Camp near Columbia, Kentucky
May 31st 1863
My dear Father and Mother,
It is now just one week since I last wrote and since that time the boys have seen some pretty tough times. I wrote that we marched the day before. Well we rested all Sunday and early the next morning and marched until noon. The next day we started at two o’clock A. M. and reached this place after a march of fifteen miles at eight o’clock A. M. Then miles of the last march there was no water to be found and had it been in the heat of the day the boys would have suffered. The roads over these mountains—or knobs—are so bad that artillery can scarcely get along.
The next day the 36th and 100th [Pennsylvania regiments] had orders to be ready to move in light marching order at 7 o’clock P. M. By the way, just after we reached this place, the captain took me out of the ranks and told me he wanted I should cook for his mess which consisted of the officers of Co. K and Co. G. One of his cooks was sick and the other was absent. How long I shall stay here I can not say but probably not long.
At seven o’clock we started. I carried a basket of provisions for the officers. We marched until after two o’clock in the morning and then laid down in the road and slept till daylight. There were two regiments of Kentucky cavalry and a battery with us. In the morning the cavalry went off on a scout and the infantry and battery went into the woods and concealed themselves. Here we stayed all day and night. The next day found us again advancing but at three P. M., we again halted in a large orchard in the place called Breedersville. The cavalry scouted all night and the next day and captured a large number of Morgan’s rebel cavalry, including one Major and a Lieutenant. We were now within twelve miles of the Cumberland river and of course could be of no use in going further with our small force for on the opposite side of the river the rebs are thick as bees.
We had been marching a round about way to get where we were in order to surprise any guerrillas that would naturally take to the by-way but at night we started on the back track and at midnight found ourselves back in campo after a march of seventeen miles. From the time we started till we got back we forded rives twelve times and as it rained steadily all the time, they were much swollen. I feel pretty stiff today but shall be all right tomorrow.
When we got back we learned that the rebels had made a dash within five miles of camp and the 45th [Pennsylvania] and 27th [Michigan] are now out chasing them. I do not think we shall stay here much longer. Should not wonder if we went to Tennessee. Rumor says we are agoing to be mounted. I hope so for we are of no possible use among these knobs unless we are [mounted]. A week’s march has proved this to me.
I received a letter from you dated the 18th and am glad to hear that you are getting along so finely but my hair stood on end when I read about Wallie’s escape. That was a pretty narrow one and if the horse had not been so lazy, we would have had no little Wallie today.
But I am getting lengthy and will close by asking you to excuse this scrawl of a letter. I am too tired to write. If you do not hear from me again soon, you may expect that we are moving.
With much love, I remain yours truly, — Charley
Next Letter: June 1, 1863