Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Diary of Private Charles Wright Wills: June 23, 1861

Cairo. Camp is very dull now, and we are more closely confined in it than ever. Not a soldier goes out now except in company with a commissioned officer or on a pass from the general. The latter not one in a thousand can get and the former maybe one in five hundred.

We have no drilling now between 8 a. m. and 7 p. m. on account of the heat; so we have plenty of spare time. If I only had some good books! But I can't send for them now for our colonel keeps us about half excited all the time with a prospect of a move. He says we have two chances: First, if General McClellan suffers anything like a serious repulse in Western Virginia, our whole brigade will move out on two hours' notice. Second, if any reliable reports come of Arkansas troops moving into Missouri, we will double quick over the river and leave the Point to some other troops. The last is the most likely chance. A thousand of our boys went off on the “City of Alton” at dark last night. We don't know where to, but 'tis rumored that they went up the Mississippi 25 miles and then marched back into Missouri 30 miles to intercept a train of wagons loaded with provisions going south. The colonel made them a speech; told them they were sure to have a brush and asked them if they would sustain the credit of the 8th. You should have heard them shout! Only two companies went from our regiment under Lieutenant Colonel Rhoads. The Battallion was under Colonel Morgan. The three year question causes more excitement than every thing else now. Nearly our whole company will go. The most worthless fellows are the ones that will go home. I feel as if my place is here. I know I could not content myself at home, and if I could, every young man with no one depending upon him is needed in the army more than anywhere else. I know I have your approval in this resolve, but I would like to have you tell me so. The Americans in our company think some of seceding, filling up from home with American boys and letting the Dutch now in the company paddle their own canoe. I wonder if we could not get a dozen good strong fellows from Canton. We don't want any poorer men than I am, for we are going to make a crack company.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 19-20

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