La Grange Synodical College

In a previous post (see http://wp.me/p40u7G-qS), the blogger incorrectly concluded Parham was a student at Ole Miss based upon a fraternity pin with his name engraved upon the back.  Just because no information is known about the Tau Eta Phi fraternity apart from Ole Miss, it does not mean he attended Ole Miss.  A follower was kind enough to point this out and provide a resource which shows Parham was a student at La Grange Synodical College; a Presbyterian school of higher education; in La Grange, Tennessee.

Photo of La Grange Synodical College

Photo of La Grange Synodical College

Based on the names listed for the sophomore class on page 9 of the Second Annual Catalogue of the Trustees, Faculty and Students of the La Grange Synodical College, Session of 1858-59;  it is clear Parham attended this Presbyterian school. There are other recognizable names of students from Lafayette County, Mississippi listed in this catalogue (e.g. Henry C. Buford, John W. Doak, and George W. Hope). By automobile today, La Grange is a little more than one hour drive north of Oxford, just above the Mississippi / Tennessee border. The blogger does possess two pre-war letters from Parham, one of which contains the word “La Grange” at the top right corner of the first sheet; however, it was not understood until recently what La Grange meant.  In the letter, Parham writes of the cost of the boarding house, washing, and candles.  Interestingly enough, the expenses mentioned by Parham coincide exactly with what is listed on page 24 of the before mentioned resource. If Parham was a sophomore during 1858-59, it is quite feasible he graduated with the senior class in 1861.  Class of 1861 at La Grange Synodical College had an accelerated senior year because of the outbreak of the War.

Click image to listen to "God Save the South."

Click image to listen to “God Save the South.”

It is no surprise Parham attended a Presbyterian College. Presbyterianism ran deep into the lives of individuals on that side of the family tree.  It was a Buford that provided land for the building of College Hill Presbyterian Church; many by the name Buford, including Parham’s parents, are buried in that old presbyterian church yard.  Parham writes of providence in a letter, a doctrine well known to Presbyterians of that day who subscribed to reformed theology.  Parham’s sister, Mary, eventually married a Confederate dentist and surgeon of Ulster-Scotch (i.e. Scotch-Irish) ancestry related to Rev. Samuel Eusebius McCorkle, a Presbyterian who studied under U.S. Declaration of Independence signer Dr. John Knox Witherspoon. Mary’s daughter married a man descended from Rev. Cephas Washburn, a Presbyterian missionary to the Cherokees displaced to reservations along the Trail of Tears.

La Grange Synodical College closed its doors after graduating the class of 1861 and never opened them again.  During the following years, U.S. Federal troops occupied the property as a strategic location to run raids across the border into Mississippi; used the college as a Union hospital and prison; tore bricks off the school to make stoves and fireplaces for soldiers; and eventually burned down the institution.

20th Letter: “Interposition of a Kind Providence” (June 3, 1862)

Camp near Richmond, VA

June 3d 1862

Dear Sister Dear Parents,

Again it is my pleasing duty to address you a few lines- which leaves me in good health,

June 3, 1862: page 1

June 3, 1862: page 1

I have, since I last wrote to you witnessed and been engaged in a bloody fight, and it is my painful duty to record the casualties in our company, which amounted to 2 killed, 28 wounded and 2 missing. And out of the regiment there were 230 killed and wounded, our company suffering worse than any one in the Rgt. It was by the interposition of a kind providence that as many of us escaped unhurt as did.

Click image of Frank L. Hope to view source.

Click image of Frank L. Hope to view source.

All of the College Hill boys escaped unhurt except Frank Hope, who was slightly wounded, and Dick Shaw, who is missing. None of the compay know any thing about him, whether he was killed, wounded or taken prisoner- I know he went into the fight, for I saw him early in the engagement- I have strong hope that he is still alive and that we s will yet see him.

June 3, 1862: page 2

June 3, 1862: page 2

I will commence at the time we left camp and give him the particulars up to that time. I commenced a letter to you on the 28th of last month, five days ago, and had written few lines, when we were ordered to prepare to march. We started at dark and went 5 miles in a northern direction from the Richmond and within 1/2 mile of the enemy in the Chickahominy River, staying there two days. Our Gen said that we went to help some of our men out a difficulty, they were about to be surrounded by the enemy.

We then came back within a mile of the city where we staid all night in a severe thunder storm, which lasted nearly all night. We started early next morning and went about 4 miles in a South Easterly


 

Blogger’s Notes:

  • Click image to learn more about Battle of Seven Pines.

    Click image to learn more about Battle of Seven Pines.

    Parham writes of his first experience in battle.  He is describing the Battle of Seven Pines (also known as Battle of Fair Oaks or Fair Oaks Station) which took place just days earlier on May 31 and June 1 of 1862.

  • Only one sheet of this letter is in the blogger’s possession, so the remaining details of Parham’s experience in the build-up to and during the Battle of Seven Pines are unknown.
  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents:
    • Frank Hope was seriously injured during the battle of Seven Pines, on account of which he was absent from the Company until the battle of Gettysburg, and
    • Robert (Dick) Shaw was present at Seven Pines and captured. Exchanged August 9, 1862, and died of scurvy at Richmond very soon after in the same month.
  • Dick Shaw may be another cousin of Parham.  Parham’s biological father had a sister who married a Shaw.
  • On this Thanksgiving Day 2014, it is a nice reminder that we all should be thankful to our Creator, no matter our present circumstances.  Here, Parham acknowledged in the aftermath of a bloody engagement, it was by the interposition of a kind providence that as many of us escaped unhurt as did.  With respect to Dick Shaw who is mentioned to be be missing in action since the battle, Parham writes of a strong hope that he is still alive and that we will yet see him.  Spiritual references such as providence and hope were not uncommon among soldiers of that day, both Southern and Northern, and is evidence of the historic Christian-influenced lens through which Parham viewed the world.  

