Civil War Diary

Diary kept by Rufus B. Parks when serving as a soldier in the Confederate army

This is an article that has been handed down through the Parkes’ family from generation to generation. The paper it was typed on appears very old and has been destroyed partially by bugs. I copied it verbatim.

Mr. James Sulgrove, a lawyer of Choteau, Montana, while looking over some old papers which his father had preserved, ran across a diary kept by the late Rufus B. Parkes when serving as a soldier in the Confederate army. The diary was lost by Mr. Parkes on the Shiloh battlefield, was picked up by a federal soldier serving in an Indiana regiment. Mr. Sulgrove’s father was “war editor” of the Indianapolis Journal (now the Star) and after the battle of Shiloh was sent back to the battle grounds to meet the Indiana soldiers who were being sent back on account of wounds etc., when the diary was handed him by a soldier who had picked it up on the battle field. The diary comprises eleven pages and covers the time from the day Mr. Parkes left his home at Lynchburg to the first day of the battle of Shiloh on Sunday, April 6th, 1862. The diary will prove of much interest to the family of Mr. Parkes, and to others whose relatives are referred to in it. Mr. Parkes was a first lieutenant in the 5th Kentucky Regiment, C. S. A., Company E., James R. Bright, captain.

On one page of the little book appears the following, entered in the handwriting of Captain Bright:
“Head Qrs. 5 Ky. Regt. Rufus B. Parkes, 1st Lieutenant, has permission to visit Corinth, Mississippi, and return by — o’clock, p. m., April 1st, 1862. March 30, 1862. James R. Bright, Capt. Com. E.”

On another page appears a list of supplies furnished soldiers as follows:
“H. H. Green, gun and bayonet, and scabbard and cart.
J. H. Sebastian, caps.
P. H. Wanslow, caps.
G. F. Gattis, caps.
G. W. Jones, cartridges to fit.
J. W. Allen, Jr., cartridges too large.
Edward Gore, cartridge box and bayonet.
J. A. Renfro, 1 bayonet
W. W. Waggoner, cartridges to fit.
Elisha Gore, bayonet
N. Rees, gun, cartridge box, etc.”

The name of R. B. Parkes is 1 written on one of the cover pages of the book. The diary proper reads as follows:
“Lynchburg, March 20th, 1862. Left home about 10 o’clock; took dinner at J. W. Holman’s. On reaching Joseph Whitaker’s I heard that the Lincolnites would probably be in Fayetteville that night, but upon arriving at Fayetteville found it was a hoax. Passed a portion of Capt. Morgan’s cavalry in camp at Elk River. Stopped for the night at Well’s 4 miles south of Fayetteville. Started early Friday morning, which was a cold, cloudy day, and traveled 22 miles and stopped at Hatchett’s, who treated us very kindly. Started out next morning; still cold and cloudy with an occasional shower of snow. We passed through Athens about 4 o’clock, and stayed all night, 5 miles east of Athens. Got up Sunday morning and found it snowing very hard — everything perfectly white with snow. We left Maj. J. M. Johnson here, who was too sick to travel. James W. Brown also very sick. Traveled here till Monday night, 10 o’clock. James W. Brown turned back home with the wagon. We got on the cars and traveled about 15 miles and stopped and stayed all night; slept in a stock car. Tuesday morning cars started at daylight. Passed General Crittenden’s Division at Iuka, Miss., and reached Burksville about 12 o’clock and found our company encamped about 1- 4th of a mile from the village, in the 5th Ky. Regiment, commanded by Col. Thos. H. Hunt, of Louisville, KY., in Gen. John C. Breckinridge’s Brigade. Wednesday, March 26, weather warm and dry; company generally well. Went out on company drill and dress parade in the evening.

Thursday, weather still fine; company drill before noon; battalion drill at 3 p. m.; dress parade at 6 p. m.

Friday, the 28th: Squad drill at 8 a. m.; company drill at 9 a. m.; battalion drill at 3 p. m.; dress parade at 6 p. m. Nothing strange occurred.

Saturday, the 29th: Went out to drill before noon; rather unwell, too much so in the afternoon to drill.

Sunday, 30th; Felt much better and got 24 hours leave of absence and went to Corinth, 14 miles, to Gen. Wood’s Brigade, Col. McDaniel’s Regt. (44th Tenn.) and found W. Haggard very unwell threatened with inflammation of the bowels.

Monday, 31st: Failed to sell my horse, but left him with Capt. Haggard, who rode him about 12 miles in the country to remain about 10 days to regain his health. Saw Gen. Hindman at Corinth who is a low, heavyset man apparently about 30 years of age, long hair, and of not a very prepossessing appearance. Left Corinth about 1 1-2 o’clock, p. m. and reached Durksville about 2 1-2 o’clock; found several of the boys complaining. R. F. Holman very sick.

Tuesday, April 1st; Robert F. Holman very sick with pneumonia; taken to a private house in Burksville (Mr. Gray’s): R. M. Holman detached to wait on him. I regard his case as a very bad one. Samuel McCullough also is very sick. About 9 1-2 o’clock we received orders to cook two days rations as soon as possible, to be ready to march at a half hour’s notice. Whether we will leave here or not I can not say yet. Now 10 o’clock p. m.; the boys are all cooking up their provisions.

Thursday, April 3rd: We were ordered to 5 days rations, 3 in haversack and two in wagon. We cook till after midnight; and about 3 o’clock fast, and about sunup we took up the line of march. I, being lieutenant of the guard the night before, was up all night. About 4 o’clock a. m., it rained very hard and continued to rain on us till about 7:30 o’clock. We marched this day (Friday) 23 miles over a very rough, muddy road, and a great many of our men dropped out, and did not come up at all. We halted about 8 o’clock, p. m., and bivouacked in an old field, without tents; and about 1 o’clock there came up a thunder storm which roused us all up.

About 7 o’clock a. m. Saturday morning, we took up the line of march, and marched about 8 or 10 miles, this day, and camped Sunday morning, Apr. 6th; about half an hour after daylight we heard the battle commence. We were ordered into line and marched at a double quick; marched about 3 miles and came upon a Yankee camp where our men had a very hard fight, but routed the enemy, capturing a splendid battery and killing a good many of them. While in this camp the enemy shelled us considerably, but doing us no injury. We marched through this camp and turned to the right and came up in sight of another Yankee camp. We halted here and lay on the ground for about half an hour, during which time there was almost a continuous road of musketry about half a mile from us; at the end of time we discovered the Yankees endeavoring to flank our men. We moved up a little and formed a line of battle in about fifteen minutes, and discovered about two hundred Yankees advancing on our line. We let them come up in about one hundred yards when they halted and formed a line. When we turned loose on them they stood two fires when they took to their heels in real Bull Run style. We advanced to the top of the ridge and formed a line, when the Yankees came at us in fine style. We engaged them at greatly inferior numbers and held our ground for about an hour, losing a good many of our men. W. R. Womack and John W. Allen were wounded in the first engagement. In the second, Capt. Bright fell wounded in the hip, Lieut. J. L. Moore in the arm. Privates J. W. Clark and James Howard were killed here, and James S. Bedford, B. V. Howard, G. W. Berry, Alex. Forrester were wounded. Capt. Coldwell’s company on our right suffered badly, himself being wounded. Our Adjutant Major (Capt. Bell) was also wounded badly. We lost in this engagement about 30 or 40 killed and about an hour we fell back about sixty yards to a ravine, and let the 1st Missouri Regiment pass forward, when they engaged the enemy on the same ground.”