36th Letter: “God Only Knows When This War Will End” (May 24, 1863)

                                                                                         Bivouac on Blackwater

May 24th, 63

Dear Sister-                       

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Click image of Parham’s church in College Hill, Mississippi to learn about his home community behind Yankee lines.

Not knowing whether you are in the Yankees lines or not, I will write for I know you are all anxious to hear from me. I am in good health, as also the company with the (page torn, word appears to be consumption) of one or two that never are well enough to do duty-

We have been running about quite briskly for the last week- up and down our line, for you must recollect our two Brigades has a line at least 60 miles long to guard- We crossed the River yesterday and had a skirmish with the enemy about 4 miles beyond, but without the loss of a man- They threw a few shells at us, but they passed harmlessly over our heads- We lay in line of battle untill night, when we recrossed the River, with our whole force- This makes the second time lately that our Gens have offered them battle on that side of the River, and I hope now that they will wait for them to try to cross-

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Click image to watch Vicksburg Animated Map by American Battlefield Trust.

We have splendid fortifications at every ford and will give them a warm reception whenever they attempt to cross I (words unknown, page torn) to think the Yankees have come as far into Va as they will ever get- but alas, the bad news reached us yesterday that Pemberton had been whipped, with the loss of 38 Pieces of Artillery and had fell back to Vicksburg. I am inclined to disbelieve it if it is so it will be an awful slam on us-, but I am still in hopes Jonston will strengthen that army out down there and make them do something yet- Vicksburg is one the principal objects of the Yankees, and if they get it,

God only knows when this war will end. May an honorable and speedy peace soon…

 

 

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Blogger’s Notes:

  • John Pemberton

    Click image of CSA Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton to learn about his defeat.

    Parham’s sister in College Hill, Mississippi was behind Yankee lines, and Parham previously wrote on January 17, 1863 of learning about the burning of a home within the community by occupying forces. Assuming family food provisions had been taken by the enemy, he also mentioned sending money home in the same letter and again on March 18, 1863.

  • Parham wrote of two individuals in this letter.
    • John C. Pemberton (CSA Lt. Gen.) is stated to have been whipped, showing how quickly, just seven days, news of the disastrous blow to the Confederacy at the Battle of Champion’s Hill traveled from the Mississippi River to the 11th Mississippi located in Southeast Virginia.
    • Joseph E. Johnston (CSA Gen.) had been mentioned before by Parham (November 23, 1861 and January 21, 1862) as he was the original commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and replaced by Robert E. Lee when wounded at Seven Pines.  Upon recovering from his wounds, Johnston commanded the Western theater where Parham wrote he hoped to see him strengthen that army out down there and make them do something yet.
  • The remaining sheet(s) of this letter appear to have been lost to time; hence, the reason for the abrupt end.
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34th Letter: The Tyrant and the Vilest Government (April 1, 1863)

Franklin Southhampton cty. Va

April 1st 63,

Dear Sister

I wrote Ma a letter to send by Cullen two days since and as he has not yet gone I thought I would send you a short epistolary notice of things and general and particular, though of neither have I anything hardly worth mentioning at present.

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Click image hear the Southern “Battle Cry of Freedom.”

We first camef off Picket Guard this morning on the Blackwater 2.50 miles distant and not to work on entrenchments as I supposed + said in Mas Letter. They are coming down rather tight on us now, taking from 3 to 5 cos. a day for various duties. It rained quite hard last night on some of our boys, but I was fortunate enough to be relieved before night and slept as soundly as if I had been on my bunk in camps, having a good shelter- On the return to camp several rcd a ducking in crossing the branches, being swollen by the rain, but that was nothing to be compared with wading those large streams during the chilly months of October and November last.

The 42nd Miss crossed the river yesterday and made a nice trap for some Yankee calvary, which were just in the act of going into it, when some thoughtless brave fired his gun at them and they skedaddled, if perfect silence had been kept, the last scoundrel would have been captured, but alas all are doomed more or less to such misfortunes, but a very fortunate affair, for the invader of our sacred and heaven born soil- We are prepared to meet them at any point they may attempt to Land – having batteries and rifle Pits at every fordable point.

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USA President Abraham Lincoln

It is my sincere desire that we may never again have to fight, but if we do I can do it, for I believe I am trying to support a holy and righteous cause, worthy the suffering and if need be the lives of any People- It has cost us much money and lives, but I am willing it should cost us more, rather than be the subjects of the Tyrant that is trying to subjugate us- It pains me very much to hear of men that I once thought were true + Loyal to the South taking the Oath of allegiance to the vilest Government now in existence, and men too that have sons falling for their rights, and undergoing insurmountable hardships.

They ought to be looked upon with shame and dishonor.  The Stain will be upon their Great-grandchildren…

…but still it is a pleasing thought that none in our neighborhood done it, (I leave out that Dutchman) It reflects great credit on it as a neighborhood, May they ever prove as true as they have done, and we will see the fruits of it,

It is my humble prayer that an All Wise + just God may soon stop this suffering and blood shed- and that we may meet again, if not on earth, in heaven, where parting is no more-. I must close for want Paper Write soon and a long letter to your devoted brother PM Buford.

Give my love to all the family and tell them to write often-

 

 

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Blogger’s Notes:

  • A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A. documents information about a comrade mentioned by Parham.
    • William B. Cullen appears to have delivered both this letter and the previous one dated March 29, 1863. He 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.
  • Parham clearly wrote in this letter his view that:
    • Union forces had invaded Southern sacred and heaven born soil;
    • He was trying to support a holy and righteous cause;
    • Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America, was a tyrant;
    • The Government of the United States of America was the vilest in existence; and
    • Fathers of Confederate soldiers who had taken the Oath of Allegiance ought to be looked upon with shame and dishonor.  He previously wrote in a January 17, 1863 letter of the Oath being administered during Union occupation, asking for names of those who took it.  At the time of writing this letter, Parham believes none in his neighborhood of College Hill had pledged their allegiance, with the exception of possibly one he referred to as that Dutchman.  The term “Dutchman” was used for “German” at the time; some Confederates viewed them with suspicion.

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.
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      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, 1865.

    • 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.