21st Letter: “Some of Us Must Die” (June 8, 1862)

Miss Mary J. Buford

College Hill

Lafayette. Cty Miss

Politeness of A G Burney

Camp near Richmond

Va

June 8th, 1862

Dear Sister.

June81862 page 2:4

June 8, 1862: page 1

I sent a letter to Ma two days ago by one of our company that was going home and as another one is going home tomorrow I will write you a few lines. though I have nothing of much interest to write as I sent most of the particulars in that letter, both of which I do sincerely hope you will receive.

This again leaves all well and in good spirits, considering that we have not had a change of clothing and been eating bacon and crackers and running about for two weeks. I know ere either one of my letters reaches you you will have heard of the bloody fight that we were engaged in. I will not give any particulars in this letter as I am sure you will get the other, as it was sent by hand.

It was by the interposition of a kind providence that as many of us escaped unhurt as did. There was three two that we know was killed and another that we think was killed, besides 27 of them that was k wounded and several that will not join the company.  One that I know of th had his right arm amputated. Two missing. Dick Shaw and Joe Markett, poor fellows I am afraid that if not killed, they are taken prisoners. We have never heard one word from them since the fight, which was a week ago yesterday (Saturday). I know with what feelings the news will be received at Uncle Williams, but we must bear up with it as best we can, for some of us must die before we can gain our independence.

but we must bear up with it as best we can, for some of us must die before we can gain our independence.

June81862 page4:4 1

June 8, 1862: page 2

Of the College Hill boys Dick and Frank Hope and Jim Doak. and Jno Doak were among the wounded killed and missing. Frank had a slight wound in the foot Jno Doak in the arm, and Jim Doak was killed died on the field, making 32 in all and 192 in the Rgt.

Several times limbs that were cut off by the Grape shot fell on me, once the blood out of a man flew into my face and a musket ball knocked the dirt into my eyes.  You can imagine how thick and fast an they fell from the casualties in our Rgt, but our men were crowned with success.  We took between 800 and 1000 prisoners, got possession of their camp and equipage and took 15 or 18 pieces of artillery, though we lost a great many men, and all reports say the enemys lofs was twice as great as ours.

When going to the battle field- we went through a Yankee camp which they had ????? suddenly deserted, which for comfort is nothing to compare with ours. All of them have a large Oil cloths to make tents of, and they had left coffee and sugar and whiskey + fine clothes +. all of which we got. I found an envelope with five letters in it and it, one or two of which I will send you, which certainly a rarity. An old woman sent her son “five cents” in a letter and was anxious to know if he got it and the old man sent him a dollar to buy his cigars and tobacco with. I read something that was really too obscene for a gentleman to write. It was to Wm Moore 52nd Rgt Pa Vols.

After the fight Saturday, we lay in a thickett of woods close to where Sunday morning close to where they were fighting, but did not get into it. They threw shell all around us, but did not no damage, but killed two and wounded two in the fourth Ala Rgt. The enemy were again whipped, but I know nothing of the particulars, For two hours the artillery and musketry made one continual roar.

We have been moving about in the woods from one place to another to keep the enemy from seeing us, untill the day before yesterday our regiment was the advance guard. We were laying in a hollow and in an old field about 1/2 mile from the Yankees. Our skirmishers saw them once and fired at them, when they returned, We staid there untill dark when we were relieved by another Rgt. In going through the field we could see their white tents plainly. We came about 2 miles yesterday to this place, where we are now staying, waiting to see what will turn up next. They have an artillery duel nearly every day, but we have become so used to those sounds that we pay no attention to them whatever.  

June 8, 1862: page 3

June 8, 1862: page 3

I must close for want of paper. as I will have to take one side of this for an envelope.  I rcd a letter another letter yesterday from the old man Mr. L and Ma which was truly welcome, dated May 26th.  Our Gens say they are done retreating and I reckon Richmond will be our Post Office for a good while.  Be sure and answer this immediately. Give my love to all the family. Tell Ma I will write to her next. Newt and Rufus are both sick in Richmond. but I think they will return shortly. Wishing to hear from you immediately I remain as ever your devoted Brother and faithful friend.

P.M. Buford

Co G. 11th Miss Rgt. Richmond Va


Blogger’s Notes:

  • June81862 page 1:4

    June 8, 1862: wax sealed folded paper used as envelope

    The letter was folded such that the reverse side on one sheet served like the outside of an envelope.  There is a burnt orange waxy residue on the paper which likely served as a means of sealing the letter until its final destination.

  • Written faintly, almost too light to decipher, on the lower left side on the outside of the folded letter are the words Politeness of A G Burney.  The blogger believes this indicates Parham’s comrad, Addison G. Burney, hand delivered this letter from the battlefront in Virginia to College Hill, Mississippi for Mary to read.  Addison was severely wounded during the first day of the Battle of Seven Pines and likely returned home to recover; he returns back to the infantry, is mortally wounded, and died May 12, 1864 at the Battle of Spotsylvania.
  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about comrades mentioned by Parham.
    • Frank Hope was seriously injured during the battle of Seven Pines, on account of which he was absent from the Company until the battle of Gettysburg.
    • Robert (Dick) Shaw, Parham’s cousin, was present at Seven Pines and captured. Exchanged August 9, 1862, and died of scurvy at Richmond very soon after in the same month.
    • Flavius J. (Joe) Market was a fine, stalwart youth, I suppose six feet or nearly tall, handsome and a manly fellow and good soldier…was killed at Seven Pines…The patriot could do no more than give his life for his country. May he rest in peace.
    • Jim (James) Doak was present at Seven Pines, where he was killed in battle.
    • John M. Doak was present and wounded at Seven Pines.
    • Rufus Shaw, Parham’s cousin, was present at Seven Pines…at Sharpsburg, where he was severely wounded…was retired July, 1864 by reason of wound through left lung.
    • William N. (Newt) Shaw was present at Seven Pines…at Weldon Railroad, where he was killed on first day.
  • Click image to view speech from movie

    Click image to view speech from movie “Gods and Generals.”

    Parham reveals his perspective in this letter on why he is fighting, to gain independence from the United States of America.  Americans today call their forefathers Patriots; however, they were known as Rebels by the armies of King George III of England.  Several generations later, the armies of President Abraham Lincoln likewise referred to Confederate soldiers as Rebels.  Both the Patriots and the Confederates had succeeded from a government.  Both King George III and President Abraham Lincoln sent military forces to “suppress the rebellion” of those who had declared their independence.

  • Parham writes of rummaging through letters in a Yankee camp which they (i.e. the enemy) had suddenly deserted. Specifically mentioned are letters to Wm Moore of the 52nd Pennsylvania Volunteers, one of which contains details too obscene for any gentleman (i.e. Parham) to write down.  Records show there were two individuals within Company C, 52nd Pennsylvania at that time whose letters these could have been.  The first is Wm. J. Moore who was discharged from the U.S. Army less than three months later on August 29, 1862 on a surgeon’s certificate.  The second is William Moore who was mustered out for completing his term of service on November 5, 1864.
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One comment on “21st Letter: “Some of Us Must Die” (June 8, 1862)

  1. Jay Smith - US says:

    Fascinating!
    Jay

    Like

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