30th Letter: Negroes Gone, Houses Burned, Food Destroyed (January 17, 1863)

Goldsboro NC Jan. 17th, 63.

Dear Mother-

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Click image of USA General Grant’s forces encamped at Oxford, Mississippi to learn more.

From what I can learn the mails to Oxford are now in operation, so there is once more a chance to hear from our beloved and down trodden homes. You can not have the least idea how anxious I am to hear from you and still at the same time I almost shudder to hear of the condition those infernal Yankees have left you in, but I hope they have left you all enough to subsist on-

I thought I would not write untill I was certain you would get my letter. Several of the boys have already rcd letters direct from home but none from our immediate neighbor- Tom Buford arrived a few days scince bringing some news about their operations in that quarter- he told me that old Peter and family had gone and that…

…nearly all the negroes in the county had gone that they had destroyed all that the people had to subsist on, even to the last fowl-

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Click image of Henry G. Fernandez to view source.

I learned also that they had burnt Fernandez house- and cut up generally, but as yet, I have heard nothing positive.

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Image is of Southern men taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.

I hope you may receive this soon and give me all particulars- and tell me particularly who took the oath of Allegiance. I just imagine they have utterly ruined that country- but I believe there is a day of retribution coming sooner or later- I have enjoyed excellent health and doing as well as could be expected under the circumstances, but it is with a sad heart that I hear of the death of so many good and brave men by the ball of the vile invader. Two evenings scince I heard of the death of John Buford George Hope and the wounding of several other boys from our neighborhood-

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Click image to learn more about CSA Brigadier General Joseph Robert Davis.

The last letter I rcd from home was just after we left Cullpeper Cty. We left our old Brigade to form one composed of Miss boys commanded by Joe Davis a nephew of Jefferson- We staid at Richmond a month, when we were ordered to this place where the Yankees were trying to make an entrance- They had a small fight at H Kinston, 20 miles below and came up this far when they burnt the K Rail Road Bridge, but hearing that we were on our way here to reinforce they retreated back to Newborn where there is now said to be about 50,000 intending to attack this place Welden and Wilmington, but there is no telling what they will do.

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Click image of North Carolina’s 1861 flag to prepare for your visit to this friendly state.

I am much better pleased with the old North state than I expected- We are living high, at this time on corn dodgers and Potatoes- rareties that we have not been used to- The people around here have not much wealth but they are good livers and as are as free hearted a people as it has ever been my lot to meet with.

We are encamped in a perfect Pine Thicket and it takes all the soap we can get to keep the Pine smoke off. We have a snug chimney to our tent and can fare finely this winter if they will only let us stay here- but our movements will be altogether owing to the movements of the enemy.

I must close for want of paper which I expect you need. Write soon and let me know the worst. We will draw money soon I will let you have mine if you need it. Give my love to all the family and tell them to write immediately. Tell the old man  to write as soon as he can I will write to him next. I would like to write more, but have not the paper. Let me hear from you as soon as possible. Ever your true and devoted son. P M Buford

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Blogger’s Notes:

  • This letter contains several complex topics.
    • The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect 16 days before this letter was written.
    • Total war upon civilian population shattered the morale of Southerners at home and serving far away.
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      Click image to learn about UDC.

      Those who took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States before the war’s end were viewed as traitors and cowards.  No Confederate ancestor who took the Oath of Allegiance before April 9, 1865, shall be eligible to be used for application for membership within the United Daughters of the Confederacy. If proof of further Confederate service is available, thereby nullifying the Oath of Allegiance, the ancestor shall be considered for approval.

  • John Buford, likely an extended family member who served in a different regiment, is mentioned by Parham when he writes of the death of so many good and brave men by the ball of the vile invader.
  • Joseph (Joe) R. Davis, CSA Brigadier General, nephew of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, served in Mississippi senate during pre-war years.
  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about comrades mentioned by Parham.
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      Click image of Thomas P. Buford to view source.

