35th Letter: Gathering Provisions (April 25, 1863)

Bivouac near Suffolk Apr 25th 63-

Dear Mother-

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Click image to learn about the significance of Virginia bacon from Suffolk in the the article “Siege of Suffolk Envelops Hampton Roads.”

I reckon you will be surprised to hear that we are at this place now, after forging so much on the Blackwater- we are close enough to see the town but are not at liberty to go in yet awhile- When we first came here I thought our Gens were going to try and take it, but it is now nearly 3 weeks since we came here and nothing done yet, but a little cannonading and very heavy Picket duty to do-

I think now the object of the move is to get the Forage out of this country, for they have most of the Quarter Masters + Comissarys at work now, buying it up and hauling it out – also taking up the Railroad iron on the two roads leading into Town-

It is said they have already got enough bacon to feed the army of Va over 2 months- + at this time that is a considerable item in this little Government of ours-

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Click image to locate this historical marker in Suffolk, Virginia.

Our lines are as close as we can get them without fighting, giving the enemy no chance at all to come out by Land without fighting- They have the place forayed fortified to perfection- We have also fortified along our lines- and those made by our Regt form a cross with some made during the old Revolution.  Our Pickets are so close to so the enemys redoubts that they can not be relieved in day light being safely ensconced in Rifle Pits and have orders to surrender if the enemy advances in Large numbers- and as sure as they stick their heads up the Yanks will shoot at them.  The Pickets being from 3 to 500 yds apart.

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Click Image to learn about “Mending the Broken Faces of War.”

They try to shell our reserve picket and whenever they go to load their cannons our boys score away at the Cannoniers- We have only had 3 wounded in our Regt and that was the first day before they had dug any pits- + only one seriously, through the chin, had part of his lower jaw taken out- + I think he will recover-

Our Company has been it the Pits once, but during the night,

It had been raining all day and nearly all night, and you could hear the boys stomping and their teeth chattering at all times of the night, but they had to grin and bear it untill just before day when they were relieved,

I being so fortunate as to be on the a more comfortable post, for this reason- the day before 60 of us were detailed to work on breast works, and had to work from 2 Oclock until 2 at night- and our company being on Picket the next night – our capt sent us with (unreadable) that we might fair a little better-

We arrived at camp next night about 8 Oclock, thinking to have a good nights rest, when Lo and behold 3 days rations of flour on hand to be cooked that night and be ready to have at 3 Oclock. We cooked them and it is now nearly night again and have not moved a pig. Such is the soldiers life-

My paper will not allow much more writing now-  Our boys all well except Tom B he has rcd a fur 30 days furlough John Allen has a NC sub in the company now- Jonny Brown has returned and brought the clothing and letters you sent- I would have written by Tom but had no chance. You can let any of the family read this, then burn it. Tell Uncle Newton I would like to get a letter from him. Write whenever you can + I will do the same- Your My Love to all- your devoted and affectionate son

P M Buford

 

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Blogger’s Notes:

  • Parham wrote I think now the object of the move is to get the Forage out of this country.  Below excerpt from article Siege of Suffolk Envelops Hampton Roads states the significance of buying it up and hauling it out. 

    Longstreet remained content to hold his lines and shield his massive foraging effort, leaving Suffolk only after sending millions of pounds of bacon, corn and feed north in a seemingly endless train of wagons.

    That made him late for the early May Battle of Chancellorsville, where a badly outnumbered Lee had to rely upon lesser troops in a brilliant if unlikely triumph over the Army of the Potomac.

    But when Longstreet finally arrived, he brought the provisions Lee so badly needed to take the war north to Pennsylvania.

    “The food from Suffolk is what Lee and his army took to Gettysburg,” former Virginia War Museum director John V. Quarstein says.

    “Without it Gettysburg may never have happened.”

  • The fortifications built by the 11th Mississippi Regiment in Suffolk, Virginia form a cross with some made during the old (American) Revolution
  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about individuals referenced in this letter.
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      Click image of Thomas P. Buford to view source.

      Thomas (Tom) P. Buford, Parham’s cousin, was present at Seven Pines; was reported sick for several months of catarrh and bronchitis on Blackwater near Suffolk; he was furloughed to Mississippi for 30 days per this letter.  Although this will not be the only time he will be furloughed, this one likely saved his life as he was providentially hindered from joining the infantry during Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg.  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, 1865.

    • John N. Allen was present at Seven Pines and Gaines’s Farm, and is reported absent sick until he is present again at Jones Farm, October 2, 1864. Parham mentioned John’s North Carolinian substitute in this letter.  John’s days were not numbered such to been cut short during the war years.  Sickness spared John from several campaigns, including Gettysburg.  After the war he was killed in a private difficulty in Mississippi.
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      Click image of John F. Brown to view source.

      John (Jonny) F. Brown is mentioned to have returned to camp with clothing and letters from Parham’s mother,  He was present at Seven Pines, two days Gaines’s Farm, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Thoroughfare Gap, Freeman’s Ford, two days at Second Manassaswounded and captured at Falling Waters, when after an exchange and furlough he was present again at Weldon Railroad two days, Dobbs Ferry, Davis Farm, Jones Farm, Hatcher’s Run, and Hawkes Farm, March 25, 1865.

 

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34th Letter: The Tyrant and the 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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

Southampton cty, Va

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

Camp near Franklin March 18, 63

Dear Sir-

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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-

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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-

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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.]