442 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI was seething with military ardor, as students abandoned the pretense of attending classes to organize, drill, and march. Their impassioned leader was a nineteen-year-old law student, William B. Lowry, scion of a wealthy Kentucky family who had arrived at the university with a slave servant, two horses, bird dogs, and fowling pieces. Lowry, who had briefly attended a military academy, was elected captain of the University Greys. Initially they drilled in civilian clothes with broom handles over their shoulders. Since many were sons of wealthy planters, they equipped themselves with uniforms, weapons, and ammunition. Of the original seventy-five recruits, forty-two were students of the university. In a letter to Governor John J. Pettus, First Lieutenant Calvin McCalebb wrote, “There are 50 in the company now, as enthusiastic as those who love freedom should be. We are willing to buy our own uniforms, and everything else that is necessary. Some have bought uniforms, swords, etc., and have gone to great expense in preparing ourselves for the field.” Chancellor Barnard, alarmed at the emptying of his campus, wrote to Governor Pettus urging him to revoke Lowry’s commission and not to accept the company into service. Barnard even wrote to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, pleading with him to endorse his petition. Davis agreed that “enrolling our young men in the military is like grinding the seed corn of the Republic,” but Pettus refused the request. By late April 1861, the Greys were accepted into state service. By May only five students were left at the university. On May 1, the Lamar Rifles joined the University Greys boarding the Mississippi Central for Corinth, Confederate service, and hopes of glory. Lafayette County would furnish 2,200 men for the war. When classes began in the fall, only four students showed up. In October, Barnard and most of the faculty resigned, with Barnard traveling north with passes from Pettus and Davis, vowing never to return. The Board of Trustees informed the legislature the university would be closed for the duration of the war. The flag presentation to the new volunteer companies was a popular and highly symbolic public ceremony. The organizers sent out invitations to the Jeff Davis Rifles and the Home Guards of Holly Springs. On March 12, the Lamar Rifles and the Lafayette Guards formed ranks at the courthouse square and marched to the depot with drums and fifes playing. The men drew up in ordered ranks to receive their guests. As the train pulled into the station, the companies fired a salute in their honor. The assembled crowd, half the population of Oxford, welcomed them with loud huzzahs and shouts. One observer asserted that “the gay plumage, the beautiful uniforms, and the enlivening music presented a scene more animated than had ever been witnessed since this was a town.” The assembled military companies put on a display of close-order drill, going through “evolutions” around the square. The visitors enjoyed a supper cooked by local women at the University Hotel. The units then marched to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, forming ranks in front. Hours before the ceremony, the church was crowded to overflowing. Captain Francis M. Green of the Lamar Rifles escorted Miss Sallie Wiley, daughter of wealthy planter Yancey Wiley and niece of Jacob Thompson, a leading planter and politician who had served as Secretary of the Interior. She was accompanied by six young ladies, all dressed in snowy white, each with a sash embroidered with a state of the Confederacy. The banner, presented by the “Ladies of Oxford,” was made of white silk with a magnolia tree, a lone bright star on a blue sky, and a spread eagle clutching a cotton plant and a streamer on which was printed “Lamar Rifles, Always Ready” with seven stars displayed above. The assembly broke out into loud applause as the banner unfurled. Casualties of War After the trainloads of young soldiers left the depot and its cheering crowds, a deceptive calm settled on the region. Almost exactly a year after the martial enthusiasm of April 1861, the Battle of Shiloh would shatter the illusions of a short and relatively bloodless war. Just north of the Mississippi border near the Tennessee River, Shiloh was the first great bloodbath of the Civil War. With more than 20,000 killed and wounded on both sides, more soldiers were casualties than in all the combat in all the previous American wars. Preparations for transporting and caring for the wounded at Shiloh were woefully inadequate. A few months earlier, Governor Pettus had authorized a military hospital on the University of Mississippi campus for a capacity of 1,000 patients. On the eve of the battle, the campus facility already had 550 sick and wounded soldiers as patients. Casualties started arriving in early The armies of young volunteers who would do the vast bulk of the marching, fighting, and dying were organized from the ground up.