The Origin of Memorial Day

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 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 full measure.  Memorial Day reminds us that reconciliation is possible and that it is honorable to remember.

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35th Letter: Gathering Provisions (April 25, 1863)

Bivouac near Suffolk Apr 25th 63-

Dear Mother-

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Click image to learn about the significance of Virginia bacon from Suffolk in the the article “Siege of Suffolk Envelops Hampton Roads.”

I reckon you will be surprised to hear that we are at this place now, after forging so much on the Blackwater- we are close enough to see the town but are not at liberty to go in yet awhile- When we first came here I thought our Gens were going to try and take it, but it is now nearly 3 weeks since we came here and nothing done yet, but a little cannonading and very heavy Picket duty to do-

I think now the object of the move is to get the Forage out of this country, for they have most of the Quarter Masters + Comissarys at work now, buying it up and hauling it out – also taking up the Railroad iron on the two roads leading into Town-

It is said they have already got enough bacon to feed the army of Va over 2 months- + at this time that is a considerable item in this little Government of ours-

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Click image to locate this historical marker in Suffolk, Virginia.

Our lines are as close as we can get them without fighting, giving the enemy no chance at all to come out by Land without fighting- They have the place forayed fortified to perfection- We have also fortified along our lines- and those made by our Regt form a cross with some made during the old Revolution.  Our Pickets are so close to so the enemys redoubts that they can not be relieved in day light being safely ensconced in Rifle Pits and have orders to surrender if the enemy advances in Large numbers- and as sure as they stick their heads up the Yanks will shoot at them.  The Pickets being from 3 to 500 yds apart.

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Click Image to learn about “Mending the Broken Faces of War.”

They try to shell our reserve picket and whenever they go to load their cannons our boys score away at the Cannoniers- We have only had 3 wounded in our Regt and that was the first day before they had dug any pits- + only one seriously, through the chin, had part of his lower jaw taken out- + I think he will recover-

Our Company has been it the Pits once, but during the night,

It had been raining all day and nearly all night, and you could hear the boys stomping and their teeth chattering at all times of the night, but they had to grin and bear it untill just before day when they were relieved,

I being so fortunate as to be on the a more comfortable post, for this reason- the day before 60 of us were detailed to work on breast works, and had to work from 2 Oclock until 2 at night- and our company being on Picket the next night – our capt sent us with (unreadable) that we might fair a little better-

We arrived at camp next night about 8 Oclock, thinking to have a good nights rest, when Lo and behold 3 days rations of flour on hand to be cooked that night and be ready to have at 3 Oclock. We cooked them and it is now nearly night again and have not moved a pig. Such is the soldiers life-

My paper will not allow much more writing now-  Our boys all well except Tom B he has rcd a fur 30 days furlough John Allen has a NC sub in the company now- Jonny Brown has returned and brought the clothing and letters you sent- I would have written by Tom but had no chance. You can let any of the family read this, then burn it. Tell Uncle Newton I would like to get a letter from him. Write whenever you can + I will do the same- Your My Love to all- your devoted and affectionate son

P M Buford

 

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Blogger’s Notes:

  • Parham wrote I think now the object of the move is to get the Forage out of this country.  Below excerpt from article Siege of Suffolk Envelops Hampton Roads states the significance of buying it up and hauling it out. 

    Longstreet remained content to hold his lines and shield his massive foraging effort, leaving Suffolk only after sending millions of pounds of bacon, corn and feed north in a seemingly endless train of wagons.

    That made him late for the early May Battle of Chancellorsville, where a badly outnumbered Lee had to rely upon lesser troops in a brilliant if unlikely triumph over the Army of the Potomac.

    But when Longstreet finally arrived, he brought the provisions Lee so badly needed to take the war north to Pennsylvania.

    “The food from Suffolk is what Lee and his army took to Gettysburg,” former Virginia War Museum director John V. Quarstein says.

    “Without it Gettysburg may never have happened.”

  • The fortifications built by the 11th Mississippi Regiment in Suffolk, Virginia form a cross with some made during the old (American) Revolution
  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about individuals referenced in this letter.
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      Click image of Thomas P. Buford to view source.

