28th Letter: Fathers Visit Wounded Sons (October 8, 1862)

Oct8page1of2

October 8, 1862: page 1

Camp near Winchester Va, Oct 8th- 62

Dear Sister- Again I will avail myself of the present opportunity to send you a few lines- I am enjoying good health and hope this may find you all likewise-

I have no news of interest to communicate- I have never heard from Rufe Shaw yet, nor have I any chance. Old Man Houston came here two days ago to see his son- they are both together at Shephardstown just this side of the River- I expect to hear some thing from him when Houston returns-

Photo is of Walter Scott Buford.

Click image of Walter Scott Buford to view source.

Uncle Newton is with Walter at Warrenton or Richmond, and most all the boys rcd letters by him except me, I was sure you would send a letter- I rcd one from Aunt Polly last week, they were all well, but did not have much to eat, as well as myself.

We have been here two weeks and have not eaten any thing, but beef and bread, and hardly enough of that and haven’t draw did drawn bacon but once- nor can we forage any, for they won’t let us out of the lines- and it won’t pay to buy any thing that is brought in to sell- apples 50 cts pr dozen, honey 1$ per lb- and so on

Our Rgt had just 100 men on drill this morning and this time last year, we had 800- We have now just about 150 for duty- the result of 6 fights that we have been in- I suppose you have heard all the particulars of our last fight by this time, if not let me know in your next & I will particularize-

You may rest assured that I never want be in another battle, such as the last- I could tell you things I saw that would sicken you, but I refrain-  I have myself become some what used to such sights, which I thought I never could do-

Oct8page2of2068

October 8, 1862: pages 2 and 3

Some think that there will be another big fight soon, but there is no telling- I believe the Yankees here are as willing to rest awhile as we are- If they don’t fight in less than a month I don’t believe they will fight anymore this winter- You may rest assured that I never want be in another battle, such as the last- I could tell you things I saw that would sicken you, but I refrain- I have myself become some what used to such sights, which I thought I never could do-

I must close for the present, having nothing to interest you- Write me a long-long letter as soon as this is rcd. Give my love to all the family & servants – & to all enquiring friends- Wishing an immediate reply I remain your affectionate and ever faithful Brother

PM Buford


Blogger’s Notes:

  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about comrades mentioned in this letter by Parham.
    • Rees A. Houston present at Sharpsburg, where he was severely wounded.  Although this letter does not specifically mention Rees by name, we know it is him that Parham writes of because he is the son of  Old Man Houston.
    • 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.  Parham described the wound in a previous letter as being a ball which entered the left shoulder and came lodged just under the skin and under the shoulder blade.  Although eventually retiring almost two years later, Rufus is not cited as having served in any battles following Sharspburg.
    • Walter S. Buford, Parham’s cousin, 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.]  
  • Thomas Newton Buford, referred to as Uncle Newton by Parham, is mentioned in this letter as visiting with his son, Walter, in either Richmond or Warrenton.  What Parham does not yet know when writing this letter on October 8th is that Walter passed away 23 days earlier on September 15th.  Parham will soon learn of this tragic turn of events and write of it in his next letter.
  • It is assumed that both Old Man Houston and Uncle Newton have traveled from Mississippi to Virginia to visit their wounded sons.
  • Mary Polly Buford, referred to as Aunt Polly by Parham, is indicated to have written a letter about her side of the family not having much food to eat.  Aunt Polly and Parham’s biological father, though not siblings, share a grandfather who was an American Revolutionary War veteran.
  • Parham mentioned there is a shortage of food provisions and that he and his comrades are not permitted to forage for food.  Why was this?  Could it be that the army could not afford to have its dwindling numbers picketed off?  In one year’s time, their numbers dropped from about 800 to 15o as a result of six engagements with the Yankees.
  • Parham referred to the last battle at Sharpsburg, known as Antietam by the Federals, indicating that he never wants to be in such a battle again and that he will refrain from mentioning the horrors he has grown accustomed to witnessing.
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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.

