My dear Parents:
No news will be of more interest to you than that which pertains to us.
We are in Camp Randall, Madison, at last, all safe and sound, [? Seuving]
arrived Wednesday, at 1 P. M. and are enjoying ourselves hugely; and now
I will give a full account of our journey form beginning to end. The weather
during our passage down the river was cold and rainy. Our fare on the boat
was miserable owing to the meanest of the Stewards, who seemed to think
we were little better than hogs feeding us on the very poorest food. The
beef was tough and all gristle. Our officers were indignant at these insults
and reprimanded him most severely. Of the scenery, I will nothing just
now. We arrived at Prairie du Chien at 3.30 P. M. next day and marched
up town to the post which is in a very dilapidated condition and unoccupied,
save by a few Irish. After an excellent meal we left at 6 o’clock for Madison.
At 7.30 minutes we reached Boscobel and were just leaving and had proceeded
a dozen rods when the train came very near being precipitated from a bridge
24 feet span in the water, the distance to the water form the bridge being
15 feet. Had we been under full speed, any of us would have been hurt or
killed. The rear cars in which we were would never have gone over any how.
The two right hand driving the engine wheels of, lunge over the bridge,
the others on it. Two men running up to the scene of disaster pitched over
the embankment into the water. The accident happened through the heedlessness
of the watchman. A kind Providence saved us from destruction. You may rely
on this account as correct for you will here that half of us ere killed,
if you have not already. No one was hurt in the boat. We slept in the cars
over night and at 9 A. M. next morning took the cares sent back form the
East and got into Madison at 1 P. M. We marched into Camp eliciting the
surprise and admiration all beholders especially the boys of the 11th Regt.,
1000 in numbers from whom went of cheer on cheer for us, pronouncing us
at once the best Company they had seen. Further more, our own Colonel in
a brief address to us, remarked that we are decidedly the best Company
that has ever come on to the grounds. We feel proud of course.
Of the clothing we have received and our rations. I will speak in my next.
Homer will write you about them and much more tomorrow. Our food is first rate and an abundance of it. Direct your letter thus;
Camp Randall, Madison
Lyon Light Guards,
12th Regt. Wis. Volunteers.
It is with a sad heart I bid you farewell, amidst the cannon's roar but
I know I am in a holy cause and I have faith that Our Heaven Father will
take care of us all. We may never see you again but however that may be,
we will go forward doing our duty to God and our beloved Country. We think
of you often and dear parents write us soon.
Ever Your affectionate Son
Camp Randall, Madison Nov 1st 
Dear Father and Mother.
I promised you when I left home that I would write as often as Ed did. But I had about made up my mind no to write this time. Because he had most everything of interest, but I thought I might say a few words about camp-life. As Ed had related all of the incidents of our journey here. I will say nothing about that. We arrived day before yesterday, amid the cheers of 11th Reg. and were pronounced at once the best company that has ever been in Camp Randall. There are Eight Companies of the 12th Reg. in camp here, and tow more are expected tomorrow, then the Regiment will be full. The 11th Reg. that is in Camp here will leave for Missouri in about a week form this time. The day we arrived here, we received our blankets and a tin-plated cup and knife and for. The second day, every man one large spoon. The third day we got our shoes and India rubber blankets. But I suppose you wish to know about our fare. We have coffee twice a day, potatoes once a day generally, and hash. We have beef nearly every meal and good bread. We have molasses and apple-sauce sometimes have not had any pork, but once. We have not got into our tents yet, but sleep in barracks. We have to drill about 7 hours in a day. The cannon fires at 5 o’clock in the morning when all the soldiers have to get up. The roll is called in a half an hour, then we drill till breakfast, then we are marched into a large building, large enough to hold two Regiments. The cannon fires again at 9 o’clock then the roll is called, and then we go to bed. There was a prayer-meeting in our camp last evening. There was a man in one of the other companies of the 12th Reg. that went up town today and got poisoned, he went into secession grocery and drank a glass of beer, and it was supposed to be poisoned this evening he was not expected to live, but has since got better. But I believe that have wrote everything of interest so I will stop. This from your son
[Part of a missing letter dated Nov. 7, 1861]
I have just received a letter form Grandmother and Uncle Charles, placed in my hands by a man named Boylan, direct form Princeton which is only a days journey from here. They are all well and want to hear form you much. Uncle Edwin is in Camp, at Racine, Homer at Washington and Charles, Edwigloy, in Milwaukee as drummer. There are a good many boys in the 11th from Princeton to whom Charles directs me and I shall see them. They want us to come and see them and I think we shall. Can take the cars, go to Ripon where they will meet us, which place is 15 miles form Princeton. Direct your letters as follows:
Company A, 12th Regt,
Homer wrote you the other day, is well
Camp Randall, Madison Nov 16th 1861
Dear Father and Mother.
We have written you three letters already and have received an answer to
the first only, and you may be assured that its arrival was hailed in good
earnest, but we were disappointed in getting so little news. You said you
enclosed a letter from the girls, you did not send it, but sent an old
letter of Grandmother’s that we had read long ago. Quite a joke. Your stated
you had received one from Uncle Israel. Should be glad to get it.
Nov 17th. - I have to write when I can, for the time of the soldier for writing is fragmentary and then, oftentimes, there is noise to distract his thoughts. I am sorry Mr. Myers and Mother have left you, but I trust that our Heavenly Father’s ways with us, though often grievous and past finding our, are appointed in wisdom and goodness.
We are in first rate health - never had better - I have gained 3 lbs., while others have gained 8 or 10. There are above 2000 soldiers in camp and I made some inquires relative to the daily consumption of different articles of food. The results of which I will give you; namely, bread, 4000 lbs., beef, 2800 lbs., pork 3 bbs, potatoes, 30 bushels, Molasses 44 gals, butter 450 lbs., dried apples, 3 bbs. Beans 10 bushels, hot coffee, 640 gals or 2 pts. to a man. Have water for dinner. Your must remember this is what is eaten, when we have these articles. For breakfast, one day, we have beef and gravy, bread, butter, coffee, potatoes, hash. For dinner, in place of hash, soup. For supper, molasses, no potatoes nor hash. Next day have a change. We have received each a dress coat and a pair of blue pants and get our caps and overcoats today or tomorrow. The over coats are same color as paints and have a cape to them. They look much like swaddling clothes, coming down below the knees. Shall get our pictures taken soon and send them to you. We have been into the city 3 times. It is a fine place. North of the camp are the University buildings which are very large and splendid. The capitol building is in the heart of the city and is only partly finished. The stones of which it is built are very large and it exceeds in grandeur and splendor anything which I have ever seen. The ceilings are frescoed. We passed all over it and had a chance to view the scenery. North East is a small lake upon the opposite shore of which is a large, fine building. I don’t know what it is. South East is another, spanned by rail road bridge. Attended preaching today at the Cour. House. There is a great deal of Sabbath desecration in camp. Here and there may be seen groups of soldiers swearing, joking, playing ball, &c, but I am glad to able to say that the Sabbath is better respected in our company. Sabbath after noon there is a dress parade, in the evening is company prayer meeting.
Dear Mother, I really wish you would write, - write about anything, what you are doing, &c. Father write often - remember we want to hear from you often. I do not know where we shall go or when we shall leave. Gov. Randall has returned form Washington with money enough to pay the soldiers. The 11th will leave soon now.
Give our respects to the neighbors and write soon. Shall get a furlough of 3 days and go and see Grandmother soon.
Ever you affectionate boy.
[Part of a missing letter dated Dec. 14, 1861]
.... time would fail me to enumerate. I would not have missed the opportunity for any consideration, seemingly.
If I can get the paper containing the Gov.'s address to the soldiers. I
will send it along. I should be glad to have you say something on the war
question, - express your opinions as to what the present state of our national
affaires and transpiring events indicate or seem to indicate. As for myself,
I feel very much encouraged at our prospects, since the President’s message
and Sec. Cameron’s report, and I can not but believe our prospects will
brighten and be realized in the triumph of the Union cause and the crushing
our to Rebellion. A telegraphic dispatch has come today stating that England
has demanded the release of Mason and Slidell; and that France has pitched
into one of our vessels and tried to capture it, but without success; and
that the two powers were making proposals to each other to disregard the
Federal Flag longer and go into the U. S. A., scoop us out and divide the
spoils. It is not credited here yet. Still, I believed that if there is
a nation on Earth that will be treacherous to our cause, England is that
Well, I must close and let Homer write. You may expect to hear from us again in 2 or 3 days. Don't be anxious about us. Dale is getting better, both well as usual. Write soon. Letters will be forwarded to us after we leave, if any come here.
Yours in deepest affection
Madison Dec 25th 1861
It is Christmas and I will write you a Christmas letter. I wish you a happy
Christmas, indeed, if it is not to late. I lay thinking of your some time
this morning, and wondering what sort of a Christmas today would be to
you. Not a lonely one I hope. I have no bad news to tell you and we all
have reason to be grateful to that Providence that has watched over us
thus far, giving to us health, comfort and every needed blessing and assuring
us that if we follow Him all will be well. His ways though often dark and
mysterious, we are informed, are ways of Wisdom and of Goodness. A better
day will come by - and - by, light will break through the clouds and I
hope our family will be reunited. The Capt. and boys naturally greeted
each other with a happy Christmas at roll-call this morning, the Capt.
expressing the hop that ere long the flog of our Union would float over
Sumter and that we all might spend the next Christmas in the homes we have
We received the other day your letter of Dec 14th and yesterday the Rural. I am glad you have sold the shade place for so good a price.
The measles are at work in the Camp, requiring additional accommodations for the sick. Two buildings are used as Hospitals, to one of which an addition has recently been made. I was at work some yesterday putting up a large Hospital tent.
Have you received our pictures, and the box of clothing directed to the care of J. W. Pratt?
We have at last got our guns and if they are as good as their appearance indicates they will do good execution. They are the Belgian Rifle. We are to receive yet our canteens and pay. The boys are impatient for the latter, as they have but little money, not a cent. We happen to be exceptions, having enough for our wants.
Dec 26th Unfortunately, I was unable to finish this yesterday, having guard duty to perform. It is the practice here to give the guard at 12 o’clock at night a luncheon at the guard house. Last night I had coffee, hot, cold meat and a pond of bread. That will do, won’t it? What, did you eat it all? Not quite. I served some of it such as Lute Taylor did the doughnuts. I did not wrestle it down, though,
Those sick with the measles are said to be dong well. Many of our company are sick with cold, settled on the lunge, sore-throats, headaches, ear-aches, &c. Per cent of sickness today in our company is not less than 20 percent. A man of Company D. died this morning of inflammation of the lungs. I could have had a position in the Hospital as nurse, had I wanted. I would rather to be with Homer, besides I do not care about giving Allopathic prescriptions to any body, unless it be to the doctors themselves. We are the only ones in our tent of 19 who have not been barking away with colds. I am content with - Noemaophatly to cure human ailments.
My gun weights 11 lbs. Received a letter form grandmother this morning, when and I will send along. I have considerable leisure time and wish to improve it. Will you ask Mr. Wilcox to let me have his Zumpter Latin Dictionary and he use mine and I will be much obliged. Sent it right away, the postage will be about 20cts, which I will return to you.
Dale has a Virgil. Don’t know when or where we shall go. Think we shall go last, next week. Remember us to Mr. Shepherd’s folks and all inquiring. Write soon. Send letters to. Ill send tomorrow with pictures.
Yours most affectionately.
Madison Dec 29th 1861
My Dear Parents:
I write you often as you see, and I hope you receive all my letters. The
memory and the love of you is ear to me and I shall ever hold the “pen
of a ready writer”. I can always find enough to write about. We average
per week three letters and they cost us 5 cnts each and maintaining for
a year the practice would cost us the snug some of $7.50. But writing is
always a paying investment.
I attended church this forenoon at the Congregational House. Soldiers are received into the churches with as much respect as at the churches at home. And if is a great relief as well as pleasure to me to be thus privileged. This may be the last time I shall have to enter the House of God. My thoughts have frequently run back to you during the day, have follow you to the Sanctuary, home again and about the house. Shall we ever meet again in our dear home? O if we never do, may we meet in Heaven about never to part again, where there is no sorrow and where there is no war with its wide desolations. I come and all its associates and the parting scene are stereotyped upon my soul. You are lonely indeed. Mother do not let those chamber rooms get lonesome - visit them often and give them a cheerful appearance. Do not think I wish I had not volunteered. No I do not regret the step in the least. It will worthy to be taken by any one. It would be a hard heart that did not cling to home and dear friends. Yes, I believe, that where the grace of God does not abound, frequent thoughts of home and hose we love, restrain often times form way of Sin. Blessed I that soldier who has the love, the sympathies, the influence, the prayers of friends, following him and cheering him as he goes forth to meet the foe, and if he be armed with the spiritual armor, Satan can not injure him morally. Wicked men may destroy his body, but they can not destroy his soul.
Received this morning your letter in which your mentioning the receipt
of our daguerreotypes and clothes. Your speak of healthfulness of Kansas
and of Mothers willingness to go there after the termination of the war
if we would prefer remaining there. I think I have seen no beauty in the
State better or more beautiful than Pierce Co. I do not think if your duty
to go to Ware if England should attack us. Two sons are enough. We have
purchased us each a pair of new kip boots for muddy, stormy weather. They
are tip-top, costing $4.00 a pair. The pay comes out of our U. S. pay.
Upwards of 40 others have done the same.
Had a grand review yesterday afternoon. Gen’l Stevens and Staff attended by the Governor, reviewed the Regt. which had on knapsacks h, haversacks and was armed with guns and accoutrements. Company A, which your must know has the position of honor, received, for the first time, the Colors at the Col,s Office and escorted them to the center company, C., the Band in from playing. The Regt. was them drawn up in a hollow square, when the Gov.
[The rest of the letter is missing.]
Gap - Will install
Natchez, Miss, Jan. 7th, 1864
Ever Dear Parents.
We have had no letter from you for a week and are quite anxious to hear
from you. I hardly know how to express on paper what I want to say
to you and wish I could see you, though but for one hour. This letter,
I expect, will excite in you some regret, particularly, if you are in receipt
of our late letters; but I hope it will produce as much pleasure, and that
before you finish reading it, you will be able to say - well and good.
Now to the subject. We have both re-enlisted as Veterans. We
had had no such intention, as we before told you; but after a careful reconsideration
of the matter, in which we were not influenced by excitement, we concluded
it was better for us and yourselves and our Country to reenter the service
and stay till this rebellion was crushed. We should have gladly consulted
with you about it, could we have done so. You are disappointed, I
know we will know that you had long hoped for and expected. You had
fondly thought that at the expiration of our 3 years we were coming home
to stay; You had counted the months; You had thought of nice plans, and
much happiness we would all have when again reunited. We knew it
all better than I can write it. We had reckoned on it with as much
pleasure as you had; and when reflecting whether to reenlist all these
enjoyments came up before our minds and we hated to leave you and them
again for life in the army. We would rather have served out our time
and quick but duty to the Country seemed to require our services longer.
It was a great sacrifice for us to give up home, friends, privileges again
and it is a great sacrifice for you, but I ask you with all the affection
of my heart, is the sacrifice too great. I know you will say, it
is not our Country is worth all it costs. We had but 10 months more
to serve and did not like to desert the field when so many were going to
remain and when the rebellion is so near ended. Many have one into
the Veteran service and have made greater sacrifices. Should we hang
back, well, healthy, and young as we are, our relating so favorable?
Were we at home next winter we should have to stand the draft. If
the war was not ended we should be uneasy and want to be in the army.
I can not see how the rebellion can last 2 years longer. Have we not every reason to be encouraged and to continue the struggle? Do not facts go to show that this rebellion can not survive that length of time? When the government is doing its utmost to crush it and calls for our help for a few months longer, ought we to disregard that voice? It has never deceived us, and the prospect is brighter than ever and points to a sure and speedy success. Let us review the progress we have made. 2 years ago the rebel armies had full swing in Mo. the invasion of Ky. had not been made. In 4 months we had driven them from these states. Through middle and western Tenn. and occupied their strongholds. We confidently thought the war could not last 18 months. We found out our mistake. We can not miscalculate now. We know their strengths. Their means of warfare are nearly gone. Look at the desperate straits they are in. See their dismay, their boasted confederacy is crushed in on all sides. Their resources are fast decreasing and how can they fight much longer. When their remaining territory on which they depend for supplies is in our possession it is physically impossible for them to fight. The fighting, I think, must be over before the close of 1864. Gen. Grant is getting his supplies into Chattanooga, and when all is ready, the final move in that direction will be made and under the terrible blows there inflicted, and elsewhere down will go this wicked rebellion and haughty confederacy.
Now this reorganization of the armies is going to prove a great victory over the rebels. They are endeavoring to reap consolation from this fact; viz. that the time of most of our troops would expire next spring. They expect to put old, discipline troops against new. They think we would rather go home than fight them longer; but we are going to come the Yankee on them. When they see that they have got to fight the old troops they will turn in despair.
By reenlisting now we gain 10 months on the 3 years. We get the $402.00 bounty in addition to our monthly wages, which are likely to be increased, an effort to that effect now being made by congress; also, the old bounty, $100. An order from McPherson has come stating the paymaster is to pay us in a few days. I forgot to say we receive pay for all the clothing we have not drawn on the first two months of the 3rd year of first enlistment When paid we shall get the old bounty $100, $60. Of the new, a premium of $2.00, one month’s pay $13.00 and two months pay due us on first enlistments, $26.00 which adds up to $201.00 and $402.00 for both of us. If we both serve 2 years only we would receive during that time $1,428.00. If the pay of soldiers is raised it would be more. Besides we are coming home soon. Start for Wis. in 10 or 12 days at most - are to be absent 4 months, unless emergencies require our return sooner, and are to have 60 days furlough - a fact - from Madison. Now have we done wisely or not? Jan 8th - Yours of Dec. 21 is fresh received in which you refer to the Capt.s visit. Well you can pay your taxes now and not feel it. Glad to help you in any way we can. Now, we are coming home, so look out the window about the 15 this month for two Veteran volunteers. Write soon and direct Co. A, 12th Wis. Veteran Volunteers. via Cairo. Yours with love,
Dale, Jack, Sibly and Williams did not reenlist.
