he contracted measles and St. Anthony’s Fire (erysipelas),  a streptococcus infection which resulted in loss of his left eye. Captured near Nashville, TN on December 16, 1864, during the Battle of Nashville, TN.  Released at Camp Chase, OH,  June 12, 1865.  Died at Nicholls, GA on October 18,1921.

Benjamin S. Garrett, private, Enlisted October 1, 1861 Company K, 29th Georgia  Infantry at Berrien County, GA. August, 1862 at Convalescent Camp. Service Records include the notation “Deserted.”  Reported absent without leave for December 1862. Some say Garrett was later killed in Florida, but regimental records show he joined the 17th Georgia Infantry Regiment, was sent to Virginia, caught typhoid pneumonia and died November 9, 1862 at Chimborazo Hospital No. 5, Richmond, VA.

Jonathan D. Knight, Was the brother of William Washington Knight. Jonathan D. Knight was Captain, Company D, 29th Georgia Regiment. He was captured near Decatur, GA on July 22,1864  during the Battle of Atlanta and held as a prisoner of war until released at Fort Delaware, DE on June 17,1865. Later elected a senator in the Georgia state government, and signed the Georgia Constitution of 1877.

Henry Andrew Lastinger,  private, joined the Berrien Minute Men (later renamed Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry) officially inducted on August 1,1861.  He was a son of Louisa  English and William Lastinger. His sister, Elizabeth Lastinger, was present at the Grand Military Rally for the Berrien Minute Men held in May, 1861 at Milltown (now Lakeland), GA.  Four of his brothers also served with the Berrien Minute Men. A fifth brother served with the 5th Georgia Reserves. On September 19,1863 Henry A. Lastinger was shot in the right foot at the Battle of Chickamauga, GA, leaving him permanently disabled. Received extra pay from March 18 to August 2, 1864. Pension records show he was at home on wounded furlough close of war. Born in Georgia in 1832. Died December 24,1908.  His brother, Lacy Elias Lastinger, wrote about the execution of Elbert J. Chapman after the war.

Matthew R. Lindsey, private, Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry.   According to Widow’s Pension records he enlisted May 10, 1862, was wounded in right shoulder at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain,  June 27, 1864; was furloughed for 60 days in 1864, and was unable to return the unit.

Edmond W. Mathis, enlisted in Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry as a private on October 4, 1861, later Corporal.  He was captured near Nashville, TN on December 16, 1864 during the Battle of Nashville, TN.  Died February 11, 1865 of pneumonia at Camp Chase prison, Columbus, OH. Buried in Grave #1175, Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery.

John R. Patterson,  born about 1830, enlisted in Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry as a private October 1, 1861. Appointed Sergeant. Wounded near Atlanta, GA,  August 1864 during the Atlanta Campaign. Evacuated to a temporary Confederate field hospital at Forsyth, GA, known in confederate service records as “Ford Hospital”, established  by Andrew Jackson Foard, Field Medical Director for the Confederate Army of Tennessee.  Died in the hospital at Forsyth, Monroe County, GA August 14, 1864. Buried at Forsyth City Cemetery.

John A. Parrish, Private, Enlisted in Company D, Georgia 29th Infantry Regiment on November 1, 1861. Absent, sick, December 31, 1861. In Convalescent Camp August 31, 1862. On June 14, 1864  he was wounded at Pine Mountain, GA; that was the same day Confederate General Leonidas Polk was killed atop Pine Mountain by a lucky cannonshot from Union forces.  After June 14, John A. Parrish never returned to his unit. He was born February 18, 1844 a son of Josiah and Mary M. Parrish. Died October 28, 1885; buried Antioch Cemetery, Adel, GA.

Jacob Truett,  Private. Born in South Carolina February 9,1834.  Enlisted December 5, 1861in Lowndes County, GA. Service Records show in October 1862 he was “absent on expired sick furlough,”  and still absent sick in November and December, 1862.  In the Spring of 1864 he was issued new clothing and  detailed with Captain O. D. Horr.  He was again issued new clothing on September 30, 1864. Wounded in left shoulder at Murfreesboro, TN on December 7, 1864, the date of the Battle of Murphreesboro.  Admitted to Way Hospital at Meridian, MS, on account of wounds, January 19, 1865. Pension records show he surrendered at Greensboro, NC April 26,1865, the date and location of General Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender to General William T. Sherman.

