Brothers Go To War

By 1860, Stephen F Pilley was pastoring a church in Pensacola. The 2nd son, Stephen, appears to have been serving in Montgomery AL. William was possibly a preacher or school teacher in Butler, AL.  The war changed their lives forever.

Mississippi seceded from the Union on January 9, 1861. Alabama followed suit a few days later. The first wave of volunteers to state regiments assumed that the war would be over in a few weeks. Many troops signed 90 day enlistment contracts. As months dragged on, it became apparent that the war would not end quickly. The Confederate Conscription Act was passed in April 1862. The CSA draft covered all white males between the ages of 18 to 35 and required 36 months of service. The conscription law was amended in October 1862 with the passage of the Twenty Slave Law. Owners of 20 or more slaves were exempted from the draft.

William Pilley

William enlisted with 4th Mississippi Infantry in September 8, 1861 at Butler, AL for a term of 12 months. Private Pilley belonged to Company F, Joshua Morse’s Alabama Volunteers. Although his service record lists him as a drummer, other sources state that William was a chaplain. He may well have served in this role informally.

The following note appears in Pilley’s service record:

The 4th Regiment Confederate Infantry (also known as the 1st Regiment Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi Infantry) was formed about December 9, 1861, with ten companies: four from Alabama, two from Mississippi, and four from Tennessee. It was captured at Island No. 10, April 8, 1862, and after exchange in September, 1862, the companies were reorganized and transferred to other commands.

Part of the 4th Regiment was stationed at Island No. 10  during the siege from February 28, 1862 – April 8, 1862. The rest of the 4th Regiment defended Fort Donelson and had surrendered when the fort fell on February 16, 1862. Although one page of William’s service record states that he was captured at Fort Donelson, it is more likely that he was captured at Island No. 10 on April 8th.

Battle map of Island No.10
Rebel Fortifications on the Mississippi River on island; New Madrid; Operations of U.S. Forces Under General Pope against Rebel positions

William’s service record states that he was a POW at both Camp Douglas, IL and Camp Randall, WI.  His unit was paroled with 49th Tennessee Infantry and returned to Vicksburg on September 5, 1862.

From April 20 to the end of May 1862, about 1,400 Confederate prisoners lived in Madison at Camp Randall. They had surrendered to the Union Army after the fall of Island #10, near Madrid, Missouri, on April 8. Many of the prisoners sent to Wisconsin were from the 1st Alabama Infantry. They arrived in Wisconsin on the April 20 and 24. When the first train pulled in, men of the 19th Wisconsin Infantry escorted them to Camp Randall while crowds of civilians stood by trying to get a look at the new arrivals. Shortly after their arrival, serious problems developed at Camp Randall. An inspection on May 1, revealed an inexperienced and poorly armed guard unit. Even worse, the camp hospital appeared unable to handle the sick Confederate patients. Due to the results of the inspection, the prisoners were transferred to Camp Douglas, Chicago, on the last day of May.
from Wisconsin Veteran’s Museum

Although the 4th Mississippi was reorganized and fought during the Vicksburg campaign, there is no record that William served after he was repatriated. He had reached the end of his original enlistment period and it is highly likely that his health had suffered during the five months of his imprisonment. More soldiers died of disease than in combat during the war.

William Beasley Pilley CSA Service Record

Stephen A. Pilley

On October 6, 1861, Sergeant Pilley mustered with 22nd Alabama Infantry at Montgomery, AL. S.A. Pilley served as a chaplain with the 22nd Alabama and later the 53rd Alabama Calvary.

His service record includes several letters in his own handwriting requesting back pay. There is also a physical description of Stephen in the Alabama Department of Archives: 

Age 24, height 5 ft 7 in, dark complexion, dark gray eyes, black hair. Appointed 2nd Sergeant December 11, 1861. Taken prisoner April 7, 1862 at Shiloh; returned to duty October 30, 1862. Appointed Chaplain of 53rd Alabama Infantry December 17, 1862; and honorably discharged by order of General Bragg.
source: Civil War Soldiers. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.

The 22nd Alabama suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862. The regiment started the battle with over 1,000 troops. At the end, only 123 were unharmed.

The 22nd Alabama Infantry Regiment was first organized at Montgomery on 6 October 1861, and was encamped at Mobile during that winter. Men were recruited from Calhoun, Cherokee, Choctaw, Clarke, Mobile, Montgomery, Pike, Randolph, and Walker counties. Ordered to west Tennessee, it was brigaded under Gen’l Adley Gladden of Louisiana.

The regiment was engaged at Shiloh, with heavy loss (reported 123 men fit for duty after),
Source: The 22nd Alabama Infantry Regiment. Alabama Department of Archives and History. Montgomery, Alabama

Despite the detail contained in Stephen’s service record, there are some gaps in the chronology. Stephen Pilley was captured after Shiloh but there is no record that he was a POW. If he were paroled on the field then that event may not have been recorded in Union rolls.

Stephen A Pilley CSA Service Record

Statement about the Lost Cause