During the negotiations for the surrender, Gen. Banks refused to grant terms permitting the release of the prisoners on parole, on the ground that orders from Washington positively forbade it. On the day of surrender, however, he suddenly changed his mind and decided to parole all enlisted men, retaining the officers.
Col. Steadman at once began a strict system of discipline and drill. The following was the order of the day: Reveille at daybreak with roll-call, inspection of arms and policing of camps; 6 a. m., drill in the school of the soldier; 7 A. M., breakfast; 8.30 a. m., guard mounting; 9 A. m., non-commissioned officers’ drill; 10 a. m., drill in the school of the company; 12 m., dinner; 1 p. m., skirmish drill; 3 p. m., battalion drill; 5 p. m., dress parade; sunset, retreat; 9 P.M., taps. Companies assigned to batteries drilled at the guns at the hours for the company drill. Strict regimental guard was kept up, all the requirements of the army regulations being enforced.
Upon its arrival at Vicksburg, the First Alabama Regiment was quartered in the public-school building, where they remained several days. The city, even then, bore marks of the havoc of war. Shot and shell had torn huge rents in the walls of the houses, and ploughed up or dug great holes in which could have been buried a horse and cart. On the bluffs, and along the water-front, were batteries of heavy artillery, and soldiers were everywhere. Such an air of desolation pervaded the city that it was a relief to be ordered away.
The batteries, which had been ably planned, but imperfectly constructed, under direction of Capt. Harris, of the Engineer Corps, contained forty-four guns, mostly 32 and 42 pound smooth-bores, with a few 64-pounders and one or two 100-pound rifles.
Fresh beef was hauled off and buried by the wagon load; barrels of corned beef remained untouched in the camp; while rice, flour, molasses and sugar were issued in larger quantities than could possibly be eaten. These were the last days of the “ Flush times of the First Alabama.”