Natchez, Miss, Jan 7th, 1864
We have had no letters from you for some time, we have been very anxious
to hear from you, but there has not been much mail with in the past week.
I do not know however as I could reasonably expect any letters as I have
not written to you very lately. I presume you are waiting anxious
to hear from us, as you have, no doubt heard of the late call, made by
the government for Veteran Soldiers and you are probably anxious to know
if your boys have reenlisted, and take and I take this opportunity to relieve
your suspense. We both enlisted the 5th of this month but not till
we had thought of it long enough to satisfy us that it was our duty to
see Uncle Sam safe out of this scrape. We would like to have heard
from you before enlisting and we waited till within about two hours before
the recruiting stopped. It was certainly a sacrifice for us to enlist
again and I presume it is on your part, but I do not believe that you will
think it too great a sacrifice to make for our country. Gen. Gresham
made a speech to us on the evening of the 5th inst. he promised us that
the regt. would stay at least four months in the state, and that we should
have at least 60 days furlough in the state. There are 518 men enlisted
in the veteran service in the 12th R.W.V. There are 46 in our company,
there are only 12 men left in the Company they will be transferred to some
other regiment. I think the regt. will start in a few days for Wisconsin.
I would hate to be left here when the regt. leaves, for those that stay
here will be consolidated into companies, and regiments, to serve out their
time when they get home they will have to stand the draft besides a soldier
can not be contented to stay at home while the war lasts, so I think we
might as well get the $401.00 bounty, and we gain 10 months in three years,
and the probability is that we will not have to serve three years.
I suppose you have plenty of cold weather and snow. The weather down
here, the citizens say is colder than it has been for a good many years.
I hope there will be snow enough for us to have a good sleigh ride.
I have about run out of items so I shall have to close my letter.
Father, you must feed the horse a plenty of oats and get the cutter in
running order, if you have any chickens, you had better kill them before
the soldiers come up there or you may loose them.
Ed has had to stop writing and go help the Lieut. and orderly make out the muster rolls. I expect we shall start for Madison in a few days. I shall have to stop writing, give my respects to every body.
Natchez Miss. Jan. 15th, 1864
Ever Dear Parents,
Since the receipt and answer of your last letter, Dec. 21st, two more,
of earlier dates, have come to hand, which had been delayed somewhere.
They are those of Nov. 16th and Dec. 13th, respectively, in which you speak
of your purchase of a sewing machine and the satisfaction it gives you.
We were glad to get them; and having nothing to do but read and write,
I will do the latter. You ask if we write you every week. We
do, unless circumstances prevent. Sometimes, when your letters come
slowly, we extend the period of writing a few days to hear from you.
Knowing your uneasiness, however, if at the regular time no letter comes,
it is our practice, generally to write you every week. We hope to
hear from you by next mail. We are looking for Hattie’s letter, too,
with much interest. I presume that before this reaches you will have
received our last letter. I think it likely, Mother, you have done
some crying over that letter. On your account I hated to write it,
but I am sure your judgement will approve our course. Homer wrote
the muster out rolls were being made out, preparatory to mustering in.
By orders from Washington that business was stopped. The reason of
which I am ignorant. I suppose some change in the papers is contemplated.
When they come we shall proceed to the business again. I can not
say now how soon we shall start for Wisconsin. Many would prefer
going home two months from now; but for my own part, I would rather go
now, if it is cold up there. We could visit with more advantage and
enjoyment I think than in the spring.
I learn from the Chicago Tribune of the 1st that a terrible snowstorm has visited the whole north. R.R. trains blockaded - 3 feet of snow at St. Paul - very cold, disagreeable weather. Let me describe the weather here at that time. The 28th, 29th-30th Dec. it rained hard unexpectectly. The 31st it cleared off with a slight flurry of snow and grew colder than it has been here for 30 years. Then cam more rain. Every body complained and shivered - the citizens said the cold was due to the presence of so many Yankees. New Orleans did not like it any better. I have not experienced as cold weather since we left Kansas. Talk about the sunny South give me Wisconsin yet.
Our Washington news is that the swindling Department (I mean the Quartermaster and Company) at Alexandria are being cleaned out - certain chaps who have been fattening like so many leeches on Uncle Sam are being rather forcibly jerked up. I hope investigations into those Departments will be made here, for there is certainly a large amount of stealing going on. Natchez is all quiet at present. We see much, however, that ought not to be allowed. The secesh are allowed privileges that ought to be denied them and I am confident that some officers are too much influenced by their smooth-tongued lingoes; but now and then, an old reprobate is snapped up and punished. I must tell you of the fix the Methodist minister found himself in the other night. His name is Watkns, and he lives near our camp. My tent-mate, Jones, was in the habit of visiting his daughter, and had so worked himself into the confidence of the entire family that they regarded him as a friend. Naturally enough their rebel proclivities began to take a practical shape in avowals of sympathy with the confederate cause and in requests of him to purchase revolvers, cartridges, soldiers pants and c for them. Watkins has a son out here with the rebels and for him, he wanted the articles. Jones, penetrating their design and wishing to entrap them, particularly the old man consented to the proposals. We acquainted the Provost Marshall of his purpose, who told him to go ahead; and the other night Jones, the Provost and 7 guards went to his house, arrested him and two other men who belong to the rebel army. Watkins was old, told Jones he was never so deceived in a man in his life, and is now under $10,000 bail.
I hope you did not vote to screen drafted men from the draft. I had not dreamed River Falls would commit suicides. It was already overburdened with taxes and how it hopes to extricate itself after the foolish addition you refer to, I can not see. Can the town spare the volunteers better than the drafted men and can it afford to pay out money in that way. Either the financial affairs of the place have improved much of late or else it has entrusted itself to the guidance of the blind. Certainly under the stimulus of big bounties men ought to volunteer, but, to tell you how the soldiers feel about it, if the people are foolish enough to favor such a policy, let them pay and the whole of it. The idea of the soldiers having to share in there taxes is ridiculous. But if the people will fiddle themselves, let them pay for the music and as the soldiers say, for the whole of it.
The rebels are feeling badly now over their finances - they see they can not carry on the war much longer without money and anticipate in the event of failure to redeem their currency, “the horrors of a guerrilla warfar” as well. They have arrived at that point where a forced loan is a necessity. They shrink at the fact but are endeavoring to brace themselves for the crises - say “the promise to pay” must be redeemed, no matter who loses or gains by the change. The effect of such a loan will be bad for them, but if adopted will work well. I think for us. While defeat and disaster crown upon their armies, their cause grows rapidly unpopular with their own people, and most assuredly will all forcing schemes resorted to stop if necessary. The time is not far distant when the people of the South will rise up and help put this trouble down. The Radical Government has worked well thus far in Del, Md, Vir, Mo, and will in the other states after a while. The President’s Amnesty Proclamation is in many places favorably regarded. Every thing goes to show that the end is near. Of course the rebel leaders talk big but that is a game they are obliged to play to suit circumstances, but they do occasionally snake some glaring confessions that must and are opening eyes of the people to the doom that awaits them. For instance, here is one from the Richmond Whig - “Slavery has stabbed itself to death. It has sinned against the light, committed the unpardonable sin and must die.” Will the Southern people want any better warning, coming as it does from one of their leading organizations. I hope to see nothing left than the extinction of slavery and this damnable aristocracy. I have no fears otherwise. The year, 1864, I believe, will witness the end of fighting. The President has the power to end it, and it seems to me he will try as hard as he can to do it before he goes out of the Chair. He is gaining friends in the army and abroad. Foreign nations are beginning to see he is a great statesman and are now willing to let us alone. I hope he will be the next President. My sheets are full and I will conclude. Write soon all of you and often.
Co. A. 12th Wis. Vol.
Camp at Clear Creek
Miss., Jan. 26th, 1864
You will be surprised to learn we are back at our old camp at Clear Creek in rear of Vicksburg. We were ordered up here the 22nd - left Natchez the day following, reached Vicksburg at sunset next day and yesterday came out here. We received yours of the 28th at Natchez and also those of Cousins Lottie and Hattie, which we will answer in a few days. I have not time just now to write as I would like and you must excuse a poor letter this time. I will tell you what is about to be done. McPherson is going to make a big raid out beyond Jackson and we expect to go along too. It will doubtless be the most extensive raid of the war and if successful, will damage the rebels in no small degree. Perhaps it will be preliminary to some more important movement elsewhere. There are many stories in circulation as to what is intended, but as the Gent’s keep the matter secret, we are left to our own speculating at present. From what I can learn, I think we shall strike at Jackson and penetrate to Meridian 90 or 100 miles east of the former place, where there are large manufactories and destroying all in our course, plundering the rebels as much as we choose. So much you may reckon as probable. Now for a little speculation and for some stories that are afloat. Some assert the Big Black River bridge is to be rebuilt, that the R.R. is to be repaired as far as Jackson and that the Military Governor whoever he is is to take his seat at that place. Another rumor is troops are coming down the Mobile and Ohio R.R. from Corinth on a mission similar to our own, perhaps joining us at Meridian. Possibly our movement is for the purpose of recalling the scattered forces of rebels going to reinforce Johnson's army, or preliminary to an attack on Mobile, as it will destroy all supplies and rolling stock on the Miss road. A lot of pontoons have been improved of construction at Vicksburg and were to be done today. The report is 10 or so thousand of Hurlbut’s troops arrived at Chickasaw Bayou yesterday and are to constitute a part of the expedition. Yazoo City I understand will receive attention too. The expedition will probably consist of 25 to 30,000 troops. The rebels in Miss. are estimated at not more than 15,000. We shall have some fighting, perhaps, and a good time, probably - shall be gone. Perhaps 30 or 40 days, perhaps less. We shall start about the 1st next month. So we veteran chaps will not get home as soon as expected, but after this raid is over, the Gen. says we can be spared to go home. Fully 3/4 of the entire Corps are Veterans. We are to be mustered before this march, but not to be paid till after our return. I understand the Veterans are to be credited to the counties they are from and are to receive the $100 bounty of those counties. Very well. If you want to give us $100 all right. You’ll not loss anything if your taxes are higher. Now if you don’t get any letters for a month or so, if you get not any, remember we are not in circumstances perhaps, at that time so write, but if opportunity occur, we shall surely write. I will write again before we leave. The weather is superb - warm and pleasant enough. Write us often. Direct to Vicksburg, Co. A. 12th Wis. Vol. 3rd B. 4 Div. via Cairo to Vicksburg. Our love and best wishes to you all.
Edwin D. Levings.
We are both in excellent health as we always are.
Camp at Clear Creek, Miss.
March 3rd, 1864
It is with pleasure that I seat myself again to answer your most welcome
letters, for it has been just a month today since I have had the pleasure
of perusing your letters or answering them. You of course are aware
of the raid that has been made into Miss, by General Sherman, and of course
you want to know all about it. So I will try and give you an account
of it so that you may get some idea of its magnitude and probability it
would be interesting to you to have an account of our marches also, so
I will give you the whole thing as near as I can. On the third day
of February the 11th Army Corps, left Vicksburg and vicinity followed by
the 16th A. C. under Gen. Hurlbut for Maridian, Miss. We started
from her with twenty days rations on our regimental train and 40 more on
the Corps train. We crossed Black River the first day (where we recd
a letter from you dated Jan. 17th) and marched to Edward Station a distance
of 10 miles with out meeting with any resistance from the enemy, the next
day we went on to Champion Hill where the skirmishing commenced.
The 2nd brigade of the 4th division marched in advance and the 3rd brigade
followed our regt in advance of the brigade. The rebs made a stand
near Champion Hill but it did not amount to much for they soon skedaddled.
The first rebel I see lay in a field with a ball in his back, so he of
course did not scare me much. I see the Doctors take it out of him,
I thought they used him pretty rough. I do not think he ever got
well, but enough of this. We marched on to Bakers Creek where they
made another stand, and the 2nd brigade being tired out, the 3rd was sent
forward, here the rebs used their artillery for the first time. Our
regt relieved the 15th Ill, who were skirmishing with them. The right
wing was deployed out on the right of the road and the left wing on the
left, there were three men killed here out of Co. I by a cannon shot.
We drove them from here about three miles, where they crossed a creek and
tried to tear up a bridge but our right drove them away so they did not
do much damage, and they repaired it midst the enemies fire. We held
the bridge all night they tired to shell us from a hill where there battery
was planted but they could not reach us and their shells did not burst.
Our company took a Lieut. and three men prisoner. The next day the
3rd Division crossed the bridge under the fire of the enemies guns.
The 68th and 32nd Ohio suffered the most. The fight only lasted about
a half an hour loss 17 killed and wounded, rebel loss 36.
That day we marched 12 or 14 miles and camped 5 or 6 miles beyond Clinton. The 3rd division had quite a skirmish at Clinton, at Jackson we captured a cannon, at the same time 16th A. C. were on another road skirmishing with the rebels. The next day we went into Jackson, when we laid all day. Gen. Hurlbutt made a speech to us in front. McPherson Headquarters he was drunk as usual. We crossed Pearl River that night and camped, the town was pretty well burned. The rebels had the railroad in running to Jackson and had got out timbers to build a bridge across Pearl River. We marched the next day to Brandon, distance 12 miles, there we commenced tearing up the railroad. On the 8th we left Brandon, and marched 17 miles, the cavalry had a skirmish two rebels killed and a woman who was watching the fight. The rebels formed their line of battle right in front of her house, and she was standing in the door watching them, when a bullet struck her in the neck, and she was instantly killed. The 9th we marched 5 miles and camped at Morton, to let the 16th A. C. pass us. Here I had a chance to see some eastern troops who were the first that I ever see, they were the 17th NY, and the 35th N. Jerz and the 17th N.G. The 25th and 32nd Wis. were also along the way and were a hard looking set of men a good many of the 17th N.Y formerly belonged to Billy Wilson’s regt, 10th. We marched through a small town called Willsborough. It was most all burnt, our regt was train guard. 12th we camped at Decatur, the rebs fired at our train here and killed several mules, we burnt the town to pay them for it. The rebs fired into some of our boys that were foraging. One man from Co I was shot in the face, one of Co I was shot twice and he played at dead on them and got away, they thought they had killed him and left him. The 14th we left camp on a small stream called Little Chunk, for Maridian on 3/5 rations, for 5 days in our haversacks, taking only 2 teams to a regt, the rebs fell trees in the road which impeded our progress somewhat. We camped about 5 miles out of town, and started in the next morning, when it began to rain and rained most all day we got into some store houses and stayed over night. At Maridian was Gen. Popes Head Quarters and by coming we destroyed all their railroad communications. The 4th Division left the Corps here and went to Enterprise to destroy the railroad. The business part of the town was all burnt. The 3rd Brigade was sent the next day to Chithman (distance 14 miles) to burn a R.R. bridge it was guarded by a rebel regt. which we easily drove away the bridge was a nice covered bridge over a hundred feet long, we also burnt 300 feet of trussle work and marched back part way to Enterprise and camped. We burnt another bridge the next morning and another piece of trussle work and went in to town, and stayed over night and started back for Maridian to join our corps and return home. We left Maridian on our right and saved 5 or 6 miles. On the 20th we started about 8 o’clock, marched 13 miles and camped a mile from where we left the train but they had gone to Decatur. We overtook our train near Willsborough. I was taken sick with the ague was sick about a week. The troops crossed Pearl River the 26th. They 27th most all of the train in the corps was started back for camp and another train was sent out with rations. The Doctor examined the convalescents and sent the worst ones into camp with the train, I was sent along with them. We left them 10 miles east of Canton, we went to Canton the first night. The 17th A. C. captured 3 new engines that the rebs had run out of the town but could not get them away, they also got 22 more locomotives that were being repaired. March 4th I have written nearly every thing that is of interest and I will not write much more. The regt I understand will be here this afternoon they are at Edward Station so I will not mail this till Ed gets in.
My Dear parents,
The great raid is over and I am safely back in camp. I have laid down my
gun and am now endeavoring to write you a much desired letter. Homer has
given you a pretty good account of what transpired and I shall not enter
into details much now. I find but one letter here from you. What of January
28th in which you mentioned Mr. Wilson loss of his stone. We have to lectures
also, from tying might and Cousin Emma and Louisa. I shall fill out the
notes I made of the daily occurrences of a warm March for preservation
so you can have them for personal when I get home. We've returned yesterday,
finding the new recruits and some butter from you brought by George Niles.
We thank you much and him to and he shall share with us but am sorry to
tell if you the rush had worked sole insuring the butter soon was too long
coming to keep well and you would not have wanted it had to you thought
George would not get to us so when then he did, but it is a welcome as
if in prime condition and answers well enough. But what little pail. I
remember it well. I used to carry my dinner in its two school and older
Madison. I also wreck collect a little incident of its history and I feel
somewhat ashamed of it. So you're a collect how that big dent was made
in yet? How you sent over back after the pale because he kicked it and
neither of cost would carry it? I was to blame. Who would have thought
that pale, after nine long years, would appear to reap are you need for
my I'm kindly act to my brother. Godfrey give me and may my other stands
not rest up likewise to condemn me. We both had a hearty laugh over the
pale, but I could not but remember the incident.
