Confederate Heritage
One Family’s Story

By Myrtis Simmons Craft

April has been designated Confederate Heritage Month in Newton County. Heritage, in the most comprehensive term, may imply anything passed on to ones heirs or to generations that succeed, such as an estate, a tradition, a right. With this thought in mind, I decided to take a look at my own family history at the time of the Civil War.

The first generation of the Simmons Family came to Newton County in 1835 when this area was opened for settlement and after the removal of the Choctaw Indians. This family settled on a farm where the E. L. Morgan football field is located. In 1839 Ralph Simmons and his wife Elvie were founding members of the Bethel Baptist Church and Ralph served as clerk for the first ten years. This family had eight sons and two daughters.

A. J. Browns History of Newton County stated in Chapter V that Ralph Simmons had eight sons in the late (Civil) war. With this clue I made a hurried trip to the archives in Jackson to get more detailed look at what happened to this family. I will list each sons record in order of birth.

Charles W. Simmons, born in 1819, would have been 42 at the beginning of the Civil War. Let me quote from Browns history again. Judge Bolton kindly furnishes the information of Company A, 5th Regiment of State Troops, which was brought into service in August 1862. This company belonged to what was called the State Troops, and no man under the age of thirty-five was admitted.-----In May 1863 we were ordered to Vicksburg, and entered that town on the last train that went in before its investment. We were in no regular engagement. I remember only four men dying while in service----Halford, Fountain, Simmons and Yager. I believe this to be Charles as I have found the records for the other sons. Charles W. Simmons married Annes/Annis McClendon, daughter of Lewis McClendon and Susannah Sides, and had seven children. His oldest son, Lewis Simmons, also served in the army although he was only thirteen at the beginning of the war.

Perry Simmons, born 1822, enlisted August 10, 1863 at Enterprise as a private in Company I, 20th Regt Mississippi Vols. He was wounded August 14, 1864 and died September 6, 1864 at Empire Hospital, Vineville, near Macon, Georgia. Perry married Amanda A. Caldwell on March 3, 1950 and had eight children.

Henry Clinton Simmons, born 1827, enlisted December 23, 1862 at Garlandville in I Company, 20th Regt Mississippi Vols. The war records show he was present in July and August 1864 in this company. His brother Perry was wounded and died at this time in this company. The discharge records show that Henry Clinton came home without a scratch on him. Henry Clinton married Susan A. Shelton, daughter of John Shelton and Mary Sides about 1851 and had five children at the time of the war. (He later had four more.)

Poindexter Terry Simmons, born 1832, enlisted March 31, 1862 at Garlandville in Company H, 37th Regt Mississippi Vols. and was wounded and captured at Iuka, September 19, 1862. He was sent home to recover and he asked for a transfer to Company I to be with his brothers. This transfer was approved and he was left in a hospital at Clinton, Mississippi and died May 2, 1863. Poindexter married Martha Jane Riser, son of David Riser and Nancy Hollingsworth, and had one child, William Simmons, who was later killed in a hunting accident.

Sylvester Simmons, born 1836, enlisted May 11, 1862 at Garlandville in Company H, 37th Regt Mississippi Vols. He was killed in action at Iuka, Mississippi, September 19, 1862, the day his brother Poindexter was wounded. Sylvester did not marry.

James Simmons, born 1838, enlisted July 31, 1861 at Iuka, Mississippi in Company H, 37th Regt Mississippi Vols. He also transferred to Company I, 20th Regt Mississippi Vols. October 14, 1862. His records show him still with the I Company in August 1864. James had no children at the time of the war but later had nine. His wife was Martha Eugenia Clark, daughter of James Clark and wife Elizabeth.

John Simmons, born 1841, enlisted July 6, 1861 at Corinth, Mississippi in Company I, 20th Regt Mississippi Vols. John was wounded and captured at Corinth October 4, 1862. The last record on John is August 1864. John had no children at the time of the war and had two in 1870 when he left the state for Texas.

Ralph Simmons, Jr., born 1843, enlisted August 13, 1861 in Company I, 20th Regt Mississippi Vols. Ralph was wounded July 20, 1864 and listed on Roll of Prisoners of War of divers[1] companies and regiments of the Confederate States Army, surrendered at Citronelle, Alabama, May 4, 1865. Ralph was admitted to Way Hospital, Meridian, Mississippi in March and April 1865. Ralph, Jr. lost a leg about the knee area and he died in 1867 as a result of his wounds. Ralph Simmons, Jr., did not marry.

Ralph Simmons’s sons-in-law, Aris B. Woodham and Alfred Perry Wash, also served in the war.

Aris B. Woodham, husband of Hester Simmons, was a lieutenant and quarter master of Co. E 1st Battalion of State Troops Mississippi Infantry. A. B. and Hester had eight children. Aris was the son of Edward Woodham and Sarah Dowling.

Alfred Perry Wash, husband of Lou Anne Simmons, served in Company A, 5th Regiment. (The same regiment Charles W. Simmons served in.) Enlisted July 27, 1862 and was captured at Vicksburg, Mississippi, July 4, 1863 and paroled at Vicksburg July 10, 1863 as an agreement reached between the CSA and USA to have the prisoners of war at Vicksburg to swear that they would not take up arms again against the United States. Alfred and Lou Anne had three children at the time of the war and later had four more.

This is a family of farmers, not great land holders or owners of many slaves. The conflict left 4 sons dead (40% of the family) and 16 grandchildren (31%) without a father. The mother of the family had died in 1859, just before the conflict and Ralph Simmons died September 1865 at the end of the conflict with his youngest son wounded but home at last. Ralph was seventy-nine years old and active in the Bethel Church until his death.

As a member of the 5th generation of this family, the history shows me that a great price was paid for a lost cause. This family of farmers continued to plant crops in the spring for fall harvest. This family grew and changed with the times to product doctors, lawyers, nurses, bookkeepers, construction workers, salesmen, mailmen, teachers and etc., always with one foot still planted on the land and the love of the renewal each year. The descendants of Ralph Simmons are all over Mississippi and many states beyond, good citizens all.

Notes

[1] Error in original military record. Correctly Diverse.

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