Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Chunky Creek Train Wreck of 1863, Hickory, MS

The Chunky Creek Train Wreck of 1863 happened during the American Civil War near the town of Hickory, Mississippi on the Chunky River. On February 19, 1863 the Mississippi Southern train left the Meridian, MS depot at 3:00 am to transport Confederate soldiers to the Battle of Vicksburg. Several civilians were also on board bringing the total number of passengers to around 100.

The engineer was under strict orders to get to Vicksburg as quickly as possible, and the soldiers themselves were eager to get to the battlefield.
But they never made it.
Instead, they barreled toward the Chunky Creek, thirty-five miles west of Meridian, toward certain death.
In an article detailing the tragedy, Greg Boggan describes the scene, “The continued flooding caused by winter rains had weakened the bridges significantly. A train had crossed the west Chunky bridge the day before, but only after all passengers were removed from the train. Debris continued to build up from the flood, and the bridge trestle had shifted by several inches due to the weight of the debris.”
According to Mr. Boggan, the bridge had shifted as much as six inches out of alignment with the tracks. Workers had made a futile attempt to repair the damage, but didn’t have enough crew and resources to get it done before the next train was due.
An elderly man had been placed in the Chunky hills with a lantern to stop the train, and a pole had been erected about 100 feet from the bridge--a common warning system employed at the time. No one knows why the engineer failed to heed these warnings, but regardless of every effort, the train continued on through the night toward its tragic destination.
The engine ran off the track as it hit the bridge, plunging into the ice-cold flood waters. The boxcars, loaded with passengers and cargo, followed like a string of dominoes crashing against each other.
A reporter later described the scene, “The wreck presented a frightful experience. The engine is out of sight in deep water, with the box cars crushed to pieces, lying directly upon it, portions of which are now above water, while three more, laden with barrels and boxes, in the stream, are piled up in confusion. Confounded.”
Many of the passengers were trapped in the wreckage or killed on impact, while the icy waters of the flooded creek swept others up and away.
Help for the survivors came quickly, but even then it was too late for over 40 Confederate soldiers and civilians. The First Battalion of Choctaw Indians, under the command of Major S. G. Spann, was based at a Confederate military training camp near the crash scene. Led by Jack Amos and Elder Williams, these brave soldiers rushed to the scene and plunged into the flooded creek, rescuing many who would have perished had they not performed such heroic acts.

Jack Amos, Pvt of the First Choctaw Battalion
in MS,CSA in 1905 at age 77
As soon as it was day, rescuers began the gruesome task of recovering bodies and cargo from the swollen stream, and a first attempt at righting the engine was made. History says that over $80,000 was recovered from the baggage of W. P. Grayson, a paymaster for the Confederate government out of New Orleans. Mr. Grayson perished in the tragedy.

On April 28, 2003, the Sons of the Confederate Veterans placed a wreath at the site of the Chunky Creek Train Wreck in observance of Confederate Memorial Day. As part of the ceremony, the names of identified soldiers and civilians were read.

Claiming Mariah
released February 1st!

It's available in bookstores and from online retailers,
and has been seen roaming around at

Too fun!! :)

If you spot a copy out in the wild, I'd love for you to shoot
me a message (via facebook or my website) with location and a picture.

Tyndale is giving away FIVE copies of
Claiming Mariah. Ends 2/28

Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream of! Claiming Mariah is her second novel. 


  1. Good Sunday morning, CFHS! :) I'll be in and out today as I attend church for worship, but I'll be checking in and reading your comments and responding. Have a great day in the Lord, everyone!

  2. Hi Pam, I had never heard any of the history of this post. How sad so many lost their lives.
    I am glad they had the memorial as every life should be honored and tragic events remembered.
    Just a note to tell you I can't wait to read your new book it looks great

    1. Jackie, I live not too far (maybe 30 miles from where this happened and didn't know about it until the last few years. So tragic and that so many lost their lives in this accident. Let me know what you think of Claiming Mariah! :)

  3. This is a very sad story. My uncle was a conductor in British Columbia and he was killed in a train accident in the 1950's. I will never forget the day we got the phone call. It was indeed a sad day for the family.

    1. Marjorie, so sorry that this brought back sad memories for you. And, you're right. You never forget those phone calls or the knock on the door that brings news of the death of a loved one. God bless you!

  4. I really enjoyed your book, Claiming Moriah, and wrote reviews on Goodreads. Hope sales go well. sharon, CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

    1. Oh Sharon, thank you! Music to an author's ears! :)

  5. What an interesting post and how very sad. I didn't know any of this history. Thank you for sharing and congratulations on your book. It sounds wonderful.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

    1. Melanie, there is so much tragedy in this world and it spans generations. But the heroic efforts to save lives are the shining examples of the goodness of man. I would love to find out more about the men who risked their lives to save others. True heroes!

  6. Oh, how tragic! I am so glad to know that help came quickly to rescue and recover. As you said, they were true heroes!

    I am thrilled to have won a copy of CLAIMING MARIAH during your guest post on the P & P blog. I can't wait to read this wonderful story! Thank you so much!!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

    1. Whoo-hoo! Congrats Britney! I'm ordering padded envelopes for shipping THIS week. Let the packaging begin! :)

      For those who'd like to hop over to Petticoats & Pistols and read about my childhood milkman, Will, here's the link: An Ode to Will Woods

  7. I've never heard of this Chunky train wreck but thanks for the fascinating post! I saw Claiming Mariah at our local Christian bookstore here in Norman, OK! Congrats! I'll try to remember to take a picture next time I'm in there!
    kam110476 (at) gmail (dot) com

    1. Oh, Kam!!! Goosebumps! Thank you for letting me know, and I'd LOVE to have a picture. (There's a contact on my webpage or through facebook. ;) Maybe when I've got 15-20 books out, hearing that people are seeing it on the shelves will be like wearing an old, beat-up cowboy hat, but for now, it's very exciting. And that cover is simply amazing. Love, love, love it! :)