Re-enlisted "For Forty Years or the War" - Humphreys' Mississippi Brigade February 1864

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lelliott19

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[The Daily Sun. (Columbus, Ga.), March 20, 1864, page 2.]
The men will follow Longstreet anywhere, some of them facetiously have re-enlisted "for forty years or the war," others "for this war and three years of the next one." By March of 1864, three years had passed since many Confederate soldiers had originally enlisted and their terms of service were coming to an end. Re-enlistment enthusiasm was all over the newspapers. First one regiment, and then another, claimed to have been the first to re-enlist "for the war." Not to be outdone, Humphreys' Mississippians took it a step further. First reported in the newspaper on March 11, 1864, it seems Humphreys' brigade initiated a wave of re-enlistments in excess of "three years or the war."

It was a long, cold winter in East Tennessee for the men of Humphreys' Mississippi brigade. Brigadier General William Barksdale had been killed at Gettysburg. The brigade was shipped West with Longstreet, arriving just in time to participate in the Battle of Chickamauga under newly promoted Brigadier General Benjamin G. Humphreys. Then there was the siege of Knoxville and the ill-fated assault on Fort Sanders November 29, 1863. On December 18, Lafayette McLaws, commanding their division, was relieved of command and charges were preferred against him. Based in East Tennessee through the rest of the winter of 1863/1864, Longstreet's army endured - winter clothing, blankets, and shoes were in short supply.

Evidently, Humphreys' brigade, and other brigades of the division, were not adversely influenced by the challenges that had befallen them. All four regiments of Humphreys' brigade re-enlisted, but not for the traditional term of "3 years or the war." Instead, the men of Barksdale's old, now Humphreys' brigade reportedly re-enlisted "for forty years or the war." Other brigades re-enlisted for forty-one years, ninety-nine years, and even "for this war and three years of the next one."
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[The Daily Confederate., (Raleigh, NC), March 28, 1864, page 2.]

OP image: original image source Civil War Talk
 
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lelliott19

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Wouldn't you love to hear what wives had to say
Mrs. M E Whitaker was evidently supportive of the lengthy term of enlistment. This Mrs. Whitaker was not the wife of Mackerness Hudson Whitaker, the original Lt Col of the 13th Mississippi, Barksdale /Humphrey's brigade; he was married to Sarah F Patton Whitaker in 1860. It's possible that this Mrs. Whitaker was the wife of William Burton Whitaker (K/44MS) The 44th MS was not in Barksdale's / Humphrey's brigade, so if this ID is correct, her husband wasn't among those who re-enlisted for 40 years. Either way, Mrs. M E Whitaker wrote this poem, originally published in the Richmond (MS) Magnolia Weekly and reprinted in the Daily Clarion (Meridian, MS.)
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[The Daily Clarion., (Meridian, MS), June 09, 1864, page 1.]
 
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ucvrelics

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Great Thread and you are correct on the reenlistment fever (as there were boys who didn't which is for a whole different thread) It was a big deal to say I reenlisted for the the war and in this case a whole lot more. It was a way to get them to reenlist and not have to be conscripted, which after the war meant a LOT to a LOT of folks.
 

lelliott19

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on the reenlistment fever
You'll be interested to know that the ninety nine year reenlistment occurred at Demopolis, AL. It was the 20th Mississippi - here's a snip
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I ran across another article saying that the 2nd Alabama reenlisted for 99 years, but now I cant find it. Was the 2nd AL at Demopolis?
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Mrs. M E Whitaker wrote this poem, originally published in the Richmond (MS) Magnolia Weekly and reprinted in the Daily Clarion (Meridian, MS.)
There's some wonderful, now mostly forgotten poetry written during the war, isn't there? In my head any not written by Robbie Burns isn't poetry but some of the work published in era newspapers was awfully good.

Mrs. Whitaker has more stuffing than I would, bless her. The thought the war could last into infinity would have inspired me to a lot of words not used by her. Bless all of them.
 

lelliott19

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The 2nd wasn't at Demopolis.
Thanks. I guess it was another regiment. I can't find the article now.

Finally. Ive been looking for and finally found a report that includes a date for the 40 year re-enlistment of Barksdale's old, then Humphreys' brigade. Looks like it was first reported as of February 17, 1864.
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[The Daily Sun. (Columbus, Ga.), February 19, 1864, page 1.]
 
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