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Sergeant M.V. Ray

4th Mississippi Infantry Regiment

His name was Matthew VanBuren Ray, who as a young man enlisted in the 4th Mississippi Infantry to fight for the South in the War Between the States 1861-1865. He was one of 12000 confederate soldiers captured by General U.S Grant's Army at Fort Donelson, Tenn. in 1862. As a prisoner of war he was hospitalized for sickness in St. Louis Mo. for 30 days immediately after his capture. When released from the hospital he was transferred to the notorous Camp Douglas Prisoner of War Camp near Chicago which distinguished itself during the war as having the highest death rate for prisoners of any prison North or South; having reported 10% of its inmate population dying of disease in February of 1861. Fortunately he survived several months in what was probably the worst prison in American History this includes the South's Andersonville prison. After release he returned to his unit the 4th Mississippi and was promoted to 2nd Sergeant. He was with the 4th in all their activities up until the battle of the Big Black River in May of 1862 where he was captured again. He was held prisoner in Camp Morton Ind. and later Fort Delaware before being exchanged after the fall of Vicksburg at City Point Virginia. He moved to Hamburg Arkansa about 1889 and then to Glenwood Ark. He died April 5, 1903 and was buried in Caddo Gap. M.V and Nancy had 8 children. His wife Nancy Barnett claimed all her life she was full blooded Cherokee and this photograph of her with feathered ear ornaments and belt with silver buckle and bead work certainly seems to support her contention. A story told by Nancy and handed down by her descendents relates to a Civil War incident in which she claimed that she killed a yankee soldier personaly at her farm near Biloxi. Her first husband at the time a Mr. Wilcox had gone off to fight and left Nancy and her small son alone on their farm when one day a yankee soldier rode up on a horse and forced his way into the house and made Nancy cook him a meal. Nancy said he also threatened to kill her and the boy. After she cooked the meal and he was gorging it down not paying attention to her she slipped out the back door and told her son to run to a neighbor for help. She then got an ax and went back into the house crept up behind the intruder and struck him in the head killing him.

Some of their children eventually moved from the farm near Glenwood to Montgomery County, Arkansas where many descendents reside currently.

Matthew and Nancy were the great-grandparents of Gerald Elia who provided this information as well as several of the photographs on the photograph page.

Copyright 1998, Arkansas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, all rights reserved