30th Letter: Negroes Gone, Houses Burned, Food Destroyed (January 17, 1863)

Goldsboro NC Jan. 17th, 63.

Dear Mother-

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Click image of USA General Grant’s forces encamped at Oxford, Mississippi to learn more.

From what I can learn the mails to Oxford are now in operation, so there is once more a chance to hear from our beloved and down trodden homes. You can not have the least idea how anxious I am to hear from you and still at the same time I almost shudder to hear of the condition those infernal Yankees have left you in, but I hope they have left you all enough to subsist on-

I thought I would not write untill I was certain you would get my letter. Several of the boys have already rcd letters direct from home but none from our immediate neighbor- Tom Buford arrived a few days scince bringing some news about their operations in that quarter- he told me that old Peter and family had gone and that…

…nearly all the negroes in the county had gone that they had destroyed all that the people had to subsist on, even to the last fowl-

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Click image of Henry G. Fernandez to view source.

I learned also that they had burnt Fernandez house- and cut up generally, but as yet, I have heard nothing positive.

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Image is of Southern men taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.

I hope you may receive this soon and give me all particulars- and tell me particularly who took the oath of Allegiance. I just imagine they have utterly ruined that country- but I believe there is a day of retribution coming sooner or later- I have enjoyed excellent health and doing as well as could be expected under the circumstances, but it is with a sad heart that I hear of the death of so many good and brave men by the ball of the vile invader. Two evenings scince I heard of the death of John Buford George Hope and the wounding of several other boys from our neighborhood-

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Click image to learn more about CSA Brigadier General Joseph Robert Davis.

The last letter I rcd from home was just after we left Cullpeper Cty. We left our old Brigade to form one composed of Miss boys commanded by Joe Davis a nephew of Jefferson- We staid at Richmond a month, when we were ordered to this place where the Yankees were trying to make an entrance- They had a small fight at H Kinston, 20 miles below and came up this far when they burnt the K Rail Road Bridge, but hearing that we were on our way here to reinforce they retreated back to Newborn where there is now said to be about 50,000 intending to attack this place Welden and Wilmington, but there is no telling what they will do.

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Click image of North Carolina’s 1861 flag to prepare for your visit to this friendly state.

I am much better pleased with the old North state than I expected- We are living high, at this time on corn dodgers and Potatoes- rareties that we have not been used to- The people around here have not much wealth but they are good livers and as are as free hearted a people as it has ever been my lot to meet with.

We are encamped in a perfect Pine Thicket and it takes all the soap we can get to keep the Pine smoke off. We have a snug chimney to our tent and can fare finely this winter if they will only let us stay here- but our movements will be altogether owing to the movements of the enemy.

I must close for want of paper which I expect you need. Write soon and let me know the worst. We will draw money soon I will let you have mine if you need it. Give my love to all the family and tell them to write immediately. Tell the old man  to write as soon as he can I will write to him next. I would like to write more, but have not the paper. Let me hear from you as soon as possible. Ever your true and devoted son. P M Buford

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Blogger’s Notes:

  • This letter contains several complex topics.
    • The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect 16 days before this letter was written.
    • Total war upon civilian population shattered the morale of Southerners at home and serving far away.
    • logo2

      Click image to learn about UDC.

      Those who took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States before the war’s end were viewed as traitors and cowards.  No Confederate ancestor who took the Oath of Allegiance before April 9, 1865, shall be eligible to be used for application for membership within the United Daughters of the Confederacy. If proof of further Confederate service is available, thereby nullifying the Oath of Allegiance, the ancestor shall be considered for approval.

  • John Buford, likely an extended family member who served in a different regiment, is mentioned by Parham when he writes of the death of so many good and brave men by the ball of the vile invader.
  • Joseph (Joe) R. Davis, CSA Brigadier General, nephew of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, served in Mississippi senate during pre-war years.
  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about comrades mentioned by Parham.
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      Click image of Thomas P. Buford to view source.

