From the Introduction:
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 from. 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 pleasure 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.
Excerpt from the book
Poor Dick Noble, from "Big Hungry," near Tuskegee, died a prisoner at Elmira. He was a faithful fellow. A kind letter was received, too, from Mr. J. W. Fellows, of Manchester, New Hampshire, who, with Professor William Johns, prepared me for college at Brownwood Institute, La Grange, Georgia, in 1859. He is now practicing law, and is an uncompromising Democrat. He has lived among the Southern people, formed friendships there, and understands their peculiar institution-slavery. His letter is very kind and full of sympathy, and he offers to aid me. Alfred Parkins, of Winchester, a prisoner in the "Bull Pen," as the quarters of the privates is designated, came to see Lieutenant Arrington, having as a guard over him a coal-black, brutal-looking negro soldier, an escaped "contraband," as Beast Butler styles the stolen and refugee slaves from the South. Parkins says there is great destitution and suffering in the "Pen," their food is insufficient, many are in rags and without blankets, and very little wood is furnished for fires. He says that several of the negro soldiers guarding them were once slaves of some of the prisoners, and have been recognized as such. Some of them are still respectful, and call their young owners "master," and declare they were forced to enlist. A majority of them, however, inflated by their so-called freedom, are very insolent and overbearing. They frequently fire into the midst of the prisoners, upon the slightest provocation. One negro sentinel, a few days ago, shot a prisoner as he walked slowly and faithfully from sheer debility away from the foul sinks to his tent, simply because he did not and could not obey his imperative order to "move on faster dar." Instead of being court-martialed and punished from the wanton murder, the villain was seen a few days afterwards exulting in his promotion to a corporalcy, and posting a relief-guard. This employment of former slaves to guard their masters is intended to insult and degrade the latter. Such petty malice and cowardly vengeance could originate only in ignoble minds. No generous heart could have ever devised or sanctioned such contemptible meanness and littleness. Parkins showed us some very amusing caricatures, or cartoons, depicting the humorous side of prison life.
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