CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS MELTON
1834 - 1888


Christopher Columbus Melton (he went by "Columbus") was born on December 15, 1834, to John and Harriet Melton in Perry County, Alabama. In 1850 he was 14 years-old and living with his father, John Melton (age 47), his older sister (or step-mother?), Sarah Melton (age 24), and his younger brother, Henry Melton (age 12) in W.C River (West Cahaba River), Bibb County, Alabama.

Click here to view the 1850 U.S. Federal Census

Columbus married Nancy Pauline Mitchell on November 15, 1852, in Bibb County, Alabama (Alabama Marriage Collection, 1800-1969). In 1853 they had a son, John Melton, who was born in Alabama – most likely Bibb County, Alabama. Sometime between 1853 and 1855 they moved to Mississippi. In 1855 they had another son, Joseph B. Melton, who was born in Mississippi – most likely Lauderdale County, Mississippi. Columbus and Nancy named their first son (John) after Columbus's father and their second son (Joseph) after Nancy's father. In 1860 they were living near Chunkeyville in southwest Lauderdale County, Mississippi.

Click here to view the 1860 U.S. Federal Census

The town of Chunkeyville no longer exists. It was located in southwest Lauderdale County, just inside the county line from Newton County, southeast of present day Chunky, Newton County, Mississippi.

Click here to view the location of Chunkeyville on a 1857 map of Mississippi

Perhaps a clue as to why Columbus and Nancy moved to Mississippi can be found on the 1860 census. The next two households after Columbus and Nancy are those of an E. Fikes and an M. Fikes. The Fikes' and Melton's were very close families in Alabama. Columbus's aunt, Mary Melton (his father's sister), had married Jesse Fikes in 1830 in Perry County, Alabama.

In 1862, while still living in southwest Lauderdale County, Columbus and several of his neighbors traveled to Enterprise, Clarke County, Mississippi, and enlisted in Captain William W. Weir’s company of Mississippi Volunteers. This company was called the “McLain Rifles”, named after the man who would eventually be elected as their regimental commander, Robert McLain. On March 8, 1862, the company was mustered in and tendered for service to the Governor of Mississippi.

Click here to view the front of the original company Muster Roll
Click here to view the back of the original company Muster Roll

The Mclain Rifles were combined with other independent companies of volunteers to form the 37th Mississippi Infantry Regiment and became Company B, 37th Mississippi Infantry Regiment. The 37th Mississippi Infantry Regiment was organized during the spring of 1862 with men recruited in the counties of Clarke, Lowndes, Greene, De Soto, Jasper, and Claiborne, Mississippi. The vast majority of these men were subsistence farmers, many of whom enlisted for the bounty money that was being paid for enlisting. The regiment was officially formed on April 29, 1862.

Click here to view the regimental flag for the 37th Mississippi Infantry Regiment

In May and June of 1862 the regiment trained and equipped at Camp Whitfield, which was about 1.5 miles east of Columbus, Mississippi. In July and August of 1862 the regiment moved to Saltillo, Mississippi, to continue their training. Having lived most of their lives on isolated farms, this was the first time many of these men were ever brought into contact with large bodies of people. As a result, many of the men contracted communicable diseases, such as measles, with large numbers of them dying. Columbus was listed as "Sick in Camp" on his company muster roll for May-June 1862

Click here to view Columbus's muster roll card for May-June 1862

On September 19, 1862, the regiment participated in the Battle of Iuka, Mississippi. Facing superior numbers, the Confederate forces retreated from Iuka on September 20, 1862. Joining other forces, the Confederates marched on Corinth, Mississippi, where the Battle of Corinth, Mississippi, took place on October 3 and 4, 1862. On the second day of battle, Columbus was wounded and taken prisoner. Within 10 days Columbus was paroled back to the Confederacy.

Click here to view Columbus's muster roll card for September-October 1862
Click here to view Columbus's parole card

The process of parole involved returning captured soldiers to their respective governments. While a soldier was on "parole" they could not take up arms nor perform any like functions of a soldier until properly "exchanged". The process of exchange involved exchanging a prisoner for one of equal rank. So, at some point, Columbus was "exchanged" for a Federal private.

After being paroled in October 1862, Columbus was placed in a hospital in Enterprise, Mississippi. Although the exact nature of his wounds is not known, we do know that they kept him as a patient in the hospital for 8 months - through May of 1863. In June of 1863 Columbus was detailed as a nurse in the hospital in Enterprise. Male nurses were the rule rather than the exception for these times.

