Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 01/May/Diary of Captain R. E. Park, of the 12th Ala. Regiment
|←Review of Bates' Gettysburg||Southern Historical Society Papers: Volume 1, Number 5 (1876) by
Diary of Captain R. E. Park, of the 12th Ala. Regiment
|Correction of Incident in Reference to General Pickett →|
|Southern Historical Society Papers, May 1876|
Diary of Robert E. Park, Macon, Georgia, late Captain Twelfth Alabama
Regiment, Confederate States Army.
[Editorial Note.—The following diary has a value, in that it records the daily experience of the men who followed our distinguished leaders, and gives the impressions made upon the mind of an intelligent young soldier as he discharged his daily duty.]
What is here written was chiefly for my own satisfaction, and in the hope that in coming years its perusal might give pleasure to my relatives and friends. Nothing was intended but a private journal, and no thought of publication was ever intended. It sees the light very unexpectedly. My object in furnishing it is neither ostentatious nor pecuniary, but simply to gratify others who have urged me to have it given a more permanent form. My comrades in the old "Army of the Valley," who followed the varying fortunes of General Early, and the unfortunate sufferers who were in prison with me during the last unhappy months of our valiant but vain struggle for independence, will excuse the numerous personal items so natural to a private diary. It was written while I was quite young—a mere boy; and the indulgent readers of these Papers will bear in mind that nothing was written for effect, but all in truth and sincerity, and at the time the events related were fresh in my memory. Style I could not study. My language is—
"Warm from the heart, and faithful to its fires,"
the spontaneous utterances of a young soldier's thoughts. The fact that while writing I never dreamed of its ever being published may add to its interest. The pressure of business engagements prevents my copying the diary, and my readers are indebted to the industry of my wife, who has kindly undertaken to prepare it in the proper form for publication.
June 6th, 1864—About eight o'clock Rhodes' division packed up their baggage, and marched down the breastworks near Richmond half a mile, turning to the left at same point we did on 30th May, and continuing our course nearly a mile under a hot, broiling sun, when coming up with Early's division, under Ramseur, and Gordon's division, we halted a few hours. At two o'clock P. M. we resumed our march towards the right flank of the enemy, going one mile, and then halted until dark. Skirmishing was brisk and cannonading rapid in our front. We expected to be engaged at any moment, but something prevented, and we returned to a pine woods on the Mechanicsville turnpike and remained during the night. A good many straggling Yankees were captured, who reported the enemy moving to their left flank, and say their men are destitute of shoes, deficient in rations, and very tired of fighting, etc. They also report Burnside's negroes at the front. The enemy, unwilling to expose their own persons, not only invoke the aid of Ireland, Germany, and the rest of Europe, but force our poor deluded, ignorant slaves into their ranks. They will prove nothing but "food for our bullets." * * *
June 7th—We remained in camp until evening, when we moved to a more pleasant locality. The enemy have disappeared from our left and left-centre, and gone towards our right, and Early's (lately Ewell's) command enjoys a respite from the heavy and exhausting duties of the past month.
June 8th—Sergeant Aug. P. Reid, of my company ("F," Twelfth Alabama), was this morning appointed acting Second Lieutenant by Colonel Pickens, and assigned to command of Company " D." This was a neat compliment to Gus, and to my intelligent company. The day was again marked by an unusual quiet; cannon and musketry were seldom heard. I seized a moment to write a letter expressing sympathy to Mrs. Hendree, of Tuskegee, at the untimely death of her excellent and gallant son, Edward, who was killed May 5th at the Wilderness while commanding sharpshooters. The first twelve months of the war we were messmates and intimate friends. He was afterwards made First-Lieutenant in Sixty-first Alabama regiment. He was the only son of a widowed mother, and of exceeding great promise.