But to the news. We have made a long hard march and given the rebels a terrible bolt. We have marched nearly 400 miles, traveling every date for 30 days, driven the rebels at every point. Cut their communications, destroyed an immense amount of C. S., property taken, many prisoners, the lost but few man. Have been to Jackson, Brandon, Morton, Hillsboro, Decatur, Meridian, enterprise.
Canton, March 15, 1864
I trust you will allow me, in part at least, to reply to your letter which
I received last Friday a.m.
Notwithstanding it being directed to my husband I took the liberty to open and read he being still in the army, if he does not come tonight, or I hear anything from him in the morning, I shall forward it to him in the a.m. I have looked and looked until I am weary with looking and now don’t know when to expect him.
Lottie and myself are now alone, Fred having gone into a store as clerk. People tell me he is with very fine men and where he will learn his business honestly and thoroughly. I went in to see him this eve. as he is not allowed to come home except on the Sabbath. I wished him to go to school another term but he seemed to think in order to be a man he must be earning something. He is now a boy sixteen but no one supposes him to be so old.
You wished to know Mr. Levings plans these of course I cannot give you as I know not myself what they are. By the bay, I hardly think he knows himself as for his going to Idaho is concerned I think that must be in joke as it would take all he is worth to get there. They are now selling tickets from here there as within about fifty miles. I think for $150.00. Then we, his family would have to be left with nothing.
It seems he has written you something in regard to my coming there to teach or something of like effect. Now I had supposed when I was married my teaching public school was at an end. He may have misunderstood me, however and thought I wished to go west to teach from this fact.
I have a couple of brothers in Iowa, Co. Wis., one of whom was home on a visit this last Jan. He urged me quite hard to return with him and so spend most of the summer. I replied I would not go while Fr. was school but as soon as he went into the store I would go providing I could have the school and board at his house. I felt I would not like to be idly living upon my friends, however much they might wish it. He told me I could have the school. I then sat down, wrote Mr. Le- I was going west, the last of March or first of Apr. and be there in case he remained in the army. Now he might have thought I was anxious to teach but I do not wish it at all - were we able I could visit my friends and relatives at Chicago then my brothers after which my husbands friends if they would like and then return after a suitable time but as I knew we were not able I supposed teaching a term as a matter of necessity, if I would ever visit any part of the west and not of choice and then only the school in whose Dist. my brothers are. I do not know what, prospects he may have n view but certainly I have no thoughts of going west to teach for a living. I expect my husband will give me that as long as he has his health and strength. I am not one of the strong minded business women.
I was so glad to hear you say “Don’t take the old place” I think it a great piece of folly for him to ever think of going back to Madrid to live. I should think he had tried it long enough. I am sure I have and the time I have spent there has not been one quarter his but I have suffered enough quite in that time without going over with it again and furthermore there are no advantages for the children whatever. I tell him North or South. East or West my where ever we can get a comfortable living and at the same time secure those advantages which the children need, but to go back to Madrid where I am convinced it is no place for us - were it not out of character I would say I will not go back though perhaps this would be hardly necessary as he has written me often he will not oblige me to go back against my wishes. Still at the same time he knows I always try to have his wishes my wishes and very likely if he insisted upon going I should say go if you think best. I wrote one of the girls about the place last Sept. but have never recd an answer, whether it failed to reach them or what the cause may be I can hardly imagine. Brother Isreal gave me Ermas address and it was she to whom I wrote. I told her then I could pay for it nearly “be” if they wished to let it go upon the same conditions and same price her father would let us have it for $200. It seems to be the dearest place on earth to the Levings. He's thinking he has improved it much. People tell me more than $100, and he says he wants to make more and then enjoy it all, but I think it is a poor place to be at in for him. And furthermore I think if the girls do not sell it they might not be giving their part of the rent for the mother’s support. Their father certainly attests the part of a dutiful son while he lived now he is gone. Mother’s support should dissolve upon the remaining children not upon them. Mrs. Hallack says she things Myron ought to have it. This is the way I look at it. I think it is better for mothers to live with their daughters instead of daughters-in-law. Now don’t think I am saying this to complain for I am not. I think we get along very well indeed, she sometimes thinks me a little extravagant, but I tell her times have changed since she was a girl and I verily believe she enjoys her home better with us than at Mrs. H. Now I want Mr. Lenot, not only consider it his duty but a pleasure to help take care of his mother. I think this should be the feeling of every child, but I don’t want he should do the whole and the half of that. [?] is but a small portion toward it - I think. But then I suppose it is not my business to dictate so I will stop.
I hardly know what will be news to you should I attempt to write any but this much. Mother is now at Mr. Burmett’s. Went there a week ago today, stopped here a while, she is looking really well - Louisa and the two boys went for her. I am looking for Mr. and Mrs. Burnett to make me a visit this week. Israel is still at Highgate, VI - Perhaps you hear from him often. Mrs. Hallack has two more grandchildren, Sarah and Mary have each a son about seven weeks old. Mary’s and Laura six I think - almost twins. Perhaps I had better say for your encouragement. Mother thinks I am not quite as smart as your wife, she always held her up as my model and I have pointed Freddie to your sons. I think they are boys of such good principles so before I am not particular when he goes but I do want to see him getting a good living and a little more. When he went into the army he was as the saying is “worse off than nothing,” should he live to return this week with his money all safe perhaps he could say he was worth $200. I will try and be thankful for that notwithstanding it is a very small ain’t for a man of his years. But I am reminded of the remarks the king of Egypt made to island of Lamoz - were t not that vague superstition governs the minutes of those ancient kings. I should perhaps think there was something in store for us on account of our previous failures. But I begin to feel I am wearying you. I would inquire about Alphonse wife’s health then bid you good bye sending much love to yourself, wife and other friends.
Oh by the by! I believe I can give you what you desired to know, Mr. Le, is in the 3rd Div. 3rd Brigade and 3rd Crops under General Henrich. I see you seem to think he may not get his discharge. I had not even thought there was the least shadow of doubt but what he would get it in time and of course it would have to be their time, he did not come last night but may tonight or I shall expect a letter in the morning.
Yours be -
Your family have not been forgotten by us and I hope you, yourself, may recover your health and your sons live to return even better than when they went. When I last visited Mother she let me read a letter from Edwin. I think, which he wrote her just before the fall of Vicksburg. I read and thought those parents have indeed reason to feel proud of such sons. They seem to pride themselves in [?] true [?]. You say you have Alphonse youngest daughter. I had learned to love her father by reading his letters he has written oftener than any of the other brothers I think, you the next, while Dennison I believe has only written one. I think I have never read but one from him. I don’t even know how many children does he have? Do you think it would be better for Mr. Levings to come west as I said.
To know we are in Madison will surprise and gladden you, and I thought
I would drop a few lines to use this evening with that information. We
arrive this morning at 5 o'clock all safe in and find spirits; took breakfast
at the depot where everything that kind and thoughtful hearts could provide
was in waiting for us; then marched up to the old camp. Where we know are,
and comfortable and, dating Baruch's, enjoying ourselves as everybody and
everything around us would have us.
We left Vicksburg on the 13th inst. and came up to Cairo on the Constitutional. There were aboard also the 11th and 15th Iowa Infantry and 2 Batteries - and all above good man. Of course, we were crowded and the wind so cutting that comfort and convenience were not to be found. But Uncle Sam could do no better for this is as many boats were required for the Red River Expedition of which you are doubtfully apprized. We got to Cairo at noon of the 18th and lay their 24 hours for transportation. Arrived at Chicago last evening at sunset and left at 10 o'clock. The loyal ladies of Chicago had prepared a splendid supper for us at the Soldiers Rest and we were also entertained with a speech and other demonstrations of greeting. I have not time now to us say much about it, but it was a magnificent affair to us soldiers and thankfully appreciated and thrilled us with pleasure and did us good to think that we were once more in America. Long will the loyal ladies of the Soldiers Home and of the city be great fully remembrance by the 12th Wis. Infry.
The regiment was not paid at Vicksburg owing to the fact of there not being money enough there. So we came up without a cent, we kept what, through good luck, we chanced to get from friends which was sufficient. We are now waiting to be paid, are being furlough. We receive the 2nd installment of boundary will make our individual paid about $280. We shall start for home in 3 or 10 days - as soon as paid. Whether Lake Peppin will be open in time for us I don't now. The papers announced that the reception of the 12th by Gov. Lewis will take place tomorrow. The 11th had just arrived, and it may be postponed a day longer. We saw Uncle Erwin and Cousin Charlie at Memphis and talked with them an hour or more; both are well and in good spirits. Uncle gets $600 for enlisting and expects $300 more for furnishing or filling the quota of his town from his own Battery. Their address is 1st Wis. Battery, Memphis Tenn. Well, I must go to bed. I'll write again soon if we do not start for home shortly, so good night all.
Camp Randall Madison
April 27th, 1864
I will improve the evening in writing to you for I do not know how else
to spend it.
We did not get away from Prescott till 3 o’clock Tuesday morning. We came down on the “War Eagle” arriving at Prairie du Chien this morning at 5 o’clock. Waited there till 9 for the cars and got into Madison at 1 p.m. I took cabin passage which cost me $3.50 or $8.00 which includes deck passage. I obtained no sleep Monday night till I got on the boat and that was too much. I made it up yesterday. Had a good time coming down but I thought of home and of you all as I shall often. Mr. Pickard was one of the passengers. He is a great hand to amuse children and I was much amazed myself to witness his performance with them.
I took supper at Henry Stone’s house Monday and had a good visit. Mr. Miller who preached at River Falls last Sabbath was there and I formed his acquaintance - found him a very interesting man. I took along the box sent to George Miles - left it at the depot with the Capt’s baggage.
The Capt.s left you transportation at his house. If you prefer you can get cabin passage by paying $3.00 or $4.00. The Capt. said he would try and get you transportation from Pr. du C. but I do not know whether he did or not. Apply at the ticket office for it anyway for possibly he made arrangements for you. I enclose you a ticket which the Capt. gave me for you.
Had I known the Capt. would have left transportation behind I should not have left home till today for we are not obliged to be here till Friday night.
The 37th leaves here for Annapolis tomorrow. Ellsworth put on his Captain uniform this morning - have not seen him yet. Justin Winchester is coming down with the measles - guess he will not go with the regiment.
I hope you are getting better and will join us in a great while, but stay till you are thoroughly well and have a good visit; and if you are able, write to me, for I shall be lonesome without you and letters will be a great treat, but I must stop. Direct to Camp Randall as letters will follow if we are not here to get them. Hoping you are all well tonight and with much love to you all. I bid you good night.
Your affectionate brother,
There is talk of our going away Saturday but the decision is Monday will be the day. I will write before starting and let you know where our destination is and send photos. Edwin.
Cairo, Ills, May 9th, 1864
My Dear Parents:
I would not write today did I know I should have another opportunity in
a few days. We expect to leave for up the Tenn. tonight, or tomorrow
morning and I fear if I defer writing this afternoon, I may keep you too
long waiting, so I will drop you a word now, and tell you where we are
I understand that we are to proceed up the Tenn. to Clifton, 30 miles this side of Pittsburg Landings: then are to march to Huntsville which will require 5 or 6 days time. Probably we shall not get there in less than 8 or 10 days. When Homer comes he will be sent, I think, via Nashville and Decatur in the cars. So he will miss the march. All our sick, or those unable to march, are to be sent by that route. The distance by the route we shall take is about 325 miles. We would much rather go than remain here longer. The impression seems to be we shall not have much active service yet awhile. That we are to protect the R.R. I do not know how that is. I want to see the rebellion crushed with all possible energy and dispatch, and if my service is needed on the battle field, I am perfectly willing to shoulder my rifle and start - anything, if it will help to put down the rebellion. I think I am beginning to be a pretty good soldier - I am willing to obey orders from whatever military source, and my faith in a final glorious triumph of our arms and cause has not abated one particle, nor has any cheerfulness in the least given away to gloomings. It does not trouble me who are my officers or who may be the next President, provided they do not stand in the way of speedily crushing the rebellion. I have an abiding confidence in the future, and let come what will, I mean to let patience have her perfect work which will have been, of course, when forbearance ceased to be a virtue. You may laugh if you want, but that is the way I understand scripture. With regard to the next President I am not decided yet, I am not certain but that a more energetic man than Lincoln is now needed at the helm of State. Lincoln had done well, but another man might do better, perhaps. Your ax may be a good one, but mine may cut better. To keep off the breakers we must learn to discern the face of the sky, and act accordingly. We must learn to discern the signs of the times. There is a fearful amount of recklessness and extravagance in the management of our political and military affairs, and it becomes us to see whether we are tending to removing all evil obstructions. I will say I do not admire the bitter hostility of the Fremont party. There is too much growling, too many threatening looks. there principles may be correct, but their manner is certainly not, and they may kill their own party in their bitter zeal to crush that of Lincoln. Homer will you get mother to make us some ration bags. The boys have sent a box of clothing and c to Prescott in care of Carlos McCray. Postmaster of that place. I send home in it my dress coat and rubber blanket which you can get when you are down at Prescott. The charges will be light. I have drawn a new rubber blanket. I saw John Rice the other day. He looks well and says he had a fine visit at Hamilton. Write soon and then direct via Cairo. Yours affectionately.
Father, the enclosed receipt I took off Leeman well he did not sign his name to it or else tore if off I did not notice it till the other day. Get him to sign it and will you forward to me.
Hunterville, Ga, May 28th, 1864
My Dear Father.
As I have just written to Cousin Hattie, I had not determined to write
to you so soon, or at the same time, but I thought would say a few words
to you that we marched and enclose my photographs.
I did not write many letters yesterday. After I finished my washing that Capt. made me work on the Muster Rolls till 11 o'clock last evening. There was no release for me till it was done and now I must hurry off these lines, for we march this forenoon.
I expect we have got to climb mountains and do many other difficult things. The distance to Rome, our supposed destination, is about 150 miles. I think there is no doubt but that we are going tot he front. There is no bad news from Sherman, but I suppose he means to make every step firm and strike hard blows.
You must write every opportunity. Do not fancy your letters will not get to me for they certainly will. Gen. Sherman says in a public order that he wished the soldiers to have the full benefit of the mail facilities and wants them and their friends to use them as much as desired. He despises nothing but the sensation corespondents who hang about the army, too cowardly to shoulder a musket, to puff officers.
We are now having clothing issued to us. Some of the recruits, Jack in particular, have some shoes that seem to cry about - are rather "done gone up" as the darkies say.
All the boys, those of the (?Zalls, Falls) especially, look tough and hearty, and fell first rate now - better by far than when I went home and I think I can stand a march with - its - exposures as well as any of them.
Homer, you are lucky in not being down her for reasons you will understand. Have a good time while home. John Rice says you need not be in a hurry to tell the officers when you are well, but of course, I want to know you are well.
The weather is fine - not too warm = accompanied with occasional dashes of rain.
I must stop for the drums are beating to fall in. So Good-bye and God bless you all.
Edwin D. Levings.
Rome, Ga., Monday morning
June 6th, 1864
Dear Brother Homer,
Yours of May 22nd came to hand last night as I was getting supper.
I was truly glad to hear from you once more, and I hurriedly write a short
answer to let you know how I am. At last we have reached Rome, but
we can not see the Pope; - we have to march to Kinsgton, 20 miles east;
then we are to guard a supply train through to Sherman variously estimated
to number 15 to 100 wagons. I stood the march over the mountains
much better than I expected. Far better than I did that from Clifton
to Huntsville. We have marched 300 miles since we left Clifton.
I have not time to write any account of our march whatever, but I will
give you a full story about it as soon as I have a chance. Both divisions
perfectly hate old Blair. He marched us too far in a day, shoved
us right through without letting us have hardly any rest at all.
I suppose it is necessary for us to go to Sherman with supplies and I would
rather do it now than have him fail. Leonard Stiles is here.
He looks better than any man in the Company. There was but little
forage in among the mountains. We shall have a plenty to eat in the
foraging line now. The country is full of fruit and vegetables.
Blackberries will be ripe in 2 or 3 weeks. It has rained hard the
last 3 days. You don’t say how you are, but I suppose you are improving.
Don’t come down here till we got down near Atlanta, or till we get settled
somewhere in camp.
We march at 7 o’clock this morning. Write soon and direct via Chattanooga. My love and best wishes to you all.
From your brother
Address Co. A. 12th W. Vols.
1st Brig. 4th Div.
Acworth, Ga., June 9th, 1864
My Dear Parents:
I wrote last from Rome, but did not write much for the want of time.
I now hasten to improve the first opportunity and to give you an account
of our march over the mountains, for I know there rests on your minds a
feverish anxiety to learn how I stood the tramp.
