Thursday, June 14, 2018

Captain Charles Wright Wills: May 2, 1864

West bank of Crow Creek, near Stevenson,
May 2d, 1864.

Only about seven miles from last night's camp, but will have to wait until to-morrow to build a bridge. The creek is some 150 feet wide. Our Pioneer Corps will from the rough put a bridge over it in ten hours, that is to be passed over within the next three days by 800 wagons and 100 cannon of our corps. We reached here about 9 this a. m., and were led into a very large field of prairie grass, standing three feet high and as dry as tinder. A stiff breeze was blowing and the first fire started in our regiment set the grass in our front on a perfect rampage. It run down on the 46th Ohio, and such a grabbing of “traps” and scattering was never before seen, but was equaled about half an hour afterwards when a fire set in our rear came sweeping down on us. We threw our things out on the bare space in our front and escaped with little loss. My drummer had his coat, cap, drum and a pet squirrel burned, and a number of ponchos and small articles were also sent up in smoke. The days are almost like summer, but the nights are rather cool. The trees are about in full leaf and vermin are becoming altogether too numerous. Every man is a vigilance committee on the wood-tick question. They are worse than guerrillas or gray-backs. On an ordinary good "tick day" we capture about ten per capita. They demoralize one tremendously. The boys did some good work fishing in the p. m., catching a number of fine bass, etc.

A surgeon, who I think belongs on some brigade staff, has been stopping at nearly every house visiting, etc., and then rides past us to his place in front. This morning, after a visit he was passing our regiment; as we commenced crossing a little stream his horse got into a hole some four feet deep, stumbled, fell, rolled over, and liked to have finished the doctor. He was under both water and horse. The boys consoled him with a clear 1,000 cheers, groans, and sharp speeches. Anything short of death is a capital joke. I have seen them make sport of a man lying by the roadside in a fit.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 232-3

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