We have decamped from the far side of Vastitas Borealis and made our way south, to the plains of Cassini, with all due haste in an effort to preserve our very lives. But sadly, it has become clear that the Lord has not seen fit to spare our band of travelers on this most foreign of all foreign shores. The horses have had no water for 5 days and it is unlikely they will survive the night. Our roll call at supper was sobering: 3 men disappeared on patrol last night and there is a rumor that they have run off with crater fever. As a precaution, Dr. Lafayette administered blood-lettings to ward off this dreaded psychosis, and we are glad for it, despite our paleness and general lack of appetite.
In spite of our troubles, it does gladden our hearts to look thru the telescope that Jenkins preserved from the crash, and see our tiny home far away with its bountiful oceans of water. And though we have naught to drink, we can almost taste the sweet liquid on our parched lips as we gaze upon that familiar blue orb thru the glass. How ironic that here on Mars, what appeared to the brightest scientists of the Confederate Army to be vast seas, have proven in fact to be bone-dry deserts. A paradise for would-be glass-blowers, this planet has turned out to be a decidedly inhospitable destination for the First Battalion, Third Brigade of the Confedernaut Space Program.
As we resign ourselves to our impending fate, many of the men have taken to idle pursuits that give them a measure of comfort. Some write letters to be left for the next visitors to this forsaken planet, in hopes their words may be delivered to some future descendents. Some busy themselves with creating shelters of rock for a final resting place. And still others play at games of chance, gambling away final pay checks that will never be of any use to the lucky winner.
As we are under considerable duress here, it can be hard to determine true events from flights of fancy. But some men have told of hearing a strange music drifting over the Arabia Terra at night that is raucous and unsettling to the humors. Despite its alien character, possessing qualities of both fiddle and drum yet akin to neither, it nonetheless has been of some benefit. Men who at first were frightened by its bizarre rhythms, have made a sport of learning its nonsensical lyrics at night to the great amusement of the others in the morning.
We do not know what this music portends, but as with all things under God's humbling creation we can only marvel at its existence, and be glad that its authors, monsters though they surely must be, have deigned to spare our meager encampment and let us spend our final days in peace, reflecting quietly on the strange twists of fate that have brought us here, on a mission of such seeming early promise, that unbeknownst to us was doomed from the very start.
May God have Mercy on our Souls,
Lt. Jeff Geoffreys, Staff Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion of the Confedernaut Space Program.
April 14th, 18643