Provost Marshal's Office, Waterford, Miss.,
December 30, 1862.
Fifteen days outside the world and still we live. No papers of later date than the 15th inst. have reached us, and 'twill be at least five days' move before we can hope to see one. In that time there have been some six or eight fights in this country all to our disadvantage, and two cowardly surrenders, Holly Springs and Trenton. Pemberton's cavalry under Van Dorn, turned our left, and striking at our line of communication, first surprised and captured Holly Springs, burned everything belonging to our army with the houses containing the stores; then while a portion of the column retreated another portion successively attacked our troops stationed at Coldwater bridge, Middleton, Grand Junction, and outposts near Bolivar, in all of which they were repulsed. About the same time a portion of Bragg's forces crossed the Tennessee river at or near Musch Shoals, Ala., and marched along the south side of the river toward Corinth. General Dodge at Corinth sent out Colonel Sweeny, who met and defeated the enemy, driving him across the river. The enemy then again crossed the river near Savannah, and moving toward Jackson were met by Bob Ingersoll, whom, after something of a fight, 'tis said, they captured with his command. Trenton was then cowardly surrendered by some 250 Tennessee cavalry. Attacks were made on several other posts garrisoned by our troops, in all of which the enemy were repulsed. Altogether there has been a d---1 of a time. When Van Dorn had finished his little bonfire at Holly Springs, this army was left with about five day's rations, which we have to make do 15 at least. In order to make up the deficit in commissaries, General Grant ordered that everything eatable that could be found in the country be seized for army use. In the strip of country from Holly Springs to Coffeeville, for, say 15 miles wide, there is not enough left to feed 50 chickens a week. Colonel Dickerman and I visited Holly Springs yesterday and took a little look at the ruins. I suppose the damage to the citizens amounts to nearly as much as the Government's loss. Most of the best and largest houses were burned. General Grant told Colonel Dickerman that our regiment would be sent to Jackson in a few days to guard that place. Well, if we have to go into winter quarters that will suit your brother very much. We will be nearer home and communication will not be so apt to be broken between us.
SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 138-9