448 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI in the company. Of this number, fifty-six were students and twenty-nine died in battle or succumbed to wounds. Not a single Grey ever returned to the university. For generations of white Mississippians, but most poignantly students and alumni of the university, the Greys represented the best of the youthful valor of the “Lost Cause.” William Faulkner paid his own tribute to the Greys in his novel Intruder in the Dust. “The brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out.” Pickett himself, with his long oiled ringlets, hat in one hand and sword in the other, is awaiting the orders to advance. “It’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet.” The Last Days of the War By the second year of the war, North Mississippi degenerated into a contested border region with constant raids by both Confederate and Union forces. Partisan bands with uncertain loyalties used the chaos to loot and burn. Holly Springs changed hands over fifty times during the conflict. The most effective leader of the rebel raiders was Nathan Bedford Forrest, the “Wizard of the Saddle.” William T. Sherman proclaimed that there would never be peace in the region until “that Devil Forrest” was dead. Born into an impoverished frontier family, Forrestmoved to Hernando as a young man to go into “mercantile pursuits” with an uncle, dealt horses and prospered, being and was elected constable. In 1845, his uncle was killed in a feud. Forrest shot and killed two of his uncle’s killers and severely knifed two others. Forrest moved to Memphis, where by his driving energy he became one of the South’s leading slave traders and immensely wealthy. Forrest invested in plantations and slaves throughout North Mississippi. When the war broke out, he enlisted as a private. Astonished that so influential a man would serve as a common soldier, the governor of Tennessee authorized him to raise a regiment using his own money.An untaught military genius, Forrest started the war as a private and ended it as a lieutenant general. InApril 1864, Forrest’s command overran the Union outpost at Fort Pillow on the Mississippi River. Accounts accused the rebels of massacringAfricanAmerican troops as they tried to surrender. In June, Forrest won his greatest victory at Brice’s Crossroads, decisively defeating a superior Union force near Guntown, Mississippi. Forrest’s successes against the Yankees set the background to the notorious burning of Oxford inAugust 1864. A Union force of 16,000 men under General Andrew Jackson “Whiskey” Smith marched from La Grange, The University Greys Upon their arrival in Corinth, the University Greys became Company A and the Lamar Rifles Company G in the Eleventh Mississippi. The unit was sent to Lynchburg, Virginia, to join the force that would become the Army of Northern Virginia. The regiment would serve bravely in many of the army’s most renowned battles, including the Seven Days Battles, Second Manassas, and Sharpsburg. The University Greys gained their greatest glory and their greatest woe at the “High Water Mark of the Confederacy,” Pickett’s Charge on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Robert E. Lee, after assaulting the Union flanks the second day, ordered 15,000 men in a frontal assault over three-quarters of a mile of open ground against the Yankee center. Confederate artillery launched a massive bombardment to soften up the Union lines. One of the most moving accounts of the Greys was the death of Jeremiah Sanders Gage, an 1860 graduate of the University of Mississippi literary department. As the unit waited in the woods just behind the rebel guns, Gage was hit by a shell that nearly tore away his left arm and ripped open his lower abdomen, carrying away most of his bladder, intestines, and pelvis. Just before given a last dose of concentrated opium, he wrote a final letter to his mother, smeared with his blood, asking her to bear his loss as best she could: “Remember I am true to my country and my greatest regret at dying is that she is not free.” As the rebel brigades emerged from the woods, they briefly formed into perfect parade ground ranks as they marched forward. As they advanced, their ranks were shredded with artillery fire. When the Greys reached musket range, Union troops behind a stone wall in four lines rose up and poured volleys into the thinned ranks. In her history of the Greys, Maud Morrow Brown claimed they penetrated the Union lines farther than any other rebel troops, an honor claimed by many others for years after the war. What is known is that out of the thirty-one soldiers of Company A, Eleventh Mississippi, fourteen were killed and seventeen were wounded, effectively destroying the University Greys. Throughout the conflict, 148 men served As the rebel brigades emerged from the woods, they briefly formed into perfect parade ground ranks as they marched forward.