Taking the War to the Enemy


Click image to learn about Stonewall Jackson’s death.

There is a 41 day gap from the previous posted letter and the next one dated on July 4, 1863 from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Shortly after the previous letter was written on May 24th, the Army of Northern Virginia was reorganized from two to three smaller Corps as a result of the death of CSA Lieutenant General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.

In early June, CSA Brigadier General Joseph R. “Joe” Davis was ordered to report to General Robert E. Lee in the vicinity of Fredericksburg, Virginia with the least practicable delay.  From there, the Confederacy would take the War into the enemy’s country.


Click image to purchase Steven H. Stubbs’ Duty-Honor-Valor: The Story of the Eleventh Mississippi Infantry Regiment.



Steven H. Stubbs’ Duty-Honor-Valor: The Story of the Eleventh Mississippi Infantry Regiment provides a description of events Parham would have witnessed during the time gap from Southeast Virginia to Gettysburg.  Below is a brief summary of what the before mentioned source provides in greater detail.

June 2:  Order received to cook 3 days rations and prepare to move

June 3:  3:00 am reveille, marched two hours later, 10:00 am reached Ivor Station, 3:00 pm boarded railcars for Petersburg, arrived around 5:00 pm

June 4:  Marched 23 miles through Petersburg toward Richmond

June 6:  4:00 am boarded Virginia Central Railroad cars in Richmond, rode north and changed to Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad cars to Fredericksburg, arrived that evening

June 7:  Remained in trenches and breastworks at Fredericksburg

June 13:  11th Mississippi set-up theatrical performance in warehouse

June 14:  Departed trenches and breastworks, marched through carnage from six week’s prior at battlefield of Chancellorsville


Click image to listen to “The March of the Southern Men.”

June 16:  Up at 2:00 am, departed 11:00 am, halted mid-day beyond Chancellorsville, moved within 11 miles of Culpeper Courthouse

June 17:  Marched about 1.5 miles beyond Culpeper Courthouse, stopped for night at 10:00 pm

June 18:  Marched, very warm day, several overheated and fell out of ranks, camped on North side of Rappahannock, rained all night

June 19:  Continued march at sunrise, passed through Sperryville, moved up east slopes of Blue Ridge mountains near Chester Gap, 27 miles marched

June 20:  Early dawn, struggled to top of Chester Gap, rested on summit of mountains, marched down western side of Blue Ridge, camped three miles east of Front Royal

June 21:  Moved-out 4:00 am, marched through Front Royal and down Winchester Turnpike, then east to parallel road toward Potomac River, passed through White Post and camped 3 miles from Berryville, 12 miles marched that day

June 22:  Rested

June 23:  Departed 11:00 am; passed through Berryville and Rippon, West Virginia; moved within three miles of Charleston, West Virginia and camped for night

June 24:  Marched within two miles of Shepherdstown, West Virginia on the Potomac


Click image to see period sheet music and lyrics to “Maryland, My Maryland!”

June 25:  Marched early dawn, crossed Potomac into Maryland and band played Maryland, My Maryland, camped south of Hagerstown

June 26:  Departed about 9:00 am; marched northeast and crossed into Pennsylvania, met by several hundred observing girls as they marched past a school, several of whom demonstrated Confederate presence; stopped two miles south of Waynesboro

June 27:  Moved north at 5:00 am for seven miles through Funkstown and Fayetteville, turned east and marched three miles

June 28:  Camp awoke to band playing hymn Safely Through Another Week, Sabbath rest and communion services

June 29:  Marched toward Cashtown and within sight of Gettysburg that day

June 30:  Some of CSA Brigadier General Joe Davis’ men stayed in camp as rain continued through day while others went on picket duty, camped at Cashtown that night

July 1-3:  Battle of Gettysburg

July 4:  Date of next letter












35th Letter: Gathering Provisions (April 25, 1863)

Bivouac near Suffolk Apr 25th 63-

Dear Mother-


Click image to learn about the significance of Virginia bacon from Suffolk in the the article “Siege of Suffolk Envelops Hampton Roads.”

