The Confederate War Records for the 40th Alabama and the 62nd Alabama
The military units of Hiram Steele and Elijah Fincher
The Unit Histories of Hiram and Elijah Fincher, C.S.A.
Hiram enlisted as a private in Company A, 40th Alabama Infantry Regiment, when he was not yet 20 years old. Company A consisted of men primarily from Pickens and Mobile Counties, Alabama. Hiram had gone to Mobile to enlist in May, and the unit was mustered into the Confederate services at Fort Morgan, Alabama in late May, 1861. Few units in the South can claim to have seen more action, or tougher fighting than the 40th Alabama. Each of it's major engagements has been the subject of countless books. Each story was a history lesson in and of itself. Take, for instance, the involvement of the 40th Alabama in the Siege of Vicksburg...
General Ulysses Simpson Grant had encircled the city of Vicksburg by a grand flanking movement south of the city, across the Mississippi River, to Jackson, Mississippi. There a battle was fought on May 14, 1862. On May 16, Grant was victorious at the Battle of Champion Hill to the west of Jackson and east of Vicksburg. The next day a battle was fought at Big Block River Bridge even closer to Vicksburg. On May 18, the Union forces arrived at the Confederate entrenchment surrounding the key city which controlled the Mississippi River. Then U.S. Grant made a mistake- He assumed that the Confederates were demoralized and could not withstand a major attack. So, he ordered none other than General William Tecumseh Sherman to attack the "Stockade Redon" fortification which guarded the Old Graveyard Road into the heart of Vicksburg itself.
What Grant did not know was that the Confederate commander, General Pemberton, had kept a large number of his forces in reserve and away from the engagements at Big Block River Bridge and Champion Hill. The 40th Alabama was one of those units. When Sherman attacked on the morning of May 19, the 40th was already the veteran of several engagements and at the Stockade Redon, ready for the Union charge. The attack was a Confederate victory.
Grant refused to give in, and ordered another major attack on the morning of May 22nd. For a second time, the 40th Alabama was involved in repulsing the Federals with merciless fire f rom their position. In the heat and terror of battle they earned the nickname of "The Alabama Sharpshooters". Grant withdrew his attack and resigned himself to having to take Vicksburg by siege.
The siege succeeded where the attacks could not. Pemberton refused unconditional surrender on July 3rd, and was offered parole for his men until a prisoner exchange could be arranged. On July 4th, Vicksburg fell, and Hiram Fincher went to a parole camp in Demopolis, Alabama. The 40th lived to fight another day. The names of those fights are famous: Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Missionary Ridge, and the Siege of Atlanta. It was near Atlanta that Hiram was shot in the right leg. He had to have the leg amputated, and on August 11, 1864, left this world as a result of his surgery.
Elijah was called into service as a youngster with other 16 to 18 year-olds in the 62nd Alabama at the very time that Hiram's life was near an end. He was to fight around the Mobile Bay area until his Capture at Spanish Fort on April 9, 1865. He was taken as a prisoner of war to Ship Island, Louisiana until his release.
The South's end was complete. It used teenagers to try and open up the port of Mobile to a starving Confederacy, and failed in the very city where Hiram Fincher had proudly signed on with the 40th Alabama. The fall of Vicksburg divided the Confederacy, the fall of Atlanta assured Lincoln of re-election, and the Union control of Mobile strangled the South.
Elijah Fincher lived to tell the story, and to marry Septima Abigail Anderson on May 2, 1866 in Sumter County, Alabama. Those who have these pages in their hands are the descendants of that union.
SIXTY-SECOND ALABAMA INFANTRY
Like almost all Civil War units the Sixty-Second Alabama Infantry was frequently known by an alternate designation derived from the name of its commanding officer. Names of this type used by or for the regiment are shown below.
Two higher command assignments have been found for the Sixty-Second Alabama Infantry. These are identified below.
Sept. 3, 1864 Thomas' Brigade, Department of the Gulf
Nov. 1, 1864 Thomas' Command, District of the Gulf, Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana
At various times during the unit's career it served at Fort Blakely and in Spanish Fort. Most members of the regiment served as infantry while smaller numbers served as artillerymen.
During its career the Sixty-Second Alabama Infantry participated in a number of engagements. These are identified below. Numbers after the events locate them on the map following this history.
Operations in Mobile Bay 91) against Forts Gaines (2) and Morgan (3), Ala. Aug. 2 - 23, 1864
Affair, Mobile Bay, Ala. (1) Oct. 9, 1864
Campaign against Mobile, Ala. (4) and its Defences March 17 - April 12, 1865
Skirmish near Spanish Fort, Ala. (5) March 26, 1865 Evacuation, Canoe Station, Ala. (6) March 26, 1865
Siege and Capture, Spanish Fort (5) and Fort Blakely (7), Ala. March 27 - April 9, 1865
Bombardment and Capture, Batteries Huger (8) and Tracy (9), Ala. April 9 - 11, 1865
Evacuation, Mobile, Ala. (4) April 11, 1865
Skirmish, Whistler's Bridge (Eight Mile Creek), Ala. (10) April 13, 1865
Surrender, Citronelle, Ala. (11) May 4, 1865
Records show that most of the members of the Sixty-Second Alabama Infantry were captured when Spanish Fort fell on April 9, 1865. It is probable that only about one hundred officers and enlisted men of the regiment were still with it when the unit surrendered.