34th Letter: The Tyrant and 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

32nd Letter: 40 Saddles Emptied, 100 Prisoners Taken (March 18, 1863)


Southampton cty, Va


Click image to learn more about Franklin, VA area during the Civil War.

Camp near Franklin March 18, 63

Dear Sir-


Click image to learn more about Brigadier General Micah Jenkins (CSA).

I rcd your welcome letters by Major Green two days scince, and having a chance to send a letter home I will do so- Tom Webb has furnished a substitute for five months and will start home to day.

I wrote to Ma by our last furloughed boys, which I hope was rcd- I no news of much importance- We are for one time since I have been in the army in a small command, and I hope we will not have so much marching & fighting to do as here to for- We have two Brigades and a battallion of infantry two Batteries and some cavalry- now another Brig Gen Genkins of S.C.- and guarding the line of Black Water River in front of the Yanks at Suffolk-

We have Pickets at every fordable point and good breastworks. Their Cavalry occasionally makes a raid up the River- to find our strength and positions- but as usual our boys make them skedadle-


Click image to listen to “The Southern Soldier.”

Yesterday morning was clear and pleasant and about 8 Oclock an old Wardog was heard to open down on the River and in a few moments volley after volley of musketing- We were expecting to be ordered out every moment- but were not- A Brigade of cavalry made a dash on our Pickets- They ran in and a Rgt of infantry was then concealed over the River and when they came next time they emptied about 40 saddles and took about 100 prisoner and started towards Suffolk-

I am in hopes we will stay here to Guard this point; they take a company daily from our Rgt for Guard- We left our camp at Murphys station and came to this place 5 miles distant- moving into the Winter Quarters of the 63rd Va- Most of us have very snug cabbins. Some with plank floors and brick chimblys-


Click image to learn about the referenced Yankee attempt to cross the Rappahannock three months earlier.

We are all very anxious to hear from Vicksburg- I hope our men will be able to hurl back the invaders from that point for they would I think rather have it now than Richmond- but I believe it will hold out yet- Every thing is quiet on the Rappahanock. Lee has breastworks all along the River and their next attempt to cross will be worse than the first-

Tell Ma I think she had better kept that money for you all will need it more than I do- Tell her also that she need not send me any more socks for I have enough now- All I need in the shape of clothing is a pr pants-

Give my undying love to all the family and write at every chance- Write soon – yrs affect- PMBuford

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Blogger’s Notes:

  • Parham penned that an old Wardog was heard to open down on the River.  What is an old Wardog and what does it mean to open down on the River?  Is it a reference to a canine used by military forces to sniff-out someone in hiding, a slang term for a battle hardened soldier, a reference to a River Boat, or something else?
  • Parham mentioned anxiety held by 11th Mississippians over Confederate defenses against Union forces at Vicksburg, a logistical gateway between the Eastern and Western theaters.  Both Parham and Vicksburg, Mississippi’s Rock of Gibraltar, will eventually fall into the hands of enemy forces on the same day.
  • Micah Jenkins, graduate of The Citadel, was promoted to the rank of CSA Brigadier General at age 26.  First Manassas, Seven Pines where wounded in the knee, Second Manassas where wounded in shoulder and chest, Sharpsburg,  at Fredericksburg not engaged, participated in campaign of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet against Suffolk, second day’s fighting of Chickamauga, Kimbrough’s Crossroads.  While riding with Longstreet during Battle of the Wilderness, both were struck down by friendly fire on May 6, 1864. Although Longstreet survived, Jenkins died several hours later of a head wound while rallying his men.  He left behind a son, Micah John Jenkins, graduate of West Point who served as one of “Roosevelt’s Rough Riders” during the Spanish-American War.
  • CSA General Robert E. Lee’s breastworks are mentioned for the prevention of a second Union crossing of the Rappahannock River as had previously occurred at Fredericksburg, VA.
  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about other comrades mentioned by Parham.
    • Here we see that Francis M. Green appears to been promoted from Captain to Major since mentioned in a previous post.  Enlisted February 21, 1861, at Oxford, Miss., for one year.  Lawyer by profession.  Residence Oxford, Miss.; age, thirty-six; married.  Present at battle of Seven Pines; Gaines’s Farm; White Oak Swamp; Malvern Hill’ Freeman’s Ford; Thoroughfare Gap; Second Manassas; Boonsborough, Md.; Sharpsburg; Gettysburg; Falling Waters; Bristol Station; Wilderness; Tolles Mill in which latter engagement he was mortally wounded and died on the 15th of May, 1864.  When killed and for some time before was and had been promoted to Colonel, and was in command of the Regiment.
    • Upon paying a substitute to fill his role for five months time, Thomas (Tom) M. Webb hand delivered this letter home for Parham.  He enlisted April 26, 1861, at Oxford, Miss.  A farmer near College Hill, Miss.; twenty-three years old and single.  Present two days at Seven Pines; Gaines’s Farm, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Freeman’s Ford, Thoroughfare Gap, Second Manassas, two days; then absent sick and detailed.  Promoted Sergeant, and discharged in March, 1863. [After discharge Comrade Webb returned to Mississippi and raised a cavalry company and went into the service in Bragg’s Army, and was killed in front of Atlanta, Ga.; a gallant soldier.]

