I was captured in the afternoon of a beautiful Sabbath day, the fifth of July, 1863, in a hospital tent, in the midst of a religious service, surrounded by the wounded on every hand, to whom I was ministering, and at whose urgent solicitation I had voluntarily remained within the enemy’s line.
These were the words of Confederate Chaplain Thomas Dwight Witherspoon. Thomas was ordained in 1860 and installed as pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Oxford, Mississippi. He was influential in the lives of many university students within the community and enlisted with them when the call to arms came in 1861. Thomas served in the 11th Mississippi Lamar Rifles with Parham until, as the need for chaplains in the Confederacy increased, he was transferred to the 2nd and later to the 42nd. Providentially, both he and Parham were attached to Davis’ brigade at Gettysburg. It is possible that Parham, as an amputee, might have been in the hospital tent among the wounded on every hand during the religious service described above.
Upon being captured, Thomas and other chaplains remaining behind were allowed to continue ministering to their wounded at Camp Letterman until they and the medical doctors were transferred on August 7th to Union-controlled Fort McHenry, Fort Monroe, Fort Norfolk, and then back to Fort McHenry again. They were released on November 21st during a prisoner exchange.