The purpose of this blog is to follow the footsteps of Parham Morgan Buford who served in 11th Mississippi, Company G during the “War Between the States.” The primary sources are previously unpublished letters Parham sent to his family, military records of the Confederate States of America, and other eye-witness accounts. Secondary and tertiary sources are for enhancing subject matter within the primary sources for modern readers.
True to the time, 21-year old Miss Sallie Wiley gave a resounding speech to embolden local young men, her peers, of the Lamar Rifles. She shows a truly articulate speech calling on strong arms and uncoiled hearts before the town of Oxford, Mississippi on March 9, 1861. On that day, Sallie presented a flag to the Lamar Rifles on behalf of the women of Oxford. Parham was likely present among the ranks listening to the speech. North and South entered into war a little more than one month later on April 12, 1861 when Confederate artillery opened fire upon Union occupied Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.
Captain Green and Volunteers of Lamar Rifles: I have been deputed by the ladies of Oxford and vicinity, to deliver to you the flag which I hold in my hand. Before doing so, however, it is expected that I should say a word. In the progress of every nation there are times of security and quietness, and times of difficulty and danger. In times of peace the minds of men become engaged with their business relations. The pursuit of gain so absorbs the mind that it excludes all other ideas and makes it difficult to introducing people to desist from the objects of their aims. These pursuits tend to effeminacy and tend to destroy that lively sensibility to their rights which characterize proud and independent freemen. The glory of a people depends upon their watchfulness and readiness to maintain the integrity of their rights and the full possession of the liberty which has been secured to them. Encroachment must be resisted. If we sleep upon our posts, it is certain we will be betrayed. Our country has reached that period in her history when our safety is in danger and our honor is compromised. To submit not only dishonors us in the esteem of all true and patriotic men, but it is convincing proof that the spirit of liberty which inspired the fathers of the Revolution, has passed from our midst. Our noble State, looking the danger full in the face, has resolved that she will submit to no inequality of, or denial of her rights. And by your volunteering to bear her flag against all opposers, you have shown your determination to uphold her in her lawful stand. She believes she has a right to maintain her honor and equality without the resort to force. But it may be otherwise. It may be that fanaticism, bloated with ambition and maddened with the possession of power, may attempt to invade our land and lay waste our fields, in order to constrain us to submit to degradation. When that our comes, if come it should, we rely upon your strong arms and uncoiling hearts to defend our rights, protect the mothers, shielded the honor of the maidens of the land, and give security and peace to our firesides. When you yield, our cause is hopeless. It is on this account we feel so much interest in your organization, and we desire to present to you this memorial of our confidence and our approval. We hope you will accept it and bear it with you on the tedious march, the tented field, and in the hour of danger. As you gaze upon it you must remember that our eyes are upon you. We will sympathize with you in your labors and discomfitures, and rejoice in your triumphs. But we have no misgivings, no apprehensions that it’s honor will ever be tarnished. Whenever and wherever its folds are unfurled, we feel assured your stout hearts will rally to the rescue and we shall be safe. There is one consideration, however, which gives us pain. Those whom you expect to meet as foes ought to be our friends. Instead of trespassing upon our rights, they should be among the foremost in their defense. Ten thousand recollections of the past should impel them to throw their shields over our rights, and to draw their swords in defense of our honor and their equality. But we fear that patriotism has abandoned their bosoms, and mad ambition spurs them on to our subjugation. If it must be so, let the trial come; our brothers will prove sufficient for the protection of ourselves and our country.
As man cannot love and cherish woman bereft of honor, so one cannot reverence and honor man devoid of courage. We commit the flag into your hands. It is an emblem of the independence of Mississippi, and that proud position of our State must be maintained at any cost or sacrifice. We rely upon you to do it.
Parham likely saw the below three flags fly over Mississippi in 1861.
Source of below is ms.gov, the official website of the State of Mississippi.
In 1810, southernmost Mississippi became part of the Republic of West Florida. Then this banner, known as the Bonnie Blue Flag, flew over Mississippi coastal counties. Before this, the U.S. believed it already had acquired southernmost Mississippi when it bought the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803. But Spain refused to evacuate the area. So, in 1810, American settlers rebelled against the Spanish and drove them east. The Americans then formed the Republic of West Florida and applied for U.S. statehood. President James Madison responded that West Florida already was in the Louisiana Purchase and ordered officials to take possession. Then, that area was added to the Mississippi Territory. In 1861, this flag resurfaced at the Old Capitol in Jackson, where Mississippi had just passed the Ordinance of Secession. Its lone star, again, symbolized a claim of independence.
Mississippi voted to secede from the Union. For a few weeks, the old Bonnie Blue Flag of 1810 was the new Sovereign Republic of Mississippi informal symbol. But on January 26, the republic adopted a new flag with the Bonnie Blue Flag in its canton and a magnolia tree in its center field. When the Sovereign Republic of Mississippi joined the Confederate States of America, on March 27, the short-lived Magnolia flag was replaced by the Confederacy’s flag.