The 3rd and 4th Divisions, 17th Corps. left Decatur, Ala on the 27th and arrived here yesterday, having marched a distance of 330 miles, with but a single day’s rest during the time. The 12th never did as hard marching before - its Meridian march is no comparison. No other march ever tested the patience and endurance of the men so severely, and I have not a doubt but that it has produced effects that will lead to many a broken down constitution. The whole command suffered a great deal from the fatigue of this march and the universal statement is that it was the hardest time it ever experienced. We carried our knapsacks lightened of all that could be spared and lived on 2/3 rations which consisted of hard bread, pork and beef, coffee, sugar, salt and pepper. The mountainous districts afforded but little to eat. The people were poor and needed all they possessed, consequently we did not try to forage much upon them. Aside from onions, a little meat and corn mean, we did not have much to vary our fare. The worst feature of the march was we were compelled to travel too far in a day. We did not march more than 15 or 18 miles daily, but that distance under the circumstances was too much. We were climbing steep mountains and hills fording streams where the water was sometimes up to the waist were footsore and needed sleep and rest and carried knapsacks and were discouraged. Old Blair was to blame and when our Div. Gen. (Gen. Gresham) complained to him and requested a rest, he was inexorable, and there seemed no way but for each man to abide his fate. He made no allowance for bad weather, bad roads or anything else, but siting on his fine horse and looking like a peacock, without a word or a smile for anybody, measured off his regular 15 or 18 miles, making his headquarters at some nice house, obliging us to march oftentimes till midnight to come up with him - once till 8 in the morning and in this instance our brigade went to bed without any supper, preferring a little sleep rather than food; and then were hurried off before they could get breakfast. There was no necessity for marching us so as we could learn. Blair was reported under arrest when we arrived at Kingston because he should have been here sooner. We lay at Cairo longer than necessary and it is thought he meant to make us make up the time. I have heard many a man say he would shoot him if he ever has a chance, and I know he is generally very unpopular. Officers up to Div. Generals do not hesitate to express their dislike of him. President Lincoln will lose a larger vote in this Corps because of Blair. The opinion is he has given him command simply to appease the Copperhead sentiment at home. I do not think the boys will fight with much confidence while he leads them, but enough of this, I will simply say I stood the march as well as the best of the boys, and am in excellent health. I don’t think much of this reduced, “improved, ration system.” We do not have enough to eat of some things; for instance, sugar and meat of which we get but 1/2 rations. I would rather they would keep their extra pay and give me full rations. I presume the calculations are to live largely off the country, and I assure you I shall so endeavor. There will be an abundance of fruit this year and considerable wheat and corn, which will be good in quality. Wheat will be ready to cut in 2 weeks, but there will be no one to cut it.
June 12th, 1864
I know you are anxious to hear from me so I will try and improve my time
today, as it is Sunday, by writing you a letter. We had a very pleasant
trip down the river, though it was rather slow. We left Prescott
on the Milwaukee, about 12 o’clock at night. I called at Capt. Maxsons,
Crissin, Miles’es, and Meachum, before leaving and took some small packages
for their friends. There were but few passengers on board so we were
not crowded, we got stuck on Reef Slough, and laid there 4 or 5 hours.
We arrived at Prairie Duchein the 8th about 12 m, and started for Madison
the same about 4 o’clock and arrived here that evening at 9. The
next day we went up town, sat for photographs. I had a dentist to
work at my teeth all that day. I had 11 teeth filled and one extracted,
which cost me $18.50. I did not report until the 10th.
I reported to Col. Green the Provost Marshall for transportation, but could
not get it, he told me to report to Col. Chapman at Camp Randall.
I did so and he told me where I find my quarters, to stop in, he told me
I would be sent off Monday to my regt. There are about a doz other
soldiers stopping here with me from different regiments who are waiting
for transportation. I shall have company all the way, there are two
other soldiers from the regt. I found one of my company here in the
hospital, he will not go when I do, I did not have any trouble on my way
down about my papers. I did not have only a half dozen photographs
taken on account of my funds growing small, one of my pictures was spoilt
so I did not get but five, three of them are gone already, but I am having
some more taken. I will enclose of these. There are good many
hundred day men here in camp. They have drawn their guns and have
got orders to leave for Memphis, which makes them look down in the mouth.
They think that, that, is getting too near the front. But I must
close for I have run out of ideas. Give my love to all.
Camp of the 12th Wis. Vols.
1 1/2 miles beyond Big Shanty
Ga. Monday, June 13th, 1864
My Dear Parents,
An opportunity is offered for mailing letters at 4 p.m. and I gladly improve it to inform you where I am, how I am, and what is transpiring here. We are at the front, right up to the rebels who are strongly entrenched along the mountains about 15 or 20 miles from Atlanta and are picking away with some spirit. We are dong the same to them. Are posted on the left of the R.R. which is in operation up to our lines. In front of us at the distance of 1 mile is Lost Mountain, at the base of which the rebels have breastworks and forts ready to receive us. On the summit is stationed their Signal Corps and it is thought they have two heavy guns up there also. We are in the valley, which is of a rolling surface, and are entrenched also. Our camps and fortifications are in the edge of the woods about 1 mile from theirs. Our breastworks we built yesterday and the day before of rails, logs, timber and etc. with earth thrown up in front. The rifle pits are but 60 rods beyond and but 80 or 100 rods from the rebel pits. I do not know whether the intention is to charge the rebels over such ground or not. If it is there will be a bloody time. The enemy have all the advantage and it looks as though he could keep it if we move forward in his front. The belief is that 2 corps have moved to flank them, and our demonstrations are mainly to divert their attention. Certainly, the rebels have a tremendously strong position and I think Sherman has got something to do before he gets them out of it and captures Atlanta. As yet the rebels have not opened on us with artillery in our front. (I mean the 17th Corps) but they can shell our camp if they choose in which case we shall have to make for our works. They would evidently like to draw us out, and then they would treat us to some of their “watermelons.” I think. It is stated by the best authority that Johnson’s force is 80,000. How many we have I know not. 7 A. Corps at least, are represented here. The 4th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 20th, 23rd.
I wrote on the 9th to you from near Acworth. We are about 6 miles from there. The 3rd Div. had the advance the following days and drove the rebels from Big Shanty. The rebel cars left that morning and ours came in yesterday. Blowing loud and long, to let the rebels know we can keep ourselves in supplies. The next morning we moved forward and took up our present position. We expected a battle but did not have it. There was some warm skirmishing later in the day and our Brigade lost a few men, none from the 12th. We advanced through the woods to open fields, the rebels retreating. Then my Co. lay down under cover of the woods till relieved at night by another. The balance of the regiment in the meanwhile throwing up breastworks. We are already to receive the butternuts now. It rains hard all the time and we can’t keep dry 1/4 the time. Has rained everyday for the past 10 days. I sleep with one Hodges. We have put up our oil cloths and sleep above the ground, the water running under us. Our hard marching is over and I am thankful. I had a letter the other day from Cousin Almond. He says it rains all the time there, and but few crops are in (that was May 31st). Uncle Myron’s resignation was accepted and he is home - at Canton with his family. Uncle Israel is at Madrid on a visit. Cousin Danile Packard had been wounded and was home on 30 day furlough. Geor. A. Packard is among the wounded under Gen. Butler. No particulars from him. I have written you all of interest. I will write when I can and you must do the same, not waiting for me. I have the best of health and shall try and keep it. I shall look for Homer next week. By that time I hope we shall have the privilege of telling the people of victory. I hear no news from Richmond. I wish you would send me papers - some with miscellaneous reading, any kind you have. You do not know what a pleasure it is to us to have something to read, situated as we are. I think there is not a sick man in the company. The regiment draws rations for about 40 men. We left quite a number behind some of whom are sick, some tired and some afraid to come to the front. But I must close. Now write to me good long letters, and God be with you all.
Your affectionate boy,
Head Quarters in the field
June 20th, 1864
I suppose you are watching every mail, but I presume that it brings no
tidings from me. I promised to write as often as I could, but I have
not had an opportunity to write before. I arrived here last night,
I left Madison on 13th at 2 o’clock. There were 9 men in the squad,
we arrived at Chicago, 9 o’clock in the evening and stopped at the Soldier’s
Rest, until 9 the next evening, when we left for Indianapolis. While
at Chicago I called Mr. Buyington’s and took tea. They were all well.
Mrs. Buyington made a strawberry short cake, which made me think of home.
Lottie is going to school she expects to graduate next summer. George
is clerking Desire Dayton is their in the city clerking. Arrived
at Indianapolis the next day at 7 o’clock and left at 8 for Jeffersonville.
We got there about 3 and crossed the Ohio river to Louisville, where we
stayed all night at the soldier’s home, and started for Nashville, got
there about half past five, and stopped for the night at the Soldiers Home,
and left the next day at 12 for Chattanooga. We traveled all day
and night, and arrived at Chattanooga the next morning 6 o’clock, where
we draw our arms, we could have stayed there two months in the convalescent
camp if we had wanted to but the front is preferable. We left there
on the train at 4 p.m. and arrived the next day about the same hour at
Big Shanty which was only about 3 or 4 miles from the front, from there
we walked to camp. I found my valise pretty heavy, I gave it to a
soldier who helped me to carry it. I found all the boys well that
were with the company. Farnsworth is at Chattanooga, sick.
I gave the package that was sent to him, to a Mr. Weed, he said he would
try and send it to him. I shall keep the money until I can hear from
him, as there would be too much risk in sending it by mail not knowing
exactly where he is. I suppose he is in some convalescent camp.
Mr. Meachum of Prescott sent $5.00 and some maple sugar, by me to his son,
but he is not here, and I can not keep the sugar. This is a hard
country to take as it is in the mountains, but we gain on them slowly,
our regt is in front of a very high mountain, called Kenesaw Peak.
We are on a very high hill, it is most too far for musket shooting but
it is just right for cannon. 21st The batteries in our division silenced
a battery on Kenesaw Peak yesterday. Hooker had some pretty hard
fighting last night It is reported that he got drove back, but it
is that he took two brigades, prisoners. There has not been any heavy
fighting today. We have a good deal of rain. I wish you could
have some of it up there. But I do not feel like writing so I will
Lieut. Kelsey sends his respects. My health is good. Ed’s also. I have some photographs which will send you.
Camp of the 12th Wis. Vol. Infy
Kenesaw Mountain, Ga., June 26th, 1864
My Dear Parents,
I was waked up from my slumbers this morning by the glad cry, Mail! Mail!
When I jumped up to see what there might for us, and your letter of the
12 inst. was put into my hands. We are very glad to hear from you
again. You can not write too often. You do not write often
enough. I often think home letters have a charm in them that others
have not. “There’s no place like home”; so, too, there seem to be
no letters like those hailing from home; and if we could hear from you
more frequently, why, all the better.
I have not much news for you. The position of the two armies have not materially changed. We are at a halt. The rebs seem to have settled into the belief we can come no further, and have renewed the defiant manner so well expressed by the Scriptural words, “Thus far shall thou come, and no further.” There is the rattle of musketry on the skirmish line, sometimes fierce and rapid, but generally feeble and slow, and nobody thinks much about. The fierce artillery duds now and then occur and cheers by either side go up when a good shot is made. We say at such times all is quiet, or comparatively quiet, as you see at in the papers. No severe or decisive fighting is going on. You would say, perhaps, “One is afraid and the other durs’st.” Really, we are besieging the rebels and have them in about the same fix that Grant has Lee. It is said the wings of our army are not more than 4 miles apart, our line being the arc of a circle. You see then it is a hazardous thing for old Johnson to try and get away. If he attempts it, the wings can fall upon him. Should he try to break our center, he will rush on certain destruction. I think Sherman is waiting for a full supply of stores and, perhaps, reinforcement. The R.R. is pressed to its utmost to bring supplies and can hardly do it. There were but two days rations at Big Shanty Depot yesterday. You will understand, then, how it happens we have gone so long without soap. We drew a little yesterday (soft soap) a donation of the Sanitary Commission. God bless the Sanitary Commission. The boys are generally in first rate health and full of confidence. The “Blue packets” are all right. Sherman is reported to have said the other day the rebels had staid here one day too many. If our army is located as said to be, the rebels will have to “go up the spout.” We are in more danger here than we were at Vicksburg. The rebels can shell us to our discomfort, but they do not molest our camp much. The boys run about in plain view - as unconcernedly as though no enemy were near
We are very glad to that butter, tea, berries, etc. We do not draw any thing but hard tack, port, beef, salt, coffee and sugar, and these delicacies come in the nick of time and answer for variety, or desert, if you like it better. When the transportation facilities are so limited we can not get any more than what is absolutely essential. We will have a better chance when we get to Atlanta. Wheat is ready to harvest, but there is nobody to harvest it but Uncle Sam’s mules and horses, and they need it all and more. Our battery horses were in fine condition when we left Cairo, but are not pretty poor. They get but half rations of corn. If you can get a colt to match Homer’s I would like it, and whatever the expense of keeping it may be you may charge to me. I hope you will not work yourself down again, and I certainly hope you will not move out to Hudson, for then I know you will work too hard. Are you not to have any rain up there. I do not see what you will do, but probably there will be something raised - more than you expect, so you will not hunger. I need some stamps and I wish you would send 50 cts. worth or more by next letter. I will not send the money for them as I can not get the bill I have broken. The weather is much warmer now - not much rain. We are both well. I shall have to close as my sheet is full. Write soon. Yours as ever,
Camp of the 12th Wis. Vet Vols.
Ga. July 4th, 1864
Ever Dear Parents,
As there is a chance to write and mail letters, I hasten to improve it.
Your last letter, I think has been answered.
I suppose the people of the North are today celebrating their independence with an enthusiasm such as never marked the 4th before. To add to the joyousness of the day, perhaps, has come the news of victory over the rebels. I hope you have such news - may the day not pass away without a national rejoicing over our military achievements in the cause of right.
Well, now, where do you guess I am, today. In camp, of course, I might say in the wilderness, but that would be too indefinite, so I will define our position more clearly. Day before yesterday, the 2nd the 17th Corps received orders to load the wagons and move them westward, and the men to be ready to follow at 8 p.m. The other Corps had the same orders. We at once concluded we were going to swing around to the right and cross the Chattahoochie River. Accordingly we moved, marching the greater part of the night and all day yesterday; and now we are 3 miles north of the river, farther from Atlanta than when in front of Kenesaw Mountain but in more probability of getting there.
There was a report yesterday purporting to be official from Sherman that he had taken 7000 prisoners. I do not credit it yet as to number. We did capture a lot of them, cutting them off from their main force, and in our front on another road and further down the river is another lot said to be cut off. I do not think it large. Some of the 15th Corps skirmished with them in the afternoon of yesterday and drove them a mile and a half when our Div relieved them. We are lying still this forenoon, but after dinner I think we will get orders to press the chaps and try and gobble them. This is all the news I have for you. We left the rebels in possession of the Kenesaw Mountain, but we knew they had nearly all gone and came this way, there being less obstructions to crossing. It is believed Johnson will fall back to Cedar Bluffs 9 miles south of Atlanta, where the rebels say the Yanks can not come.
The weather is pretty warm and we find marching rather uncomfortable. We are both well and in first rate spirits. It will soon be so warm, that we thought to have you send us a few things that we shall then need, more than at any other time. You can send them by mail. Then we shall be likely to get them. We would like you to send us 1/2 lb of tea and 1 or 2 lbs. of dried currents. I would not send for them, if we were near any Commissary Post, or if there was any probability of getting such things within a few weeks. If the postage would be more than the things are worth - you need not send them. We would like the tea soon. In warm weather we need such things, not the hearty Govt. rations altogether. I want something acid, so I mention currants. I do not think of anything more. Remember to send some stamps I mentioned in my last and some Rivals or other papers.
I hope to hear from you soon. We want to hear from Cousins Hattie and Lottie, also.
Camp of the 12th Wis. Vet Vols. Ga.
July 6th, 1864
Ever Dear Parents,
We looked for yesterday’s mail to bring us a letter from you, but no letter
came; and as we have determined to write you often and keep you informed
of our welfare and movement, we will not wait for answers.
I wrote you on the 4th. Yesterday the 17th Corps again advanced and gallantly charged and drove the rebels back to their works on the Chattahoochie. The 4th Div. drove them 3 miles. Our Brig charged in their advance works and drove them out without losing a man. We had to advance over very uneven ground, covered with thick woods and bushes, and frequently the lines had to be halted and reformed to prevent confusion. Co B. with companies from the other Regts skirmished with the rebels and he balance of the 32nd Ill and the 12th followed closely as supports. Behind us was another line and when we neared their works both lines commenced yelling; and the skirmishers halting to let us pass, we dashed up a hilly slope in the woods and entered their works and planted our colors. We pressed them so hard and raised such a yell that we hardly got a sight of the Confederacies. A short rest, and we renewed the chase for another mile, when we came in view of the rebels works, and halted. Then our batteries began shelling their forts and were answered by a vigorous fire, till finally the rebels for some cause ceased firing. About 5 p.m. we again advanced, almost all the way on the run, leaving our knapsacks behind. We were nearly out of breath climbing and descending the hills which were covered with dense brush and scattering large trees. We reached our present position when a charge was determined upon. When the order came, the little Col. shook his head as much as to say he should do no such thing. We told the Staff Off. how disadvantaged the ground was and called the Col. of the 32nd to go with him to lay the facts before the Brig. Commander, Col. Sanderson; but there seems no chance to avoid a charge, and preparations for it commenced, when Co. A. went down in front and relieved Co. B on the skirmish line. For some reason unknown to me the charge was not made. Col. Logan of W-32nd said whiskey came near making us make the charge. We should have lost our whole brigade, I believe, if we had made it. I do not think Gen. Gresham or Blair knew the character of the ground in front of us. I will describe it. Our skirmish line is on a creek 1/4 of a mile distant. That of the rebs 200 yds or more further on. The water is from 3 to 5 feet in depth and swift. The banks are lined with bushes which afford no protection from bullets. A Regt could not get across under the murderous artillery fire to which it would expose in an hour, except after dark, 600 yds from the creek is a heavily wooded ridge. A little to the left in the open ground is one of the finest forts I ever saw. I can count 7 embrasures in it. The rebels have certainly expended a great amount of labor in its construction. It commands the sloping ground in front for half a mile. In front of it is a strong abattis of brush and sharpened stakes driven obliquely into the ground. Their breastworks are of the first class. Last night there was a great stir over in their lines. We could hear distinctly wagons and artillery rattling along, men shouting and laughing, officers giving command to troops and etc. The supposition was the chaps were falling back as we could hear wagons moving across a bridge or pontoons. I could not believe it. I think it was reinforcements coming up. They were chopping all night also and the rebels are still there. They shot pretty close to me this morning when drinking my coffee. We dug rifle pits but were soon relieved by some of the 15 Corps boys A few minutes ago a piece of shell from one of our own batteries in the rear broke off in its flight and killed two men of the 12th. I do not know their names. 3 of the 32 were killed by rebel shell last night. Co. B lost 3 wounded in skirmishes yesterday. I think we shall chance upon them by digging riffle pits. No firing today to amount to much. The regts have entrenched themselves and lying still. Guess we will take it more easy for a time and to be so. We are both well and safe. I mean unhurt. Write to us soon.
