Engagement at Brown’s Gin

On August 11, 1862 a brief but deadly battle took place on the line between Tunica and Coahoma counties in Northwest Mississippi.  Company A of the 47th Indiana Infantry consisting of forty five men and thirteen cavalry were attacked by an unknown number of Confederates at Brown’s Gin. The Union soldiers were under the command of Captain Albert Moorhous and Lieutenant Hiram Moorhous.  The brothers and their men were sent out on the afternoon of the 11th from Helena.  After a quick boat ride across the Mississippi River, they landed and marched about twelve miles southeast of Helena to the plantation owned by Captain Issac N. Brown.  Using a slave from one of the plantations nearby, they finally managed to find the Brown place about 9 o’clock. Once there Captain Moorhous deployed his cavalry on picket duty to look out for the enemy.  The Northerners found cotton hidden in two places and more stored at the gin.  Since it was too late to move the cotton,  Captain Moorhous divided his men up into three posts.

47th Indiana Infantry  Company A.

47th company a

The men were ordered to sleep with their cartridge boxes on and guns by their sides.  Lieutenant Moorhous was left in charge at one post and the captain divided the other two under his command.  The cavalry took their turn on picket duty first, the infantry then, and the cavalry going back at about 3 o’clock in the morning.

Unknown to any of the Union men, a group of Confederates had come together to attack them at the gin.  These men were led by Captains William J. Floyd and William L. Maxwell of the 2nd Mississippi Partisans.  Although divided into companies, this was a loose organization made up of local residents.  One of these was from Mound Place and his name was Thomas Barbee. According to Captain Brown, there were at least three of these companies operating around the Yazoo Pass in Northern Coahoma county in 1862.  They came together in southern Tuncia county that night and moved to surround the camp where Lieutenant Moorhous was in charge.

Lieutenant Moorhous had 21 members of Company A with him along with 12 cavalry.  The dozing cavalry were on guard and his infantry were fast asleep on the cotton bales as the rebels sneaked up and surrounded the camp.  Armed with double barrel shotguns and hunting rifles, they waited for the signal to attack.  Suddenly a single shot rang out and the partisans rushed in firing.  Privates Elijah Thrailkill and Issac Johnson were instantly killed.  John W. Higgins and Thomas Rowney were mortally wounded.  Smith Johnson received two balls in his leg.  Allen Miller was wounded in his arm.  Michael Hodgson was shot in the neck.  Issac Hodgson was also wounded.  Smith Ralston was hit by bullets in the thigh and shoulder blade.  Samuel Tote was wounded in the thigh. John Thomas and Jonas Ingle were also slightly wounded.  Charles Morgan was taken prisoner. Lieutenant Moorhous was slightly wounded and captured.  All of this took place in about three minutes according to Captain Moorhous, who rushed to the defense of his surrounded men with the rest of his command.  As the remaining members of the 47th attacked, the Mississippi Partisans quickly withdrew.  They had suffered only one wounded man.

References:

Williamson, David. “The 47th Indiana Volunteer Infantry” McFarland. 2012.

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