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

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“After a deal of hard work we are on the steamboat Diana..,”–Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, Charles Wright Wills.

September 29, 2013

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

Clear Creek, Miss., September 29, p.m.

As we were studying tactics together, preparatory to a battalion drill, our brigade commander at precisely 2:15 p.m., came into the colonel’s tent where we were, asked the colonel if he was ready to move immediately. The colonel replied that he was, and he then told us to be ready to start at 3 o’clock, and that the regiment first on the brigade parade ground, ready to move, should have the advance. In just twenty minutes we had struck tents, packed knaps, loaded wagons and formed line, everybody in the best of spirits at the thought of leaving and joining Rosecrans. We beat the other regiments and therefore got the advance, which was quite an object as the dust lays, when it don’t fly, several inches deep. I let my little chameleon (I wish I could have sent him home) back into the tree before we started. Cogswell’s battery attempted to pass us on the march, but our two advanced companies fixed bayonets, and by a few motions stopped the proceeding. Cogswell got very wrathy, but when Colonel Wright proposed to shoot him if he didn’t cool down, he became calmer and moved to the rear “promptly.” The dust has been awful. Never saw it worse, except in a march from Bolivar to Lagrange, Tenn., a year ago. We bivouacked at 9 o’clock p.m., nine miles from camp. I stood the march splendidly.

September 29th.

Had just got asleep last night when it commenced raining. I dressed myself (that means put on my boots) gathered up my oil-cloth and blanket and made for a bushy-topped tree. I sat down to lean back against the tree and I think one of the liveliest motions I ever made was getting up immediately afterward. The tree was a chinquapin, and I had sat down on a number of the burs, which are much like those of the chestnut. After quite a search I secured two small rails, and balancing myself on them I slept soundly until reveille at 2:30 a.m. It has rained all night, but in a small way, and just enough to make marching pleasant. We made Vicksburg by 7 a.m., the rain falling all the time. In fact, it has rained steadily up to this hour, 11 p.m. After a deal of hard work we are on the steamboat Diana, which belongs to the Marine brigade. The whole division is loaded on 15 steamboats and we start for Memphis in the morning. I forgot to mention a queer tree that I noticed at last night’s camp. They say it is the cabbage tree or mock pineapple. The leaves were many of them fully thirty inches long, giving the tree a tropical appearance. Saw some of the 8th Illinois boys. The regiment is not as healthy as it should be.

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