Head Quarters In the Field
July 8th, 1864
Yours of the 27th came to hand day before yesterday. You say you
have not heard anything from me only via Justin, except one letter written
at Madison, but I suppose, by this time, that you have received one from
me written the 20th. I did not have any opportunity to write, on
the way down here and since then, our time has been occupied most of the
time. We are now about 12 miles from Kenesaw Mountain. We have
been here three or four days. We left the mountain about a week since.
We left there at 8 o’clock in the evening for the purpose I suppose of
making a flank movement. There was a cavalry picket in our place,
to keep up the lines, so the rebels would not know of our movement, but
they left the mountain the same night. So I suppose we were trying
to cut them off from the river. We are about 20 miles from Atlanta,
we have the Chattahoochee river to cross yet. It is about a mile
and half to the river in a straight line, but he rebels are between us
and that point. Our right and left, both, rests on the river.
The rebels are very strongly fortified. It is about a mile from our
line to theirs. That is the main line, the skirmish lines are
11th: I had to go on picket and consequently did not finish my letter. We are going to move this afternoon so I shall not have time to write much. We have been transferred to the third brigade of the third division and we take our place this afternoon. The brigade is to be composed of Wisconsin troops. Direct to the 3rd B. 3rd Div.
[Letterhead: The U.S. Christian Commission sends this as the soldier’s messenger to his home. Let it hasten to those who wait for tidings. “Thou, therefore, endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”]
I will improve the morning in writing to you. We were glad to hear from
again and to know that all are well at home. Night before last we received
a Ruial and Sentinel from you and had something to read once more. Continue
to send it from time to time such papers and you will furnish not us only
but others, the means of pleasant and profitable recreation. You do not
know what a strong desire there is in the army for reading matter. A paper,
book or track is eagerly seized and read by many and I often wish the boys
were better supplied with something to read.
We have been talking this morning about sending to you for some stationaries and concluded it will pay so to do. Note paper costs here 60 cents per square and envelopes 65 cents per package. It will be very high for some time yet. We have used all we had, and unless we can get some more soon - it is a scarce article - we shall have to write on our cartridge paper. When we get to Atlanta, we will try and get a supply; but when that will be I am unable to say. The last sentence is awkward, sent to amend it is hardly worth any waste of paper so let it go. Will you send us by next mail, then, I require note paper and one package of envelopes and have it so arranged that it will not be charged letter postage. We are both in good health, yet, and so are the boys. The weather is pretty warm but not more so then in Wisconsin. I judge, I suppose the farmers are busy now with preparations for harvest.
Sherman is still winning. The army is steadily gaining ground on the rebels. We conclude Atlanta is almost within our grasp. The rebels in our front fell back across the Chatahoochee night before last to another line of entrenchments. We were on picket. Word came by messenger of the movement and before daylight the boys started over to the lines. The captain and 20 men, including Homer, were the first into the big front. As there were no orders to go and as some of the others companies were firing at them supporting the rebels I thought I would not be in a hurry. I concluded I needed a little sanctuary and so I picked a handful of blackberries. As soon as dawn we all went over. One of the boys captured three rebels and their arms, he found them asleep. Our troops then came over and the skirmish line was pushed up to within three yards of the river where we could look right down on the Johnny's and see them plainly. We hastily rolled up our logs and piled up rails for shelter, the rebs shooting at us lively from behind their works, across the river thinking to drive us away. The boys would crawl up rolling logs before them till they had enough and then Mr. Reb had to lie low. Some of them we know bit the dust. John Crippen who came to see Homer several times when he was wounded near the shoulder blade while in the rifle pits. The wound is not deep, nor serious, but will probably be sore. The other casualty in the company William Olson, leg, he's formerly of our company, was killed that very day while on the skirmish line, shot in the head. The rebs have 2 or 3 lines of strong earthworks near the river. There is one for we view. The 16th and 20th corps have crossed the river on our right. We got some of the Atlanta papers of the 8th of July and they are full of bragaderio and deceit. They are whistling to beef their courage up. I wish I had one to give you. Well I think this campaign will not end with the capture of Atlanta but it may, if Grant destroys Lee's army.
The rebels rest their hopes mainly on Lee's army which they say Johnston is not match for Sherman. I will have him soon right in. He wants him. I will be there.
I hasten to write you knowing you must be anxious about us, for ever this reaches you the news of battle in Georgia will have come. We have had no chance to write for the last ten days and we have heard nothing from you during that time. We are both safe and unhurt thanks to our heavenly protection who cares for us all. Dear father and mother, news of the battle of the 21st and 22nd inst. has reached you through the papers and I know with what anxiety you await some tidings from us. We were both in short battles. Our division charged an important point of the rebel works, took it and held it. The fourth division on our right did not charge. This was on Thursday the 21st, halfway between Decatur and Atlanta, and directly east of Atlanta. For four or five days the 17th corps proceeded by other corps had been swinging around to the east of Atlanta, via Marietta, Rossville and Decatur. We crossed the Chattahoochee she near Rossville. Our forces had severed and destroyed the railroad running east to Augusta and had met but little opposition. On the 20th, we passed through Decatur and took up a position four and a half miles from Atlanta in the fourth division supported by the third, drove the rebels back 1 1/2 miles with but slight loss. At dark the third division took up its position on the left of the fourth division and at 7 a.m. next morning made the charge. Our brigade suffered fearfully. Company A and B skirmishers followed by the 12th led the charge. The rest of the brigade, 16th Wisconsin, 20th, 30th and 31st Illinois infantry supported us over a hill through a corn field, into a piece of thick woods we went driving the rebels from their first lying of works in most gallant style, and inflicting some loss to the rebels. Would to God, this were the better half of the story! My heart aches with sadness as I proceed to give the account. Our proud old 12th lost 156 men in killed, wounded and missing. The battle lasted a little over an hour. The rebels fought obstinately. We went beyond their works, but a terrible flank fire compelled us to fall back behind their works. Company A lost 20 men killed, wounded, one-third the number engaged. The killed are William Hodges, David S. Dresser, Henry Bowers, Julius Olson, George W. Mosse, Fabian Halverson. Wounded: Robert Triggs, mortally; James Nealman, left arm amputated; orderly Sergeant Alva McKee, slightly; Jeremiah Baniff, severely; Andrew H. Ottoman; Morris Denhein, severely; Albert Barrett, slightly; Frank Barrett, badly in the shoulder; William Barrett, slightly in the hand; McCollunm, slightly in leg; Olin, slightly in leg; Jack Larrulters, slightly scratched on arm; Zymess, leg; Hammer, slightly. Total six killed and 14 wounded, James Raleon, Co. I was not hurt. The rebel fire was very hot. I laid behind a log for one-hour with some others near the rebel breast works. During that time the rebels killed six of our boys and wounded 7, all less than 25 feet from me. We dared not raise our heads to shoot, but finally crawled off. Our boys were truly brave and have been complimented for their valor. The rebels were ugly fellows to handle, but prisoners (we took 40) stated that they never saw troops charge as a determinedly as we. But this battle was nothing to that of the 22nd. The rebels attempted to destroy McPherson's command, the 15th, 16th and 17th corps. They amassed their forces to the 16th corps occupying the extreme left and nearly doubled it up on the 17th. We were drawing rations just about noon when we heard faint musketry in our rear and saw our division trains moving off as fast as possible. Men running for dear life, fifteen minutes. The great battle had barely begun. The rebels were coming on to the 16th corps and were driving it back out of the woods, yelling constantly. The 4th division had moved to our left and it was driven back and I believe if it were not for our 3rd division and some of the 15th corps they have utterly destroyed us. For six hours the battle raged ferociously and the 16th corps and the 4th division 17th lost terribly. We checked the rebels, threw up a new line to connect with that of the 3rd division and facing south. We had not finished it when the rebels charged on our brigade over the same ground we did the day before for the same works. The line of our third and second brigades was that of a horse shoe and our regiment faced west, towards Atlanta. The rebels came up five lines deep, drunk with whiskey and gun powder and some of them actually got inside our works, but never went out. They could not take the position. The musketry was awful and the slaughter of rebels was awful, a great many were captured. We buried all our and their dead in front of our line yesterday. There were rebel guns enough in our front to arm two Regiment's. I tell you the boys felt bad when they saw our men falling back at the commencement of the battle. It was almost a Bull Run affair, if we did not hold our position we knew we were "gone up" and resolved never to give it up as long as we had a cartridge. Many regiments lost half their man before the rebels were checked and many there nap sacks. Our train was not captured, part of our nap sacks were left over across a creek and fell into rebels hands. We both lost everything we had but our oil cloths. We can get along without till the campaign is over. I have borrowed stationery to write you. The rebels were driven hastily back and have concluded it was a sorry job they undertook. All is very quiet today. General McPherson was killed while coming to us. Our brigade General Horace was wounded. General Grisham was wounded a day or two before. During the rebel charge the 12th, 14th, 17th were ordered to fire in front on both flanks, but strange to tell very few were hit. Our regiment lost but few men that day. The 16th did splendid fighting, so did all the troops. General Logan now takes McPherson's place. Sherman went through our lines yesterday and was loudly cheered. I am suffering a good deal from a boil on my left knee, I can hardly walk. We have built works with traverses to guard against flank fire and are going to hold our ground. If they come again we can use them up. Homer has the toothache some, otherwise is well and hearty. Jack is all right. Wood commands the rebel army. In the second days fight he lost 12 men, one wounded, one missing. Samuel Roberts is the missing one. He was with the regimental wagons and is supposed to have been killed or captured. Nothing is known concerning him. I pity his family, I must not write anymore. Write us soon and often. Give my love to cousins S. and H. and tell them we hope to hear from them soon. Affectionately yours,
Edwin D. Levings
Since we came to Sherman's army we have lost over 200 men.
Near Atlanta, Ga., Tuesday, July 26th, 1864
Dear Father and Mother,
Last night the mail arrived bringing us 4 letters and 2 papers - 2 letters of the 4th and 20th inst. from you; the other 2 from Grandmother and Cousin Emma. We had had none for 2 weeks; and if I ever felt grateful for letters, I did last night. You should have seen the almost wild joy of the boys when it was announced the mail had come, and a very large one too. Can you not imagine our eager joy at the receipt of letters from loved ones, especially after a battle? How gladly each reads the cheering words, notes the solicitude felt for him, and so on, and then comes welling up from the heart the wish that they knew now that he is safe and well. I wrote you last Sabbath, but do not suppose the mail went out. It will go today, I think, and this will give you two days later intelligence from us. We have had no fighting since the battles of the 21st and 22nd inst. Our army has been digging and throwing up works almost constantly since, and every one believes if the rebels come on to us again we can hold our own against all odds, and about use them up. We are fortified in front, rear and on both flanks. Our Div. is determined to hold the horse shoe line it charged and took on the 21st. If the rebels could not take it on the 22nd charging on the south and weaker side, I doubt they can do it now, strengthened as we are, unless they outflank us. I have heard it asserted that the credit of saving the left wing of our army that day from a most disgraceful defeat is due to our 3rd Division. They fought like heroes and will be termed such. The rebels came on 4 or 5 lines deep and charged as many times. Once some of them actually got inside our works, but they never got out. The rebels that charged our Corps are said to be Longstreet’s old Corp. They are ugly fellows but gun powder and whiskey, with which their canteens were filled, did not same them nor help them at all. They carried off many of their wounded during the night, but their dead - we had to bury them mostly ourselves. How many they lost I can not say - have not heard a guess. Gens Sherman and Logan were riding over the ground the following day and one remarked, so goes the story, to the other that he had never seen as many rebels dead on so small a piece of ground. Lt. Kelsey says he counted 32 dead on a space of ground 40 feet square. On the left of the Div. a whole rebel Brigade broke through when the 15th Corp reinforcing us captured them. Here it was where our beloved McPherson was killed. He rode down into a ravine up which the rebels were coming out knowing they were in it. 2 rebel soldiers robbed him of his effects, but did not know they had killed McPherson. I think the rebels have had reinforcements. They are reported moving to our left again. My boil on my knee made me so lame I could not walk. It is getting better now. We miss the loss of our things some, but are not bothered with a load now. Mother, will you send me a testament, mine was gobbled as was Homer’s also. This is all the paper I have and Homer wishes to write some. So I close. Write soon and believe me ever your affectionate boy.
Near Atlanta, Ga., Tuesday, July 26th, 1864
Dear Father and Mother,
It is with pleasure that I now seat myself behind the breastworks to answer your letters. I have not wrote much lately, and you may think that I am regardless of your feelings, but my time now is not my own for we are busy all the time, night and day. We have fortified our positions so that we feel pretty safe. Most every one is anxious to finish the campaign here at Atlanta. Our cavalry have cut the railroad running to Macon. The rebels loss on the 22nd is reported to be 13,000 and ours at 2500. They made five distinct charges on the 16th Wis. and the left of our regt. It was done with whiskey. Our wounded men, in our company are doing pretty well. Robert Triggs is the only man that has died from the effects of his wounds. There has been only one amputation made in the company. James Holman is the loser of his left arm. Mr. Robberts has not been heard from yet. I think he must hae been taken prisoner. The team that he was with was taken, the teamster run and left the team and got inside the lines. You speak of moving to Hudson. I think you will do better to stay where you are and give up painting. I think if you can get that land of Pratt, that you had better get it, that is if you can get it reasonable, for you can raise all you want to eat and that is enough, if a man can get a good living he is doing well. You can not expect letters from us very often now, for it is only once in a while that we can get a sheet of paper. But it is getting to be supper time and I must stop. So good bye.
Sunset July 26th, 1864. I had the good fortune of a few minutes ago
to purchase some stationary - enough to write half a days letters, so you
may expect we shall write you as usual - There is talk of our falling back
to other works lately thrown up our present line being exposed to our own
fire too much - think we shall do it tonight. I forgot to acknowledge
the receipt of those letter stamps. They cam just in the nick of
time and my thanks to you for them No more this time and so good
night to you all.
Yours as ever,
1st Brig. 3rd Div. 17th Corp.
Near Atlanta, Ga. July 29, 1864
Ever Dear Parents,
In my last I promised to write you as usual in spite of the scarcity of paper, and here it goes. We are both well and save. I intimated in my last that we were about to move. Unexpectedly to me we moved around to the west side of the city abandoning our strong works. The entire Tenn. Army, 3 Corps, 15th, 16th, 17th, swing around to the west side. We marched all day the 27th to do it. At night a skirmish line was thrown out and no advanced 3/4 of a mile. Yesterday morning the whole line advanced and after some sharp skirmishing a high commanding ridge was secured and the line established. The 2nd Div. 15th Corps. charged and were repulsed with heavy loss. The rebels coming out of their works and chasing them up on the ridge. Fighting of the most desperate character then began and raged from noon till dark. The rebels were the same we fought on the other side of the city. They had marched all night to get here and had orders to drive us back if they lost every man. Time after time the rebels threw themselves on our boys, but were repulsed every time with awful slaughter. The fighting was heaviest in front of the 15th Corps. At one time they nearly broke through and would, had not 3 regiments from our Corps including the 12th Wis. double quicked a mile to the relief of our boys. The 12th gave a tremendous yell as they came up and poured volley after volley into the rebel ranks that were coming through cornfields and the Johnnies had to beat and precipitate retreat. We have the honor of saving the day. The 12th is winning a proud name in the battles around Atlanta. The 15th Corps lost considerably, the 17th Corps loss was small. The 12th lost perhaps 20 killed and wounded. Co. A had 3 or 4 wounded; one only severely, John Hunter in shoulder. Edward Tubman, left forefinger. Francis Van Warner, arm; Ira A Williams of River Falls, received a slight wound in the thigh. He is with the Co. this morning ready for duty again. I was not in the fighting yesterday, my leg was so bad that they left me behind. I could not run or hurry at all if necessary, so had to stay. I hated to do it, and at night went up to the Co. My boil is much better and I think I can do duty in the ranks again. Reinforcements from the 14th Corps came up last evening, and this morning our Regiment was relieved and has just come back to its first position. Gen. Hood Comdg. the rebels is a great fighter. Prisoners state they don’t like him because he gets so many men killed. We are perfectly willing they should waste themselves away in such fighting. Their case is desperate, or they would not do it. We received that tea and dried fruit on the 26th and you may be assured we were pleased enough to get it. Came pretty quick. The boys using tobacco are in great need of that article. Jack wishes you to see Syman Powell and tell him he wants him to send him 1 lb. of chewing tobacco by earliest mail; if Syman can not, or does not attend to it, he would like you to do it and look to him for the pay. We would like him to send 1/2 lbs. tea, also. “The stuff that cheers, but not inebriates.” Our boys are busy this forenoon fortifying. Madam Rumor says rebels are about receiving help from Virginia. I doubt it after the Atlanta R. Roads are cut. We shall look for letters from you to day. Cousin Emma wrote us the other day a good long letter including a fine “photo.” Homer is washing and I am writing. I expect we had better change places. If you should see me now. You would ask is that Edwin. Pretty hard life we have now, but we are all full of confidence and are determined to win and will. John Rice’s regiment was transferred to some other part of the army when ours was and left. I believe back in the R.R. near Marietta. Father, what need is there of your working at painting? You are well enough off. You can buy some land and work it, which will be far better for your health and more satisfactory. We want you to use that money for yourselves. If we get killed we don’t want it. If wounded or not, we can take care of ourselves and never will be any the worse off for your using it. Now why don’t you do it and be content. You are too old now to do much business and since there is no need of your working yourselves so hard, it would certainly more ascend with our feelings that you take it more easy. Never mind taxes. That will be all right. It is morn and I must stop. Write soon and often to your affectionate boy,
Near Atlanta, Ga. July 29th, 1864
It is with great pleasure that I now seat myself to write you a few lines to inform you of our safety, thought I have not long to write for the mail will go out in an hour. I have first been washing my clothes and returned just as Ed had got dinner cooked. Our bill of fare this noon was coffee, hard tack and fried pork. We calculate when we can get enough of that, that we are lucky, though we have enough most of the time. We had to get up last night after laying down to sleep, and draw rations which we were very willing to do, although much we needed our sleep, for we have been broke of rest more or less for 8 nights. Our Co. was on the skirmish line night before last. I never see a time when it was so hard for men to keep awake as it was then. They did not dare to sit down for fear they would go to sleep. Had I not had my gun to lean upon I should have fell down, for I felt my self ready to drop a sleep several times during two hours. Our regt. is throwing up earth works to protect themselves against shells. Our regt. is in the rear of the brigade there is two lines of work in front of us. AS the mail is about to close I shall have to stop. Give wishes to all and write soon to,
Near Atlanta, Ga., July 31st, 1864
Your kind and welcome letters of the 17th inst. came to hand day before
yesterday - just after we had mailed letters to you. We have changed our
position a little since then. We were then in the rear line of works,
and are now in the front line and a little to the right. There is
a flank movement going on most of the time. The 4th, 16th and 20th
A. Corps have moved to the extreme right yesterday the army of the Tenn.
moved so as to let the troops in the rear get into position in front, thus
making our lines considerably longer. Three has been various estimates
of the fight of the 28th, it reported that there were from 500 to 2000
of the enemy buried by our men. There was a hard fight waging yesterday
all day on the extreme left, but our boys held them right ot the work.
