Jeptha Vining Harris
Jeptha Vining Harris was born in
Elbert County, Georgia, on December 1, 1816, the son of General Jeptha Vining
Harris of Athens and his wife Sarah Hunt. His father was a prominent lawyer and
planter, a state representative, and a general of militia in the War of 1812.
The younger Harris graduated from the University of Georgia with a B.A. in 1836.
Relocating in Lowndes County, Mississippi, in 1840, he became a wealthy
antebellum slaveholder, planter, militia officer, and state senator from Lowndes
County 1858 to 1861.
At the beginning of the war, Harris equipped, at his own expense, a company of Confederate Army troops. In August of 1862, he enlisted in the Mississippi state troops and was elected captain of Company D, Lowndes County Minute Men. On September 2, 1862, Governor Pettus commissioned Harris brigadier general of state troops, to command a slim brigade of drafted militia stationed at Columbus. Ordered to Vicksburg on May 7, 1863, Harris' brigade guarded the riverfront of that fortress for the next two weeks. During the siege of Vicksburg Harris' brigade held the left of the Confederate line, the two regiments being stationed just to the east of Fort Hill and to the left of Vaughn's Tennessee brigade. Harris (who was praised for his "indefatigable exertions" during the siege) and his brigade were part of the army surrendered at Vicksburg. On the march home after the surrender the militiamen, who had "showed an entire willingness . . . [during] the operations in and around Vicksburg to do whatever should be required of them . . . relaxed into considerable depression. . . . Many straggled and left for their houses." ' The brigade, demoralized by defeat and starvation like the rest of the army, dissolved. In July, 1863, Harris was exchanged; the next month the rest of his brigade was paroled and mustered out, and Harris returned to private life. On August 26, 1864, the governor re-commissioned Harris a colonel and appointed him to command the post of Macon, Mississippi.
After the war General Harris returned to his farm in Lowndes County and a life of relative seclusion. He died on November 21, 1899, and is buried in Friendship Cemetery in Columbus.
Harris is listed as a Confederate general in Heitman. However, his service was entirely with Mississippi state troops, not Confederate army units.
Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.