THE TWELFTH ALABAMA INFANTRY,
CONFEDERATE STATES ARMY.
By Robert E. Park, Late Captain Company E, 12th Alabama.
[This compilation toward a sketch of the history of this gallant regiment, its organization,
associations, engagements, casualties, etc., consists of extracts from the War Diary of Robert
Emory Park, late Captain of Company "F," with other material contributed and collected by him.]
ADVANCE INTO MARYLAND AND PENNSYLVANIA
June 19. Crossed the Potomac by wading at Williamsport, Md., and marched through Hagerstown. A majority of the people seem to be unionists, though there are some delightful exceptions. Bivouacked at Funkstown. Dined at Mr. Syester's, a good southerner. Gave 75 cents in Confederate money for a pound of stick candy.
June 20. With Captain Hewlett and Lieutenant Oscar Smith, of Third Alabama, called on Misses Mary Jane and Lizzie Kellar, young ladies just from a Pennsylvania female college, and heard them play and sing Southern songs. This was a very agreeable surprise to us all.
June 21. Attended Devine services at Methodist Episcopal Church in Hagerstown. At tea met Miss Rose Shafer, and found her to be a brave Belle Boyd in her words and acts. She is a true blue Southerner.
June 22. Took up line of march to Pennsylvania, and passed through Hagerstown in columns of companies. Crossed Pennsylvania line near Middleburg and camped at Greencastle.
June 23. Lieut. J. W. Wright's resignation was accepted, and Sergt. G. W. Wright was elected in his stead. I appointed T. H. Clower, First Sergt., and Corp. Bob Stafford a Sergeant.
June 24. Marched to Harrisburg and passed through Marion and Chambersburg. We see many women and children, but few men. General Lee has issued orders prohibiting all misconduct or lawlessness, and urging the utmost forbearance and kindness to all. His address and admonition is in contrast with the conduct of the Northern Generals, who have invaded the South with their soldiers. But it is in accord with true civilization. We cannot afford to make war upon women and children and defenseless men.
June 25. Breakfasted with a citizen who refused all pay, though I assured him Confederate money would soon take the place of greenbacks.
June 26. Marched through Greenvillage and Shippensburg. It rained all day. Had a nice bed of dry wheat straw at night, and slept soundly, undisturbed by dreams or alarms.
June 27. Marched through several small towns, and two miles beyond Carlisle, on the Baltimore turnpike, at least 25 miles. Ate an excellent supper at Mr. A. Spott's.
June 28. Breakfasted with some brother officers at Mr. Lee's. His daughters waited upon the tables, and we were served with hot rolls and waffles, butter and honey. Fried chicken also graced the table, and, I need not say, everything was hugely enjoyed. I went to an Episcopal Church in Carlisle, and, after the close of the service, was passing some well dressed ladies, to whom I lifted my hat, when one of them spoke to me kindly and inquired what State I was from, and upon reply told me that their minister was from Florence, Alabama. She spoke very gently and without a word of abuse, or reproof, or remonstrance. I went alone to the National Hotel for dinner. Found an unfriendly and scowling crowd of rough looking men in the office, but I walked up to the desk and registered and called for dinner. I was late and the dinner was quite a poor one, and was rather ungraciously served by a plump, Dutchy looking young waitress. I paid for it in Confederate money.
June 29. Crossed Blue Ridge Mountains at a gap at Papertown, where many of our men
obtained a supply of writing paper. Marched on turnpike to Petersburg and took the Frederick
City road, bivouacked at Heidlersburg.
BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG
July 1. Marched through Middletown towards Gettysburg. This proved to be one of the most eventful days of my life. We could hear and see the shelling in front of Gettysburg, and were soon in range. Rodes' division was actively engaged in a very short time. His old Alabama brigade, under Colonel O'Neal, was shelled fiercely. Captain James T. Davis of Company D was killed near me. Another shell exploded in my company and wounded Corporal J. H. Eason and Private Lucius Williams, while we halted in a hilly woods. We passed the woods and a wheat field, where private Rogers, our Baptist preacher, had his knee shattered by a minie ball. We continued to advance and soon made a charge upon the enemy not far from the Seminary. We ran them some distance and halted. There Lieutenant Wright was wounded in the head, by my side. I spoke to him and he calmly asked me to examine his wound, and tell him frankly whether I thought it would prove fatal. I looked at his bloody head, lifted the hair from over the wound and found his brain exposed, the bone on top of his head having been carried away. I answered him cheerfully and reassuringly, bidding him lie close to the ground until he could be removed. I gave him some water out of my canteen and made him lie down as low as possible, as the bullets were passing thick and fast by and over us, and often striking some one near by. Captain Hewlett and private Lester were wounded near me. While urging my men to fire and keep cool, I received a ball in my hip. It was a wonder, a miracle, I was not afterwards shot a half dozen times, but a merciful Providence preserved me. After a long exposure to heavy fire from a superior force of the enemy, we were ordered to fall back to a stone fence. Captain J. J. Nicholson of Company I kindly offered to help me as I hobbled along, though I urged him to abandon me and save himself. Colonel Pickens sent me to a hospital on Major Proskauer's horse. Our gallant Jew Major smoked his cigars calmly and cooly in the thickest of the fight. At the field hospital, an old barn, I was put in a tent with Captains Ross and Hewlett, Lieutenants Wright and Fletcher, Corporal Eason and Henry Lamar. Poor John Preskitt was mortally wounded. He died saying: "All is right." My company had all of its officers wounded and about half of its men. Every officer, except Captain Thomas, on the right wing of the regiment, was either killed or wounded. The brigade suffered severely. Our division drove the enemy through the town, capturing many prisoners, including nearly all of their wounded. Surgeon George Whitfield was kept very busy.
July 2. Limped inside the barn, saw Preskitt's body, and urged a decent burial by the ambulance corps. He leaves a very helpless family. Lieutenant Fletcher of Company G died by my side. Nine of my company were wounded yesterday. Pierce Ware returned to the company in time for the fight. Our forces fought Meade's command all day, and the cannonading was wonderfully distinct and terrific.
July 3. Heavy cannonading and musketry with cessation. Attempted to storm the heights, but failed. Stuart sent back a large number of captured wagons. Our anxiety for news was intense. We fear defeat in the enemy's country, but hope and pray for victory. We have every confidence in Lee and Stuart.
July 4. A memorable day! All able to walk were sent toward Maryland, and the badly wounded were hauled away. Dr. Whitfield was very kind and placed me in the first ambulance, driven by Sam Slaton, in company with Lieutenant Wright and Captains Ross and Hewlett. The night was a dark, dreary, rainy one. At 1 o'clock A. M. we started after a long halt on Fairfield road, towards Hagerstown, riding over an execrable mountain road. We were suffering, wet and anxious. The Yankee cavalry attacked our train and took several of our wagons, including the third one in our rear. They were firing uncomfortable near. Our ambulance broke down at this critical time, and we walked up to a farmer, got his small market wagon, left one horse with him and drove the other, with his wagon, on to Hagerstown. Captain Pickens, quartermaster, aided us much. At Washington Hotel in Hagerstown, the proprietor gave us sandwiches and a bottle of whiskey and spoke cheeringly.
July 5. We reached Williamsport, after a gloomy night, at 6 A. M., and drove our horse across the Potomac and reached Martinsburg at 2 P. M., had our wounds dressed, ate dinner in the hospital, drove four miles and spent the night at Mr. Stanley's.
July 6. Arrived at Winchester at 4 o'clock, turned over our horse and wagon to provost marshal, Captain Cullen, and left Winchester on mail coach, reaching Woodstock at 11 o'clock at night, and slept on the hotel floor. Citizens are anxious for news and ask many questions.
July 7. Breakfasted and left on stage for Staunton, eating dinner at Harrisonburg, where a generous stranger paid our bill. Money is not plentiful with us. Reached Staunton at 8:30 at night and stopped at American Hotel Hospital.
July 8. Drew a month's pay and obtained transfer to general hospital, Richmond. Captain H. and I hired a horse and buggy for $12.00 to carry us to Middle river, six miles distant, to get our valises from Captain Haralson, quartermaster.
July 9. Reached Richmond 5 P. M. Went to hospital number four, Dr. J. B. Reid. Dr. A.
Y. P. Garnett gave me a thirty day's furlough, approved by General Winder.
(Compiler's note: this is only the Gettysburg portion of
Park's 100 plus page history of the 12th Alabama Infantry)
(Source: Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. 33, pp.242-245)