      Thomas (Tom) P. Buford, Parham’s cousin who brought the camp news of Northern operations in Oxford,  enlisted April 26, 1861; twenty-eight years old and single.  He was present at Seven Pines; was reported sick for several months of catarrh and bronchitis on Blackwater near Suffolk; he was furloughed to Mississippi.  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, 1863.

    • Hope photo

      Photo source of George W. Hope: “Lamar Rifles: A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A.”

      George W. Hope, who hand-carried a previous letter to Parham’s family, enlisted April 26, 1861. Born in Mississippi, a student, single and 20 years old.  He was discharged…by reason of accidental wound through left wrist. [After recovery he reenlisted in the 30th Mississippi and did gallant service for his country in that command.  Was killed at battle of Murfreesboro, Tenn.]

    • Henry G. Fernandez, whose house was burned during the Union occupation, enlisted April 26, 1861; twenty years old and single.  He was present first and second days at Seven Pines, Gaines’s Farm, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Freeman’s Ford, Thoroughfare Gap, first day, Second Manassas, second day, Sharpsburg; first day, Gettysburg, Falling Wilderness, and on account of ill health was never with the Company any more.

11th Letter: Hessian Revolutionaries (November 23, 1861)

Nov 23d 61.

Camp Fisher

Dear Sister.

I rcd your letters from home by Meadows three days ago. As I have an opportunity of sending mail down the road in a day or two I will write. This leaves me in good health – the company also. There is but little sickness at present in our Brigade  One of Tom’s Buford’s mess mates (young Orr) is quite sick now with the pneumonia.

There is nothing new or exciting going on here. We have been expecting a fight here for two weeks – but I hardly think we will have it, though we may – and if it does come I think it will be a whale  Our Gen says our Regt and the 1st Tenn. will have to go in front of the Brigade.

Click image to listen to song about Hessians.

Click image to listen to song about Hessians.

I had the pleasure of seeing Gen Johnson last week, though under peculiar circumstances to me. Last Friday about 2 Oclock we were ordered to fall in immediately with our Guns and Cartridge boxes. I had a severe headache at the time, and did not feel much disposed to march far, but as I had never missed one I thought I would try it. Imagine my surprise when our Regt with two others were formed into a line in front of our tents to receive the aforesaid Gen-He rode along the line, we presenting arms to him. We then marched back or our dens. I thought we were once more going out to meet the Hessians.

One of the Hawkner’s men that was taken prisioner at the battle of Mannassa arrived here last week direct from Washington, being released on Parole of honor. I did not see him. but heard that he said – that all the Regulars there wanted to join our army – says he was well treated while there.

There has been at least 40 cabins erected in this Regt and it is still going on as if they knew we were going to stay here all winter. Some are covered with boards – but the majority with pine brush and dirt.  Peters house would be a palace compared to any of them.  Tom’s Tent is next to ours, and we are speaking of making one next week.  We might as well do that as to lay around here and do nothing between drills even if we do have to leave it in a few weeks. We can make it in two or three days. Some think that if we don’t have a fight here before 1st decemeber that the 12 mo. vols will go home but I can see no chance for that myself. I think we will go into Winter Quarters somewhere near here.

November 23, 1861: pages 1 and 4

November 23, 1861: pages 1 and 4

I will now acknowledge the rcpt of the last bundle of clothing sent to me from home which came in good time. My Boots came in Walters bundle- There is nearly enough room in them yet for Group. but that is all the better they will last longer. I have enough clothing for the present. One change suit is about as much as we can well manage here. I sold the first vest you sent me and also two pr socks – 35 cts each for socks. I have four pr left- It is no fun to carrying two or three suits of clothing beside Gun and blanket. I have rcd all the clothing that has been sent to me.

Walter got a nice ham- Tubby and Tom – potatoes – butter – jelly – and dried fruit. They are luxuries here certain. (Walter has not come in yet- is was better the last time we heard). I would like for you to send me a bottle or two of Pepper sauce or Tomatto Catsup – butter – Preserves – any thing that is good to eat. if you can get a chance. Any thing would be good besides our beeff and flour Bread.