      Thomas (Tom) P. Buford, Parham’s cousin, was present at Seven Pines; was reported sick for several months of catarrh and bronchitis on Blackwater near Suffolk; he was furloughed to Mississippi for 30 days per this letter.  Although this will not be the only time he will be furloughed, this one likely saved his life as he was providentially hindered from joining the infantry during Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg.  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, 1865.

    • John N. Allen was present at Seven Pines and Gaines’s Farm, and is reported absent sick until he is present again at Jones Farm, October 2, 1864. Parham mentioned John’s North Carolinian substitute in this letter.  John’s days were not numbered such to been cut short during the war years.  Sickness spared John from several campaigns, including Gettysburg.  After the war he was killed in a private difficulty in Mississippi.
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      Click image of John F. Brown to view source.

      John (Jonny) F. Brown is mentioned to have returned to camp with clothing and letters from Parham’s mother,  He was present at Seven Pines, two days Gaines’s Farm, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Thoroughfare Gap, Freeman’s Ford, two days at Second Manassaswounded 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.

 

At the Siege of Suffolk

In the following letter to be posted, Parham turned his attention from Franklin to another Southeast Virginian town, one located on the edge of The Great Dismal Swamp.  Suffolk was within his sight and under siege by US Federal troops at the time of writing.  Articles The Siege of Suffolk (part one) and The Siege of Suffolk (part two) from Emerging Civil War describe the historical event and hidden evidence of same one can find during a day trip.

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34th Letter: The Tyrant and the Vilest Government (April 1, 1863)

Franklin Southhampton cty. Va

April 1st 63,

Dear Sister

I wrote Ma a letter to send by Cullen two days since and as he has not yet gone I thought I would send you a short epistolary notice of things and general and particular, though of neither have I anything hardly worth mentioning at present.

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Click image hear the Southern “Battle Cry of Freedom.”

We first camef off Picket Guard this morning on the Blackwater 2.50 miles distant and not to work on entrenchments as I supposed + said in Mas Letter. They are coming down rather tight on us now, taking from 3 to 5 cos. a day for various duties. It rained quite hard last night on some of our boys, but I was fortunate enough to be relieved before night and slept as soundly as if I had been on my bunk in camps, having a good shelter- On the return to camp several rcd a ducking in crossing the branches, being swollen by the rain, but that was nothing to be compared with wading those large streams during the chilly months of October and November last.

The 42nd Miss crossed the river yesterday and made a nice trap for some Yankee calvary, which were just in the act of going into it, when some thoughtless brave fired his gun at them and they skedaddled, if perfect silence had been kept, the last scoundrel would have been captured, but alas all are doomed more or less to such misfortunes, but a very fortunate affair, for the invader of our sacred and heaven born soil- We are prepared to meet them at any point they may attempt to Land – having batteries and rifle Pits at every fordable point.

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USA President Abraham Lincoln

It is my sincere desire that we may never again have to fight, but if we do I can do it, for I believe I am trying to support a holy and righteous cause, worthy the suffering and if need be the lives of any People- It has cost us much money and lives, but I am willing it should cost us more, rather than be the subjects of the Tyrant that is trying to subjugate us- It pains me very much to hear of men that I once thought were true + Loyal to the South taking the Oath of allegiance to the vilest Government now in existence, and men too that have sons falling for their rights, and undergoing insurmountable hardships.

They ought to be looked upon with shame and dishonor.  The Stain will be upon their Great-grandchildren…

…but still it is a pleasing thought that none in our neighborhood done it, (I leave out that Dutchman) It reflects great credit on it as a neighborhood, May they ever prove as true as they have done, and we will see the fruits of it,

It is my humble prayer that an All Wise + just God may soon stop this suffering and blood shed- and that we may meet again, if not on earth, in heaven, where parting is no more-. I must close for want Paper Write soon and a long letter to your devoted brother PM Buford.