      Thomas (Tom) P. Buford, Parham’s cousin who brought the camp news of Northern operations in Oxford,  enlisted April 26, 1861; twenty-eight years old and single.  He was present at Seven Pines; was reported sick for several months of catarrh and bronchitis on Blackwater near Suffolk; he was furloughed to Mississippi.  His health was restored…and he returned to duty near Orange Court-House, in time to be present on 5th and 6th of May, 1864, at the battle of Wilderness.  On his last day of this engagement he was shot through the left thigh and sent to hospital at Richmond; from there he was furloughed again.  He had so far recovered from this wound as to return…in the trenches near Petersburg, Va.  He was present at Jones Farm, Hatcher’s Run, and Hawkes Farm, where he was again wounded, this time in the left knee; was sent to Richmond Hospital, 26th of March, 1865.  Gangrene attacked the wound and for weeks and months he was prostrated; was able to travel 1st of June…and (with his brother Warren) reached home July 1, 1863.

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

      George W. Hope, who hand-carried a previous letter to Parham’s family, enlisted April 26, 1861. Born in Mississippi, a student, single and 20 years old.  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.]

    • Henry G. Fernandez, whose house was burned during the Union occupation, enlisted April 26, 1861; twenty years old and single.  He was present first and second days at Seven Pines, Gaines’s Farm, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Freeman’s Ford, Thoroughfare Gap, first day, Second Manassas, second day, Sharpsburg; first day, Gettysburg, Falling Wilderness, and on account of ill health was never with the Company any more.

The First Confederate Memorial Day

From the Times-Dispatch

July 15, 1906.

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How many of our States claim the first memorial organization? What matters if there are no records to prove it? New Orleans claims it; Georgia claims it; Portsmouth, Va.; Richmond, Va., claim it. But the little village of Warrenton, Va., claims, and can prove it, the first Confederate Memorial Day.

Killed in skirmish at Fairfax Courthouse, June 1, 1861, Captain John Quincy Marr, Warrenton Rifles, 17th Virginia Regiment, buried in the little village graveyard, June 3rd, with military honors; wept over by the old and young; flowers strewn on his grave, and the first Confederate Memorial Day was observed. After the first battle of Manassas, July 21, 1861, the dead and mortally wounded, numbering many, were brought to this same little village, and again memorial day was observed by the women and children.

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Click image of women in Warrenton decorating graves to view source.

Was this, the women’s work, discontinued? No, organized; no, but the spontaneous outburst of the Rachels throughout the land weeping for her children and would not be comforted. The graves of these dead after the battle of Manassas were hastily marked on mere headboards. The living had to be cared for, and only a little band of women to do it. Women, tenderly raised and sheltered, went to the bedside of the wounded and with their own hands dressed the wounds, fed and cared for those men. There were no trained nurses, and only a very few doctors.

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Click image of street scene, Warrenton, Virginia, ca. 1862 to view source.

When the spirit left the body they were buried in the same little graveyard, and the memorial work went on. The names on the boards being almost obliterated, a band of children, none of them over sixteen, determined to replace these boards. A kind carpenter offered to give the smooth plank and make into markers. My mother’s long black porch became the paint shop. One of the boys, now an artist, Mr. Richard N. Brooke, of Washington, cut out letters, which we traced on the white headboards, and repainted as we finished them at the graves, and the memorial work went on. We felt very proud of our work, but in the winter of sixty-three, I think, the Yankees made a raid through our town and camping near the graveyard, they burned the headboards to make their camp fires; but as soon as the spring flowers came, we placed the blossoms on these graves, and each year continued our memorial work.

After the war the bones of these dead were placed in one common grave, and a beautiful monument erected, which bears this inscription: Virginia’s Daughters to Virginia’s Defenders. And so, I claim for Warrenton, Va., the first memorial day, dating it June 3, 1861, when we laid to rest the remains of Captain John Quincy Marr, killed by the invaders of our Southland, June 1st, Fairfax Courthouse, 1861.

R.

 

Where’s Walter?

I have sad news to relate, Walter I think is crippled for life.  These were the chilling words which Parham penned following the bloody Battle of Second Manassas.  Shot in both legs, Walter stayed behind in Warrenton, Virginia where the town’s women tenderly cared for his wounds.  Uncle Newton, Walter’s father, journeyed to Virginia to be with his wounded son.  However, the wounds were mortal, and Walter passed away in October of 1863.

