Friday, May 5, 2017

Private Charles Wright Wills: October 2, 1861

Bird's Point, October 2, '61.

Just at noon yesterday orders came to strike tents and in an hour we were under way and have come to a halt in this forsaken hole. It seems that the 8th can't get out of hearing of the Cairo morning and evening gun anyway. Our major says they are talking of chucking us into Cairo and making us garrison it this winter. I'll be tempted to desert if 'tis so. The 22d call us the featherbed regiment now, and if they keep us this way much longer we will be tender as women. It was late and we were tired when we pitched our tents last night and we didn't “ditch round” as usual, trusting to providence for a dry night. But 'twas confidence misplaced and some of the boys found the ground slightly damp under them this morning. It has been raining like the devil all a. m. and the mud is quite salubrious. I find my old Havana schoolmate, Jem Walker, here in the 28th, Ritter's company. Haven't seen Smith yet. The Rebels came right up to Norfolk after we left last night, and about 3 I heard the cavalry called out, and this morning I see the 2d Iowa and 11th Illinois are gone. Suppose they all went down that way. I have disposed of all my surplus baggage and now have two shirts, two pair socks, one blanket, one pair pants, one coat, one pair shoes, one hat, toothbrush and one pocket comb. That's all I'm worth. I can get all the clothing I want of the quartermaster any time. You scout the idea of one's liking such a life as this. I tell you that I never was so well satisfied in my life as I have been since I joined the army. I do really enjoy it all the time, and if our boys here write the truth home they will say the same. Nobody ever heard me grumble a word about soldiering and never will if they don't station us in Cairo.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 35

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