Give my love to all the family and tell them to write often-

 

 

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Blogger’s Notes:

  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about a comrade mentioned by Parham.
    • William B. Cullen appears to have delivered both this letter and the previous one dated March 29, 1863. He enlisted April 26, 1861, at Oxford, Miss., for one year.  Born in Virginia, was a clerk at Oxford, Miss.; eighteen years of age and single.  He was severely wounded at Seven Pines and lost his right arm, and was retired January, 1863.  This letter was written, and presumably delivered from camp, months after Seven Pines and Cullen being retired from service; maybe the necessary timeframe for his being fit for travel.
  • Parham clearly wrote in this letter his view that:
    • Union forces had invaded Southern sacred and heaven born soil;
    • He was trying to support a holy and righteous cause;
    • Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America, was a tyrant;
    • The Government of the United States of America was the vilest in existence; and
    • Fathers of Confederate soldiers who had taken the Oath of Allegiance ought to be looked upon with shame and dishonor.  He previously wrote in a January 17, 1863 letter of the Oath being administered during Union occupation, asking for names of those who took it.  At the time of writing this letter, Parham believes none in his neighborhood of College Hill had pledged their allegiance, with the exception of possibly one he referred to as that Dutchman.  The term “Dutchman” was used for “German” at the time; some Confederates viewed them with suspicion.

Monument – 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment at Gaines’ Mill

The monument to the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment at Gaines’ Mill is in Mechanicsville, VA on Watt House Road (Virginia Route 718) 0.2 miles south of Cold Harbor Road (Virginia Route 156).  Coordinates are 37° 34.815′ N, 77° 17.436′ W; map.  It marks the site of events described by Parham in two separate letters written on June 30th and July 11th of 1862.  He wrote of four men from Company G listed on the monument in red text below who were killed or died of their wounds in this action, one of which was mortally wounded within three feet of him.  Parham also described the efficacious charge which was accompanied by the famous “rebel yell,” an event which has been etched into the monument.

The erected stone of remembrance documents that Confederate President Jefferson Davis personally visited with the 11th Mississippi Regiment the day following the battle to congratulate them on the victory and to compliment their gallantry.  Why didn’t Parham mention this momentous visit?  It’s difficult to know for sure; however, there may be clues within the letters.

  1. The battle went well into Friday evening
  2. Following the battle, Parham
    1. was perfectly wet to the knees, tried to sleep and couldn’t and
    2. was also up all night, waiting on the wounded. untill day light (on Saturday, the same day as Davis’ visit)

Parham left the Regiment on Sunday due to illness.  Maybe Parham was “providentially hindered” from meeting the Confederate Commander-in-Chief because of night duty, excessive exhaustion, and / or illness.  It’s also possible that Parham was present and just didn’t mention it.

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Click image of monument to view photo source.

Front of Monument:

11th Mississippi
Infantry Regiment
Law’s Brigade
Hood’s Division
Jackson’s Corps
Lee’s Army
of
Northern Virginia
C.S.A.

Dedicated 2016
In their honor

The men who carried this position were soldiers indeed.

Stonewall Jackson on this field June 28, 1862

Side of Monument:

Nearing 6:00 P.M. on June 27, 1862, Gen. Robert E. Lee sensed a critical situation in his stalled attack at Gaines’ Mill and ordered a last charge against the Federal line of General Porter’s V Corps above Boatswain’s Creek. Lee sent forward Gen. Whiting’s Division, consisting of Gen. Hood’s Texas Brigade and Col. Law’s Third Brigade, to the left of Gen. Longstreet’s position.

The 11th Mississippi, attached to Law’s Brigade, pushed toward the ravine without firing and, with fixed bayonets, toward Gen. Morell’s First Division on the upward slope. A soldier in Co. K. 11th Mississippi, recalled “the famous yell was raised that sent terror to Yankee hearts, and a charge began that broke every line in front of the Confederates.”The Union line collapsed when the Rebels stopped and fired point blank into the exhausted Federals, who retreated up the slope toward the plateau near the river. Whiting’s soldiers on the high ground then captured the better part of two Union regiments and fourteen pieces of artillery near the Watt House.

The following evening, President Jefferson Davis visited the quarters of the 11th Mississippi and congratulated them on their victory, paying high compliments to their conspicuous gallantry.

