Secret Society at Ole Miss: Tau Eta Phi

10466678_10204345844031279_535589122_nThroughout the research for this blog, a mystery has remained. In Parham’s military records, he is recorded as being a student, but where? There was no direct confirmation he attended Ole Miss. This summer, a family road trip came across the photoed treasure. A relative produced a fraternity pin with the name P.M.Buford engraved upon the back. Through research, it was discovered this secret society, Tau Eta Phi, existed only during the year 1861 at the University of Mississippi as all the members went off to war. Parham was an Ole Miss Rebel.

The family was unable to locate any images online or references to this fraternity except an obscure Ole Miss historical document entitled The University of Mississippi: A Sesquicentennial History. “Greek” societies were not allowed on campus at that time and could, therefore, only meet off campus in secret. There were seven secret fraternities, Tau Eta Phi being one of them.  Only two literary societies were permitted on campus.

The University of Mississippi 1861 Senior Class Book states:

During the spring of 1861, political events interrupted campus activities, and many students withdrew before the end of the school term to enlist in the Confederate Army. Most joined a company called the “University Greys” led by William B. Lowry, a nineteen year old student. Others joined the Lamar Rifles (another Lafayette County unit) or returned home to enlist in local units.

With only four students registered for fall classes, the university closed, and would not resume classes until 1865.

Ole Miss has the patriotic heritage of a student body in 1861 which put aside education to defend their homes, lands, and country.  Parham was among that number.

Eighteenth Letter: Crowded in Muddy Boxcars (April 11, 1862)

April 11th, 1862

Camp near at

Ashland VA

Dear Sister.

April 11, 1862:  page 1

April 11, 1862: page 1

Again I will drop you a few lines to inform you of my situation and condition. I wrote to Ma last week which letter I hope was rcd though I have not heard from any of you yet.

BApr 11 1862 page 2

April 11, 1862: page 2

We have just experienced one of the severest marches on the record of the Larmar Rifles. Last Monday I went on guard last and about 10 O clock in the morning it commenced raining and continued until Wednesday night.  About 3 O C Tuesday evening morning while on post I heard a drum beat and presently until the rest of our own struck up.  I then began to think something was in the wind.  In a few moments the order came for us to commence cooking and be ready to march at any moment.  It was then raining and it was with the greatest of difficulty that fires could be started, though we made out to get some bread and meat cooked by daylight. At 8 O C we were ordered to strike tents and leave for parts unknown to us. Our Col said that he would have either the blankets or knapsacks for us. We traveled 12 miles that day through the mud and rain and halted in a pine thicket for the night. It was a very disagreeable night indeed We were perfectly wet it was still drizzling rain and you know that we had no sleep that night. I slept two hours I suppose and not a wink the night before.

April 11, 1862:  page 3

April 11, 1862: page 3

Dick Shaw fell in the water that was day and was sick at night. He only went about two miles next day and that was last I saw of him until last night when he came in still sick, but I think he will be well in a few days.

April 11, 1862:  page 4

April 11, 1862: page 4

The next in That day we went between 12 and 15 miles to a stain station on the Richmond and Fredricksburg Railroad. That was undoubtedly the severest march this company ever experienced.

The First day I stood it as well as any one in the Rgt and would have done it the second if it had not been for my feet. I suppose you recollect the thin pair of shoes that I left home; I thought I could not march in them and got a pair of boots from Newt Shaw. The second day my feet began to hurt me and it was with great difficulty that I could keep with the Rgt. The boots did not fit my feet and the skin was actually rubbed in five places when I arrived here and still I was with the company when it came, though there was only 20 and we started with 60 odd.

Click image to learn more about Milford Station during the war.

Click image to learn more about Milford Station during the war.

On the second evening we came to Milford station to take the cars.  We stood there in the rain and sleet for two hours waiting for the Ala & Miss Regt to get aboard. You may imagine your thoughts at that time. Every one of us was wet to the skin, and positively I could not see a man but what was shivering like a leaf. We were at last crowded into a boxcar without any thing to sit on and the mud on the floor at least 3 inches deep. We arrived here about 10 O C Wednesday night almost frozen.

