A Sketch of the History of the Second Mississippi Infantry Regiment:
Detached Duty and the Suffolk Campaign
Following the retreat from Maryland, on November 8, 1862, Special Order 236 directed that the 2nd and 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiments be detached from the army and report to Richmond. There, the two veteran regiments were joined by the 42nd Mississippi and 55th North Carolina, two recently organized (May 1862) “green” regiments that had not yet seen combat. These four regiments formed a new brigade under the command of Brigadier General Joseph R. Davis, a Mississippian and Jefferson Davis’ nephew. Davis’ Brigade was sent to Goldsborough, North Carolina where the 2nd Mississippi spent a relatively pleasant winter, missing the battle of Fredericksburg, and recovering from some of its campaign losses. Wounded and sick recovered and returned to the ranks, and those taken prisoner were exchanged. However, unlike the previous winter, only a handful of new recruits joined the regiment.
With the Federals gaining a beachhead on the Virginia coast south of the James River in February 1863, Lee dispatched two divisions, Hood’s and Pickett’s, to guard the southern approaches to Richmond and Petersburg. Micah Jenkins’ and Davis’ brigades were ordered up from Goldsborough to southern Virginia, where they formed a division under the command of Major General Samuel G. French. Lee ordered Longstreet, on February 18th, to take command of the Southern forces concentrating along the Blackwater River. His orders were to defend Richmond while holding his men ready to return to the main army if needed. Longstreet was also directed to forage for provisions for the undernourished Army of Northern Virginia and, if the opportunity presented itself, to take the offensive against the Federal forces in his front.
Following weeks of scouting, foraging and skirmishing along the Blackwater River, the 2nd Mississippi was involved in Longstreet’s unsuccessful siege of Suffolk, Virginia from April 11th to May 4, 1863. Although actual fighting was light, the 42nd Mississippi and 55th North Carolina received their “baptism of fire” during a reconnaissance in force upon the Confederate lines by the 99th New York on May 1st.
Longstreet had already begun planning the return of his forces to the main army, even as the Confederates were repulsing the Federal probe of the 99th New York. The new commander of the Army of the Potomac, Major General Joseph Hooker, was attempting to execute a bold plan to destroy Lee’s army. He already had crossed the Rappahannock River and was threatening Lee’s left flank. Although the divisions of Hood and Pickett began a hurried departure, they did not arrive in time to participate in the Battle of Chancellorsville, often characterized as Lee’s greatest victory, but resulting in tragic consequences for the South. Stonewall Jackson was accidentally shot by his own men on May 2nd, losing an arm and dying of complications from pneumonia a few days later.
With Jackson’s death and Longstreet’s return, Lee reorganized the Army of Northern Virginia. From the original two-wing structure, three infantry corps were created. Longstreet retained the First Corps, the Second was placed under the command of newly promoted Lieutenant General Richard Ewell, and the new Third Corps was given to the also recently promoted Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill. A new division under Major General Henry Heth, to which Davis’ Brigade was assigned, was also placed in Hill’s Corps. On June 5th the 2nd Mississippi, with the balance of Davis’ Brigade, left southern Virginia to join the new division. The regiment would remain within this organizational structure (Davis’ Brigade, Heth’s Division, Hill’s Third Corps, Army of Northern Virginia) for the remainder of the war.
 Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army (Midlothian, VA, 1987), pp. 187-188, 239; Stewart Sifakis, Compendium of the Confederate Armies: Mississippi (New York, 1995), pp. 133-134, North Carolina, pp. 155-156; InfoConcepts, Inc., The American Civil War Regimental Information System: Volume I --the Confederates (Albuquerque, 1994, 1995), computer database software.
 O.R., 19, pt. 2, p. 705.
 O.R., 18, p. 883; Mark M. Boatner, III, The Civil War Dictionary (New York, 1991), p. 817.
 Ibid.; Steven A. Cormier, The Siege of Suffolk: The Forgotten Campaign, April 11-May 4, 1863 (Lynchburg, VA, 1989), 246-248.
 Stephen W. Sears, Chancellorsville (Boston, 1996), pp. 117-121, 293-297, 446-448.
 Ray F. Sibley, Jr. The Confederate Order of Battle: The Army of Northern Virginia, Volume 1, (Shippensburg, 1996), p. 52; O.R., 27, pt. 3, p. 860.
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.