James Fender, Corporal, Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry.  Absent sick, October and November 1862. Listed as Absent without Leave in December 1862. On September 3, 1863, he drew pay for July and August.    Buried at Fender Cemetery, Clinch County, GA

Manning Fender, private, Company K, 29th Georgia Infantry. At Convalescent Camp August, 1862.  Killed in battle at Chickamauga, GA, September 19, 1863.

Aaron Mattox,  enlisted in Company  G, 29th Georgia Infantry.  On August 22, 1864 he was captured  at Atlanta, GA and sent to  Camp Chase, OH.  From there, he was transferred to Point Lookout, MD on March 22, 1865. He died while imprisoned there in 1865 .

William Cameron. Private.  Shot in the left arm  during battle on June 15, 1864 with the ball lodging in the left elbow.  Admitted to Ocmulgee Hospital, Macon, GA on August 23,1864 where apparently the lead ball was removed from the wound. Furloughed home to Clinch County, August 29, 1864. Surrendered and Paroled at Thomasville, GA on May  26, 1865.

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Eulogy of Elder Ansel Parrish

Ansel Parrish (1824 -1891)

 Elder Ansel Parrish, of Berrien County, GA was one of the ablest and best known Primitive Baptist preachers of his time.  Ansel Parrish joined Pleasant Church at the age of 19 and was baptized by Elder Moses Westberry, Jr.  He thereafter dedicated his life to the service of the Primitive Baptist faith. During the Civil War he ministered to the confederate soldiers in 50th Georgia Regiment at their encampment near Savannah, GA.  He became a leader among the Primitive Baptists, and preached at many of the churches in the area.  From the death of Elder William A. Knight in 1860 until 1865, the close of the Civil War,  Ansel Parrish served as pastor of Union Church, the mother church of all the Primitive Baptist churches in this section. He died January 16, 1891 leaving a widow and seventeen children, and eighty grandchildren.

Ansel Parrish (1824 - 1891). Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Ansel Parrish (1824 – 1891). Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Recognized throughout the Wiregrass, “he was considered a great power in the church as well as out of the church”.

The Thomasville Times
August 16, 1884

Moultrie Meanderings.

The yearly meeting of the Primitive Baptists at Barber’s church, three miles east of here, came off last week. The attendance was large, Elder Ancil Parrish, one of the old landmarks, was present. Uncle Ancil bids fair to weather the storms of several winters yet. The creed of these people may be at fault, or not, I don’t pretend to say; but the predominant idea of their lives seems to be embodied in the maxim: “Be honest, industrious and attend to your own business, and they endeavor to carry out this proposition with might and main.

Ansel Parrish married Molcy Knight on December 15, 1842.

Elder Ansel Parrish, (1824 -1891), and Molcy Knight Parrish (1826 - 1897). Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Elder Ansel Parrish, (1824 -1891), and Molcy Knight Parrish (1826 – 1897). Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Following the death of Ansel Parrish on January 16, 1891, Eulogies appeared in The Valdosta Times:

The Valdosta Times
Saturday, January 24, 1891

He Will Be Missed.

