Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, Charles Wright Wills, (8th Illinois Infantry)

Note: This letter—a document written in 1862—includes terms and topics that may be offensive to many today.  No attempt will be made to censor or edit 19th century material to today’s standards. On Steamer Henry Clay, off New Madrid, Mo., April 16, 1862. I finished my last in a great hurry, helped strike and load [...]

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Headquarters 7th Illinois Cavalry, In a very fine House, Point Pleasant, Mo., April 7, 1862. If this isn't fine your brother is incapable of judging. Cozy brick house, damask curtains, legged bedsteads, splendid tables and chairs, big looking glass, and everything just as fine as a peacock's tail. I do wish you could have been [...]

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Camp, near Point Pleasant, Mo., April 4, 1862. I received your last letter within three days after it was mailed, and praised Uncle Sam duly therefor. Our regiment has had a run of bad luck since we've been here. Two men killed on the plank road, two wounded at same place, two killed by falling [...]

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Point Pleasant, Mo., March 28, 1862. There isn't a thing to write only that they keep up the infernal "boom, boom," with their cannons all day and night long. It's perfectly disgusting the way they waste powder and iron without killing anyone. They have knocked every house in town to flinders, and round shot and [...]

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Camp near Point Pleasant, Mo., March 26, 1862. It is, to-day, very much warmer. I'm altogether too hot to be comfortable in my shirt sleeves. Don't know what is to become of us in July if it is so hot in proportion. I shake in my boots at the thought of the mosquitoes, flies, etc., [...]

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Twentieth. — To-day 'tis cloudy and we have fire in the tent and I wear my cloak besides. There are no news of any kind to-day. We are on a little piece of dry land here (some of the earthquake’s "get up" I suppose) entirely surrounded by swamps of the vilest kind, cane and cypress. [...]

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Near Point Pleasant, Mo., March 18, '62. You see we are creeping along down the river surely if the motions are a little slow. This is about 12 miles below Madrid and said to be 75 or 80 below Cairo. It is said that the Rebels have between a dozen and 20 steamboats above here, [...]

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New Madrid, "by Jingo;" March 14, 1863. Night before last we received four heavy guns from Cairo and two or three of these infantry regiments planted them during the night within a half mile of the enemy's main fort and within three-fourths of a mile where their gunboats lay. The seceshers discovered it at daylight [...]

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Yet near New Madrid, March 12, 1862. The enemy are separated from us by only a few cornfields, the country is perfectly plain; we can see from our tent door the smoke stacks of their gunboat, and the music of their bands mingles with our own and yet 'tis confounded dull. I received a letter [...]

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Note: This letter—a document written in 1862—includes a term that may be offensive to many today.  No attempt will be made to censor or edit 19th century material to today’s standards. Near New Madrid, Mo., March 6, 1862. What oceans of fun we are having here. Here goes for all of it to date, and [...]

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Headquarters 7th Illinois Cavalry, Cape Girardeau, Mo., February 19, 1862. Aren't things working right now? Do you notice the accounts of the old 8th, and will you say again that I got out of her ranks at the right time? I knew that the 8th would never make her colonel (God bless him!) to blush, [...]

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Cape Girardeau, Mo., February 14, 1862. Sam arrived here to-night and brought me everything I could wish for except my watch. Jem Harper from Company K is home on furlough and we expect him now shortly, also Benton Spencer. If you could manage to send the watch by one of them I would be much [...]

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Cape Girardeau, February 9, 1862. I, like a good boy, wrote you a long letter yesterday, and, like a careless fellow, lost it. I told you in it how we "300" of us, left here in the p.m. of last Monday, rode all night and at daylight made a desperate charge into Bloomfield where we [...]

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Headquarters, 3d Battalion, 7th Illinois Cavalry, February 3, 1862. I am pretty sure that we will start on a scout to-morrow that will give us a ride of 150 miles. From the knowledge I have of it believe that we are going to raise the devil before we get back or get raised ourselves. There [...]

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Bird's Point, Mo., January 20, 1862. It goes confounded good once more to stand on boards, and be able to sit down without wet coming through a fellow's pants. If I write and tell you where we've been, you won't read it, and if I don't write all about it you'll scold, so of the [...]

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Bird's Point, Mo., January 13, 1862. After all the excitement and promise we have had of a trip into Dixie, we are still here in our cabins, with the prospect of a move further off than ever. The 25,000 troops that are "on their way from St. Louis to Cairo" must have went up in [...]

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Bird's Point, January 10, 1862. Since daylight yesterday morning we have been all ready with five days' rations and expecting every moment the orders to fall in and commence a march. We were delayed untill 11 a.m. to-day by a fog so dense that boats could not run even from Cairo to this point. All [...]

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Bird's Point, January 5, 1862. We received the box of provisions to-day in very good order considering the length of time they have been knocked about on the route. It came by freight by some mistake or other. The doughnuts were the only articles spoiled. They had moulded. I sent the box over from Cairo [...]

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January 2, 1862. We've waited patiently until after New Year for the box of provisions, and nary box yet. Have given it up for a goner. We're just as much obliged to you as though we had received it. We haven't yet eaten all the tomatoes, etc., that came with the quilts. Partly because we [...]

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Bird's Point, December 29, 1861. Your letter giving us notice of your sending a box came to hand yesterday with express charges inclosed. I shall go over to Cairo to-morrow to get them if they are there. I haven't been to Cairo for a month. All of the 7th cavalry are on this side now [...]

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