36th Letter: “God Only Knows When This War Will End” (May 24, 1863)

                                                                                         Bivouac on Blackwater

May 24th, 63

Dear Sister-                       

2013-05-27-21.53.46-e1372190931900

Click image of Parham’s church in College Hill, Mississippi to learn about his home community behind Yankee lines.

Not knowing whether you are in the Yankees lines or not, I will write for I know you are all anxious to hear from me. I am in good health, as also the company with the (page torn, word appears to be consumption) of one or two that never are well enough to do duty-

We have been running about quite briskly for the last week- up and down our line, for you must recollect our two Brigades has a line at least 60 miles long to guard- We crossed the River yesterday and had a skirmish with the enemy about 4 miles beyond, but without the loss of a man- They threw a few shells at us, but they passed harmlessly over our heads- We lay in line of battle untill night, when we recrossed the River, with our whole force- This makes the second time lately that our Gens have offered them battle on that side of the River, and I hope now that they will wait for them to try to cross-

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Click image to watch Vicksburg Animated Map by American Battlefield Trust.

We have splendid fortifications at every ford and will give them a warm reception whenever they attempt to cross I (words unknown, page torn) to think the Yankees have come as far into Va as they will ever get- but alas, the bad news reached us yesterday that Pemberton had been whipped, with the loss of 38 Pieces of Artillery and had fell back to Vicksburg. I am inclined to disbelieve it if it is so it will be an awful slam on us-, but I am still in hopes Jonston will strengthen that army out down there and make them do something yet- Vicksburg is one the principal objects of the Yankees, and if they get it,

God only knows when this war will end. May an honorable and speedy peace soon…

 

 

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Blogger’s Notes:

  • John Pemberton

    Click image of CSA Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton to learn about his defeat.

    Parham’s sister in College Hill, Mississippi was behind Yankee lines, and Parham previously wrote on January 17, 1863 of learning about the burning of a home within the community by occupying forces. Assuming family food provisions had been taken by the enemy, he also mentioned sending money home in the same letter and again on March 18, 1863.

  • Parham wrote of two individuals in this letter.
    • John C. Pemberton (CSA Lt. Gen.) is stated to have been whipped, showing how quickly, just seven days, news of the disastrous blow to the Confederacy at the Battle of Champion’s Hill traveled from the Mississippi River to the 11th Mississippi located in Southeast Virginia.
    • Joseph E. Johnston (CSA Gen.) had been mentioned before by Parham (November 23, 1861 and January 21, 1862) as he was the original commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and replaced by Robert E. Lee when wounded at Seven Pines.  Upon recovering from his wounds, Johnston commanded the Western theater where Parham wrote he hoped to see him strengthen that army out down there and make them do something yet.
  • The remaining sheet(s) of this letter appear to have been lost to time; hence, the reason for the abrupt end.
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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.

3rd Letter: Yankee Ambulance (September 5, 1861)

Warrenton Va Sept 5th 1861.

Dear Mother-

Sept 5, 1861 page 1

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

Sept. 5, 1861 page 2

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.