January 1st, 1864.
Gladly the New Year is ushered in. This week it has rained most of the time, and yesterday it poured all day long; a fierce gale accompanied the rain. At nightfall the clouds fled and the stars came out with northern brightness, but I tell you a tent was a cold habitation during the night. The long rain had made even the oak wood we burn so wet there was no comfort in my canvas home last night. This morning the thermometer was nine degrees on the southern boundary of Tennessee. New Years's Day is not much different than other days here; calls on the part of officers and the accustomed greetings somewhat distinguish it. I have received calls from all of my own and other officers this afternoon, and shall call in return on my brigade and division commanders.
I went to make my New Year's calls after writing and made quite a long stay of it with General Schurz I found him cowering over a little bit of a fire-place, in which fine sticks of wood were faintly glimmering. He complained of his airy tent and pour fire-place, and furthermore he had had an attack of fever last night and could not get comfortably warm to-day, so I begged permission to make a fire for him and then piled on wood in such quantities that his servant insisted I would set the tent on fire.
January 6th, 1864.
Twenty of our men joined
the regiment to-day, coming from various hospitals. They are coming from
all directions nowadays. Including the officers, I have nearly four hundred
men in camp now; that is not large for a regiment, but it is a considerable
I read Everett's Gettysburg oration to several listeners this evening; I had not seen it before; it is eloquent, very patriotic and a great power. Edward Everett is old, but it seems to me his latest productions have more fervor and vigor, perhaps less of the stateliness of those of his former days.
I went to Chattanooga yesterday afternoon and called on Captain Willard, of Milwaukee, aid to General Thomas. I had the distinguished honor to dine with the illustrious commander of the Army of the Cumberland, Major General George H. Thomas. He is an elderly man, rather thick set, short necked and large head; of very grave, calm, imperturbable, studied and slow motion and demeanor. Looking upon him, you readily believe that he it was that saved the army from ruin at Chickamauga. He looks like stubborn resistance itself.
We had a slight fall of snow last night; it lay about one-fourth of an inch thick this morning and covered all the trees, particularly those on top of the mountains. It was a beautiful sight when the first rays of the sun illumined the heights. All our applications for leaves of absence and furloughs have been denied; none are granted except in case of sickness or extremity. I almost despair of seeing you this winter. Our Lieutenant Colonel has sent in another extension of his leave, and it will be spring and activity again before I can get another field officer, but you may be assured that if there is the possibility of a chance, I'll make the effort. I'll get permission to go to Old Thomas himself and there Captain Willard must help me.
January 15th, 1864.
I went to Chattanooga this afternoon for General Schurz, and was officer of the day; it kept me on horseback most of the time the last three days. Yesterday the first railroad train came through from Bridgeport; we will have regular trains after this, no danger of their being stopped by snow-drifts.
January 17th, 1864.
Just now I received two
copies of the Milwaukee News with those horrid stories of intense cold,
railway trains buried in snow, freezing, etc.; you better come down to
Chattanooga. I went up on Lookout Mountain to-day; it commanded a magnificent
view of all the country for many miles around; mountains everywhere. Toward
the east, range after range, commencing with the Mission Ridge and ending
in far distant Blue Ridge on the boundary line of the Carolinas. The valley
at the foot of the mountain with the Tennessee River and several creeks
winding through it and dotted with encampments, the village of Chattanooga,
and here and there a white country house, presents a most charming picture.
General Schurz has recently received a new Adjutant General, Captain Robinson, a young lawyer of New York, a pleasant and intelligent man with whom an hour is occasionally spent very pleasantly. General Howard is on leave of absence, and General Schurz is commanding the corps. If it were only as it was in the Army of the Potomac, that corps commanders grant leave of absence, I would take advantage of it, but every application to go even one step beyond Bridgeport has to go up to General Thomas; still if they do not get up any movement by the first of March, I think I may still have a chance.
January 24th, 1864.
The unpleasant news of marching orders has been received. We have not got the order yet, but I have been to Division Headquarters and found it true. We are to leave our excellent camps to go further up towards Bridgeport, our division to take position along the line of the railroad for its protection. We are so comfortably located here and now we have to leave to camp in a new place, where there is nothing prepared, probably where wood is very hard to get, as it is in most of the valley.
Whiteside, January 25th, 1864.
We came here yesterday; the troops we are to relieve are not yet gone and we have but a temporary camp. I have a tent up and a bed on the floor, and a big adjutant's box on which I am writing. To-morrow the troops leave and we will move into their camps and use their fire-places, and I will have my furniture up. Here is a log house that the Colonel of the 75th Illinois has occupied. It is much larger than a wall tent, three times as large nearly; there is a window in it too letting in light, but the walls are so black; I don't like it exactly. I am going to have my tent fixed up with a good floor and fire-place again, and put the adjutant's office and bunk in this barrack. We are having our pictures taken on the top of Lookout Mountain. I had one taken on Saturday on horseback, and one sitting down at the edge of the rock. Our last camp was about five miles from Chattanooga, in a southwesterly direction. Whiteside is about fifteen miles westerly, very close to the Georgia line. I was in Georgia yesterday; it is less than half a mile from here. About five or six miles west is the point where Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee meet. Our present camp is right by the railroad; there is a depot here and a great many trains pass up and down everyday. It is quite lively on that account. There is only one regiment here besides mine, the 82nd Illinois. Colonel Hecker of that regiment commands the post.
January 30th, 1864.
