The 3rd Louisiana Infantry was stationed at Snyder’s Mills (Snyder’s Bluff) above Vicksburg on the Yazoo River in early May 1863. Defeat of the Confederate army at Baker’s Creek (Champion Hill) on 16 MAY 1863 led to a precipitous retreat towards the Big Black River. A Confederate rear-guard was overwhelmed on 17 MAY 1863 at Big Black Bridge and the scramble to get into the defenses of Vicksburg continued. Federal pursuit followed to the outskirts of Vicksburg on May 18th.
According to Will Tunnard (“A Southern Record”), the 3rd Louisiana received orders early on the morning of May 17th to withdraw from their entrenched position at Snyder's Bluff (he called it Snyder's Mills) into Vicksburg. They made a hurried, but orderly withdrawal, leaving on the evening of May 17th and arriving the next morning, May 18th. They were were immediately placed in the entrenchments.
May 18th is generally regarded as the first day of the final siege of Vicksburg.
The Compiled Military Service Records show that Privates David M. Tannehill and William N. Tannehill were captured at Snyder’s Bluff on 19 MAY 1863 and sent north with some 4,400 other Confederate POWs. William died at Fort Delaware on 16 AUG 1863 of rubeola (measles). David was sent from Fort Delaware to Point Lookout in September 1863 and died there on 7 MAR 1864 of “ascites” which was a form of dropsy, or an accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity of the abdomen.
The CMSR contains no Confederate enrollment data for either of these men. Each entire file consists of Federal POW transfer and hospital records documenting their capture and death. A letter written by the United States Adjutant General in 1951 concerning David states that, as of that date, “no record has been found of the date and place of his entry into service.”
According to family biographer Marie Pace Belgard, David was 39 years of age when he died and William was 18 years of age when he died. David and William were father and son and residents of Winn Parish, Louisiana. The Confederate Conscription Act was modified in September 1862 requiring white male residents ages 18 to 45 to enroll in Confederate service. David was a property owner of means and may have had a temporary exemption as an overseer under the September 1862 modifications.
Company C, 3rd Louisiana Infantry was the first company of Winn Parish volunteers to enroll in Confederate service in the spring of 1861. It has been my conclusion that David and William went to Vicksburg in the late spring of 1863 soon after William turned 18 years of age with the intention of enrolling in Company C. Whether they enrolled or not will remain a question open to speculation until someone unearths an original Company C muster roll covering March & April 1863, or May & June 1863 showing their names.
I examined several 3rd Louisiana CMSR files including Sergeant Will Tunnard’s (Company B) and Captain N. M. Middlebrooks' (Company C). The last muster roll in both of these files prior to the surrender on July 4th covered the muster period January & February 1863. Subsequent muster rolls were likely destroyed prior to the surrender and paroling of the Vicksburg garrison. Since neither David or William were carded from the January & February 1863 Company C muster roll, one must conclude that they arrived in the Vicksburg area in March 1863 or even later.
The evacuation of Snyder’s Bluff by the 3rd Louisiana was a hurried, but orderly process. David and William were left behind. All subsequent POW transfer records give their date of capture as 20 MAY 1863, but the very first transfer card (Snyder’s Bluff to Memphis) says they were captured on 19 MAY 1863 which would make sense given the Confederate evacuation on May 17th/18th. Perhaps William was already suffering from measles and David stayed behind to care for him. William died of measles at Fort Delaware in August 1863. Measles was a camp disease that affected new recruits and was not particularly common among the veterans thereafter. This would seem to reinforce my tentative conclusion that William was relatively new to army life.
As a Winn Parish native and member of the Fort Delaware Society, I am very much interested in the Tannehill family story. There are three soldiers from the 3rd Louisiana Infantry, including William, buried in Finns Point National Cemetery.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this Tannehill family tragedy.