I reckon you will be surprised to hear that we are at this place now, after forging so much on the Blackwater- we are close enough to see the town but are not at liberty to go in yet awhile- When we first came here I thought our Gens were going to try and take it, but it is now nearly 3 weeks since we came here and nothing done yet, but a little cannonading and very heavy Picket duty to do-

I think now the object of the move is to get the Forage out of this country, for they have most of the Quarter Masters + Comissarys at work now, buying it up and hauling it out – also taking up the Railroad iron on the two roads leading into Town-

It is said they have already got enough bacon to feed the army of Va over 2 months- + at this time that is a considerable item in this little Government of ours-


Click image to locate this historical marker in Suffolk, Virginia.

Our lines are as close as we can get them without fighting, giving the enemy no chance at all to come out by Land without fighting- They have the place forayed fortified to perfection- We have also fortified along our lines- and those made by our Regt form a cross with some made during the old Revolution.  Our Pickets are so close to so the enemys redoubts that they can not be relieved in day light being safely ensconced in Rifle Pits and have orders to surrender if the enemy advances in Large numbers- and as sure as they stick their heads up the Yanks will shoot at them.  The Pickets being from 3 to 500 yds apart.


Click Image to learn about “Mending the Broken Faces of War.”

They try to shell our reserve picket and whenever they go to load their cannons our boys score away at the Cannoniers- We have only had 3 wounded in our Regt and that was the first day before they had dug any pits- + only one seriously, through the chin, had part of his lower jaw taken out- + I think he will recover-

Our Company has been it the Pits once, but during the night,

It had been raining all day and nearly all night, and you could hear the boys stomping and their teeth chattering at all times of the night, but they had to grin and bear it untill just before day when they were relieved,

I being so fortunate as to be on the a more comfortable post, for this reason- the day before 60 of us were detailed to work on breast works, and had to work from 2 Oclock until 2 at night- and our company being on Picket the next night – our capt sent us with (unreadable) that we might fair a little better-

We arrived at camp next night about 8 Oclock, thinking to have a good nights rest, when Lo and behold 3 days rations of flour on hand to be cooked that night and be ready to have at 3 Oclock. We cooked them and it is now nearly night again and have not moved a pig. Such is the soldiers life-

My paper will not allow much more writing now-  Our boys all well except Tom B he has rcd a fur 30 days furlough John Allen has a NC sub in the company now- Jonny Brown has returned and brought the clothing and letters you sent- I would have written by Tom but had no chance. You can let any of the family read this, then burn it. Tell Uncle Newton I would like to get a letter from him. Write whenever you can + I will do the same- Your My Love to all- your devoted and affectionate son

P M Buford


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Blogger’s Notes:

  • Parham wrote I think now the object of the move is to get the Forage out of this country.  Below excerpt from article Siege of Suffolk Envelops Hampton Roads states the significance of buying it up and hauling it out. 

    Longstreet remained content to hold his lines and shield his massive foraging effort, leaving Suffolk only after sending millions of pounds of bacon, corn and feed north in a seemingly endless train of wagons.

    That made him late for the early May Battle of Chancellorsville, where a badly outnumbered Lee had to rely upon lesser troops in a brilliant if unlikely triumph over the Army of the Potomac.

    But when Longstreet finally arrived, he brought the provisions Lee so badly needed to take the war north to Pennsylvania.

    “The food from Suffolk is what Lee and his army took to Gettysburg,” former Virginia War Museum director John V. Quarstein says.

    “Without it Gettysburg may never have happened.”

  • The fortifications built by the 11th Mississippi Regiment in Suffolk, Virginia form a cross with some made during the old (American) Revolution
  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about individuals referenced in this letter.
    • pic5

      Click image of Thomas P. Buford to view source.

      Thomas (Tom) P. Buford, Parham’s cousin, was present at Seven Pines; was reported sick for several months of catarrh and bronchitis on Blackwater near Suffolk; he was furloughed to Mississippi for 30 days per this letter.  Although this will not be the only time he will be furloughed, this one likely saved his life as he was providentially hindered from joining the infantry during Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg.  His health was restored…and he returned to duty near Orange Court-House, in time to be present on 5th and 6th of May, 1864, at the battle of Wilderness.  On his last day of this engagement he was shot through the left thigh and sent to hospital at Richmond; from there he was furloughed again.  He had so far recovered from this wound as to return…in the trenches near Petersburg, Va.  He was present at Jones Farm, Hatcher’s Run, and Hawkes Farm, where he was again wounded, this time in the left knee; was sent to Richmond Hospital, 26th of March, 1865.  Gangrene attacked the wound and for weeks and months he was prostrated; was able to travel 1st of June…and (with his brother Warren) reached home July 1, 1865.