I received a telegram from General Schurz to come down to his quarters, our old place twelve miles from here, at once. I have to go down again to-morrow, probably to stay several days in attendance on a court of inquiry. I do not know how it will be about coming home. Our wounded Lieutenant Colonel sends in one thirty days' certificate after another. A letter from my adjutant tells me that it is all important that we should send an officer home to superintend the recruiting; it is barely possible that, after he gets back and our court is over, at the end of a week, I may be able to get permission to go to Wisconsin for twenty days for the purpose of attending to the recruiting business.
February 3rd, 1864.
I have been engaged every day at general headquarters, and have to start again at seven to-morrow morning. I have just finished an application for myself to be sent to Wisconsin to recruit for twenty days. The Lieutenant Colonel at home is permanently disabled, and will soon be discharged, and I shall have his place. Captain Lackner will be Major. A Colonel cannot be appointed to a regiment unless it has at least eight hundred men; two hundred recruits will bring us up to that number. Tomorrow I am going to Chattanooga to convince Captain Willard of the absolute necessity that my application of recruiting be granted. I am tired, having worked all day with my pen, have been writing an argument in a trail before a military court.
February 8th, 1864.
To-morrow I have to go to General Schurz' headquarters again on a court of inquiry. I hope it will be the last time. Four or five days will decide whether my request is granted.
February 10th, 1864.
My adjutant returned yesterday and information he brought makes it all the more desirable that I should get home for the sake of the regiment. It is so long since my papers left, I am anxious yes, I almost believe now that my application will come back disapproved. I have noticed, on other occasions, that disapproved papers travel slowly. I intended to have my adjutant go up to-morrow and just now sent to brigade headquarters for a pass, when they replied that they had an intimation of marching orders. Marching orders, that will put another barrier in my way and wholly prevent my coming. There is evidently a move ahead. For several days troops have passed by here in the direction of Chattanooga; today, two large brigades of the 15th Corps went by. Troops in Chattanooga are under marching orders. Whither the move is directed, it is not difficult to say; it is evidently against Longstreet above Knoxville, he is assuming too threatening an attitude there. Our corps will necessarily have but a very humble roll to play in the coming drama, as we are so much reduced by the absence of veterans that we are hardly equal to a good sized brigade. I don't think they will send us to Knoxville, but they may send us to Chattanooga, but if I had anything to say about it, it would be to let us remain here long enough for me to go home and fill up my regiment and come back again. After that, I will be ready for anything, still if we are to enter upon our campaign, I don't want to come home now.
The reader will notice that there are no letters from February 10th thru April 19th, 1864. This was the period our father returned home to Milwaukee on recruiting duty for "the sake of the regiment." For his own sake he and our mother were married during this furlough.
Soldiers' Homes Louisville, KY., April 19, 1864.
It is 10.30 P.M., but I must write before I can lie down on the rude couch in this huge sleeping salon. We have been so much delayed on the road and I have had to run about to get transportation for our onward journey and march a couple of miles out here; we are right by the Nashville Depot. At Chicago and Indianapolis we only just had time enough to march from one depot to another. I am so dusty and dirty, and no chance for a bath if we get off at seven A.M. to-morrow.
Nashville, April 20th, 1864.
We arrived here after dark. I took my men to the barracks, which in this city is a big brick house, a sort of warehouse, where the men are taken to an upper story to lie down on the floor. I am stopping at the Sewanee House; I have been promised a bed in a room with six other men, a bed to myself. What luxury! What a crowded place this is!
Lookout Valley, April 23rd, 1864.
Saturday night finds me
with my regiment. I expected to get away from Nashville yesterday on the
passenger train, but the crowd was so great I could not get my men aboard;
I was then told that I could only get them taken out on top of a freight
train at six P.M. The poor boys had to ride all night on top of the cars.
I took a seat in the caboose, in spite of the remonstrances of the conductor.
When we reached Stevenson, I got rid of all the recruits I had for other
regiments than my own.
When I got to Shellmound, I heard of the new organization. The corps is divided into four divisions, commanded by Generals Williams, Geary, Butterfield and Rousseau. General Schurz is ordered to report to General Sherman at Nashville; I am very sorry I did not know this while I was waiting there. We are in Butterfield s Division, brigaded with troops of the late 2nd Division of the 11th Corps; Colonel Wood our brigade commander. I have known him a long time and have always been on friendly terms with him. The regiment has moved near its old camping ground. All seem very glad to see me back.
April 25th, 1864.
The brigade had a very fine drill this afternoon; we did not take part, being excused so we might build our camps. You must direct letters to the 20th, instead of to the 11th Corps, hereafter. To-morrow I shall commence drilling the regiment vigorously; we must keep at it now, so as to be in good trim by the time we start on active operations, which cannot be far hence. I hope I will get my valise before we start. We have confidential information of an early move of some kind; Colonel Wood sent for commanders of regiments to come to his quarters to-night, and read to us a confidential communication from General Butterfield, telling him that he must have his command in perfect readiness to march at a moment s notice by the first of May.
April 29th, 1864.
We had a grand division drill yesterday under the direction of General Butterfield. We went through the manoeuvres of a battle on one side; our infantry fired about thirty rounds of blank cartridges, and the artillery was not at all sparing of ammunition. It was a very interesting and instructive drill. This afternoon we had brigade drill again, thus you see we keep at it pretty rigidly. To-morrow we have division drill by bugle sound. These are things that we never practiced in our old brigade and division; we are, therefore, much behind and have to work and study to keep up. We have three brass bands in our brigade; that of the 3rd Massachusetts is famous throughout the army.
May 1st, 1864.
