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Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 2.djvu/217

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Wheeler’s Raid.—1863

NEARLY all through September, dryness had prevailed and produced a veritable plague of deep dust, most trying to troops and supply trains. At last, on October 1, relief came in a good rainfall. At first it expedited transportation, but as rains gradually became frequent and heavier, the blessing was turned into another affliction. By the time of my trip from Bridgeport the roads were miry, and from day to day the reports regarding their condition grew worse. They soon spoke graphically of the animals sinking in the mud up to their bellies in the bottoms of the Sequatchie and along the Tennessee. The rains proved very trying in another respect. They filled the enclosed works and the ditches around them and the connecting trenches more or less deep with standing water, which it was found very difficult to drain off. The work on the fortifications was naturally very much obstructed. The steady rain made it almost impossible for the troops to keep dry, although they were provided with tents or had secured shelter in huts and dug-outs. There was a consecutive downpour for thirty-six hours during the first week of my stay. The pontoon bridge was broken on the night of October 15 by the force of the current, but fortunately the boats and timbers were saved and the bridge restored after a few days. The rebels, taking advantage of the elements, sent a number of rafts down stream to destroy it, but these happily passed while it was broken, and proper precautions subsequently taken neutralized all efforts in this direction.

I need not say that I too was made very uncomfortable