June 9th—Remained in our bivouac until near six o'clock, when we were ordered to "pack up" and "fall in." Rev. Dr. William Brown, of Richmond, preached to us at four o'clock. Shortly after his sermon concluded, we marched about two miles towards the right of our line, and halted in an old field, near an old Yankee camp, occupied by some of McClellan's troops before his memorable "change of base" in 1862. There we slept until near three o'clock next morning, when we were hurriedly aroused, but, as we soon found out, needlessly. I read through—or rather finished reading—the New Testament to-day, and re-commenced it, beginning with Matthew. June 10th—Stayed quietly in bivouac all day. There are rumors that Grant is mining towards Our fortifications, and attempting his old Vicksburg manœuvres. But he will find he has Lee and Beauregard to deal with now. Mortars are said to be mounted and actively used by both sides on the right of our line. Appearances go to show Grant's inclination to beseige rather than charge General Lee in the future. The fearful butchery of his drunken soldiers—his European hirelings—at Spotsylvania Courthouse, it seems, has taught him some caution. His recklessness in sacrificing his hired soldiery, therefore, seems to me to be heartless and cruel in the extreme. He looks upon his soldiers as mere machines—not human beings—and treats them accordingly. * * *
June 12th—Three years ago to-day my company—"The Macon (county, Alabama) Confederates" were enlisted as soldiers in the provisional army of the Confederate States, and I became a "sworn in" volunteer. I remember well the day the company took the prescribed oath to serve faithfully in the armies of the Confederate States, and I can truthfully say I have labored to do my whole duty to the cause since then. Then I was a young Georgia collegian, scarcely eighteen years of age, very unsophisticated in the ways of the world, totally unacquainted with military duties, war's rude alarms, and ever-present perils. Now I may be considered something of a veteran; have served nearly one year as a private and two as a lieutenant, having been unanimously elected to that position, and being a larger portion of the time in sole command of my company, composed principally of men much older than myself. I have participated in a great number of hotly contested battles and sharp skirmishes; have marched through hail and snow, rain and sleet, beneath hot, burning suns, and during bitter cold, by day and by night; have bivouacked on bloody battlefields, with arms in my hands, ready for the long roll's quick, alarming beat; have seen many a loved comrade—whose noble heart beat high with hope and bounded with patriotic love for his dear native Southland—slain by the cruel invader, and lying still in death's icy embrace. But despite the innumerable dangers I have passed through, through God's mercy I am still alive, and able and willing to confront the enemies of my country. Will I be spared to see another anniversary? The Omniscient One only can tell. This is Sunday, and I have had the privilege of hearing Rev. Dr. L. Rosser, of Virginia, and Rev. Dr. Joseph C. Stiles, of Georgia, preach eloquent sermons. They preached in a pine woods near our bivouac.
June 13th—At two o'clock in the morning my corps took up the line of march, some said to assume its position on the right of the army, and others to the southside of the James; still others thought it was a grand flank movement, in which Grant was to be out-generaled as McClellan was, and Lee, as usual, grandly triumphant. None of the numerous suppositions proved correct. Battle's Alabama brigade, under Colonel S. B. Pickens, of our regiment (the Twelfth Alabama), led the corps; and we passed through Mechanicsville, crossed the Chickahominy, and entered the Brook turnpike five miles from Richmond. Here we turned towards Louisa Courthouse. I marched about fifteen miles, when I got in an ambulance and rode the remainder of the day, a distance of about five miles. During the afternoon I suffered from a hot fever. We halted about twenty miles from Richmond and rested until next day. This was one of the very few sick days I have had in three years. * * * *
June 15th—Feeling a good deal better, I marched with my company to-day. We passed Louisa Courthouse, and halted near Trevillian's depot, seven miles from Gordonsville. On our route we passed the late cavalry battle-field, where Generals Hampton, Butler and Fitzhugh Lee, defeated Yankee General Sheridan, et al. A great many dead and swollen horses were on the ground, and graves of slain soldiers were quite numerous. The fight wascontested.
June 17th—Rhodes' division passed through towards Lynchburg on foot, several regiments of Gordon's and Ramseur's divisions rode on the cars. Lieutenant Long and I got a transfer to private quarters, and drew our rations from the commissary. This is the first time I have ever been sick enough to be sent to a hospital, since I entered the "Army of Northern Virginia," over three years ago. It is a great trial to me. * * * *
June 20th—The monotony of my situation wearies and does not benefit me, and I seek and obtain a transfer to general hospital at Lynchburg. At two o'clock took the cars, reached Lynchburg near sun down, and was sent to College hospital, with Lieutenant Long and Lieutenant B. F. Howard of Tuskegee, Alabama. It is partly under charge of some Sisters of Charity. Here I heard of the sudden death of Mr. Charles Wright of Sixty-first Alabama, and wrote to his brother, Lieutenant G. W. Wright, of my company, at Loachafoka, Alabama, concerning it. Poor George is now at home suffering from the severe wound in the head, received at battle of Gettysburg, shortly after I was wounded, and near my side.
