Monday, April 24, 2017

Diary of Private Charles Wright Wills: August 2, 1861

Cairo.  Hot! You don't know what that word means. I feel that I have always been ignorant of its true meaning till this week, but am posted now, sure. The (supposed-to-be) “never failing cool, delicious breeze” that I have talked about so much, seems to be at “parade rest” now and — I can't do justice to the subject. The health of the camp is much better now than at any time before, since we have been here. There is not a sick man in our company. My health remains gorgeous. We drill now five hours a day, under a sun that cooks eggs in 13 minutes, but we think we feel the heat no more walking than lying around the quarters.

The seceshers this morning took the packet that has been plying between here and Columbus, and have run her off down to Memphis. I thought that Prentiss stopped her sometime since, but this at last closes all communication between the North and South at this point. Our “ossifers” we think are really scared about an attack here, but you could not make the soldiers believe in the like till they see the fight begin. About a thousand of our men were rushed off to Bird's Point to-day to work on intrenchments, and won't they sweat?

My chum heard Colonel Oglesby tell an officer two hours ago that there were 17,000 Rebels within 15 miles of the Point. The scouts reported this body at New Madrid, 40 mile's down the Mississippi, two days since. Yesterday 12 men from the Pekin company and 12 from our's with some artillerymen went 30 miles up the Mississippi to collect all the boats we could find on the Missouri shore. We found three large flats tied up to trees along the shore which we confiscated. One of them wasn't very good so we sunk it. The object was to prevent marauders from visiting Illinois. I had charge of the men from our company.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 23-4

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