Letter written by Private George R. Buck of Company K, 17th Illinois Infantry, to his mother, from Fort Holt, KY. Buck writes that he has not seen a Confederate camp since he has been in the service. He describes the various illnesses suffered by his comrades and his own recent health problems. He has heard that they will get paid soon, although he is skeptical. Buck mentions that he has plenty to eat and access to coffee. He describes the four large post guns at the camp. Buck writes that Colonel Leonard Ross is often not in camp, and the men think they will need a new colonel if he does not appear soon. Many of the men think that General Fremont “ought to have his ass kicked for letting Mulligan be so long without reinforcing him.” Buck thinks they will get whipped if the troops continue to be so scattered.
Fort Holt Ky
Sept 25th 1861
4 months ago today we were sworn into the U.S. service & I have not seen a secesh camp yet, or had a shot at them. Esq Hole & Jud Foster came over here today. George F. & H. F Hole came over here with them. G. Foster is quite better has got the fever broken. Hole looks very bad indeed but is conciterable better. I am about the same, got medacine this morning for the Diarea it has put a stup to my running so much.
I was very sick last night with a pain in my stomach. Do not know when I will get well, but hope it will be soon. You must not fret on my account. It will do me no good & you the harm. I have gathered a lot of dry leaves from the brush piles for a bed – it does fine. I wrote a long letter to Ann yesterday, but suppose you will get this first. Morris has come back again he is quite well. It is said we will be payed off soon, some time this week, I dont hardly believe it. We get plenty to eat, & I traded off some coffe for sweet
potatoes, which went fine with the boys. I tasted one & it was fine. Bill Boggs is writing home. They have 4 large fort guns planted at this place which look quite savage down the river. 3, 32 pounders & 1, 24, They have a large magazine here, it is under the ground but covered over with logs & sand 5, or 6 feet. We had 1000 men when at Alton & now can make but 550 fit for duty. Col Ross has some thing he likes better than this Regt., or he would stay with us more.
He has not been with us but very little since we left Camp Pope. & for the last month about 4 days. He is gone now, & the boys think if he does not stay with us closer we had better get a new Col., I think so to. Bruner has the Billious fever & is at Cairo hospital. I will send thsi with Jud. Lots of the boys think Gen Fremont ought to have his A– kicked for letting Mulligan be so long without reinforcing him. Our troop are scattered about so we have [???] in a place, & so long as this is the case we will get whipped. Fremont will get his eyes opened after while I hope if he dont soon & they’ll send Co. K we’ll plug him, G.R. Buck.
George R. Buck was a resident of Havana, IL. He enlisted on May 5, 1861 as a private at the age of 21. He served with Company K of the 17th Illinois Infantry. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on October 22, 1862. He mustered out June 15, 1864. After the war he returned to farming. He died in 1906.