19th Letter: A Shot Overhead (May 12, 1862)

Click image to learn more about the "Campaign for Corinth."

Click image to learn more about the “Campaign for Corinth.”

Be sure and tell me how our friends came out at Corinth

Monday Morning May 12, 62,

Camp 20 miles South East of Richmond

Dear Mother-

May 12, 1862: page 1

May 12, 1862: page 1

Again I will scribble you a few lines with the faint hope of hearing from you all.  I have heard once indirectly that you were all well, but as yet I have not rcd a line from any of you though I know you have written as I have written 5 or 6 times.  I suppose you rcd my letter written at Ashland which was carried to Okolona and there mailed.

May 12, 1862: page 2

May 12, 1862: page 2

On the march from Fredricksburg my feet were blistered and so sore that when the Rgt left there for Yorktown I was not able to march 3 miles a day. There were at least 2 of the Rgt that were not able to go and among them Lubby and Dick Shaw- Staid there nearly two weeks, during which time we fared finely and my foot got entirely well- We were hearing awful reports about the Regt- that they had nothing to eat ???? ???? but crackers and Bacon – and were marching and tearing around all the time, expecting a fight.  The There were 180 men died in the Hospille at Ashland out of 5 Regts from the effects of that march, while I was there, being from 8 to 20 a day- The N.C. Regt in our Brigade lost over 80 80 men. IndianolaSteamer At last the Lt in charge of us, got transportation and took us to Richmond. Staid there a day and night and took the cars for West Point on York River a half days ride on a Steamboat to Yorktown.  Our Long before we reached the town we heard cannon roaring ???? ???? and thought they having a little fight. When in sight of the Landing we could see the smoke curling up and then directly the report and sometimes see the shells burst in the air.  It was our Batteries and the enemy shelling on another. Our boat stopped 1/2 mile front of the w wharf, the captain being afraid to venture any nearer. In about ten minutes I saw the smoke rise from the enemies battery,  throwing a shell not more than 200 yards from our boat which made the water fly, but did not burst. We were certain they had seen us and were shooting at us. But our captain that they were too far off to do any execution. While talking about it on the upper deck, we saw the smoke rise again and hearing a whizzing sound we began to hustle, but in less then half minute the ball whistled exactly our over our head and struck about the same distance as the other beyond us. That was getting rather warm and we got further back.  Took on some sick soldiers.

Click image to hear "Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel."

Click image to listen to “Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel.”

We heard that our army was evacuating Yorktown which proved to be false. We went back to Richmond and staid there over a week when we got orders to join our Regt which we done day before yesterday. The boys should be without tents a month now – marching nearly all the time and eating nothing but crackers and bacon and some kind of half rations. 3 crackers and 1/4 pound meat to the man- which is all that we get now- I suppose you have heard of the skirmishes and the fight at Williamsburg- Part of our division was in a skirmish but our Rgt so far been out of any of them, though we are moving slowly towards Richmond and I think that we will have an engagement here soon- the enemy are only a few miles from us- I must close for want of more paper- I will write again soon. You have not the least idea how anxious I am to hear from you all- Write soon- Give my love to all the family- Your devoted son, PM Buford

P.S. I forgot to mention that the 19th Miss Rgt was in the fight in Williamsburg and that Col. Moot was killed. I have heard none of the particulars.


Blogger’s Notes:

  • The first statement in this letter is be sure and tell me how our friends came out at Corinth.  Parham is inquiring about how family friends fared during the build-up to the Yankee siege upon Corinth, Mississippi which would take place just 13 days later on May 25, 1861.  Corinth was a major rail hub for Confederate soldiers and supplies, and Parham wrote in his first letter of passing through there as he headed to Manassas Junction in Northern Virginia.
  • Parham mentions Lubby and Dick Shaw are among the number that eventually could not keep up with the march.  Who is Lubby?  Could it be that Lubby is actually Tubby (i.e. Goodloe Warren Buford, Jr.).  Is it possible the “L” in Lubby within the faded writing of this delicate tissue-thin letter is actually a “T”?
  • The event that Parham witnesses from the deck of a steamboat on the York River when a ball whistled overhead is the Battle of Eltham’s Landing.
  • Parham writes in the post script of his letter that Col. Moot was killed during a fight in Williamsburg.  He misspells the name Mott.  It was Colonel Christopher H. Mott who was killed on May 5, 1861 during the Battle of Williamsburg.

Secret Society at Ole Miss: Tau Eta Phi

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THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED TO SHOW NEW INFORMATION.  CLICK FOLLOWING LINK TO VIEW UPDATE.  http://wp.me/p40u7G-tH

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Throughout 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.

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.

18th 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.

17th 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:

  • 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.
  • This letter was written from Camp Barlow near Fredricksburg, Va…about 2 miles from town.  Where is the exact location of this camp?
  • 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.