Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Captain Charles Wright Wills: May 26, 1864 – 8 a.m.

Pumpkin Vine Creek, near Dallas, Ga.,
May 26, 1864, 8 a. m.

We did not make more than seven or eight miles yesterday, on account of some bad road that troubled the trains very much. We got into camp at dark, just as a thunderstorm broke. We hurried up our arrangements for the night — kicking out a level place on the hillside to sleep — gathering pine boughs to keep the water from washing us away, and spreading our rubbers over rail frames. Everything just finished, was just pulling our stock of bed clothes over me (one rubber coat), when the brigade bugle sounded the “assembly.” It was dark as pitch and raining far from gently — no use grumbling — so everybody commenced yelping, singing, or laughing. In ten minutes we were under way, and though we didn't move a mile, every man who didn't tumble half a dozen times would command good wages in a circus. We finally formed line of battle on a bushy hillside, and I dropped down on the wet leaves and slept soundly until 1 o'clock, and woke up wet and half frozen, took up my bed and made for a fire and dried out. Do you remember the case when the Saviour commanded a convalescent to take up his bed and walk? I always pitied that man, carrying a four-post bedstead, feathers, straw and covering and failed to see it, but if he had no more bedding than I had. I can better understand it. Heavy cannonading all the p. m. yesterday. It seemed some five or six miles east; don't understand the way matters are shaping at all. Sherman has such a way of keeping everything to himself. The country between Van Wirt and Dallas is very rough, but little of it under cultivation; along this creek are some nice looking farms. The Rebels were going to make a stand, but didn't.

Two p. m.—We started at 8 this morning, and have not made more than one and one-half miles. Soldiers from the front say that Hardee's Corps fronts us two miles ahead, and that he proposes to fight. I have heard no firing that near this morning, but have heard artillery eight or ten miles east. A number of prisoners have been sent back, who all report Hardee at Dallas. I think Thomas now joins our left. McPherson last night rode up to some Rebel pickets, who saluted him with a shower of hot lead, fortunately missing him. Osterhaus' commissary drives along a lot of cattle for the division. Last night he got off the road and drove them into a party of secesh, who took commissary, beef and all. Back at Kingston, a big box came to General Harrow with heavy express charges. An ambulance hauled it 20 miles before it caught up with him, and on opening it he found a lot of stones, a horse's tail, and a block of wood with a horses' face pinned on it labeled, “head and tail of your Potomac horse.” At Van Wirt before we got there the Rebels had a celebration over Lee's capturing Grant and half of his army. There's a great deal of ague in the regiment. We will have a great deal of sickness after the campaign closes. I have only seen one man at home in Georgia who looked capable of doing duty as a soldier. My health is excellent. This creek runs into the Talladega river.

One mile south of Dallas, 2 p. m.

After a lively skirmishing Jeff C. Davis' division of the 14th Army Corps occupied Dallas at 2 p. m. The Rebels retired stubbornly. We passed Dallas about dark, and are now the front and extreme right of the whole army. I guess fighting is over for the night. Two very lively little fights have occurred before dark. The heavy fighting yesterday was Hooker. He whipped and drove them four miles, taking their wounded.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 247-8

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