30th Illinois soldier letter, Jan 22, 1863

Camp McClernand


Dear Sister,

It is sometime since I last wrote to you and I now take my pen to write you a few lines. The last time I wrote to you I was at Fort Jefferson Kentucky . I don’t know whether you ever recd’ it or not as there was an order issued that no letters should leave Cairo but I started it anyhow. I expect you would like to hear something about our march so I will tell you a few things that I seen while gone .The letter I wrote to you before was written on Sunday .

Monday we did nothing but stay about our camp.Tuesday morning early we were ordered to strike tents and be ready to march . So by 7 oclk everything was in readyness to start but there being a very large hill to go up right at the edge of the camp it was nearly 11 oclk before we got all the teams up and got started. We marched about ten miles that day to a town called Blandenville. Here we stopped and built up fires so that we could get supper when the teams came. It was after dark before the wagons came up . We got our tents and pitched them and after eating supper (which consisted of coffee and hard bread) lay down and slept sweetly till morning.

The next morning we started again on the road leading to Columbus and marched about 12 miles. It snowed nearly all forenoon that day rendering it very disagreeable .That night we encamped in a cornfield where the ridges about the rows were about two feet high . But as good luck would have it there were several straw and hay stacks not far off and we got lots of hay to lie on .

We were now within about ten miles of Columbus. Gen. Grant accompanied by some cavalry made a reconnoisance to within 5 miles of Columbus and some of the cavalry went so near as to drive in their pickets.

Thursday morning we started out on the Mayfield road and marched on that way till about two oclock when we turned back and took the Paducah road. We marched on toward Paducah until about 8 oclock that night when we halted and found that the other regiments had encamped a mile or two back, and go to them . This was the second time we had countermarched that day and the boys were all very tired but it was soon done when we commenced it and we were soon in camp with good fires and feeling much better than we did shortly before.

Friday we did not go but about 9 miles to a place by the name of Lovesseville , formerly known as PinHook. It rained very hard that night and most of the tents being in low ground they became untenable and the men had to get up and sit by the fire .

Saturday it rained nearly all day and the mud and water was nearly knee deep . Our blankets had got wet the night before and the rain that day made our clothes wet, so that we had quite a load to carry. To add to this about every mile we wouild have to cross a run which had become so swollen with the late rains that they were about 2 feet deep . That night we got back to within 2 miles of Bladenville but on a different road . That night we were all mighty tired . We got into camp a little before dark and when we commenced looking about for our wagons word came that they had stopped for the night about 3 miles from where we started in the morning . So here we were without any tents and hardly anything to eat . The latter was remedied by killing some hogs and cattle and roasting the meat over the fire. We built a big fire and lay down on the ground and slept till morning.We stayed there till Monday morning when we came back to Cairo .

On Monday we burned a large grist and saw mill where the rebels at Columbus had been getting flour and lumber and took all the property the man had. Every person let on to be Union men wherever we went.  I recd’ those shirts you sent me by Mr. Clarke but did not see or hear anything of him . I will write to you soon again and give you more particulars.

Nothing more at present but remain your affectionate brother, D.W.Poak

Lt.D.W.Poak 30th Illinois Infantry

Adjutant and Lt. David W. Poak of the 30th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He was at Forts Henry and Donaldson, Corinth, Vicksburg, Atlanta Campaign, March to the Sea, and the Carolina Campaign.

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