On March 4, 1861, the first flag of the Confederate States of America was born in Montgomery, Alabama. Concern over the similarity of the Confederate flag to the flag of the United States led to a change in design and the Second National Flag. Difficulty distinguishing the Stars and Bars from the Stars and Stripes from a distance, particularly in battle, was one reason given for the change.
Walk in Their Footsteps provides an interactive way of searching a soldier’s history across Virginia’s battlefields, listing all regiments that were engaged in over 120 battles in Virginia and providing battle and regiment summaries, overview of engagements, travel itinerary planning, and more.
Camp Fisher. Nov 14th 1861
I rcd yours of the 1st two days ago, which afforded me great pleasure, as it had been nearly a month scince [sic] I had heard from any of you. As this leaves me in good health I hope it will find you + family enjoying the same blessing. There is but very little sickness in camps at present. Our Col came back about a week ago – stayed only two or three days – returned on leave of absence for two months and a half. He was wounded at the battle of Mannassu [sic] in the foot, He is still lame and I think it doubtful about it ever getting well. On his way here – he took up a man that had deserted from this Regt and brought him here in chains. He is now handcuffed and is in the Guard House. The penalty is death but his case has not been settled yet. Last week a man was drummed out of a company in this Regt for ungentlemanly conduct. They give him 25$, and told him to trot. The weather has been very pleasant for the last two or three days – but up to that time we had some very cold days. Some one has hit upon a plan to make a fire place in tents and nearly all this Regt has caught the fever and gone to work at it. It is a simple and I think a good institution. The most that I have seen are made by digging the tent out inside about 2 ft deep, and digging out a square hole for the fireplace within in a corner or side. the hole is then slanted upwards through the bank of waste dirt on the top of which is sit a barrel for the top of the chimney. By digging the dirt out of the tent – it gives more room and eight men can sleep in it with all ease. The beds are made by sitting up forks and laying poles on them. By that means they can have one under another. We have not made one yet – waiting for colder weather. I rcd yesterday a bundle from home, which was certainly very acceptable. There was [corrected with pencil to "were"] two shirts – home made Linsey I suppose – two pr drawers – two pr socks and a vest. I also rcd a pr socks that came in a bundle for Walter about 3 weeks ago. That is all I have ever got, with my Over Coat. You can tell Uncle Newton I would like to have my boots as soon as possible – for I don’t think my shoes will last more than 3 weeks longer and I don’t want to buy another pair. I took the cloth that was around the clothes and made a haversack and fixed it so as to have my name on it. We have hired a negro to do our cooking and washing for 12$ per month. There was another boy came into Tom Bufords mess that had a negro and he does the cooking for both Missrs. It is only 2$ per month for each of us – which I think is cheap enough. Our Regt drew their pay last week for the month of July + August. Those of us that came in August drew 28$. I have only 15$ left, but I have got 10 owing to me – Which is good – I know. So that leaves me with 25$ which will do me for a while. There has been nothing exciting in camps for a month nearly until day before yesterday. It was my day to cook. We had done with ["done with" scratched-out with pencil and replaced with "finished"] dinner and I was just taking my water off the fire to wash the dishes – when I saw a courier going toward the Col’s tent with all possible speed. In less than two minutes I heard the order – “Turn our your companies immediately with their guns and cartridge boxes.” In less than half an hour – we were on the march. The Yankees were supposed to be landing near Occoquan creek about 10 miles above us. We went about 3 miles and stopped in an old field. As soon as we stopped in line, one company was detailed to throw down a fence near us – You could see couriers going in every direction. The cannon were roaring like thunder – but three times as fast as you ever heard it. Our Col rode out in front of the Regt, and told us it was his opinion that we were going to have a little fight – to obey our officers. keep cool and if we meet the enemy to stand firm and aim low. I was certain then that we would have a pull at them, from all I could see and hear. We stood in line of battle for half an hour. We then left there and went 1/2 mile farther where we staid [sic] until nearly sundown. The Yankees did not show themselves. We the started back to camp – arriving here about 8 O’clock. We made some coffee and fried beef liver – and with some cold-hard crackers. we had a good supper for hungry chaps. About the time we had finished supper another order came to cook up two days rations. As we did not know when we might be called on to march, we had to go to cooking immediately. Cooked two ovens of biscuits – and put on some beef to boil. That was night before last, and we have rcd no marching orders yet, but not more than two minutes ago, we had another order to cook up all the provisions we had. Some think we will have a fight before many days. Though I won’t believe it until I can see the white of a Yankees, [sic] eyes, as we have been fooled so often. So you can see what a life a soldier leads. For weeks at a time he has nothing to do but cook and eat and drill about 3 hours in the day. And next week he does harder work than any negro in Miss. Running about over these rocky hills from one place to another – without sleep and a great many times nothing to eat. He is always in suspense, for he never knows, what he is going to do until he right at it. nor where he is going, until he is there, for there