Where do Walter’s remains lie?  There are two markers with his name on it, one at Warrenton Cemetery and another almost 900 miles away at College Hill Cemetery in Mississippi.

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According to the article “To Name the Fallen” Wall Dedicated in Warrenton Cemetery,

Six hundred Confederate soldiers who died in Warrenton field hospitals following the Battles of First and Second Manassas have rested in anonymity in the town’s cemetery since 1877, when their bodies were removed from their unmarked graves and reinterred beneath a granite shaft erected in their honor by the Ladies of the Memorial Association of Fauquier. Although each soldier had originally been identified by a wooden marker made by local schoolchildren, Union troops callously pulled up the makeshift headstones and burned them for firewood in the winter of 1863. The names of Warrenton’s Confederate dead were thus lost to history.

This was the case until, as the before mentioned article explains, 520 of 600 names were accidentally discovered in a misfiled box within the National Archives.  On May 24, 1998, the United Daughters of the Confederacy Black Horse Chapter #9 memorialized the names, Walter S. Buford among them, on a wall erected around the already existing granite shaft.

Did Uncle Newton arrive before or after Walter’s passing?

Though not impossible, it is unlikely Walter’s remains could have been easily transported from Northern Virginia to Mississippi in 1863.  Are conclusions made from National Archive records incorrect, and Uncle Newton arranged for Walter’s body to be transported back to Mississippi?

The wall in Warrenton indicates Walter died on October 1; the tombstone in College Hill shows October 2.  Which is correct?

Did Uncle Newton stay in Northern Virginia long enough to see or learn of what Union soldiers had done to the wooden markers in Warrenton Cemetery? Did he, as a result, choose to have a Memorial Service for Walter among family and friends back home?

Was it common for tombstones of fallen soldiers to be erected in family plots at cemeteries far from where they fell?

29th Letter: “Human Slaughter Pens” (October 18, 1862)

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Click image of Walter Scott Buford to view source.

From P M Buford- Co “G” 11th Miss Regt

 

Mrs Ann. A. Luckie

College Hill

Lafayette Cty

Miss

Oct 18-62

Camp near Winchester

Dear Mother-

I will send you a note by Rufus- he can tell you any thing you want to know- I am well and doing as well as could be expected living on beef & bread and not enough salt to season it-

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Click image of Esom B. Dooley’s tombstone in College Hill to view source.

Just came in two days ago, much sooner than I expected- You have no idea how glad I was to receive those letters + clothing- I had just got a pair of pants from Lubby about two weeks ago.  I was nearly naked-

I reckon you will all be surprised to see Rufus as well as glad but alas- the aw ful news of Walters + Esoms death- I fell sorrow for Uncle Newtons family- but the sad calamity that befel them was the will of an overruling providence and we ought to fell thank ful to him for having spared the lives of so many in the vareid and bloody conflicts than we have in which we have been engaged-

There does seem to be any prospect of another fight soon- + I do hope there will not be for I am heartily tired those human slaughter pens called battles-

…for I am heartily tired of those human slaughter pens called battles

I would like for you to send the other clothing you mentioned the first opportunity- + if you can do so send me a pr of Gloves.

I will close with this- should Rufus get home he can tell you all particulars- Tell the old man I will write him soon. Give my love to all the family and receive a portion for yourself- I remain as ever your devoted son. P M Buford

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Blogger’s Notes:

