Near Farmington, Miss., May 8, 1862.
I've been within one and a half miles of Corinth to-day. Didn't see anything especially worthy of mention, but had full rations in the way of leaden bullets whistle. Yea, and larger missiles also. For four days past our battalion has been the advanced picket of Pope's army, full five miles in advance of the army. We have been skirmishing the whole time, not five minutes passing without more or less shooting. Our picket line was on one side of a long prairie or clearing, from 300 to 450 yards wide, and theirs on the opposite side. With all the firing, the losses on our side was but one horse up to this morning, and we were congratulating ourselves on getting on so well, when the advance of a large reconnoitering party under General Paine came in sight and we were ordered to lead them. Well, it's all over now, and we've had our Maj. Z. Applington killed, several wounded, and horses hurt by bursting shells. It's all right, I suppose, but damn the general that sent us on a fool's errand. We've a strong old place to take here at Corinth, but guess we'll make the riffle. The major fell while leading a charge along a road. The timber and brush by the roadside were so thick that we could see nothing until our boys received the volley of musketry, of which one ball reached the major's brain. The reconnoitering party returned to camp last night, and this morning the Rebels took their turn. They advanced in considerable force, drove our men back some two miles, captured a couple of pieces of cannon, and filled our hospitals pretty well. Our regiment was not in that fight. The Iowa 2d Cavalry suffered badly, 'tis said, in trying to take a Rebel battery.
Lieutenant Herring was wounded by a drunken soldier of the 4th Regular Cavalry yesterday, and Captain Nelson knocked down by the same man. Herring was shot through the arm. A suspender buckle that the ball glanced from saved his life. It's a little doubtful whether this fight comes off immediately. I think and hope that our folks are going to let them concentrate all their troops here and then make a Waterloo of it. That is, a Waterloo for them, but if they whip us, call out the home-guards and try them again. Weather here almost too warm for comfort in daytime, but deliciously cool after sunset. Apples and peaches are as large as hickory nuts, and blackberries the size of peas. The water is very good. Think will like it as well as Mississippi water after a while. The well water is not as cool though as I have seen it. I have not visited the 8th or 17th yet. They are in a division that forms a reserve (McClernands) and will not fight until the rest of Thomas's (formerly Grant's) division have had a chance. Shall go and see them immediately after the battle if I have luck. My health is perfect yet and am in hopes 'twill remain so. My love to inquiring friends, and do not expect to hear from me regularly as the mail only leaves here semi-occasionally. What a change in climate two day's ride make. Trees all in full leaf, and saw peaches to-day larger than filberts. Summer coats are in demand.
SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 86-7