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      Beginning the second week of December some relief came, provided by warm sunny days and cool pleasant nights during a lingering period of Indian summer. But the cramped, poorly drained site, saturated by the rains of November, bred disease. Malaria, dysentery, smallpox and measles, which proved to be especially vicious, plagued the camp. Many soldiers suffered with these diseases resulting in numerous deaths. In just over two months, the 32nd Indiana, considered one of the healthier regiments due to physical conditioning, reported seven deaths and thirteen men discharged as disabled due to disease at Camp Nevin, Louisville, or Munfordville. [21] Assertions arose that another form of illness plagued the command structure of the army.

William Tecumseh Sherman

William Tecumseh Sherman

      In early November, Secretary of War Simon Cameron, doubting General Sherman's sanity, had him relieved of command. Sherman's assessments of the military requirements of over 200,000 troops in his area of operations were considered wildly exaggerated and paranoid. Once the press sniffed the scent of disfavor, media frenzy supplied questions, opinions and speculations about his sanity--about his fitness for command. The general remained adamant that the future would confirm his estimates to be sound. Brigadier General Don Carlos Buell was chosen to replace Sherman. [22]

Brigadier General Don Carlos Buell

Brigadier General Don Carlos Buell

     Buell arrived from the defenses of Washington with a directive to immediately begin offensive operations. He assumed command on November 15, 1861, absorbing the Department of the Cumberland into his newly reorganized Department of the Ohio. Training intensified despite inclement weather reducing Nevin to little more than a sty. Firing practice, brigade drills, inspections, and dress parades became as perpetual as the mud and illness. Struggling to ease this stress of a soldier's plight, Willich directed his officers to keep the men occupied continuously even during free time. Contributing to this goal he created a unique organization from the ranks of the regiment during this period.

      Engineers had not, as yet, been established as a separate arm to accompany troops in the field in either army. While posted at Camp Nevin, Willich, a competent engineer in his own right, assembled the mechanics of the regiment into Captain Seivers' Company I under the charge of First Lieutenant Joseph Peitzuch. Forty men with engineering or related skills were equipped with tools and wagons designed specifically for the task of bridging. The wagons had the distinctive feature of being easily converted to floating piers upon which planks could be secured to bridge small streams. Willich set up instruction on the installation of the pontoon and the men adapted quickly to the task.

      Under Willich's tutelage the pontoniers learned to construct bridges made of local materials capable of withstanding the traffic of artillery and wagons. This proved invaluable in a region such as central Kentucky where countless streams and ravines intersected any transportation route. Peitzuch's men built one such 'instructional' bridge of logs over the rain swollen Nolin Fork in less than two days. Before the men completed the training bridge, rising waters washed away the Elizabethtown Road bridge at Red Mills, affording the regiment the chance to test their abilities on a critical avenue of supply.

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 [21] Pvt. Nathaniel M. Reynolds, 30th Ind. Inf., in a letter to his wife Mary (Dec. 19, 1861) reprinted in Hart County Historical Quarterly (Oct., 1988) Vol. XX, No. 4, 6; Conner, Vol. 8 "Roll of Honor," 501-504; Died of disease at Camp Nevin, Louisville, or Munfordville; Dodge, 84.
 [22] Kelly, 385; Stanley F. Horn, The Army of the Tennessee (1941), The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 71; New Albany Daily Ledger, Dec. 12, 1861, 2, col. 1.