is [pencil correction of "are"] no Sign Boards in this country. We may have to march from here to day and we may not go at all – no one knows. I heard from Walter yesterday. He is still in Warrenton – and improving – he says he is going to the country in a few days. I rcd a letter from Cousin Sarah last week. They are all well. She said John Toney had joined a company and would start for Mobile in a week. I forgot to mention at the first – that you might send me a pr of pants – when Uncle Newton sent [sic] my boots. Also one flannel undershirt. All of these and the Blankets might be sent in one box. I must close for the present. Tell Mary Jane I will answer her letter next – at the first opportunity. Give all my love to all the family and best respects to all enquiring friends. I remain your devoted son,
P M Buford
P.S. I would like for you to send me a pocket Bible as I have none, though there
is [pencil correction of "are"] three in our mess – but I had rather have one of my own. N. B. While I was looking over this letter I heard that our pickets had brought in two Yankees, who said that they had deserted from Sickels [sic] Brigade which is on the other side of the River. opposite our Batteries one of our boys has seen them. I think I will go up directly and take a look at the gents. I believe they are spies and ought to be hung
Camp Fisher Oct 27th 1861
I will now attempt to answer your pencil note though I have no news of importance to communicate. I have a slight cold at present, but that is nothing uncommon here. There is not much sickness in camp except mumps, which I have missed so far. We have had some very cold weather for the last week, with heavy frosts, but we sleep very comfortably with our blankets and pine straw. Our Colonel came back yesterday and brought with him a deserter from this Regt, who he overhauled at Okolona. I think he will be shot. for I can’t see what else they can do for him. Last Monday We had an awful march of about 12 miles. The day before we had orders to pack up all our extra clothing, to be sent to Fredericksburg. Monday morning we struck tents and started off – each man with about 40 lbs on his shoulders. We went a few miles and halted, where we found out what was to pay. Our general (Whiting) wanted us to camp at this place but the Col. wouldn’t do it. So we came back to our old camp where we are now….Joe Buford came back two days ago, looking as well as I ever saw him. I forgot to mention about about Tubby and Tom. Tubby has the guanders [sic] but is getting. I do not know what is the matter with Tom – though he is complaining some.. The Juanders [sic] have been nearly all through the company. I suppose you have heard by this time of the glorious victory gained by our forces at Leesburg. Some thing [sic] there will be a big fight, up about Mannassa [sic] now pretty soon but it all conjecture, no one knows nothing about it but some of the Generals. You must tell the old man I found my coat and that I am very well pleased with it. One of the boys in the company had it, though he did not know who it belonged to. I don’t believe you will get all my letters and I know I don’t get half you write. I am going to number every one I write after this. Give me all the news when you write, for I never hear nothing here, but turn out to drill. I can think of nothing else that would interest you and I must close. Give my love to all the family, rcd [sic] a portion for yourself. Tell Ma I will write her next.
I remain as ever your devoted
Brother P M Buford.
*** Blogger’s Note: ”Tubby” is Goodloe Warren Buford, Jr.
Lamar Rifles: A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. is a rare out-of-print book assembled by the Historical Committee of “The Survivors’ Association of Lamar Rifles.” Thomas P. Buford, Parham’s second cousin, served as Chairman. The Committee documented in the preface and introduction that in the Providence of God, it fell to the lot of our generation to dispose of grave issues which arose from the diverse constructions of the Constitution. Chapter one begins by explaining political feeling ran high all over the country. Ominous war-clouds were seen rising on the Northern and Western horizon, and thoughtful men had grave fears of a coming storm. This primary source is an excellent work for gaining insight from Parham’s peers on the state of the Union leading up to Southern secession; the perspectives of those residing in Oxford, Mississippi and vicinity as they sent their sons to war; why the Lamar Rifles marched onto bloody battlefields; and how Northern victory set in motion the United States of America that had just entered the 20th century. The book has an official roster of the Company, including a short biography and list of engagements each member participated in. It also includes the below photo from November 28, 1901 (Thanksgiving Day) of sixteen survivors assembled for a reunion in Oxford to reminisce when long ago they were young in the ranks.
Parham mentioned in his letter dated October 20, 1861 that USS Pawnee was injured by Confederate batteries along the Potomac. The following day, New York Times published an article which stated it is now beyond question that the Potomac can be effectually closed to our vessels whenever the rebels choose to exercise their power. While detailing a list of day-by-day rebel triumph on the Potomac, the journalist reports on Thursday the Pawnee was opened on with shot, shell and rifled projectiles, and received five or six shot, fortunately without much damage. The article concludes for Yankee readers that the facts (of casualties to maritime and naval assets) are humiliating.