Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for “The devilment that soldiers cannot contrive must be unearthly.”–Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, Charles Wright Wills.

“The devilment that soldiers cannot contrive must be unearthly.”–Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, Charles Wright Wills.

September 27, 2013

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

September 27.

We sent our sick, nearly 100 in number, by wagon to the Big Black railroad depot, six miles, where they took the cars for Vicksburg. They will there await our arrival. I have now but 31 men in my company in camp. Ten months ago I marched 72 men from Bolivar, Tenn., to Lagrange. Not one has been lost by the bullet, and today a difference of 41 in the duty list. A rumor prevails to-day that Rosecrans has had a severe battle and has been defeated. It is impossible to learn or hear anything in this place until the date alone would make it uninteresting. Blair’s division moved into Vicksburg from the depot to-day to embark. Osterhaus’ division is already on its way up the river. In the evening, with Captains Bishop and Smith and Lieutenant Johnson, had a rather dull game of “California Seven Up.” All kinds of rumors today about the fight in northern Georgia. Have no hope of ever hearing the truth of the matter in camp. We are now 12 days behind in papers. The 3d brigade of our division and some cavalry started, with three days rations, on a scout across the river to-day. Suppose the object is to cover our move to Vicksburg, though I don’t believe there are 100 armed Rebels this side of the Alabama line. The soldiers of our division have been having some high fun for the last two days. Orders are very strict against firing in camp, but the men found out they could get up some artificial firing by putting green can in the fire. The steam from the sap generating between the joints will make an explosion equal to a gun fired. And they got up some artillery firing by putting canteens half full of water, stopping them tightly and then putting them in the flames. They did this just to bore the officers who are held responsible by the general for all firing. To-night the general has ordered all the officers of the 40th Illinois to patrol the camp the whole night. This, of course, tickles the men hugely, and from their beds in their tents they have been talking over the duties of a sentry for the benefit of their officer’s ears. The devilment that soldiers cannot contrive must be unearthly. To-day some of the 6th Iowa filled an oyster can half full of powder, set a slow train to it and planted it in the ground, they then set a cracker box over it and got a negro to dancing on the box A coal was then touched to the train and the “nigger” was blown full 20 feet. He landed, fortunately, without injury, but so badly scared that he was crazy for an hour. In the evening called on Captain Pinney of the 46th Ohio, and spent a very pleasant evening. He says that Vallandigham will poll about ten votes in their regiment; but that his disciples dare not open their mouths to advocate his cause. He says the loyal men would kill them sure if they dared to boast of their allegiance to a traitor.

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