28th Letter: Fathers Visit Wounded Sons (October 8, 1862)

Oct8page1of2

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.
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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.

6th Letter: The Missing Overcoat (October 12, 1861)

Damfries Va

Oct 12th 1861

Dear Mother.

October 12, 1861: page 1 right

October 12, 1861: page 1 right

I have written two letters home since I heard from any of you, and now as I have an opportunity I will write you a few lines.

I have been in camps two weeks and have enjoyed good health so far, though I had a severe rising on my lip which troubled me two or three days. The mumps have been in our company for 3 weeks, but as yet I have escaped them. There is not much sickness in our Brigade at this time.

I suppose you rcd my letter speaking of the march we made. Scince that time we were called out again, expecting to meet the enemy, and again disappointed. We went about 3 miles, then returned to camp, and now we are expecting marching orders daily, keeping three days rations cooked ahead.

We are about 5 miles from the Potomac. I saw the river to day. I went 1/2 miles from camp, and saw it by climbing a tree.

I can not write much now, as I did not know that Dark was going to start so soon.

Click image of overcoat to view source.

You must tell the Old Man that I think I have lost the Over Coat clean. I was not in camp when it came. One of our boys put it in a box and when it came to the camp it- the coat was gone. I never saw it all. I was was away when it came to the other camp, and also this. I wrote before for one blanket, and I don’t believe we will draw any, and if you can get another I would like to have it. I suppose you got the other list.

October 12, 1861: page 2 on left, page 3 on right

October 12, 1861: page 2 on left, page 3 on right

I rcd letters from Claudia Rodgers and Aunt Polly. They are all well except Ab Rodgers child was dead, the deaf and dump one.

I must close for the present, as it is night and the boys keep up such a fuss that I cant write. I would like to get letters from you all at any time. Give my best respects to the family and inquiring friends. Write soon.

Yrs respt. P M Buford