Captured 152 Years Ago This Day

Click image to hear American historian and novelist Shelby Foote speak about the Confederate battle flag.

Click image to hear American historian and novelist Shelby Foote (1916-2005) give his thoughts about the Confederate battle flag.

This is the flag which guided Parham and his fellow 11th Mississippians through battle until captured 152 years ago on July 3, 1863 during Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg by Sergeant Ferdinando Maggi of the Garibaldi Guards, 39th New York Infantry.  The flag is on display at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia.

There has been much debate by media and special interest groups with respect to the meaning of this flag.  Below lyrics to The Cross of the South written in 1861 by St. George Tucker were sung to the familiar tune The Star Spangled Banner.  These words may provide insight on what original users of the flag on battle fields thought it meant.  Did Parham sing this song?                   

  1. Oh! say can you see, through the gloom and the storm,
    More bright for the darkness that pure Constellation!
    Like the symbol of love and redemption its form,
    As it points to the heaven of hope for the nation.
    How radiant each star, as the beacon afar,
    Giving promise of peace or assurance in war;
    ‘Tis the Cross of the South which shall ever remain
    To light us to Freedom and glory again.
  2. How peaceful and blest was America’s soil.
    Till betrayed by the guile of the Puritan demon,
    Which lurks under virtue and springs from its coil,
    To fasten its fangs in the life-blood of freemen.
    Then boldly appeal to each heart that can feel,
    And crush the foul viper ‘neath liberty’s heel,
    And the Cross of the South shall in triumph remain
    To light us to freedom and glory again.
  3. ‘Tis the emblem of peace, ’tis the day star of hope,
    Like the sacred Labarum that guided the Roman
    From the shores of the Gulf to the Delaware’s slope;
    ‘Tis the trust of the free and the terror of foeman.
    Fling its folds to the air while we boldly declare
    The rights we demand or the deeds that we dare,
    While the Cross of the South shall in triumph remain
    To light us to Freedom and Glory again.
  4. And if peace should be hopeless, and justice denied,
    And war’s bloody vulture should flap its black pinions.
    Then gladly to arms, while we hurl in our pride
    Defiance to tyrants and death to their minions,
    With our front in the field, swearing never to yield,
    Or return, like the Spartan, in death on our Shield,
    And the Cross of the South shall triumphantly wave
    As the flag of the free and the pall of the brave.
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“We Rely Upon Your Strong Arms and Uncoiled Hearts”

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Image Source of Miss Sallie Wiley: ancestry.com

True to the time, 21-year old Miss Sallie Wiley gave a resounding speech to embolden local young men, her peers, of the Lamar Rifles. She shows a truly articulate speech calling on strong arms and uncoiled hearts before the town of Oxford, Mississippi on March 9, 1861.  On that day, Miss Wiley presented a flag to the Lamar Rifles on behalf of the women of Oxford.  Parham was likely  present among the ranks listening to the speech. North and South entered into war a little more than one month later on April 12, 1861 when Confederate artillery opened fire upon the Union occupation of Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.

Captain Green and Volunteers of Lamar Rifles: I have been deputed by the ladies of Oxford and vicinity, to deliver to you the flag which I hold in my hand. Before doing so, however, it is expected that I should say a word. In the progress of every nation there are times of security and quietness, and times of difficulty and danger. In times of peace the minds of men become engaged with their business relations. The pursuit of gain so absorbs the mind that it excludes all other ideas and makes it difficult to introducing people to desist from the objects of their aims. These pursuits tend to effeminacy and tend to destroy that lively sensibility to their rights which characterize proud and independent freemen. The glory of a people depends upon their watchfulness and readiness to maintain the integrity of their rights and the full possession of the liberty which has been secured to them. Encroachment must be resisted. If we sleep upon our posts, it is certain we will be betrayed. Our country has reached that period in her history when our safety is in danger and our honor is compromised. To submit not only dishonors us in the esteem of all true and patriotic men, but it is convincing proof that the spirit of liberty which inspired the fathers of the Revolution, has passed from our midst. Our noble State, looking the danger full in the face, has resolved that she will submit to no inequality of, or denial of her rights. And by your volunteering to bear her flag against all opposers, you have shown your determination to uphold her in her lawful stand. She believes she has a right to maintain her honor and equality without the resort to force. But it may be otherwise. It may be that fanaticism, bloated with ambition and maddened with the possession of power, may attempt to invade our land and lay waste our fields, in order to constrain us to submit to degradation. When that hour comes, if come it should, we rely upon your strong arms and uncoiling hearts to defend our rights, protect the mothers, shield the honor of the maidens of the land, and give security and peace to our firesides. When you yield, our cause is hopeless.

