Bird's Point, October 18, 1861
We yesterday drew our overcoats, and splendid ones they are. The cloth is light blue and they reach nearly to our feet. They have capes on them that come over a fellow's head nicely nights. The weather is about like you have I expect, but I know we will be very comfortable with the clothing we have in any weather. I wouldn't have the war end before next spring for anything, for I want to try a winter out doors. Every one of the Canton boys is in excellent health and all very well satisfied. The boys are receiving letters almost every day that read “we have heard that so and so is sick,” and this morning John Wallace got one that said that Sam Nutt and three others were shot while on guard. You may know that such reports are always lies unless you see it with the names in the papers long before a letter would reach you from here. John Wallace is just one of the best boys in the camp. It would do you good to see how contentedly the boys all take things. There is more life and fun in our tent every night than we ever had at home. Sam and Fred Norcott make more noise and sport in an evening than all Canton can furnish in a week. We love and respect all our officers but one, and he is the best officer we have, but a little too much regular army about him. Our captain is what the girls would call a “dear old fellow,” though he does have his own way every time. It seems to be the right way always so we think the world of him. They are just burying some poor fellow. We have had several deaths in the regiment lately. They do not play the prettiest dead marches here. I have been detached from the company for a week acting as sheriff of a court martial. Colonel Marsh, Colonel Logan, Colonel Tuttle of the Iowa 2d, and a couple of captains form the court. I have four men a day to guard the prisoners and two orderlies to send errands for me, so I play big injun strongly. The prisoner murdered a comrade while we were down at Norfolk. Smote him on the head with a club. He is from Company B of our regiment. That company, besides this case, had a man shot dead the other day by one of their own company. An accident. This morning they had a man stabbed, and day before yesterday they confined one of their men for trying to kill two others. For all this they are really a good company of men. We had a review Tuesday this week of 6 regiments, 2 batteries and 400 or 500 cavalry. Very fine. I suppose you saw an account of the Pekin company of our regiment killing four or five Rebels that made an attack on them while they were guarding a bridge. Ten of them stood their ground against a large party, and held the ground too. We buried two secesh and they carried off four. We lost none. The best fight yet was ten miles below here the other day between 26 of our men and 160 Rebels. You've seen it in the papers. Sam Nutt and John Wallace stood guard two nights before at the place where the first fight was. Oh heavens, I hope I can date my next from somewhere else.
SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 37-8