This regiment was organized at Talladega, in April 1861, and reported to Gen. Leadbetter at Chattanooga shortly after. It then moved up to Knoxville, where it was brigaded under Gen. Barton, Stevenson's division. The regiment was at the investment of Cumberland Gap, and took part in the fight at Tazewell. With Gen. E.K. Smith's column it was in the Kentucky campaign, without coming up with the enemy. When the forces came back, it was permanently brigaded with the Twentieth, Twenty-third, Thirtieth, and Forty-sixth Alabama, and under Gen. Tracy of Madison. In December, the Thirty-first accompanied Stevenson's division to Vicksburg. In May 1863 it was initiated into the sternest duties of war at Port Gibson, where the regiment suffered severely. It fought at Baker's Creek, and the loss was very heavy. As part of the garrison of Vicksburg, the regiment shared in the dangers and privations of that siege, and, after losing a number killed and wounded, was surrendered with the fortress. Placed in parole camp at Demopolis, the Thirty-first was soon exchanged. With Gen. Pettus in command of the brigade, the regiment joined the army of Tennessee, and was engaged with slight loss at Mission Ridge. It wintered at Dalton, and in the memorable campaign from Dalton to Atlanta it bore a full share in the dangers and hardships which have made it a bloody but proud page in Southern annals. It followed Gen. Hood into Tennessee, and after sustaining severe losses at Columbia and Nashville, was the rear-guard of the retreating army. Transferred to North Carolina, the regiment was hotly engaged at Bentonville, and a fragment of the 1100 with which it entered the service stacked arms at Greensboro, as part of Pettus' brigade.
Later, in October 1862, the regiment would draw new uniforms upon their return to Knoxville, Tennessee, after the disastrous Kentucky Campaign. Matthews describes: "woolen gray jeans, jacket lined with white cotton sheathing with four C.S.A. brass buttons, a pair of unlined gray jeans pants, a while cotton sheeting shirt and drawers, and white cotton machine-knit [word unintelligible] socks and pair of rough tan brogans, hand-made wooden peg shoes ... Most, or all of us, had been using finger-knit woolen socks, which were sent to us from home."
By 1863, with clothing supplies harder to come by, men from the regiment were dressing in "home-woven gray blue, brown or black woolen jeans pants or overcoats ... homemade lamb's wool or beaver or coonskin fur hats ... gray or black hats ... the majority of us wore wool socks sent us from home, while others wore the entire regulation gray uniform including gray caps." Matthews reports that "there were a class of men among us who would rob the dead ... [Other] men who did not entertain the thought of taking the shoes off the dead themselves, but who were in need of shoes and did not know where they could get any, would pay from $10 to $25 for a pair of second-hand shoes to the man who said, usually, that he had bought them and that they did not fit." Some became so desperate by 1863 that they resorted to scrounging old shoes from abandoned campsites that had been exposed to the elements for six months or more. These were initially soaked in water and then worn; some men had to wear two completely different sized shoes, one for each foot.
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