The Picket is sharing readers' accounts of their ancestors who served or were affected by the Civil War. We encourage you to get involved by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is our first entry.
My great-great grandfather, Charles E. Gay Sr., was a 20-year-old law student in Columbus, Miss., when the war broke out. According to family tradition he opposed secession and a letter to his sister dated a month before Fort Sumter indicates he was hesitating to join the army because his sweetheart was against it. But records show he joined the 10th MS "Southern Avengers" just a few weeks after the letter. A written family history says was accompanied to war by a "bodyguard" (slave) named Brack from the family farm in nearby Oktibbeha County, Miss. It's unknown what became of Brack. C.E. Gay was assigned an artillery unit and promoted to sergeant, serving in the Mississippi battles of Corinth, Okolona and Jackson. In 1864 he was transferred to the 14th MS and assigned to Joe Johnston's army opposing Sherman in Georgia. He served in the Atlanta campaign from Resaca to Jonesboro - including Kennesaw Mountain, a few miles from his great-great grandson's home in Marietta, Ga. - then was transferred back to Mississippi where he was paroled in May 1865. C.E. Gay later became longtime clerk of court in his home county and lived into the 1920s. During WW1 he sent supplies to US troops and according to family tradition rarely, if ever, talked about his service in the Confederate army.
- Charles Gay V, Marietta, Ga.