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Letter from Lieutenant Jobe.

CAMP CHETLAIN
Paducah, Ky., Jan'y 28, 1862.

DEAR COLONEL: The anticipated move to which I alluded in my last letter has come off, and we are once more in Paducah, having returned on last Saturday afternoon, after a march of eleven successive days, through a country the roughness of which it is almost impossible for me to describe. I was much surprised in regard to the manner in which Kentuckians live, if I am allowed to judge the remainder of the state by that portion of it which we passed through.

Our division, under command of General Smith, consisted of the following regiments: 9th, 12th and 41st Illinois, 8th Missouri, 11th and 23d Indiana, 2d Illinois cavalry, Buell's battery, and Company A Chicago Light Artillery.

As I have already mentioned, I was much surprised to see what a great difference there is between the state of Kentucky and our own noble Illinois. In the whole march, and we marched about one hundred and twenty-five miles, scarcely a farm house met our view worthy of notice. They were principally log cabins, one story high, and the soil seemed almost entirely uncultivated, their principal crop being tobacco, judging from the dry houses which were attached to almost every log cabin, being filled with tobacco in its natural state. It was no uncommon thing during the march to see soldiers marching along with their knapsacks and haversacks filled with choice selections of the "weed," grown upon the "sacred soil of Kentucky." This, after their day's march was over, and whilst seated around their camp fires, they converted into cigars, which, if I am any judge of the article, were not hard to take at least when you could get no other.

I see it stated in several journals that our division took Fort Henry, and that our troops occupied it. That, of course, you are aware is a hoax. I see it also stated that we routed the rebels at Camp Beauregard. That is also untrue. What the object of the expedition was I have not fully learned. Perhaps we accomplished all that it is reported we should accomplish, namely, the retention of the troops at Fort Henry which are said to number fifteen or eighteen thousand, thus preventing them from reinforcing other important points which it was the intention to attack. What those important points were I have not yet learned. Our line of march as through Mayfield and Murray to Williams' ferry, situated on the Tennessee river, about sixty miles by river from Paducah, and fifteen miles from Fort Henry. When we arrived at the ferry we encamped for about 24 hours, awaiting further orders. In the mean time General Smith went up to Fort Henry, on board of one of our gun boats, to make a reconnaissance. Seven shots were fired from our boat, and were replied to from the fort, their shot falling short. One of the gunners with whom I had a short conversation after the return of the gunboat, said he thought their force numbered about fifteen thousand. It would have been nonsense for us to attack them, if such had been the intention, our division only numbering about six thousand. After the return of the gunboat we received orders to draw seven days rations and turn our course towards Paducah. You can imagine what kind of feelings the order was received by the troops. Upon receiving the order they groaned most hideously. Although the roads were almost impassable on account of the mud, they would willingly have walked as far again through mud and water up to their knees, to come in contact with an enemy to the glorious old stars and stripes. Not an armed rebel did we see on the whole route, and the log huts by the wayside were generally destitute of male inhabitants, and in many instances not a living human being was to be found on the premises; when there was anybody to be found they were strong union men. We occasionally came across a house, uninhabited, for how long a time you can judge from the fact that the fire still burned brightly in the fireplace, the untouched repast was still upon the table and the half-knit stocking lay upon the chair from which the affrighted knitter had flown. They seemed to think we were a party of armed demons, infesting the country for the purpose of burning the houses and murdering the inhabitants. But how greatly were they mistaken. We appeared and disappeared, and houses and inhabitants remained untouched. We came to protect, not to destroy. Now and then we came to a house, in the door of which stood a female not afraid to own her principles — which she made manifest by the waving of her handkerchief, and they always received hearty shouts and cheers from the boys in response. I remember one beautiful young lady, in particular, as she waved her handkerchief the expression of her countenance showed how heartily she wished us success. Although we protect the "sacred soil of Kentucky," such salutes were an uncommon occurrence during the expedition.

I, as all the balance of company D, will ever remember one day, in particular, during the expedition. We were detailed as rear-guarding our provision and baggage train, consisting of about sixty wagons. It was a terrible day. The rain poured down in torrents from morning till night — the little rivulets were swollen almost to rivers, and the wagons sunk in the mud almost to the axle. The mules mired, and becoming exhausted would lie down in the mud, unable to extricate themselves. Fifteen and twenty mules were attached to some of the wagons, long cables attached, and company D pulled them out of the mud holes. In some places the boys had to wade through the water where it was three of four feet deep, pulling the ropes. We were compelled to burn a great many tents, and the second brigade had several horses drowned, and were also compelled to burn some of their wagons, being unable to extricate them from the mud. We worked hard all day, and when we encamped in the evening, we were in sight of the camp we left in the morning just half a mile distant, and our brigade had advanced seven miles.

The route we took to the Tennessee river was about 75 miles, but we returned by a shorter route, through Benton, the distance being only 50 miles. When we arrived at Paducah, we found our heretofore beautiful camp ground in a sorry plight, being almost entirely overflowed with water, occasioned by the great rive in the river, and we were compelled to move a short distance to the bluff.

The health of the troops at this post is good, there being but few in the hospitals. The paymaster is in Paducah, and will pay off our regiment to-morrow. We receive four months' pay.

We expect to move again in a few days, and I believe it does the men good, as they all seem very healthy since their late march.

We acknowledge the receipt of eighty pairs of mittens from the Soldiers' Aid Society of Rock Island, for which we tender our heartfelt thanks.

I have already made my letter too lengthy, and after my regards to all the boys in the office, subscribe myself yours, truly,

WM. F. JOBE.

P.S. — Since writing my letter we have been paid off. W. F. J.