    • John N. Allen was present at Seven Pines and Gaines’s Farm, and is reported absent sick until he is present again at Jones Farm, October 2, 1864. Parham mentioned John’s North Carolinian substitute in this letter.  John’s days were not numbered such to been cut short during the war years.  Sickness spared John from several campaigns, including Gettysburg.  After the war he was killed in a private difficulty in Mississippi.
    • pic6

      Click image of John F. Brown to view source.

      John (Jonny) F. Brown is mentioned to have returned to camp with clothing and letters from Parham’s mother,  He was present at Seven Pines, two days Gaines’s Farm, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Thoroughfare Gap, Freeman’s Ford, two days at Second Manassaswounded and captured at Falling Waters, when after an exchange and furlough he was present again at Weldon Railroad two days, Dobbs Ferry, Davis Farm, Jones Farm, Hatcher’s Run, and Hawkes Farm, March 25, 1865.


26th Letter: “Pure Southern Air of Virginia” (September 22, 1862)

Near Martinsburg. Va

Sep. 22nd 1862.

Dear Mother-

Once more I am permitted to breath the pure Southern air of Va and to write you that I am have made the trip to Mary Land and am now well, though many from our Regt are lying under the sod of Mary Land cold in death.

September 33, 1862: page 1 of 5

I suppose you have ere this heard of the fight we had over the River, in my opinion one of the hardest fought battles that we have had in this army.  We had 8 wounded in our company, One mortally wounded H. Turner now dead, and only two dangerously Reese Houston and Rufe Shaw-I imagine with what sorrow the news will reach uncle Wms family- just after losing one son.  Rufe is badly wounded, but I do not think his wound is mortal, and the doctor thinks with the proper attention he will recover, the ball entered the left shoulder and came lodged just under the skin and under the shoulder blade.  I am in hopes he will soon get home, where he will be properly attended to.

Confederate troops marching West in Frederick, Maryland on East Patrick Street, September 12, 1862.  Click image to view source.

To learn more about Civil War history in Frederick County, click image of Confederate troops marching West on East Patrick Street, September 12, 1862.

I wrote to you the day before we crossed the Potomac, which letter I hope you rcd.  I will now give you a brief sketch of our trip into Mary Land. We crossed the River and went near Leesburg and went about 25 miles to Frederick city on the Baltimore and Ohio River Rail Road.  There we rested two days, to blow up the Rail Road Bridge at that Point, one of the finest I ever saw, made of Rock and iron.  It certainly cost millions of dollars.

We came through one or two more little towns rather bearing around towards the River again untill we came to Hagerstown where we halted a day + 1/2, wh were then in 6 miles of the Pensylvania line just as far north as I wanted to go.  We met with a few friends and plenty of enemies.  I think we got two Regiments of infantry- We got there a a few days before Lincolns draft was to take effect.  We left Hagerstown If we had had any gold and silver we could have bought any thing we wanted, things sold as cheap as dirt.  Our Quarter Masters got what shoes and clothing they could.

Sept 22 1862 2:3

September 22, 1862: pages 5 and 2 respectively of 5

At Hagerstown we learned that the enemy was after un us with a large force, so we turned back to meet them at the Mountain.  When our Division got there they were fighting in the mountain We had two Brigades there to hold it, but the Yankees flanked them on both sides driving them back and killing a great many. taking some prisoners.  They carried us up on the mountain and formed a line of batteries in the roughest kind of a place, it was then late in the evening.  Our Brigade had a skirmish with them after nights.  The 4th Ala + 2nd Miss fired several rounds, and the balls flew all as and bombs flew all around us, but hurt no one.  There was a few killed in the other Regiment. We lay in line of balls under 12 O clock when we fell back about 4 miles to a better position where we had the big fight.

The Yankees followed us next morning untill they came in sight, and then both sides lay there all day grinning at one another, preparing to fight next day.  