31st Letter: Parham’s Humble Prayer (March 10, 1863)

Franklin Southhampton Cty

March 10 1863- Va

Dear Mother

I rcd your letter on the 3d inst, which you may know was perused with the greatest pleasure- As the two furloughed boys have returned, and tw0 other will start soon I will will write by them- though I have no news of importance to communicate-


Click image of Civil War era map to view Southeastern part of Virginia, from York River and West to Black Water River

We left this camp two days ago and were out on our post two days on the Black Water 5 miles distant- But the Yanks did not make their appearance during our stay- Thier main body is at Suffolk 25 miles distant- Occasionally a small scouting party makes a dash up this way, but soon return- Every day some one runs the Blockade from Suffolk bringing in shoes hats soda knives $ou The citizens are allowed to pass into our lines and bring in their produce and when we had the first chance at them we could buy things cheap- but alas for poor soldiers when a speculator gets hold of it- selling at 4 times cost. Here we can’t get Soda for less than 8$ per lb then for 2$- eggs 1$ ham 50 cents &&&-

I like our position here finely- we are guarding this line in front of Suffolk and if we stay here I don’t think that we will have much fighting to do- for I don’t think they intend to advance by this route- There has been an average of 2 deserters a day from Suffolk since we have been here- They all tell the same tale- tired of fighting – & I wish that all of them would taste that idea. But the men in authority at the North have hold of the wheels and can turn or stop them at their will- I think it is plain enough to the minds of the North that they can never subjugate us nor will they do it as long as Southern men will stand at their posts-

I have seen war and suffering in its darkest shades and can truly say that I have seen enough.

It is my humble prayer that the Confederacy have a speedy and honorable peace- I have seen war and suffering in its darkest shades and can truly say that I have seen enough- May we soon meet at home where there is peace and happiness, and if not there in heaven where there are neither wars nor rumors of war and where troubles are not known

Write soon and often to your true and ever devoted son.

PM Buford

All I kneed in the shape of clothing is a pr pants, if you can send them by any one do so.


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Blogger’s Notes:

  • unknown

    Click image to read “What is an Honorable Peace?”.

    Parham prays for a speedy and honorable peace for the Confederacy.  The New York Times article What is an Honorable Peace? from August of 1864 mocks the term in a vitriolic diatribe toward Confederates and Copperheads (i.e. Northern Democrats) and speaks of the salvation of the Union as a justification for the War (the end justifies the means). Media idolization of overreaching centralized government and disdain for those who prefer freedom over subjugation is not unique to our modern era.

  • Parham’s word choice of neither wars nor rumors of war is borrowed from Jesus as found in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.

30th Letter: Negroes Gone, Houses Burned, Food Destroyed (January 17, 1863)

Goldsboro NC Jan. 17th, 63.

Dear Mother-


Click image of USA General Grant’s forces encamped at Oxford, Mississippi to learn more.

From what I can learn the mails to Oxford are now in operation, so there is once more a chance to hear from our beloved and down trodden homes. You can not have the least idea how anxious I am to hear from you and still at the same time I almost shudder to hear of the condition those infernal Yankees have left you in, but I hope they have left you all enough to subsist on-

I thought I would not write untill I was certain you would get my letter. Several of the boys have already rcd letters direct from home but none from our immediate neighbor- Tom Buford arrived a few days scince bringing some news about their operations in that quarter- he told me that old Peter and family had gone and that…

…nearly all the negroes in the county had gone that they had destroyed all that the people had to subsist on, even to the last fowl-


Click image of Henry G. Fernandez to view source.

