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, 1864About 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 7thWe 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 8thSergeant 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 9thRemained 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 10thStayed quietly in bivouac all day. There are rumors that Grant is mining towards our fortifications, and attempting his old Vicksburg manoeuvres. 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 12thThree 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 13thAt 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 outgeneraled 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 15thFeeling 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 was wamly contested. * * * * * * * * *
June 17thRhodes' 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 20thThe 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 21stTo-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.