June 21st—To-day I was initiated in hospital fare and treatment. The fare consisted of cold, sobby corn bread, cold boiled bacon, very fat, and a kind of tasteless tea, called, by some of my companions, "poplar bark tea." The hospital attendants account for our hard fare by saying, that all the commissary and hospital stores were hurriedly removed from Lynchburg, as the vandal General Hunter approached, and to prevent their falling into Hunter's hands. Early's corps is now hotly pressing him towards Liberty and Salem, Virginia, I would I were able to assist in the pursuit. Yankee armies however are seldom caught when they start on a retreat. In that branch of tactics they generally excel. They will run pell-mell, if they think it necessary, prudence, with them, is the better part of valor, and they bear in mind the lines from Butler's Hudibras—
"He who fights and runs away
Will live to fight another day;
But he who fights and is slain
Will never live to fight again,"
* * *
June 23d—My cough grew worse, and general debility increased, but becoming exceedingly weary of the hospital, I applied for a transfer to a Staunton hospital, in order that I might be ready to join my corps when it reached there. Hospital life has no charms for me, and my first experience has not impressed me favorably.
June 25th—Visited Lieutenant Wimberly, of Sixth Alabama, wounded in the leg, and who was kindly cared for by the agreeable family of Mr. Mock. Lieutenant Wimberly was in fine spirits, but recovering rather slowly. The good ladies of the house were very attentive to him. Excepting this visit, the day proved very hot, dull and tiresome. Having nothing to read and nothing to do, I am sadly afflicted with ennui, and am very anxious to rejoin my command.
June 26th—As I coughed too much to attend church, and was too unwell otherwise, I remained in my room until evening trying to sleep, and thus atone for the night's restlessness. Late in the day I applied, with Lieutenants Howard and Long and several other officers, for discharge from the hospital. The application was granted, though my immediate surgeon told me I ought not to leave for several days. But I was literally worn out with the dull surroundings and poor fare, and, hearing that General Early intended to invade Pennsylvania, I resolved to accompany him. The very thought is exhilarating, and makes me feel better. * * * *
June 28th—Joined my regiment two miles beyond Staunton, and found the men glad to see me and in excellent spirits after their long, rapid, but fruitless pursuit of Yankee General Hunter. The command is ordered to be ready for rapid marching, and I packed my valise and satchel, retaining only an extra suit of under clothing. In my valise I left my diary, kept for two years past, and giving daily brief accounts of all that has happened to myself and my immediate command. It is too large and heavy to carry along with me, and, though I have become very much attached to it—from such constant use and association—I must "make a virtue of necessity," and entrust it to the keeping of an unknown and perhaps careless quartermaster and teamster. No officers baggage wagons are to be allowed on the expedition in contemplation, and all of us have left the greater portion of our clothing and all our company documents, papers, &c. In the afternoon we passed through Staunton, and bivouacked six miles beyond on the famous Valley turnpike.
June 29th—We marched some distance on the pike, then turned to the right, and halted near a little village called Keezeltown. At night our regimental postmaster brought me fourteen letters the first mail for some time. Received notice from hospital of death of private Robert P. Wynn, of Auburn, Alabama. Poor Bob! He had been married but a short time to the young sister of Robert F. Hall, lately my orderly sergeant, and soon after he joined us he had an attack of pneumonia, which, together with nostalgia (a species of melancholy, common among our soldiers, arising from absence from home and loved ones) soon brought his young career to an end. I must write Mrs. Wynn of his death. It is a sad duty. Her brother, Sergeant Hall, an old college classmate of mine, and one of the most gallant and intelligent members of my company, is at home, still disabled and suffering from a severe wound received at Seven Pines, 31st May, 1862. Our Valley army under that heroic old bachelor, lawyer and soldier, Lieutenant-General J. A. Early, is composed of the small divisions of Major-Generals John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky; Robert E. Rhodes, of Alabama; John B. Gordon, of Georgia; and S. D. Ramseur, of North Carolina. All of them are small—some of the brigades no larger than a full regiment, and some of the regiments no larger than a good company, and many of the companies without a commissioned officer present, and having only a "corporal's guard" in number of enlisted men. We are all under the impression that we are going to invade Pennsylvania or Maryland. It will be a very daring movement, but all are ready and anxious for it. My own idea has long been that we should transfer the battle-ground to the enemy's territory, and let them feel some of the dire calamities of war.
June 30th—Returned to the turnpike and marched eighteen miles, half mile beyond New Market. This place was the scene of the Dutch General Siegel's signal defeat by General Breckinridge. The men who "fit mit Siegels" preferred running to fighting on that occasion.
