Pickett’s Charge

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Click image to watch History Channel’s portrayal of Davis’ Brigade during Pickett’s Charge.

History Channel portrays a minute by minute description of the artillery barrage into which CSA Brigadier General Joseph R. “Joe” Davis led the 11th Mississippi.  The long march from west of the tree line on Seminary Ridge to the stone wall near the Brian Barn, known as Pickett’s Charge, is believed by many to be the turning point of the War.

Below are the on-site monuments to the 11th Mississippi and their inscriptions about the fateful charge.

11th Mississippi
Infantry Regiment

Davis’ Brigade – Heth’s Division
A.P. Hill’s Corps
Army of Northern Virginia
Confederate States of America
Afternoon July 2 – July 4, 1863

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Click photo to view source on gettysburg.stonesentinels.com.

 

The 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, under the command of Col. Francis M. Green and Maj. Reuben O. Reynolds, formed west of the tree line on Seminary Ridge behind Maj. William Pegram’s Battalion of Artillery and immediately south of McMillan’s Woods on July 3, 1863. Shortly after 3:00 p.m., Color Sgt. William O’Brien of Company C, memorialized on this monument, raised the colors and the regiment stepped forward. Although clusters of men reached the stone wall near Brian’s Barn, the attack was driven back with heavy loss, and the remnants of the regiment reformed in this vicinity.

Combatants – 393
Killed in action/died of wounds – 110
Wounded/wounded captured – 193
Captured unwounded – 37
Non-casualty – 53

11th Mississippi Regiment 
Company A – University Greys
Layfayette County – 1st Lt. Jonathan V. Moore
Company B – Coahoma Invincibles
Coahoma County – Capt. William D. Nunn
Company C – Prairie Rifles
Chickasaw County – Capt. George W. Shannon
Company D – Neshoba Rifles
Neshoba County – Capt. Jonathan R. Prince
Company E – Prairie Guards
Lowndes County – Capt. Henry P. Halpert
Company F – Noxubee Rifles
Noxubee County – Capt. Thomas J. Stokes
Company G – Lamar Rifles
Lafayette County – Capt. William O. Nelms
Company H – Chickasaw Guards
Chickasaw County – Capt. Jamison H. Moore
Company I – Van Dorn Reserve
Monroe County – Capt. Stephen C. Moore
Company K – Carroll County Rifles
Carroll County – Capt. George W. Bird, Jr.

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Click photo to view source on Civil War Talk.

July 3, 1863. The 11th Mississippi Infantry regiment, with its ranks growing thinner at every step, advanced with the colors to the stone wall near the Brian Barn.

The regiment was here ‘subjected to a most galling fire of musketry and artillery that so reduced the already thinned ranks that any further effort to carry the position was hopeless, and there was nothing left but to retire.

– Report of Brig. Gen. Joseph R. Davis

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Gettysburg

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Click image to watch Nick Hodges’ History Buffs review of American war film Gettysburg (1993), written and directed by Ronald F. Maxwell, adapted from the historical novel The Killer Angels (1974) by Michael Shaara.

After a Confederate victory in Union country was secured, the plan was for the Army of Northern Virginia to march toward Washington, D.C. The hope was that the United States would recognize Confederate independence and agree to peace terms. Confederate and Union troops collided at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The three day battle which erupted has since fascinated historians and military tacticians around the world. Parham experienced first-hand what countless books, films, and documentaries have portrayed.

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Click image to order your print of artist Dale Gallon’s Imperishable Glory. Description: Just west of the Brian (Bryan) Farm – Gettysburg, PA, July 3, 1863 – Soldiers of the 11th Mississippi Volunteer Infantry Regiment valiantly rally around their flag and advance upon the Union line positioned on Cemetery Ridge during Longstreet’s Assault.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking the War to the Enemy

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Click image to learn about Stonewall Jackson’s death.

There is a 41 day gap from the previous posted letter and the next one dated on July 4, 1863 from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Shortly after the previous letter was written on May 24th, the Army of Northern Virginia was reorganized from two to three smaller Corps as a result of the death of CSA Lieutenant General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.

In early June, CSA Brigadier General Joseph R. “Joe” Davis was ordered to report to General Robert E. Lee in the vicinity of Fredericksburg, Virginia with the least practicable delay.  From there, the Confederacy would take the War into the enemy’s country.

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Click image to purchase Steven H. Stubbs’ Duty-Honor-Valor: The Story of the Eleventh Mississippi Infantry Regiment.

 

 

Steven H. Stubbs’ Duty-Honor-Valor: The Story of the Eleventh Mississippi Infantry Regiment provides a description of events Parham would have witnessed during the time gap from Southeast Virginia to Gettysburg.  Below is a brief summary of what the before mentioned source provides in greater detail.

June 2:  Order received to cook 3 days rations and prepare to move

June 3:  3:00 am reveille, marched two hours later, 10:00 am reached Ivor Station, 3:00 pm boarded railcars for Petersburg, arrived around 5:00 pm

June 4:  Marched 23 miles through Petersburg toward Richmond

June 6:  4:00 am boarded Virginia Central Railroad cars in Richmond, rode north and changed to Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad cars to Fredericksburg, arrived that evening

June 7:  Remained in trenches and breastworks at Fredericksburg

June 13:  11th Mississippi set-up theatrical performance in warehouse

June 14:  Departed trenches and breastworks, marched through carnage from six week’s prior at battlefield of Chancellorsville

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Click image to listen to “The March of the Southern Men.”

