A Sketch of the History of the Second Mississippi Infantry Regiment:
Background and Introduction: Part IV
Of the 1,888 individual records, occupations were identified for 1,422 (75.5%) of them. Of these, almost 64% identified themselves as farmers. If “planters” are included in the same category – which should probably be the case – nearly 70% of the records would be included in this occupational group. The next most numerous categories included “clerk” at 4.4%, “student” at 3.5%, “carpenter” at 3.2%, “laborer” at 3.0%, “mechanic” (sometimes used interchangeably with carpenter) at 2.6%, “merchant” at 2.1%, “teacher” at 1.8%, “blacksmith” at 1.1%, and “physician” at 1.1%.
The mean (average) and median ages were obtained from an analysis of 1,511 (80.2%) of the 1,888 individual records. The mean age was found to be 24.8 while the median age was 23. It should be noted that these numbers include both the “early” volunteers, and those recruits who signed up in the spring of 1862 under the implicit threat of the recently enacted Confederate Conscription Act. If these groups are taken separately, the one-year volunteers’ (1,043 valid cases) mean age was 24.6 while the median was 23. The later three-year recruits’ (452 valid cases) mean age was somewhat older at 25.2, but the median age remained at 23 (see figure above).
 Where the spread in the data can be large, the median is statistically a more “robust” measure of central tendency than is the mean, which can be skewed by one or more “outlier” data points.
Of interest is the plot of mean age versus company shown in the figure above. Note especially Company L (the eleventh company) which was composed entirely of men recruited in the spring of 1862 from Tippah County. The mean age of the men in this company, at almost 27.5 years old, is significantly higher than that of the regiment taken as a whole, or even the group of later three-year recruits as a whole. An examination of the marital status of these groups also shows that the later recruits tended to have a higher percentage of married men, and this was especially true of Company L (reporting of marital status was rare).
In discussing potential differences in the group of early volunteers versus the later three-year recruits, refer to the figure above. It becomes quite apparent that there were really only two significant time periods of heavy enrollment. The first was during the late April and early May 1861 period, just prior to the regiment being mustered into Confederate service (May 10, 1861). The second period was the mid-February to mid-March 1862 time frame. It was during this time that Company L was added and most of the regiment’s original ten companies also recruited heavily. In fact, based on the available service records (1,690 valid records of 1,888 individuals), fully 60.7% of the regiment’s cumulative strength was enrolled prior to muster into Confederate service at Lynchburg, Virginia. By the end of November 1861, the total enrollment had reached 69.6% of its final tally. During the spring 1862 recruiting period (February 20-March 24, 1862), the number jumped to 97.9% of the final total. Only a handful of new recruits were added after this date, the last joining the regiment on September 1, 1864.
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Michael R. Brasher
Besides being the self-published author of Civil War books, I am the great-grandson of Private Thomas Benton Weatherington, one of the 1,888 Confederate soldiers from northeast Mississippi that served in the 2nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. A lifelong Civil War buff, I grew up near the Shiloh battlefield in West Tennessee. I received my MA in Civil War Studies from American Military University. I also hold degrees in Electrical Engineering and an MBA which I draw upon to help shape my own unique approach to researching and writing Civil War history. As former president and co-founder of InfoConcepts, Inc., I was the co-developer of the American Civil War Regimental Information System and Epic Battles of the American Civil War software. I developed and maintained the 2nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment website from 2002 until 2015 and now maintain the 2nd Mississippi Facebook page. I am also writing a regimental history to be released in the near future. I am a retired Air Force officer and now reside in Huntsville, Alabama.