July 1st, 1864—Marched twenty-two miles to-day from Newmarket to two miles beyond Woodstock, where we remained for the night. This is the anniversary of the first day's battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; and one year ago, late in the afternoon, just before my brigade entered the city, I was wounded. I well remember the severe wound in the head received that day by Lieutenant Wright near my side, and his earnest appeal to me to tell him candidly the nature of his terrible wound. And I shall never forget the generous forgetfulness of self, and warm friendship for myself, shown by Captain John J. Nicholson, of Company "I," when the command was temporarily forced back by overwhelming numbers. I had been wounded; and fearing that I would be captured, hobbled off after my regiment, as it fell back under a very close and galling fire from the rapidly advancing Yankees. Nicholson, noticing my feeble and painful efforts to escape, suddenly stopped, ran to me, and catching my arm, offered to aid me; but, appreciating his well meant kindness, I declined his proffered assistance, and begged him to hurry on, telling him, to induce him to leave me, and save himself, that I would stop unless he went on. Captain N. was once a teacher in Mobile, associated with Major W. T. Walthall, is a native of Annapolis, Maryland, and graduate of Saint Johns College. While on furlough, and recovering from a wound, received at Seven Pines, he married an elegant lady in Amelia county, Virginia. After Captain N. left me, the enemy fell back again, and I was carried to our brigade hospital, near Gettysburg, and soon joined by Captains A. E. Hewlett and P. D. Ross, and Lieutenants Wright and Fletcher, all wounded officers of my regiment. The last mentioned, a brave young soldier, bled internally, and died during the night.
July 2d—We passed through Middletown and camped at Newtown.
July 3d—Marched through the historic old town of Winchester, and encamped at Smithfield. The Good people of W. received us very kindly and enthusiastically.
July 4th—Declaration of Independence Day, but as we had other business before us, we did not celebrate the day in the old time style. We marched through Halltown and Charlestown, near the old field where that fanatical murderer and abolitionist, John Brown, was hung, and halted under a heavy cannonading at Bolivar Heights, near Harper's Ferry. This place on the Baltimore and Ohio rail-road, and on the Potomac river, surrounded by lofty mountains, was once a United State Arsenal and Government foundry. The Yankee camps had been hastily forsaken, and our men quickly took possession of them and their contents. After dark General Rhodes took his old Alabama brigade (now Battle's) into the town, where a universal pillaging of United States Government property, especially commissary stores, was carried on all night. The town was pretty thoroughly relieved of its stores, and the 4th of July was passed very pleasantly. Corporal A. F. Henderson, while in a cherry tree gathering fruit, was wounded by a minie ball or piece of shell, and carried to hospital in the afternoon. Fuller Henderson is a son of Rev. S. Henderson, D. D., a distinguished Baptist minister of Alabama, and is a true and unflinching soldier.
July 5th—In company with Captain J. P. Smith, A.I.G., Captain R. M. Greene, of Sixth Alabama, and Sergeant A. P. Reid, I returned to town again in the morning, and procured some envelopes, writing-paper, and preserved fruits, etc. The enemy's sharpshooters from Maryland Heights fired pretty close to us repeatedly, and bullets fell so rapidly it was dangerous to walk over the town. But as we were on a frolic, resolved to see everything, we heeded the danger very little. We returned to camp, near Halltown. I was sick and restless during the night.
July 6th—As I was weak from my sickness of the past night, I rode in an ambulance all day. Rhodes' and Ramseur's divisions crossed the Potomac at Shepherdstown, and marched through the famous town of Sharpsburg. Signs of the bloody battle fought there in September, 1862, between Generals Lee and McClellan were everywhere visible. Great holes, made by cannon-balls and shells, were to be seen in the houses and chimneys, and trees, fences and houses showed countless marks made by innumerable minie-balls. I took a very refreshing bath in Antietam creek, upon whose banks we bivouacked. Memories of scores of army comrades and childhood's friends, slain on the banks of this stream, came before my mind, and kept away sleep for a long while. The preservation of such an undesirable union of States is not worth the life of a single Southerner lost on that memorable battle-field. Lieutenant John Fletcher, of my company, and Captain Tucker, commanding Twelfth Alabama, were killed at Sharpsburg.
July 7th—Left the Antietam and marched through a mountainous country towards Harper's Ferry, where constant cannonading could be heard. Our brigade halted near Rohrersville, three miles from Crampton's Gap, and the Third, Fifth, Sixth, Twelfth and Sixty-first Alabama regiments, of which the brigade was composed, were sent in different directions to guard roads. The Twelfth Alabama remained on picket all night, leaving outpost for the brigade at three o'clock P. M.
