Bird's Point, Mo., November 24, 1861.
Sabbath morning, 10 o'clock.
I'm in clover. I've got a great big “comfort,” weighs a ton, that has been sent to my partner and myself from a young lady in Bloomington. We've tramped so much since I received that pair of blankets from you, and we never know when we start whether we're coming back here again or no, that being unable to carry them I sold them. We have had considerable cold weather. Lots of frost, and for the last two days it has been freezing all the time. We have always slept perfectly warm and getting used to it by degrees.
I never hear anyone complain. Yesterday we made a furnace in our tent that works admirably and now I wouldn't give a snap for any other winter quarters. This furnace is a grand thing. It keeps our tent dry and healthy and is as comfortable to me now as ever our house was. Don't trouble yourself in the least about our underclothing. We all have more than we want and can get any quantity at any time. Other clothing the same. We commenced building log houses for winter quarters this morning. Theo Thornton and Clem Wallace of our mess are up the river now cutting logs for them. We never drill Sundays, but for anything else we have no Sunday. We have no chaplain in our regiment. Our captain is religious but he is out now doing as much work as any of the men. We can enjoy ourselves very well here this winter, but of course we are very much disappointed in not getting into active service. I think that when our gunboats get here we will at least be allowed a trial on Columbus, but you know, and I know, that I don't know anything about it. We have had two awful rains within a week as the ponds covered with ice on our parade ground will testify. The first one caught six of our boys fifteen miles up the river cutting logs for our huts. It wet them beautifully. In camp for some reason they had doubled the pickets, strengthened the camp guard and ordered us to sleep on our arms. I think they were troubled with the old scare again. About 10:30 while the storm was at its height heavy firing commenced all at once right in the middle of the camp. What a time there was. Colonel Oglesby got his signals ready, regiments formed in the rain and the devil was to pay generally. It turned out that it was a green Iowa regiment that had just returned from another unsuccessful chase after Jeff. ’Twas an awful trick and only the greenest troops would have done it.
SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 44-5