We had a brigade review and inspection before Colonel Wood this morning; he remarked to me, "You have a very good regiment, Major". We were to be ready to march to-day, but have no orders yet. We are ready at a moment's notice, only I have not my valise yet and need the things in it very much.
Gordon's Mill, Ga., May 3rd, 1864.
A march of about fifteen miles from our encampment in Lookout Valley, across the battle field of Chickamauga, brought us to this place at three P.M. yesterday; there were troops here; they left this morning and it was understood that we were to take their place and remain for a few days at least; therefore we commenced building camp and were already quite comfortable when, at six o' clock, a circular from Colonel Wood tells us that the Major General commanding directs him to inform regimental commanders that orders for marching to-morrow will be received during the night. I wanted to go to Chattanooga to-morrow to see whether I could learn anything of my valise. We are on Chickamauga Creek, about twelve miles south of Chattanooga, part of the Battle of Chickamauga was fought here. A portion of the road we passed over yesterday is covered with skeletons of horses, and every tree bears the mark of the battle, many strong trunks were broken down by artillery fire, many graves too attest the deadliness of the conflict. There is a wagon train just starting for Chattanooga after provisions; I will send this by it.
May 5th, 1864.
Pleasant Grove they call the place where we have pitched our shelter tents. We have made our camp pleasant enough by clearing away all rubbish and under-brush, leaving only the tall white oaks and pines. We marched yesterday in a due easterly direction; we are about three miles south of Ringgold. Taylor's Ridge, a long, steep, high hill separates us from the railroad leading to Dalton and from the position of the enemy. Our corps seems to be concentrated here. The 1st Division came today and the 2nd is expected tomorrow. It is reported that the enemy has evacuated Dalton and is retreating southward; I think the forces concentrated against him must nearly deplete the enemy's numbers, and in that case to give us battle would be certain discomfiture, if not annihilation; by falling back, he compels us to divide our forces and gains in numerical strength by concentration. It would be a great advantage, of course, to get him to fight us here, but I do not know that it is possible, and I am sure that it won't be accomplished; such things can only be done by rapid, powerful, sudden, unexpected moves, and they require genius, both of conception and execution. Indications, however, are that we will have a long march; if the rebels keep retreating, that is inevitable. Officers' baggage has in a large measure been stored; we are allowed but one wagon for the regiment, all others are to be used for carrying rations. This shows that we are not to rely upon and wait for the completion of railroad communications; I think that is well. I am sitting on a fallen tree, with my paper on my lap. The 22nd Wisconsin belongs to our Division. I called on Lieutenant Colonel Bloodgood today, with whom I am slightly acquainted.
Leet's Farm, Ga., May 6th, 1864.
We received very sudden
orders to march this morning, and went in a southwesterly direction about
seven miles. There are a number of large farms and plantations here, also
a mill and a tannery, all deserted except the mill, which seems to be feebly
worked. The whole country wears a desolate aspect. A circular has just
announced that we will march tomorrow morning at or before daylight, probably
without wheels; that probably means reconnaissance.
The change of diet since I returned to the regiment did not agree with me; we did not get anything but salt meat until day before yesterday one of our boys brought a quarter of veal, which is now preparing; where he got it, I have not deemed it my duty to inquire. A veracious answer might lower Union officers in general in the opinion of your friends. It is very nice to get little extras on the march, but it involves one in perplexities; for instance, yesterday we had the rare fortune to get half a dozen eggs; this was something extra indeed. We concluded to use three of them to make an eggnog; it was very good and my convalescence dates from the time of drinking it. But, here were the other three eggs; what should we do with them? How can we make the most of them? We were in quite a dilemma until I suggested to our cook to have them boiled for our early breakfast tomorrow morning.
Near Buzzard Roost, Ga., May 9th, 1864.
In the midst of all this toil of marching, picketing and skirmishing, we are to have a rest, and I can turn for a moment away from the duties of my command. Day before yesterday we started out at daybreak, crossed Taylor's Ridge, and finally took position on a ridge of hills a little southwest of Buzzard Roost. We were sent on picket, the whole regiment, and got but very little sleep. We were relieved at noon and marched forward with the rest of the brigade, then took position on the hills and sent skirmishers out toward the enemy's position. We found the 14th Corps in position before Buzzard Roost. This is a gap between two pretty high, steep mountains, about half a mile wide, through which the railroad runs to Dalton; a ridge of hills extending across the gap and connecting the mountains makes the gap naturally very strong. These hills are fortified and held by the rebels. The projecting mountains on either side make a flank movement on this position impossible, and to storm the place by direct attack would, if possible at all, involve a fearful loss of life. We sent out skirmishers all yesterday afternoon, with no particular result. I had two officers slightly wounded. About two o' clock today we were relieved by a division of the 14th Corps, and are now about two miles from the Roost, awaiting orders which I hope will be to stay here all night. This is a very wild country, nothing but mountains and gaps, and I believe the enemy's position is very strong and of such a nature that superior forces cannot be easily made to tell. I have to work very hard to see to everything; my line officers are not very desirable; I have only a few who are really efficient. It is too bad that I have not got the valise; those five commands are in it, and now I cannot get the officers mustered in.
Snake Creek Gap, May 11th, 1864.
