Another letter from the Jakob Walter book was written by Her[mann?] Kunkel of Marburg, Kingdom of Westphalia. He wrote 199 years ago today: July 16, 1812 from Grodno, Russian Poland.
Three weeks into the campaign, things are going badly, “Here there is a lack of all foodstuffs. The bread that is delivered is so bad that one can’t eat it, yet very dear to buy, one bread is paid eight pennies, it is baked from chaff and at that it is not baked through, it lies like lead on the stomach. Hunger drives it down though. Meat is also very bad, half smelly, and yet it has to be eaten. What else can one eat?”
The weather wasn’ t cooperating either, “…we quartered under the free sky, God was our host. Thunderstorm rains have at times drenched us thoroughly. For four days I did not have a single dry thread on me and then nothing in the belly but a gulp of wutki [vodka] and a piece of dark bread.”
He talks about the capture of 100 Cossacks and remarks, “The captured Cossacks were all pitifully dressed, poorly armed. They must have been irregulars.” But they were still a threat, “One can’t go far from the town, there is always some of this riffraff around.”
Before closing with an explanation of what he has done to try to borrow money and asks his parents speak to the parents of a fellow soldier to tell their son to loan him money, he says, “Our good life has ended since we left Warsaw. Now one has to learn to suffer hunger and thirst.”