Parham is Honored

Research for this blog led me to believe that Parham was likely buried at the mass Confederate grave for the Gettysburg dead at Richmond, Virginia’s Hollywood Cemetery. This was validated by a road trip to Richmond. An assistant within the cemetery’s office, located just after the main gate entrance, looked through records and confirmed that Parham was indeed buried on site. I was then informed that as family I could complete VA Form 40-1330 Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker, and for the cost of $100 for labor, Veterans Affairs would place a marker on site.

Weeks later, a certificate was received in the mail from 44th US President Barack Obama honoring the memory of Parham Morgan Buford. What an interesting turn of events! Whereas 16th US President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address did not honor the Confederate dead, the grave marker placed and certificate received a century and half later reflected that a procedural change had occurred by that same government. The next blog post will explain why.

What Happened to Gettysburg’s Confederate Dead?

How is it that records show Parham Morgan Buford from 11th Mississippi, Company G was buried near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in August of 1863 at Camp Letterman in grave number 26, section 2 of the General Hospital; however, he is now buried in Richmond, Virginia at Hollywood Cemetery?

The Blog of Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg National Military Park Rangers, interns, and volunteers are frequently asked a series of questions by visitors starting with:  Where are the Confederate dead buried?  Many of these visitors have walked through the Soldiers’ National Cemetery where they noticed the markers of more than 3,500 Union soldiers, known and unknown, who were killed during the bloody days of early July 1863, yet they observed no burial markers for the approximately same number of Confederates who lost their lives on these identical fields.

After learning from a National Park Ranger that the Confederates are not buried in the cemetery the visitors often ask a second, more concerned question: “Why aren’t the Confederates buried in the national cemetery, aren’t they Americans too?”   While it is true that many of the Confederates felt they were still Americans, they were fighting against the United States after having seceded from it three…

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Lorena is considered the most popular love ballad of the Civil War.  Some believe this song was played among the Confederate ranks more than any other, so it is likely that Parham heard it in the camps.  It has also been said that one Confederate officer banned the song because of the homesickness and desertion it inspired.

The years creep slowly by, Lorena,
The snow is on the ground again;
The sun’s low down the sky, Lorena,
The frost gleams where the flowers have been.
But the heart throbs on as warmly now
As when the summer days were nigh;
Oh, the sun can never dip so low
To be down affection’s cloudless sky.

A hundred months have passed, Lorena,
Since last I held that hand in mine,
And felt the pulse beat fast, Lorena,
Though mine beat faster far than thine.
A hundred months – ’twas flowery May,
When up the hilly slope we climbed,
To watch the dying of the day
And hear the distant church bells chime.

We loved each other then, Lorena,
Far more than we ever dared to tell;
And what we might have been, Lorena,
Had our loving prospered well!
But then, ’tis past; the years have gone,
I’ll not call up their shadowy forms;
I’ll say to them, “Lost years, sleep on,
Sleep on, nor heed life’s pelting storms'”

The story of the past, Lorena,
Alas! I care not to repeat;
The hopes that could not last, Lorena,
They lived, but only lived to cheat.
I would not cause e’en one regret
To rankle in your bosom now – 
“For if we try we may forget,”
Were words of thine long years ago.

Yes, these were words of thine, Lorena – 
They are within my memory yet.
They touched some tender chords, Lorena,
Which thrill and tremble with regret.
‘Twas not the woman’s heart which spoke – 
Thy heart was always true to me;
A duty stern and piercing broke
The tie which linked my soul with thee.

It matters little now, Lorena,
The past is in the eternal past;
Our hearts will soon lie low, Lorena,
Life’s tide is ebbing out so fast.
There is a future, oh, thank God!
Of life this is so small a part – 
‘Tis dust to dust beneath the sod.
But there, up there, ’tis heart to heart.

Click image to learn more from The Civil War Monitor.

Women’s Movement in the South

Anyone who has been on a road trip through the South has seen visual reminders in town squares of the cause for which Parham fought and died.  One should not underestimate the influence that monuments and cemeteries which honor Confederate dead have upon Southern identity.  To show that influence, the previous blog post entitled Four Score and Seven Years Ago concluded with the statement that this edition will focus on three points in particular.

What was The Gettysburg Address about?


If a person on the street were asked what they remember from President Lincoln’s short address at Gettysburg, he or she “may” be astute enough to quote from the opening sentence Four score and seven years ago and also that all men are created equal.  If that same person were asked what the speech was about, the likely response would be that men died on the battlefield in a struggle to end the unjust practice of slavery.  As President Lincoln said, all men are created equal.  Right?

Indeed, all men are created equal; Lincoln borrowed the phrase from the Preamble to the U.S. Declaration of Independence.  As nice as the phrase sounds, the sad reality is that it was not inclusive of slaves in the minds of the forefathers in 1776, President Lincoln when elected in 1860, and the majority of Northern soldiers who died at Gettysburg in 1863.  A response from a random bypasser today that the speech was about slavery is to be expected; afterall, it’s what he or she was likely taught in school.  The United States has been quite effective in teaching it’s youth the myth that the federal government sends its men (and now women also) off to war to fight for social justice.

