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

Post image for “Would rather remain mounted, but Sherman’s will be done.”–Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, Charles Wright Wills.

“Would rather remain mounted, but Sherman’s will be done.”–Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, Charles Wright Wills.

December 29, 2013

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

Near Larkinsville, Ala., December 29, 1863.

We have had some busy times since my last. Foraging for horses, looking for something to eat, and trying to obey a host of contradictory orders, has kept us in the saddle almost constantly. I believe I wrote you about Dorrance’s going over to Elk river, Tenn. for horses and getting captured. When the next scout was ordered out, I was at Bridgeport on business, and Lieutenant Smith went in charge. They were absent a week and when I heard from them, and that they had but seven extras, I started after them and found them 25 miles from camp. That night I got permission from the officer in command to take 20 men and be absent two days. I went over the mountain into Madison county near Huntsville, got 34 good horses and was back on time. I also captured a guerrilla with his horse and traps, and found a lot of clothing which had been taken from Federal soldiers and officers captured by Rebels and concealed in a hovel on the mountain. In the round trip of the last six days, about 150 miles, the boys have destroyed at least 50 shotguns and rifles. To-day, an officer of Ewing’s staff is here selecting our best horses, for the use of Sherman, Logan, etc. We think it confoundedly mean, but guess we’ll stand it. We have enough horses to mount the brigade, but there is some doubt about that little event taking place. They can’t beat me out of being satisfied whatever they do. Would rather remain mounted, but Sherman’s will be done. I have turned into the corral fully my proportion of horses, haven’t lost a man, and none of my command have been guilty of robbing, plundering, or stealing. That’s what the officer of no other detachment here can say, truthfully. I do think I have the best lot of men that ever soldiered together, and there are now 41 for duty. The rest of the brigade is at Scottsboro, only six miles from here, and they will probably go into winter quarters there. Possibly, at Belle Fountain. I am in splendid health and enjoying myself excellently. My wrist is improving slowly, but there is something broken about it. It will, however, answer my purpose if it gets no worse. One ought occasionally to have something of that kind in order to a better appreciation of our many blessings. What wonderful luck I have soldiering, don’t I? Now, in our two month’s foraging, I haven’t lost a man. Only one wounded a little, and one man and Dorrance captured and let go again. In the same time the 15th Michigan have lost about 20. The 46th Ohio have had two killed, the 6th Iowa two killed, and the 40th Illinois two hung and two missing. We have been over all the country they have, and done just as much work, without losing a man. I am hopeful of obtaining some recruits from the Fairview country, but can get along without them.. Have as good as been out of the world for two months. I haven’t worn socks since I left Memphis. Too much trouble. Has rained steadily for the four last days. I have ridden from daylight until dark each day. Got dried off to-day for the first time. Swam our horses over three bad creeks. Lieutenant Smith and three men came very near drowning. My mare swam splendidly.

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