Now Wednesday afternoon. It rains slightly; I am under a shelter tent, sitting on the ground, and will use this cigar box for my writing desk. A victory of General Grant over Lee on the very field of Chancellorsville has been finally communicated to the army and causes universal rejoicing. To the order announcing it, General Sherman adds "Let us do the same." This morning we started at daylight and marched towards the south to Snake Creek Gap, which leads to the south of Dalton. It seems that the rebels did not occupy this Gap. General Mc Pherson has passed through it with his army, the 15th and 16th Corps. We are on the way through and apparently other troops will follow, thus bringing a large portion of the army to the south of Dalton, in the rear of the enemy's position and on his lines of communication. We were halted in the Gap, and the whole division is hard at work making a road, or at least in proving it with double wagon tracks and a sidetrack for infantry. Something highly Important may be looked for In these parts. Concentration of forces, about which so many have theorized, has been most admirably put into practice by General Grant.
May 17th, 1864.
Our success in last Sunday's
fight was neither brilliant nor all that it might have been, but was sufficient
to induce the enemy to leave his fortifications and retreat in haste the
ensuing night. We followed, our division marched southeast and was last
night ferried across the Cossawattees River, a little above its junction
with the Connesauga, which we had crossed on a rough bridge. We are now
on the left bank of the first.
My total loss of life in the Battle of Resaca is one officer, three men killed and forty-seven men wounded. The way the rebels left many of their own wounded in the field, wholly destitute and uncared for, is shocking.
5 A. M., May 20th, 1864.
We have had a very hard time the last few days; on our feet in fact from early dawn until long after dark, and all feel very much undone. Our skirmishers came upon the rebel rear guard day before yesterday, and skirmishing commenced at once and continued until night. Yesterday we marched a good deal, skirmished considerable, and towards evening our corps concentrated near Cassville, where we had quite a fight, which was terminated by the ensuing darkness. All the rebels wish, is to get away; they do not fight with spirit; they give up to every attack, and many are glad to come in and surrender at every opportunity. I found a few strawberries yesterday. The troops marched back without rest. This is a very fine country, of large- once wealthy-plantations,
Near Cassvllle, Ga., May 20th, 1864.
I am so sorry at what
I discovered just now. Late on Sunday night, after the battle, by the light
of the fire, I traced a few lines to you on a slip of paper, put them in
an envelope and directed it to you; I gave it to George Jones, who took
it and got it mailed. Just now I find that letter and envelope where I
keep my blank paper; I must, therefore, have put a blank paper in the envelope
sent to you. I wanted to let you know that I was unhurt. Telegraphing is
out of question, we are too far in. We are to have one more opportunity
to write, two days of rest, and then another campaign, apparently of extraordinary
rigor. We have a fly net and have put it up for our inner apartment, while
our sitting room has a roof of green boughs, which affords a very nice,
cool shade in these hot days. We found a few boards which made a good table,
and with a few chairs we are comparatively comfortable. We also have plenty
of fresh meat now, and were so lucky as to get some dried apples and some
I shall tell you of the secrets of our army movements. I know you will not communicate it either to rebel spies or to the press. Well we have a big order from General Sherman today, in which he directs the points at which the troops are to be massed, and says that they must be ready to march on the 23rd in light fighting order with twenty days' rations and haversack and wagons, so as to be independent of the railroad. The rations are reduced and the deficiency is to be supplied by foraging. As we are to go through a country where there is no lack of beef cattle, this doubtless means a move on a large scale and another march, probably a battle, and I hope a decisive victory. It is doubtful whether I will be able to send you a letter during these twenty days. The bugle is blowing for dress parade, and the mail is to be taken off.
Near Cassville, Ga., May 21st, 1864.
One of my Milwaukee recruiting sergeants was probably mortally wounded. He was but a few steps from me when he was shot, and fell right down with a loud and most painful moan. I have not gotten my valise yet, and it is really very hard to get along without it. I am wearing clothes once discarded as all worn out. I have only one pocket handkerchief and that has been washed today. Think of it! I had a visit from Major Mc Arthur this afternoon. Colonel West was wounded in the foot at Resaca and will necessarily be absent from command for a long time again. In the Army of the Potomac they must have had terrific battles; the accounts we have had have been very meager, but the result has been certainly in our favor. I hope that all may continue to go well, so we can finish the war by this coming fall.
May 22nd, 1864.
This is a much pleasanter
Sunday morning than it was a week ago, not in point of weather alone, but
it is more Sunday like. No booming of cannon, no rattling of musketry,
no ordering voices harsh with excitement, no shrieks of wounded, no groans
of dying, no confusion of battle disturbs the holy quiet of the Sabbath
Day. A week ago the riot of human weakness, folly and passion seemed to
contend with the goodness of God and for a time almost to gain mastery
over it; Nature was calm and placid, the happy birds sung merrily in green
boughs, the air was balmy and soft, all betokened the beneficence of the
Ruler above, but man converted this scene of peaceful calm to a Pandemonium
of terror and destruction until Night kindly threw its mantle over the
scene and screened the combatants from each other's view Brave men may,
but I believe there are very few, if any, who take delight in battle, and
very few who in the heat of an engagement will not welcome the coming night
as that of a friend who will stop the fierce wrangle and bring relief to
the struggling men. There is something so providentially kind in it to
those who have survived the dangers of the day, in the fall of night upon
the battle field. It brings relief to the anxious heart and inspires it
with gratitude to God for the favors shown during those hours of danger.
I have just obtained leave for my Quartermaster to go to Chattanooga for my valise. He will take this letter. There are all sorts of rebel movements in circulation. We have great faith in our generals. It seems to me that Sherman has displayed the qualities of a very able and energetic general. We had a circular from him this morning, in which he said that all reports about his suppressing mail communications between soldiers and their friends at home were false; that, on the contrary, he encouraged such correspondence and wished all subordinate commanders to take measures to make the mall service in the field as efficient as possible; the only thing he discouraged was the idlers who traffic in news injurious to the army. I rode over to Cassville last night; it is quite a pretty village with several churches but deserted and desolate.
