Wednesday, July 12, 2017

1st Lieutenant Charles Wright Wills: June 4, 1862

Camp near Boonville, Miss., June 4, 1862.

Since the evacuation of Corinth we have been pushing after them after a fashion. That is follow them until we catch up with their rear guard and then retreat three-fourths the distance we have advanced. Have been five or six days following them 25 miles. Yesterday we advanced some 10 miles beyond this point, skirmishing with them all the last five miles, and then we all returned to camp here. I think we must have had 40,000 men out yesterday and yet it was only a reconnoisance in force. But what the devil was the use thereof I cannot see, for the day previous some of our cavalry was out farther than we went. Our regiment had the first skirmish with the Rebels after they left Corinth. ’Twas about seven miles out of the town. We had two killed and three wounded. They were of the Decatur Company. Our boys killed five of them. This is the most masterly retreat yet. They have positively left nothing of any value. I don't think they left tents enough for one regiment. They left not one cannon. No arms of any value and very few of any kind. We have only found one wagon since we passed Corinth, although there were a number in the place that they did not need. We haven't taken 50 prisoners, although they have lost hundreds, maybe thousands, by desertion. There is not the least evidence that they yere in haste at any point, and just 20 hours before we entered Corinth we were ordered to saddle our horses and be in perfect readiness for a fight, as it was expected that the enemy would attack us before three hours. At that time they could not have had more than enough men in Corinth to do the required picket duty. They are now, or at least a large body of them, in camp within 12 miles of us, and the story through the army is they are marching on us. Our boys are fairly wild to be on after them But then another rumor from a tolerably reliable source, is we are going to fall back to Corinth and camp until plans are more fully matured. Still another says Pope's army is ordered down the Mississippi river again. I hope the last is not so, for I have a dread of that river in the summer season. I am acting assistant adjutant general for Colonel Mizner, commanding 1st Brigade Corps.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 96-7

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