November 23, 1861: pages 2 and 3

November 23, 1861: pages 2 and 3

I must  close for want of something to write. dont show this to any one. Give my best regards to all the family. Let me know if Ma rcd my letter. I will number this letter, and you all must do the same. so I can know if you get half my letters. If you get it number your reply the same. I wrote to Ma two weeks ago. Give my best respects to all enquiring friends and receive a due portion for yourself.  Send my respects to the Union Gal in Grane.


Blogger’s Notes:

Click image to learn about General Joseph E. Johnston.

Click image to learn about CSA General Joseph E. Johnston.

1.  Parham may have misspelled the name of the general he saw by leaving out a “t”.  It may be General Joseph E. Johnston he wrote about.

2.  Parham wrote of young Orr having pneumonia.  There were two individuals by the name of Orr in Company G of 11th Mississippi, both equally young at the age of 23 during enlistment in 1861.  Young Orr is either Charles W. Orr or Ira Baxter Orr.

Click image to learn about Hessians.

Click image to learn about Hessians.

3.  Parham refers to Hessians in this letter which is what many Confederates of the time called German immigrants volunteering for service in the Union army.  Many of the Hessians had previously fought or were sons of fathers who fought in the old country during the German Revolution of 1848-1849.  Some of the Hessians identified the Union cause as a continuation of the ideas held by the European revolutionaries.

4.  Parham mentions Hawkner and Peters by name and concludes the letter by sending his respects to the Union Gal in Grane.  Who are these people?

5.  ”Tubby” is Goodloe Warren Buford, Jr.

10th Letter: Shoot a Deserter, Hire a Negro, Hang a Spy (November 14, 1861)

Camp Fisher. Nov 14th 1861

Dear Mother

I rcd yours of the 1st two days ago, which afforded me great pleasure, as it had been nearly a month scince I had heard from any of you.  As this leaves me in good health I hope it will find you + family enjoying the same blessing.  There is but very little sickness in camps at present.

Our Col came back about a week ago – stayed only two or three days – returned on leave of absence for two months and a half.  He was wounded at the battle of Mannassu in the foot, He is still lame and I think it doubtful about it ever getting well. On his way here – he took up a man that had deserted from this Regt and brought him here in chains.  He is now handcuffed and is in the Guard House.  The penalty is death but his case has not been settled yet.

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Click image to learn more.

Last week a man was drummed out of a company in this Regt for ungentlemanly conduct.  They give him 25$, and told him to trot.

The weather has been very pleasant for the last two or three days –  but up to that time we had some very cold days.

November 14, 1861: page 1

November 14, 1861: page 1

Some one has hit upon a plan to make a fire place in tents and nearly all this Regt has caught the fever and gone to work at it.  It is a simple and I think a good institution.  The most that I have seen are made by digging the tent out inside about 2 ft deep, and digging out a square  hole for the fireplace within in a corner or side.  the hole is then slanted upwards through the bank of waste dirt on the top of which is sit a barrel for the top of the chimney. By digging the dirt out of the tent – it gives more room and eight men can sleep in it with all ease. The beds are made by sitting up forks and laying poles on them. By that means they can have one under another. We have not made one yet – waiting for colder weather.

MSH2345-linephpThumb_generated_thumbnailI rcd yesterday a bundle from home, which was certainly very acceptable. There was [was corrected with pencil to were] two shirts – home made Linsey I suppose – two pr drawers – two pr socks and a vest.  I also rcd a pr socks that came in a bundle for Walter about 3 weeks ago. That is all I have ever got, with my Over Coat. You can tell Uncle Newton I would like to have my boots as soon as possible – for I don’t think my shoes will last more than 3 weeks longer and I don’t want to buy another pair.  I took the cloth that was around the clothes and made a haversack and fixed it so as to have my name on it.