May 22nd, 1864.
We have marching orders for four o' clock A. M. tomorrow, and are to have a long march right into the enemy's country clear beyond Atlanta. It is said that Macon will be our objective point. On such a march, of course, it is vain to hope that mail communication can be kept open.
May 27th, 1864.
I have two letters, written
Sunday the 15th and Monday, the 16th. You did not know when you wrote that
Sunday letter that, at that very moment, we were hotly engaged in battle,
and it is well you did not. We are now again in the midst of battle. We
are near Dallas, in Georgia. Our corps came here in advance on Wednesday,
and the advance regiment of the 2nd Division hit upon the enemy and had
a sharp conflict. In the afternoon, our corps was all up and we formed
and moved forward to the attack. We drove the enemy back steadily a considerable
distance, but finally came to a ridge where he was strongly posted and
it was not so easy to dislodge him. We attacked quite fiercely and fought
a sharp battle which lasted until night, when we held all the ground we
had gained. We were first in the second line, but soon took the front,
where we sustained and kept up a heavy fire for about an hour, when night
closed upon the scene. Our fire had been so hot that the rebels had been
obliged to slacken theirs very much, and when we ceased firing, they showed
no disposition to renew it. It was a trying position, but with the efficient
assistance of those two brave men, Captain Fuchs and Adjutant Traeumer,
I succeeded in keeping the regiment in a firm, steady and unwavering line.
When it was dark we ceased firing, fixed bayonets, closed up the intervals
the casualties of the contest had caused, and were ready for any action,
offensive or defensive. Of course, such an ordeal could not be undergone
without loss; I lost five men killed, one officer and thirty-two men wounded,
and one sergeant who was out on picket after dark and ordered to reconnoiter
the rebels' line is missing, probably he went too far in the intense darkness
and was taken prisoner. The fight had scarcely ceased when it commenced
to rain, and there we had to sit and be rained upon without shelter and
without a fire. After midnight we were relieved and taken a piece to the
rear, but our boys did not come until morning, and hungry, wet, without
a blanket, we did not have a very pleasant night of it. At daylight the
boys came with coffee, meat, crackers and blankets. We are still in the
same place. Yesterday there was only skirmishing, etc., and the army got
into position. It seems that the whole rebel army is in our front. Today,
it is said at nine A. M. a general advance is to be made; our right, left
and center are to make a simultaneous attack. We will probably be under
fire before night. May God crown our arms with success.
Two of Company G were killed on Wednesday. Robert Templeton and Emerson Smith. They were both excellent men, cool and brave. Truer and braver hearts have never fallen in battle. If you know their parents, tell them how sincerely we condole with them in the loss of those brave boys. We are getting ready to move.
2 P. M., May 28th, 1864.
The best way to while away the slow hours of this battle is to think of home, and while I think, I might as well write, though I know of no way in which to send my letter. The situation here seems substantially the same; both armies hold their lines strongly defended by breastworks. Neither seems disposed to make an attack. Mc Pherson has gone to the extreme right and was to turn the rebel flank, and it has been expected all the day that a fierce attack would bring this heavy report to our ears; we did hear some artillery in that direction this morning, quite distant, but it did not continue long and save skirmish fire along the line, and an occasional shell, all is quiet.
May 30th, 1864.
Just now a notice was sent from brigade headquarters that a mail will go out at five o' clock, and we still have an hour before that time. Let me repeat that our corps had a fierce fight here near Dallas on Wednesday afternoon; since then our army has been getting in position and thrown up heavy breastworks all along the line. The enemy confronts us also behind breastworks, and there we stand. There is constant watching, constant skirmishing between the lines, which some times changes into a severe fight; neither party seems inclined to attack the other. What the result of this will be, I don't know; it would seem that a hard battle will have to be fought, but our doings is a riddle to me. The monotony of sitting here day after day, night after night, on the same spot, and now and then going to look over the breastworks when picket firing becomes active to see what it means, is rather dull and does not afford a very good subject for writing.
May 31st, 1864.
Everything remains precisely the same. We were retired from the front line last night and are now in the second, where we are quite comfortably free from duty. I have not even had my boots on today, but it is tedious, hard, nothing to do, nothing to read, no news, no information of anything. As you may suppose, our camps are rife with thousands of rumors. Every now and then the men have it that one flank or the other of the enemy has been turned; that a new force of great strength is in rear of Atlanta; that General Thomas has said this or General Sherman that, and there have been some too timid enough to whisper rumors of retreat, but none in the 26th Wisconsin. My men are all in excellent spirits and in good condition and ready for any duty. In order to get from here to Atlanta, we have to pass many ranges of hills, one range I am told is seven hundred feet high; the country is all broken, nothing but ravines and hills. Of this conformation of the ground, the enemy has taken advantage; to its natural strength he has added strong works; he has a large party of negroes with his army, who are constantly at work building new and strengthening old fortifications. One of the many rumors afloat is doubtless true, that we have large reinforcements coming, for Rousseau's Division of our corps, which was left to guard the railroad from Nashville to Chattanooga, is on our way, also portions of Me Pherson's army, which had been left behind. More interesting, even more important, than the coming of reinforcements, is the definite information that we shall have a mall tomorrow; that will bring us news Or what is going on outside of Dallas, Georgia.
June 3rd, 1864.
