Captain George Dodge wrote home to northern Illinois. Apparently Cairo wasn’t to his liking. It is indeed low and swampy.
From the Rock Island Argus:
Letter From Capt. Dodge.
CAMP MCCLERNAND, Cairo, Dec. 24, 1861.
FRIEND DANFORTH: Dear Sir — Enclosed I send you a petition to the congress of the United States to locate a national armory at Rock Island, signed by most of the members of my company. The paper came to me some weeks ago and the names were signed at that time, but by some mistake it got laid away in the folds of one of my company books, and was not discovered until to-day, so I hasten to forward it to one I doubt not has the wellbeing of Rock Island and vicinity at heart, to be used for the purpose set forth, if necessary.
We have been here just two weeks, having arrived here by railroad on the morning of the 10th.
We are as pleasantly situated as it is possible for any one to be in this camp, being located about one and a half miles north of the city, and on almost the only ground that I have seen which is susceptible of being drained. Standing here and there, thro’ our camp is a number of stately sycamore trees, upon whose boughs hang pendant tufts of mistletoe, and which would, in almost any other place look very pretty, but here in this low, flat, muddy sink, and hot-bed of diarrhaes, ague and fevers, although a rare thing to us of the north, is hardly ever looked at, and seldem mentioned.
Since we have been here, our regiment, so healthy when we left the north, has been and is now suffering considerably from diseases prevalent in this malarious place. When at Ottawa our sick list usually amounted to an average of 3 to 5, now it reaches 150 at least, and some days 200, besides many others scarcely more able to do duty, but who are determined to stave it off.
There are various rumors as to where and when we will be ordered, a majority of course anticipating an advance on Columbus. This I think will be the probable course. We are anticipating warm work, and if I mistake not the 4th cavalry, if allowed to partake in the ball, as we all hope we may, and will so conduct themselves that their many friends at the north may not blush at the recital. We want to get out of this place to any other, it makes little odds where.