Rienzi, Tishomingo Co., Miss., June 14, '62.
We have located for a somewhat permanent stay, as the clumsy order said, in the most beautiful little town I have yet found in Mississippi. We have pitched our tents in a little grove in the edge of the burgh and are preparing to live.
We have been rioting on plums and blackberries the last week. Dewberries are about gone. I don't think the plums are as good as ours. There is already much suffering amongst the poor here, and God only knows how these people can live until the new crop of corn is harvested. The wheat is all cut these ten days, but ten acres of it will hardly keep one person a year. Cotton is not planted this year to any extent, a tax of $25 per bale being laid on all each man raises over one bale. I told you how we rode out to Baldwin on the 12th; well, this morning the enemy nearly surrounded our picket there and killed or captured a few of them, scattering the rest. They have nearly all got in. There are no troops between here and the picket at Baldwin, 25 miles, and this little body is 12 miles ahead of the main army. 'Tis an outrage to post troops in this manner, and if they all get cut off (the two battalions on picket) it won't surprise me. There are not many slaves here, very few planters work more than 25, though 60 miles further down many have from 300 to 400 each. We don't think these are large bodies that are troubling our outposts, but they will hover around so long as the picket is advanced thus far.
SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 104-5