We have changed our position. Our corps was relieved in the position we held by the 15th Corps, about noon day before yesterday. We marched towards the left some miles and went into a dense wood, where we bivouacked until a little past noon yesterday, when amid torrents of rain, such n rain as you have scarcely ever known in Wisconsin, we continued our march toward the left of the army. We halted, then marching slowly arrived a little before sunset in this place, in the extreme left of the army, in a reserve position-the 23rd Corps in our front. It seem s that w e are pushing our army towards the left, probably to get to the railroad. Orders have just come to be ready to march at a moment's notice. My Quartermaster found my valise in the express office. There has been slow skirmishing in front ever since we came here, accompanied by occasional shelling. One shell came right into the regiment last night, grazing one man's leg.
June 4th, 1864.
We marched a few miles
eastwardly yesterday and again took a reserve position. Our table admits
of little variety, for the last two days we have had nothing but hard tack
and coffee; this morning a little bacon, which I broiled according to your
directions, was quite eatable. Today we feasted on beef and apple sauce
for dessert. There is a large apple orchard in front of our camp; the farm
is deserted, and we are permitted to help ourselves. A letter from Washington
informs me that my claim for the horse has been disallowed; I expected
it. I wish you would send me some stamps occasionally and enclose an extra
envelope in every letter. We are so far in the wilderness there is nothing
to be had here. We are now about nine miles from Marletta; our corps came
here about noon yesterday and skirmishers met the enemy and, according
to information received, the enemy was in our front in great force. We
took position and entrenched ourselves. This morning other corps Joined
us and the danger, if there was any, is now past. I was officer of the
day yesterday, and was at work from four A.M. until after dark in one of
those heavy showers which we have had daily this month, and was drenched
to the skin.
The second part of the campaign against Atlanta seems now to be concluded; that is, the enemy has been driven by maneuver, rather than by dint of fighting, from his second defensive position in the mountains. Our army, augmented by a large force of the 17th Corps under Frank Blair, is now concentrated on both sides of the railroad, between Acworth and Marietta, and to-morrow a forward movement against the enemy's third position-which it is supposed will be the south bank of the Chattahoochee River, covering Atlanta-will be commenced. We have orders to be ready to march at daylight tomorrow.
The result of the inspection yesterday was very gratifying to us, the inspectors having found mine decidedly the best of the three regiments; they Pronounced it in remarkably good order after so severe a season of campaigning. Do not forget to send me some envelopes in your next letter; I am almost wholly out. I wish too I had a glass of your lemonade, am not feeling very well yet; our limited daily fare is monotonous. Yet, considering the great distance of our source of supply, the means of transportation and the large number of men to be supplied, I think it bespeaks good management that we suffer no greater privations.
I feel very much interested in the Baltimore Convention now in session, and should like to have a daily relating its proceedings. I suppose that President Lincoln will be renominated. I confess that I am not a very great, enthusiastic admirer of his, and I think the country might afford us an abler and a stronger Chief Magistrate, but it is hard to say who that man is, or at least who the proper man in the present crisis would be. The next presidential term will involve greater difficulties and perplexities than the present; the most violent and rankerous party spirit will be rampant, and it will demand great firmness and talents of the highest order to steer a steady course. For my part, I would like to see the Convention postponed; it was a bad move to appoint it so early and elect the delegates and pledge them for one man. The nominee of this Convention should be a fit one if he must be chosen. I have no faith or sympathy for Freemont and Cochrane, nor Mc Clellan or any other Democratic nominee. It is four o'clock and I must close.
June 11th, 1864.
Although we have had orders
to be ready to march every morning for the last three days, and we are
ready, always ready, we have not yet moved. Part of our army has moved
forward, but not far. The supposition of Johnston's retreat to the south
bank of the Chattahoochee seems not to have been correct and he is now
said to be enforced and strongly fortified near Marietta; it may be, therefore,
that we will have a battle there. I got notice yesterday that Lieutenant
Colonel Boebel has been discharged, and I think Governor Lewis will give
me the appointment. It is Sunday afternoon, raining, raining, one continual
pour. It commenced on the 2nd of June, and every day since we have had
showers. The roads have become so heavy, our supply train can hardly move.
We have to be very economical of our supplies of rations; the railroad
however has been fully repaired; we heard the whistle of the locomotive
yesterday, and suppose Alley will run trains of provisions through to Acworth
The enemy is in position not far from us, but while this weather continues, it will be impossible to do much. Here is an orderly from Brigade Head quarters, announcing the mail. We have had a Chattanooga paper here to tell us of the nomination at Baltimore. I have told you in a former letter that I am not very enthusiastic for Honest Old Abe. Our big guns are shelling the enemy's guns quite furiously just now; there must be some movements in their lines. We are in reserve and are quite at ease. The sun is actually shining out boldly now.
June 17th, 1864.
We advanced two miles
day before yesterday, fighting our way; our brigade was in reserve and,
towards evening, for about half an hour, was subjected to the sharpest
artillery fire that I have experienced since Gettysburg. The noise of whizzing
and exploding of shells, especially in the woods, is terrific, but compared
to infantry its destructiveness is slight. I had two men wounded. Theregiment
having taken position near the enemy's works, our troops put up breastworks;
yesterday as the lines were pretty close together, there was a good deal
of firing between the pickets and our artillery threw shells, but the dense
woods in front prevented an accurate aim. Just at dark, the rebels opened
a brisk discharge of shell upon one of our batteries; we were in line right
behind this battery, and for a brief time the things burst around us with
most uncomfortable vividness. A number exploded right over my line. Immediately
after we went to the front, relieving another regiment. At daylight this
morning, our pickets reported the rebels gone. I have just been over to
the position they occupied; it is very strongly fortified. I conjecture
that some movement upon the enemy's right flank caused the evacuation.
