This block is yet another version of the star we did last month and in in August. I fussy cut every piece of this one, though the star points don't show it very well.
John and Billy with the 82nd were placed under the cmomand of major General H. W. Slocum. In early November, they prepared for the march to Savannah, passing through Atlanta on the 15th. That night, the regimental history records, "the light from the burning city made our camp as light as day. Details were sent in to check the fire. The more details the brighter the light." The brigade was treated to some fine music by the brigade band while the fires burned. I guess Billy, listed as "musician" on the Regimental roster, was among those playing.
The marching orders were to cover 15 miles a day, destroying railroads on the way. This map illustrates the routes of the four Army Corps - John and Billy would have been on the heavy line identified as the 14th Corps. The 82nd did witness attacks by Rebel cavalry and were involved in some fighting, particularly during the earlier part of the march.
I do not have Eli's letter to Calvin from November 1864, but it was published in Rodger Ruddick's book. Eli, with the Indiana 52nd wrote on the 25th, datelined, "On the boat, Prairie, down the river." He tells his cousin "this has been a hard trip on me, we have walked about seven hundred and fifty miles. Was gone just fifty days and was marching just forty days out of fifty." He lists the Missouri towns they passed through on their way to Kansas and back - they did pass through St. Charles, the location of the story behind our block this month. Eli comments on the election, "I am sorry that the abolitionists won the Presidency this time, but it can't be helped now." He goes back to the march, saying that his feet are so sore he can just barely get around and he has pain in his right hand from a wart he had had knocked off over two weeks earlier.
Then Eli tells Calvin, "I saw some of the prettiest prairie land in Missouri that I ever saw. I have seen the biggest part of the state of Missouri this trip and this is some of the prettiest land that I ever saw in any state. I think that if this war was over, I could find a home in the state that would suit me first rate." There was not always enough food - one day they had flour and a little piece of fresh beef, "just about enough for one good meal for a day rations and all the way that we had to cook the flour was to mix it up in some water and salt it a little and bake it in our frying pans."
Eli asks his cousin to write more often - even if he can't write while on the march he can get letters from home. He closes his letter, "... give my love to all inquiring friends and retain a share for yourself, Yours truly, Eli to Cal Direct by way of Cairo, Ill."
I included the closing of this letter because it is the same way that Eli will finish letters to Calvin in the early 1870's, when he and his future wife Jennie will have started a family and struggled to make a living in Missouri.