Saturday, July 22, 2017

1st Lieutenant Charles Wright Wills: July 17, 1862

Camp at Rienzi, July 17, 1862.

I think there is more point and policy in that General Order 92 than in any one that has yet been issued in the West, or East either for that matter; but still I do not think it remarkable for perspicuity, and it is neither as strong nor as definite as the army demands. If I know anything of the “laws of war and humanity,” the soldiers will bless “92” for one thing, its relieving them from guarding the property of secessionists, and if they don't make sundry potato patches, cabbage gardens and fields of roasting ears that I know of, “hop” ’twill surprise me much. There will be some wondrous sudden conversions to Unionism when these butternuts get the drift of that order. An old pup in this town that drank “Southern Independence or the World in Flames” the other evening, in the presence of several United States officers has Union soldiers guarding his property, to preserve it from the Northern vandals, and he has used language equally insulting, times without number, yet the guard is kept up. I suppose, to conciliate him. General Ashboth visits all the secesh and rides around town with the daughter of the man I've been speaking of, who is more intensely secesh than her father, if that is possible. Maybe I'm jealous of him, for the girl is very handsome, but I don't think a United States general at all excusable in such conduct, though it may be overlooked in a lieutenant. Did you see Beauregard's answer to Halleck? I honestly think there is more truth in that document, than in any other military paper of the kind I have seen. Suppose you have seen Granger's review thereof. You notice he don't touch any of the principal points and shows his whole object in publishing the article, in these four words, “I led the pursuit.” I'll swear we haven't taken, in deserters, prisoners and sick, since the evacuation of Corinth, 500 men (although hundreds have doubtless deserted who did not enter our lines.) I know this because we have had the advance all the time, and on the only roads there have been fighting and prisoners, and all the deserters have passed through our hands. There were about 18 cars burned, but the ruins show there was nothing of much value on them. ’Twas not intentional, of course, but Elliott did burn several men in the depot, or else the people of Boonville are liars, to a man. That fight the other day at Boonville amounted to nothing. The enemy's official report of their loss is four killed and ten wounded. There is an awful sight of bombast and lying about army reports. Beat politicians all hollow. We have had very heavy rains for the last 36 hours, and as water can now be procured on the hitherto dry ground between the armies, I expect some cavalry skirmishing, at least, and if the enemy is yet in force at Tupelo, now is the time for them to attack us, for our army is scattered for 300 miles, almost along the Tennessee line, and cannot be concentrated in time to resist a large force. Many of the officers expect a big fight, but your brother don't.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 114-6

No comments: