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Letter from Private Henry Clark, Company C, 21st Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry to Alfred Devons: Georgia, June 24th 1864 Camp Within 3 miles of Marietta Friend Alfred, I take this opportunity to drop a few lines to you hoping to find you well as this leaves me at the present time. Thinking I would drop you a few lines in regards to the realities of a soldier's life. It's certainly a hard life to live. Take it all through though, we have some good times. We have some very hard ones [also]. Now when we are on the march, sometimes [we] light out before daylight, then another time march till 12 o clock at night. And then you can cook your coffee if you choose or you can lay down on the ground with your rubber blanket under you and woolen one over you. And then lay till the break of day and then orders would come to awaken up the men which would appear almost before you could get to sleep. Then cook your coffee and broil your piece of meat, such as it might be; salt pork, sow belly, or beef, or some other kind of meat that you had gobbled or picked up on the road, maybe a chicken off some [farmer]. This is what is called "Smoke Steak", as [you] have probably read of in the papers. This being over, we start afresh. Thinking we have had quite a breakfast on hard tack, coffee and "Smoke Steak", which goes very well for a soldier. Which if we had it to eat at home I think there would be a few sour looking faces turned up at it before trying it. Next, partaking of our dinner, probably on the road side and maybe as you are marching along, putting your hand in your haversack, taking out a hard tack, then a piece of raw meat, thinking you are doing well. After eating this, taking your canteen and getting a drink of cold water to wrench it down. Then comes evening again, which looks like rain as soon as we are halted. Then you should see the turning this way and that way to get [tree] crotches for putting up our tents. Then pulling leaves to make a bed, of which being accomplished, then preparing again for supper, then for bed, which of course is the rule both at home and abroad. Then getting nicely fallen asleep, it commences to rain. Then [rain] running down under our tent, if on a side hill, which is likely to be the case. Then you may get up and go to ditching [around the tent] to save you from being drowned out. Probably your blankets [are] wet or your haversack with crackers in them. It spoils your night's rest. Then you get up again in the morning, build a large fire, crowd around it, and dry your wet blankets, tents, and clothes. Then off [we go] again for the next day's tramp, which probably would bring us some where near [the] enemy. Maybe about noon, we would hear the cannon booming, which probably we would reach about dusk. Then halt for awhile. Then the next orders would be "fall in". Then we take our position in front of [the] enemy, where we lay for four or five days skirmishing with the Rebs. And then they would light [out.] Then we follow them up again to their next stand, where we [are] now, skirmishing with the enemy, loosing some men all the time. We lost one last week hit with [a] cannon ball, [which] just grazed his shoulder blades. It was a seven-pound ball. I suppose the poor fellow never knew what hit him. We was in the rear, building breastworks, for they were shelling us. But most of them went over our heads doing us but little damage. I like it pretty good, but of course would rather be at home, as you will hear all the rest [I] say. This is just the life that we go through. So, if you think you would like to live such a life, enlist for a soldier. If not, keep away. That's my advice to you as a friend. You must excuse my scribbling, so I think I must conclude. Give my best respects to all the folks and receive these few crooked remarks from a friend and well-wisher. Yours truly Henry Clarke P.S. Elijah is well and sends his best. Respects to. all the folks Farewell Henry Clarke Company C 21 Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers 1st Briga
Letter from Private Henry Clark to Alfred Devons -THE CIVIL WAR -Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
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