16th Letter: Should I Take Furlough? (January 21, 1862)

Camp Fisher

Jan 21st 1862.

Dear Mother,             

Photo, courtesy of family (N.H.), is of young Parham Morgan Buford during pre-war years.

Photo, courtesy of family (N.H.), is of young Parham Morgan Buford during pre-war years.

I rcd your letter 4 or 5 days since, and thought as I had just written to Mary I would not answer yours immediately. I have nothing of importance to communicate. We are well and doing fine at present having nothing to do, but eat and Keep up fires, making rings and pipes.

One of our company has been quite sick with pneumonia but is now better. He is in the Regimental Hospital about 1/2 mile from camp. There is less sickness in camp now than any time since we have been here. But from signs out doors I think we are bound to have some sick before– ness before long, for the mud is at least 3 inches deep, any where you can go. We had a 3 inch snow last week which staid on the ground 2 days, when it com-commenced raining and has not yet ceased.

January 21, 1862: page 1

January 21, 1862: page 1

We perform not duty now except guard, which lighter than formerly, the number of guards being reduced.  Our Col took the guard off the Regt. altogether, but the Gen – came along one day and seeing no guard, told him to put them on again. Now we have only one around the Regt and his orders are to present arms to the Gen.

We are coming down to hard living again, nothing but beef and bread, occasionally sugar + coffee. They havent givin us any bacon in nearly a month. Occasionally we buy from the huxsters, but they ask very unreasonable prices.

January 21, 1862: pages 2 and 3

Our Col went to see Gen Johnson about the furlough, but he said he would have nothing to do with it.  I heard he was going to see the war department about it.  A I do not w know whether to to take it or not.  I thought though I would wait and hear your’s and the Papa’s views about it.  My reasons at present are that there will be a change of officers that won’t suit suit me. at least that is my opinion.

I heard fr rcd a letter from Aunt Polly. they are all well. If you can not get a good chance to send that Box-  just let it alone though I would like to get it very much. I will send a pipe first opportunity and some, rings to the girls. Give my love to all the family and write sooon. Your devoted son P.M.B.


Blogger’s Notes:

  • The Colonel (i.e. Col) Parham wrote about is likely Colonel William Hudson Moore.
  • Parham may have misspelled the name of Gen Johnson by leaving out a “t”.  It may be General Joseph E. Johnston he wrote about.
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15th Letter: “Old Abe and All His Crew” (January 12, 1862)

THIS POST, SPECIFICALLY THE SECOND POINT IN THE BLOGGER’S NOTES, HAS BEEN UPDATED TO SHOW NEW INFORMATION.  CLICK FOLLOWING LINK TO VIEW UPDATE.  http://wp.me/p40u7G-yV

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Camp Fisher Jan 12th 62

Dear Sister

January 12, 1862: page 1

January 12, 1862: page 1

Again I am seated to perform the pleasant task of writing to you. I am enjoying fine health at present and hope this scrap will find you all down with the same complaint.

January 12, 1862: page 2

January 12, 1862: page 2

For the last week we have excellent weather, but the one previous will long be remembered by a majority of the Lamar Rifles. Last Sunday night we had heavy snow for Miss, but a light one for Va, remaining on the ground for two days, when a heavy sleet fell on that, and Thursday our company was detailed to go out on Picket Guard.  It was an extremely raw morning with a high North Wind, and the ground frozen as hard as a rock.

Photo source of Confederate Brigadier General Louis Trezevant Wigfall: Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photographs, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University.  Click image to learn more.

Photo source of CSA Brigadier General Louis Trezevant Wigfall: Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photographs, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. Click image to learn more.

We had to go 3 miles, arriving there about 10 O Clock. We had a very comfortable house to stay in while off Guard, but the worst feature of all, was that the house was a church, where the before the war broke out the peaceful and happy inhabitants worshipped God, now the place expected for a fight with the Abolition hordes, who were the cause of all this carnage and bloodshed, and who will have to account for it at the bar of an a just and impartial God. It is on the Road where the approach of the enemy is expected. There are only two roads that an army can approach us and that is one of them, Wigfall’s Brigade guarding the other.

