Camp Fisher. Nov 14th 1861
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.
Last week a man was drummed out of a company in this Regt for ungentlemanly conduct. They give him 25$, and told him to trot.
The weather has been very pleasant for the last two or three days – but up to that time we had some very cold days.
Some one has hit upon a plan to make a fire place in tents and nearly all this Regt has caught the fever and gone to work at it. It is a simple and I think a good institution. The most that I have seen are made by digging the tent out inside about 2 ft deep, and digging out a square hole for the fireplace within in a corner or side. the hole is then slanted upwards through the bank of waste dirt on the top of which is sit a barrel for the top of the chimney. By digging the dirt out of the tent – it gives more room and eight men can sleep in it with all ease. The beds are made by sitting up forks and laying poles on them. By that means they can have one under another. We have not made one yet – waiting for colder weather.
I rcd yesterday a bundle from home, which was certainly very acceptable. There was [was corrected with pencil to were] two shirts – home made Linsey I suppose – two pr drawers – two pr socks and a vest. I also rcd a pr socks that came in a bundle for Walter about 3 weeks ago. That is all I have ever got, with my Over Coat. You can tell Uncle Newton I would like to have my boots as soon as possible – for I don’t think my shoes will last more than 3 weeks longer and I don’t want to buy another pair. I took the cloth that was around the clothes and made a haversack and fixed it so as to have my name on it.
We have hired a negro to do our cooking and washing for 12$ 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.
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 finished] dinner 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.
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.
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.
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 are] no Sign Boards in this country. We may have to march from here to day and we may not go at all – no one knows.
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
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.
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