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[246]

camp Kirkwood, Iowa city, March, 1863.

We started from Davenport two weeks ago, and with infinite toil accomplished fifty-five miles in twelve days. The day we started was delightfully warm and bright, and we made our first day's march with flying colors, and in great good spirits, along the banks of the Mississippi, through pleasant woods and valleys. At night we made our first encampment in a pleasant plain surrounded by high bluffs, and pitching our tents laid us down to sleep, persuaded that soldiering was a summer day's sport, and that there was nothing before us but bright days and pleasant wanderings. Alas for our hopes! at four o'clock the reveille for the second day's march sounded, and by six horses and wagons were well packed and the regiment moving. But no warm sun delighted us; and soon a comfortless rain began to fall, and the cold March wind to blow, —the beginning of the equinoctial storm, which pursued us for four days, with a fury which the inhabitants say they have not known for years. Cold, wet, and disconsolate, we dragged through the mud to our second camp,—a hard day's journey of but five miles. Our sorrows did not end here, for our wagons, containing all the provisions, tents, picket-ropes, and the necessaries of life, were hopelessly mired; and for weary hours the men stood in the mud and rain, holding their horses, till details of men could be sent back, with ropes and horses, to haul the teams out. We all thought this day pretty bad, but it was not a circumstance to the two days that followed: rain, snow, and hail soaked us through, the horses floundered in mud knee deep, wagons and mules gave out, and stuck hopelessly in the mud, and some horses, worn out, dropped by the wayside, and perished miserably in the deep sloughs. It was decided that it was impossible to go farther, and we camped in a little town on a bleak prairie, without wood for our fires or sufficient food for men or horses. The rain changed to sleet, and the horses were covered with a perfect sheet of ice. The wind threatened to overturn our tents and the water saturated our blankets. Here we stayed a night and a day, till our camp became uninhabitable,—a sea of mud. The rain ceasing in the afternoon, we moved on to a large forest. Our company were doing guard duty that day, and when I came up with the rear guard, the whole forest was lighted with immense camp-fires, and all comparatively happy. I made a supper off a slice of fat pork, which I roasted on the end of a stick; and then, weary, rolled myself in my blanket, and, without tent or other covering, slept soundly till morning. Our succeeding days' marches were much like these, only there was less rain. It was plain that


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