Friday, June 9, 2017

1st Lieutenant Charles Wright Wills: January 20, 1862

Bird's Point, Mo., January 20, 1862.

It goes confounded good once more to stand on boards, and be able to sit down without wet coming through a fellow's pants. If I write and tell you where we've been, you won't read it, and if I don't write all about it you'll scold, so of the two I'll choose the first and tell you all I know. We got on the steamer “Aleck Scott” last Tuesday morning with five days' rations and started down the river through very heavy floating ice. ’Twas a very cold day and full three inches of snow lay on the ground. We landed at Fort Jefferson and camped for the night. By some mismanagement our tents and equipage failed to come and we had to cook the bacon we had in our haversacks on sticks over the fire, for supper, and sleep out on the snow, without tents to protect us from the wind. That was a sweet old night! Next day we shouldered our knapsacks, blankets all wet by a rain from 2 to 5 in the morning, and awful heavy, and tramped about ten miles in a southeast direction, through Blanville, Ballard County; and camped on Mayville Creek. Again we lay on the snow and frozen ground with feather beds of brush, and at 9 next morning started on the road to Columbus. We went out to Little Meadows which is about eight or nine miles from Columbus, and halted. Taylor's battery was with us and they now unlimbered and planted their guns to cover all of the four or five roads which lead from here to the river. McClernand's brigade of six or seven regiments, and Cook's of two regiments, were in advance of us with 1,000 cavalry, and I think that we acted here as a reserve, for them to fall back on if repulsed in a fight. We waited here two hours and then formed again and returned to our camp of the previous night. It had turned warm by this time and the slush was six inches deep on our backward march. Slept in the mud that night and remained in camp all next day, during which it rained every hour. Friday night it rained in a small way all the time, and in the morning, (if you remember when you have too many clothes in a tub of water how the water will "slosh" when you press the clothes) you'll understand my “condish.” I had my blanket spread on some stiff brush, and Mr. Aqua surrounded brush, and every time Wills turned, brush would bend and water would slosh and blanket would leak and upshot was, Wills was damb'd wet, but too spunky to get up until he'd had his nap. Saturday we got out of “provish,” and at 1 p. m. we struck tents, and thought we were off for home sure. But we only marched back a few miles and camped at Elliott's Mills. Here, by orders from the colonel, we killed two hogs for the company, and he took what cornmeal we wanted from the mill, and we supped sumptuously. Here although the mud was deep we slept finely. There was a cypress swamp near and the bark can be torn into the finest shavings. That was just as good as we wanted. Sunday we started for the river and of all the marches, that beats! We waded through at least eight streams from one to two feet deep and five to ten yards wide. I had shoes, and after wading the first stream, I cut all the front upper off to let the water out handier. I made it gay and festive after that. Object of expedish, don't know, don't care, only know that it did me good. I feel 100 per cent better than I did when I started. Col. Pitt Kellogg has brought me my commission as 1st lieutenant in his regiment, and I am adjutant in the 3d batallion, Major Rawalts. I go to Cape Girardeau the last of this week.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 56-7

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