Rear of Monument:

Companies of the 11th Mississippi
A. University Greys
University of Mississippi
B. Coahoma Invincibles
Friars Point
C. Prairie Rifles
Okolona
D. Neshoba Rifles
Philadelphia
E. Prairie Guards
Crawfordsville
F. Noxubee Rifles
Macon
G. Lamar Rifles
Oxford
H. Chickasaw Guards
Houston
I. Van Dorn Reserves
Aberdeen
K. Carroll County Rifles
Carrollton

Side of Monument:

Men of the 11th Mississippi who were killed or died of wounds in this action

Pvt. Henry Anthony, Co. A
Pvt. Daniel O’Leary, Co. A
3rd Cpl. Robert Irvin, Co. B
2nd Lt. Thomas F. Nealy, Co. B
Pvt. Lucius B. Smith, Co. B
Pvt. George Matthews, Co. C
Pvt. Henry L. Shannon, Co. C
Pvt. James P. Wright, Co. C
Pvt. Leonidas W. Burnside, Co. D
Pvt. Bright R. Ham, Co. D
Pvt. George W. Johnson, Jr., Co. D
Pvt. Allen J. Lowry, Co. D
Pvt. Wiley M. Warren, Co. D
Pvt. James E. Halbert, Co. E
Pvt. William J. Norwood, Co. E
Pvt. John C. Brown, Co. F
5th Sgt. Andrew V. Connor, Co. F
Pvt. Levi B. Windham, Co. F
5th Sgt. William E. Duncan, Co. G
1st Sgt. James R. Goodwin, Co. G
Pvt. Jesse E. Hardgrove, Co. G
Pvt. David B. Paine, Co. G
Pvt. John F. Cockrell, Co. H
Pvt. William K. Cook, Co. H
Pvt. Jack J. Dulaney, Co. H
Pvt. John Hellenthal, Co. H
Pvt. Samuel H. Irby, Co. H
Pvt. Robert T. Johnson, Co. H
Pvt. Walter M. McBee, Co. H
Pvt. George L. Reid, Co. H
Pvt. Patrick H. Sims, Co. H
Pvt. Charles J. Wilson, Co. H
Pvt. Alexander D. Pope, Co. I
Pvt. Joseph L. Davis, Co. K
Pvt. James H. Gillespie, Co. K
Pvt. Joseph S. Hoover, Co. K
Pvt. William F. Julien, Co. K
Pvt. Donald McDonald, Co. K
Pvt. Newton A. McMath, Co. K
Pvt. Ambrose M. Moore, Co. K
Pvt. Thomas T. Moore, Co. K
Capt. Pleasant A. Peebles, Co. K
1st Sgt. William W. Pennypacker, Co. K
Pvt. Isham Pittman, Co. K
Pvt. James H. Young, Co. K

 

33rd Letter: Guarding Fords, Building Breastworks (March 29, 1863)

March 29 63

Franklin, Southhampton Cty. Va-

Dear Mother-

I rcd your welcome letter by George Dooley and hasten to reply as I have an opportunity to send one tomorrow, though I have no news of importance to communicate.

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Click image to learn about Confederate breastwork construction.


We have moved our camp about 5 miles The Brigade is scattered about the River guarding fords and working on breastworks, our company will have to work on them tomorrow, for the first time since we have been in service, but if we have to fight I would rather fight them in breastworks than in the open field.

Our Pickets occasionally ou have a skirmish with the Yankee cavalry, but as yet we have had no fight, nor I don’t think we will unless they try to take Richmond by way of Petersburg.

I have been listening every day to hear of them fighting at Vicksburg. It is rumored that they Yanks tried to cross the River at Fredericksburg but failed, but it is seldom now that we ever get any papers and can not keep posted.

I hope the Yanks will keep out of Lafayette this summer and give you all a chance to make some thing to eat.

Do not think hard of me writing no more, for I have nothing that would interest me you- If you have a chance send me a shirt, I have enough of socks and drawers now.

Give my love to all the family and tell them to write soon. Do so your self.

Your devoted son. PM Buford

 

 

 

 

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Blogger’s Notes:

A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about a comrade mentioned in this letter by Parham.

