Florence, Ala., November 1, 1863.
We struck tents on the 27th ult. at Iuka, Miss., and marched to Eastport, eight miles, that night. We had in our division some 200 wagons, all of which with 1,200 horses and mules were to be crossed in a barge over the Tennessee river. I received a complimentary detail to superintend the crossing of the wagons belonging to one brigade. I think I never worked harder than I did from 7 o’clock that night until 6:30 o’clock the next day, a.m. It occupied two days and nights crossing the whole train, but we marched at 3 p.m., the 28th, and camped that night at Gravelly springs, 15 miles from Eastport. The road ran for some ten miles along the foot of the river bluff, and the numerous springs sparkling their beautifully clear and fresh jets of limestone water on the road, from which they rippled in almost countless little streamlets to the river, although adding much to the wild beauty of the country, made such a disagreable splashy walking for we footmen that (I speak more particularly for myself) we failed to appreciate it. We bivouacked for the night at about 9 p.m. The morn of the 29th we started at 8 o’clock, and after ascending the bluff, marched through a magnificent country to this place, 15 miles. Some three miles from here at the crossing of Cypress creek, something like 50 or 60 girls, some of them rather good looking, had congregated and they seemed much pleased to see us. All avowed themselves Unionists.
There had been a large cotton mill at this crossing, Comyn burned it last summer, which had furnished employment for these women and some 200 more. This is a very pretty little town. Has at present some very pretty women. Two of the sirens came very near charming me this a.m. Bought two dozen biscuits of them. Have been out of bread for two days before, but had plenty of sweet potatoes and apples. During the march on the 29th we heard Blair pounding away with his artillery nearly all day across the river, I should think about a dozen miles west of Tuscumbia. I was down to the bank the morning of the 30th ult. and the Rebels across shot at our boys, watering mules, but without effecting any damage. I saw a white flag come down to the bank and heard that Ewing sent over to see what was wanted, nothing more. There was some musketry fighting yesterday near Tuscumbia, but don’t know who it was. We are four and one-half miles from there. Two companies of the 4th Regular Cavalry reached here on the 30th from Chattanooga, bearing dispatches to Sherman. He is at Iuka. All of these movements beat me completely. Can’t see the point and doubt if there is one. We have commenced fortifying here. Have seen much better places to fight. We are “fixed up” most too nicely to hope to live here long. I have a stove, a good floor covered with Brussels carpet, plenty of chairs and a china table set under my tent. Eatables are plenty and would offer no objection if ordered to stay here a couple of weeks. Understand that not a farthing’s worth of the above was “jayhawked.” Got it all on the square. I wish I could send you the mate to a biscuit I just ate. Twould disgust the oldest man in the world with the Sunny South. By hemp, but it is cold these nights. Last night there was an inch of white frost. I was nearly frozen. Dorrance swears that Mattison and I were within an ace of killing him in our endeavors to “close up” and keep warm.