John Hampton Sims, Jr., was the son of John Hampton Sims, Sr. and Mary Brown Sims of Woodville, Mississippi. He was the older brother of William E. Sims and Robert G. Sims. All three brothers were Yale graduates, and all three served in the leadership of the 21st Mississippi Infantry during the Civil War. John was already established as a physician in Woodville when the war intervened.
He rose from a Lieutenant in Company D of the 21st Mississippi Infantry Regiment in 1861 to Lt. Col. and commander of the regiment in 1863. He was killed in action in Virginia at the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864 (see his cousin Jesse's letter).
Capt. Lane W. Brandon, a fellow officer in the 21st Mississippi, stated during a Memorial of the Soldiers Association in Woodville on April 5, 1887:
I now come to speak of one whom we all loved. But for whom to express my feelings, I find my words inadequate. I will only say he was a born commander and more widely known than any officer of equal rank in our Army. This was Lieut. Col. John Sims. What a thrill the mention of his name causes to pass through the heart of those who have seen his dark eyes flash with delight on the battle front. I am partial to his memory, because in the Army we shared the same blanket, when we had one to share. And I never knew a grander man. A soldier in every sense of the word. He fell in the full tide of victory — with his feet to the foe and his face to the skies.
There is one fact connected with the military service of Col. Sims, that deserves a more than passing mention. At the battle near Cold Harbor in June 1864 the enemy broke through our lines, just at right of our Regiment. Whether in obedience to orders, or that it seemed the proper thing to do, we were in the act of falling back, when Lieut. Col. Sims ordered the Regiment not to fall back; but to swing back, this was done forming a line at right angles to our Breast works and by a flanking fire checked the enemy's advance, until the arrival of Col. Kitts Brigade, which by double quicking from a passing train to the place of disaster restored our former lines.
This was the place and after this repulse, the time, when the Federal troops refused to obey the order for an advance.
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