William Frederick Spell, Private, CSA
William Frederick Spell, 21, and his mother’s brother, John Spell, 29, volunteered for service in the Confederate Army at Raleigh, Smith County, Mississippi, on June 1, 1861. They were mustered into service on July 30, 1861. They traveled 80 miles to their ‘place of rendezvous’ – Enterprise, Mississippi, furnishing for themselves “a subsistence for three days.”
Both men served as Privates in Company C, Eighth Regiment of the Mississippi Infantry. This regiment was organized April through July of 1861, made up of Companies A through K. Each Company had its own “name”:
The total enrollment was 888 officers and men. The companies of this regiment, enlisted for twelve months, assembled for rendezvous at Enterprise, Mississippi. in August, 1861. They were “mustered into the Confederate States service early in October and ordered to Pensacola at once”. The regiment was encamped there with the forces under General Bragg, opposite Fort Pickens, held by the Union troops, through the fall and winter of 1861, during which time there were severe artillery engagements. In May, 1862, they were ordered to Mobile. About this time, the regiment was reorganized and re-enlisted for three years. From Mobile, they were transferred to Pollard, Alabama, and Warrington, Florida, and then to Chattanooga. August 18, 1862, the Eighth was assigned to J. K. Jackson’s Brigade, Withers’ Division, Polk’s right wing. The Fifth Mississippi and the Fifth Georgia were the other regiments of the brigade.
They advanced to Bardstown, near Louisville, retreated through Cumberland Gap to East Tennessee, moved to Chattanooga, and advanced toward Nashville to meet the Union. Jackson’s brigade of 874 men was in line on the east side of Stone’s River at the battle of Murfreesboro, December 31, 1862, and was sent across. Twenty were killed and 113 wounded. The attack failed after a three hour contest.
The Eighth was then stationed on the river at Bridgeport, Alabama, where it remained until July, 1863. They retreated to Chattanooga as the Union advanced for an encounter at Waldron’s Ridge. Then retreated to Lafayette, Georgia. In the battle of Chickamauga, the Eighth was distinguished in a gallant advance about noon on the 19th, which pushed the Union back. The Eighth captured and brought off the field, three pieces of artillery and five horses. The Union retreated to Chattanooga. Jackson’s Brigade held a position near Chattanooga Creek during the battle of Lookout Mountain. In the battle of Missionary Ridge, November 25, 1863, the regiment lost heavily in captured men. From Missionary Ridge, they retreated to Dalton, Georgia and went into winter quarters.
While the brigade was in winter quarters, W. F. Spell was listed as being “absent without Leave. Then the March – April, 1864 Muster Roll (pay) states that “one month’s wages to be deducted for absence without leave”. The Muster Roll was held every two months.
February 2, 1864, the brigade was transferred to W. H. T. Walker’s Division, mainly Georgian. When Sherman advanced, the Eighth was sent to meet the enemy at Dug Gap, where they served with Cleburne’s Division, and were hotly engaged with the brigade of Col. Benjamin Harrison. Subsequently Jackson’s Brigade was in action at Calhoun, May 14; at Resaca, May 15; at Adairville, May 17; at New Hope Church, May 27, and along the line of Kenesaw Mountain until July 2. July 9, they crossed the Chattahoochee. About this time Jackson’s Brigade was broken up, and attached to other divisions.
W. F. Spell was wounded during the Kenesaw Mountain attack. His war record states that he received a “G. S. W. (gun shot wound), flesh, just below patella (cap), left knee. On July 8, 1864, he was admitted to the Ocmulgee Hospital, Macon, Georgia with an “infected wound”. He received a 60 day furlough on July 12, 1864.
The Confederates had no more records for him. The family stories say that when he came home wounded, that he never returned to his company, and he never received an official discharge.
William Frederick Spell received a Civil War pension, which was paid quarterly. Payments ranged from $32.72 to $43.75 per quarter. After his death in 1905, his widow continued to receive payments until 1930. (She died in 1937.) The pension checks were issued by the local Chancery Clerk, and would be sent to the pensioner by whom ever was “passin’ that way”. Kid’s checks were usually carried to her by her brother-in-law, Dr. Pickering.