Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 03.djvu/69
Diary of Captain Robert E. Park.
had suffered great mental anguish and immense pecuniary losses by the cruel devastation and cowardly atrocities of their enemies, but when they, exultant and victorious, invaded the country of their inhuman enemy, they nobly restrained their angry passions and kept pure and bright their unsullied reputations. They heroically resisted the alluring temptation to inflict merited retaliation, and like brave, Christian soldiers and gallant gentlemen, scrupulously obeyed the humane orders of their beloved chieftain. But this sublime lesson of generosity and magnanimity was lost upon the vandal enemy. In base return for Lee's noble, Christian conduct they despoiled and desecrated his own home at Arlington, and the cherished homes of his brave followers in Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina. Sherman's base course, his wicked crimes, have forever stained his name and cause, dishonored his country and disgraced his triumph. The grand, glorious and humane Lee and his chivalrous officers and brave men disdained to retaliate by imitating the cruel deeds of the malignant Sherman, Sheridan and Grant and their hordes of reckless ruffians. We have just reason to be proud of the magnanimous conduct of our peerless leader, while the Yankees must hang their heads in shame at the evil deeds perpetrated by their chosen commanders. In Southern parlance, the terms soldier and gentleman are synonymous, and our officers and men pride themselves upon that "chastity of honor," which, as Edmund Burke expressed it, "feels a stain like a wound."
February 27th—A party of ninety or one hundred officers and a few hundred privates were paroled and left for Richmond. Some of the officers bribed Ahl and Wolf with gold watches and greenbacks to put their names on the paroled list. Influential Northern friends aided others, and a few sold their places and remained behind.
February 28th—One hundred and three officers, of those earliest captured, were paroled to-day for exchange. We are growing hopeful of a speedy return to our homes and all are in fine spirits. The despondent are becoming cheerful and happy at the exhilarating prospect of release from durance vile.
March 1st and 2d—Lieutenant Waldman, our division postmaster, surprised and delighted me by handing me the following letter this morning after "letter call":