Thanks for the kind words. Wish I could help with MRB's ancestry, but he doesn't seem to be on the census in 1860 or 1850. The nearby Baines/Baynes families suggests a connection, especially with MRB claiming service with Co. "B", 37th Mississippi Regt., and we are certain that Richmond Baynes served in that company.
Since I don't have a personal investment in most soldiers, I'm free to point people in the right direction, wherever it happens to be. Sometimes I'm wrong. My earlier posts weren't intended to cast MRB in a bad light -- it's just a matter of basing an opinion on available evidence and experience with similar cases. Certain things about MRB's record bother me because I can't explain them easily, things like the five-week interval between the date of desertion and the date he took the oath of allegiance. As mentioned earlier, there are some issues that may simply remain mysteries
I'm pleased that my analogy using Alan J. Pettus made sense. After finding the record for Matthew R. Barnes, my next step was to try to identify someone by that name from Choctaw County, or someplace nearby. The man who took the oath of allegiance in Nashville identified himself as a Choctaw County resident, so I needed to look there (or thereabouts). It's not at all unusual to find two or more men of military age living in the United States, or even in the Southern states. It is unusual (but not unheard of) to find two men by the same name from the same county in the Civil War.
A man named Matthew R. Barnes from DeKalb County shouldn't be an issue. For future reference, this man joined Co. "A", 31st Alabama Regt., dying on July 2, 1863. Having accounted for him, we still need to explain MRB of the 54th Alabama Regt. It felt better to find the War Department clerk's note on the file jacket about MRB in the 4th Confederate Regt. A hundred years ago, he made the same connection that I did.
I am concerned about a man's honor, but I'm even more concerned about getting things right.
Hopefully someone on the Mississippi board can add something new and useful to the discussion.