June 16:  Up at 2:00 am, departed 11:00 am, halted mid-day beyond Chancellorsville, moved within 11 miles of Culpeper Courthouse

June 17:  Marched about 1.5 miles beyond Culpeper Courthouse, stopped for night at 10:00 pm

June 18:  Marched, very warm day, several overheated and fell out of ranks, camped on North side of Rappahannock, rained all night

June 19:  Continued march at sunrise, passed through Sperryville, moved up east slopes of Blue Ridge mountains near Chester Gap, 27 miles marched

June 20:  Early dawn, struggled to top of Chester Gap, rested on summit of mountains, marched down western side of Blue Ridge, camped three miles east of Front Royal

June 21:  Moved-out 4:00 am, marched through Front Royal and down Winchester Turnpike, then east to parallel road toward Potomac River, passed through White Post and camped 3 miles from Berryville, 12 miles marched that day

June 22:  Rested

June 23:  Departed 11:00 am; passed through Berryville and Rippon, West Virginia; moved within three miles of Charleston, West Virginia and camped for night

June 24:  Marched within two miles of Shepherdstown, West Virginia on the Potomac

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Click image to see period sheet music and lyrics to “Maryland, My Maryland!”

June 25:  Marched early dawn, crossed Potomac into Maryland and band played Maryland, My Maryland, camped south of Hagerstown

June 26:  Departed about 9:00 am; marched northeast and crossed into Pennsylvania, met by several hundred observing girls as they marched past a school, several of whom demonstrated Confederate presence; stopped two miles south of Waynesboro

June 27:  Moved north at 5:00 am for seven miles through Funkstown and Fayetteville, turned east and marched three miles

June 28:  Camp awoke to band playing hymn Safely Through Another Week, Sabbath rest and communion services

June 29:  Marched toward Cashtown and within sight of Gettysburg that day

June 30:  Some of CSA Brigadier General Joe Davis’ men stayed in camp as rain continued through day while others went on picket duty, camped at Cashtown that night

July 1-3:  Battle of Gettysburg

July 4:  Date of next letter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

36th Letter: “God Only Knows When This War Will End” (May 24, 1863)

                                                                                         Bivouac on Blackwater

May 24th, 63

Dear Sister-                       

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Click image of Parham’s church in College Hill, Mississippi to learn about his home community behind Yankee lines.

Not knowing whether you are in the Yankees lines or not, I will write for I know you are all anxious to hear from me. I am in good health, as also the company with the (page torn, word appears to be consumption) of one or two that never are well enough to do duty-

We have been running about quite briskly for the last week- up and down our line, for you must recollect our two Brigades has a line at least 60 miles long to guard- We crossed the River yesterday and had a skirmish with the enemy about 4 miles beyond, but without the loss of a man- They threw a few shells at us, but they passed harmlessly over our heads- We lay in line of battle untill night, when we recrossed the River, with our whole force- This makes the second time lately that our Gens have offered them battle on that side of the River, and I hope now that they will wait for them to try to cross-

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Click image to watch Vicksburg Animated Map by American Battlefield Trust.

We have splendid fortifications at every ford and will give them a warm reception whenever they attempt to cross I (words unknown, page torn) to think the Yankees have come as far into Va as they will ever get- but alas, the bad news reached us yesterday that Pemberton had been whipped, with the loss of 38 Pieces of Artillery and had fell back to Vicksburg. I am inclined to disbelieve it if it is so it will be an awful slam on us-, but I am still in hopes Jonston will strengthen that army out down there and make them do something yet- Vicksburg is one the principal objects of the Yankees, and if they get it,

God only knows when this war will end. May an honorable and speedy peace soon…

 

 

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Blogger’s Notes:

  • John Pemberton

    Click image of CSA Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton to learn about his defeat.

    Parham’s sister in College Hill, Mississippi was behind Yankee lines, and Parham previously wrote on January 17, 1863 of learning about the burning of a home within the community by occupying forces. Assuming family food provisions had been taken by the enemy, he also mentioned sending money home in the same letter and again on March 18, 1863.

  • Parham wrote of two individuals in this letter.
    • John C. Pemberton (CSA Lt. Gen.) is stated to have been whipped, showing how quickly, just seven days, news of the disastrous blow to the Confederacy at the Battle of Champion’s Hill traveled from the Mississippi River to the 11th Mississippi located in Southeast Virginia.
    • Joseph E. Johnston (CSA Gen.) had been mentioned before by Parham (November 23, 1861 and January 21, 1862) as he was the original commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and replaced by Robert E. Lee when wounded at Seven Pines.  Upon recovering from his wounds, Johnston commanded the Western theater where Parham wrote he hoped to see him strengthen that army out down there and make them do something yet.
  • The remaining sheet(s) of this letter appear to have been lost to time; hence, the reason for the abrupt end.

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

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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