  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about comrades mentioned in this letter by Parham.
    • Rufus A. Shaw, Parham’s cousin returning home to recover from wounds hand delivered this letter to Parham’s mother, present at Boonsborough, Sharpsburg, where he was severely wounded and brought back to Shepherdstown, Va.  He was retired July, 1864 by reason of wound through left lung.  Parham described the wound in a previous letter as being a ball which entered the left shoulder and came lodged just under the skin and under the shoulder blade. Although eventually retiring almost two years later, Rufus is not cited as having served in any battles following Sharpsburg.
    • Walter S. Buford, Parham’s cousin, present at Second Manassas, where on the second day he was mortally wounded, August 30, 1862; was taken to the hospital, where he died on the 15th of September.  […as gallant a soldier as ever stood before an enemy.  The record the Company shows that he was present at every battle in which the Company was engaged until he was mortally wounded.  Such records made the imperishable names of Lee and Jackson.  Our independence would have been assured could we have recruited our army with such material.  We would have been invincible. – A COMRAD.]  
    • Esom B. Dooley, enlisted…16 years of age…He was present at battles, to-wit:  Two days at Seven Pines, Gaines’s Farm, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Freeman’s Ford, Thoroughfare Gap, and Second Manassas, where he was morally wounded and died at Gainesville, Va., September, 1862.  […a mere youth, modest and gentle as a girl, but every inch a soldier who neglected no duties and always ready to obey orders.]
  • Uncle Newton is Walter’s father who is reported in the previous letter of traveling to Virginia to be with his son.  Did Uncle Newton arrive in time to be with Walter before he died?
  • Did Esom’s remains return to Mississippi from Northern Virginia for burial in College Hill?  Did families of fallen soldiers place markers over empty graves to remember the sons and fathers who never returned home?
  • The phrase the old man in reference to Parham’s step-father is again seen scratched-out in this letter.  Who in my ancestry was offended by the term and marked it out? Was it Parham’s mother, his sister, my great grandmother, or my grandmother whom I received these letters from?
  • Parham again references the will of an overruling providence and the significance of remaining thankful to Him in spite of life’s circumstances.  Does this point to a cultural view of God and man held during the mid-19th century or to a personal belief held by Parham and his family?

28th Letter: Fathers Visit Wounded Sons (October 8, 1862)

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October 8, 1862: page 1

Camp near Winchester Va, Oct 8th- 62

Dear Sister- Again I will avail myself of the present opportunity to send you a few lines- I am enjoying good health and hope this may find you all likewise-

I have no news of interest to communicate- I have never heard from Rufe Shaw yet, nor have I any chance. Old Man Houston came here two days ago to see his son- they are both together at Shephardstown just this side of the River- I expect to hear some thing from him when Houston returns-

Photo is of Walter Scott Buford.

Click image of Walter Scott Buford to view source.

Uncle Newton is with Walter at Warrenton or Richmond, and most all the boys rcd letters by him except me, I was sure you would send a letter- I rcd one from Aunt Polly last week, they were all well, but did not have much to eat, as well as myself.

We have been here two weeks and have not eaten any thing, but beef and bread, and hardly enough of that and haven’t draw did drawn bacon but once- nor can we forage any, for they won’t let us out of the lines- and it won’t pay to buy any thing that is brought in to sell- apples 50 cts pr dozen, honey 1$ per lb- and so on

Our Rgt had just 100 men on drill this morning and this time last year, we had 800- We have now just about 150 for duty- the result of 6 fights that we have been in- I suppose you have heard all the particulars of our last fight by this time, if not let me know in your next & I will particularize-

You may rest assured that I never want be in another battle, such as the last- I could tell you things I saw that would sicken you, but I refrain-  I have myself become some what used to such sights, which I thought I never could do-

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October 8, 1862: pages 2 and 3

Some think that there will be another big fight soon, but there is no telling- I believe the Yankees here are as willing to rest awhile as we are- If they don’t fight in less than a month I don’t believe they will fight anymore this winter- You may rest assured that I never want be in another battle, such as the last- I could tell you things I saw that would sicken you, but I refrain- I have myself become some what used to such sights, which I thought I never could do-

I must close for the present, having nothing to interest you- Write me a long-long letter as soon as this is rcd. Give my love to all the family & servants – & to all enquiring friends- Wishing an immediate reply I remain your affectionate and ever faithful Brother

PM Buford


Blogger’s Notes:

