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

June 23d, 1863.

Once more we are on the wing. Yesterday morning we were ordered to be ready to march when called on. Of course, the men do not expect to stay anywhere, but it always comes a little tough to leave a pleasant camp just as they get comfortably settled. But military orders are inexorable, and, in spite of regrets, we “struck tents, slung knapsacks,” and started on our winding way among the hills. This part of the country is made up of ranges of high hills separated by ravines down which the water has cut channels from ten to twenty feet deep. We marched about three miles on the road leading to Vicksburg and halted on the top of a high hill just large enough to hold our regiment. It was plowed last spring and planted to cotton. Colonel Luce looked indignant, the company officers grumbled, the men swore. General Welch regretted, but Major General Parks ordered the left to rest here, and it rested. But Colonel Luce could still do something. Ordering us in line, he said: “Men, you need not pitch your tents in line in this open field; go where you can make yourselves most comfortable, only be on hand when the bugle sounds.” Three cheers and a tiger for Colonel Luce, then a wild break for trees, brush; anything to shelter us from the fierce rays of a Southern sun. We are now nine miles from Vicksburg by the road, six miles in a direct line. We can distinctly hear musketry at that place, which has been kept up almost incessantly the last three days. At intervals the cannonading is terrific. Our Orderly Sergeant rode over there yesterday, to see his brother. He says Grant’s rifle pits are not more than twenty-five rods from the Rebels, and woe to the man on either side who exposes himself to the marksmanship of the other. As near as I can learn, matters remain about as they were three weeks ago. Unless General Grant succeeds in mining some of their works, thus affecting an entrance, he will be compelled to starve them out.

We would think, in Michigan, such land as this utterly unfit for cultivation. But the highest hills are cultivated and planted with corn or cotton. Corn, even on the highest hills, I have never seen excelled in growth of stalk. One would naturally suppose that in this hilly country water of good quality would abound. Such is not the fact. Soon as we broke ranks I started out in quest of water. I followed a ravine about half a mile, then crossed over to another, but found none. Blackberries being plentiful, I filled my cap and returned to camp. Some of the boys had been more successful, and after resting a few minutes I took another direction, for water we must have. This time I followed a ridge about half a mile, then began to descend—down, down, I went, seemingly into the very bowels of the earth, and when I reached the bottom found a stagnant pool of warm, muddy water. Making a virtue of necessity, I filled my canteen, returned to camp, made some coffee, ate my berries, with a very little hardtack, and went to bed to dream of “limpid streams and babbling brooks.”

This morning my comrade and I arose with the early dawn and started out in search of berries, which we found in great abundance.

A strange stillness pervades our hitherto noisy and tumultous camp. The men are scattered in every direction, lounging listlessly in the shade, not caring even to play cards, so oppressive is the heat. I am sitting in the shade of a mulberry tree, Collier lying on the ground near by; we alternately write or lounge as the mood takes us. Most assuredly I never felt the heat in Michigan as I feel it here. Yet men can work in this climate, and northern men, too. The Eighth and Twentieth have been throwing up fortifications for several days.

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