We had a little skirmish late in the evening. in which Lt Nelms was wounded and Graham of our company.  Col Liddell was mortally wounded with a piece of shell.  The ball that wounded Nelms did not miss me 3 in- We were lying down in the open ground exposed to a battery of the enemy.  We had been in front all day and after the skirmish was over we we were relieved by other troops.

September 22, 1862:  pages 3 and 4 respectively of 5

September 22, 1862: pages 3 and 4 respectively of 5

We drew some flour and salt that night and Tub Buford and Rufe Mitchel were detailed to coock it,- so they did not get into the fight next day. As soon as day dawned the enemy made the attack.  We were then in the rear in a skirt of woods, but still in mack of the enemys cannon- The bombs and Grape shot fell around us and in our ranks.  There were two or three wounded and one killed in Our Regt.  I was lying behind a a tree and a piece of shell came whizzing along and cut off a limb as big as my arm which fell at my feet, the battle had been raging then for two hours or more when we were ordered up- and away we went amid a showers of balls and bombs- We were ordered to charge, which we did.  We got in 150 yds of the enemys battery, had driven the infantry behind it and they were just fixing to leave when the enemy came in such force that we had to fall back.

Click image to learn more about Antietam.

Click image to view animated map of the Battle of Antietam.

Reese Houston was then wounded and I carried him off the field.  Lt Col Butler was wounded and left the field.  Major Ivans was killed and our Adjutant was wounded.  I could We held our ground, neither side gained any thing.  We lay in line of battle of all next day but the Yankees would not attack us and that night we crossed the River and it is said the Yankees fell back to the mountain that night also-

I must close for want of paper.  We are now lying in the woods resting and washing ourselves and and clothes.  I will send you a list of the killed and wounded in our comp.  I rcd yours and Marys letters yesterday- Send things by Newt that you spoke of.  Give my love to all the family and tell them to write.  I will write soon again and give particulars. Your devoted Son P.M. Buford

Blogger’s Notes:

  • This letter was written near Martinsburg, Virginia.  Little did Parham know that by year’s end, efforts would be made to snuff-out the “pure Southern air of Virginia” from Martinsburg.  An application would be made to Congress on December 31, 1862 for the admission of the Western region of Virginia to the Union.  Martinsburg would soon lie within the new state of West Virginia, the only state formed through secession from the Confederacy.
  • Parham was engaged in the following two battles during the Maryland Campaign since the previous posted letter:  Boonsborogh, Sharspburg (also known as Antietam).
  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about comrades mentioned by Parham.
    • Hezekiah (H) Turner present at Boonsborough, where he was killed on the last day of the battle of Sharpsburg.
    • Rees A. Houston present at Sharpsburg, where he was severely wounded.
    • Rufus A. Shaw, Parham’s cousin, present at Boonsborough, Sharpsburg, where he was severely wounded and brought back to Shepherdstown, Va.  He was retired July, 1864 by reason of wound through left lung.  Is the wound described by Parham (i.e. ball entered the left shoulder and came lodged just under the skin and under the shoulder blade) also what resulted in damage to the lung? Although eventually retiring almost two years later, Rufus is not cited as having served in any battles following Sharspburg.
    • William G. Nelms, a 2nd Lt. whom Parham wrote of as being hit by a ball which narrowly missed him, was present at Seven Pines, where he was wounded; at Gaines’s Farm, where he was again severely wounded.  He was at Boonsborough and at Sharpsburg, when he was again wounded.  The second day at Sharpsburg he was more severely wounded.  He was present again at Gettysburg, when he was again severely wounded.  First day on Weldon Railroad he was wounded and on the second day he was again severely wounded; at Hawkes Farm he was again severely wounded on 25th of March, 1865, and was sent to hospital at Richmond, where he suffered for several months.  Finally he recovered and returned to Mississippi…He made a fine soldier, always ready for duty when not disabled…His record speaks more eloquently than any other words of ours, his devotion and service to the cause so dear to every true Southron, for it tells of the many scars which he bore upon his person, relics of the noble struggle he made for his country.  We trust that his brave spirit now rests in the peace which is eternal, and that he will meet his comrades in that reunion which shall have no end.
    • James H. Graham present at Boonsborough, Sharpsburg, where he was wounded on the second day of that battle…battle of the Wilderness, where he was again wounded on the second day…at Bethsaida Church, two days, and was no more with the company because of sickness.
    • Goodloe (Tub) W. Buford, Parham’s cousin, whom Parham wrote of as being on cooking duty was at Boonsborough, Wilderness, where he was wounded in the head…Hatcher’s Run, where he was again severely wounded in the hip.
    • Rufus N. Mitchell whom Parham wrote of as being on cooking duty was previously wounded at Seven Pines, and was absent on wounded furlough until the Battle of Boonsborough, and was present in every battle thereafter till close of the war except Hatcher’s Run, where he was on furlough.
  • Other individuals from the Regimental Staff mentioned by Parham are as follows.
    • Phillip Franklin Liddell, Lt. Col. died from wounds received at Sharpsburg.
    • Samuel F. Butler, Lt. Col. died from wounds received at Sharpsburg.
    • Taliaferro Sidney Evans, Major was killed at Sharpsburg.

