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 Tubby 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?
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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 was this?  Could it be that the army could not afford to have its dwindling numbers picketed off?  In one year’s time, their numbers 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.