Wednesday, July 26, 2017

1st Lieutenant Charles Wright Wills: Sunday, July 27, 1862

Headquarters, 1st Brigade Cavalry Division,
Tuscumbia, Ala., July 27, 1862 (Sunday).

We received orders for our brigade to march on the 19th, and started the 21st. We only made Jacinto that night, when the colonel and myself stayed with Gen. Jeff. C. Davis, who is a very approachable, pleasant and perfectly soldier-like man. There is a strong sprinkling in him, though, of the Regular Army and West Point. Next day we rejoined the command and marched 15 miles, camped at Bear Creek, 22 miles west of this place and just on the Mississippi and Alabama line. Thursday we joined General Morgan's division and that night the brigade camped within four miles of Tuscumbia, and the headquarters came on into town. This is a perfect little Eden. Houses for 2,200 people with only 1,200 living here at present. We stayed at the hotel Thursday night, and the old negro who lighted me to my room amused me considerably with his account of General Turchin's proceedings here. Turchin brought the first federal force across the Tennessee in Alabama, and I guess he “went it loosely.” The old Negro said that he only had 1,200 men and brought no luggage, knapsacks or anything else with him, but went away with 300 wagons, and everything there was in the country worth taking. That his men made the white women (wouldn't let the colored women) do their cooking and washing, and that although they only brought one suit of clothes, they put on a new one every morning and always looked as though they had just stepped from a bandbox. People here hate General Mitchell's whole command as they do the d---1, and many of them more. Well, we've settled once more, and I'll be contented if allowed to stay here for sometime. We're guarding about 100 miles of railroad from Iuka to Decatur, and it promises to be pretty rough work. Day before yesterday a guerilla party swooped down on a station 24 miles east of here where General Thomas had 160 men and captured all but 20 of them. We are relieving General Thomas' command from duty here, but the Rebels saved us the trouble of relieving that party. We sent out a force yesterday of three companies and the Rebels surprised and killed and captured 20 of them. I have just heard that there has been a fight eight miles south of here to-day, between our cavalry and the Rebels, no particulars yet. 'Tis the 3d Michigan that has suffered so far. The 7th Illinois are out now after the party that surprised the Michiganders yesterday, but have not heard of them since they started yesterday p. m. We are quartered in the house of a right good secesh, and are enjoying his property hugely. His pigs will be ripe within a week, and we'll guard them after our style. The old fashion is played out as far as this brigade is concerned. We take what is necessary and give vouchers, which say the property will be paid for at the close of the war, on proof of loyalty. This valley is 60 or 80 miles long, 15 miles wide and the most beautiful country imaginable. It is now one vast cornfield. The residences in this town are superb, and the grounds most beautifully ornamented and filled with shrubbery. There is a spring here that throws out 17,000 cubic feet of water each minute. It supplies the town. General Thomas, whom we relieved, has gone to Huntsville to join Buell. I think they are going to Chattanooga then. People are intensely secesh here, and whine most mournfully when compelled to take the oath, or even to give their parole of honor not to give information to the enemy. Our headquarters is a mile from any troops, just for the quiet of the thing. Peaches are just in season now, and there are oceans of them here. Blackberries are still to be found, and we have plenty of apples.

The weather is beautiful, not too warm and still require my double blanket every night, and often cool at that. We have information that Hardee with a force is marching on this place, and it is the most probable rumor that I have heard since the evacuation. Time will tell.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 117-9

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