Tuesday, June 6, 2017

3rd Sergeant Charles Wright Wills: January 7, 1862

Holly Springs, Miss., January 7, 1862.

The colonel and I were ordered to report here to give evidence before the “Court of Inquiry,” convened to inquire into the case of the 109th Illinois Infantry reported for disloyalty. I started from Jackson yesterday but had to lay over at Grand Junction last night waiting for a train. We got here this p. m., immediately gave our evidence, and will return to-morrow. Don't know that they will do anything with the 109th, but am satisfied that to prevent its dishonoring our state it should be broken up. I heard General Grant say that if the charges were sustained he would transfer the loyal men to some of the old regiments, cashier the officers and make the disloyal men work their time out at Alton. Am staying tonight at Mr. Barney's. He is a Northern man and thank God, a loyal one. He built a portion of the M. & C. R. R. and most of the M. C. R. R. His wife is also Northern and loyal. Have been very wealthy, but the war has reduced them. They both, after seven years in the South, bear me out in the opinion I expressed in my last, of these Southern people. They have lost $50,000 worth of negroes by our army, but are willing to lose the rest for our cause. The army has all moved back to the M. & C .R. R. line except one division, Lanman's, which occupies this place. General Grant's headquarters are yet here. There is the d-------st state of affairs in this country now that 'tis possible to think of. Every house within ten miles of the army is visited about five times a day by our soldiers, and the guerrillas (both work on the same principles) and each time visitors divide with the family the provisions and household goods. There is more stealing in one day here than the whole United States suffered in a year before the war. The correspondent of the St. Louis Democrat is writing on the same table with me for his paper, ever and anon ripping out some tall oaths because he was not at the Vicksburg battle. We heard last night, direct, that the place was taken, but we are not sure of it yet. We have lost immensely at that place but the gain is worth it. Trains are coming through from Memphis now and the army will be on full rations again shortly. The M. & O. R. R. will not be running for ten days yet. There are some eight miles of the latter road almost totally destroyed above Trenton, much of it trestle work. The sick will all leave here to-night and within five days this secesh hole (what there is left of it) will be left to its secesh inhabitants.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 52-3

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