25th Letter: “Shot in Both Legs” (September 5, 1862)

Photo is of Walter Scott Buford.

Click image of Walter Scott Buford to view source of photo.

Sept 5th 1862

Dear Mother.

For once I have an opportunity of sending you a letter, which I hope you will find you all enjoying good health- Since I last wrote we have been engaged in two conflicts with the enemy, the last battle was fought near the old battle ground of Manassas. and was I think one of the bloodiest battles that has ever been fought in Va. though I h have sad news to relate-

Walter I think is crippled for life.


September 5, 1862

though we had only one man killed in both engagements – vis – A T Porter. Sanford Bodon was slightly wounded and Esom Dooley severely in the the Breast. Walter has gone to Warrenton where I know he will be kindly treated. He was shot in both legs.  I have had a bad cold for several days but am getting well of it now-

We have just now rcd. orders to march and I must close. We are now on our way to Mary Land, will cross to m the River to night or in the morning.

I will write every opportunity and I want you all the do the same. Love to all the family- Your devoted son PM Buford

Blogger’s Notes:

  • Parham has been engaged in the following three battles since the last posted letter:  Freeman’s Ford, Thoroughfare Gap, and Second Manassas.
  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about comrades mentioned by Parham.
    • Walter S. Buford, present at Second Manassas, where on the second day he was mortally wounded, August 30, 1862; was taken to the hospital, where he died on the 15th of September.  […as gallant a soldier as ever stood before an enemy.  The record the Company shows that he was present at every battle in which the Company was engaged until he was mortally wounded.  Such records made the imperishable names of Lee and Jackson.  Our independence would have been assured could we have recruited our army with such material.  We would have been invincible. – A COMRAD.]  
    • Alexander T. (A T) Porter, present at Second Manassas, where he was killed on  the second day.
    • Warren S. (Sanford) Bodon, present at Second Manassas, he was severely wounded the last day…June 1, 1864, was shot through the thigh by a sharpshooter.
    • Esom B. Dooleysixteen years of age…present at…Second Manassas, where he was mortally wounded and died at Gainesville, Va., September, 1862. […a mere youth, modest and gentle as a girl, but every inch a soldier who neglected no duties and always ready to obey orders.]
  • Parham wrote of the Maryland Campaign by stating we are now on our way to Mary Land, will cross the River (i.e. Potomac) to night or in the morning.

Re-Enlistment and Furlough

Confederate Muster Roll documenting Parham's re-enlistment

Confederate Muster Roll documenting Parham’s re-enlistment on February 10, 1862

Parham wrote I suppose you have heard some talk of the 60 day furloughs to his sister, Mary, on December 30, 1861.  Wrestling with the decision on whether or not to take the furlough, Parham wrote several weeks later on January 21, 1862 that he would wait to hear his parents view on the subject.

A Confederate Muster Roll, with Parham’s signature of acceptance, makes it clear that he decided on the matter.  Documented in military records, it shows he re-enlisted at Camp Fisher, Va, and furloughed Feb. 10, 1862.  The Muster Role also indicates the bounty due was $50 for re-enlisting and that his term of service was extended for two years.

