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-

EsomBDooley_CollegeHillCemetery_OxfordLafayetteMS_29Jun2012

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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Disease, Yankee Ambulance, Wounded Soldiers

620,000 soldiers died during the Civil War. Two thirds died of disease, not wounds.

Disease has been a major theme in the blog thus far.  How many of you have had dysentery, typhoid fever, ague, yellow fever, malaria, scurvy, pneumonia, tuberculosis, smallpox, chicken pox, scarlet fever, measles, mumps, or whooping cough?  Most of these illnesses are almost unheard of today in the Western world because of hygiene and vaccinations. The link below explains several things: why diseases were so prevalent, the types of illnesses soldiers were exposed to, and what an ambulance of that day was like. Parham referred to a Yankee Ambulance in his second and third letters.

First 11th Mississippi Battle Flag. Sewn by the Ladies of Crawford, Mississippi, this flag was retired shortly after the Battle of First Manassas.  Click image to view photo source.

First 11th Mississippi Battle Flag. Sewn by the Ladies of Crawford, Mississippi, this flag was retired shortly after the Battle of First Manassas. Click image to view photo source.

In his third letter, Parham wrote that several…have died within the last week or two, most of them having been wounded in the late battle.  The timing of this letter and the unit’s history indicates the late battle was likely the First Battle of Manassas (also known as Bull Run by the Union) which took place just 19 days before his enlistment.  The gruesome and archaic methods for medical care of the wounded are described in great detail in this link.

http://www.civilwar.org/education/pdfs/civil-was-curriculum-medicine.pdf