first alarm of war he entered, as a private, a company organized in Chicago; and there, giving all his leisure to military tactics and drill, he acquired the information and skill by which he afterwards made his company one of the best that ever came from a Western prairie.
In November, 1861, he himself writes:
I never thought of going otherwise than as a private, until the position was offered me without my seeking it. Now I hope to secure it; but if not, I shall fall back into the ranks, somewhat disappointed certainly, but ready to work and fight with just as true and firm a zeal as if I wore a sword and shoulder-straps. .... It has been hard work, this recruiting, though full of useful experiences.
I don't think I ever passed two more unpleasant months; caused by hopes and fears about the regiment, and by having my motives suspected.
But I'm glad I've been through it, distasteful as it is. It has strengthened my conviction in the ultimate best success of truth and honor, and made me more independent and self-reliant, I hope and believe.
He left Chicago
, February, 1862, proceeding with his regiment to Cairo
, where it was assigned to the army of General Pope
, then moving against New Madrid.
The regiment saw its first field service before that place.
Writing thence, on the eve of an expected battle, he says:—
I am perfectly well, and all ready for anything that may turn up. That the issue of the battle here must be a bloody one, and fatal to many, we all know.
Who will be taken and who left, none can tell.
I shall try to do my duty, and leave the rest in the hands of God.
Later, he says:—
I should write more than I do about the politics of the war, so to speak, if mind and time were not so occupied by other things.
Father may be sure that I sympathize with all he says and feels.
I'm fighting for the preservation of the Union, but I want to feel that I am fighting for the cause of freedom too, as opposed to slavery; and I think the cause of Union and freedom has come to be one.
Passing down the Mississippi
to Island No.10
, and returning to participate in the advance on Corinth
, his regiment was afterwards stationed at Decatur, Alabama
, as an outpost of