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.”

27th Letter: Barefoot and Ragged (October 1, 1862)

In camp near Winchester Va

Oct 1st 62

Winchester_Virginia_Seal

Click image to learn about the history of Winchester, Virginia.

Dear Sir

I will write you a few lines, though I just wrote to Ma a few days since- + I rcd her letter of the 12wlt yesterday- This leaves me in good health- as also those of our company that are present-

I suppose ere this you have heard all of the particulars about our trip into Mary Land- I gave some account of it in my letter to Ma- so I will say nothing of it now- I think our Gens accomplished their purpose -vis – the 11000 Yankees at Harper’s Ferry –

Click image to read

Click image to learn about Shephardstown during the Civil War.

Since I last wrote I have heard that Rufe Shaw + Rese Houston were left at or near Shepardstown- and I would not be at all surprised if the Yankees got them- though one of our company – John Brown was left with them- I thought all the time that they were carried off with the rest of our boys, but they were not able to be moved at the time – I think if Rufe gets the proper attention he will get well-

October 1, 1862: page 1

October 1, 1862: page 1

We had a mint of men wounded in that fight, but never lost 1/3 as many killed as the Yankees- That was certainly one of the hardest contested battles that has ever been fought in this part of the army- I think we got the best of it- They were driven back on the left and we held our ground on the Right-

We have now about 200 men in the Regt and nearly 1/3 of them bare footed and all pretty ragged + I among the number.

October 1, 1862: pages 2 and 3

October 1, 1862: pages 2 and 3

We are in camp about 5 miles from Winchester, living on beef and bread, have not drawn any bacon in two weeks- We have now about 200 men in the Regt and nearly 1/3 of them bare footed and all pretty ragged + I among the number- I reckon we will draw shoes soon- I got a tolerably good pair of pants from Tubby that will do me untill I get those from home- You must write soon and give me all the news about that western army you can- for Ma and Mary never does in their letters – Wishing to hear from you soon I remain your devoted son PM Buford

P.S. Since writing I have heard that Rufe is in Winchester which I hope is so- he will receive proper attention there-


Blogger’s Notes:

  • Parham writes of his cousin, Rufus (Rufe) A. Shaw, and Rees (Rese) A. Houston again.  In the previous posted letter, it is explained that both were severely wounded at the Battle of Sharpsburg.
  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about another comrade, John F. Brown, mentioned by Parham as staying behind at or near Shepardstown with Rufus Shaw and Rees Houston.  No mention is made in the before mentioned reference about John being present at Sharpsburg; it does indicate he was present two days at Second Manassas which occurred just prior to crossing into Maryland.  John was wounded and captured at Falling Waters, when after an exchange and furlough he was present again at Weldon Railroad two days, Dobbs Ferry, Davis Farm, Jones Farm, Hatcher’s Run, and Hawkes Farm, March 25, 1865.
  • Tubby” is Parham’s cousin, Goodloe Warren Buford, Jr.

 

Captured 152 Years Ago This Day

Click image to hear American historian and novelist Shelby Foote speak about the Confederate battle flag.

Click image to hear American historian and novelist Shelby Foote (1916-2005) give his thoughts about the Confederate battle flag.

This is the flag which guided Parham and his fellow 11th Mississippians through battle until captured 152 years ago on July 3, 1863 during Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg by Sergeant Ferdinando Maggi of the Garibaldi Guards, 39th New York Infantry.  The flag is on display at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia.

There has been much debate by media and special interest groups with respect to the meaning of this flag.  Below lyrics to The Cross of the South written in 1861 by St. George Tucker were sung to the familiar tune The Star Spangled Banner.  These words may provide insight on what original users of the flag on battle fields thought it meant.  Did Parham sing this song?                   

  1. Oh! say can you see, through the gloom and the storm,
    More bright for the darkness that pure Constellation!
    Like the symbol of love and redemption its form,
    As it points to the heaven of hope for the nation.
    How radiant each star, as the beacon afar,
    Giving promise of peace or assurance in war;
    ‘Tis the Cross of the South which shall ever remain
    To light us to Freedom and glory again.
  2. How peaceful and blest was America’s soil.
    Till betrayed by the guile of the Puritan demon,
    Which lurks under virtue and springs from its coil,
    To fasten its fangs in the life-blood of freemen.
    Then boldly appeal to each heart that can feel,
    And crush the foul viper ‘neath liberty’s heel,
    And the Cross of the South shall in triumph remain
    To light us to freedom and glory again.
  3. ‘Tis the emblem of peace, ’tis the day star of hope,
    Like the sacred Labarum that guided the Roman
    From the shores of the Gulf to the Delaware’s slope;
    ‘Tis the trust of the free and the terror of foeman.
    Fling its folds to the air while we boldly declare
    The rights we demand or the deeds that we dare,
    While the Cross of the South shall in triumph remain
    To light us to Freedom and Glory again.
  4. And if peace should be hopeless, and justice denied,
    And war’s bloody vulture should flap its black pinions.
    Then gladly to arms, while we hurl in our pride
    Defiance to tyrants and death to their minions,
    With our front in the field, swearing never to yield,
    Or return, like the Spartan, in death on our Shield,
    And the Cross of the South shall triumphantly wave
    As the flag of the free and the pall of the brave.