Monroe County Library System,  Monroe, MI 48162


Bygones of Monroe:

Letter From a Soldier in Camp Monroe.

     Editor Commercial -The subscriber lately enlisted in the Mulligan Regiment-now in Camp Monroe.  On arriving at camp he was singularly with novel and to him unnatural arrangement of Camp life.  

  I confess that I was anything but pleased with the appearance of matters then.  It appeared to me a motley mob, of dirty, ragged, squalid, creatures abounding in complaints at their conditions; although the officers appeared to be doing all in their power to set things to rights.  But since then, a nearly full supply of new and beautiful uniforms, better accommodations and quarters for the men, and a better system of arrangements for cooking, and regularity in drawing rations, have materially changed things for the better.  Now a systematic attention to drill, is giving a wonderful impulse to the proficiency of the men, and our battalion drills and dress parades are becoming really attractive and interesting.  We hear little from the men but a desire to pay a short visit to their homes to set matters right there, take one more leave of friends and families and be off to see active service, and find their country’s enemies.    

Having been but a few days since, mustered into service, I was called upon the other day to do guard duty for the first time.  I cheerfully shouldered my musket and went about it with a will, the novelty of the thing impressing me much more than its burdens.  The periodical cry of the sentries as they cried the hour at night, rang upon my senses with such force, that my mind took a meditative mood and my thoughts took shape in the form of The Sentinels Musings
The sentry passed his lonely beat,
His thoughts on loved ones far away,
In homes secure and snug retreat,
While he watches for the coming day.
The thoughts of kindred near and dear,
Did oftimes make his bosom swell;-
His comrad’s voice rang, loud and clear,
‘Tis twelve o’clock and all is well.

He turned, retraced his measured tread,
And still kept pacing to and fro:
Intent on days of peace now fled,
And on his country’s present woe.
He thought, how many hearts have bled
For those who in the battle fell;-
When loud and clear the sentry said,-
‘Tis one o’clock and all is well.

What mockery! his spirit moan’d,
What mockery my comrad’s cry,
My country gives those words to lie
For dark as midnight’s darkest hour,
Tho waters of sorrow o’er it swell;
O! would, those words had truth’s full power,
‘Tis two o’clock and all is well

He turned his wistful eyes to heaven,
Where stars outnumbered o’er him blaze;
No ray of light, no beam of morn,
Rewards his longing, anxious gaze
So hark, hurried, the present hour,
To all my heart hath loved so well;-
When hark! A voice rang, full of power,
‘Tis three o’clock and all is well.

And then he thought of haughty foes –
His brow contracted with a frown,
He clutched his arms, his figure rose,
With firmer tread his foot came down
He longed to meet them face to face,
And try their courage steel to steel –
His Conrad sang out from his place,
‘Tis four o’clock, and all is well.

He saw the smoke of battle rise,
He heard the din of arms around,
He heard his comrad’s dying cries,
When blood and carnage strewed the ground
Then, louder from the din of war,
He heard the shout of victory swell;-
A sentry sang out from afar,
‘Tis five o’clock, and all is well.

Anon he heard the news of peace;
The war is o’er he’s homeward bound;
He comes a hero in his place,
With victory and honor crowned
And soon his loved home meets his sight
With hope and dread his heart doth swell;
This day hath dawned, the sky is bright,-
‘Tis six o’clock and all is well


A Private
Camp Monroe, Monroe, Mich, Feb 10th, 1862

(Monroe Commercial, February 6, 1862, Page 3, Column 1)


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