33rd Letter: Guarding Fords, Building Breastworks (March 29, 1863)

March 29 63

Franklin, Southhampton Cty. Va-

Dear Mother-

I rcd your welcome letter by George Dooley and hasten to reply as I have an opportunity to send one tomorrow, though I have no news of importance to communicate.

Unknown

Click image to learn about Confederate breastwork construction.


We have moved our camp about 5 miles The Brigade is scattered about the River guarding fords and working on breastworks, our company will have to work on them tomorrow, for the first time since we have been in service, but if we have to fight I would rather fight them in breastworks than in the open field.

Our Pickets occasionally ou have a skirmish with the Yankee cavalry, but as yet we have had no fight, nor I don’t think we will unless they try to take Richmond by way of Petersburg.

I have been listening every day to hear of them fighting at Vicksburg. It is rumored that they Yanks tried to cross the River at Fredericksburg but failed, but it is seldom now that we ever get any papers and can not keep posted.

I hope the Yanks will keep out of Lafayette this summer and give you all a chance to make some thing to eat.

Do not think hard of me writing no more, for I have nothing that would interest me you- If you have a chance send me a shirt, I have enough of socks and drawers now.

Give my love to all the family and tell them to write soon. Do so your self.

Your devoted son. PM Buford

 

 

 

 

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Blogger’s Notes:

A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about a comrade mentioned in this letter by Parham.

  • George M. Dooley, who delivered the mentioned letter to Parham, enlisted twenty years of age and single.  He was present and wounded at Seven Pines.  On account of wound and sickness he was with the company no more until the battle of the Wilderness; he was present two days, and again at Tolles Mill, where the record says he was mortally wounded, and died May 26 at Richmond, Va.  His wound was through the left shoulder.
  • William B. Cullen appears to have delivered this letter to Parham’s family based on information written to his sister on April 1, 1863. Cullen enlisted April 26, 1861, at Oxford, Miss., for one year.  Born in Virginia, was a clerk at Oxford, Miss.; eighteen years of age and single.  He was severely wounded at Seven Pines and lost his right arm, and was retired January, 1863. This letter was written, and presumably delivered from camp, months after Seven Pines and Cullen being retired from service; maybe the necessary timeframe for his being fit for travel.
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La Grange Synodical College

In a previous post (see http://wp.me/p40u7G-qS), the blogger incorrectly concluded Parham was a student at the University of Mississippi based upon a fraternity pin with his name engraved upon the back.  Just because no information is known about the Tau Eta Phi fraternity apart from the University of Mississippi, it does not mean he attended there. A follower was kind enough to point this out and provide a source which shows Parham was a student at La Grange Synodical College; a Presbyterian school of higher education; in La Grange, Tennessee.

Click image of La Grange Synodical College to learn more.

Click image of La Grange Synodical College to learn more.

Based on the names listed for the sophomore class on page 9 of the Second Annual Catalogue of the Trustees, Faculty and Students of the La Grange Synodical College, Session of 1858-59;  it is clear Parham attended this Presbyterian school. There are other recognizable names of students from Lafayette County, Mississippi listed in this catalogue (e.g. Henry C. Buford, John W. Doak, and George W. Hope). By automobile today, La Grange is a little more than one hour drive north of Oxford, just above the Mississippi / Tennessee border. The blogger does possess two pre-war letters from Parham, one of which contains the word “La Grange” at the top right corner of the first sheet; however, it was not understood until recently what La Grange meant.  In the letter, Parham writes of the cost of the boarding house, washing, and candles.  Interestingly enough, the expenses mentioned by Parham coincide exactly with what is listed on page 24 of the before mentioned source. If Parham was a sophomore during 1858-59, it is quite feasible he graduated with the senior class in 1861.  Class of 1861 at La Grange Synodical College had an accelerated senior year because of the outbreak of war.

Click image to listen to

Click image to listen to “God Save the South.”

It is no surprise Parham attended a Presbyterian College. Presbyterianism ran deep into the lives of individuals on that side of the family tree.  It was a Buford that provided land for the building of College Hill Presbyterian Church; many by the name Buford, including Parham’s parents, are buried in that old presbyterian church yard.  Parham writes of providence in a letter, a doctrine well known to Presbyterians of that day who subscribed to reformed theology.  Parham’s sister, Mary, eventually married a Confederate dentist and surgeon of Ulster-Scotch (i.e. Scotch-Irish) ancestry related to Rev. Samuel Eusebius McCorkle, a Presbyterian who studied under U.S. Declaration of Independence signer Dr. John Knox Witherspoon. Mary’s daughter married a man descended from Rev. Cephas Washburn, a Presbyterian missionary to the Cherokees displaced to reservations via the Trail of Tears.

La Grange Synodical College closed its doors after graduating the class of 1861 and never opened them again.  During the following years, U.S. Federal troops occupied the property as a strategic location to run raids across the border into Mississippi; used the college as a Union hospital and prison; tore bricks off the school to make stoves and fireplaces for soldiers; and eventually burned down the institution.