Saturday, August 12, 2017

Captain Charles Wright Wills: December 23, 1862

Provost Marshal's Office, Waterford, Miss.,
December 23, 1862.

Suspect this will be my last from this country. Where the army is going I know not, but the divisions which have been in front are now filing past us, faces northward. The movement commencing at the time of the raid on Holly Springs, gives it the appearance of a retrograde for that reason, but I think that has nothing to do with the matter, for though I have no idea of the future plans of the general commanding, yet have known for some time that it was not the intention to pursue further than Grenada on this line, and that point has been evacuated by the enemy for some days. The raid into Holly Springs was capitally done. The Rebels made a No. 1 haul. Immense stores of clothing, commissaries and ordnance fell into their hands, all of which, however, they were obliged to destroy, save what they could carry away on their horses. About 1,200 or 1,500 officers and soldiers were paroled by them, some 1,000 horses carried off and I think not less than $1,000,000 of greenbacks. One-half million worth of cotton was burned, etc.; loss to Government cannot be less than three or four millions of dollars. Colonel Murphy is the man who is responsible for the whole thing, and I can think of no punishment equal to his deserts. ’Twas but nine miles from us and we of course immediately prepared for a visit, but were not so honored. These successful raids of the enemy almost make me sick. If our men would only be on the alert so that they could make something of a fight, I wouldn't care a d--n. But to lose a thousand prisoners without the enemy's having one killed makes me disgusted with the army. I'm allying a little fun with business as opportunities offer. Friday last I got permission of the colonel to make a little reconnoisance of the country along Tippah river, and on the Tallahatchie between the mouth of Tippah and the railroad. I stayed six miles from camp the first night and went possum hunting. Hunted until 2 o'clock a. m. and although we treed a good many, couldn't get them. Examined the country thoroughly next day, made a map of it, found there were no guerrillas near our camp and then got a shot gun and hunted. The young fellow I was with and myself, in an hour killed seven squirrels and a coon. Got back to town at dark, Saturday night, and found everybody terribly excited about the Holly Springs affair. They had given me up for a goner. The regiment laid on their arms and I laid on my featherbed, for I knew devilish well there was no danger. We've been on the alert ever since but the enemy has gone. To-day the guerrillas have been seen on all sides of us within a few miles, but Ross' division has just arrived so there is no chance for a fight.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 137-8

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