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.
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Camp Fisher Rediscovered

The following link (https://billriski.backpackit.com/pub/1191971) is an excellent source about the rediscovery of Camp Fisher which served as a site for infantry support during a blockade of the Potomac River.  Today a golf course in the Montclair area outside of Washington, D.C., Parham wrote from this camp in his fourth letter that we expect every day to hear that Battery set loose on their (Yankee) vessels.  Below is a quote from the before mentioned link which describes the economic impact of this blockade.

The batteries affected a logistical nightmare and subsequent economical downturn for the Union Capitol in Washington D.C. as prices of everyday goods like coffee, corn and sugar steadily increased. More importantly, it fostered a negative impact on the Northern sentiment and overall support for the war. For the young Confederacy, it was a capstone event ending this first chapter of the conflict in 1861.

Photo Source: https://billriski.backpackit.com/pub/1191971

Click image to view photo source.

4th Letter: Arrival at Camp Fisher (October 2, 1861)

Camp Fisher Oct 2nd 1861

Dear Sir

I wrote to you, Mary and Ma but as yet have rcd no answer.  I came to camp a few days sooner than I expected in the hope of getting letters from some of you- but as yet have received none in reply.  Though beforehand I rd one from each of you.  Yrs mentioning the coat which as yet I have not rcd.

I stayed away from camp 3 (?) weeks.  On my return from the company in good health excepting a few cases of the mumps- which disease I stand a good chance to take.  There are 7 or 8 of the company the company [crossed-out in ink] in the country yet I saw Joe Buford the day before I left. He looks worse than I ever saw him- but I think  he will recover in a few weeks.

I arrived here yesterday about 2OC thinking I would report myself ready for duty in a day or two.  I had just fried (?) myself on some cedar poles to sleep about 9OC, when the the [sic] order “Prepare to march in ten minutes” was given.  You can imagine the bustle that ensued.  They have never given me nothing but musket and you know I was somewhat a little in time in getting a bayonet caps and cartridges [sic]. In lefs [sic] than 3/4 of an hour 60 answered to their names and we were on the march for  _____ nobody knowd [corrected over in pencil with “knew”] but old Gen Whiting.  They did not give us time to get anything to eat.  Those that had any old bread left from supper took some in their pockets and haversacks. (I suppose you had heard of us being near Dumfries).

After marching 1/2 mile we saw we were going in the direction of the River.  There were a great many conjectures as to where we were going, but the majority thought that the Yankees were trying to land and we were going to support our batteries.  All seemed eager to meet them, as they were 60 in raks [sic] when the order was given to march, and that evening there were not exceeding 40 out on drill.

We had marched about 3 miles over a rough road at a rapid gate, when we were halted in an old field- which I supposed to be about 1 mile from the River. where we staid [sic] until morning, some sitting around the fire laughing and talking, others rolled up in their blankets sound asleep.  As unconcerned as if there was not a Yankee in a hundred miles.

At daylight, our Reg and the 2nd Miss were formed into a timeline [“time” smudged] and ordered to pile our blankets, on the ground, marching forward 200 yds, faced about and old Whiting drilled us about 2 hours and marched us back to camp.  I believe he did it to see how many men he could muster.  It was reported that a deserter said they were going to try to land, but I believe it was all a farce.  There were men in that march that hadn’t drilled in two weeks, therefore they will have no excuse next time from drill.  Everyone expected to engage the enemy at daylight.  It learnt [marked over with pencil as “learned”] me one lefsen [sic]-vis to be prepared next time.

We expect to hear that [crossed-out in ink] every day to hear that Battery set loose on their velles [crossed-out in ink] vessels, but I hardly think they will try to land there.  If they do you may look out for squally times.  It is thought they will have a fight shortly up about Fairfax, though every think [sic] is conjecture in the camps.

I want some clothing new [sic] soon.  I want one or two pr drawers of some warm material- one flannel undershirt- two thick flannel over ones- grey or brown and made plain- and if you think best a good pair of boots for winter use.  You can tell Uncle Newton what I want.  Also a good woolen jacket- round about fashion.

Love to all.  Tell them all to write and do so yourself as soon as possible. Respt. P M Buford

2 oct 1861 side 2

October 2, 1861: page 1 on right, page 4 on left

2 oct 1861

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

2 oct 1861 side 3

October 2, 1861: page 5