Letter published in the Louisville Anzeiger newspaper on January 13, 1864
(Translated into English by Joseph R. Reinhart)
From the 32nd Indiana Regiment
Strawberry Plains, 29 Dec.'63
Since we finally have the opportunity, now and again, to send a letter, I want to share with you how it goes with us, and under what conditions we await the time, when we can say: "Now we are again the masters of ourselves."
Our brigade has camped for a few days near the railroad bridge at the Tennessee River. Last June, this bridge was destroyed by our cavalry, under Col. Carter, and we must rapidly work on it, in order to rebuild it.
Our soldiers have arduous work, because they must carry all the wood a long way to the construction site such work would be better suited to a team of six mules, than to poor soldiers. But a mule would be ruined, they can not be used so hard.
We are also deficiently supplied with food. Lately they supply us with almost nothing but corn meal in which the husks that one normally separates from the meal before you feed it to the swine are still mixed.
Bacon, without which nothing can be done with the corn meal, is given to us in such small quantities, that it is hardly worth the effort. So it is also with the coffee and salt, and the last article we must sometimes buy ourselves, and at high prices.
It is not only about the lack of food, over which we have to complain, but also clothing. We departed from Chattanooga with totally torn up shoes, socks, shirts, etc., and have received nothing since then, other than a single time several pairs of shoes, socks, pants and shirts, barely a tenth of what is needed by the regiment. Most of us were obliged to buy shoes and socks and pay outrageous prices.
They do not seem concerned with us at all. We must do our duty, whether we stand barefoot in our torn up shoes or not, whether we lack an overcoat or cover to protect us from the cold and rain day or night. Our tents have been worn out for a long time, so they barely protect us against wind, let alone against storms. Getting new ones is not being taken care of, and if we requisition new ones, then we are responsible for paying for them ourselves.
Today the various orders regarding re-enlistment were first read to us by Colonel Erdelmeier. There is the opportunity until (illegible word) M. for all who intend to serve to notify company commanders. What will be the result of this in our regiment, will possibly be announced.