Editor's Note: William Follett misuses lots of capital letters, particularly "S," which are not marked by (sic). His punctuation is often non-existent.
Beans Station Dec 10th 1863
Dear Friends at home
This is the first opportunity that I have had for a long time to write to you & consequently I eagerly embrace it. The last letter that I rec' from home was written Just after Father had started for Murfreesboro Since which time I have heard nothing from any of you or Mell either. I hope that He got through Safe and Succeeded in finding Mell and getting him home. We have had and are Still having pretty hard times as the Rebs have been moving around here very briskly Ever Since the Sixteenth of last month So that our provisions trains had to Stop running over the mountains. The infernal fools were impudent enough to besiege the City of Knoxville where we fell back to according to orders from Grant as he intended to Send a force in their rear & trap them. but the reinforcements were slow in getting here We could have whipped the Rebs easy enough In fact did do it two or three times but we had to keep Still unless we were attacked. They kept us for twenty days in Knoxville When the force under Sherman arrived & the Rebs raised the siege & decamped without further ceremony Since which time we have been chasing the buggers Picked(?) up straglers (sic) any amount of them. We just slaughtered them in two of their attempts to take K- and thank God Most of our men came out Safe and sound. (note Safe is capitalized and sound is not) Lho'(?) Nowers(?) (cousin of Lou's) was shot dead on the field Henry Morris had his arm shot off. He used to live where Cavel(?) did. I think the girls may possibly know him. Our capt got a wound on one side of his head that Sent him to the hospital for several days. Today we are laying Still for Some reason which I do not know. The General officers seem to be rejoicing over Some Piece of important news and have Sent for the 112th Ill Silver Cornet Band to play for them. I Shall probably learn its import in due Season & will if Possible forward to you. Our Reg is considered as good as any other Illinois regiment which is saying enough. We have been complimented three of four times for our bravery by Gen Burnside. I understand that the 42nd is with Shermans force but have not Seen any of that force as they are on the other side of the Holston river nine or ten miles from us trying to cut off the rebs while we follow in their rear We have travelled for the last three days in a valley laying between two ranges of mountains not more than a mile from us on either side I have not heard from Soph for some time but I Suppose that I (sic) Shall get here when I get yours in a few days. There comes an order to get ready for inspection & I Shall have to close for this time Tell me about John and Mell every time you write. I Remain as ever your Son & Bro
Monday 14th 1863
We have skirmished with the enemy every day Since I can remember. Since the 15th of last month. Yesterday the rebs drove a Scouting Party in almost to camp when we made a charge on the & drove them back four miles from where they came to. This morning there were 100 men Picked from our Reg to go down to the Rebel lines to see what they were doing I was one of that 100 We started at three, in the heaviest kind of a rain and got back at day light. No accident I got a letter from you dated Nov 8th last night and one from Fannie dated Nov 25th in which She Says that you sent one to town to be mailed the same day & that you had heard from both of the boys and written news to me about them so She did not say a word about either of them. well I did not get yours of the 25th so I know as much about the boys as before, but I think twill (sic) come Tell Fannie that I will write to her next Love to all. I hope that Father & Mell have got home No more at Present Yours Will
I took you letter up to read it through again after I had written the first sheet and find that there are Several questions which I have not answered & I am bound to do it for it does me so much
good to get a letter once more. You want to know what brigade Div & C that I belong to. I hardly know my Self We have been changed around So often We used to belong to the 23rd Army Corps But now I think tis 2nd Brigade 1st Division Cavalry Corps. Department of the Ohio. Gen Sturgiss commands the corps. Wofford the Division & either Col L I Henderson the Brigade most fo the time Col Byrd did command our Brigade but he was good for nothing Henderson is first rate He is our old Col. Our Lieut Col Bond has had command of the Brigade for Some time as Col H has been home on furlough & been Sick Since. Bond is a damned coward As ever lived & if he ever gets out alive will be pounded(?) by some of the boys who All hate him very much. I dont Think twould (sic) make any difference about letters coming to me with all those directions on as every body in Ky & especially the PMs know where our Reg is & has been all the time I dont know how to go to work to answer those letters of cousins Mary and Jennie(?) as I have never seen the letters. Your letter was written to me on the 24th of last month & Lieut Spalding Joined the Reg on the march here at Lexington on the 21st of this month Since which time we have been on the march until we camp into camp here last night We were dismounted at Knoxville Tennessee on the fifth of this month & on the Sixth Started for this place on foot with our humps on & have marched continually except two & � days. That was the first marching that I had ever done on foot & I tell you it went tough more So than would if we had not been riding all the time The distance is not less than 250 miles. You want me to excuse your short letter But Really I think twas a good long one & such a lot of news too. I tore my letter open to answer those questions & have done it. I had Stopped writing to all but Soph Mother as I never got any letters. We will Stay in this country about a month as near as I can grasp. my hand is So tired I Shall have to Stop writing so good bye My Sister & write soon