        Many of our readers knew a man, now gone from view, whose plain and simple life, unadorned with the polish of modern culture, illustrated in a striking degree many of the higher and nobler attributes of manhood; whose life-work stamped him a man of power.  Although denied in his youth the benefits of the ordinary high schools of the country, and necessarily therefore a stranger to theological seminaries, yet he had the gift of oratory, and the force of strong convictions. He expounded the Scriptures as he understood them, and labored to make men better.  He was not skilled in the arts of the modern doctors of divinity, nor was he a juggler with words. He was a plain blunt man. To him there shone a light through the clouds of the letter of the word which fired his heart and loosened his tongue. He went out among his people and taught them justice and the ways of peace. He was a law-giver of the old-time type. When brothers quarreled he called them together, heard the testimony, settled the dispute, and sent them away reconciled. He always kept them out of the Courthouse when he could, but if he failed he followed them to the bar of the court, and there exercised a wonderful influence in the settlement of the case. The people believed his heart was pure and his judgment was sound, and seldom a jury was found which would not accept his convictions and make them their own verdict, in spite of the pleadings of the lawyers. It was his custom on such occasions to take a seat within the bar of the court room, and when the lawyers on his side opposed to his convictions would rise to address the jury he would sit dumb and motionless. It is said the lawyers, knowing his power, would often address much of their speech to him, hoping to draw some token of assent, but he could not be coaxed or driven from his position. But when the other side – the right side – was being presented to the jurors, his face would show his sympathy; and repeatedly, and unconsciously, as it were, when strong points were being driven home by the logic of the speaker, or when important quotations bearing on the case would be drawn from the evidence, he would nod assent, and give audible tokens of approval. He was always in touch with the juries, and the verdicts always came right.
It has been often said by lawyers practicing in that court that he was more greatly to be feared, if he was against their client, than the logic and eloquence of the most astute practitioner in the circuit.
This good old man – simple and home-spun in his ways – was a power in the region about him. If he drove to the county town, or to a railway station, a crowd would gather round his buggy before he could get out, and two or three would begin unhitching his horse.
He asked no money for his preaching, but he always had plenty – the product of a well-tilled farm; and no widow, or other deserving poor person in the neighborhood, went unprovided for if he knew of their want. It is said that he studiously avoided giving publicity to his charities, and that the beneficiaries were often ignorant as to the identity of their benefactor.
The fame of this man went beyond the limits of his neighborhood and county. Wherever those of his faith and order assembled in Wiregrass Georgia or Florida he was known, and his name was reverently mentioned. If he was present he was a leader; if absent, his absence was felt.
Such a man was Elder Ansel Parrish, the old Primitive Baptist preacher of Berrien County, as seen by one who was neither his partisan nor his parishioner.
When news of his fatal illness spread over the country hundreds of his devoted friends and followers journeyed to the bedside of the dying preacher to get a last look into the depths of those great grey eyes before the light went out and the old-time fire burnt down in their sockets. And when they laid his body away in the old family burying ground, a great concourse of people gathered to mingle their tears with the sod in the new made mound.

A week later, The Valdosta Times followed up with a tribute to Elder Parrish.

The Valdosta Times
Saturday, January 31, 1891

 Ansel Parrish

        A Brief Biographical Sketch Of One Who Will Be Missed. “Oh for the touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice that is still.” Elder Ansel Parrish was born in Bulloch County, Ga., July 7th, 1824, and died at his home seven miles southwest of Nashville in Berrien County January 16th, 1891.
Elder Ansel was the fourth son of Henry and Nancy Parrish, who moved from Bulloch to Lowndes, now Berrien County, in 1825, and the future preacher learned to take his first toddling steps at a camp fire on the road while his parents were moving here.
He grew up with the meager opportunities common to our country and his literary attainments were therefore meager. Of a calm temper he was early separated from the wild life of the country and joined the Primitive Baptist Church in 1843, being in his nineteenth year, and was ordained an Elder March 18th, 1854. He was married to Miss Mollsey Knight, whose father was William Knight  [William Cone Knight] and her mother a daughter of Jesse Carter, thus uniting the two largest family connections in Lowndes County. To write of him as a neighbor and friend, a husband and father would be out of place here. Those who knew him best loved him most.
It is as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus I would fain write most, and then, he was so widely known that the task will alas fall short of his merit. The writer heard him preach first and most frequently at Salem (Adel) Church of which he was one of the Pastors for a long number of years, assisted by his uncle, brother and co-worker the late lamented Elder Ezekiel J. Williams. As a preacher he was earnest in the faith as he interpreted the word of God, yet not harsh, ever bearing in mind the faith of others. He devoted his early and mature manhood to his Master’s service and when the infirmities of age began to creep on him he seemed to not regard them as an excuse to satisfy self ease, but labored on, and when he could not stand in the sacred desk to deliver his message he preached seated. For all this work and work in physical pain, he never, to my knowledge, asked a dollar as a reward.
A good substantial farmer, he was not only self sustaining but ever ready to open his hand to the needy when his already open heart heard the cry of distress. Seventeen children, 14 of whom are living, 7 sons and 7 daughters were born to him. He leaves 80 living grandchildren, and 24 dead, preceded him of his 8 brothers and 2 sisters, only the venerable Josiah Parrish of Ava, and Absalom of Arkansas survive him.
Elder Parrish was at the time of his death Pastor of the following Churches:  Pleasant and Cat Creek, literally falling in the line of duty. May his fidelity to his Master’s cause be taken as an example by those whom he has so long and faithfully warned. In him his family has lost all that goes to make a husband and father, and his Church its wisest counselor.

