In the first few days of December 1862 the Union Army was mired in the mud at Water Valley. The roads were virtually impassable, Otuckalofa Creek was running swift and nearly full, the wagon bridge was burned, the railroad trestle was damaged and most of the men had no tents.
The Union forces had come to this point in General Ulysses S. Grant’s Mississippi Central Railroad Campaign, the first overland push into Mississippi with the goal of capturing Vicksburg.
Grant’s army was stretched dangerously thin. His main supply base was at Holly Springs with his main army and infantry support in Oxford. Now his advance had pushed to Water Valley, stretching his army over fifty miles with huge gaps in between.
One hundred and fifty years ago on Dec. 5, 1862 Col. T. Lyle Dickey’s advance cavalry was ordered into line for another day’s pursuit of the retreating Rebels who were on step ahead. Hour by hour hundreds more poured into Coffeeville.
Just after 2 p.m. Dickey’s forces were suddenly under attack by Confederate artillery and infantry. Grant telegraphed Washington around 4 p.m. that his cavalry were still in pursuit of the retreating enemy. But, what he didn’t know was that his cavalry had been ambushed above Coffeeville and his last line of defense had just collapsed and his forces were being routed on the Brow of the Rise.
“At the Battle of Coffeeville the bullets rained about me like hail, cutting the twigs and bark from the trees on every hand.” – Fletcher Pomeroy, 7th Kansas Cavalry.
To read more about the battle, visit this website created by Don Sides: http://www.angelfire.com/ms2/grantshilohvicksburg/TheBattleofCoffeeville.html or search for Battle of Coffeeville.
• 5 years ago, Dec, 6, 2007 – Snooky and Mary Lou Williams were Grand Marshals of the annual Christmas Parade. Linda Shuffield with her brother, Charlie Shuffield, riding shotgun, drove them.
Bob Tyler was appointed interim director of the Yalobusha Economic Development District.
The Water Valley School District was one of 12 recipients recognized as part of the Mississippi School Boards Association’s Lighthouse School Leader Awards Program.
A tree lighting ceremony was held downtown at the Railroad Park Pavilion by the Town and Country Garden Club and the Chamber of Commerce.
The Dream Riders Motorcycle Club visited Reedy Acres bringing holiday cheer to the young residents.
Dr. Dragica “Dee” Milicevic told the Herald that she planned to continue her practice in Water Valley after the death of her husband, Dr. Bojan “Bo” Milicevic.
The Herald was filled to the brim with advertisement and letters to the editor both pro and con on the issue of legalizing beer. Even the words of William Faulkner were quoted on the subject.
• 10 years ago, Dec. 5, 2002 – The Community Band was pictured on the front page preparing for their Christmas Concert.
WVHS was to remain in Class 2A under the Mississippi High School Activities Association after their recent review of the 258 sanctioned schools.
Christine Fielder was named Outstanding 4-H Program Assistant of the Year during their annual conference at MSU.
The Yalobusha Sheriff’s Department received 508 complaints during the month of November and reported that 45 inmates passed through the jail.
• 20 years ago, Dec. 3, 1992 – Three county churches were burglarized the past Saturday night: Preston Missionary Baptist near Scobey, Spring Hill Baptist just off Hwy. 32 West and Jumpers Chapel Methodist just east of town. Taken from each were amplifiers, speakers and microphones.
Crip and Geannie Tyler were named Grand Marshals of the annual Christmas Parade.
Student Council officers from WVHS attended a workshop at Ole Miss including Kim Vaughn, treasurer; Heather Horan, vice-president; and Michelle Anthony, president. Junior High officers attending were Delita Hawkins, vice-president; Anngenette Chapman, treasurer; Lakesheya Joy, assistant secretary; Lief Tierce, secretary; Sasha Baker, president; and Advisor Paul Harris.
The Lady Devils went down, 75-66, to Oxford while the Blue Devils lost 79-52 to the Chargers.
National Guard member Jack Hughes was pictured undergoing annual weapons qualification training at Camp McCain under the direction of Sgt. Jody Burks.
• 30 years ago, Dec. 9, 1982 – The Lady Devils were victorious in the South Panola Tournament defeating both North and South Panola school teams.
Ann Ivy King, a native of Bruce, was appointed Librarian at the Blackmur Memorial Library.
