Letter from Francis E. Collins, Quartermaster Sergeant of the 4th Minnesota, to Ignatius Donnelly regarding the troops fighting near LaGrange, Mississippi as well as candid thoughts on the abilities of various generals and officers and on the conduct of the war by Union soldiers.
In the Field 4 miles from LaGrange[,] Mississippi[,] November 14th 1862
My Dear Friend
You will excuse me for writing on fools Cap.* but it is the best paper I’ve got.
[…] We left Corinth on the 2d and have been marching almost every day since, sometimes going forward then falling back. We are now camped within twenty miles of Holly Springs. We have been marching and camping without Camp or Garrison Equipage-some of they men did not even bring their Blankets even and I tell you they have had a hard time of it[.] our tents did not come up to us untill yesterday […]
If old “Granny Grant” as our Soldiers call him, had pushed on instead of delaying along the road we might have come up to him (Pride) and captured at least part of his army. Deserters are coming into our camp every day from they Rebels at the rate of from eight to ten per day. They say they Rebel Soldiers are very much discouraged and have no heart to fight. […]
Our army has very little confidence in Genl. Grant and no faith whatever in his Loyalty or Patriotism. Friend Donnelly I am almost sick of this war. In fact I may Say I am thoroughly sick of it. When I joined the army I did not suppose I was joining a lot of Vandals and Robbers. They Southernors have pretty good reason to call us vandals. You would not believe one half were I to tell you of all the outrage committed by our army on this march. […]
They were not Satisfied with taking Chickens Ducks Pigs Sheep and things of that kind, if that had been all it could have been overlooked and excused[.] But they went into private Houses insulted and abused they feamels [females,] broke open Drawers Trunks Cupboards etc. Ransacked the Houses for money[,] Stole both male and female apparel, taking even ladies under linen and clothing—no use to them under Gods heaven. Yes they would go into the Negro quarters and Steal from them[.] […] I suppose there must have been over twenty five Houses Set on Fire, and Burned to the ground between Corinth and this Camp. it is aufull the distruction of property without doing our cause or the army any good. you will say where were our Genls. Ah!-Where? “That’s the question.” Three of them were so beastly drunk that they did not know what they were about half the time. One of them had to be sent back in an ambulance. […]
I am Sorry to Say and Blush to own it that two of our Minnesota Boys were caught in the act of Setting fire to a house which Burned down. They have been tried and condemned. Their Sentence is imprisonment for the balance of their enlistment and all their pay stopped. […]
Col. Sanborn Stands high down here, our Boys fairly idolize him. I tell you Friend Donnelly, Sanborn is one of Natures Nobleman. The more I See and know of him the more I respect and admire him. […]
Well I must close good night it is late my candle is almost running through my candlestick which is a Bayonet.
Believe me to be Truly yours etc., Francis E. Collins
*Foolscap is paper measuring approximately 13 x 16 inches. It is called foolscap because this size paper originally had a watermark of a fool’s cap and bells. Definition from The Free Dictionary.
See whole letter here: 1862-11-14_Donnelly_combined
Citation: November 14, 1862 Letter from Francis E. Collins to Lieutenant Governor Ignatius Donnelly, Correspondence November 1862. Ignatius Donnelly and family papers, 1812-1973. Minnesota Historical Society. [146.C.19.5B]