It is on this account we feel so much interest in your organization, and we desire to present to you this memorial of our confidence and our approval. We hope you will accept it and bear it with you on the tedious march, the tented field, and in the hour of danger. As you gaze upon it you must remember that our eyes are upon you. We will sympathize with you in your labors and discomfitures, and rejoice in your triumphs. But we have no misgivings, no apprehensions that it’s honor will ever be tarnished. Whenever and wherever its folds are unfurled, we feel assured your stout hearts will rally to the rescue and we shall be safe. There is one consideration, however, which gives us pain. Those whom you expect to meet as foes ought to be our friends. Instead of trespassing upon our rights, they should be among the foremost in their defense. Ten thousand recollections of the past should impel them to throw their shields over our rights, and to draw their swords in defense of our honor and their equality. But we fear that patriotism has abandoned their bosoms, and mad ambition spurs them on to our subjugation. If it must be so, let the trial come; our brothers will prove sufficient for the protection of ourselves and our country.

Click image to listen to "The Young Volunteer."

Click image to listen to “The Young Volunteer.”

As man cannot love and cherish woman bereft of honor, so one cannot reverence and honor man devoid of courage. We commit the flag into your hands. It is an emblem of the independence of Mississippi, and that proud position of our State must be maintained at any cost or sacrifice. We rely upon you to do it.

2nd Letter: Melons and Measles (August 28, 1861)

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August 28, 1861: page 1

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August 28, 1861: page 2

Confederate States of America Letterhead

August 28th, 1861

Dear Sister-

Once more being able to sit up I will pen you a few lines-  I broke out with measles last Friday and for three days and nights I neither slept nor ate anything.  I never was as sick in my life.  I broke out with them at camp was immediately taken to the country in a Yankee Ambulance, traveling over the roughest road I ever saw.  Walter took sick at the same time and came with me.  We are staying with a very clever man.  I think we will be able to go to camps [sic] in a week or two – 3 more of the recruits were taken with the measles at the same time.  there are none in our Regiment, but one of the boys went over to the 19th caught them.  There has been a great many deaths in that Reg. from them scince [sic] our arrival. At last accounts Dick Shaw had not taken them and I suppose he must have had them before he came.  My habbits of living have been greatly changed since I left home.  Instead of a good bed I have to sleep on the ground with with [sic] one blanket under me and one over me, and anything I can get hold of for a pillow.  We have beef and Miss Pork- flour- Rice to eat.  Wheat bread shortened with grease and coffee without milk + often without sugar.  We drill about 1 1/2 hours in the morning and evening spend the balance of the cleaning up around our tents – and sleeping and reading news papers [sic] whenever we can get one.  I miss the water melons [sic] and peaches that I left behind most awfully.  I hope when you eat them you will think of my case.  I bought 3 small melons last week while at camp for 60cts [sic] a piece and before I had gone 50 yards. they crowded around me to get them-  They pestered me so, I finally sold two for 75cts [sic] each. and went to camp with the other-  I have seen smaller melons than some I had at home for sale for $1.25.  You must write all the war news you hear of any importance and all other news- for we hear nothing hear here [word crossed-out and modified in pencil].  Tell Ma and the old man [words crossed-out in ink] and all.  that they must write whenever they can-  Tell me where they are thriving in Nurion (?)- and especially BH (?).  Give my love to all enquiring friends-  Let no see this.  Write as soon as you can.

Yr [sic] affection [sic] Brother

PM Buford

Address.  PMB 11th Reg. Miss. Vols. can [sic] Capt. Greene