Letter of Henry Hall, Fifty-First Illinois Infantry

In the woods, 8 miles
south of Nolensville, Tenn
Dec. 28th '62

Dear Father,

We broke up camp last Wed. morning but did not leave till Friday. They managed to spend Christmas quite quietly in camp, started off at 7 A.M. of the 26th - McCook's and I suppose Crittenden's corps also - am not quite sure about the latter. All our teams and baggage went back to Nashville - took with us only blankets, overcoats, and 3 days rations, the hospital wagon and 2 ambulances - the supply and ammunition teams for the army followed behind. Friday night we occupied Nolensville, McCook's corps, i.e., after a sharp skirmish by Jeff C. Davis' div. It rained hard all day & night, & we were unfortunate enough (our brigade) to be sent to the front, as grand-guard for the night, so that fires were not to be made. Sat. (yes, today) we marched only a short distance - it rained all day Sat. too, a regular searching [sic], drenching rain, but in the evening, as we came out of the corn-field, where we had been lying in line of battle 2 hours, with the rest of the div., expecting a battle sure, as every preparation had been made by the general for one, the sun broke out from the clouds, and a rainbow appeared, which the boys greeted with a cheer from one end of the line to the other. Soon, we went into bivouac and then farewell rail-fences, corn, fodder stacks, to all your richness. In ten minutes acres were dotted with camp-fires, and overcoats and blankets were hanging out to dry, bough-shelters made, and many hogs and sheep roasting before the fires.

Today we all feel good - the sun is out, and all are drying off. We shall probably remain here today, too, and take in a new supply of rations - What is before us, we don't know - where we are going, or what force is in front of us. Secesh forces we have met every day so far, not large, as yet. Friday we took a six pounder from them. At any rate, the campaign has begun, and I hope the last two days rain has raised the Cumberland. We are all glad tho' to be moving. The weather has been quite mild since we left the city, and joined Sheridan's div.1 We sleep very comfortably in the open air under one blanket, which I suppose the Army of the Potomac can hardly do.

I believe I told you of my receiving a Captain's commission from Gov. Yates, and that, on account of circumstances, I had obtained from the colonel the appointment as Adjutant, tho' an irregularity. Last week my commission as adjutant came - last Tuesday, I think, so that I am all right - relinquished my command of companies I & B, they being consolidated, and I have acted in my new capacity since. So that now I have had 9 different commissions - can't complain on that score certainly - am messing now with the colonel [Luther Bradley] & major [Charles Davis].2

Received a letter from P. Hollrath for which please thank him if you see him and tell him that I shall answer as soon as I can. Love & Merry Christmas to all - it will not be best to send a box - I shall never get it - please thank mother however for her kind remembrance, and I'll take the box when I come back. I believe I am enjoying the holidays better, much better than many at home - never felt better in my life. Expect to see Chattanooga before long - Cumberland willing.

Your affectionate son Henry

Direct Roberts' Brigade, Sheridan's Division. We are in McCook's Corps, right wing, Army of the Cumberland, but div. & brigade are enough.

Henry Halll to Nathaniel Hall, 28 December 1862, Henry Ware Hall Papers, 1851-1876, microfilm edition, 1 reel (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1990), reel 1, Massachusetts Historical Society.

1On December 10, 1862, George Roberts' Brigade, of which the Fifty-First was a part, was transferred from John M. Palmer's Division to Sheridan's Division of the Army of the Cumberland.
2Hall was promoted to captain and adjutant, by two different initiatives, at about the same time. Since the adjutant position carried the rank of first lieutenant, he was in effect accepting a rapid demotion from the rank of captain. Company I was consolidated out of existence before it ever took shape, it lacking sufficient numbers. The Fifty-First Illinois never gained a fully constituted Company I until February 1863, when the regiment was resting on its laurels.