As soon as we landed we made a fire out of the cord wood at the depot and about the time our fire got to burning good, we were ordered to leave it and not burn that wood. We moved out and started another fire and in two hours another informal officer told us to leave there that we might set some houses afire. Some of the boys cursed him untill he sounded ashamed and left and that was the last of him.

Click image to learn more about Union Major General Don Carlos Buell.

Click image to learn more about Union Major General Don Carlos Buell.

This is all the paper I have at present and will give you all the remaining particulars in my next letter.  I suppose you will be pleased to learn that I got that box of provisions a few days before we left. Everything was good but the ribs, they were spoiled. When we left we took the butter and hams in our haversacks. The sausage meat was rather old but splendid.  We heard of the defeat death of Buell and the defeat of his army at Corinth.  I do hope it is sure though we  have heard no particulars as of yet.

We are half way between Fredricksburg & Richmond, to reinforce at Y Yorktown or Fredricksburg either. I am anxious to hear from you all and from our brave friends at Corinth. Give my best respects to all inquiring friends and write immediately. Direct your letter to Ashland. We may be gone before you caught a letter here but it will be sent to me Va


Blogger’s Note:

Parham wrote about hearing of the death of Buell and the defeat of his army at Corinth. This was clearly a rumor based on misinformation among the troops; Union Major General Don Carlos Buell lived another 36 years.

Seventeenth Letter: Safe Return from Furlough (March 31, 1862)

Mar 31st 62

Camp Barlow near Fredricksburg, Va

    Dear Mother

                             

March 31, 1862 page 1 of 2

March 31, 1862: page 1

I avail myself of the present opportunity to inform you of my safe arrival at this place.  I have been quite well since I left home, though Jno Doak has been quite sick ever since he came.

We arrived here on Friday in a very disagreeable time, it has snowing and raining every since untill to day, which reminds me of a spring day in Miss, though it may be snowing tomorrow.

All the furloughed men but 6 have arrived and I think they will be in tomorrow.

We are camped about 2 miles from town. There are a great many men here. I reckon you were all surprised to hear that our army had fallen back to the Rappahanick River, instead of towards Centerville as we heard. I canit can not see the point in it but it may that our generals do.

I think you will stirring times about Corinth soon. Our Brigade lost nearly all of their goods that they could not carry with them. I lost a great many of my things, though some of them were reported sent to this place, and now they are gone to Richmond, and we have orders to march at any moment, and it is thought that we will leave here in a day or two, though we are all in the dark as to where we are going. Some think we are going to N.C.

Click image to learn more about the "bell shaped" Sibley tent.

Click image to learn more about “bell shaped” Sibley tents.

We have but eight tents in the the company and for the present we have to arrive in as best we can. We have new tents, but I don’t think they are as good as the old ones. They are bell-shaped – the others wall-tents.

Click image of Confederate Lt. General Wade Legion to learn more about the "Hampton Legion."

Click image of Confederate Lt. General Wade Legion to learn more about the “Hampton Legion.”

The boys all say that the march from Dumfries here was the hardest they ever had. It took them three days and only 30 miles. Hampton’s Legion that was with our Brigade had a skirmish with the enemy the morning they left. Our Brigade stayed at the camp waiting for the Yankees to come up but the cowardly scoundrels waited untill they left and then they marched right into our cabbins.

The above was written before drill this evening and since supper I heard that the chaplains of our Regt (leaison) was going home tomorrow morning + that would be a certain transport for my letter as far as Corinth Miss.

March 31, 1862:  page 2

March 31, 1862: page 2

The boys say they have never seen any thing of that box of provisions. I suppose the Yankees have got it by this time. The provisions we brought us answered a very good purpose. We had two or three hams left after we got here.