Click here to view Columbus's muster roll card for January-February 1863
Click here to view Columbus's hospital muster card for February 1863
Click here to view Columbus's hospital muster card for June 1863

By March of 1863, Columbus must have recovered from his wounds enough to travel outside of the hospital, because on March 9, 1863, Columbus appeared before a Justice of the Peace in Enterprise to swear to an affadavit. The Carr family were neighbors of Columbus and Nancy in Lauderdale County. Robert M. Carr was stationed with Columbus in Company B. Robert passed away in Columbus, Mississippi, on May 27, 1862, most likely from disease. The affadavit was in support of Robert's mother as his sole-surviving heir and thus entitled to any arrears in pay and allowances due Robert. Columbus signed the affadavit with an "X". A transcript of the affadavit appears below:

The State of Mississippi
Clark County

On this 9th day of March, AD 1863, before the subscriber, one of the justices of the
peace in the said county and state, personally appeared Margaret Carr and made oath
on the Holy Evangelist of Almighty God, that she is the mother of Robert M. Carr,
deceased, late a private of Capt. W.W. Weir's company B, 37th Regiment Mississippi
Volunteers, that the father of said Robert M. Carr is also dead, that said deceased
was unmarried and left no heirs but herself (mother), that therefore she is entitled
to the arrears of pay and allowances that may be found due said deceased from the
Confederate States of America. And at the same time also appeared Isaac Suttle and
Columbus Melton and made oath as aforesaid, that the facts as sworn to by the
claimant are true, and that they are not interested therein.

Sworn to and subscribed
before me this 9th
day of March AD 1863
Chas. F. Mayerhoff, JPeace

Margaret Carr (signed with an "X her mark")
Isaac G. Suttle (signed his name)
Columbus Melton (signed with an "X his mark")

The State of Mississippi
Clark County

I, Charles F. Mayerhoff, justice of the peace in afore said county, do hereby
certify that I am well and personally acquainted with Isaac Suttle and
Columbus Melton and know them to be men of truth and credibility. Given under
my hand and seal this 9th day of March, AD 1863.

Chas. F. Mayerhoff, JPeace

Click here to view the original affadavit

The family of Alexander McDonald were next-door neighbors to Columbus and Nancy, and Alexander enlisted in the McLain Rifles at the same time Columbus enlisted. Alexander was captured at Coffeeville, Mississippi, on December 2, 1862. He was sent to the prison camp in Alton, Illinois, where he died from gangrene on January 15, 1863. On November 2, 1863, Columbus's wife, Nancy, appeared before a Justice of the Peace in Enterprise to swear to an affadavit in support of Alexanders's wife as his surviving heir and thus entitled to any arrears in pay and allowances due Alexander. Nancy signed the affadavit with an "X". A transcript of the affadavit appears below:

The State of Mississippi
Clark County

On this 2nd day of November, AD 1863, before the subscriber, one of the justices of the
peace in the said county and state, personally appeared Elizabeth McDonald and made oath
on the Holy Evangelist of Almighty God, that she is the wife of Alexander McDonald,
deceased, late a private of Capt. Hopkins's company B, 37th Regiment Mississippi
Volunteers, and that she is therefore entitled to the arrears of pay and allowances
that may be found due said deceased from the Confederate States of America.
And at the same time also appeared Nancy P. Melton and Wade H. Crawford and
made oath as aforesaid, that the facts as sworn to by the claimant are true, and
that they are not interested therein.

Sworn to and subscribed
before me this day aforesaid
Chas. F. Mayerhoff, JPeace

E.F. McDonald (signed with an "X her mark")
Nancy P. Melton (signed with an "X her mark")
Wade H. Crawford (signed his name)

The State of Mississippi
Clark County

I, Charles F. Mayerhoff, justice of the peace in afore said county, do hereby
certify that I am well and personally acquainted with Nancy P. Melton and
Wade H. Crawford and know them to be persons of truth and credibility. Given under
my hand and seal this 2nd day of November, AD 1863.

Chas. F. Mayerhoff, JPeace

Click here to view the first page of the original affadavit
Click here to view the second page of the original affadavit

While Columbus was in the hospital the 37th had deployed to western Mississippi. There the regiment fought and suffered in the Seige of Vicksburg, Mississippi. The regiment was part of the forces surrendered to General U.S. Grant on July 4, 1863. The surrendered soldiers were paroled and the regiment went into parole camp at Enterprise, Mississippi, to await their exchange.