I learned also that they had burnt Fernandez house- and cut up generally, but as yet, I have heard nothing positive.


Image is of Southern men taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.

I hope you may receive this soon and give me all particulars- and tell me particularly who took the oath of Allegiance. I just imagine they have utterly ruined that country- but I believe there is a day of retribution coming sooner or later- I have enjoyed excellent health and doing as well as could be expected under the circumstances, but it is with a sad heart that I hear of the death of so many good and brave men by the ball of the vile invader. Two evenings scince I heard of the death of John Buford George Hope and the wounding of several other boys from our neighborhood-


Click image to learn more about CSA Brigadier General Joseph Robert Davis.

The last letter I rcd from home was just after we left Cullpeper Cty. We left our old Brigade to form one composed of Miss boys commanded by Joe Davis a nephew of Jefferson- We staid at Richmond a month, when we were ordered to this place where the Yankees were trying to make an entrance- They had a small fight at H Kinston, 20 miles below and came up this far when they burnt the K Rail Road Bridge, but hearing that we were on our way here to reinforce they retreated back to Newborn where there is now said to be about 50,000 intending to attack this place Welden and Wilmington, but there is no telling what they will do.


Click image of North Carolina’s 1861 flag to prepare for your visit to this friendly state.

I am much better pleased with the old North state than I expected- We are living high, at this time on corn dodgers and Potatoes- rareties that we have not been used to- The people around here have not much wealth but they are good livers and as are as free hearted a people as it has ever been my lot to meet with.

We are encamped in a perfect Pine Thicket and it takes all the soap we can get to keep the Pine smoke off. We have a snug chimney to our tent and can fare finely this winter if they will only let us stay here- but our movements will be altogether owing to the movements of the enemy.

I must close for want of paper which I expect you need. Write soon and let me know the worst. We will draw money soon I will let you have mine if you need it. Give my love to all the family and tell them to write immediately. Tell the old man  to write as soon as he can I will write to him next. I would like to write more, but have not the paper. Let me hear from you as soon as possible. Ever your true and devoted son. P M Buford

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Blogger’s Notes:

  • This letter contains several complex topics.
    • The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect 16 days before this letter was written.
    • Total war upon civilian population shattered the morale of Southerners at home and serving far away.
    • logo2

      Click image to learn about UDC.

      Those who took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States before the war’s end were viewed as traitors and cowards.  No Confederate ancestor who took the Oath of Allegiance before April 9, 1865, shall be eligible to be used for application for membership within the United Daughters of the Confederacy. If proof of further Confederate service is available, thereby nullifying the Oath of Allegiance, the ancestor shall be considered for approval.

  • John Buford, likely an extended family member who served in a different regiment, is mentioned by Parham when he writes of the death of so many good and brave men by the ball of the vile invader.
  • Joseph (Joe) R. Davis, CSA Brigadier General, nephew of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, served in Mississippi senate during pre-war years.
  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about comrades mentioned by Parham.
    • pic5

      Click image of Thomas P. Buford to view source.

      Thomas (Tom) P. Buford, Parham’s cousin who brought the camp news of Northern operations in Oxford,  enlisted April 26, 1861; twenty-eight years old and single.  He was present at Seven Pines; was reported sick for several months of catarrh and bronchitis on Blackwater near Suffolk; he was furloughed to Mississippi.  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, 1863.

    • Hope photo

      Photo source of George W. Hope: “Lamar Rifles: A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A.”

      George W. Hope, who hand-carried a previous letter to Parham’s family, enlisted April 26, 1861. Born in Mississippi, a student, single and 20 years old.  He was discharged…by reason of accidental wound through left wrist. [After recovery he reenlisted in the 30th Mississippi and did gallant service for his country in that command.  Was killed at battle of Murfreesboro, Tenn.]

    • Henry G. Fernandez, whose house was burned during the Union occupation, enlisted April 26, 1861; twenty years old and single.  He was present first and second days at Seven Pines, Gaines’s Farm, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Freeman’s Ford, Thoroughfare Gap, first day, Second Manassas, second day, Sharpsburg; first day, Gettysburg, Falling Wilderness, and on account of ill health was never with the Company any more.