I want you to answer this immediately. I will write again this week, if I can send my letter off. Wishing you to write soon I remain

Your devoted son,

P M Buford


Blogger’s Notes:

  1. Parham wrote Jno Doak has been quite sick.  The three Doaks serving in the Lamar Rifles were James, John, and Julius.  The blogger believes the identity of the abbreviated Jno is John Doak.
  2. This letter was written from Camp Barlow near Fredricksburg, Va…about 2 miles from town.  Where is the exact location of this camp?
  3. It appears this letter was hand delivered to at least Corinth, Mississippi by chaplains within the regiment identified as (leaison).  Who or what is the identity of (leaison)?

Re-Enlistment and Furlough

Confederate Muster Roll documenting Parham's re-enlistment

Confederate Muster Roll documenting Parham’s re-enlistment on February 10, 1862

Parham wrote I suppose you have heard some talk of the 60 day furloughs to his sister, Mary, on December 30, 1861.  Wrestling with the decision on whether or not to take the furlough, Parham wrote several weeks later on January 21, 1862 that he would wait to hear his parents view on the subject.

A Confederate Muster Roll, with Parham’s signature of acceptance, makes it clear that he decided on the matter.  Documented in military records, it shows he re-enlisted at Camp Fisher, Va, and furloughed Feb. 10, 1862.  The Muster Role also indicates the bounty due was $50 for re-enlisting and that his term of service was extended for two years.

Immediately upon re-enlisting, Parham took a brief furlough to visit his family in College Hill, Mississippi.  What was it like for Parham during his furlough?  Did he sit around the dinner table with family, enjoying every bite of the home cooked meals?  Did he sit in the pews of College Hill Presbyterian Church again for Sunday worship service?  Did he walk the streets of Oxford and vicinity with friends? Did he contemplate if this would be the last time he would see and experience his childhood home of College Hill?

Click image to listen to "Take Me Home."

Click image to listen to “Take Me Home.”

The next blog post will be a letter Parham wrote home on March 31, 1862 about his safe arrival to a different camp near Fredericksburg, Virginia.  The Blockade of the Potomac had ended, and the Peninsula Campaign had begun.

Sixteen days after writing of safe arrival, the Confederate government passed the Conscription Act, a draft which required all healthy white men between the ages of 18 and 35 to a three-year term of service.  The Act also extended the terms of enlistment for all one-year soldiers to three-years, granting the 60 days of furlough to those with extended enlistment terms.

 

 

Sixteenth Letter: Should I Take Furlough? (January 21, 1862)

Camp Fisher

Jan 21st 1862.

Dear Mother,             

Photo, courtesy of family (N.H.), is of young Parham Morgan Buford during pre-war years.

Photo, courtesy of family (N.H.), is of young Parham Morgan Buford during pre-war years.

I rcd your letter 4 or 5 days since, and thought as I had just written to Mary I would not answer yours immediately. I have nothing of importance to communicate. We are well and doing fine at present having nothing to do, but eat and Keep up fires, making rings and pipes.

One of our company has been quite sick with pneumonia but is now better. He is in the Regimental Hospital about 1/2 mile from camp. There is less sickness in camp now than any time since we have been here. But from signs out doors I think we are bound to have some sick before- ness before long, for the mud is at least 3 inches deep, any where you can go. We had a 3 inch snow last week which staid on the ground 2 days, when it com-commenced raining and has not yet ceased.

January 21, 1862: page 1

January 21, 1862: page 1

We perform not duty now except guard, which lighter than formerly, the number of guards being reduced.  Our Col took the guard off the Regt. altogether, but the Gen – came along one day and seeing no guard, told him to put them on again. Now we have only one around the Regt and his orders are to present arms to the Gen.

We are coming down to hard living again, nothing but beef and bread, occasionally sugar + coffee. They havent givin us any bacon in nearly a month. Occasionally we buy from the huxsters, but they ask very unreasonable prices.

January 21, 1862: pages 2 and 3

Our Col went to see Gen Johnson about the furlough, but he said he would have nothing to do with it.  I heard he was going to see the war department about it.  A I do not w know whether to to take it or not.  I thought though I would wait and hear your’s and the Papa’s views about it.  My reasons at present are that there will be a change of officers that won’t suit suit me. at least that is my opinion.