So, what was The Gettysburg Address about?  The purpose of this historic speech is found in its third and fourth sentences of the second paragraph, specifically that:

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.  

What comes after this sentence is a host of “verbal niceties” supporting this main point of the speech, including statements that may be familiar to some readers such as they gave the last full measure and these dead shall not have died in vain.  The closing statement of the speech, like the opening sentence, has another famous and often quoted “feel good” line that has nothing to do with the main point of the speech itself, specifically that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Click image to learn more about Gettysburg National Cemetery from the National Park Service.

In short, the focal point of The Gettysburg Address is sandwiched between memorable opening and closing statements.  The purpose of the address itself is that those who fought and died to preserve the Union (i.e. only Yankee soldiers) at Gettysburg would be buried in a section of the battlefield set aside as a National Cemetery.

How did it lead to the creation of National Cemeteries?

The Gettysburg Address did not specifically lead to the creation of the first National Cemeteries.  It did, however, honor Northerners who perished in the bloodiest battle of the entire war, a battle that shook the foundations of every household on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.  There was a realization that the war would keep going on and on and that the number of dead would continue to increase.  U.S. Congress passed legislation a year prior to Gettysburg which authorized the President to purchase land for the establishment of cemeteries for the burial of those fighting on behalf of the United States, not the Confederate States.  About a dozen smaller cemeteries were established during that first year.  In fact, the well known Arlington Cemetery was previously the property of Confederate General Robert E. Lee which the United States government took to bury their Northern dead.

Why did it influence the reinterment of Parham’s remains back to Southern soil?

Click image to learn more about Ladies’ Memorial Associations.

There is a deep-rooted history behind the cemeteries with Confederate dead and the monuments in town squares.  To vandalize or remove them because of a political agenda is a disgraceful “slap in the face” to the Southern women who worked tirelessly to honor their sons, brothers, fathers, and lovers.  Whereas Washington used tax-payer dollars to honor Northern dead; Ladies’ Memorial Associations across the South spear-headed a grass-roots movement to raise monies to finance the proper burial of their dead.  This was not an easy task because much of the previously wealthy South was left in a poverty-stricken state for generations.  Southern women persevered in spite of this economic setback, and funds were raised.  This is how the Ladies of Richmond arranged for Parham’s remains, along with other Confederate dead from the Army of Northern Virginia, to be transported from Gettysburg and buried in Richmond, Virginia at Hollywood Cemetery.

“Four Score and Seven Years Ago”

Unknown-1Four score and seven years ago…These are the words which open the famous speech delivered on November 19, 1863, by US President Abraham Lincoln and known as The Gettysburg Address.  Many people in the United States, including this blogger, were required to memorize and recite the speech before their peers while in grade school.

So what happened four score and seven (i.e. 87) years prior? To be exact,  on the 87th anniversary of what event did Jack Fernandez write about Parham’s expected amputation from a hospital near Gettysburg?  To use the words penned by Thomas Jefferson, The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America. Today, we call this the Declaration of Independence.

Representatives gathered together as a Congress and signed the document to:

  • declare the causes which impel them to the separation (from Great Britain),
  • list a long train of abuses and usurpations,
  • state the patient sufferance of these Colonies,
  • explain that they had been reduced to live under absolute Despotism, and
  • confirm that it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Ironically, President Lincoln did not focus on these points in his speech. They were the very sentiments echoed in each of the declarations of causes of the seceding States. One may not agree with some or any of the reasons listed by the Southern states for choosing to secede; however, that is not the issue here. The fact is that elected officials from those sovereign states exercised what they believed to be their right to separate and in the same manner in which their forefathers had severed ties from Great Britain. Parham’s state of Mississippi, after building a case for secession, wrote in their declaration for far less cause than this, our fathers separated from the Crown of England.

How did President Lincoln respond when the Southern states declared their independence?  He did the same as King George III of Great Britain, sent troops to suppress the rebellion so that taxes/tariffs would continue to be gathered.  The politically correct term for this by the Lincoln administration was Preservation of the Union. How did the Southern States respond?  They did so in the same manner as the original thirteen States, raised-up arms against what they perceived to be an invasion from an occupying force. Separation (and the reason for doing so) is one matter; fighting for the right to do so after being invaded is another. Unfortunately, we learn about this embarrassing conflict from the 1860s in the modern classroom by mixing the two.  In 1776, there were people loyal to the crown initially opposed to separation who in the end chose to defend themselves against British occupation.  To be historically consistent, why is it different for the Confederacy?

Stay tuned for the next blog post when it will be explained what The Gettysburg Address was about, how it led to the creation of National Cemeteries, and why it influenced the reinternment of Parham’s remains back to Southern soil.

