A Civil War Biography

Arthur Exum Reynolds

Little is known of Reynolds prior to the war. He was a lawyer practicing in Jacinto, Mississippi when selected to represent Tishomingo County as a delegate to the Mississippi Secession Convention. Although he voted against the Ordinance of Secession, Reynolds met with Jefferson Davis in the summer of 1861 and requested the authority to raise a regiment. Reynolds was given permission with the understanding that he would be responsible for equipping the regiment. This he did with the support of Francis Marion Boone, a prominent planter.

The regiment was designated as the 26th Mississippi. Reynolds was unanimously elected colonel on 10 September 1861 with Boone as lieutenant colonel and second in command. The 26th is said to be the first Mississippi regiment to leave the state to take part in the war. Reynolds and the 26th reported to Albert Sidney Johnston at Bowling Green, Kentucky on 28 December 1861 and were sent to Fort Donelson arriving there on 13 February 1862. While leading the 26th forward against the Union right Reynolds' horse was shot from under him. Although Reynolds was not seriously injured command of the 26th fell to Boone. Reynolds was unable to keep up with the regiment due to his size. He weighed over three hundred pounds at the time. The 26th was surrendered along with what remained of the Fort Donelson garrison on 16 February 1862.

Reynolds was confined at Camp Chase and Johnson's Island, Ohio, for six months before being exchanged in August 1862. Reynolds commanded the 26th during the 1863 campaign in Mississippi. He commanded a combined force of the 26th and the 15th Mississippi sent 1 May 1863 to reinforce Grand Gulf, Mississippi which Grant was threatening from Louisiana. The Union advance was checked long enough for the Confederate forces to escape and rejoin the main army of John C. Pemberton. The 26th became part of Lloyd Tilghman's brigade and when Tilghman was killed at Champion's Hill on 16 May 1863 command of the brigade fell to Reynolds. Cut off from the main Confederate forces Reynolds marched his brigade to Jackson, Mississippi and joined the forces under Joseph E. Johnston. Reynolds commanded the brigade during the 9-16 July 1863 defense of Jackson.

That August he was made chief of Mississippi's conscript bureau and remained in that position until February 1864 when called to meet William T. Sherman's threat against Meridian, Mississippi. In late March 1864 Reynolds, along with the 26th, was ordered to Virginia and joined Joseph R. Davis's Mississippi brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia. Reynolds commanded the 26th at the Wilderness, Tully's Mill, Spotsylvania Courthouse, Hanover Junction, Cold Harbor, Gaines' Mill, and Weldon Railroad where on 19 August 1864 he was wounded. No further record of Reynold's service could be found. The 26th virtually ceased to exist following the breakthrough of the Petersburg lines on 2 April 1865. Only twelve members of the 26th were surrendered at Appomattox. Reynolds was not among those.

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