Letter of Chaplain Lewis Raymond, July 27, 1862

Headquarters 51st Regiment,
Courtland Ala., July 27th, 1862

We left camp Big Springs, Miss., on Monday, 21st inst. We have continued our march every day since, arriving here about eight a.m., having done about eighty-five miles since we started. It was the most fatiguing march we have had this season. Many of our men have made much of the way barefoot or in stocking feet, having blistered their feet the first and second days of the movement, and the heat caused many to lag behind.

On Wednesday Major S. B. Raymond, Capt. G. L. Bellows and company F of his command joined us at Iuka Springs. They were delayed on the route, so they did not arrive in Corinth till we had left camp, and they took the cars on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad to Iuka, arriving a few minutes after we had crossed the track, and soon after, while the battalion was at a halt, for a few minutes, were received on being introduced by Lieut. Col. Bradley with three rousing cheers. The arrival of these officers and the new fine company created the wildest enthusiasm among our boys, and although wearied with the march, you would often hear them singing "Ellsworth", "John Brown," "Star Spangled Banner," "Red, White and Blue," &c., till it seemed more like a Fourth of July procession.

We started with our whole division (first Gen. Morgan) and left the 27th Ill. at Iuka, the 22d at at post between there and Tuscumbia, and the 42d Illinois stopped at this place, and our regiment will be divided between here and Decatur. Two companies under captain, now acting major, Rose; two more under major, now acting Lieutenant-Colonel, S. B. Raymond; one company under its captain at another post, and four companies under acting Colonel Bradley at Decatur. Our regiment will, for the first time, be separated a distance of fifteen or more miles. The object is to guard the railroad and repel the rebels from this region. They are becoming very bold. On Friday a body of cavalry of from 400 to 1,000 men appeared suddenly on this camping ground, where, under an oak tree, I am now writing, and attacked two companies of infantry and three of cavalry, killing one and take the larger portion of them prisoners; and yesterday they made another dash and burned three or four railroad bridges, tore up the track, and attacked another troop of cavalry and took more prisoners. Our position is now one of great danger, scattered along from miles we present a strong temptation to these guerilla secesh to come and "gobble us up."

The whole of the second brigade of our division, with two batteries are at Tuscumbia with General Morgan, where is, for the present, his headquarters. You may hear of startling changes in our regiment before long. Our sleepless enemy will not long wait before he will try his hand upon us. All the people are entirely secesh. One citizen told me to-day he did not believe there was a boda fide Union man in the whole county.

In haste, I am yours,
Lewis Raymond.
Chaplain of 51st Illinois Volunteers.

Chicago Tribune,August 9, 1862


  1. It was not the Mobile and Ohio Railroad that Company F to catch up with the regiment at Iuka; it was the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. But Raymond was not far wrong; the two crossed in Corinth.
  2. In fact the company-sized or two-company-sized detachments of the regiment did have several violent scrapes with the "sleepless enemy"—primarily with the cavalry troops of Phillip Roddy—before the whole regiment reunited at Decatur, Alabama. William Holbert of Company K was severely wounded in one of those altercations.