On March 16, 1863 the 3rd Iowa Cavalry marched into the small settlement of Mound Place in Northern Coahoma County. They were led by Major John Willock Noble who stationed his men at Hunt’s Mill. Hunt’s Mill was a saw mill at the center of this farming community. Even though the area was occupied territory, it was dangerous to the Federals and the people openly sided with Confederate partisans. Partisans were irregular cavalry units made up of men who would fight as regular soldiers and then return home as citizens. There were bands of partisans operating all over the South during the Civil War. The mill was operated by William and Thomas Hunt. William was a captain and Thomas a lieutenant with Hunt’s Rangers of Blythe’s Mississippi Battalion Cavalry. Noble sent his men out to check the various homes and upon investigation, arrested Thomas Barbee. Thomas was a local farmer who owned land near the mill and had a father and brother in the area. He eventually confessed to being a member of the partisans and was soon sent to the provost Marshall in Helena. Barbee admitted to being a member of Floyd’s partisan band and had participated in an attack on the 47th Indiana at Brown’s gin back in August. He said he fired two shots before running when the rest of the Yankees came to the rescue of their comrades. Thomas then admitted to another partisan act in January. After visiting Helena to obtain travel passes, he helped two Union soldiers desert. Once back in Mississippi, he turned the men over to Captain Floyd who sent them to Confederate authorities as prisoners.
John W. Noble, 3rd Iowa Cavalry
Major Noble continued his report on March 24,1863 in Helena about Thomas Barbee
On my arrival at Hunt’s Mill, I found this man, Thomas Barbee , with two brothers and a brother in law, residing with Old Man Barbee in the second plantation above me. The actions of these men excited my suspicions. I caused a search to be instituted on the premises which resulted in the discovery of one Mississippi Rifle, two Harper’s Ferry muskets, one rifle, one shotgun, and some ammunition buried two feet in the ground in the potato house. Also one revolver, several Bowie knives (home made) and gunpowder was hid behind the interior boarding of the house. Thomas is untruthful, dishonest, disloyal and has a strong tendency to carry on this cowardly guerrilla war.
(Union Citizens File, Page 1 of 3, 1863- District of Columbia)
Thomas Barbee was listed among Confederate prisoners confined in jail at Helena, Arkansas between March 22 and April 4, 1863. He was sent to the provost Marshall at Saint Louis. Barbee was listed as being captured at Hunt’s Mill on March 16, 1863. His age was 36; height – 5’1 feet; eyes – blue; hair – sandy; and complexion – fair. He remained at Saint Louis until June 20, 1863 when he was sent to City Point, Virginia for exchange. He completed the following set of questions before being exchanged.
Name – Thomas Barbee, Private, Captain Maxwell’s Company Mississippi Cavalry, captured March 16, 1863, enlisted Confederate service August 9, 1862, is a Southern sympathizer, and is willing to take the oath.
Statement of Thomas Barbee, a prisoner at St. Louis made the 14th day of May 1863.
My age is 36. I live in Coahoma County, Mississippi. I was born in Alabama. I was captured in Coahoma County, Mississippi on or about the 16th day of March, 1863 by Major Noble United States Volunteers. The cause of my arrest was I was a Confederate soldier. I was in arms against the United States and was a private in Captain Maxwell’s company, Blythe’s Battalion Mississippi Cavalry in Tunica County for 3 years or the war. When I was captured, I was first taken to Helena and remained there 12 days and was not examined there and was sent to St. Louis on the 8th day of April, 1863. I have took the oath of allegiance to the United States. Thomas Barbee
- How many times have you been in arms during the rebellion? once
- Commander? Captain Maxwell
- What battles or skirmishes? a slight skirmish about August 10,1862 in Coahoma County, Mississippi
- Were you armed? I was armed
- Have you furnished arms to the CSA? No sir, I never have.
- Do you want the Union restored? yes, I want the Union restored.
- Slaves? three
- Family? 3 children and wife
- Occupation? farming
- Have your relatives been involved with the Rebellion? I don’t know.
- Service? I was with Captain Maxwell for about two weeks in August 1862. I then went home because I was attending to my Father’s business and remained at home till I was captured.
After returning home, Thomas Barbee and his family attempted to stay out of the war. Nevertheless, he was drawn back into it in 1865. Captain William Forest, the brother of Nathan Bedford Forest, was in the Mississippi Delta looking for horses and mules. He and his men took some from Thomas and then traveled to Friars Point. Thomas went to get his property back, but was killed by Captain Forest. Forest claimed that Barbee was a Union man. He was buried on an Indian mound found at his family’s property. This would eventually become Barbee cemetery.