July 8th—Rhodes' division was taken within a short distance of the Ferry, halted for an hour or two, and then marched across the mountain at Crampton's Gap, where General Howell Cobb's brigade of Georgians fought in 1862, and where Lieutenant-Colonel Jeff. Lamar, of Tom Cobb's Legion, was killed. Here Tom Irvine, of Oxford, Georgia, one of my earliest schoolfellows, and a very intelligent and promising youth, was also slain. We passed through Burkettsville and stopped near Jefferson. The sun was very hot indeed to-day, and marching very uncomfortable. The mountain scenery in this section is very beautiful.
July 9th—Marched through and beyond Frederick City, but neither saw nor heard anything of the mythical "Barbara Freitchie," concerning whom the abolition poet, Whittier, wrote in such an Un- truthful and silly strain. We found the enemy, under General Lew. Wallace, posted on the heights near Monocacy river. Our sharpshooters engaged them, and Private Smith, of Company "D," was killed. General Gordon attacked the enemy with his division and routed them completely, killing a large number. Colonel John Hill Lamar, of Sixtieth Georgia, who had but six months before married the charming Mrs. C______ , of Orange county, Virginia, was killed. There is a report that General Early levied a contribution on Frederick City, calling for $50,000 in money, 4,500 suits of clothes, 4,000 pairs of shoes, and a quantity of bacon and flour. Battle's brigade was in line of battle all the evening, and marched from point to point, but was riot actively engaged. Two divisions of the Sixth Army Corps and some "hundred days men" opposed our advance. The latter were very easily demoralized, and ran away.
July 10th—Marched nearly twenty-five miles to-day on the main road to Washington city, passing through Urbana, Hyatstown and other small places. It was a severe march. We camped near Rockville. My negro cook, Charles, left me; I sent him off to cook a chicken and some biscuits, and he failed to put in an appearance any more. My opinion is that he was enticed away or forcibly detained by some negro worshipper, as he had always been prompt and faithful, and seemed much attached to me.
July llth—Passed through the neat village of Rockville, and marched under a very hot sun towards Washington city. Halted about two miles from the inner fortifications, where we were exposed to a close and rapid shelling nearly all the afternoon. The men are full of surmises as to our next course of action, and all are eager to enter the city. We can plainly see the dome of the Capitol and other prominent buildings, Arlington Heights (General Lee's old home), and four lofty redoubts, well manned with huge, frowning cannon. Several 100-pound shells burst over us, but only one or two men in the entire division were hurt. All the houses in our vicinity were vacated by their inmates on our approach, and the skirmishers in front were soon in them. Many articles of male and female attire were strewn over the ground. This conduct was against orders, but a few men, led by an Italian, familiarly known as "Tony," who was once an organ-grinder in Mobile and now belonging to the "Guarde La Fayette," Company "A," of my regiment, exerted themselves to imitate the vandalism of Hunter and Milroy and their thieving followers while they occupied the fair Valley of Virginia. Private property ought to be and is, generally—respected by Confederate soldiers, and any other course is ungentlemanly and unsoldierly. Yankee soldiers are not expected to appreciate such gentility and self-respect. United States Postmaster—General Montgomery Blair's house and farm, called "Silver Spring," were less than a hundred yards from my regiment. General Breckinridge is an old acquaintance of General Blair, and had placed a guard around it, and forbade any one to enter the house or at all disturb the premises. This course was in great contrast to that pursued by General Hunter when he caused the destruction of the residence of his cousin, Hon. Andrew Hunter, in Virginia. Breckinridge is the very soul of honor, as are all our leading generals. The meanest private in our army would not sanction the conduct of Milroy and Hunter.
July 12th—Some heavy skirmishing occurred to-day, and one of my regiment was wounded. The sharpshooters, and Fifth Alabama, which supported them, were hotly engaged; some of the enemy, seen behind their breastworks, were dressed in citizens' clothes, and a few had on linen coats. I suppose these were "Home Guards," composed of Treasury, Postoffice and other Department clerks.
I went to Roche's and other houses near the picket line, and was shown some very disreputable letters, received and written by young ladies, which had been found in the houses, and which showed how utterly demoralized the people of the North had become. It was a day of conjecture and considerable excitement, in momentary expectation of being ordered "forward." But we were disappointed in our expectations and wishes, and late at night we evacuated our position, and left Washington and its frightened inhabitants. The object of the daring expedition was no doubt accomplished, and Grant was forced to send large reinforcements to the threatened and demoralized Capital from his own army, and thus largely diminish his own force and lessen his ability to act upon the offensive. I believe we could have taken the city when we first reached it, but the delay brought heavy battalions from Grant—ten times our small number who—could have readily forced us to abandon it. About twelve o'clock at night we commenced falling back towards Rockville, and I regret to say, our march was brilliantly illuminated by the burning of the magnificent Blair mansion. The destruction of the house was much deplored by our general officers and the more thoughtful subbordinates, as it had been our policy not to interfere with private property. It was set on fire either by some thoughtless and reckless sharpshooter in the rear guard, or by some careless soldier stationed about the house.