23rd Letter: Run Away (July 11, 1862)

In camp two miles from Richmond Va

My Dear Parents-              July. 11th, 62-

July 11 1862 1/2

July 11, 1862: page 1

Again I am permitted to pen you a few lines, which I think you will surely get as it will be carried by Newt Shaw who was wounded in the ever memorable battle before Richmond in which we drove the enemy 25 miles, where they sought shelter under their Gun Boats- I will not give any particulars about the fight as he can tell you all you want to know about that fight and the one at Seven Pines

Parham describes the Yankees as fleeing

Parham describes the Yankees as fleeing “every man for himself” like a “gang of sheep.”

We drove the enemy out of two breastworks made of logs and supported by 10 pieces of artillery which we took I mean our Brigade. We had four killed in our company and 10 or 12 wounded. When we charged, we never stopped untill within 30 yards of the first breastwork, where we halted and commenced shooting, being there about 15 minutes during which time I think I shot 15 rounds, the minie ball and canister shot- falling as thick as hail in our devoted ranks. They give the order to charge again and down the hill we went with a yell. and before we got within 20 ft of the breast work the Yankees started, every man for himself throwing away every thing that impeded their progress- They went like a gang of sheep, then I wanted a double barreled Shot-Gun.  I shot 20 rounds altogether, took one prisoner and got one bullet hole through my coat sleeve. As I said before Newt can tell you all the particulars so I will close, for I know you can hardly read this.

July 11 1862 2/2

July 11, 1862: page 2

One of our best men, Mr Paine was killed- though I think he is in a better world than this-

You all must write every opportunity. I will do the same. for I believe we will get some rest now- Nothing more at present. I remain your devoted son

P M Buford


Blogger’s Notes:

  • This rushed letter is a brief recap of the previous two already posted.  Parham mentioned in the previous letter that his cousin, Newt Shaw, was wounded during the Battle of Gaines’ Mill.  Here we see that Newt returns home to recover and hand delivers this letter to Parham’s parents in College Hill, Mississippi.
  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about comrades mentioned by Parham.
    • David B. (DB) Paine was during Gaines’s Mill mortally wounded and died at Field Hospital, June 27, 1862…He deserves more than a brief mention when speaking of faithful soldiers.  He was most methodical and conscientious in the discharge of every duty called upon to perform, and…that the Confederacy lost a hero who deserves to be held in loving memory in the person of David Brainerd Paine. This 21 year old man left quite an impression on survivors of the Lamar Rifles 40 years later and was held in high regard by Parham in letters.  What greater legacy is there for one to leave behind than to be described by comrades as ever faithful in carrying-out duties and Christian?
    • William N. (Newt) Shaw was present at…Gaines’s Farm and was absent wounded until he was present second day at Sharpsburg…at Weldon Railroad, where he was killed on first day.

20th Letter: “Interposition of a Kind Providence” (June 3, 1862)

Camp near Richmond

Va

June 3d 1862

Dear Sister Dear Parents,

Again it is my pleasing duty to address you a few lines- which leaves me in good health,

June 3, 1862: page 1

June 3, 1862: page 1

I have, since I last wrote to you witnessed and been engaged in a bloody fight, and it is my painful duty to record the casualties in our company, which amounted to 2 killed, 28 wounded and 2 missing. And out of the regiment there were 230 killed and wounded, our company suffering worse than any one in the Rgt. It was by the interposition of a kind providence that as many of us escaped unhurt as did.

It was by the interposition of a kind providence that as many of us escaped unhurt as did.

Click image of Frank L. Hope to view source.

Click image of Frank L. Hope to view source.

All of the College Hill boys escaped unhurt except Frank Hope, who was slightly wounded, and Dick Shaw, who is missing. None of the compay know any thing about him, whether he was killed, wounded or taken prisoner- I know he went into the fight, for I saw him early in the engagement- I have strong hope that he is still alive and that we s will yet see him.

June 3, 1862: page 2

June 3, 1862: page 2

I will commence at the time we left camp and give him the particulars up to that time. I commenced a letter to you on the 28th of last month, five days ago, and had written few lines, when we were ordered to prepare to march. We started at dark and went 5 miles in a northern direction from the Richmond and within 1/2 mile of the enemy in the Chickahominy River, staying there two days. Our Gen said that we went to help some of our men out a difficulty, they were about to be surrounded by the enemy.