A portion of our army seems to be following up and we will doubtless move
We did move this morning after the above was written, and have advanced some miles and come to a halt Our artillery is busy throwing shells at the rebels and skirmishers not over half a mile in front of us, and we have come to a halt. Am glad you sent me some postage stamps; I think letters go better with them. Would you believe it, that from the day I left Madison in April to this, I have had but one single pocket handkerchief; do not be shocked, I have had it washed frequently. It is of pretty good silk, but it cannot stand that kind of use much longer. I cannot get any here; you must send me some by mail. Almost anything can be sent by mail to the army, even boots and more bulky things, if only the postage be prepaid in full.
Our Mothers 24th birthday, June 20th, 1864.
I scarcely remember where
I was on this day of the month in the year 1840, but it was a good ways
off on the other side of the Atlantic, and a good ways from the State of
Yesterday the rain was perfectly furious, and we marched and skirmished all day. We are now in position west of Marietta facing east. I lost one man and had five wounded yesterday; one of my captains got a bullet through his haversack. We did not get into camp until eleven o'clock last night, and it seemed as if we might remain quiet to-day. One of my line officers misbehaved himself again yesterday; he commanded a company of skirmishers, and several mistakes occurred along the line. I found last night that he had been under the influence of liquor. I am determined to stop everything of that kind and have put him in arrest and preferred charges, and shall try to get him punished exemplarily; there is certainly nothing more revolting than an officer getting drunk when charged with such responsibilities as commanding men under fire. Still you see drunken officers in every battle; they shall not, however, be seen in my regiment.
June 21st, 1864.
We were started under arms about five P.M. yesterday, to go out in support of our 1st Division on a reconnaissance to our right. It rained hard. We formed right outside of our breastworks and there halted and waited until after dark and then went back to camp. It is still raining to-day. Since the first of June, we have had just three days that it did not rain; every brook is a river and the roads are terrible if we did not have the railroad, we would have to go back or starve. According to the last accounts we have, Grant was moving Lee's Army south of James River; that is certainly a bold and unexpected move, and I hope he will realize all he expects from it. I am anxious to hear the results.
June 22nd, 1864.
It is a bright, pleasant morning, justifying the hope that it will not rain to-day. We have orders to be ready to advance. What this army needs more than anything else just now is the pay master; it has only been paid to the 31st of December last, and everybody is out of money. As I have advanced the greater part of our mess expenses, I am reduced to six dollars in cash, but we can buy of the commissary on credit now, so we can get along. Day before yesterday our commissary's sergeant found a sutier here and bought a can of strawberries, one of tomatoes and a little box of sardines for us. We also got some flour yesterday. Pancakes and strawberries made a very agreeable change for dinner. I can eat a great many things in the field that I could not eat at home, but even here I cannot eat tomatoes
Near Marletia, Georgia, June 23rd, 1864.
I left off writing about
twenty-four hours ago, just as we were to move. The result proved that
we moved out to a hard day's work. We advanced upon and took a line of
rebel breastworks and held it and entrenched it under a constant fire from
another line of stronger works. It is with a heavy heart that I contemplate
the loss of five men killed and thirty three wounded in what was little
more than a skirmish. We were very much exposed all day after we advanced
into this position, and the enemy with the protection of his works was
enabled to fire deliberately. The bullets flew around and over us thick
and fast. As soon as I can get another, I will send you my hat, to show
the narrowness of my escape from a fatal bullet; it tore out a large piece
of the brim and passed within half an inch of my head. Another ball which
had glanced from something else, probably a tree, and was without force,
struck my left knee, but did not hurt me at all. I picked it up, and it
was so hot that I could not hold it in my hand.
I was interrupted here by orders to march. We have marched to the right considerably and are now on the extreme right of our corps, where it Joins the left of the 23rd Corps. We are at present massed in rear of the front line, but we are to go forward soon.
We have got into a new position somewhat in advance of the one we held before. The rebels tried an attack in this place yesterday, but were repulsed with great loss. It is a very important position, as it holds one of the principal roads leading back to Marietta. The loss of so many of my good boys yesterday affected me very much more than at any other time; it was, I believe, because I saw everything so plainly and talked to many of the wounded myself. The engagement was slow and lasted so long; one had an opportunity to see all so plainly, and then, while both at Resaca and near Dalton the great majority of the wounds were light, most of them yesterday were severe, many of them fearful. Now the intelligence that the result of the fighting yesterday has been largely in our favor, has reconciled us somewhat to our individual loss. A good many rebel deserters have come into our lines during the last night; they are all very much discouraged. Everybody looks at my hat, and dozens of men have stopped and looked and speculated upon the Majors close call. My nice hat, isn't it too bad? Captain Lackner came up to our line once and got one ball through his coat skirt and another on his sword scabbard, but escaped unhurt.
June 25th, 1864.