The archives of the US GenWeb project provide the following biography:

Biography of Elder Ansel Parrish

Elder ANSEL PARRISH was one of the ablest and best known Primitive Baptist mininsters in his day for over 35 years prior to his death. He was considered a great power in the church as well as out of the church. He was born in Bullock County, July 7, 1824, a son of Henry and Nancy Parrish.
        He was married Dec. 15, 1842, in Lowndes (now Berrien) County, to Molcy Knight, born Nov. 7, 1826, daughter of William Cone Knight. 
        Elder Parrish was first converted and united with Pleasant Church in Lowndes County, Aug. 19, 1843, and was baptized. Mrs. Parrish followed him into the church and was baptized November, 1847. He was ordained a deacon in his church, Feb. 2, 1848, and served in this office until he was licensed to preach, Jan. 17, 1852. Two years later, March 19, 1854, he was ordained to the full Gospel Ministry by a presbytery composed of Elders Wm. A. Knight, J. B. Smith and J.E.W. Smith. From then until his death, Jan. 16, 1891, his was a very busy and fruitful ministry among the Primitive Baptist Churches in Berrien and adjoining counties. His first cousin, Elder E. J. Williams, was Pastor of Pleasant Church when he (Elder Parrish) was ordained and continued as such until 1881 when he declined re-election; thereupon Elder Parrish was called. He continued as Pastor of his home church until his death. At the time (1881), he was already serving Cat Creek Church in Lowndes County, and in April, 1881, he was called as Pastor by Friendship Church near Hahira, also Salem Church in Adel. These four Churches he continued to serve as pastor until his death 13 years later. He also served as Moderator of the Union Association several years. Elder Parrish owned a large tract of land in Berrien County and gave each of his sons a farm when they married. Mrs. Parrish died June 25, 1897. She and her husband were buried in the Lois Cemetery near Pleasant Church.

 

Grave of Ansel Parrish (1824 - 1891), Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA. Image source: FindAGrave.com

Grave of Ansel Parrish (1824 – 1891), Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA. Image source: FindAGrave.com

Children of Molcy Knight and Ansel Parrish

  1. Rachel E Parrish 1844 –
  2. Elizabeth L Parrish 1845 – 1928, married Marion Register
  3. James W Parrish 1847 – 1916
  4. Nancy E Parrish 1848 – 1924
  5. Mary Eleanor Parrish 1849 – 1909, married John Lee
  6. Henry William Parrish 1851 – 1928
  7. John A Parrish 1853 – 1914
  8. Sarah Laura Parrish 1854 – 1933, married William M. Register
  9. Ezekiel Crofford Parrish 1856 – 1924
  10. Martha M.  “Mattie”  Parrish 1860 – 1942, married Aaron A. Knight
  11. Josiah Allen Jones Parrish 1861 – 1929
  12. Jesse A Parrish 1864 – 1938
  13. Amanda Celestia Parrish 1866 – 1900
  14. Naomi Parrish 1867 – 1886
  15. Moorna Parrish 1868 –
  16. Child Parrish 1869 –
  17. Alderman B Parrish 1871 – 1932

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