We then came back within a mile of the city where we staid all night in a severe thunder storm, which lasted nearly all night. We started early next morning and went about 4 miles in a South Easterly


Blogger’s Notes:

  • Click image to learn more about Battle of Seven Pines.

    Click image to learn more about Battle of Seven Pines.

    Parham writes of his first experience in battle.  He is describing the Battle of Seven Pines (also known as Battle of Fair Oaks or Fair Oaks Station) which took place just days earlier on May 31 and June 1 of 1862.

  • Only one sheet of this letter is in the blogger’s possession.
  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents:
    • Frank Hope was seriously injured during the battle of Seven Pines, on account of which he was absent from the Company until the battle of Gettysburg, and
    • Robert (Dick) Shaw was present at Seven Pines and captured. Exchanged August 9, 1862, and died of scurvy at Richmond very soon after in the same month.
  • Dick Shaw may be another cousin of Parham.  Parham’s biological father had a sister who married a Shaw.
  • On this Thanksgiving Day 2014, it is a nice reminder that we all should be thankful to our Creator, no matter our present circumstances.  Here, Parham acknowledged in the aftermath of a bloody engagement, it was by the interposition of a kind providence that as many of us escaped unhurt as did.  With respect to Dick Shaw who is mentioned to be be missing in action since the battle, Parham writes of a strong hope that he is still alive and that we will yet see him.  Spiritual references such as providence and hope were not uncommon among soldiers of that day, both Southern and Northern, and is evidence of the historic Christian-influenced lens through which Parham viewed the world.  

19th Letter: A Shot Overhead (May 12, 1862)

Click image to learn more about the "Campaign for Corinth."

Click image to learn more about the “Campaign for Corinth.”

Be sure and tell me how our friends came out at Corinth

Monday Morning May 12, 62,

Camp 20 miles South East of Richmond

Dear Mother-

May 12, 1862: page 1

May 12, 1862: page 1

Again I will scribble you a few lines with the faint hope of hearing from you all.  I have heard once indirectly that you were all well, but as yet I have not rcd a line from any of you though I know you have written as I have written 5 or 6 times.  I suppose you rcd my letter written at Ashland which was carried to Okolona and there mailed.

May 12, 1862: page 2

May 12, 1862: page 2

On the march from Fredricksburg my feet were blistered and so sore that when the Rgt left there for Yorktown I was not able to march 3 miles a day. There were at least 2 of the Rgt that were not able to go and among them Tubby and Dick Shaw- Staid there nearly two weeks, during which time we fared finely and my foot got entirely well- We were hearing awful reports about the Regt- that they had nothing to eat ???? ???? but crackers and Bacon – and were marching and tearing around all the time, expecting a fight.  The There were 180 men died in the Hospille at Ashland out of 5 Regts from the effects of that march, while I was there, being from 8 to 20 a day- The N.C. Regt in our Brigade lost over 80 80 men. IndianolaSteamer At last the Lt in charge of us, got transportation and took us to Richmond. Staid there a day and night and took the cars for West Point on York River a half days ride on a Steamboat to Yorktown.  Our Long before we reached the town we heard cannon roaring ???? ???? and thought they having a little fight. When in sight of the Landing we could see the smoke curling up and then directly the report and sometimes see the shells burst in the air.  It was our Batteries and the enemy shelling on another. Our boat stopped 1/2 mile front of the w wharf, the captain being afraid to venture any nearer. In about ten minutes I saw the smoke rise from the enemies battery,  throwing a shell not more than 200 yards from our boat which made the water fly, but did not burst. We were certain they had seen us and were shooting at us. But our captain that they were too far off to do any execution. While talking about it on the upper deck, we saw the smoke rise again and hearing a whizzing sound we began to hustle, but in less then half minute the ball whistled exactly our over our head and struck about the same distance as the other beyond us. That was getting rather warm and we got further back.  Took on some sick soldiers.

Click image to hear "Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel."

Click image to listen to “Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel.”