  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about comrades mentioned in this letter by Parham.
    • Rees A. Houston present at Sharpsburg, where he was severely wounded.  Although this letter does not specifically mention Rees by name, we know it is him that Parham writes of because he is the son of  Old Man Houston.
    • Rufus A. Shaw, Parham’s cousin, present at Boonsborough, Sharpsburg, where he was severely wounded and brought back to Shepherdstown, Va.  He was retired July, 1864 by reason of wound through left lung.  Parham described the wound in a previous letter as being a ball which entered the left shoulder and came lodged just under the skin and under the shoulder blade.  Although eventually retiring almost two years later, Rufus is not cited as having served in any battles following Sharspburg.
    • Walter S. Buford, Parham’s cousin, present at Second Manassas, where on the second day he was mortally wounded, August 30, 1862; was taken to the hospital, where he died on the 15th of September.  […as gallant a soldier as ever stood before an enemy.  The record the Company shows that he was present at every battle in which the Company was engaged until he was mortally wounded.  Such records made the imperishable names of Lee and Jackson.  Our independence would have been assured could we have recruited our army with such material.  We would have been invincible. – A COMRAD.]  
  • Thomas Newton Buford, referred to as Uncle Newton by Parham, is mentioned in this letter as visiting with his son, Walter, in either Richmond or Warrenton.  What Parham does not yet know when writing this letter on October 8th is that Walter passed away 23 days earlier on September 15th.  Parham will soon learn of this tragic turn of events and write of it in his next letter.
  • It is assumed that both Old Man Houston and Uncle Newton have traveled from Mississippi to Virginia to visit their wounded sons.
  • Mary Polly Buford, referred to as Aunt Polly by Parham, is indicated to have written a letter about her side of the family not having much food to eat.  Aunt Polly and Parham’s biological father, though not siblings, share a grandfather who was an American Revolutionary War veteran.
  • Parham mentioned there is a shortage of food provisions and that he and his comrades are not permitted to forage for food.  Why is this?  Could it be that the army could not afford to have its dwindling numbers picketed off?  In one year’s time, their numbers have dropped from about 800 to 15o as a result of six engagements with the Yankees.
  • Parham referred to the last battle at Sharpsburg, known as Antietam by the Federals, indicating that he never wants to be in such a battle again and that he will refrain from mentioning the horrors he has grown accustomed to witnessing.

Knitting in the Civil War South

In many of the letters Parham wrote home from the war front, frequent requests are made for articles of clothing such as a woolen jacket, warm pair of drawers, flannel and linsey-woolsey shirts, and yarn socks. It is common for modern 21st century readers to gloss-over such requests, assuming family members could easily purchase articles of clothing at a local department store and then pay a visit to the nearby post office to send the care package along with brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Instead, such requested items were often hand delivered by extended family members and neighbors returning back to camp after recovering at home from wounds or following a furlough. Furthermore, many such articles of clothing would have been hand made by Southern women as an act of patriotism. See Hannah McClearnen’s article about “Knitting in the Civil War South.”

Emerging Civil War

Today, we are pleased to welcome guest author Hannah McClearnen. 

“Weren’t they just at home knitting?”

When people think about the Southern home front, the first image that comes to mind is often the dutiful wife and mother, left at home knitting for their loved ones fighting in the Civil War. This seems to be a benign image, a relatively simple domestic scene that illustrates a small contribution to the war effort.

The tranquil image of Southern ladies knitting for soldiers is not as simple as it seems. “Just knitting” was actually quite difficult.

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Learning Through Primary Sources

Primary sources are an excellent means to learn about the context in which historical events occurred and the perspectives of people directly affected.  The Library of Congress website documents that examining primary sources gives students a powerful sense of history and the complexity of the past.  Letters penned by Parham provide insight on day-to-day life through the eyes of a Mississippi Volunteer Confederate infantryman. Another primary source with respect to this epic within American history is The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government by Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederate States of America.  Davis, according to the preface, authored the work with the view that the South was justified by the Constitution and the equal rights of the people of all the states.  Like many primary sources which require a significant undertaking to dissect, the effort is worthwhile in the lifelong pursuit of learning.  Click on the image of the LibriVox logo below to listen to the audiobook recording of Davis’ historical account.

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Click image to listen to Jefferson Davis’ “The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.”