July 13th—Marched on our retreat the remainder of the night, passed through the very friendly Southern town of Rockville, and halted near Darnestown. I slept all the afternoon, not having enjoyed any rest the previous night. At dusk we commenced marching, via Poolsville, to White's Ferry on the Potomac river. Did not march over five miles the entire night, though kept awake, and moving short distances at intervals of a few minutes.
July 14th—Recrossed the Potomac, wading it, and halted near the delightful little town of Leesburg. We have secured, it is said, over 3.000 horses and more than 2,500 head of beef cattle by this expedition, and this gain will greatly help the Confederate Government.
July 15th—Rested quietly "under the shade of the trees."
July 16th—We passed through Leesburg, Hamilton and Purserville. At the latter place the Yankee cavalry made a dash upon our wagon train, and captured a few wagons. General Phil. Cook's (formerly Doles') Georgia and Battle's Alabama brigades were double-quicked, or rather run, about two miles after them, but, of course, could not succeed in overtaking them. The idea of Confederate infantry trying to catch Yankee cavalry, especially when the latter is scared beyond its wits, is not a new one at all, and though attempted often in the past, and doubtless to be repeated scores of time in the future, I venture to predict will never be realized. Indeed it is a demonstrated fact, that demoralized and retreating Yankee infantry cannot be overtaken even by Confederate cavalry, vide battles of Bull Run, Manassas first and second, etc. A frightened Yankee is unapproachable. We finally gave up the pursuit, and marched through Snicker's Gap. The Twelfth Alabama picketed on the mountain top.
July 17th—Left our picket-post and waded across the Shenandoah river. The water rose to our waists and was quite swift, and as the bed of the river was rocky and uneven, we had a good deal of fun. Some practical jokes were indulged in, which all seemed to enjoy. After crossing, we marched within five miles of Berryville and halted. I took dinner at the house of an excellent and very intelligent Virginia lady, Mrs. C——— , and met a charming young lady, Miss C———, daughter of mine hostess. Mrs. C——— gave me some interesting facts connected with the treatment of the good people of the Valley of Virginia by that cruel coward and villain, General Milroy, who a short while ago fled before us so fleetly and ignominiously. She had been badly mistreated by him herself. Indeed he appeared to take a peculiar pleasure in annoying and insulting the citizens, particularly the patriotic ladies, who happened unfortunately to be living within his department.
July 18th—Archy W——— , a corporal of my company, happening to be on guard at the house, made an engagement for me to visit Miss C——— in the afternoon at four o'clock; but at the appointed hour Rodes' division was hurriedly ordered out to meet the enemy, who had crossed the Shenandoah at "Snicker's Gap, under General Crook; and in an incredible short space of time we were hotly engaged in battle. The fight lasted over two hours, and was quite warmly contested. The Yankee force was three times greater than ours. Private Eberheart, of my company, was instantly killed. We had driven the enemy to the banks of and in the river, and, having halted on a little eminence, were peppering them with bullets as they rushed into and attempted to cross the river. They replied as best they could, but under great disadvantage. A large number remained concealed near the river at the foot of the hill, and did some execution, firing at our men as they exposed themselves. They escaped under cover of darkness. When Eberheart was killed, Private Tom K—— called me earnestly to him, and, amid a heavy shower of bullets, I went to him, and inquired what he wanted. "Nothing," he replied, "I just thought you would like to see Eberheart after he was dead." A rather poor reason, I thought, for causing a man to unnecessarily expose himself to hundreds of death-dealing missiles. I took care of his pocket-book, his wife's ambrotype and bible, and will send them to her at Fredonia, Alabama, the first opportunity. E——— was a brave, uncomplaining, good soldier, sent to my company as a conscript. Private G. A. Ware was severely wounded in the leg. Lieutenant Majors, of Company "E," and two others of the regiment were killed, and ten or fifteen wounded. Lieutenant Majors and I were running near each other in quick pursuit of the enemy, when he exclaimed that he was shot, but continued to run for some distance, and then suddenly fell. I stopped by his side, and offered him some water from my canteen, which he hastily drank, and then sank down and instantly expired. A minnie ball had cut an artery in his leg, but such was his determined courage and eagerness in following the fleeing foe, that he ran on, his life blood all the time gushing from his wound, and stopped only when sheer exhaustion and faintness from such great and rapid loss of blood compelled