The purpose of this blog is to follow the footsteps of Parham Morgan Buford who served in 11th Mississippi, Company G during the “War for Southern Independence.” The primary sources are previously unpublished letters Parham sent to his family, military records of the Confederate States of America, and other eye-witness accounts.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.
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?
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.
Jan 21st 1862.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- The Colonel (i.e. Col) Parham wrote about is likely Colonel William Hudson Moore.
- Parham may have misspelled the name of Gen Johnson by leaving out a “t”. It may be General Joseph E. Johnston he wrote about.
Camp Fisher Jan 12th 62
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At present there is no
w 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Old Abe is 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
- 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.
Dec 30th 1861
I rcd your welcome letter a few days since which afforded me great pleasure.
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.
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.
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 f
olds folks that I will write to them soon.
You must burn this as soon as you read it and then answer. Yrs truly
- 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.].
- 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.
Dec. 5th, 1861
I rcd yours of the 23rd abt two days ago, as also a short note from Mary Jane. I was glad to hear that you all were in moderate health, except Virginia, who I hope has recovered this reaches you.
I have had the Diarrehea quite bad for two days, but am now well, though that is a common complaint here in camps. The health of our Regt is better now than at any time since I have been in it.
For the last two weeks we have had some severe weather in the shape of rain, snow- sleet and freezes, though yesterday and reminds me of Spring.
If nothing happens we will be ready to move into our House tomorrow. I think we can live in it very comfortably all winter if we stay here. It is a very neat cabbin with the exception of the floor. Most of the Regt have already have already built, and the rest are hard at now.
As for war news I am flat, for I can hear nothing from no source whatever. It is still thought by some that we will have a fight here yet but I can see nothing to make one believe it. If the Yankees on the Occoquan intend to attack us, it seems to me that now is a good a time as any, If attacked we will suffer, but I am confident of victory.
Mary Jane said that the cal cavalry company at the Hill and some of the Home Guard were going to Columbus Kty. If they have gone you must let me know, who went from the Hill.
We had something nice for breakfast this morning in the shape of Corn Dodger. It certainly did taste sweeter than ever wheat Bread did after doing without a month or two. It has been over two months scince I tasted any. I never was as tired of beef and flour in my life. I have not eat(en added in pencil) any of the former in a week, preferring a piece of fat Bacon slightly broiled. We have had no sugar for two weeks until yesterday.
If you can get a chance send me some nick nacks for you have no idea how they do go here. Catsup – Pickles – some raw onions for hash – Pepper – Butter. Potatoes, +++. Anything that you can send and know that I would. like.
I wrote to the o
ld Man (old Man scratched out and Mr L written above in pencil), the other day by Isom. which I hope he rcd. I must close. for the present. Wishing to hear from you soon I remain your devoted son P M Buford
Nov 30 1861
Mr. S Luckie L.No. 2.
I will number my letters from this time on. You can know how many of them arrive. Mary’s was numbered. 1. You must do the same.
As Ad Isom has at last concluded to go home, I thought I would send you a few lines – if for no more than to let you all know that I was enjoying good health. I sent a letter to Mary Jane last week and one to Ma, the week before, which I hope they rcd, as they were sent by hand. There is less sickness in our company now than any time since I have been in it. One of the company returned yesterday from Warrenton. He says that Walter is improving very fast, and will return shortly to camp. George Hope was gut sick last week with the Jaundice, but is now well or nearly so. Dick Shaw has been grunting for a day or two. There is not much excitement now in camp, though they have been telling us for the last 3 weeks that we would have a fight, but it has not come off yet, nor at present do I see any signs of it, except stopping of a road with trees, that leads from the River to this place.
Last Tuesday I was on guard, and while at the guard House I heard the Col, give the orders for the companies to fall in with their guns and cartridge boxes. I thought there was something exciting on hand, and I was anxious to go with the company, which I could not do, unless the Officers of the day released the whole guard, about 60 in number. We tried him, but told us there was no fight on hand and for us to be contented. The Guard is never released unless in cases of that kind. Gen Whiting had just took a notion to drill the Brigade a spell, about 2 miles from Camp.
