The University Greys
Following South Carolina’s secession from the Union, Mississippi seceded on January 9, 1861. Fervor about the impending war grew, with most thinking it would be little more than a skirmish that would last no more than ninety days. (If only they had been right.) Young men across the South gathered in preparation and formed militia-type military units. Once Ft. Sumter was fired upon in April, newly-elected President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to serve as “the militia of the several States of the Union…in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed.” His actions only spurned more aggression, and Southerners felt they were left with no choice but to retaliate.
On May 4, 1861, male students attending the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), as well as many professors, joined the fight. Known as the University Greys, 135 young men enlisted in the Confederate Army as Company A of the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment. This was nearly all of the student body. In fact, only four students showed up for class the following fall, so the University closed for a time.
The University Greys fought in nearly every engagement of the Civil War, and participated in Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, where they sustained a 100% casualty rate, in that everyone was either killed or wounded. Following Gettysburg, what was left of the University Grays merged with Company G, the Lamar Rifles, and fought until the end of the war.
A special cemetery was set aside on campus for the fallen University Greys. Each grave was designated by a wooden marker. However, according to local legend, one day, a groundskeeper decided it would be easier to mow the grass if he removed all the markers. Unfortunately, once he was done with his chore, he couldn’t remember where the markers were supposed to go, so he stored them in a shed, where they were kept for years.
Although no one knows exactly where each soldier is buried, a large monument designates the sacred area and speaks of the sacrifices these admirable young men suffered. Every May, members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other historical groups gather to pay their respects for the University Greys by holding a special service in honor of them.
It’s a shame Ole Miss is consistent in forgetting how its students fought for what they deemed a worthy cause at the time. In recent years, the university has done away with its mascot, Colonel Reb, and has refused to fly the state flag. They have discussed removal of statues on campus as well as changing various street names honoring their brave warriors. Political correctness has taken precedence over historical remembrance. I certainly hope Ole Miss retains some of its amazing artwork, instead of caving in to political correctness and to those who wrongly deem all Confederate images as racist.
I’m a home-grown Southern, white male at 60 yrs age. My Grandfather, Father and brother (all SAE’s) attended Ole Miss. I graduated ‘Bama’ n ’85. I’m excruciatingly proud of the fact that over 1/2 dozen of my ancestors fought and perished for the Confederacy and our “Great Cause.” The world I now live in is one of complete pc horse shit. I seek a new revolution. After working hard for 8 yrs in Iraq and Afghanistan, I know what fighting for our reality really means. Pls join us. Cheers, Guy
Thank you so much for your comment, Mr. Guy, and thank you for your service. I couldn’t agree with you more. It is more than a shame that they are trying to erase our history. It’s a disgrace. Please keep fighting the good fight in defending our history and heritage.
I only hope the University Greys can one day again look down on their beloved campus and know their sacrifice has not been in vain.
As of today, however, their university descendants don’t deserve their legacy and have no pride in the heritage those brave boys left them and are even being taught that they shouldn’t. Disgraceful.
The University Greys deserve the greatest honor the South can bestow them.
Love never ending. Deo Vindice
Thank you so much for your comment, Mr. Stone. I can’t agree with you more. I was deeply moved and honored when we went to Ole Miss to celebrate the University Greys with my UDC ladies and my husband’s SCV camp. Although the headstones have long been missing, the soldiers are still buried there. I found it very moving. It’s tremendously sad that the students and faculty there want to erase the University’s history because they don’t agree with their motives. That was then, this is now. It isn’t our place to judge or condescend the ideals of people who lived during those times. I believe it is our responsibility to honor and respect them, and never forget.