Immediately upon re-enlisting, Parham took a brief furlough to visit his family in College Hill, Mississippi.  What was it like for Parham during his furlough?  Did he sit around the dinner table with family, enjoying every bite of the home cooked meals?  Did he sit in the pews of College Hill Presbyterian Church again for Sunday worship service?  Did he walk the streets of Oxford and vicinity with friends? Did he contemplate if this would be the last time he would see and experience his childhood home of College Hill?

Click image to listen to "Take Me Home."

Click image to listen to “Take Me Home.”

The next blog post will be a letter Parham wrote home on March 31, 1862 about his safe arrival to a different camp near Fredericksburg, Virginia.  The Blockade of the Potomac had ended, and the Peninsula Campaign had begun.

Sixteen days after writing of safe arrival, the Confederate government passed the Conscription Act, a draft which required all healthy white men between the ages of 18 and 35 to a three-year term of service.  The Act also extended the terms of enlistment for all one-year soldiers to three-years, granting the 60 days of furlough to those with extended enlistment terms.



15th Letter: “Old Abe and All His Crew” (January 12, 1862)



Camp Fisher Jan 12th 62

Dear Sister

January 12, 1862: page 1

January 12, 1862: page 1

Again I am seated to perform the pleasant task of writing to you. I am enjoying fine health at present and hope this scrap will find you all down with the same complaint.

January 12, 1862: page 2

January 12, 1862: page 2

For the last week we have excellent weather, but the one previous will long be remembered by a majority of the Lamar Rifles. Last Sunday night we had heavy snow for Miss, but a light one for Va, remaining on the ground for two days, when a heavy sleet fell on that, and Thursday our company was detailed to go out on Picket Guard.  It was an extremely raw morning with a high North Wind, and the ground frozen as hard as a rock.

Photo source of Confederate Brigadier General Louis Trezevant Wigfall: Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photographs, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University.  Click image to learn more.

Photo source of CSA Brigadier General Louis Trezevant Wigfall: Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photographs, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. Click image to learn more.

We had to go 3 miles, arriving there about 10 O Clock. We had a very comfortable house to stay in while off Guard, but the worst feature of all, was that the house was a church, where the before the war broke out the peaceful and happy inhabitants worshipped God, now the place expected for a fight with the Abolition hordes, who were the cause of all this carnage and bloodshed, and who will have to account for it at the bar of an a just and impartial God. It is on the Road where the approach of the enemy is expected. There are only two roads that an army can approach us and that is one of them, Wigfall’s Brigade guarding the other.

As soon as we arrived six were detailed to go out and relieved the old Guard which six stood all day. At dusk 10 others were detailed to relieve them and stand. the remainder of the da night, your humble servant Ruf Shaw being of that number.  There were two each post, and two posts, one on each side of the church. My post was on a very hill in a clump of cedars where I heard for a mile on in every direction it being in an old field.

January 12, 1862: page 3

January 12, 1862: page 3

About 7 O clock. it commenced raining. and never ceased it untill 8 O clock next morning. We were not allowed any fire on the post and had our guns loaded. As it was so extremely cold and wet, we were relieved every hour, the ordinary time being two hours. Those that were not on post had a fire under the brow of the hill where it could not be seen in the direction of the enemy. It was so dark after it commenced raining that you could not see an object 20 paces off. I stood four. hours. though the night. as there were ten of us we were relieved every fifth went on post every fifth hour.

Click image to listen to

Click image to listen to “Old Abe Lies Sick.”

The second time I was on I was standing in the rain and wind wishing old Abe and all his crew in the bottom of the Atlantic, when I thought I heard the tramp of an approaching of a horse going at full speed. I listened attentively, and I heard it distantly coming right toward us. I told the other fellow to get on one side of the road, I on the other. Directly he came tearing up the road and when 30 paces off I cocked my piece and halted him. I asked who he was, he said friend, I then told him to advance and give the counter sign, he said he did not have it. He wanted to go on anyhow. I told him there was no use in talking, that I could not let him pass. So I told the other fellow to there and I took him to the officer who released him. We were on a dangerous post, and if he had started off he would certainly have got a load in him. He was the only soul that I saw the whole night.

