Ceremony Honors Last Confederate Veteran of Hinds County

By Rebecca Blackwell Drake

The Madison Artillery, Moody's Battery of Tallulah, Louisiana salutes William Massengill Granberry, the last Confederate soldier to die in Hinds County.

On May 15, 2004, William Massengill Granberry, whose death in 1942 marked him as the last Confederate soldier in Hinds County, was honored once again - this time with a memorial ceremony praising his service in the Confederate army. The highlight of the event was the unveiling of a Confederate headstone ordered by T. K. Saul, Camp Commander of the Mississippi College Rifles, Sons of Confederate Veterans. Commander Saul also organized the event.

The guest speaker for the ceremony was Grady Howell, popular Civil War author and historian. Re-enactors assisting in the military ceremony were: Madison Artillery, Moody's Battery from Tallulah, La.; 3rd Co. Washington Artillery; Lowry Rifles & Washington Artillery; Lowrey Rifles, Co. E., 46th Miss. Infantry; and Stanford's Battery. Jerry McWilliams, present owner of William Massengill Granberry's antebellum home at Midway, unveiled the newly erected Confederate headstone while Henry Dennis Granbury III laid the wreath. Family members present to receive the presentation of Confederate flags were: Mary Nell Taylor, Helen O'Keefe, and Henry Dennis Granbury III, the great-grandchildren of William Massengill Granberry.

William M. Granberry enlisted as a private in Co. A., Withers Regiment, 1st Mississippi Artillery, on July 31, 1862. The enlistment record described Granberry as 18 years old, 5' 5" in height, fair complexion, and gray eyes. Pvt. Granberry served under Captain Samuel J. Ridley and fought in the Battle of Champion Hill on May 16, 1863. During the battle, Captain Ridley was killed while single-handedly firing his cannon, an act that later won him the Confederate Medal of Honor. After the defeat at the Battle of Champion Hill, the survivors of the 1st Mississippi Artillery rushed to defend Vicksburg. Pvt. Granberry stood in the line of defenders.

After the siege ended with the fall of Vicksburg, Granberry and other Confederate prisoners were sent to parole camps at Enterprise, Mississippi, and Demopolis, Alabama. The company reorganized and William Ratliff was elected captain. Once again, the men returned to duty bearing their beloved flag that had been presented to them by the ladies of Jackson in 1862. William Granberry and William Ratliff would follow the flag throughout the remainder of the war until the final surrender in 1865. The flag of the 1st Mississippi Artillery now hangs in the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Receiving the Confederate flags draped in honor of William Massengill Granberry were his great-grandchildren (left to right) Helen O'Keefe of Gulfport, Henry Dennis Granberry of Nashville, and Marry Neil Taylor of Richland.

In 1865, as the veterans of the 1st Mississippi Light Artillery sadly furled their flag, they listened to the Final Order affectionately given to them by Colonel William Percy: "Go home and make as fine and loyal a citizen of the United States as you have a soldier in the Confederacy." Granberry returned home and adhered to the Final Order to the best of his ability. He attended business college in New Orleans, then returned to Midway and became a successful operator of a cotton gin in the community. In 1901, after the death of his wife, he moved to Terry and became a member of the firm of Granberry Bros. & Company.

William Massengill Granberry passed away on March 15, 1942, at the age of 97. The funeral was held at the Terry Baptist church with interment in the Terry Cemetery. Rev. R. L. Wallace of Raymond, a former pastor and close friend of the deceased, conducted the service. Beautiful flowers filled the auditorium around the casket. Among the floral offerings was a bouquet of homegrown blossoms from the garden of Miss Mary Ratliff of Raymond, daughter of Granberry's former commander, Capt. William Ratliff. The Jackson Daily News publicized Granberry's passing stating, "There is no longer a thin gray line in Hinds County. It has wholly vanished."

William M. Granberry and other Confederate soldiers who fought for the Southern Cause will always be remembered for their valor. Perhaps William Forman Dunbar, owner of Wakefield Plantation in Adams County, said it best when he wrote a loving tribute to friends who fought and died in the war: "O ye, in silent comradeship asleep, in the long bivouac of the martyred dead, Ye are not yet forgotten - nor can be while in this fair magnolia land there blooms a fragrant flower with which to deck your grave."

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