Columbus rejoined his regiment while it was in parole camp in Enterprise, Mississippi. When the regiment was exchanged in January 1864 it was assigned to the department of Mobile, Alabama, and served on detached service in Pollard, Alabama, and western Florida.

May of 1864 found the regiment in Resaca, Georgia, where, on May 9, 1864, they fought in the First Battle of Resaca. The regiment fought in several battles in the Atlanta Campaign in an attempt to keep the Federals from reaching Atlanta, Georgia:

  • May 13-15 - Second Battle of Resaca, Georgia
  • May 25-26 - Battle of New Hope Church, Georgia
  • May 27 - Battle of Pickett's Mill, Georgia
  • June 27 - Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia
  • July 4 - Battle of Ruff's Mill, Georgia
  • July 20 - Battle of Peachtree Creek, Georgia
  • July 28 - Battle of Ezra Church, Georgia
  • August 31 - September 1 - Battle of Jonesboro, Georgia

Atlanta was abandoned on September 2, 1864, and many of the regimental records where destroyed during the Atlanta Campaign. No muster rolls exist for the regiment after August 1864. Columbus's muster card for February through August 1864 shows that he had not been paid in 8 months.

Click here to view Columbus's last muster roll card

After Atlanta was abandoned, the regiment spent September, October, and November of 1864 marching through Georgia, Alabama, and into Tennessee. On November 30, 1864, the regiment fought in the disastrous Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. Continuing their march northward through Tennessee, the regiment found themselves in front of Nashville, Tennessee, where, on December 15th and 16th 1864, they fought in the ill-fated Battle of Nashville. December 17, 1864, found the regiment making a desperate retreat south through Tennesse, Alabama, and into Mississippi. The regiment reached Tupelo, Mississippi, at the beginning of January 1865.

Sometime at the end of January 1865, or the beginning of Februrary 1865, the much reduced regiment was on it's way to North Carolina to fight in the Carolinas Campaign. In April of 1865 the Confederate Army in North Carolina surrendered to the Federal forces, effectively ending the Civil War. Columbus was paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina, on May 1, 1865.

Click here to view Columbus's parole card

It is not known how Columbus got home from North Carolina, nor how long it took him to get home. What is known is that Columbus returned to farming and, by this time, he and Nancy had another son, William Columbus Melton, who was born sometime in 1862. Which means that Nancy was probably pregnant when Columbus went off to war.

No 1870 census record for Columbus and Nancy have been found, but it is believed that they were living in the area of Quitman, Clarke County, Mississippi. The 1880 census for Jasper County, Mississippi, shows that Nancy and Columbus had two more sons, William Monroe Melton (born March 22, 1868, in Quitman, Clarke County, Mississippi) and Asaria Melton (born 1870, in Quitman, Clarke County, Mississippi).

Click here to view the 1880 U.S. Federal Census

Christopher Columbus Melton passed away on October 16, 1888. He is buried at Pine Hill Cemetery, Clarke County, Mississippi. Does this mean that Nancy and Columbus returned to Clarke County before Columbus passed? He has a broken headstone that reads reads:

C. C. MELTON
Born 15 Dec 1834
Died 16 Oct 1888
Aged 53 yrs. 9 ms. and 1 day
"Thou art gone from a world of care, the bliss of Heaven to share"

Click here to view Columbus's headstone
Click here to view Pine Hill Cemetery

Nancy Pauline Melton passed away on November 5, 1903. She is buried at Pine Hill Cemetery, Clarke County, Mississippi, next to her husband, Christopher Columbus Melton. The 1900 Federal Census for Jasper County, Mississippi, finds Nancy living two households down from her son, William Columbus Melton. She is listed as a widow with an occupation of "Pension State", which means she was probably receiving a pension from Columbus's Confederate service, which Mississippi started paying in 1888. She has a broken headstone that reads:

Nancy P. MELTON Wife of C. C. MELTON
Born 7 Feb 1835
Died 5 Nov 1903
Aged 68 yrs. 8 ms. & 28 ds.
"There's a beautiful region above the skies, and I long to reach its shore, for I know I shall find my treasure there, the loved one gone before"

Click here to view the 1900 U.S. Federal Census
Click here to view Pine Hill Cemetery

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