Lee-Jackson Day Presentation: Save Confederate Memorials — Civil War Chat

(January 9, 2020) On Saturday, January 18th, I will be making a presentation at the Lexington, Virginia Lee-Jackson Day memorial to explain why Confederate statues and symbols should be preserved. Presentation Subject: Defending Confederate Memorials Speaker: Philip Leigh Date: January 18, 2020 (a Saturday) Time: Noon Location: Hampton Inn on Col Mansion Grounds 401 East Nelson Street Lexington, Virginia 24450 […]

via Lee-Jackson Day Presentation: Save Confederate Memorials — Civil War Chat

“The Confederacy Had No Truer Soldier”

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Parham Morgan Buford passed away on August 15, 1863, as a prisoner of war at Camp Letterman General Hospital.  He held on for 43 days after being wounded on July 3rd during Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg and was less than six weeks away from his 21st birthday.  The cause of death was amputation, likely from infection which followed.

Several dates were documented for the date of death on various military records; however, August 15th is most frequently found which is why the great-great-grandson of Parham’s sister (this blogger) selected it for Parham’s grave marker.  Some military records indicate that Parham’s left leg was amputated, yet Pacolet (Jack) Fernandez wrote per Parham’s request in a letter to the family that a mini-ball entered just above the right knee and passed directly through.  

Parham was buried in grave number 26 of section 2 of the General Hospital, most likely just feet from the tent in which he passed.  Elderly survivors from his company, not having access to all military records, would write in 1901 the following about Parham in A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A.

Click image of Parham M. Buford to view source.

PARHAM MORGAN BUFORD, enlisted August 9, 1861, at Camp Jones, for one year.  Born in Mississippi, and a student at College Hill where his mother resided.  He was nineteen years old and single.  He was present in all the battles in which the Company took part after he joined it until he was mortally wounded at Gettysburg, to wit:

  • Two days Seven Pines,
  • Gaines’s Farm,
  • White Oak Swamp,
  • Malvern Hill,
  • Freeman’s Ford
  • Thoroughfare Gap,
  • Two days at Second Manassas,
  • Boonsborough,
  • Sharpsburg,
  • Gettysburg, where he was wounded in the right leg; was captured at field hospital, leg amputated.  He died soon afterwards in July, 1863. [The patriotic ladies of Richmond removed our dead from Gettysburg to Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Va., so we conclude his remains have been reinterred in Hollywood.

The Confederacy had no truer soldier than he who bore the name Parham Morgan Buford.

Click photo of Parham M. Buford’s grave marker to listen to “Wearing of the Gray,” a tribute to the fallen Confederates.

The Origin of Memorial Day

Parham's Letters

210In the midst of the current Cultural Revolution when it has become fashionable to dishonor Confederate dead by vandalizing and removing monuments and in vogue to erase the memory of our history, The Washington Times posted The Confederate gift to the nation at the close of Memorial Day, 2018 on the origin of the national holiday.  A wounded nation was inspired during post-Civil War years when Southern women decorated the graves of fallen soldiers, both Confederate and Union.  People of that day who once fought each other as foes on the battlefield set the example for future generations by annually memorializing those who gave the last full measure.  Memorial Day reminds us that reconciliation is possible and that it is honorable to remember.

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Captured During a Religious Service

I was captured in the afternoon of a beautiful Sabbath day, the fifth of July, 1863, in a hospital tent, in the midst of a religious service, surrounded by the wounded on every hand, to whom I was ministering, and at whose urgent solicitation I had voluntarily remained within the enemy’s line.

Click the image of Thomas Dwight Witherspoon to view source.

These were the words of Confederate Chaplain Thomas Dwight Witherspoon. Thomas was ordained in 1860 and installed as pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Oxford, Mississippi. He was influential in the lives of many university students within the community and enlisted with them when the call to arms came in 1861.  Thomas served in the 11th Mississippi Lamar Rifles with Parham until, as the need for chaplains in the Confederacy increased, he was transferred to the 2nd and later to the 42nd.  Providentially,  both he and Parham were attached to Davis’ brigade at Gettysburg.  It is possible that Parham, as an amputee, might have been in the hospital tent among the wounded on every hand during the religious service described above.

Upon being captured, Thomas and other chaplains remaining behind were allowed to continue ministering to their wounded at Camp Letterman until they and the medical doctors were transferred on August 7th to Union-controlled Fort McHenry, Fort Monroe, Fort Norfolk, and then back to Fort McHenry again. They were released on November 21st during a prisoner exchange.

Prisoner of War Leg is Amputated

July 4, 1863, the very day Jack Fernandez wrote the previously posted letter to Parham’s family, the Army of Northern Virginia began their escape from Gettysburg.  Parham’s fellow 11th Mississippians were strategically placed at the rear where they victoriously defeated the 8th Illinois Cavalry in hot pursuit at Narrow Fairfield Gap.

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Parham could not join the retreat; the day before during Pickett’s Charge a Yankee minie ball entered just above the right knee and passed directly through.  As a result of this wound, Parham was left behind at Camp Letterman General Hospital near Gettysburg where he was taken as a prisoner of war and had his leg amputated at the thigh.

Click image to view American Battlefield Trust video about period amputations.