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

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“The more I think about the matter, the surer I am that we won’t do much before next May.”–Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, Charles Wright Wills.

November 15, 2012

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

Camp at Lagrange, Tenn., November 15, 1862.

We’re having more of a rest here than we anticipated when we arrived. Suppose that the organizing of the army into divisions and brigades delays us some; and, maybe, the change of commanders in the Potomac army has something to do with it. Or possibly we’re waiting for McClernand to move from Memphis. I don’t think our army here (the Corinth and Bolivar forces) is very large, though some estimate it quite strong, as much as 50,000 or 60,000. I think we have about 35,000, maybe less. General Lanman has been relieved from command of our division by General McKean and ordered to Memphis. Am sorry to lose him. He has few equals for skill in handling a division or honor and courage as a soldier. Am much afraid that the rainy season will catch us in the midst of our slow motions, and then good bye all hopes of the war’s closing next spring. McPherson and Logan promised in speeches a few days since that we would finish up the business within 40 days; and I believe we can, West of Georgia, if this weather will continue and our commanders will improve it. Don’t believe that Price will dare to fight us anywhere, certainly not this side of Jackson. We can’t have more than 40 days’ of marching weather yet until the rains come, and in that time we ought at least to make 250 miles. The more I think about the matter, the surer I am that we won’t do much before next May. Well, I enjoy soldiering and can stand the delay in proportion; but inactivity when a fellow can’t see the reason therefor, is provoking to a degree extensive. We made a capital start from Peoria to this place in five days, but the thing hasn’t been followed up. Our cavalry has been doing some dashing work here, sums up about 300 prisoners, etc. But the 7th hasn’t figured much therein, at least not in reports, although the 7th boys say they did their share. I have seen all my acquaintances in the 7th, and the 8th Infantry is also here. Fred Norcott and Milo are both looking splendidly. Also Ben Rockhold. ‘Tis said that General Logan publicly disgraced the 17th to-day for some insult to himself. Never thought much of that 17th and think less now than ever before. They certainly show no signs of discipline that can be seen by the naked eye. The 7th Kansas Cavalry, ’tis said, proposed in writing to General Grant, that if he would give them a certain time, (no other condition), they would capture or kill General Price. I wish he’d do it. They would raise the d—l around the Rebel army, and I believe it practicable at any time for 500 daring men to reach the person of any of our commanders, and why not theirs. They are cutting our baggage down to a very small compass, so that six wagons can haul for ten companies. I’m opposed to it, but Halleck ranks me and I will have to submit. Nobody in this country seems to care a cuss whether McClellan is removed or not. General feeling is that the Potomac Army is only good to draw greenbacks and occupy winter quarters. We’re in hopes that Pope will be sent back to us after he finishes hanging those Indians. I don’t believe there is a regiment in this army that would not cheer him as its corps commander. Everybody seems to be willing to bet something on Pope. Hurlbut is the most popular man here as a division commander, and I think that Grant could get more votes than any other man for commander of the army, always excepting Rosy. Grant is not so popular among the general officers, as far as I know, but the whole line believe in him, mostly, because he is for going ahead and will fight his men. The Memphis force hasn’t moved yet that I can hear of. Everything goes on swimmingly in the 103d. The old regiments try to bore our boys by calling them conscripts and $40 men, but don’t succeed well. In a march of 15 miles last week an old regiment, 3d Iowa, tried to run us down but it ended in our marching right through them. Dorrance is an excellent fellow in the field, wouldn’t trade him for any other lieutenant in the regiment. The Democratic victories at the polls don’t excite anyone here. We only wish the soldiers could vote. Illinois would talk differently if we could.

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