One hundred and forty-five years ago this date, a company of students and faculty members marched off Ole Miss' campus in Confederate butternut and headed East to join the Army of Northern Virginia in the War Against Northern Aggression. They were organized as Company A, 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment and numbered 136 at first muster. Nicknamed the University Greys, they fought in nearly every major engagement in the first two years of the war in the East. By the time Robert E. Lee decided to take the war to the North and marched into Pennsylvania in the summer of '63, the University Greys numbered only 36. Somewhere in the wheat field short of Cemetary Ridge, they ceased to exist as a fighting force.
When classes resumed at Ole Miss at war's end, none of the former students returned, save one, who visited only to address the student body.
Today, a tall monument stands at the entrance of the Campus. Atop the monument, the figure of a Confederate soldier faces East up University Avenue. His hand is held to the brim of his cap, not in salute, but shading his eyes against the rising sun. He will likely stand for hundreds more years, waiting for the return of comrades who put down books and took up rifles.