“Between here and Bolivar, some 30 miles, I think there is not a house left or rail left unburned, and ’twas all done on our trip down.”–Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, Charles Wright Wills.

Camp at Lagrange, West Tennessee, November 7, 1862.

To say that we have been crowded, jammed, put through, hustled, skited, etc., don’t half express the divil-of-a-hurry headquarters has shown and is showing us. We left Peoria one week ago last night, crossed the bridge at precisely 6 o’clock p.m. Since that we have traveled one day and one night on the cars, a day resting, beside stacked arms waiting orders, the first quarter of a night pitching tents, then received orders to march with five days’ rations at daylight, and the rest of the night spent in preparation therefor, then two days’ marching through the awfullest dust you ever saw, so thick we almost had to kick it out of the way to get our foot to the ground, then a day of rest and fat living off secesh pork, etc., and the seventh day a march of 20 miles by our whole brigade, after a little party of Rebel cavalry that couldn’t more than eat a hog a day. Pretty good work for a green regiment, wasn’t it? It seems real natural to be down in Secessia, the country where a 300-pound porker don’t cost any more than a chicken that costs nothing. But some things we have to buy for our mess, and to show you what they cost, I will mention the items of flour and salt. The former is worth 50 cents per pound, and the latter $1 a pound. We wouldn’t have to buy them of citizens, but scarcity of transportation obliged our A. C. S. to leave everything but traveling rations, viz.; Bacon, sugar, coffee and crackers. There is a man making boots in town at $45 a pair, and he can’t get leather to fill his orders. Fine country. Between here and Bolivar, some 30 miles, I think there is not a house left or rail left unburned, and ’twas all done on our trip down. The fires were all lit by troops that marched ahead of us, and although the smoke and heat were disagreeable enough, yet I think the 103d generally approved of the proceedings. Yet I was glad enough when the colonel, by the general’s orders, called us to answer the question, “Do you know that any of your men burned rails, houses, or destroyed any property on the march from Bolivar?” that the 103d had not participated. Major General McPherson, commanding this corps, disapproves of such conduct and will severely punish offenders if caught, which latter item is not at all probable. Tis generally understood that the Union Tennessee Cavalry did the work. The 7th Illinois is here with us and all are well that you know.

We have good tents and are otherwise better prepared for soldiering than I ever was before.

We have between 30,000 and 40,000, I suppose, between here and a point eight miles east. Price is supposed to be in the neighborhood of Holly Springs, 30 miles southwest, with 40,000 to 60,000. They say we are waiting for the Memphis troops to join us before we go down and scoop him. We have the half of the old army of the Mississippi here, and part of the army of West Tennessee, nearly all experienced troops.


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