Camp Benton (St. Louis) April 27th, 1862
Dear Wife & Family: Yours of the 19th was received the 25th inst. I was glad to hear that you were all well. I am well and hope you are well. There is some sickness here occasioned by bad weather. We have to parade the whole regiment once on Sunday. It is what is called Dress Parade. Every one has to come out in full uniform with boots blacked, the brass band marches the whole length of the line playing Hail Columbia and then march back playing The Girl I Left Behind Me. This is only on Sunday morning. The only difference is at Dress Parade they play Hail Columbia or Yankee Doddle & when they go back they sound the charge to Battle. You will see by this that we have two bands of music in our regiment, one of key bugles and one of them without keys. The Chaplain of our regiment preached the funeral sermon of Governor Harvey of Wisconsin, who was drowned in the Tennessee River. The whole (regiment? MJM) turned out in mass to hear the sermon. The Governor went down Pittsburgh with Doctors to take care of the wounded soldiers of Wisconsin volunteers. It is said that he was a good man.
We have to drill from 7 to 8 hours a day and that keeps up pretty busy I can tell you. I went to the city yesterday for the first time since we came here. I did not see any one there that I was acquainted with. It looks odd to go into a business place where the first thing you will see is a large printed hand-bill posted up. Said hand-bills state that the occupant has taken the oath of allegiance to the Government of the United States, and if he shall give aid and comfort in any way to her enemies he shall suffer death. The men's names are signed to the bottom of the oath. For all that, it is supposed that one half of the people in the city are rebels, and of that I have no doubt. I am on picket guard once in 8 days on horseback. I rode all night Friday last round the camp. It is 4 miles and a half round the camp. I rode round the entire camp twice on Friday night. My business was to challenge the sentinels and see that they were on their post. There was a commissioned officer went with me. When riding up to the sentinels, as soon as they see us they hail Who comes there? Our answer: Sergeant and Officer of the Grand Rounds. The sentinel says: Sergeant of the Grand Rounds, advance and give the countersign. He advances and give it in a low tone of voice. The Sergeant, after giving the countersign tells the other officer to (come? MJM) forward to where he is. And so they go all the way around. We found one who had forgot the countersign, who marched us to the next sentinel but would not let us come very near till he got his pass word again. He knew his duty and was pardoned for forgetting the pass word. But before we got around the second time we found a man asleep on his post. He was drunk. He is a Frenchman. We took him to the guard house. He will be sentenced to death but may be pardoned possibly. It is said he is a deserter from the Rebels. He belongs to the First Regiment Wisconsin Cavalry. There is three regiments of cavalry here from Wis. The First leave tomorrow for Tennessee. Do not know when we shall go. It is thought soon. We are to have all our hoses next week. There are hundreds of wounded here that I see every day. They are wounded in every way and shape you can think of. They complain but very little.
Time passes off very slow sice we came here. It seems as though I had been here six months. Tell the baby I should like to see her & I don't think it would set me back much to see any and all of you but I think it will be a long time before I see Wisconce again. Write, all of you. You have got plenty of time. Tell me how you get along and if you got all the cattle through, and how you get along putting in the Spring crop. It is said we shall be paid off in 8 or 10 days. I shall send you some money as soon as I Get it by express. I expect the cattle in Wisconsin are very poor. They look well here: the grass is 5 or 6 inches high.
Manley, you must write to me. Consider this letter written to you all. I am, my Dear Family, Yours
Charles N. Mumford.