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?
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
September 5, 1861: page 1 on right, page 4 on left
I suppose you all will think I intend to do all the writing, as I just wrote to Mary a few days ago. But as I have changed my place of abode I thought you would like to know about it. I gave an account of my having the measles in Mary’s letter which I mailed two days before receiving hers. Walter young (?) Stowers and myself are staying with a very nice family about 3 miles from Warrenton, the county seat of F’aquier [sic]. There is another very sick soldier here, but I think he will recover, though several of them around in the country have died within the last week or two, most of them having been wounded in the late battle. The people through the country seem to take great interest in the welfare of the sick and wounded soldiers. At some houses there are as many as 8 and 10. There are a great many sick in our Reg. at this time, mostly cold and fevers. For fear Mary’s letter may not reach its destination, I will give you also an acount of my sickness. For two or three days I had a very severe cold and on Friday morning – (today two weeks ago) I broke out with the measles – Walter breaking out [previous two words scratched out in same ink] at the same time. Preperations [sic] were immediately made to take us to some house, Tubby having procured one about 8 miles from camp. We started about two Oclock [sic] in a Yankee Ambulance Tubby going with us. By that time they were out very thick and I was too sick to sit up, the Ambulance being made somewhat like an Omnibus I lay down covering myself with a blanket. Having lost our way we traveled over the roughest road I every saw until dark. I can truly say that was the hardest time I ever had + if any one was ever glad to get rest it was me. Walter not being near as sick as I was. We were with a very clever man + rcd [sic] all the attenion we could ask of any stranger. Next day Stowers + Brown came to the same place. For three days I was very sick, eat nothing, + had no taste whatever + had a very coughs. We then improved very fast, staying there ten days. We then came to this place as I said before where we were kindly rcd [sic], a very strict old Presbyterian family. The old man invites us to to [sic] family worship every night. I think we will be able to
September 5, 1861: page 2 on left, page 3 on right
return to camp and resume active duty in a week or two. The Capt told us not to return until we got sound well if it was 6 weeks. Tell all the family I would be gald to recive [sic] a letter from any of them. Tell the old man [scratched-out in pencil] I will write to him next. Give my best respects to all the family and to all enquiring friends. Write soon to your devoted son P M Buford. Let no one outside of the family see this – they can read it if they want.
I suppose you all will not write often as you have to pay for my letters. Though I can pay myself when I have the change, but I believe when the reciver [sic] pays for the letter it will be more apt to reach its destiny.
*** Blogger’s Note: “Tubby” is Goodloe Warren Buford, Jr.