Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sergeant Major Luman Harris Tenney to Emeline Harris Tenney et al, December 2, 1862

Camp at Ray's Mills, Arkansas, Dec. 1, 1862.
My Dear Friends:

I guess you wonder a little why you don't hear from your soldier boy. Well, I presume you will wonder often if we stay in the field and keep up our scouts and marches. Since last Tuesday, my regular day for writing and the day I intended to write, I haven't had a minute's opportunity for writing until yesterday, and then I was busy till night, when I was too tired to write.

Tomorrow another train leaves for the Fort. Several sick boys return. I should have liked to go back for comfort, but after all as long as there is a man in the Regiment in the field, I want to be there, too, though there must be some suffering and sacrifices.

Today I had an opportunity to go into the Brigade Commissary as clerk and get $12 a month extra. Lt. Shattuck, brother of Nina, is acting Brigade Commissary and wanted me to help him. N. thought I hadn't better go. I don't care much. Should have liked the little spondulics though.

Sunday night when we arrived here I found six letters, three from home, two from Fannie, and one from Will. I guess I was happy that night and as usual dreamed of home. Thede, I thank you very much for your good long letter. You did me proud. Please do so more.

I see by the papers that Col. Ford has received his just deserts. I enjoy all the particulars of the home circle visits, calls and town gossip. It is always my Thanksgiving Day when my letters come. My letters both received and written have been quite irregular of late and I presume will be in future.

During the last week we have been on our horses most of the time. My ague left me just in time. Tuesday and Wednesday our detachment was out on a scout down below here a little. We had the pleasure of overtaking 400 of Quantrell's men Tuesday night and turned their course from the north southward on double quick. The Major had 115 men. I had the pleasure of being in the advance and had two or three little skirmishes with the rear guard. None of us, how I don't know, was hurt. Afterwards some of the 3rd Wis. were sent ahead of us and when a few rods in advance were fired into from the bushes and two of the men wounded.

I suppose you have heard by this time of the fight at Cane Hill and beyond.

Thursday our detachment went in advance of the whole division but Friday we were rear guard and the Brigade was left at Cane Hill as a reserve. It was aggravating to hear the roar of artillery and not partake. There will be some hard fighting if we go over the mountains.

I have no ambition to die immediately or anything of that sort. I guess life, real life, is precious to the most wicked, but I do long to have our armies hasten on to victory or defeat. If Schofield's forces join ours, I believe our success will be sure, though earned by a good deal of sacrifice.

Lt. Shattuck has been acting Adj. but has gone now. So I have enough to do his duties and those of Sergt. Major.

I have just been out doors and I could see the “fire on the mountains” along our line of march over the hills from the North.

Tonight the air is cold and the fire in our little stove is comfortable and cozy enough. We are getting well used to bivouacking in the open air with few blankets and no fires. When out scouting we go without fires so as not to let the enemy know our movements. Sometimes we can't get much sleep, though. Don't you believe I occasionally long to creep into that soft bed at home and to sit down at our little supper table? Oh no, never!

Please excuse another hasty letter. The Independents have come as usual. I presume we will remain here a few days and then go over the mountains. I hope so.

The boys are all talking as loudly as can be and I can't think overmuch straight.

With much love,

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 46-9

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