Stories from Christmases Past
Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. There is so much electricity in the air. Everyone is excited and friendly. Of course, here in Colorado, people are friendly most all the time, but Christmas is special. What other time of year can you listen to decades, even centuries old songs, and sing along? What other time of year can you see living nativities, Santa Clauses galore, and so many decorations, presents and treats? And what other time of year, other than possibly the Fourth of July, can you see so many colorful lights?
I love Christmas, but most of all, I love what it represents: faith, hope and love. Please keep our military personnel in your prayers, as well as those who have lost loved ones this time of year.
The following is an article written by a Confederate soldier at Christmas. It must have been, and I’m sure, still is, very difficult to be away from home during the holidays.
Diary Of Captain Robert Emory Park, of Twelfth Alabama Regiment
Excerpts from his diary:
“December 25th, Christmas Day — How keenly and vividly home recollections come to my mind today! I see the huge baked turkey, the fat barbecued pig, delicious oysters, pound and fruit cakes, numerous goblets of eggnog and syllabub, etc., etc., on my beloved mother’s hospitable table. My brothers and sisters are sitting around it as of yore, and my dear fond mother, with warmest love and pride beaming from her still handsome blue eyes, now somewhat dimmed by approaching age, sits at one end bountifully helping each plate to a share of the well cooked eatables before her. How happy I would be if I were with them! I can but repeat the words of the familiar song —
“Do they miss me at home, do they miss me?
‘Twould be an assurance most dear
To know that some loved one was saying,
Today I wish he were here.”
Those touching words, too, of “Home, Sweet Home” flash before my memory, and I cannot restrain the tears that rush to my eyes. Over three months have passed since I have heard from home and mother. What changes may have occurred since my capture, the 19th of September! Two of my brothers are members of the First Georgia reserves, now guarding the 30,000 Yankee prisoners at Andersonville — one is major, and the other, a youth of sixteen years, is one of Captain Wirz’s sergeants. These two are no doubt absent from the annual home reunion. Others may be too. I hope and feel that my brothers are civil and kind to the Yankees they are guarding. They are too brave to act otherwise. My poor prison dinner was in sad contrast with my Christmas dinners at home. It consisted of beef soup, a small piece of pickled beef, some rice and a slice of loaf bread. Lastly, to our astonishment, about three mouthsful each of bread pudding, not very sweet, were handed us.
December 26th, 27th and 28th — I am able to get about on my crutches, but still feel the effects of my severe fall. Major Hanvey, who sleeps in a small room above mine, is quite sick. Last night I sat up alone with him until he went to sleep, long after midnight. He was suffering from a high fever and was delirious. His thoughts were of his wife and little daughter, in far off Georgia, and he spoke of them in the tenderest, fondest manner. I fear he will never see his loved ones again.
December 29th, 30th and 31st — The last days of eventful, never to be forgotten 1864. All hope of a speedy exchange is now dying within us. The prospect is exceedingly gloomy. Savannah has been captured by Sherman, and Hood defeated in Tennessee. I am not at all despondent however, and believe the Confederate States will be successful and independent yet. It is rumored we are to be removed in a day or two to Old Capitol Prison, Washington city. Our surgeon confirms the report. Point Lookout will be left with no regrets.
Southern Historical Society Papers
Vol. II. Richmond. Va. November. 1876. No.5
(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Jefferson Davis Chapter of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, December 2019 ed., Volume 43, Issue No. 12)