I think they must have lost good half of their army in this campaign. They seemed determined to whip us here, use up their army trying it, and the later, I think will be the result. We feel perfectly willing to have them charge on us in works every day if they want to, for that is the surest and most effective way of using them up. Our cavalry have been doing good work all the while as well as us. They have cut the rail road running to Macon and captured a large number of contraband and prisoners. They have started on an expedition to Americus where their is said to be about 25,000 of our prisoners. The object is to liberate them and put arms in their hands with which to fight their way back. The calculate that about 8,000 of their number are not able for duty. It is very quiet this morning all along the line, I suppose that it is because it is Sunday. For, General Howard, our new commander they say, will not fight on Sunday if he can help it. Gen. Hooker has resigned because Howard was promoted over him. I am glad that you have got that piece of land. I think it was a pretty good investment. I think if you could dispose of that 80, it would be a good thing, but I suppose it is no easy matter to dispose of such property with out too much of a sacrifice. How does the colt look now. Mother those cherries and that tea comes right in place though I would rather you would keep the cherries for yourself as they were a present to you. I had no trouble with the things which I brought, the bottles did not break. Ed says he will write so I will stop. It is going to rain and I shall have to stop and fix up my things - you must write soon and often for letters are all that we care anything about.
Yours with Love,
I will drop a line before the mail closes, though I have nothing to write.
All is quiet in our front today and we are lying in the trenches.
Have just had a letter from Dale. He sent some stationery and he
himself will soon be here; his health is much improved. Gen. Howard
now commands the Tenn. Army. He looks like a fine man; said the other
day when he came - how nicely we whipped the rebels if that is the way
the Tenn. Army fights he was satisfied. It is said he is a Christian
General. Our Div. Gen. (Leggett) is said to be a superior man, in
all respects temperate, just a kind and a real fighter - will not use liquor,
nor swear, nor have any officer about him that will. It is raining
and I must stop. We are perfectly satisfied with our investment.
You could not have done better, it seems to me, I will write you again
I received your very kind letter day before yesterday: also a brief not
from Hattie. As she promised to write soon. I guess I will write to you
today. You can not guess, can not imagine now glad I was to get your letter,
nor have I words myself to tell you. I had been thinking of you both eagerly,
watching the mail for letters from you, but instead there came only disappointment.
I did not charge you with neglect as you had feared, but thought that perhaps
your time was too fully occupied to write or that because our folks write
us so regularly. You thought your letters would possess no interest to
us, Now if the letter is correct, I mean, if possible, to dislodge you
of that notion for we feel we can not afford to have so long an interval
in your correspondence. I expect I am rather selfish in writing letters,
that I write principally, to obtain answers, but I do love to receive letters
from friends, and I hope you will write often, I will make a parenthesis
hare for Hattie. - Cousin Hattie. Your little note has by thanks. To be
sure, it was but a morsel, but none the less welcome, none the less relished.
Had I known about the letter, I presume my feelings would have been like
those of the little boy who saw and wanted the pie on his mothers buttery
shelf, and she said -"by and by, Sonney", but I will not scold you more.
I expect a bigger bite next time and I know I shall be ready.
Dear Cousin, of what shall I write? Not much about the war, for you must hear and read enough about that, I guess.
I am glad to know you are succeeding so well with your school. I would really like to visit it one of these fine afternoons, for I believe yours is a model school. But your term is nearly closed, is it now? Do you board at Mr. Cales? Do you have your patience tried any, and feel what your labors are improperly appreciated. I hope there is no cause for such in your (? Relow) district, for to be thus embarrassed is quite unpleasant.
You have spoken of your prayer meetings and I assure you it affords me much pleasure to know they are still continued and that your interest in the soldier's welfare is undiminished. I knew you would not forget them in your supplications as the throne of Grace, and many a time have I though of the prayer circle, wishing I were there. Duty now requires me on the bloody fields of strife, but, oh, how sweet the though that, though wide the separation, we can yet approach that same dear Fried who cares for us all; that we have a common tie finds us in His love. But Dear Cousin, in you little prayer meeting pray not for the soldier's bodily comfort and safety alone. Pray for the undying soul, rather. Oh, did you ever think how many of our Country's brave defenders are laboring under the fatal delusion that patriotism as religion, that to serve ones country is to secure salvation in Heaven. Such is a fact. You can see that delusive idea prevailing in the papers and in political speeches, and men believe it. How then does it become us to watch and pray and labor that others may be led into the truth as it is in Jesus!
Yesterday was the day of National Prayer and fasting appointed by the President. Our army was busy with the enemy, and I believe more than one soldier's heart responded with the praying ones at home for success to our armies. Our picket lines ever advanced in our front, and we stood in line all the afternoon ready to make or repulse attacks as required. The rebels tried, tried, but in vain, to drive back the picket line. Our Corps is now about in the center of the army on the west side of Atlanta strongly entrenched. The right wing of the army is operating to get possession of the R. R. leading to Montgomery and Macon. The road branches to shore places 7 miles south of the city. It is reported that a position of Gen. Stoneman's Cavalry have met with serious disaster - about 4000. They had captured an immense wagon train from the enemy loaded with supplies also several hundred prisoners, and were waiting the arrival of the main force of Stoneman - 16000 - but is not appearing he concluded to return; but soon found a large force of rebel infantry confronting him and was compelled to cut his way to after having destroyed the wagons and disabled the mules and horses. With our present forces I do not believe we can invest the place without so weakening, the lines that the enemy can sneak through.
You speak of fruit down here. There are plenty of apples and black berries down here. You can form some idea of the abundance of berries in Ga. When I tell you the ladies of Atlanta have advertised for 1200 bushels for the army Medical Dept. paying $10.00 per bushel. We got a plenty marching from the Chattahoochee River, but we have no such chances now. There may be some "dried fruit" somewhere down here - in Atlanta possibly - I don't get any of it. Mother is now our chief Sanitary Commissioner. We get along finely this campaign. Our health is excellent and our hope buoyant.
Emma has sent us her "photo". She looks just as she did when I last saw her. I have heard people tell about the changes in human nature but I don't believe a word of it now.
Now Cousin Sattie, I have written you a lengthy letter. You will write soon, won't you? Direct Co. A., 12th Wis. Vol. 1st Brig. 3rd Div. 17th A. Corps, via Chattanooga. My respect to inquiring friend, and accept this firm.
Your affectionate Cousin,
Near Atlanta, GA, Aug. 10th, 1864
Ever Dear Parents,
We were gladdened last night by the arrival of your letter of the 31st
July, it having been but nine days on the way - pretty quick time.
Well, I am thankful I have no bad news for you. We are both safe and able to do our regular duty. If you have received our letters you know all about those battles. Yes, we have certainly seen the “elephant.” We see more or less of him daily.
You say you heard the 12th was on the extreme right. Not so. Our Div. was on the right of the banks and our Brig. the centre Brig and the 12th on the right of it. Only the left wing companies were much refused and they had a hand in repelling the charge of the enemy. Co. B. lost heavily. The charge we made the day before was the most severe on us. If you have seen the Wis. State Journal you have read a full account of those battles. Our Chaplain Walker of our Co. is correspondent.
We are shortening our lines as rapidly as possible, closing up on them. Yesterday I was on the skirmish line again and the line advanced about 70 rods. The rebels fell back, but before night we received their leaden compliments and returned them. We were in a rather uncomfortable position for we could hear the rebels erecting a batteries to shell us out. This morning they have opened from them on our advanced and third line of works which are in an open field exposed to an enfilading fire, but I tell you the spade is being used here. We frequently work all night with the ax, pick and spade and are able to protect ourselves, close to one of our batteries of 8 guns. Yesterday, all day long, our batteries, from our position around to the extreme left were shelling the city. We can not see or hear but we are only 2 miles from it. By climbing trees we can see it. We are sanguine of taking Atlanta, but not for some time yet. The rebels are defending their city bravely, and we may not be able to take it for weeks yet. We have built 8 strong lines here. The 12th and 31st Ills. have been in front for some time, but they are now in the 2nd line, and the other 2 Regiments of the Brig, Ill-Wis. and 30 Ills. are out in the front line. The rebels are now shelling us lively. I have quit writing several times and I don’t know but I shall have to quit altogether. I guess I’ll stop a while - till they cease firing, any way. Homer is cooking beans, or was - says they are under fire now and they may cook without watching for a while. They won’t stop firing and I’ll commence writing again.
Dale arrived this morning looking and feeling first rate. He had a good chance to serve out the remainder of his time in Louisville in the Provost Marshall’s office as clerk but would not accept it for he wanted, he said, to see the front and participate in the struggle for Atlanta. A noble spirit that. Not like many men we have who are too anxious to get to the rear and if sick and once there manage to figure for a safe position as clerks or something else, thus cheating the country out of active service. I despise such men. I can not help it. Our Co. has men of that strain back at Nashville, Chattanooga, and other places. Who should be here; and I’ll venture there are thousands of men well and able doing some unimportant duty - in the rear. I hope no more 1 years mean will be accepted. They are too anxious to have their time out and are not good for much.
The story Balcomb tells about the battle is a downright lie. The Capt. has his faults but I can exonerate him from that charge. He led the men, loped right off like a man and did his duty. It was not a charge however as you supposed. We ran across the open field to the woods then crept up on the flank of the rebel skirmishers, I want you should understand that Balcomb is a grumbler, a fault-finder. He is a Fremont man. You would say a Copperhead, and I will say talks like one, if not in fact one. I have heard him say that after he gets out of service he would not turn his finger over to save the country. He is one of those discontented, fault-finding, grumbling characters and when you see him you may know he can tell yarns.
I hope you will not try to do too much on that bottom land. You can easily overdo, and you must not do it. We wish we could help you and hope we may yet be able. Get those 50,000 men come down here and you will have the pleasure of seeing this trouble ended in a short time. Not before they come, I fear and am sure Had we 50,000 men reinforcements we could drive or annihilate this rebel army in our front. Atlanta is hard to capture, but it is not Atlanta we want altogether, we must destroy the rebel army. Give us the en and it shall be done. I have been dodging shell for some time and my letter looks rather hard, but you must pardon that. Only some horses were hit. Just back of us. The rebels have got some big guns. The parts and the pieces make a noise like ducks when flying.
The weather for a few days has been very rainy - quite unpleasant - not so warm here as with you. I have drawn a new suit of clothes and don’t look quite so hard as I did. Write as usual and believe me your loving boy.
P.S. - Thomson and David McCleary are in the Alton prison for smuggling in Memphis for the rebels. “The way, of transgressors is hard.” Send some Tribunes or Sentinels.
Near Atlanta, Ga. Aug. 17th/64
Dear Cousin Hattie:
Your much wished-for letter, dated 31st July, was received by us several
days ago, and I read it with all the expected pleasure, and thank you for
I presume you have read what I wrote to you in a letter to Sottie. You did not think I was censuring you I hope. I was confident your time was fully occupied, and perhaps better occupied than it would have been in writing letters to me.
But now that your school term is nearly out and you will be more at leisure, you can attend to your teasing cousins.
It is not 3 o’clock p.m. and as we are to draw rations early tomorrow morning and expect to make another movement, I thought I would not delay writing longer.
Since the great battles around Atlanta, the accounts of which you have doubtless read, the Army of the Tenn. has held the center, and we have had much easier times. I think we shall soon be on the flank position again, and if so, may have some more fighting to do: but it is difficult to tell what movement is intended. No serious fighting has taken place this week - all seems very quiet, except on the skirmish line where there is considerable picket firing, doing no particular hurt. The rebels seems quiet, but as they now see we are not going to test their breastworks, I doubt not they are trying some game of strategy, for no sooner do we begin go settle down in our operations, - when we are not doing much, they show more vigor; and if we are not very vigilant we must take the consequences. A force of rebels estimated from 300 to 2000 made a dash at our communications near Dalton, but what damage they did no one seems to know. That was the other day. Our rations were immediately cut down to 3/5 and all unnecessary picket firing ordered to cease; but the impression is that the damage, if any, was slight, and we are told we are to draw rations as usual and write at pleasure.
I am glad you like Mr. Weld as a teacher. If you did not, you would feel very unpleasant. If I ever get home, I will plunge into books or I greatly mistake, I know not what to do many times for the lack of reading matter. Books, perhaps and letters just suite me and my mind starves without them.
How well I should like to be at home tonight. Wouldn’t it be fine? But I must not dwell on that subject. There comes up the idea of comfort and so on - the nice fixings and a thousand more things that please, you see. What sort of a soldier would I be if I let my thoughts and desires run after such things? Why I felt half provoked at a fellow yesterday for mentioning such things as warm basted turkey dumplings, but there we do have funny times talking over mother’s good things. We get together in groups and talk and laugh, and I don’t see but we relish in imagination those things as much as if we actually had them. We have good fare, but not very good accommodations for cooking. Supper is about ready. Homer and Dale, our comrade, is getting it. We shall have some solidified bread, and a mixture of coffee and sugar, and a compound of desiccated potatoes and beef. You may laugh, but Homer says this supper is not to be sneezed at. In all truth - Hattie, we do enjoy ourselves, spite of all the disadvantages and privations incident to our life. Soldiers ...
[The rest of the letter is missing.]
Near Atlanta, Ga., Aug 25th, 1864
Yesterday’s mail brought us a letter from you of the 14th inst. All
your letters lately have come through in nine or ten days. We like
to have them this often. The distance seems shortened in fact, we
seem almost to be at home when hearing from there so often.
I doubt I can write a decent letter this morning. I have been trying to solve a geometrical problem and failed. I was successful with one I saw in the Rural and felt so pleased about it that I attempted another. I never studied geometry. I suppose you know and I found the solution of the problem involved more knowledge of that branch than I am likely to possess during my soldier life, at least, I am sure I would like that study and perhaps may send for a book after we are paid off. We shall probably be armed with the Henry rifle, a 16 shooter. Most all the Regt want that arm and can get it whenever the money is ready. The price is $41. Col. Bryant has written to Gen. Sherman to see if he will allow one of the paymasters at Marietta to come to pay us so we can get the guns. I have seen the rifle and fired it and it is unhesitatingly pronounced the neatest and most affection gun in use. Only think, a rifle loaded with 16 cartridges and fired all in a minute if desired, and loaded in another. It has many other advantages. The cartridges are metallic and of course, water proof. The cartridge box is small and will hold 100 rounds. There are no caps nor bayonet to carry. Gov’t furnishes the cartridges. We have both signed for them. If a soldier is killed and his gun recovered it is sent to his friends, or sold, according as he may have previously expressed the wish, and the money sent to his friends. The military situation here is changing for the better, I understand. The left wing and center of the army is falling back to a new line of works. The object being to straighten the line by letting the left rest on the Chattahoochee above Marietta, and allowing the right to swing further around the city. You can see this arrangement the better secures our communications while it is certain to cut off those of the rebels. This done, the rebels must fight us on our own ground, or skeddadle when they will surely be destroyed. Either movement will result in their destruction. The 17th Corps, in the center, withdraws to the new line this evening about 1/2 mile distant. At first thought this movement would seem like a confession of weakness on the part of Sherman, but you will remember the destruction of the rebel army, not the possession of the city is...
Sept. 10, Could not write till today.