January 12, 1862: page 4

January 12, 1862: page 4

At present there is now talk of a fight here. I think the enemy will hardly attack us here this winter. I suppose they are waiting untill next spring, and right here the this great furlough arrangement comes up. Yesterday the Captain called out the company and gave us a little talk and wanted to know how many of us would reenlist for two or the war years. I think 52 have signified their intention to do so. Only one of our mess here, Walter.

Photo source of Union Major General George B. McClellan:  National Archives.  Click image to learn more.

Photo source of USA Major General George B. McClellan: National Archives. Click image to learn more.

13th. Since writing the other, Dick and Ruf both seem to me to be inclined to take it also. I can not say whether or not they will. I am as  yet on the fence and do not which way to jump. Though be for deciding I would rather hear the views of you all on the subject. I think myself it is a good arrangement for all the 12 months troops, for it would folly on our part to let all the volunteers go home in the spring, for them McClellan would over run our little army on the Potomac. But I had rather not reenlist for two years, and I want to be free to join any company I like at the end of my time.

I think I have written enough for the present, unless you conclude to write more. I rcd those pants yesterday, which came in good time, but I think what I have now will do me untill next spring. Let me know if you rcd that money and Pipe. Give my love to all the family and enquiring friends and ever remember your devoted brother P M Buford. You can let the family any of the family read this if they want.

Tell me Ma I will write to her soon. You must write written often and give me all the news that is afloat and especially about the 60 day company. I want to know who are the officers.

Blogger’s Notes:

  • Parham writes of Abolition hordes, misspelling hoards which means an amass or gathering.  Found in a few newspapers during the time, the term abolition hoards was periodically used to refer to Union forces.
  • Parham’s thoughts on the U.S. abolition movement and slavery are unknown. According to the 1860 United States Federal Census records, he did not live in a slave owning household the year before the war.
  • Old Abe is 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
  • This is the first letter where Parham provides a political opinion about who caused the war and of Old Abe and all his crew.  Like most Southerners of the time, Parham may have come from a conservative Democratic family; Abraham Lincoln represented the new liberal Republican party.  The two parties have since reversed roles.

All Quiet Along the Potomac Tonight

Click on image to listen.

Click on image to listen.

Parham spent the fall of 1861 along the Potomac. The below poem entitled “The Picket Guard” was also published during the fall of the same year in Harper’s Weekly and later set to music.  Even today, there is still controversy on who the author is.

“All quiet along the Potomac to-night!”
Except here and there a stray picket
Is shot, as he walks on his beat, to and fro,
By a rifleman hid in the thicket.
‘Tis nothing! a private or two now and then
Will not count in the news of a battle;
Not an officer lost, only one of the men
Moaning out, all alone, the death rattle.

All quiet along the Potomac to-night!
Where the soldiers lie peacefully dreaming;
And their tents in the rays of the clear autumn moon,
And the light of their camp-fires are gleaming.
A tremulous sigh, as a gentle night-wind
Through the forest leaves slowly is creeping;
While the stars up above, with their glittering eyes,
Keep guard o’er the army sleeping.
There’s only the sound of the lone sentry’s tread
As he tramps from the rock to the fountain,
And thinks of the two on the low trundle bed,
Far away, in the cot on the mountain.

His musket falls slack, his face, dark and grim,
Grows gentle with memories tender,
As he mutters a prayer for the children asleep,
And their mother–“may heaven defend her!”
The moon seems to shine forth as brightly as then–
That night, when the love, yet unspoken,
Leaped up to his lips, and when low-murmured vows
Were pledged to be ever unbroken.

Then drawing his sleeve roughly over his eyes,
He dashes off tears that are welling;
And gathers the gun closer up to his breast
As if to keep down his heart’s swelling.
He passes the fountain, the blasted pine-tree,
And his footstep is lagging and weary;
Yet onward he goes, through the broad belt of light,
Towards the shades of the forest so dreary.

Hark! was it the night-wind that rustled the leaves?
Was it the moonlight so wondrously flashing?
It looked like a rifle: “Ha! Mary, good-by!”
And his life-blood is ebbing and plashing.
“All quiet along the Potomac to-night!”
No sound save the rush of the river;
While soft falls the dew on the face of the dead,
And the picket’s off duty forever.