Iuka, Miss., October 26, 1863.
Let your pocket ‘kerchief float out on the breeze, halloo a little and throw up your bonnet. It’s only a “march at 12 o’clock to-night” but that’s good enough. We’ve been here a week now, drawing clothing and making all kinds of preparations for a “forward,” and the blessed word has come at last. I don’t believe anybody enjoys anything better than I do marching. I feel as coltish all the time on a move as I used to, when after a long week of those short winter days at school, with just time enough between the school hours and dark to cut the next day’s wood (how I did work), Job Walker and I would plunge into those dear old Big Creek woods with our guns or skates, and make such a day of it that I would almost wish all time was cut up into Saturdays. I was on picket last night; full moon, splendid post, right on the old Iuka battle ground, where the fight was the hottest; the old clothes, straps, cartridge boxes and litter always found in such places, the scarred trees, and the mounds a little further up the road, marking the pits where lay the glorious dead, then a half dozen neatly marked single graves, showing the care of some company commander, all tempted me to commit some more poetry. You know I can. But I nobly resisted the temptation. There were no coons or owls. I wished for them. My picketing the last year has almost all been in swamps, and I have learned to love the concerts those innocent animals improvise. When I got in this morning found orders to be ready to move at 12 this p.m. We cross the Tennessee river, I suppose, near Eastport. This beats me all hollow. Can’t see the point, unless we’re moving to check some of Bragg’s flanking motions. Anything for a move. I put the profile of a fort here the other day under the direction of Sherman’s engineer, and the chief told me if I would like it he would have me detailed to assist him. Have had enough of staff duty and excused myself. The men are rapidly becoming more healthy. I have but one person sick now. Dorrance arrived here a few days since, and brought a splendid long letter from you. Have to go to work on some ordnance reports now.
Am half inclined to think that our big march is played out. Rather think now that we will stop at Eastport on the Tennessee river. Isn’t that heavy? Eight miles only and then go to guarding navigation on a river that’s a twin sister of Big Creek. Can’t tell though, one rumor says that we will go 128 miles beyond the river. These generals are positively getting so sharp that a man can’t tell one month ahead what they are going to do.
One of my men who was captured down near Panola, Miss., last April returned to the company for duty yesterday. Some Confederate soldiers captured him and some citizens offered them $10 to each captor for the privilege of hanging the d___d Yanks. They couldn’t make a bargain. Transferred five men to the invalid corps yesterday. Jacob J. Nicholson among them.