I don’t think I will mind anything much in the military line this winter, but standing guard. Up to this time we have never been allowed to sit down or stand by a fire, while on guard duty, and if that is the case this winter, you may listen for hard times comin(g), though I think I can stand it, as well as any, from my experience so far. We have had a little snow, sleet, heavy frosts, hard winds, freeses, and every thing that constitutes a winter except hail. and still the weather is very changeable.
I spoke of the rcpt of my goods in the other letters, but for fear they did not receive them I will do so again. I have got(ten) all that you have ever mentioned, as also my Over Coat, which I found in the company, the one that had it not knowing the owner. My boots are rather large, but all the better, as I can wear two pr socks. with them. I have enough of clothing for the present. About half of this Regt have built log cabins. not knowing how long we will stay here. Our two messes went to work two days ago and erected two cabins. Paid about 15 cts a piece for the hauling of the logs. To day we made enough bolts of timber (without any saw) to make the boards. We intended to cover with dirt, but there was a hard rain last night, and we saw that some of them leaked. We can finish in another day.
We were interrupted in our work yesterday by a little circumstance that made me feel quite tired and hungry. The evening before our company only
had rcd orders to get supper early and prepare one meal victuals, and be ready to march by sundown. We put breakfast in our haversacks and started about dark. I was then raining and very muddy. We went about a quarter, when the order was countermanded and we came back to camp. We were going about 7 miles down on the River to get some confiscated property, belonging to a Virginia Yankee that had left. Next morning we were ordered to fall in and try it again, I happened to be off at the time, and when I came in they were about starting + I did not have time to get anything to eat. We got there about 11 OClock, finding the farm situated in sight of the River and the Bay of Occoquan. Beside ours there was one company from each Regt, the expedition being commanded by a Major. I suppose they thought the Yankees might come over if we did not have a good force. Besides a large lot of horses, cows, sheep and hogs, there was were turnips, sweet potatoes, and about 500 bushels Irish potatoes, put in suppose for the Washington market, but they are gone by the board now, as our little Brigade are roasting them daily. I made by my dinner of roasted potatoes, not liking to ask of the boys that had carried it so far. Some were detailed to drive the hogs. I to load the waggons. The Hog Tail men had to stay there all night, getting in to day. We got back about dark.
I will note the prices of some things here so that you can tell how much we stingy fellows buy. Fresh Pork is 15 cts, butter 75. Chickens, 40 apples 75 per dozen, tallow candles from 10 to 20 cts a piece. + + O + so on, the most extravagant I ever heard of. If you can get a chance, send me some little nick nacks, butter, potatoes. Peppersauce Onions and Pepper + + +.
The Three or four of the boys in our mess have rcd boxes of that kind and I don’t want to spunge on them.
I must close, as I am nearly froze(n), not knowing that Ad would start in the morning until after dark. Tell Uncle Newt I will answer his letter first opportunity. You can let ma read this. I will answer hers also. Give my love to all the family. Hoping to hear from you as soon as possible I remain yours truly. PM Buford
In the morning
Nov 31st Dec 1st. Ad has concluded to wait untill. Monday. (Cannon, at our batteries I suppose opened this morning on some vessel firing 48 times). I will have time to
- It appears A. (Ad) Dudley Isom hand-carried this letter to Parham’s family. Ad enlisted April 26, 1861. Born in Mississippi, a farmer, single and 24 years old. Discharge of disability December 1861 and reenlisted March 1862. Killed at Gettysburg 1863.
- Parham mentions George Hope was gut sick…with the Jaundice. George W. Hope enlisted April 26, 1861. Born in Mississippi, a student, single and 20 years old. Discharged December 1861 from accidental wound and later killed at Murfreesboro with the 30th Mississippi Infantry.
- The log cabins constructed may have been similar to those within the above image of nearby 1861-1862 Confederate winter quarters in Centerville, Virginia.