him, and the grim monster Death claimed him for his own. Majors had been but recently promoted, and was an officer of decided promise. In this action Colonel Pickens commanded our brigade and Lieutenant-Colonel Goodgame the regiment. While the routed and demoralized Yankees were crossing the river, I caused my company and those adjoining it to fire by rank and by command, as in ordinary manual drill, the only instance of such an event, in my knowledge, during the war. I gave the words of command at request of Colonel Goodgame, and confess I took much pleasure in it. While we were engaged burying our dead comrades under a large tree, near where they fell, General Early and staff rode by, and the old hero spoke to us gently, and kindly suggested that we "dig the graves deep enough." A brave North Carolinian had somehow and somewhere come in possession of a silk ("stove pipe") hat, and had made himself conspicuous by persisting in wearing it, despite the advice and warnings of his companions, and indeed of the whole division, as the men used frequently to tell him, as he passed by, to "come down out of that hat," "I see your feet hanging down from that stove pipe," etc.—all of which he heard with imperturbable good humor, generally making some witty reply. In walking over the battle-field I was pained to see the well-known tall hat, and upon nearing it, to recognize the handsome, good-natured face and manly form of the gallant wearer lying cold in death. He had been shot in the head. His reckless daring reminded me of the hardihood shown, during the battle of Gaines' Mill in 1862, by Captain L'Etoudal, of Company "A," the French company from Mobile. The day was intensely hot, and L'Etoudal was very fat, weighing at least 250 pounds. He got hold of an umbrella, and while we were exposed to a heavy fire, and even while marching preparatory to charging the enemy, he kept the conspicuous article boldly and recklessly elevated over his head, and to repeated cries from the men ordering him to "put down that umbrella, you are attracting the enemy's fire to us," which was really true, he coolly replied, "I won't, it is too much hot," and the brave Frenchman absolutely refused to lower or close it and continued to shield his huge body from the sun's scorching rays, preferring to risk the bullets to the terrible heat. The company laughed at and approved their captain's daring conduct, and did not join in the almost universal request to "haul down that umbrella." The poor fellow died soon after, a victim to disease. He always reminded me of Lieutenant Porgy, a racy character in Wm. Gilmore Simms' interesting novel, "The Partisan." We slept in line of battle, on our arms, ready for action, near the battle-field. Privates W. A. Moore and T. M. Kimbrough came in from hospital to-day.
July 19th—Rested undisturbed in the woods. Private W. F. Moore returned to camp. After the moon rose Rodes' division marched through Berryville, then halted, cooked rations, and rested from two o'clock until daylight.
July 20th—Marched all day, passing White Post and Newtown, and within one and a half miles of Winchester.
July 21st—Anniversary of the first battle of Manassas. We were drawn up in line of battle at Newtown and Middletown, and ready to repeat the memorable lesson in running taught our enemies at Manassas this day three years ago. But they declined to give us the chance. Three years ago my regiment, officered by Colonel R. T. Jones, of Marion, Alabama, Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore O'Hara, of Mobile, and Major E. D. Tracy, of Huntsville, with my company, then officered by Captain R. F. Ligon and Lieutenants R. H. Keeling, William Zuber and George Jones, were hurried on the cars from Richmond to Manassas, but reached there only in time to go over the battle-field after the fierce conflict was over. I saw hundreds of Brooklyn Zouaves, in their gay red breeches and gaudily trimmed coats, lying lifeless where they had been slain. Also saw the noble steed of the heroic Bartow lying near the spot where his master fell. Soon after General Beauregard raised his hat, and, in grateful acknowledgment of their splendid valor, exclaimed, "I salute the gallant Eighth Georgia!" The places where General Bee fell and General Jackson won his immortal soubriquet of "Stonewall" were not far distant. We spent the night near a mill on the river, three miles from Strasburg.
July 24th—Suddenly summoned to leave our picket-post for Winchester, marching very rapidly, forming line of battle near Kernstown, and moving quickly after the enemy through Winchester and five miles beyond, being in less than half mile of the routed and flying Yankees almost the whole time. They, in their fright and haste to escape, burned up thirty-five or forty wagons and caissons, and abandoned a few cannon. The entire movement was a very successful one. We marched fully thirty miles during the day. But, as I have said before, it seems to be impossible to catch a running Yankee. They are as fleet almost as race-horses.