I will say a little more. We have about 540 men present - about 450 doing duty. The recent battles will not make our permanent loss over 100, so that we have left about 900 men. Half of them are of no account to us at present and a good many never were and ever will be. Co. A has lots of well men along the R.R. lines who won’t come to the front till made to come - perfect sneaks. I hate to say it, but it is truth, and they are our recruits, with hardly an exception. They are horrified at the idea of bullets and so make excuses or get detailed where bullets don’t sing their requiem. Just so in the Co. with - a few never in a fight yet and never mean to be if they can help it - sick or going to be, can hardly get them on picket and when there they won’t fire a shot if they can help it. I have a perfect contempt for such men. Don’t send any more such men down here. I am glad to say not all our recruits are such cowards. There are some of them as good substantial, reliable men as carry a musket. But it is a fact that 1 veteran is worth 3. Yes a dozen such men as I first mentioned, but enough of this. We are both well. Hope you will write often. Affectionately,
Camp of the 12th Wis. Vols.
Near Atlanta, Ga., Sept. 15th, /64
My Dear Parents:
Yours of the 1st inst. was rec’d day before yesterday; also that of Cousin
Sottie. As I have not yet mailed my last letter to you I will write
another to send off with it, so here it is - as follows.
We are all enjoying ourselves first rate. Our camp, which is beautifully located on the East side of the R.R. and equidistant from Atlanta and Eastport, is in the shade of small pine, hickory and oak trees, and near a little creek, along which are numerous springs of most excellent water. Everything about camp has the air of neatness and order. The breastworks in front are finished, and we have more rations than we know what to do with; and we are utterly awaiting the issue of new clothes and the arrival of some of Uncle Sam’s pay agents. A large bakery is building and soon we shall have softbread.
It may interest you to know the difference between campaign rations and camp rations. The former consist of hard bread, beef, bacon, beans, desiccated potatoes, sugar, coffee, salt, pepper, with occasional tastes of vinegar, whiskey and so on. The latter of the same, with rice. Irish potatoes occasionally, and fish, kraut, softbread or flower, or both, and molasses.
Madam Rumor says Sherman is ordered to push out after Hood as soon as possible, and that our stay here is likely to be shortened. It may be so. Possibly it is feared the general may take advantage of our resting spell and send off troops to Richmond or Mobile. We dare not risk an open engagement with this army, for he well knows what would be the result; and he is equally aware that he can do nothing with it even when strongly entrenched. Despairing of assistance and of successful preparations, it seems most probably he will disperse his army to be of use where it can be give. You do not know, I guess, how nice a trap Sherman had set for him on the first inst. Had the 23rd Corps been up to time, Hood and his army would have all been gobbled. The position of the contending armies on that day I will sketch for you. Our head generals were feeling finely over their prospective success and I think old Hood’s hair stood up straight when he saw the danger.
This was the plan. While the 4th and 23rd Corps were swing around in the rear of the rebels, and the 17th Crops was moving to a position on the right of the 16th represented by the dotted line A. B. The 14th Corps was to move forward its right and make a connection with the 15th Corps. when the 23rd had occupied the line represented by C. D. it was to announce the fact by opening the ball and immediately the 14th Corps was to charge down the R.R. and then a general pressing in was to follow. It was 3 o’clock p.m. and the 23rd Corps being 2 hours behind time and observing the rebels getting away did not get the position intended and attempted to head them off on the line. The 17th Corps was on hand. You know the results of the movement. The 14th charged and did good work as it was.
Camp near Atlanta, Ga., Sept. 18, 1864
It has been a long time since I have had the pleasure of writing to you, but I hope that we will have the privilege of writing, to you now, for a while at least, thought I do not expect that we shall lay here long. I do not propose to write any news however for Ed has told you everything. It is Sunday and everything quiet, we are having a nice shower at the present time; it reminds that the rainy season is upon us again. It will be bad. I think, for this army without tents, and exposed to all kinds of weather. I see a good many of the boys are coming down with the ague again, it is a dreadful sickness. Ed told you to send me some alum but I shall not need it now, for I have some since, he wrote. We rec’d yours of the 29th ult. last night, it must have been delayed some where, for we have had letters of a later date. You speak of buying Commodore's team, I think by the description you gave of them that it would be a good piece of property to own, but I suppose it would be necessary to dispose of the mare and colt and I do not suppose that it would be a very easy matter while the fear of the draft prevails. I see that a good many of the papers anxious to have the draft postponed so that the quotas may be filled by volunteering. I think that it is the worst thing that can be done, for it gives those miserable cowards and copperheads, a chance to stay at home, while if there was a draft they would stand a chance come into the field well as the rest.
Homer says to me close his letter for him, as he does not feel first rate
this afternoon I will add a word or so.
We expect to be paid this week. Whether we shall receive any installments of bounty, I can not tell.
You speak of Commodore’s horses, if they suit you and you could do better by buying them than keeping the mare and cold, then you should make the trade. Were I you, I would make the trade, if I thought I could better myself by so doing. We can soon aid you with what money you want for that purpose, or anything else.
Every body in the army now, the Tenn. army, at least, is in confident mood as to speedy end of the rebellion. All the talk is about the elections and the military campaigns. Maine and Vermont have given heavy Union Majorities and it is believed the other states will do likewise. Lincoln and Johnson’s election is looked upon now with far more confidence than while ago. The hellish designs of the Peach Democracy and Copperheads are clearly understood. We know what they intend. The Chicago platform of these men is a very nice thing on the outside. The Union they mean is the “union as it was,” that is, with Slavery which is to again resume sway over the nation. McClellan says he will make the constitution and the laws the rule of his conduct “Get, he know that to outset the limit - of the constitution as Mr. Lincoln is doing, will crush the rebellion forever. We know this is the only and right way to do it, but for the sake of policy, the interest of the Democracy, both North and South, that it may rise into power, he pledges himself to make it appear that a Union on the basis of dishonorable peace, though they do not say so, is far better than that the war should go on till the rebels are made to accept our own terms and the Union is thus preserved. Their platform is only a mask of their real designs. We are in good peril. We have delayed these letters longer than intended. Write soon. Yours affectionately,
E. D. and H. M. Levings
Camp of the 12th Wis. Vols.
Near Atlanta, GA, Sept. 24th, 1864
Dear Cousin Lottie:
Yours of August 30th was duly rec’d and perused with much pleasure; and
for its kind and free expression receive my thanks.
Having a little while this morning in which to write, I hasten to answer; but I should say being minus the material to make a letter of much interest, I hardly know what to say. I have a fear that, as you probably hear from me not infrequently via Father and Mother, my letters to you are much like old stories. I will not allow it, however, to prevent me from writing to you, for I love to receive your letters and will answer them all, though but poorly.
You speak of Cousin Elbert’s marriage. We did not know of it till your letter came, not having rec’d any letters from Cousins Louisa and Emma for some time. I never made out to write to him. Will you say to him for me - long life and much happiness to you and wife. I wish he had waited till “this cruel war is over.” I could not write to him, now, without thinking he is married, could I?
By a letter from Father yesterday I learned you are to lose Prof. Wilcox. I am very sorry, for he will be greatly missed in River Falls. The Sabbath school, the church, and society there will all feel they have parted with a most valuable member. Who can fill his place? I shall always feel he has been greatly wronged, that he was compelled by the malice of evil minded persons to exile himself from home and friends. Nobly has he stood up against the shafts of persecution wishing no one evil, but doing good to all as opportunity offered. There are some persons who seem incapable of appreciating a good man; and it is a fact that none of us fully knows the worth of such a man till he has gone from our midst. God bless him wherever he goes.
Will you have the kindness to inform Mr. Robert’s family that the Co. has received some intelligence about him which, perhaps, they have not heard. Private Halverson whom we thought was killed in the battle of the 21st July, returned to the Co. last night. He was taken prisoner and sent along with Mr. Roberts to Andersonville, Ga., and the other day was exchanged. Mr. Roberts a few days before thinking Gen. Sherman’s men were not to be exchanged soon managed to be sent off for exchange to Charleston or Belle Island. He was well and kept up good courage. If he had waited a few days he would have been exchanged here. Mr. Halverson confirms the stories about he shocking treatment our men receive in the rebel prisons. He said there were 35,000 of our men there huddled together in one enclosure, that they died at the rate of 120 to 130 per day, that their daily ration consisted of but 1/2 pt meal, a bit of bacon and a little salt.
Most of the inhabitants of Atlanta have been sent to the rebel lines. Gen. Sherman does not intend to feed them with one hand and fight them with another as has been done. You ought to see them, as they go out in our ambulances to the rebel lines, old and young, fair and homely. Exiled from their homes with - a few- old tables, chairs, and C. by the detestable Yankees. Serving them right, I say. They are a bitter race and if they would have their independence they must take some other means than war and treason to get it.
An old citizen said to one of our boys recently that if we had captured the city of Atlanta by charging the rebel works it would have been a great victory for our arms; but that the way we did take it was a disgrace to us.
We have good news from our Eastern armies - that Gen. Sheridan has achieved a great victory. Good! Every rebel defeat while it adds to the discouragement and demoralization of their armies, adds to the discomfiture and shame of the “peace men” at home. This war can not go on much beyond this year, for I feel confident that our victories and the coming elections will give the rebels and “peace men” such a Yuietus that they will give up the struggle as a lost game.
Our non - veterans will be going home about the 20th next month. They feel confident that the veterans will not have to stay in service another year. I do not think it will be longer than that.
We have considerable rainy weather now, and some of the boys have begun to have the chills. Homer has had several but is well now. We have drawn a few new tents and expect more.
I feel myself dull today and guess I had better stop writing. Will you please write often and accept with best wishes from your cousin.
Camp of the 12th Wis. Vol.
Cave Springs, Ala, Oct. 31st, 1864
Dear Father and Mother:
We rec’d this morning your letter of the 16th inst. and I have an opportunity
to answer at once. We have been marching the last two days and today
are lying over in the Cave Spring Valley, about 15 miles west of Rome.
We did not succeed in catching Hood and flogging him as we had hoped.
He is out of our way, probably below Jacksonville, Ala. He miserably
failed of his object as you see, and was well punished where he attacked,
namely, at Allatoona and at Tunnel Hills. All he accomplished was
a temporary delay in our R.R. communications and the capture of a couple
thousand prisoners. He lost far more. It was our gain altogether.
We gained Atlanta and have now proved our ability to hold it. We
have secured a permanent fasthold in Georgia. Who says this war is
a failure? Did you not fear for Sherman’s army once in a while?
Well, we did not. We knew we could prove ourselves equal to the emergency,
and have we not more than done it? The presence of Sherman’s army
in Ga. is viewed by the Confederacy with better honor for they know what
is coming upon them. The army is strengthening, notwithstanding many
are going out whose term of service has expired. It will be stronger
than ever, and I predict that it will achieve results more glorious than
yet achieved. We continue to receive cheering news from the Shanandoha
region. I suppose Hood’s army is nearly 40,000 including artillery
and cavalry. Anybody who will read Jeff’s speech at Macon and then
consider how poorly the later movement turned out will be convinced that
the Southern Confederacy is on “At last legs.” Nothing but defect
so they get and each time the blow is harder. Their armies will finally
break up like the wreck of a vessel.
We left our camp on the North bank of the Chattooga River day before yesterday crossed the river, crossed the Coosa River also, passing through Cedar Bluff, marching south. Yesterday we turned towards Rome. We were both detailed to forage. We got a plenty of flour and sorghum which is excellent; honey, dried beef, salt, chickens, geese, turkeys, potatoes, etc. This is a splendid foraging country and we are better off decidedly than in camp. Nobody is sick, and we know all is going on well. I presume we shall go to Rome, and thence to Atlanta.
We are both learning to write shorthand. Like every science it has to be learned. It is beautiful as a system, and I have not a doubt we can master it so as to make it available, make it pay for the pains of learning.
I rec’d this morning from Fowler and Wells some specimens of the Journal to circulate and sell among the soldiers. And so Pomeroy is drafted. Well, he would do better in the army than out. I think. Today is master day. We are going to be paid soon. The weather is beautiful. Enclosed is some Confederate money confiscated by the C. Congress. It will do for a “five twenty.” Do you know of any who wish to invest in that stock? My thoughts have dispersed if I had any. I must stop and recall them, for I have a lot of letters to answer. Suffice it to say, look out for glorious election returns from the Badger boys for the Union. Write often.
(“A” Co. 12th W. V.)
Camp of the 12th Wis. Vol.
Smyrna, GA, Nov. 8th, 1864
Ever Dear Parents:
I snatch an opportunity this evening to write you, and regret to say you
must not expect another letter from me for a month perhaps two months.
I will explain. Gen. Sherman is about to make a great movement -
report says to the Atlantic coast. I do not pretend to know anything
of Sherman’s plans, but I do know that the preparation making by this army
indicate that the most terrible blow to fall upon the Confederacy is soon
to be given. You have no idea of the extent of it. You can
not realize it. Rumors are rife, but we do not know what is to be
done exactly. From what we can gather, we conclude we are going through
to Savannah via Macon. I apprehend it is to be a gigantic race, such
as men never heard of. The entire army expects to go, and if so,
there will be no great fighting I hear Atlanta is to be utterly destroyed.
The RR. all taken up, the rails to be taken up to Chattanooga. The
whole of Northern Georgia abandoned. I believe it. Every man
has to take along an extra pair of shoes, and clothing sufficient to last
2 months. We do not regret the movement at all for can make it with
confidence of success, with confidence that provisions with what the country
will furnish will be plentiful. We are both going to take no more
than we actually need. I have sold my new heavy blankets; shall carry
but one light one, besides oil covers, between us: calculate the country
will supply us with blankets at night, if needed. “Hard boys,” I
think I hear you say, Mother, but Mother this rebellion must be put down
and if the people shiver with cold because of us or hunger, I mean the
real rebels, then I shall think they will the sooner repent of their sins;
and I am going to hurt the south as much as I can. Anything and everything,
if it will help us and weaken them, is my motto. I feel desperate,
yet calmly confident that this war is about over; and the nearer the en,
and the heavier the blows we are to give them, the more buoyant my spirits.
The happier my feelings, the more thankful my heart that I am to act a
part. I only express the feelings and views of all the soldiers.
I have not time to write a decent letter so great is my hurry. We
have had our elections today. The 12th did nobly, 429 votes for Lincoln
and Johnson and but 70 for the Democratic McC and Co. Most all of
the men who went for McClellan and Pendelton are recruits, or men who do
not know enough to poll and intelligent vote. I was Clerk at our
Co. election and know who voted the Democratic ticket and will vouch that
those men actually do not now enough to give an intelligent vote.
I never saw one of them with a newspaper in their hands. One man
wanted to vote the Dem ticket but was so ashamed that he would not vote.
Another was much ashamed, but stung with rage because laughed at by his
comrades did not vote for the wonderful little Mac. There were just
3 men of Co. A. who voted for him. I wish I could paint them as they
looked, and as I contemplate them. Each one put in his contemptible
ticket and sneaked away like a dog with his tail between his legs, not
daring to look a man in the face Co. A polled 51 votes for L and
J and 3 for McC. and P. A soldier who voted for McClellan is looked
upon by his comrades as an ignoramus or a coward and wants to get out of
service and so votes for Mac. The army vote - for L and J will be
heavy in this army. The 17th Wis. nearly all Irish will probably
go for Mac.
The paymasters are here paying off the troops. We shall receive pay in a few days. We shall draw 7 months pay and 2 installments of bounty - $204.00 each. There will then be 2 months pay due us. We shall not be able to get the Henry rifles in time for our move and shall probably express you about $350.00 in checks. I have a lot of money to collect for Dale and if the does not write where he is before we leave here, he wishes me to send it to you for safekeeping till he calls for it. $100.00 or more. I have sold a lot of things for him today.
Smyrna, our camp, is on the R.R. 4 miles south of Marietta. We arrived here at Cedartown and Dallas 3 days ago. We both returned yesterday from a two days foraging trip to Suplhur Springs 12 miles south west of here. We came back well supplied with corn and C. We brought in some fresh pork, mutton and a goose and are now living high. We have baked goose seasoned with sage, and C for breakfast tomorrow morning. Won’t you have some?
John Crippen arrived yesterday morning and brought us some nice dried fruit from you. Dale left us a lb. of currants so we are supplied.
We see Edwin Pratt every few days; he is in excellent health and spirits and says he is going to Savannah, so Eunice must not expect to hear from him till after he gets there.
I suppose Jacke is home. Give him my compliments and good wishes. I want to write to you all, but do not see how I can now. I will write when I can. She'll make a journal of the trip and if I get through safely will give you all the history.
It is now late and reluctantly I close. I know not what instructions to give you about writing us, other than that you direct 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 18 A. C. Hope you will all write often for the letters will reach us sometime.
My letter is an ill looking thing and hope you will pardon such work. We are both in splendid health and in good spirits as you see. We may have a chance to write again before leaving.
E. D. Levings
9th Nov. 1864
This is the last opportunity I shall have to write you during the campaign
- only two hours before the mail leaves. Am sorry I can not write
more, but am so pressed with writing for the officers and other matters
that must be attended to that I can not. Now write to us often won’t
you, no matter whether you think the letters will reach us or not.
Thy will sometime.
Goodbye and love to you all,
I have not got time to write anything as the mail is about to close but
I will attach my signature to this scrawl to let you know that I am well.
I suppose we shall start for Atlanta probably tomorrow to fit out for the
campaign. McClellan only got 71 votes out of 499. Most of the
regts. down here I think gave a good majority for Lincoln.
I shall not have time to write any more give my love to all.
From your affectionate son,
P.S. I will mail a phrenological journal in this mail. Homer
Before Savannah, GA
Dec. 18th, 1864
Ever Dear Parents:
At last I can write to you, and as usual, of our continued welfare; and
this is the best news I have for you. Thanks to the kind Providence
that has guarded our steps. Now my snow-white sheet, companion in
my toils for many a weary mile, be the bearer of glad tidings to far-off
friends, and may your journey be as prosperous, and your welcome as merry,
as fortune and friendship can make them.