As soon as we arrived six were detailed to go out and relieved the old Guard which six stood all day. At dusk 10 others were detailed to relieve them and stand. the remainder of the da night, your humble servant Ruf Shaw being of that number.  There were two each post, and two posts, one on each side of the church. My post was on a very hill in a clump of cedars where I heard for a mile on in every direction it being in an old field.

January 12, 1862: page 3

January 12, 1862: page 3

About 7 O clock. it commenced raining. and never ceased it untill 8 O clock next morning. We were not allowed any fire on the post and had our guns loaded. As it was so extremely cold and wet, we were relieved every hour, the ordinary time being two hours. Those that were not on post had a fire under the brow of the hill where it could not be seen in the direction of the enemy. It was so dark after it commenced raining that you could not see an object 20 paces off. I stood four. hours. though the night. as there were ten of us we were relieved every fifth went on post every fifth hour.

Click image to listen to

Click image to listen to “Old Abe Lies Sick.”

The second time I was on I was standing in the rain and wind wishing old Abe and all his crew in the bottom of the Atlantic, when I thought I heard the tramp of an approaching of a horse going at full speed. I listened attentively, and I heard it distantly coming right toward us. I told the other fellow to get on one side of the road, I on the other. Directly he came tearing up the road and when 30 paces off I cocked my piece and halted him. I asked who he was, he said friend, I then told him to advance and give the counter sign, he said he did not have it. He wanted to go on anyhow. I told him there was no use in talking, that I could not let him pass. So I told the other fellow to there and I took him to the officer who released him. We were on a dangerous post, and if he had started off he would certainly have got a load in him. He was the only soul that I saw the whole night.

January 12, 1862: page 4

January 12, 1862: page 4

At present there is now talk of a fight here. I think the enemy will hardly attack us here this winter. I suppose they are waiting untill next spring, and right here the this great furlough arrangement comes up. Yesterday the Captain called out the company and gave us a little talk and wanted to know how many of us would reenlist for two or the war years. I think 52 have signified their intention to do so. Only one of our mess here, Walter.

Photo source of Union Major General George B. McClellan:  National Archives.  Click image to learn more.

Photo source of USA Major General George B. McClellan: National Archives. Click image to learn more.

13th. Since writing the other, Dick and Ruf both seem to me to be inclined to take it also. I can not say whether or not they will. I am as  yet on the fence and do not which way to jump. Though be for deciding I would rather hear the views of you all on the subject. I think myself it is a good arrangement for all the 12 months troops, for it would folly on our part to let all the volunteers go home in the spring, for them McClellan would over run our little army on the Potomac. But I had rather not reenlist for two years, and I want to be free to join any company I like at the end of my time.

I think I have written enough for the present, unless you conclude to write more. I rcd those pants yesterday, which came in good time, but I think what I have now will do me untill next spring. Let me know if you rcd that money and Pipe. Give my love to all the family and enquiring friends and ever remember your devoted brother P M Buford. You can let the family any of the family read this if they want.

Tell me Ma I will write to her soon. You must write written often and give me all the news that is afloat and especially about the 60 day company. I want to know who are the officers.


Blogger’s Notes:

  • Parham writes of Abolition hordes, misspelling hoards which means an amass or gathering.  Found in a few newspapers during the time, the term abolition hoards was periodically used to refer to Union forces.
  • Parham’s thoughts on the U.S. abolition movement and slavery are unknown. According to the 1860 United States Federal Census records, he did not live in a slave owning household the year before the war.
  • Old Abe is 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
  • This is the first letter where Parham provides a political opinion about who caused the war and of Old Abe and all his crew.  Like most Southerners of the time, Parham may have come from a conservative Democratic family; Abraham Lincoln represented the new liberal Republican party.  The two parties have since reversed roles.