“Fortune of War”, Herbert Asquith, 1881-1947
The far guns boom: shell-struck the church is rolled Skyward athunder, dust of rose and gold: The staring villa stands:, So goes the war: The limelight lives: extinguished is the star.
While the Civil War raged, Joshua H. Hood, my great-great-grandfather, lived in Fulton, Itawamba County, Mississippi. He was a farmer and not worth much; $100 according to the 1860 census. For a family with six boys, $100 does not seem like much. ¹
Joshua was born in St. Clair County, Alabama 13 Sep 1831. There is some question as to whether James Hood and Margaret Sommerville or the Reverend William Hood and Elizabeth Carter are his parents. My research is leaning toward James and Margaret. Joshua married Margaret Johnson in 1849.
Between 1850 and 1860, Joshua and Margaret moved their family to the outskirts of Fulton, Itawamba County, Mississippi. According to the digital records of Itawamba County, “most of the land in eastern Itawamba County was too rugged for large scale farming with the topographic relief too extreme for large farms.”² The large farms and plantations were found in the fertile bottomlands of the Tombigbee River west of Fulton.
On the eve of the Civil War, rumors of war swirled around the inhabitants of Itawamba County. Mississippi seceded from the Union on 9 Jan 1861. In the spring of 1862 and after their victory in Shiloh, Tennessee, Union forces captured the railroad junction in the center of Corinth. On 1 Apr 1862, J. H. Hood was mustered in at Mooreville as a private in Company E of the 4th Regiment of the Mississippi Calvary from 31 Dec 1862 to 30 Jun 1863 under Capt. McCarthy. Notes at the bottom showed he was absent without leave. ³
On 20 Aug 1862, J. H. Hood was mustered in again at Guntown as a private in Company E of the 4th Regiment of the Mississippi Calvary from 1 Sep 1862 to 1 Jan 1863 serving under Lt. Robertson. ⁴
In October, 22,000 men under Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn began marching to recapture Corinth. About 23,000 Union forces under Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans had erected strong fortifications around the town. On 3 Oct 1862, the fighting began with the Confederates pushing the Yankees back. The following day, Union artillery swept the field causing mass casualties. A few Rebels fought their way into Corinth but were pushed back. ⁵ Ultimately, the Confederates were unsuccessful in the retaking of Corinth. There were several battles and skirmishes west of Fulton, Mississippi. Ultimately none came as far as Fulton.
So why did Joshua join the Confederate Army? Unlike the plantation owners to the west, he owned no slaves. Did he enlist because he believed in slavery, the economic system under which the south functioned? It’s hard to say. But we do know that Corinth was seventy miles from Fulton. He may have feared for his family and farm.
The muster record shows that he would receive 48¢ per day for his horse for one hundred days for a total of $48.00. That was half his net worth. Could his motivation been improving the finances for himself, his wife, and his children?
I haven’t found records showing that Joshua mustered out of the Confederate Army, but Confederate records are sparse compared to Union records. Most likely, he was at the Battle of Corinth, survived, and went home to his family to continue his life. By 1870, we know that Joshua and his family were prospering, unlike many families that lost everything in the war. The value of his estate and personal property was $800.⁶ So perhaps, while the far guns boomed, the fortune of war for Joshua was the pay for his horse that set him on his path to prosperity.
¹ 1860 U.S. census, Itawamba, Mississippi, population schedule, Fulton, p. 286, Image 293, dwelling 1925, family 1925, Household of Joshwa [Joshua] Hood; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 Mar 2015); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll M653_583.
⁴ See https://www.fold3.com/image/64591659
⁶1870 U.S. census, Itawamba, Mississippi, population schedule, Township 9, p. 377B, Image 90, dwelling 124, family 124, Joshuaway [Joshua] Hood Household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 Mar 2015); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M593, roll M593_732.