|Confederate Veteran Honored: William M. Granberry
By Rebecca Blackwell Drake
On May 15, 2004, William Massengill Granberry, whose death in 1942 marked
him as the last Confederate soldier in Hinds County, was honored once again,
this time with a memorial ceremony praising his service in the Confederate army
. The highlight of the event was the unveiling of a Confederate headstone order
d by Jerry McWilliams and placed in his memory. The poignant ceremony was
0rganized by the Mississippi College Rifles , S.C.V., along with Jerry and Kay McWilliams, owners of Southern Cedars plantation, the former home of William Granberry.
The guest speaker for the event was Grady Howell, Mississippi author and historian. Re-enactors assisting in the military ceremony were: Madison Artillery, Moody’s Battery (cannon) from Tallulah, La.; 3rd Co. Washington Artillery; Lowry Rifles & Washington Artillery; Lowrey Rifles, Co. E., 46th Miss Infantry; and Stanford’s Battery. Jerry McWilliams unveiled the newly erected Confederate headstone while Henry Dennis Granberry III laid the wreath. Family members present to receive the presentation of Confederate flags were: Mary Nell Taylor, Helen O’Keefe, and Henry Dennis Granberry III, the great grandchildren of William Massengill Granberry.
William Massengill Granberry, born at what is now known as Southern Cedars, enlisted as a private in Co. A., Withers Regiment, 1st Mississippi Artillery, on July 31, 1862. The enlistment record described Granberry as 18 years old, 5’ 5” in height, fair complexion, and gray eyes. Pvt. Granberry served under Captain Samuel J. Ridley and fought in the Battle of Champion Hill on May 16, 1863. During the battle, Captain Ridley was killed while single-handedly firing his cannon, an act that later won him the Confederate Medal of Honor. After the Confederate’s defeat at Battle of Champion Hill, the survivors of the 1st Mississippi Artillery rushed to defend Vicksburg. Pvt. Granberry stood in the line of defenders.
After the siege that ultimately ended with the fall of Vicksburg, Granberry and other Confederate prisoners were sent to parole camp at Enterprise, Mississippi, and Demopolis, Alabama. The company reorganized and William Ratliff was elected captain. Once again, the men returned to duty, bearing their beloved flag that had been presented to them by the ladies of Jackson in 1862. William Granberry and William Ratliff would follow the flag throughout the remainder of the war until the final surrender in 1865. The flag of the 1st Mississippi Artillery now hangs in the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
In 1865, as the veterans of the 1st Miss. Light Artillery sadly furled their flag, they adhered to the Final Order affectionately given to them by Colonel William Percy: “Go home and make as fine and loyal a citizen of the United States as you have a soldier in the Confederacy.” Granberry returned home and followed the Final Order to the best of his ability. He attended Business College in New Orleans, then returned to Midway and became a successful operator of a cotton gin in the community. In 1901, after the death of his wife, he moved to Terry and became a member of the firm of Granberry Bros. & Company.
William Massengill Granberry passed away on March 14, 1942, at the age of 97. The funeral was held at the Terry Baptist Church with interment in the Terry Cemetery. Rev. R. L. Wallace of Raymond, a former pastor and close friend of the deceased, conducted the service. Beautiful flowers filled the auditorium around the casket. Among the floral offerings was a bouquet of homegrown blossoms from the garden of Miss Mary Ratliff of Raymond, daughter of Granberry’s former commander, Capt. William Ratliff. The Jackson Daily News publicized Granberry’s passing stating: “There is no longer a thin gray line in Hinds County. It has wholly vanished.”
William Massengill Granberry and other Confederate soldiers who fought for the Southern Cause will always be remembered for their valor: “O ye, in silent comradeship asleep, in the long bivouac of the martyred dead; Ye are not yet forgotten – nor can be while in this fair magnolia land there blooms a fragrant flower with which to deck your grave.”
*Poem by William Forman Dunbar, owner of Wakefield Plantation in Adam’s County during and after the Civil War.