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Civil War & Reconstruction
During General Ulysses S. Grant’s first Vicksburg campaign, the town of Holly Springs was occupied by Union forces and served as a Union supply depot. General Grant claimed William Henry Coxe’s town house as his headquarters. Coxe deeded the property to his daughter, Lida Coxe Brewer, and her family resided at the plantation home during these years.
Union troops frequently passed through Galena, and the plantation’s cotton, mules, farm implements and valuables were often stolen or confiscated despite William Henry’s union sympathies. The plantation’s most valuable items, including a treasured set of antique silverware, were hidden away in an old leather trunk. The trunk’s location was kept secret until the last year of the war when a plantation slave revealed its location to Union soldiers and the contents were never to be seen again.
Unlike Holly Springs, which is said to have changed hands more than 50 times during the Civil War, Galena and surrounding plantations saw little direct fighting. The one notable exception was a skirmish at Coxe’s Crossroads, which took place at the Milan Plantation, which was located on neighboring land.
During the last year of the war, William Henry Coxe grew increasingly despondent. His immense wealth was now gone and his plantation in ruins. Coxe was consumed with grief, and his situation worsened following news of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Virginia. Coxe’s life ended on September 30, 1865. After goading his horse up the steps of his mansion, his horse reared and fell on him and broke his neck. According to differing accounts, Coxe’s actions were either the result of a dare or alcohol-impaired judgment.
His epitaph reads, “Generous and confiding in his disposition; sincere and ardent in his feelings; he was a devoted husband, father, and brother; an unfaltering friend; a kind and indulgent master; loved most by those who knew him best. He lived without an enemy, and his untimely grave was moistened by many a tear.”
During the Reconstruction Period, Lida Coxe Brewer continued to farm at Galena for several years, eventually selling the property to her uncle, Matt Coxe. Following his death, possession returned to Lida who, following her death, passed the property to her granddaughter, Amelia Lacey.