I heard fr rcd a letter from Aunt Polly. they are all well. If you can not get a good chance to send that Box-  just let it alone though I would like to get it very much. I will send a pipe first opportunity and some, rings to the girls. Give my love to all the family and write sooon. Your devoted son P.M.B.


Blogger’s Notes:

  1. The Colonel (i.e. Col) Parham wrote about is likely Colonel William Hudson Moore.
  2. Parham may have misspelled the name of Gen Johnson by leaving out a “t”.  It may be General Joseph E. Johnston he wrote about.

Fifteenth Letter: “Old Abe and All His Crew” (January 12, 1862)

Camp Fisher Jan 12th 62

Dear Sister

January 12, 1862: page 1

January 12, 1862: page 1

Again I am seated to perform the pleasant task of writing to you. I am enjoying fine health at present and hope this scrap will find you all down with the same complaint.

January 12, 1862: page 2

January 12, 1862: page 2

For the last week we have excellent weather, but the one previous will long be remembered by a majority of the Lamar Rifles. Last Sunday night we had heavy snow for Miss, but a light one for Va, remaining on the ground for two days, when a heavy sleet fell on that, and Thursday our company was detailed to go out on Picket Guard.  It was an extremely raw morning with a high North Wind, and the ground frozen as hard as a rock.

Photo source of Confederate Brigadier General Louis Trezevant Wigfall: Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photographs, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University.  Click image to learn more.

Photo source of Confederate Brigadier General Louis Trezevant Wigfall: Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photographs, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. Click image to learn more.

We had to go 3 miles, arriving there about 10 O Clock. We had a very comfortable house to stay in while off Guard, but the worst feature of all, was that the house was a church, where the before the war broke out the peaceful and happy inhabitants worshipped God, now the place expected for a fight with the Abolition hordes, who were the cause of all this carnage and bloodshed, and who will have to account for it at the bar of an a just and impartial God. It is on the Road where the approach of the enemy is expected. There are only two roads that an army can approach us and that is one of them, Wigfall’s Brigade guarding the other.

As soon as we arrived six were detailed to go out and relieved the old Guard which six stood all day. At dusk 10 others were detailed to relieve them and stand. the remainder of the da night, your humble servant Ruf Shaw being of that number.  There were two each post, and two posts, one on each side of the church. My post was on a very hill in a clump of cedars where I heard for a mile on in every direction it being in an old field.

January 12, 1862: page 3

January 12, 1862: page 3

About 7 O clock. it commenced raining. and never ceased it untill 8 O clock next morning. We were not allowed any fire on the post and had our guns loaded. As it was so extremely cold and wet, we were relieved every hour, the ordinary time being two hours. Those that were not on post had a fire under the brow of the hill where it could not be seen in the direction of the enemy. It was so dark after it commenced raining that you could not see an object 20 paces off. I stood four. hours. though the night. as there were ten of us we were relieved every fifth went on post every fifth hour.

Click image to listen to "Old Abe Lies Sick."

Click image to listen to “Old Abe Lies Sick.”

The second time I was on I was standing in the rain and wind wishing old Abe and all his crew in the bottom of the Atlantic, when I thought I heard the tramp of an approaching of a horse going at full speed. I listened attentively, and I heard it distantly coming right toward us. I told the other fellow to get on one side of the road, I on the other. Directly he came tearing up the road and when 30 paces off I cocked my piece and halted him. I asked who he was, he said friend, I then told him to advance and give the counter sign, he said he did not have it. He wanted to go on anyhow. I told him there was no use in talking, that I could not let him pass. So I told the other fellow to there and I took him to the officer who released him. We were on a dangerous post, and if he had started off he would certainly have got a load in him. He was the only soul that I saw the whole night.

January 12, 1862: page 4

January 12, 1862: page 4

At present there is now talk of a fight here. I think the enemy will hardly attack us here this winter. I suppose they are waiting untill next spring, and right here the this great furlough arrangement comes up. Yesterday the Captain called out the company and gave us a little talk and wanted to know how many of us would reenlist for two or the war years. I think 52 have signified their intention to do so. Only one of our mess here, Walter.

Photo source of Union Major General George B. McClellan:  National Archives.  Click image to learn more.

