Camp Yates, Springfield, Ill. June 30, 1861
Home: Supposing that you would like to hear from me, I send you a few lines in haste. Our party got along very well after leaving Palestine, with the exception of having to wait four or five hours for the cars at Lawrenceville. We are all doing well at present. It has rained about half the time since we arrived at this camp. The sheds all leak where the soldiers are quartered, but I have kept dry so far. A great many of the soldiers are weakened by the bowel-complaint, supposed to be caused by the water. They all nevertheless seem to be enjoying themselves highly.
We were sworn into the U.S. service for three years unless sooner discharged, on Friday. We expect to draw our clothes, blankets and tents tomorrow or next day. We have orders to march to Quincy and will probably start on Wednesday. We will march about ten or twelve miles per day. An arrangement will soon be made by which we will be clear of cooking for ourselves. The whole company will have a man hired (for about 75 cents each per month) to do the cooking. The arrangement will suit me very well I think.
Tell them down there that the best thing they can do to Bill Boatright is to egg him out of town or devil him to death. After being carried through free of expense and finding out he would be received, he backed square out and was groaned out of camp. Five or six Oblong boys also crawfished and went out with Boatright. Tye Cobb, Bill Dills, Ken Kermit, Lon Gogin, Paull and myself will be messed together if we are divided into messes. Our company was over full and by lending Bill Carver and a few others to other companies when the oath was taken, we all got in. Our new flag was brought into camp yesterday, but has not been out yet. It beats anything of the kind in the regiment. Tell all who wish to write any of our company to direct to Camp Wood, Quincy, Ills., care of Captain Peck. Yours affectionately, A. M. Patton
FROM EVANSVILLE, INDIANA TO THE CRESCENT CITY BY STEAMBOAT
January 6, 1850
Dear Sisters: I have just returned from a long walk. I have been out exploring the beautiful Crescent City. There are a great many curiosities and pleasant scenes here, which even imagination could not depict. Therefore, I will not attempt to describe them.
I will in the first place inform you that at this time (about 1 o’clock) it is raining very beautifully, which is more than you can say, I am certain. I am enjoying most excellent health and have done so ever since I left, and I hope you are all enjoying the same good health. Tell Mother not to be the least alarmed about me for I have not the least uneasiness but what I will improve on the trip. The rest of the boys have all enjoyed unusual good health.
So far, we have all appetites to equal the starved wolf. You may be certain of one fact and that is when we all assemble around the board, no difference how much the load, we soon put a stop to its groans. It is seldom you see or hear of a more jovial set of fellows than we are so far, and I have no fears for the balance of the trip.
I will now proceed to give you a sketch of our trip so far. You have already heard from us as far as Evansville [Indiana]. Well, we left there on Saturday evening the 29th of December, on board the Steamboat Hiram Powers for New Orleans. A finer, pleasanter set of officers, as well as passengers, I have never seen in all my travels. With the exception of one or two days which were rather uncomfortably cold, we have had nothing to mar our pleasure or enjoyment.
We landed here about 4 o’clock on last Saturday morning and immediately set about making inquiry as to our prospect of getting off for Sacramento. We found the Alabama in port, bound for Chagres [a river in Panama] on the 7th, which would be tomorrow. We could have got passage on her for Chagres for $45.00, but from what we had heard there was no probability of getting away from there under some three or four months. (As there have been passengers that went to the Isthmus who came back to this place and procured through tickets.)
We then went to the agent of the California Company (of the Mail line of steamers) and there learned that the tickets were all taken for February for what vessels were now running on the other side of the Isthmus. The steamship Tennessee, belonging to the same company, left New York for Panama some time ago (via Cape Horn) and is expected to reach there by the fifteenth or twentieth of February. We also learned that we could get a through ticket for $215 in 2nd cabin to Chagres and steerage the balance of the way.
We therefore deposited our money for tickets to leave here on the fifteenth of the present month (on the Falcon) for Chagres. We will then take the Tennessee the balance of the way, should it reach the Isthmus by the 20th of February. If not, we are to be sent on one of the other vessels. Should we get off under the present arrangement we will be detained at Panama some fifteen or twenty days, which is the best we can do. We count ourselves very fortunate if we get off that soon.
There is one thing pretty certain; we can sell our tickets at a considerable advance in the course of a few days, should we wish to do such a thing. I shall probably write no more until after I reach the Isthmus. I want you to write, all of you, and all my friends. If you write soon, direct to Panama. If you don’t write in the course of a week or ten days, direct to San Francisco, California. Give my respects to all my friends and to the young ladies of Palestine in particular.
Tell Mr. McGahey (the old gentleman) that I have not forgotten him, and should have liked very much to have seen him before I left. In fact, I cannot but blame myself for not going to see him. Tell him not to think hard that I did not go out. You know the reason as well as I do that I did not (unwell, very cold and press of business). I have regretted ever since I left that I did not go out the evening before I left, but I know you will intercede for me should he think hard of it, as I am absent and will have no chance to plead my own case.
Don’t forget to write often. Tell Eliza Ann that I want her to write. I have nothing more to write about at the present. I am, dear sisters, your affectionate brother, John W. Wilson