  • George M. Dooley, who delivered the mentioned letter to Parham, enlisted twenty years of age and single.  He was present and wounded at Seven Pines.  On account of wound and sickness he was with the company no more until the battle of the Wilderness; he was present two days, and again at Tolles Mill, where the record says he was mortally wounded, and died May 26 at Richmond, Va.  His wound was through the left shoulder.
  • William B. Cullen appears to have delivered this letter to Parham’s family based on information written to his sister on April 1, 1863. Cullen enlisted April 26, 1861, at Oxford, Miss., for one year.  Born in Virginia, was a clerk at Oxford, Miss.; eighteen years of age and single.  He was severely wounded at Seven Pines and lost his right arm, and was retired January, 1863. This letter was written, and presumably delivered from camp, months after Seven Pines and Cullen being retired from service; maybe the necessary timeframe for his being fit for travel.

Monument – 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment at Sharpsburg

The monument to the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment at Sharpsburg is on the south side of Cornfield Avenue (39°28’51.2″N 77°44’43.7″W; map), 800 feet east of Dunker Church Road.  It marks the site of events described by Parham in a letter to his mother on September 22, 1862.  He writes of four men listed on the monument in red text below, three officers and one enlisted, who were killed or died of their wounds in this action.

 

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Front of Monument:

Mississippi

11th
Mississippi

Infantry Regiment
Law’s Brigade
Hood’s Division
C.S.A.

Dedicated 2012
on the
Sesquicentennial
of the battle

Duty brought them to the field
Honor led them into Battle
Valor covered them with glory

Duch amore patrie
The love of my country leads me

West Side of Monument:

The men of the 11th Mississippi
first engaged the Federals in
the East Woods the evening
of September 16, 1862. In that
action Colonel Philip F. Liddell
commanding was mortally
wounded. The regiment withdrew
for rest that evening to the
shelter of the West Woods
behind the Dunker Church. The
men were cooking hoecakes
at daylight the next morning
when the battle reopened in fury.
Ordered into line as part of
Col. Evander Law’s brigade
they swept across the Hagerstown
Pike and despite heavy casualties
drove Gen. James Rickett’s Division
back over D.R. Miller’s clover
pasture and crossing this point
through the cornfield.

The Mississippians advanced
to a fence at the north edge
of the Cornfield where they
encountered fresh Federal
troops of Gen. George Meade’s
division and were unable
to hold their position. Law’s Brigade
fell back to the West Woods.
Lt. Col. Samuel Butler was fatally
wounded and Major Taliaferro Evans
killed in the charge.
Thus the 11th Mississippi lost
three successive commanding
field officers in the action.
One hundred nineteen men of
the 11th Mississippi were killed,
wounded or missing after two days
of battle on these fields. 

Rear of Monument:

Companies of the 11th Mississippi

Company A – University Greys
University of Mississippi
Company B – Coahoma Invincibles
Friars Point
Company C – Prairie Rifles
Okalona
Company D – Neshoba Rifles
Philadelphia
Company E – Prairie Guards
Crawfordsville
Company F – Noxubee Rifles
Macon
Company G – Lamar Rifles
Oxford
Company H – Chickasaw Guards
Houston
Company I – Van Dorn Reserve
Aberdeen
Company K – Carroll County Rifles
Carrollton

East Side of Monument:

Mississippi

Men of the 11th Mississippi
who were killed or died
of their wounds in this action

Commanding officers
Col. Phillip F. Liddell
Lt. Col. Samuel L. Butler
Major Talieferro S. Evans

2nd CPL Lewis T. Fant Co. A
PVT Anderson Reeves Co. A
PVT Robert N. Taylor Co. A
CAPT James K. Morton Co. B
PVT William L. Gillian Co. C
PVT William T. Kidd Co. C
PVT John I. King Co. C
PVT Jesse Spray Co. C
2nd SGT Isaac G. Perry Co. D
PVT William J. Donley Co. E
5th SGT Joseph C. Howarth Co. E
5th SGT James Feemster Co F
2nd LT William K. Wiggins Co F
PVT Hezekiah Turner Co G
PVT Richard K. Laughlin CO H
PVT John M. Pulliam CO H
2nd CPL John P.F. Stribling CO H
PVT Joseph W. Aiken CO K
PVT Benjamin C. Elam CO K
PVT Samuel M. Hemmingway CO K
PVT Francis M. Hoover CO K
4th SGT James H. Petty CO K

Sources:  Monuments at Antietam, 26th Letter: “Pure Southern Air of Virginia” (September 22, 1862)