July 25th—Rested until four o'clock P. M., and then marched to the little village of Bunker Hill.
July 26th—Marched to Martinsburg, where a large number of Yankee sick and wounded were captured; camped two miles from town. July 27th—Details were made to tear up and destroy the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; rumor in camp of Hood's fighting Sherman in Georgia, and all are anxious for particulars.
July 28th—Rested all day, and near the spot where, last year, I saw Major A. Proskauer, our gallant German Hebrew Major, from Mobile, and Dr. Adams, our assistant surgeon, eat fried mushrooms ("frog-stools"), a very novel sight to me.
July 29th—Marched to Williamsport, Maryland, where our cavalry crossed the Potomac and captured large quantities of commissary and quartermasters' stores.
August 1st, 2d and 3d,—1864 Remained quietly at Bunker Hill, resting. This rest and quiet of three days, after our continual marching and counter-marching, double-quicking, running, fighting, skirmishing, long-roll alarms by day and by night, loss of sleep by night marches and constant picketing, is genuinely enjoyed by us all.
August 4th—Left our quiet camp for Maryland, and passed through Martinsburg, halting six miles beyond.
August 5th—Waded across the Potomac at Williamsport, and marched towards Boonsboro, halting five miles from Funkstown. General Breckinridge's command crossed at Shepherdstown. The majority of the men took off their shoes, tied them to their knapsacks, and waded through, over the rocks and gravel, barefoot.
August 6th Breckinridge's corps, consisting of his own and Wharton's small divisions, passed by us, and recrossed the Potomac. General B. was formerly Vice-President of the United States, and is a magnificent looking man, weighing over two hundred pounds. He wears a heavy moustache, but no beard, and his large piercing blue eyes are really superb. Rodes' and Ramseur's divisions also crossed to the Virginia side, wading the river again. We marched to the vicinity of Hedgesville, on a mountain road, and camped for the night.
August 7th—Marched through Martinsburg, and to our former camp at Bunker Hill.
August 8th and 9th—Spent these two days resting, but in momentary expectation of an order to "fall in."
August 10th—Order to "fall in" received, and we left camp, marched six miles towards Winchester, formed line of battle, and slept on our arms all night.
August 11th—Went to Winchester and formed line of battle. Then Battle's brigade was ordered on picket duty two miles beyond Middletown. Marched over twenty miles during the day.
August 12th—Left the picket-post, marched through Strasburg, and halted at our old camp near Barb's tannery, on the Back road. At night the Twelfth Alabama went again on picket.
August 13th—The brigade was in order of battle in the hot sun all day.
August 14th—Still in line of battle. Rude breastworks of rails were thrown up, but the enemy kept aloof. Although we have thrown up scores of earthworks, we have never been called upon to fight behind them.
August 17th—Left our post for Winchester, and on our route saw where several large barns, loaded with wheat, corn and hay, had been burnt by order of General Sheridan. One large flouring mill, of great necessity to the locality, had also been destroyed. I suppose Sheridan proposes to starve out the citizens, or rather the women and children of the Valley (for the men are in the army), as well as Early 's troops. Grant and he have resolved to make this fertile Valley a desert, and, as they express it, cause it "to be so desolate that the birds of passage cannot find enough to subsist upon." This is a very ungenteel and ungenerous return for the very humane manner in which General Lee conducted his Pennsylvania campaign last year, and for the very kind treatment of the citizens of Maryland and Pennsylvania by General Early and his command recently. Such warfare is a disgrace to civilization; but I suppose that Irish-Yankee Sheridan and that drunken butcher and tanner, Grant, have little comprehension of sentiments of humanity or Christianity. Breckinridge and Gordon whipped out the Yankees badly to-day in some severe skirmishing. Rodes, for a wonder, was not engaged. My good mother says Rodes' division is in every battle her papers mention, and that such expressions as "Rodes bore the brunt of the battle," "Rodes began the action," "Rodes' command suffered severely in killed and wounded," "Rodes' division led the advance," or "Rodes conducted the retreat, serving as rear guard," are constantly in the telegraphic column, and to be found in "Letters from War Correspondents." It is true that our gallant and beloved Major-General is usually foremost at the post of honor and danger. He is ably seconded by his efficient adjutants, Major H. A. Whiting and Major Green Peyton. Reinforcements from Longstreet's corps have reached us, and vigorous work may be expected. Lieutenant-General Anderson is in command.