Also called 56th Tennessee Infantry
Organized at Columbus, Kentucky, February 14, 1862; reorganized September 26, 1862; field consolidation with 46th Tennessee Infantry, January, 1863; merged into 4th Consolidated Tennessee Infantry, April, 1865; paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina May 1, 1865.
- Colonel-Alexander J. Brown, Thomas H. Baker (acting colonel)
- Lieutenant Colonels-William A. Jones, G. B. Black
- Majors-J. H. Hilsman, Thomas H. Baker, Joseph E. McDonald
- William A. Jones, Sol Jones, Co. “A”. Men from Benton County. Organized at Trenton, October 8, 1861
- Pritcher M. Melton, Co. “B”. Men from Benton County. Organized at Trenton, October 9, 1861
- Louis R. Clark, I. D. Bledsoe, Co. “C”. Men from Carroll County. Organized at Trenton, October 10, 1861
- G. B. Black, S. B. Jones, H. I. Furgerson, Co. “D”. Men from Gibson County. Organized at Trenton, September 1861
- John H. Howard, L. D. Paschal, Co. “E”. Men from Henderson Station, then Madison, now Chester County. Organized January 20, 1862
- B. H. Clark, Phelonas Green Milam, Co. “F”. Men from Henderson County. Organized at Trenton, October 3, 1861
- J. H. Hilsman, Joseph E. McDonald, Co. “G”. Men from Gibson County. Organized at Trenton, October 25, 1861
- Alfred Bryant, W. S. Adams, Co. “H”. Men from Carroll County. Organized at Trenton, October 19, 1861
All of the above companies except Company “E” had been organized in November 1861, into Jones’ West Tennessee Battalion, with William A. Jones as lieutenant colonel, and I. H. Hilsman as major. To these, Company “E” and two other Companies were added when the regiment was organized. One of the other companies was R. P. Ford’s Company. Organized at Jackson, Madison County, on March 10, 1862. This company reorganized under other officers on May 5, 1862 and became Co. “L”, 6th Tennessee Infantry Regiment. Nothing is known of the other company.
All of the companies except “I” and “K” were surrendered at Island Number 10 on April 8, 1862. Company reports state that “I” and “K” were on detached service at the time, and were not surrendered with the rest of the regiment. The information as to the origin of the companies comes pardy from the individual service records of the men, and is not complete. Company reports also state that the regiment was organized on order of General Leonidas Polk, who transferred the seven companies of the West Tennessee Battalion to the new organization, and assigned to it the other three companies.
At the reorganization Colonel Brown was reelected; Captain G. B. Black was elected lieutenant colonel, and Captain Thomas H. Baker major. Major Baker served as acting colonel during the later part of 1863, but his appointment was never confirmed. Captain J. E. McDonald was later elected major.
Company reports state the regiment remained at Columbus, Kentucky, until March 1862, when it was ordered to Island Number 10, where it remained during the severe bombardment until its surrender by General Mackall on April 8, 1862. On March 17, 1862, Major General J. P McCown reported he left at Madrid Bend Stewart’s Battery, Hudson’s and Wheeler’s Cavalry, Terry’s Arkansas Battalion, the 1st Alabama-Mississippi-Tennessee, 40th, 46th, 55th Tennessee, 11th, 12th Arkansas, and 1st Alabama Infantry Regiments. Here began an association with the 46th Tennessee which was to last throughout the war. Also on March 17, Brigadier General I. Trudeau, commanding the Heavy Artillery, placed Brown’s Regiment on the cremaillere parapet, in support of Captain Rucker’s Battery. He reported some men from Brown’s Regiment had relieved Captain Rucker’s exhausted men, and served the guns bravely, manfully and intelligently. They had done good and efficient service on that day.”
On March 21, the 55th reported 327 present for duty, 402 present. When Brigadier General W. W. Mackall arrived on April 1st he reported “Colonel Brown’s 55th Tennessee but few arms. Those in the regiment, different kinds, but pretty good. The colonel says 50 are wanted.”
As previously stated, eight companies of the regiment were surrendered April 8, 1862. They were released on parole at Vicksburg September 20, 1862 and declared exchanged November 10, 1862. In the meantime, the regirnent had reorganized at Jackson, Mississippi, September 26, 1862. From October, 1862 to January, 1863, the regiment was temporarily consolidated with the 49th Tennessee and 7th Texas to form a field unit known as Bailey’s Consolidated Regiment. It was ordered to report for duty at Meridian, Mississippi; then sent to Port Hudson, Louisiana, where it was placed in Brigadier General Samuel Maxey’s Brigade, with Colonel James E. Bailey, of the 49th, in command of Bailey’s Consolidated Regiment. It remained in this brigade, first under General Maxey, later under Brigadier General W. A. Quarles, until the end of the war. In January, 1863, the 46th and 55th were consolidated into one field unit, although separate muster rolls were maintained. From this time on the 46th/55th was reported as one unit. See the history of the 46th Regiment for the further history of the unit. The only exception to this statement is that on May 1, 1863, at Port Hudson, Louisiana an order read “4th Louisiana, 55th Tennessee and Fenner’s Battery will proceed to William’s Bridge on special service with as little delay as practicable.” Whether the 46th was included by implication in this move is not certain, but from March 31, 1863 through May 30 the 46th/55th was reported as commanded by Colonel A. I. Brown, of the 55th; June 21 and August 20, by Lieutenant Colonel G. B. Black of the 55th; December 14, 1863 by Colonel Robert A. Owens, of the 46th; December 31, by Lieutenant Colonel J. D. Wilson, of the 46th; April 30, 1864 through July 31, by Colonel Robert A. Owens; August 31 and September 20, 1864 by Lieutenant Colonel G. B. Black.
Two other items are of interest during this period. On July 10, 1863 a list of organizations paroled at Port Hudson, Louisiana, listed an Improvised Tennessee Battalion, commanded by Captain Whiteside, composed of men from the 42nd/48th/49th/53rd/ and 55th Tennessee Regiments.
On February 15, 1864, the Congress of the Confederacy passed a resolution of thanks to the 46th/55th “for patriotism displayed in unanimously re-enlisting for the war.”
On December 10, 1864 the 42nd/46th/ 49th/53rd/55th Tennessee Regiment was reported as one unit under Captain Austin M. Duncan. On April 9, 1865, in North Carolina, Quarles’ Brigade was reported as commanded by Captain Sol Jones, of the 55th; and the 42nd/46th/48th/49th/53rd/55th Tennessee as one unit in that brigade under Captain Joseph Love.
This unit history was extracted from Tennesseans in the Civil War, Vol 1. Copyrighted 1964 by the Civil War Centennial Commission of Tennessee and is published here with their permission. This history may not be republished for any reason without the written permission of the copyright owner.