Yes! to tell you of our health and safety is a pleasure, for your anxiety to hear from us must be great, and your pleasure will be enhanced when I come to relate where we have been and what we have seen and done.
But before proceeding to my narration I will acknowledge the receipt by yesterday’s mail - the first since our arrival hear - of 4 letters from you postmarked respectively Nov. 1, 7, 11, 21st and I need not tell you we were most happy to peruse them.
As you are aware, we have made something of a march, - 300 miles - and made a big hole in the confederacy. Will not the North rejoice when it realizes the effect of this great movement? It can not do it now, for no more terrible blow has been dealt the South than that that has just been given it in Ga.
I have not time to make any thing but a simple statement or outline of the trip, but will ere long give you a minute sketch of what I saw, and of what was done. Now get a good war map if you can and follow me - We left the Gale City in flames on the 15 ult and arrived before Savannah on the 10th all right. The army - 4 corps, 15th, 15th, 17th and 20th - marched in two columns. The 17th struck the R.R. at Gordon, between Macon and Milledgevilles and 170 miles from Savannah. The towns we passed through after leaving Atlanta are McDonough, Jackson, Monticello, Willsboro, Gordon, McIntyre, Toomsboro, Oconee, Tenille, Burton, Werndon, in fact nearly all the Stations on the R.R. between Gordon and Savannah. The 17th Corp had the R.R. all the way and did most of the work of destruction on it. We burned nearly all the stations and tore up and burned the track all the way to Savannah. The road can never be rebuilt during the war. The destruction was immense. I have said nothing of what the other Corps did. The 15th on our right made a feint on Macon. The 14th and 20th went to Milledgeville, Kilpatrick and Biscan made a feint movement on Augusta whipping old Wheeler handsomely. We did not have even a skirmish. We lived off the country almost entirely. We had only 12 days rations hardtack issued to us while on the way and full rations. We took everything we could lay our hands upon and I will say never since I have been a soldier did we fare better, lived like princes in the eating line, flour, meal, rice, fresh pork, chickens, geese, turkeys, honey, fresh beef, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, turnips, sugar and molasses being plenty. But we took all and there is not enough left along the line of our march to save the people from starvation. They must go elsewhere or suffer with hunger. We crossed the Ocmulgee River on pontoons, the Oconee River 6 miles below the R.R. bridge and the Oguchee River at Burton. Marched from 5 to 20 miles a day - lay over one day. The country all fine though of poor soil, is one of the most fertile in the South and many a wealthy were paid off at Atlanta and have got 3 Cs to send you which we will do as soon as an [?compus] office is opening.
Near Savannah, Ga.
Dec. 19th, 1864
It was with the greatest pleasure that I perused your letters the other
day while on picket. I suppose you have heard by this time where
Sherman with his army have turned up, but I suppose you are waiting to
hear the particulars from us. I have not kept my journal on this
march. I will leave Ed to give you an account of it. We had
a very pleasant time, living mostly on the country. We had no enemy
in our front except Wheelers Cavalry but hey did not hinder us much.
The infantry did not have much of any fighting to do. We were not
ordered to the front till we got within four miles of Savannah. Our
company being on picket that day we skirmished through a swamp where the
troops could not march in line of battle on account of its being so wet,
did not meet with any enemy except one rebel who was wounded and was trying
to get away but the boys stampeded him and made him wade across the canal
where our line was formed. The next day we were relieved by the 14th
Corps and we moved to the right to our present position. We are 8
miles from Savannah our camp is on a large rice plantation. There
is a lake between us and the rebs so there can be no attack made at this
part of the line. We live principally on rice as we have not drawn
and rations yet except 1/2 rations hard tack and coffee that we drew this
We expect to draw more, though this evening. Dale is stopping with us most of the time. He intends going north in a few days to buy goods, to bring here and sell. Ft. McCallister was taken several days ago. This was all the for the rebs had on the Ogecee River. It is about 6 miles from here. Our supplies come that way, I do not know how large a force they have got in Savannah, probably about 18,000. There are a good many citizens from the country rushed in there to keep out of our way. They will be made to help defend the city. Some of prisoners have escaped from there, clad in the butternut suit . They say that the rebels gave them a chance to enlist in their ranks or remain in prison, many of them chose to go into their ranks and watch their opportunity to get away, rather than lay in prison.
Lieut. Higbee expects to start for home in a few days. I think it would be a good way to invest money that land of Frak Harts. We have about $350.00 in coupon bonds which we shall send home the first opportunity. They are much better to keep than other money because they draw 7 percent interest and are not taxable.
20th Capt. Price of our regt was shot last night. He was picket officer for our brigade. He was shot by one of our own men by mistake, while reconnoitering.
As I have more letters to write I shall be obeyed to stop. With much love for all I remain your obedient son,
P. S. Lieut. Higby starts home in a few days. Shall try and send that money by him or let Dale have it and he will give you an order on Mr. Searle of Hudson for it. He has money belong to Dale which is ready for him but he wants the money now.
Will you mail me a blank book, size 3 x 5 inches 1/4 inch in thickness for Journal purposes.
Before Savannah, Ga.
Dec. 28th, 1864
Having just arranged our money matters I will tell you what we did.
We gave Dale $160.00 in coupon notes to express to you. You can get
it at the Express Office at Prescott. There are 3 notes and they
are signed to you. The following is the description - Coupon Note
- Denomination $50.00 Series B - Number 202,446/Coupon Note Denomination
$50.00 - Series A - Number 204,585 Coupon Note - Denomination $50.00 -
Series A - Number 204,633 and also/$10.00 Compound interest note.
We let him have $200.00 in Coupons. We will write you and give you
an order on Mr. Searle of Hudson for that amount in Coupon Notes.
The Coupons are attached. I think it safe enough and that Searle
will honor the order. If not, let Dale know and he will send you the amount.
Dale is perfectly honorable and good for 10 times the amount.
Lt. Higby told me it is uncertain whether he will go home at present - thinks of stopping somewhere East.
You may expect to hear soon of a real struggle for Savannah. All is about ready now, and I expect we shall go for the Johnnies shortly. I am detailed as a sharpshooter. God be with you all and prepare each of us for whatever is before us. With love to you all I bid you good night.
Edwin D. Levings
Co. A. 12th Wis. Vols.
via N. Y.
Diary of the March to Savannah
Before Savannah, Ga., Dec. 19th, 1864
The 12th day of Nov. was a day that the soldiers of Sherman will never
forget. To the spectator, the scenes of that day will in after years,
have lost none of their vividness and interest, and in the rush of events
- will be singled out as the commencement of one of the greatest movements
of “this cruel war.” A grand breaking up - like that of the ice in
early spring - pointing to the approach of an event. The magnitude
and importance of which can not be fully realized till it is come upon
us. What is going to be done? Everything has an unsettled look
- there is a hurrying to and fro, but no sign of anxiety - is apparent.
Surely, no evil is brooding. Everybody wears a look of satisfaction
- the paymaster have liberally distributed their “green backs” and there’s
plenty to live upon for some time - It is 12 o’clock a.m. There is
a buzzing noise in camp - orders have come to fall in. What now?
Well, no matter, “fall in,” is the order. Then there is a rattle
of cups, plates, spoons and c - some burn their mouths in their haste to
drink their coffee - rations half cooked are hurriedly devoured or thrown
away. Ejaculations of all sorts, curses intermingled, fill the air.
Who wouldn’t be a soldier? Some laugh, some are cross, some sing.
All in line, we are soon marching up the R.R. to Marietta to begin the
work of destroying the track and depot buildings. The regiments strung
along at equal distances begin the work, and soon the rails are loosened.
The ties and fencing pulled up, and the rails placed across them.
Fires are made, the rails heat and bend, or are bent and broken around
a post or tree and then we sit down to cook our suppers. It was a
grand sight to see those thousand fires along the track. The military
academy which Sherman used to attend in flames, and the depot buildings
and public houses meeting the same fate. Simultaneously the destruction
wen ton from Kingston to Atlanta. Then we began to consider the boldness
of the act. We were severing our communications - cutting loose from
our base to find another hundred of miles away. Could we do it.
Yes! No backward steps with Sherman’s army.
The morning of the 13th long before light, the 17th Corps was marching to Atlanta. We crossed the Chattahoochee 1 1/2 miles below the R.R. bridge and arrived at the city after dark and camped. The following day was spent in completing the preparations for the campaign. I improved the time in washing, sewing and C. Rations (3 days to last 5) were issued at night, also some whiskey.
The morning of the 15th the march had fairly begun our course being S. W. A good many were set up with whiskey and toddled along much to the amusement of the sober, but it was their last spree, and they would have their fun. The road was good most of the way, but the county all ready overrun by our foragers afforded but little subsistence. After marching 12 miles, we camped. I managed to get a yearling heifer so that we had plenty of meat. The 15th Corps was another road to our right and the 14th and 20th were on our left, and in this way we marched through to S. The trains and batteries kept the road and the infantry marched outside through the woods and fields. There was considerable cannonading to our right, but no real fighting. A permanent detail had been made to forage provisions for the troops and thus we were well supplied with flour, molasses, meat, pork, potatoes, and c while on the march. Thus the march went on. The country becoming more level and richer and the roads better till we arrived a the Ocmulgee Mills on the 3rd and 4th day out. We crossed the river of this name on pontoons. Rainy weather set in and for the next 3 days the roads were awful. Once or twice we did not get into camp till after midnight. On the 22nd we struck the R.R. junction at Gordon between Milledgeville and Macon. I was on picket. The weather was very cold - ice formed 1/2 inch in thickness.
Next day was not relieved till after the troops had all left and thinking the opportunity a good one, we stole away and took the R.R. track for 7 or 8 miles, when learning that the troops had halted 1 mile north the R.R. on account of bad roads we turned off. We were fortunate enough to get some cooking utensils, molasses, flour, meat, potatoes, meat and c, yes! and some nice butter and biscuits. What do you think of that, eh? As night we had to destroy R.R. The day following we wee detailed for rear guard, and had charge of a lot of mules and horses that were to be brought along and turned over at night at Brig. Hd. Qur. Homer had one. So did I, and old slab sided fellow, thought to be the slowest, but emphatically one of the best - he had the regular “get up” to him, and out distanced the rest by a long ways. We took the R.R. track came to a long trestle work spanning about 300 yds of mud and water not less than 3 feet deep. Now here was a difficulty. So we go, one after another and all are dismounted save one, before half way across. My steed stuck parts, lay down, blankets and bundles were swimming about and I got exceedingly wet. I lifted my load to those crossing the bridge and after much urging piloted him out to terra firma. One fellow was under his mules and it was with great struggling that he got out. It was a funny time. Two days more marching and we were at the Oconee River 6 miles below the R.R. bridge. The next day we crossed on pontoons and camped 3 miles beyond. While foraging that afternoon on his own account Homer discovered hid in a gulley 3 trunks filled with valuables. We brought away a revolver worth $15, rings worth $5, tobacco and other things worth in all some $35. The march was easy for us, as we did not march more than 12 or 15 miles per day except once or twice when we made 20 miles. We destroyed R.R. almost daily. 5 or 10 miles in a place. The R.R. was very fine, the track being laid on stringers. This we would destroy in this manner. We would pry it up with rails. then pile it up and but it. We arrived at Willow Junction Dec. 2nd. From here we marched along the R.R. destroying every station we came to. The work of destruction was most complete. Foraging was most thorough and we were abundantly supplied with everything eatable the country afforded. From the Ogeechee the country is very swampy - all fine country. I would not live in it for all it contains. We burned a great many houses, taking for our own use everything we needed. This movement is a most terrible blow to Rebels. The R.R. system of Georgia is used up. I want now to see S.C. literally torn in pieces and if this army ever enters that state it will be and then, if by that time the rebellion does not cave, I mistake 6 months more will tell.
Wish I had leisure to write a better account but you will get a pretty correct idea, I think, from this epistle.
Yours as ever,
E. D. Levings
Gap - Will install soon
Well, aren't you surprised! Here we are in Washington and are ordered to
take part in a Grand Review, for which little preparation is being made.
And now while you are looking for "another army letter, I gladly pen these
lines, hoping they made confer as much pleasure and interest as felt by
me when tracing yours.
Now that an armed foe no longer assails the Old Flag, I must write of other things than the scenes and incidences of war, and what shall they be? My purpose was to write a short sketch of our march from Raleigh, North Carolina to Washington: but the thought occurs that from previous letters you must be quite familiar with the features of interest in a march, for though varied, they are much alike in each instance, and therefore I will not invite you to a perusal of what might be but little better than an old story. I will say it was the most pleasant and agreeable march ever performed by us. We had been detailed for Provost Duty at Division Headquarters, and being mounted on horses, with the privilege of going where we wish, had an excellent chance to see the country and the people. Sometimes we remained as safe guards as the houses during the passing of the troops, and sometimes stopping overnight. Everyone was seemingly glad to the War was ended. Numerous questions were asked about the North and Yankees, and more than once I tired with talking. By the way, would you believe it, some of the fair ones asserted their liking for the Yankees, and said they would marry the first favorable chance. Further, some of Raleigh's daughters actually made peace with Uncle Sam's boys by marrying them. This demonstrates conclusively that there is yet in Dixie a real love for the Union. Now, who says the war was a failure, when it ended by making lovers of enemies? A different turn of the wheel of Fortune some of the northern girls may think, and what do you suppose they will say? The trip I shall always remember with satisfaction. I would give some of the conversation, but fear I might spin this out to great a length.
I can not think but that are required service will not be more than 6 or 8 months longer. But I must leave you now for duty calls.
Your affectionate son,
It has been some time since my last letter, but so much has transpired
that I did not have the time. You are doubtless wondering when we are to
come home. As yet there is but one order from the War Department mustering
out and discharging troops, and that applies to those only whose terms
of service expired prior to October 1st, 1865. Our impatience to know what
the War Department has in mind for us has been great, but we are content
to wait until it shall be their pleasure to inform us. With so many troops
to be discharged, there are many minute matters to be looked after, requiring
much time. If they will simply pay and discharge us, I will abide their
time, be it weeks or months.
Well, the Big Grand Reviews are over, and never was Washington in such a merry or receptive mood. The Army of the Potomac past and reviewed the day before us, on the 23rd. We were fortunate and got a chance to see them and they presented a grand site -- all had new uniforms, polished brass on their accoutrements, guns shining brightly and most all wore white gloves. In precession, they marched down Pennsylvania Avenue --their not commissioned officers wearing sabers and their band gaily decked out in splendid uniforms with bearskin hats. Next day was our day to perform and what a comparison it was to be. We were to march is we always did -- no pomp and ceremony for us. Some of the boys were issued new pants and we did the best to shine our battle-scarred guns, clothing and what little brass there was left among us. Homer and I spent considerable time washing and fixing our steeds -- at least we could do that much. That day we all fell in, and it seemed the minute the order was given, our boys took on an appearance of glory and holiness, and they marched, oh, how they marched, never before did they stride like that. Just imagine the scene, Mother and Father, if you can! Men marching in their old worn out uniforms, some with new pants that stood out like soar thumbs, scuffed shoes, and guns seeming to speak out "we have seen better days," our flags tattered and worn, and all along the way, crowds upon crowds of people, cheering so loudly they deafened our ears. Down Pennsylvania Avenue we proceeded, and I fancy to myself a "little Napoleon" on my horse -- and she lived up to qualifications by prancing as to she had been trained purposely for this type of duty and performance. Homer look like a Roman soldier upon his stallion, presenting himself in the best fashion to the onlookers. General Sherman headed the column, followed by General Logan, and each Brigade, headed by its own General and staff. We were up front of our brigade with General Leggett. How proud we were. The color bearers carried the flags that told our conflicts with the enemy. As we passed the reviewing stand, all eyes went right, and the boys did right shoulder arms in perfect timing. President Johnson with his government officials, some foreign affairs and General Grant stood up and cheered us as we passed. I thought we would all loose some more buttons for our chests swelled up and our hearts throbbed. On we marched in back to Crystals Springs. Not one minute of the march did we think how hungry we were and that are breakfast had only been hardtack and coffee this morning. The moments of that day will long linger in the memories of our boys -- though they looked like a lot of Bummers, they did not feel it in the least, and I feel sure the people appreciated them all the more for it. They know we have not had an easy time of it during this conflict, and are aware of it more now.
We do not live too well since we came to Washington. Homer says to tell you if they don't pay as soon there is apt to be some forging going on right here in our nation's capital, for the boys cannot live without eating.
Hold on -- there is an order this morning stopping the muster out of our troops in the District, and it is said we shall proceed as organizations to our respective states, there to complete the work. There are good reasons for it. The boys, many of them, behave rather badly, and there is no doubt that if paid off here and let loose, many would lose all their money, and many would never get home. By the way, the western boys do not hitch well with the Potomac chaps. Washington is in more danger to today than when defended by McClellan's troops. I do not mean to say our soldiers are deficient in good morals generally, but simply to say that in the presence of so many troops of all characters, the elements are stronger, and that society is much disturbed. I have not been down town to see any sites. As it has been, and is, I am on duty to hours in every eighteen and we are camped 4 miles north of town. As soon as I can, though, I mean to get down to see some of the things of interest. It was impossible to see anything the days of the 23rd and 24th even if we had the time. We were fortunate that General Leggett had the curiosity the day the Potomac boys marched for we would not have had the chance to see them otherwise. Can't tell you anymore about our muster out and I must go to my duty. Until next time.
I am your son,
[End of Edwin's and Homer's Letters]