Site of the Chunky train wreck. Photo from the Newton County Historical and Genealogical Society website. Click on the photo to go to the website.

Even though some Southern farms may have been located far away from Civil War battlefields, nearby events often brought home regular reminders of the war.

Just about a mile north of the Poore family farmstead in Newton County, Mississippi, ran the tracks of the Southern Railroad. At Meridian the east-west Southern tracks connected with the north-south tracks of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. From Meridian, Southern trains ran to Vicksburg in the west.

By early 1863, trains often carried Confederate troops and supplies westward to build up Vicksburg’s defenses against General Ulysses S. Grant’s efforts to take the strategically important Mississippi River town.

The rebels also had set up a military training camp about 4 miles northeast of the Poore farm and near where the Southern Railroad bridge crossed Chunky Creek.

On February 19, 1863, this bridge became the scene of a tragic railroad accident. Flood waters rushing down the creek had shifted the bridge so that the bridge tracks no longer lined up with those on the banks.

Before dawn a train taking 100 soldiers and civilians to Vicksburg struck the shifted bridge. The locomotive and cars plunged into the frigid creek. More than 40 passengers died in the wreck.

If the Poore family wasn’t aware of these events as they happened near their home, then they would surely have heard about them from friends and neighbors at Saturday town markets or Sunday church services.

If you want to read more about the wreck, Greg S. Boggan has written an excellent article about the event for the Newton County Historical and Genealogical Society. Just go to The Chunky Creek Train Wreck of 1863.

Have you looked around your ancestors’ neighborhood to see how the Civil War affected those who stayed home?

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