Photo source of Union Major General George B. McClellan: National Archives. Click image to learn more.

13th. Since writing the other, Dick and Ruf both seem to me to be inclined to take it also. I can not say whether or not they will. I am as  yet on the fence and do not which way to jump. Though be for deciding I would rather hear the views of you all on the subject. I think myself it is a good arrangement for all the 12 months troops, for it would folly on our part to let all the volunteers go home in the spring, for them McClellan would over run our little army on the Potomac. But I had rather not reenlist for two years, and I want to be free to join any company I like at the end of my time.

I think I have written enough for the present, unless you conclude to write more. I rcd those pants yesterday, which came in good time, but I think what I have now will do me untill next spring. Let me know if you rcd that money and Pipe. Give my love to all the family and enquiring friends and ever remember your devoted brother P M Buford. You can let the family any of the family read this if they want.

Tell me Ma I will write to her soon. You must write written often and give me all the news that is afloat and especially about the 60 day company. I want to know who are the officers.


Blogger’s Notes:

  1. Parham writes of Abolition hordes, misspelling hoards which means an amass or gathering.  Found in a few newspapers during the time, the term abolition hoards was periodically used to refer to Union forces.
  2. Parham’s thoughts on the U.S. abolition movement and slavery are unknown. According to the 1860 United States Federal Census records, he did not live in a slave owning household the year before the war.
  3. Old Abe is 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
  4. This is the first letter where Parham provides a political opinion about who caused the war and of Old Abe and all his crew.  Like most Southerners of the time, Parham may have come from a conservative Democratic family; Abraham Lincoln represented the new liberal Republican party.  The two parties have since reversed roles.

Fourteenth Letter: Delirium Tremens (December 30, 1861)

Camp Fisher

Dec 30th 1861

Dear Sister

I rcd your welcome letter a few days since which afforded me great pleasure.

Photo Source of George W. Hope: "Lamar Rifles: A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A."

Photo Source of George W. Hope: “Lamar Rifles: A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A.”

I have a chance of sending this to you by George Hope who is discharged, though I do not fell much like writing to night as I have been hard at work all day and fell very much fatigued, not knowing untill a few minutes ago that he was going to start so soon.

This leaves all in very good health except Newt and. Myself who have a very bad colds. One of our Regt died last week with the Mania Portu, the one death that we have had in the Regt for over a month.

December 30, 1861: page 1

December 30, 1861: page 1

It was thought for for two or three days since, that we would have a fight here but it has died out as usual and I do not beleive we will have one untill I am in it, though there is not a passes but you can hear the roar of cannon on the River, but I have never seen yet what good it has done, though I may not be the proper judge.

We have just finished repairing our house. It was a flat roof, and inferior boards. Last week it rained quite hard- and it was all he we could do to keep ourselves and chattels dry. We pitched in and made more boards and put a very respectable roof. The whole Regt is very comfortably quartered now, and I think we will stay here untill Spring.

December 30, 1861: page 2

December 30, 1861: pages 2 and 3

I suppose you have heard some talk of the 60 day furloughs Some of our company will take it, and a great many will not, and I think I will be among that number. I will serve my time out and I if I fell like reenlisting then I can do so.

I drew 50$ the other day and I will let send you 5$ for Pocket change.

I want you to send me a strip of Sand Paper in your next letter to I want it to polish some rings, none can be had here,

The drum is now beating for “lights out” and I must close. Give my love to all and tell the old folds folks that I will write to them soon.

You must burn this as soon as you read it and then answer. Yrs truly

PMBu


Blogger’s Notes:

  1. It appears George W. Hope hand-carried this letter to Parham’s family.  George W. Hope enlisted April 26, 1861. Born in Mississippi, a student, single and 20 years old. According to Lamar Rifles: A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A., he was discharged…by reason of accidental wound through left wrist. [After recovery he reenlisted in the 30th Mississippi and did gallant service for his country in that command.  Was killed at battle of Murfreesboro, Tenn.].
  2. Parham writes one of our Regt died last week with the Mania Portu.  He is referring to mania-a-portu, also known as delirium tremens.