Corinth and Hamburg Road, Miss., May 11, 1862.
You remember that in my last I spoke of a reconnoisance our people made on the 8th inst. On the 9th Beauregard returned it with interest, driving our advance back some two miles and almost scaring this wing of the Eagle. He appeared on our left flank, where I think Pope thought it impossible for him to reach, and drove Paine's division from the front like a drove of sheep. Tis said that a charge made by the 2d Iowa Cavalry was the salvation of both of Paine's brigades. The charge, if we hear correctly, was one of the most gallant things of the war. One of our battalions was out yesterday examining our left to see if the Rebels were still there. They found no signs of them, but on their return to camp were fired into by some of General Buford's artillery, and one man killed by a 6-pound solid shot from Company A. There is almost incessant firing along the front but too light and scattering to forbode an immediate fight of itself, although 'twould surprise no one to hear of the dance commencing at any hour. Corinth is a tremendously strong place, very difficult to approach, and holding a force that our officers think much superior to our own. This is kept from the army, though I don't think now that we have more than 80,000 fighting men here. They must have over 100,000, and this conscription act is pouring in reinforcements to them by thousands. But, notwithstanding this, I think the superior discipline of our men will give us a victory when the fight does come. The strongest evidence that I see of Halleck's weakness is his delaying the battle so long We are in distance to strike any day; roads splendid, army in better condition every day than it will be the next day, weather becoming too hot for men to endure much longer, and yet we wait. What for, I don't know, unless 'tis for reinforcements. They say Curtis and Siegel are coming. I hope they'll get here to-night and finish the thing up to-morrow. The weather is taking the vim out of the men remarkably. To-day there is a good stray breeze, and yet a man can hardly get enough of the rarified stuff they call air here to fill his lungs. Plenty of chestnuts in this country. Plenty of hills and plenty of woods but a great scarcity of about everything else. There is no more soil on the earth here than you'll find on any Illinois school house floor, and 'tis a question which would grow the best crops.
The colonel is anxious to have the regiment in the battle when it comes off, while your brother thinks if they can do the work without us he won't be at all angry. I like skirmishing pretty well but am dubious about the fun showing itself so strongly in a battle. I guess I had a dozen shots thrown at me individually on the 8th at from 100 to 450 yards, and I got my return shot nearly every time and some extra ones, but rather think they all got off as well as I did. The carbines are not very correct shooters, and your brother is a ditto, so I have the satisfaction of knowing that I haven’t killed anybody yet.
SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 88-9