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

Haines Bluff, July 29th, 1863.

We did not leave on the 23d, as was rumored, but are still in our old camp, enjoying a short season of repose preparatory to our voyage up the river. It is a repose much needed by our men. What prompted our commander to hurry us through as he did—sixty miles in three days—I cannot conceive. Strict orders were issued against straggling. No man would be allowed to leave the ranks without a written pass from the Surgeon, and all stragglers were to be picked up by the Provost Guard and taken to headquarters for trial by court martial. The General “reckoned without his host.” Some men, so great was their respect for discipline, marched in the ranks until they fell, in a dying condition. But most of them cursed the General and his orders and sat down to rest and cool off whenever their judgment told them they were getting too hot, and, when rested, came on again.

After the first day, no attention was paid to orders. Men fell out in such numbers the Provost could not arrest them, and came straggling into camp until nearly morning.

The next morning after our arrival, in the Seventeenth alone, one hundred twenty men were reported unfit for duty, and forty-five are now sick in hospital. Doubtless much of this sickness is the effect of the poisonous liquid we were compelled to use for cooking and drinking purposes. How grateful to us, then, is the delicious, sparkling water that flows in abundance from that romantic spring I described on our first arrival. Before I leave this subject, let me record our experience the week we were encamped before Jackson. The first day we used cistern water, but that soon failed. After that, all that was left for coffee and for cooking purposes was water from an artificial pond, scooped out in a barnyard, and all the battery and camp horses—five or six hundred of them in number—were watered there every day. They were ridden right into the pond! Rather than drink it, I have been three miles to the rear, after having been on duty all day, for a canteen of cistern water.

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