We heard that our army was evacuating Yorktown which proved to be false. We went back to Richmond and staid there over a week when we got orders to join our Regt which we done day before yesterday. The boys should be without tents a month now – marching nearly all the time and eating nothing but crackers and bacon and some kind of half rations. 3 crackers and 1/4 pound meat to the man- which is all that we get now- I suppose you have heard of the skirmishes and the fight at Williamsburg– Part of our division was in a skirmish but our Rgt so far been out of any of them, though we are moving slowly towards Richmond and I think that we will have an engagement here soon- the enemy are only a few miles from us- I must close for want of more paper- I will write again soon. You have not the least idea how anxious I am to hear from you all- Write soon- Give my love to all the family- Your devoted son, PM Buford

P.S. I forgot to mention that the 19th Miss Rgt was in the fight in Williamsburg and that Col. Moot was killed. I have heard none of the particulars.


Blogger’s Notes:

  • The first statement in this letter is be sure and tell me how our friends came out at Corinth.  Parham is inquiring about how family friends fared during the build-up to the Yankee siege upon Corinth, Mississippi which would take place just 13 days later on May 25, 1861.  Corinth was a major rail hub for Confederate soldiers and supplies, and Parham wrote in his first letter of passing through there as he headed to Manassas Junction in Northern Virginia.
  • Parham mentions Tubby (i.e. Goodloe Warren Buford, Jr.) and Dick Shaw are among the number that eventually could not keep up with the march.
  • The event that Parham witnesses from the deck of a steamboat on the York River when a ball whistled overhead is the Battle of Eltham’s Landing.
  • Parham writes in the post script of his letter that Col. Moot was killed during a fight in Williamsburg.  He misspells the name Mott.  It was Colonel Christopher H. Mott who was killed on May 5, 1861 during the Battle of Williamsburg.

18th Letter: Crowded in Muddy Boxcars (April 11, 1862)

April 11th, 1862

Camp near at

Ashland VA

Dear Sister.

April 11, 1862:  page 1

April 11, 1862: page 1

Again I will drop you a few lines to inform you of my situation and condition. I wrote to Ma last week which letter I hope was rcd though I have not heard from any of you yet.

BApr 11 1862 page 2

April 11, 1862: page 2

We have just experienced one of the severest marches on the record of the Larmar Rifles. Last Monday I went on guard last and about 10 O clock in the morning it commenced raining and continued until Wednesday night.  About 3 O C Tuesday evening morning while on post I heard a drum beat and presently until the rest of our own struck up.  I then began to think something was in the wind.  In a few moments the order came for us to commence cooking and be ready to march at any moment.  It was then raining and it was with the greatest of difficulty that fires could be started, though we made out to get some bread and meat cooked by daylight. At 8 O C we were ordered to strike tents and leave for parts unknown to us. Our Col said that he would have either the blankets or knapsacks for us. We traveled 12 miles that day through the mud and rain and halted in a pine thicket for the night. It was a very disagreeable night indeed We were perfectly wet it was still drizzling rain and you know that we had no sleep that night. I slept two hours I suppose and not a wink the night before.

April 11, 1862:  page 3

April 11, 1862: page 3

Dick Shaw fell in the water that was day and was sick at night. He only went about two miles next day and that was last I saw of him until last night when he came in still sick, but I think he will be well in a few days.

April 11, 1862:  page 4

April 11, 1862: page 4

The next in That day we went between 12 and 15 miles to a stain station on the Richmond and Fredricksburg Railroad. That was undoubtedly the severest march this company ever experienced.

The First day I stood it as well as any one in the Rgt and would have done it the second if it had not been for my feet. I suppose you recollect the thin pair of shoes that I left home; I thought I could not march in them and got a pair of boots from Newt Shaw. The second day my feet began to hurt me and it was with great difficulty that I could keep with the Rgt. The boots did not fit my feet and the skin was actually rubbed in five places when I arrived here and still I was with the company when it came, though there was only 20 and we started with 60 odd.

Click image to learn more about Milford Station during the war.

Click image to learn more about Milford Station during the war.

On the second evening we came to Milford station to take the cars.  We stood there in the rain and sleet for two hours waiting for the Ala & Miss Regt to get aboard. You may imagine your thoughts at that time. Every one of us was wet to the skin, and positively I could not see a man but what was shivering like a leaf. We were at last crowded into a boxcar without any thing to sit on and the mud on the floor at least 3 inches deep. We arrived here about 10 O C Wednesday night almost frozen.

