Diary of Captain Robert E. Park, Twelfth Alabama Regiment.
[Continued from December No.]
February 5th, 1865 (Sunday)—My sleep was a very cold and uncomfortable one last night, and I rose early to warm myself by the single stove in the "division." The "pen," as our quarters are called, embraces an area of near two acres. The building, a mere shell, unceiled and unplastered, is on three sides, with a high, close plank fence on the fourth side, separating us from the privates' barracks. The long side of the building (barracks, as it is called), parallel with the fence, is about 300 feet in length, running east and west, and the other two sides or ends are each about 150 feet long. The campus or exercise ground is low and flat, wet and muddy. There are narrow plank walks, intersecting each other, and near the building, which are thronged with passing crowds this wet weather. The bunks or berths in each division are six feet long and about four feet apart, extending entirely across the room. Each division is heated by one large upright stove, which the prisoners keep very hot when sufficient coal can be obtained. The room is so open and cold, however, that a half-dozen or more stoves would be required to heat it. Several poor fellows, who have no bunk-mates and a scarcity of covering, sit up around the stoves and nod all night. The mess-room is next to "22" and near "the rear." It is a long, dark room, having a long pine table, on which the food is placed in separate piles, either on a tin plate or on the uncovered, greasy table, at meal hours, twice a day. No knives nor forks, nor spoons are furnished. Captain Browne kindly brought my meals to me. The fare consists of a slice of baker's bread, very often stale, with weak coffee, for breakfast, and a slice of bread and piece of salt pork or salt beef, sometimes alternating with boiled fresh beef and bean soup, for dinner. The beef is often tough and hard to masticate. It is said to be thrown, bloody and unwashed, in huge pots, filled with water of doubtful cleanliness, and boiled. Many prisoners club together and form messes, and with such money as they receive from Northern friends, or as they can make by their own ingenious work, buy such eatables as can be obtained from the sutler. The prison allowance is poor and scant indeed, and I eagerly consume all I receive. Being on crutches I am unable to run and scuffle for a place at the mess-room table, where all stand to eat, after pushing and crowding in.