Bill Taylor, a senior at WVHS, was named a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist.
A lengthy letter to the editor from Adelaide McLarty took to task the board of directors of the Blackmur Memorial Library for a number of perceived failings including the decision to no longer be a library system by eliminating their support of the Oakland library. McLarty, a long-time professional librarian, noted that the decision would eliminate outside funds from the state and federal governments. She called for the board’s resignation.
• 40 years ago, Dec. 14, 1972 – The Devilettes won their second game of the season, defeating East Tallahatchie. The boys missed their win by two point, falling 55-57.
The annual Christmas Cantata was scheduled at First Baptist Church for Dec. 17. On Dec. 20, the church would present the first singing Christmas tree featuring 23 girls dressed in green and tinsel.
County Agent J. D. Varner of Coffeeville was honored by being named state winner in the weed control contest.
Two new enlistees in the National Guard were pictured on the front page. John Craven and Mike Joyner were shown being sworn in by Capt. James Lipscomb, commanding officer. Looking on were Privates Joseph L. Hudson and Mike Magee.
Delta State offensive tackle Jerry Holt was mentioned by the Associated Press for their College Division All-American Team for 1972.
• 50 years ago, Dec. 6, 1962 – An automatic toaster and electric percolator were among the prizes being offered in the Christmas Lighting Contest sponsored by the Water Valley Electric Department.
New officials of the Local 643, A.C.W.A. were Elvis Ramsey, financial secretary; Marlene Moore, chairman; Amy Hollowell, shop steward; Annis Tate, executive board member; Faye Wilbourn, shop steward; Jesse Bingham, business agent; Dorothy True, executive board member; Guy Hillhouse, vice-president and John McNamee, president.
• 60 years ago, Dec. 4, 1952 – The “onrushing Water Valley Blue Devil quintet” defeated the Taylor five, 56-33, in basketball action. High scorers were John Crumby and J. C. Anthony. The team also went on to defeat Batesville, 60-36. The Lady Devils downed Enid, 39-27.
Problems with the bell at Jeff Davis School prompted the PTA to provide a new clock-bell system. Before the new system, the bell was rung from Mrs. Bailey’s English classroom. Student John True finished an assignment at the blackboard and leaned against the door, pushing it against the push-button operated bell. Order was eventually restored, according to Hazel Brown, news editor for the school paper. “But it was fun while it lasted.”
• 70 years ago, Dec. 3, 1942 – Selective Service turned its attention to the youngsters for the first time, the 18 and 19-year-old boys. The Herald reported that a long list was called for the preliminary physical examination.
There was a city election approaching, but there wasn’t any opposition to the list of Democratic candidates.
The “peanut man” was to be in Coffeeville Monday and every Monday afterward until the buying season was over. Farmers would be able to sell their crop at that time.
The local Red Cross had 400 kit bags cut out and ready to be picked-up to be sewn. The bags cost $1 each to be fitted out. One was given to each service man as they went aboard their transport to ship overseas.
A letter from the “boys from Water Valley” who landed in the 775th Tank Destroyer Battalion at Fort Bowie, Texas, was to let the local folks know that the 42 of them who left WV on Nov. 19 were well and happy. They wished their friends a happy Thanksgiving and urged them to “keep your chin up and remember Pearl Harbor.”
William Winter of Grenada was initiated into Alpha Phi Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa, national leadership fraternity at Ole Miss. The outstanding young man is the son of Senator W. A. Winter and the nephew of Mrs. Afton Smith of Water Valley.
Joe Willie Adams, Jr., splendid Yalobusha County young man, was missing in action, the Herald reported on Dec. 3, 1942. The bleak news came to his parents on Thanksgiving morning.
Twenty-five years old, Adams was a gunner’s mate on the USS Meredith, one of the ships sacrificed in the Soloman Islands navel victory. He had been serving since Dec. 1, 1936.
A former teacher, Miss Minnie Lovejoy, wrote that the message from the Navy Department cast gloom over the entire community. “The heart of the writer, who was intimately associated with little Joe as his teacher from early childhood, is filled with sadness.”
“Our hearts go out to the good parents as we realize their deep grief and anxiety and we pray that this message will be followed in the near future by better and happier news.”
But, that was not to be.