As soon as we landed we made a fire out of the cord wood at the depot and about the time our fire got to burning good, we were ordered to leave it and not burn that wood. We moved out and started another fire and in two hours another informal officer told us to leave there that we might set some houses afire. Some of the boys cursed him untill he sounded ashamed and left and that was the last of him.

Click image to learn more about Union Major General Don Carlos Buell.

Click image to learn more about USA Major General Don Carlos Buell.

This is all the paper I have at present and will give you all the remaining particulars in my next letter.  I suppose you will be pleased to learn that I got that box of provisions a few days before we left. Everything was good but the ribs, they were spoiled. When we left we took the butter and hams in our haversacks. The sausage meat was rather old but splendid.  We heard of the defeat death of Buell and the defeat of his army at Corinth.  I do hope it is sure though we  have heard no particulars as of yet.

We are half way between Fredricksburg & Richmond, to reinforce at Y Yorktown or Fredricksburg either. I am anxious to hear from you all and from our brave friends at Corinth. Give my best respects to all inquiring friends and write immediately. Direct your letter to Ashland. We may be gone before you caught a letter here but it will be sent to me Va


Blogger’s Note:

Parham wrote about hearing of the death of Buell and the defeat of his army at Corinth. This was clearly a rumor based on misinformation among the troops; Union Major General Don Carlos Buell lived another 36 years.

17th Letter: Safe Return from Furlough (March 31, 1862)

Mar 31st 62

Camp Barlow near Fredricksburg, Va

    Dear Mother

                             

March 31, 1862 page 1 of 2

March 31, 1862: page 1

I avail myself of the present opportunity to inform you of my safe arrival at this place.  I have been quite well since I left home, though Jno Doak has been quite sick ever since he came.

We arrived here on Friday in a very disagreeable time, it has snowing and raining every since untill to day, which reminds me of a spring day in Miss, though it may be snowing tomorrow.

All the furloughed men but 6 have arrived and I think they will be in tomorrow.

We are camped about 2 miles from town. There are a great many men here. I reckon you were all surprised to hear that our army had fallen back to the Rappahanick River, instead of towards Centerville as we heard. I canit can not see the point in it but it may that our generals do.

I think you will stirring times about Corinth soon. Our Brigade lost nearly all of their goods that they could not carry with them. I lost a great many of my things, though some of them were reported sent to this place, and now they are gone to Richmond, and we have orders to march at any moment, and it is thought that we will leave here in a day or two, though we are all in the dark as to where we are going. Some think we are going to N.C.

Click image to learn more about the "bell shaped" Sibley tent.

Click image to learn more about “bell shaped” Sibley tents.

We have but eight tents in the the company and for the present we have to arrive in as best we can. We have new tents, but I don’t think they are as good as the old ones. They are bell-shaped – the others wall-tents.

Click image of Confederate Lt. General Wade Legion to learn more about the "Hampton Legion."

Click image of CSA Lt. General Wade Legion to learn more about the “Hampton Legion.”

The boys all say that the march from Dumfries here was the hardest they ever had. It took them three days and only 30 miles. Hampton’s Legion that was with our Brigade had a skirmish with the enemy the morning they left. Our Brigade stayed at the camp waiting for the Yankees to come up but the cowardly scoundrels waited untill they left and then they marched right into our cabbins.

The above was written before drill this evening and since supper I heard that the chaplains of our Regt (leaison) was going home tomorrow morning + that would be a certain transport for my letter as far as Corinth Miss.

March 31, 1862:  page 2

March 31, 1862: page 2

The boys say they have never seen any thing of that box of provisions. I suppose the Yankees have got it by this time. The provisions we brought us answered a very good purpose. We had two or three hams left after we got here.

I want you to answer this immediately. I will write again this week, if I can send my letter off. Wishing you to write soon I remain

Your devoted son,

P M Buford


Blogger’s Notes:

  • Parham wrote Jno Doak has been quite sick.  The three Doaks serving in the Lamar Rifles were James, John, and Julius.  The blogger believes the identity of the abbreviated Jno is John Doak.
  • This letter was written from Camp Barlow near Fredricksburg, Va…about 2 miles from town.  Where is the exact location of this camp?
  • It appears this letter was hand delivered to at least Corinth, Mississippi by chaplains within the regiment identified as (leaison).  Who or what is the identity of (leaison)?