UnknownWe have hired a negro to do our cooking and washing for 12$ per month. There was another boy came into Tom Bufords mess that had a negro and he does the cooking for both Missrs.  It is only 2$ per month for each of us –  which I think is cheap enough.  Our Regt drew their pay last week for the month of July + August. Those of us that came in August drew 28$. I have only 15$ left, but I have got 10 owing to me – Which is good – I know. So that leaves me with 25$ which will do me for a while.

November 14, 1861: page 2

November 14, 1861: page 2

There has been nothing exciting in camps for a month nearly until day before yesterday. It was my day to cook. We had done with [done with scratched-out with pencil and replaced with finisheddinner and I was just taking my water off the fire to wash the dishes – when I saw a courier going toward the Col’s tent with all possible speed.  In less than two minutes I heard the order – “Turn out your companies immediately with their guns and cartridge boxes.”  In less than half an hour – we were on the march. The Yankees were supposed to be landing near Occoquan creek about 10 miles above us.

November 14, 1861: page 3

November 14, 1861: page 3

We went about 3 miles and stopped in an old field. As soon as we stopped in line, one company was detailed to throw down a fence near us – You could see couriers going in every direction. The cannon were roaring like thunder – but three times as fast as you ever heard it. Our Col rode out in front of the Regt, and told us it was his opinion that we were going to have a little fight – to obey our officers.  keep cool and if we meet the enemy to stand firm and aim low.  I was certain then that we would have a pull at them, from all I could see and hear. We stood in line of battle for half an hour.  We then left there and went 1/2 mile farther where we staid until nearly sundown.  The Yankees did not show themselves.

November 14, 1861: page 4

November 14, 1861: page 4

We the started back to camp – arriving here about 8 O’clock.  We made some coffee and fried beef liver – and with some cold-hard crackers. we had a good supper for hungry chaps.  About the time we had finished supper another order came to cook up two days rations. As we did not know when we might be called on to march, we had to go to cooking immediately. Cooked two ovens of biscuits – and put on some beef to boil. That was night before last, and we have rcd no marching orders yet, but not more than two minutes ago, we had another order to cook up all the provisions we had. Some think we will have a fight before many days.  Though I won’t believe it until I can see the white of a Yankees, eyes, as we have been fooled so often.

November 14, 1861: page 5

November 14, 1861: page 5

So you can see what a life a soldier leads. For weeks at a time he has nothing to do but cook and eat and drill about 3 hours in the day. And next week he does harder work than any negro in Miss. Running about over these rocky hills from one place to another – without sleep and a great many times nothing to eat. He is always in suspense, for he never knows, what he is going to do until he right at it. nor where he is going, until he is there, for there is [pencil correction of areno Sign Boards in this country. We may have to march from here to day and we may not go at all – no one knows.

November 14, 1861: page 6

November 14, 1861: page 6

I heard from Walter yesterday. He is still in Warrenton – and improving – he says he is going to the country in a few days.

I rcd a letter from Cousin Sarah last week.  They are all well.  She said John Toney had joined a company and would start for Mobile in a week.

I forgot to mention at the first – that you might send me a pr of pants – when Uncle Newton sent my boots. Also one flannel undershirt.  All of these and the Blankets might be sent in one box.

I must close for the present. Tell Mary Jane I will answer her letter next – at the first opportunity. Give all my love to all the family and best respects to all enquiring friends.  I remain your devoted son,

P M Buford

Click image to learn more.

Click image to learn more.

P.S. I would like for you to send me a pocket Bible as I have none, though there is [pencil correction of are] three in our mess – but I had rather have one of my own.

Click image of Sickles to learn more.

Click image of USA Major General Daniel Edgar Sickles to learn more.

N. B. While I was looking over this letter I heard that our pickets had brought in two Yankees, who said that they had deserted from Sickels Brigade which is on the other side of the River. opposite our Batteries one of our boys has seen them. I think I will go up directly and take a look at the gents.  I believe they are spies and ought to be hung