Nov 23d 61.
I rcd your letters from home by Meadows three days ago. As I have an opportunity of sending mail down the road in a day or two I will write. This leaves me in good health – the company also. There is but little sickness at present in our Brigade One of Tom’s Buford’s mess mates (young Orr) is quite sick now with the pneumonia.
There is nothing new or exciting going on here. We have been expecting a fight here for two weeks – but I hardly think we will have it, though we may – and if it does come I think it will be a whale Our Gen says our Regt and the 1st Tenn. will have to go in front of the Brigade.
I had the pleasure of seeing Gen Johnson last week, though under peculiar circumstances to me. Last Friday about 2 Oclock we were ordered to fall in immediately with our Guns and Cartridge boxes. I had a severe headache at the time, and did not feel much disposed to march far, but as I had never missed one I thought I would try it. Imagine my surprise when our Regt with two others
were formed into a line in front of our tents to receive the aforesaid Gen-He rode along the line, we presenting arms to him. We then marched back or our dens. I thought we were once more going out to meet the Hessians.
One of the Hawkner’s men that was taken prisioner at the battle of Mannassa arrived here last week direct from Washington, being released on Parole of honor. I did not see him. but heard that he said – that all the Regulars there wanted to join our army – says he was well treated while there.
There has been at least 40 cabins erected in this Regt and it is still going on as if they knew we were going to stay here all winter. Some are covered with boards – but the majority with pine brush and dirt. Peters house would be a palace compared to any of them. Tom’s Tent is next to ours, and we are speaking of making one next week. We might as well do that as to lay around here and do nothing between drills even if we do have to leave it in a few weeks. We can make it in two or three days. Some think that if we don’t have a fight here before 1st decemeber that the 12 mo. vols will go home but I can see no chance for that myself. I think we will go into Winter Quarters somewhere near here.
I will now acknowledge the rcpt of the last bundle of clothing sent to me from home which came in good time. My Boots came in Walters bundle- There is nearly enough room in them yet for Group. but that is all the better they will last longer. I have enough clothing for the present. One change suit is about as much as we can well manage here. I sold the first vest you sent me and also two pr socks – 35 cts each for socks. I have four pr left- It is no fun to carrying two or three suits of clothing beside Gun and blanket. I have rcd all the clothing that has been sent to me.
Walter got a nice ham- Tubby and Tom – potatoes – butter – jelly – and dried fruit. They are luxuries here certain. (Walter has not come in yet-
is was better the last time we heard). I would like for you to send me a bottle or two of Pepper sauce or Tomatto Catsup – butter – Preserves – any thing that is good to eat. if you can get a chance. Any thing would be good besides our beeff and flour Bread.
I must close for want of something to write. dont show this to any one. Give my best regards to all the family. Let me know if Ma rcd my letter. I will number this letter, and you all must do the same. so I can know if you get half my letters. If you get it number your reply the same. I wrote to Ma two weeks ago. Give my best respects to all enquiring friends and receive a due portion for yourself. Send my respects to the Union Gal in Grane.
1. Parham may have misspelled the name of the general he saw by leaving out a “t”. It may be General Joseph E. Johnston he wrote about.
2. Parham wrote of young Orr having pneumonia. There were two individuals by the name of Orr in Company G of 11th Mississippi, both equally young at the age of 23 during enlistment in 1861. Young Orr is either Charles W. Orr or Ira Baxter Orr.
3. Parham refers to Hessians in this letter which is what many Confederates of the time called German immigrants volunteering for service in the Union army. Many of the Hessians had previously fought or were sons of fathers who fought in the old country during the German Revolution of 1848-1849. Some of the Hessians identified the Union cause as a continuation of the ideas held by the European revolutionaries.
4. Parham mentions Hawkner and Peters by name and concludes the letter by sending his respects to the Union Gal in Grane. Who are these people?
5. ”Tubby” is Goodloe Warren Buford, Jr.