William S. Gattis – Killed at the Battle of Fishing Creek/Mill Springs

William S. Gattis, CO H, 15 MISS INF, CSA, January 19, 1862.

Private William S. Gattis joined Captain F. M. Aldridge’s Company H, 15th Regiment Mississippi Volunteers at the age of 23, May 29, 1861, at Corinth, Mississippi.  He joined for twelve months.  One interesting point – on his card it says ‘Traveling to place of rendezvous 132 miles.’  

Captain Aldridge’s company was also listed as Yalobusha Rifles.  I thought at first this was a particular kind of rifle, but after a bit of research realized Yalobusha was a county in Mississippi.  Coffeeville, listed on one of William’s records, is one of the county seats, along with Water Valley.  Putting Coffeeville and Corinth into Google Maps it gives the distance at about 122 miles – depends on which roads you take.  So, it sounds very likely that the rendezvous of 132 miles was William’s trip from Coffeeville to Corinth.

Company H, 15th Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, left for Kentucky shortly after mustering.  Brigadier. General, Felix Zollicoffer led combined troops to Laurel County where they fought Union Brigadier General George H. Thomas’s troops.  He had received reinforcements just before the battle.  The confederates fought, but the heavily fortified Union troops repelled the Confederates and they were forced to withdraw during the night and retreated to Cumberland Ford.

Brigadier General Zollicoffer wintered with his troops near Mill Springs, on the Cumberland River in Pulaski County.  Brigadier General George H. Thomas brought his Union troops to the area and on January 19th Zollicoffer and his men attacked Thomas’s troops.  Zollicoffer was killed while conferring with his men, and with the death of their commander, the men were thrown into confusion.  The Union troops overwhelmed the Confederates, giving the north their first significant victory during the war.

William S. Gattis was one of the Confederate soldiers who died during this battle of Fishing Creek – that’s what the Confederates called it.  Union Troops called it the Battle of Mill Springs.  Very confusing having different names for the same battle. 

Brigadier General Zollicoffer was buried with the members of his troops that lost their lives that day.  It is said more than one hundred soldiers were buried here.

Brig Gen Felix K. Zollicoffer, Tennessee Brigade, CSA, January 19, 1862. 

The 15th Mississippi Regiment continued to battle during the rest of the war.  They fought at Shiloh April 6-7, 1862, near Hardin County, Tennessee; the Battle of Corinth, in Mississippi, fought October 3-4, 1862; Peachtree Creek fought on July 20, 1864, near Fulton County, Georgia; Franklin, fought November 30, 1864, near Franklin, Tennessee; Nashville, fought December 15-16, 1864, near Nashville, Tennessee; and Wyse Fork, fought March 7-10, 1865, near Kinston, North Carolina.

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