Wednesday, November 28, 2012 12:00 AM
About eight miles south of Philadelphia, Miss., the county seat of Neshoba County, at the farming community of Neshoba Springs, John M. Bradley mustered Alexander Hamilton Franklin, a thirty-five year-old farmer, and fifty-two other men into state service on April 24, 1861.
The men formed an infantry company known as the "Neshoba Rifles."
The soldiers immediately elected Franklin captain of the new unit.
He remained in that position until appointed lieutenant-colonel on the staff of the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment on Jan. 12, 1863.
The Neshoba men then elected Franklin's thirty-two year-old brother, Quintus Lucius Cincinnatus Franklin, the sheriff of Neshoba County, to the post of first lieutenant.
John Randolph Prince, a twenty-four year-old medical doctor of Noxubee County, served as second lieutenant.
Dr. Prince succeeded Franklin as captain of the Neshoba Rifles after Franklin became the second in command of the regiment.
John Wellington Welsh, a Neshoba Springs farmer of thirty-two, occupied the position of junior second lieutenant until the Rifles re-organized in April 1862.
At Corinth, Miss., the scene was colorful and chaotic as each arriving company, including Franklin's soldiers, often wearing an elaborate uniform of its own design, carried its distinctive colors proudly through the streets and into the camps.
Ten of the earliest companies to arrive regimented into the 11th Mississippi on May 4, 1861.
The companies drew lots and were assigned letters as follows: A- University Greys (Lafayette County); B- Coahoma Invincibles)Coahoma County); C- Prairie Rifles (Chickasaw County); D- Neshoba Rifles (Neshoba County);
E- Prairie Guards (Lowndes County); F- Noxubee Rifles (Noxubee County); G- Lamar Rifles (Lafayette County); H- Chickasaw Guards (Chickasaw County); I- Van Dorn Reserves )(Monroe County) and K- Carroll County Rifles (Carroll County).
After the designation of the companies, the over one thousand Mississippi soldiers voted for the field officers of the newly formed regiment.
The election produced the following result: William Moore, captain of the Van Dorn Reserves, colonel and another gentleman of means, Captain Frank Liddell of the Carroll County Rifles, lieutenant-colonel. On the next day, Private Samuel F. Butler assumed the position of major.
"Perhaps no regiment entered the service with a larger number of professional men in its ranks. Physicians were especially represented both as officers and privates," recorded John C. Rietti of the 10th Mississippi Infantry Regiment.
Physicians numbered forty, out of the 1,485 men that enlisted and served in the 11th Mississippi.
Forty-one attorneys, twenty-four professors/teachers, seven ministers, six bookkeepers, five lawman, four civil engineers, four druggists, two artist, two editors, and one dance master, also served in addition to 515 farmers and 270 students.
Even with a large number of professional men, however, the 11th Mississippi did not earn the reputation as a "gentlemanly" regiment.
In fact, the opposite was true.
Fourth Sergeant James Drennan Love of Company noted that, "no more disorderly mob of men were ever together to make an Army."
On this day of organization, none of the over one thousand men of the newly formed regiment could have possibly imagined the hardships and suffering they would endure, or the fame and glory they would earn on the battlefields of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania over the next four years of conflict.
Little did they know that on a hot day in July 1863, at a little crossroads in south-central Pennsylvania named Gettysburg, "they would suffer the most."
Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum Steven H. Stubbs, Curator 303 Water Avenue South Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350 (601) 656-1284 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Monday thru Friday