HEAD QUARTERS 19th Reg. Ill. Vol. Militia,
CAMP FREMONT, Norfolk, Mo.
EDITORS JOURNAL: — I hope you know from the above heading where the Nineteenth Regiment of Illinois troops are located — if not, I can only add that it is some eight or ten miles below Bird's Point, and is in as swampy and forsaken a district as I have ever had the misfortune to see. I believe our regiment has been assigned the honor of leading the van of the Grand Army of the West, which accounts for our being thrown forward into this miserable place, which we have occupied, and in a measure fortified against surprise.
My last letter to you was from Palmyra, Mo. We remained there long enough to give confidence to the Union men of the neighborhood, and aid in forming a Home Guard, which was fully organized and drilled by officers of our regiment.
The reports of extravagances committed by our men thereabouts were untrue, originating from secession sources, and fully explained and refuted by an article in a late number of the Chicago Tribune.
We made the trip from Palmyra by rail to Hannibal, then took steamer to St. Louis, and remained on the boat seven days, almost suffocated with heat and want of ice, before we reached Bird's Point, where we encamped two days. After that we were sent out here to await orders, and have been daily expecting an attack.
Our Colonel sends out scouts every day and night, disguised in citizen's dress to scour the country and obtain information regarding the movements of the enemy, so that we keep well posted, and will always be prepared to give the rebels a warm reception, should they dare advance upon us.
There is really little of much interest going on among us, yet we always seem to be busy — drilling, scouting, keeping the camp in good order, and a multitude of minor duties keep all the officers and men employed from revielle to taps, to say nothing of the constant state of excitement the whole camp is kept in by the news brought in from all directions about camps of Secessionists here, and another there, till one would almost think the woods and swamps were alive with rebels, ready without warning to pounce upon us.
The great source of trouble to us all is the heat, living as we do, in the open air, with merely our tents to protect us from the sun. The air, when there is any, almost stifling us with its oppressive malaria, and the ground so parched that even the rankest weeds wither and die, and ourselves panting and reeking with perspiration and sheer exhaustion. I assure you it is no boy's play to be a soldier. Yet, we live through it and enjoy it much. There is a something fascinating about camp life which cannot be expressed or explained.
Col. Turchin's wife is with us and has, in fact, accompanied the Regiment ever since we left Chicago. She could not be persuaded to leave us now, as the peculiar chances of camp life cause her to prefer to be with the troops. — Lieut. Col. Scott's wife has also joined us, and their joint presence adds not a little to the pleasures of our social circle.
There is a good deal of sickness in our regiment since our arrival in this district. Eighty-four cases are reported this morning, principally fevers.
Orders are issued for marching “forward.” In case anything of importance occurs, I will post you accordingly.