30th Illinois soldier writes from Estanaula, Tenn., Aug 17, 1862

Lt. David W. Poak of the 30th Illinois Volunteer Infantry was at Forts Henry and Donaldson, Corinth, Vicksburg, Atlanta Campaign, March to the Sea, and the Carolina Campaign . He was awarded a 17th Corps Medal of Honor for the Battle of Atlanta when he was conspicuous in Rallying his men, advancing to the front, encouraging his men, firing muskets rapidly at the enemy, and by his service and gallant example materially assisting in bringing his regiment again into action.

Lt. David W. Poak
30th Illinois Infantry

Camp near Estanaula Tenn.
Aug. 17th / 62

Dear Sister,

In consequence of our Regt. being on the move for the last three or four days I have not had an opportunity to answer your welcome favor of the 3rd inst. which I recd’ almost a week ago but now as we have again made a halt and I am not on duty today ,which by the way is rather a rare occurence , I will spend a few moments penning a few lines for your perusal . It appears to me that the melancholy days have come the saddest of the year and if you were here to see our present encampment I think you would heartily concur in my opinion. Our camp is situated in Hatchee bottom and about 1 mile east of a river of the same name .The ground for miles around us is flat and swampy ,part of the time entirely covered with water and in consequence of the thickness of the timber you cannot see more than the length of one company . To add to the pleasures of the place something less than a thousand musical Bull Frogs keep up an almost incessant croaking. It is very lonesome for us here as there are but three or four families live within 3 miles of us and what is harder on us than anything else first is not near so plenty as it was about Jackson but I guess we will manage to get plenty to do us. I am afraid that if we remain here long that we will have a great many sick in our Regt. as this place cannot help but be unhealthy . Our march to this place was rather hot but we took all the advantage we could by marching at night . Water was very scarce all along our march .The first day we marched about ten mileswithout getting enough of water to make a good drink. When we got to where there was some water we stopped for dinner and stayed there till about 5 oclk in the evening . While we were resting a large plantation belonging to a rabid secessionist was stripped of everything on it useful to a soldier except peaches and they were so abundant that all we took could not be noticed.Night before last our Co. was called out at 12 oclk to go down to a ford about 4 miles below this .News having come into camp that 50 rebel cavalry were going to cross over the river there that night.We had a most doleful time of it getting to the river as our way lay through the swamps and it had rained the night before . Sometimes we would be falling over logs , the next moment running into a mudhole about knee deep or perhaps find yourself lying in some hole with a half dozen more of the boys on top of you .In this way we traveled on until we reached the long looked for place . We ramained there until the next morning about 9 oclk when we were relieved .I expect we will remain here for sometime as this is a very important point to guard to keep the rebels from outflanking our forces at Bolivar .The road we are on is the only road throught this swamp for a good many miles either up or down on which the rebels can bring infantry or artillery and on this road there is only a ferry , so as long as we can keep them from throwing a bridge across the stream we can hold them in check . We have two Regts. of Infantry , the 20th and 30th Ills. , two pieces of Artillery and 3 companies of cavalry,so that we can make quite a little fight if we are attacked.Water that is good water is very scarce .What we use for cooking we get from a mill race close by .But what we drink we have to go a mile for.We have got one of the best negro cooks I ever saw.He is an excellant cook and besides that he carries all the water we want and goes out three miles into the country and brings in fruit.Several of the other messes have negroes but I think ours is the best in the Regt. BeforeI left Jackson I gave a man there 220 to express to you to NewCastle Forty of this belonged to Geo. Hill and you can give it to one of his brothers the first time you see them. The other $180 you can do as you think best with .If you need any of it take it and use it.You wanted me to go back to Mercer Co. to recruit for our company and you would come there and see me .You were to late speaking as Lieut.David had recd the orders to go .I could have gone out but I did not care about it. I do not want to leave the Regt. until I can go to Penna although if you had mentioned the matter sooner I might have done it.Lieut. David and Sergt. McCreight have gone back to recruit for our company .That is they have gone to Springfield to report to the state Superintendent of recruiting and he sends them wherever he chooses . If he see’s fit they will go to Mercer Co. ,if not they will go some place else.I believe I have nothing more at present. I suppose we will get mail very irregularly while we stay here .Give my respects to Polly Ann and to Emmaline and the children.

Your brother,

David W. Poak

Source: ebay auction

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