About Rufus Polk Neely
Shiloh -- 4th Tennessee Infantry Regiment Stewart's Brigade, Clark's-Stewart's Division, Polk's Corps.
The brigade moved to Columbus, Kentucky on September 5, 1861, where it was in Major General John P. MeCown's Division. It spent the fall and winter in the area around Columbus, Kentucky, New Madrid, Missouri, and Island Number Ten, but after the fall of Fort Donelson was ordered to Corinth, Mississippi, arriving April 2, 1862, with 512 men present for action.
In the Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862, the regiment was in Brigadier General Charles Clark's Division, Brigadier General Alexander P. Stewart's Brigade, composed of the 13th Arkansas, the 4th, 5th and 33rd Tennessee Infantry Regiments, and a Mississippi Battery. The regiment was on the extreme right of the brigade, and was commended for valiant action in storming and capturing a Federal battery. Colonel Neely and Lieutenant Colonel Strahi also received individual commendation. In this charge the regiment lost 191 men killed and wounded. Its total loss for the two days in killed, wounded and missing amounted to almost half its effective force.
Col Rufus P. Neely was born November 26, 1808, in Maury County, near Spring Hill, Tennessee and inherited Irish blood from both father and mother. He secured a good academic education, and in 1821, came to Hardeman County on a pony loaded with bacon, in company with Ezekiel Polk. Mr. Polk had purchased extensive tracts of land and came to locate them. In 1829, Neelysubject married Elizabeth Lea, and the result of this union was ten children.
Neely was a Democrat in politics, and held the offices of register, county court clerk, and has served in every clerkship in the county. In the Legislature of 1839-40 he represented Henderson County. In the days of militia the General held the position of brigadier-general, and when the trouble arose between Texas and Mexico, he offered the services of his command, but his forces were authoritatively disbanded, in as much as it was contrary to the law of nations for the Government to allow her troops to participate.
In 1839, the General led a company to assist in removing the Indians to their territory. He offered the services of his command in the Seminole war and also in the war with Mexico, but there being a surplus of troops his were left out by lot.
In 1861, he enlisted as captain of Company B, Fourth Tennessee Infantry (Confederate Army), and in May of the same year was promoted to colonel of his regiment. During his service he was three times imprisoned, twice at Alton, Ill., and once at Camp Chase, Ohio.
For many years he was intimately connected with the railroad interests of the South. He built the Mississippi Central, of which he was president for several years and receiver by appointment of Gov. Porter; he was president of the Memphis & Knoxville Road, and was one of the board of directors of the Mississippi & Tennessee Road. For sixty years he was a resident of Hardeman County,Tennessee and is one of its most highly respected citizens.