We are still in the same
position we occupied day before yesterday. It is like so many we have had
during this campaign, very close to the enemy's pickets, and as the pickets
keep firing constantly a great many bullets are thrown into the line, although
in the second line I have had my men put up breastworks for their protection
and a barricade of two lengths of rails, about four feet high, and covered
with earth on the outside, sheltering our regimental headquarters from
the intrusion of stray bullets; in the front line quite a number have been
hurt, but not severely. It is a disagreeable mode of fighting. During these
days when there is no engagement and you ought to be at rest, there is
constant firing all around, and you are never out of danger and can hardly
move about without indiscreet exposure. I know how much we lose in these
many successive small battles, but we have as yet had no fighting at all
compared to that of Virginia, and this mode of fighting may yet continue
a long time. I hope, oh, so earnestly, for some decisive event that may
put a speedy end to the whole contest, but I do not exactly see how it
is to come. According to present appearances, it will take a series of
bloody battles to accomplish that end, and it will be necessary to put
more men into the field. The sooner they are got, the better it will be;
we ought to have them ready now. I was interrupted by heavy firing on the
skirmish line, which brought us to our feet and on the alert.
It is now past six o'clock, and the sun is very near down. We have had no rain since the 21st, and it is very, very hot. We are in an open field and the only means we have of sheltering ourselves from the hot rays of the sun is to get young trees from the neighboring woods and build arbors. We have a very nice little arbor around our fortified headquarters; a butternut tree constitutes the center, numerous oak and hickory trees lean against it and make it quite a pleasant place. Fresh water is very scarce. If you could send me a little package of tartaric acid, it would do us a great deal of good; there are no lemons to be had, but with acid we can make what soldiers will call a most delicious lemonade.
It is Sunday afternoon and I am in a basement room of a very large, ancient, planter's mansion, deserted by its owner, I came here as president of a court martial, but as we could not get a quorum together, we have been unable to do any business, but we have a table and benches which, though rude, are more convenient to write upon than on the ground with a cracker box for a desk. We are still in the same position. We have many dubious rumors about Grant's Army near Petersburg but they are all very vague, but I continue to trust that all will turn out well there. It has been a very hot day with us again, and it is very acceptable that we do not have to march or work.
June 27th, 1864.
An order came at six o'
clock this morning that our artillery would open on the enemy, and that
our infantry should hug their breastworks closely, so as to be protected
from the enemy's fire of shot and shell, in case he should reply; this
was nothing formidable, so I laid down again, but had scarcely got into
a doze when I was aroused and several lengthy orders were put in my hands,
from which it appeared that General Geary, whose position was to our left
and somewhat in rear, was to advance his lines to the woods in front, which
would bring him about in line with our front line. General Williams, whose
division was between Geary and us, and partly right in rear of us, was
to send a brigade to occupy the line Geary would vacate, and our brigade
was to Din Williams' left and extend to the Powder Springs road. This would
bring us directly in rear of our other two brigades, who were to keep their
position. All these positions were to be made at two o'clock in the morning,
so there was no more sleep. We were ready at two, but did not start until
nearly three, and soon got to the position assigned us behind the original
lines of rifle pits built here, in a fine, shady forest of tall oaks and
chestnut trees. We got another hour's sleep and than a breakfast. About
five o'clock, artillery began to play slowly, and soon firing became brisk.
It was said that the 4th and 14th Corps were to assail the enemy's works,
and the appearances were decidedly as though there would be a big battle
to-day. Artillery fire has been quite heavy this afternoon, and to our
left we heard a lively infantry fire too, but it was only as of a strong
skirmish line. We were ordered to be ready at any moment to move to any
place where our aid might be required, but so far we have been undisturbed,
and save the occasional boom of a shot all is quiet now, about four P.M.
We have a pleasant position here, good water, and the stray bullets from
the enemy's pickets cannot reach us.
I do not know what you may have read of General Wood's fight of the 28th of May. General Wood commands a division in Howard's 4th Corps. He advanced his lines there on our left that day, but did not have so terrible a fight. He came upon the same position that checked our advance on the 25th, but did not have near as severe an engagement as we did. I find that newspaper reporters give the most extravagant and exaggerated accounts of small engagements, and even where there are no engagements. To us, who know the truth, these accounts are often absolutely sickening. A Nashville paper, for instance, has a long, glowing and minute account of Hooker's magnificent assault upon Lost Mountain, capturing over one thousand Prisoners and twelve pieces of artillery, and of Schofield's contemporaneous assault on Pine Knob. Neither Lost Mountain nor Pine Knob have ever been assaulted by any of our forces; the former, I believe the enemy never occupied. He had a strong line extending across the latter and towards Lost Mountain, and we took up a strong line in front of it on the 6th inst. Our whole army took position there and fortified and there it remained until the 15th inst., from time to time throwing shell into the rebel lines, one of which proved fatal to Lieutenant General Polk. On the 15th, it was found that the enemy had evacuated, and then we occupied and advanced beyond his line. Except at Resaca, we have not, throughout this campaign, made a charge upon any of the enemy's principal lines of work. Whenever we have got up to them, we have stopped and entrenched and then gradually crowding closer and closer, bringing all the artillery into position we could; thus he has been induced to give up many very strong positions, but he seems to be stubborn. His right is strongly entrenched on Kenesaw Mountain, and his whole line is doubtless made as strong as possible, still he will and must be got out of it. I can only write military letters here amidst the din of the conflict. Pieper just brings us a plateful of fried cakes he has made. I am sure you would say they were good, if you lived on hard tack as long as we have.
June 28th, 1864.
After finishing the letter yesterday, I learned something of the events of the day. It seems that the 4th and part of the 14th Corps did move upon the enemy's works in the morning, with a view to an assault, but came upon an a battis so strong and so intricate and so well commanded by the artillery and infantry of the enemy as to be virtually impassable; the intention to assault was, therefore, abandoned. Our loss is said to have been considerable. Some other plan seems now to have been resolved upon and its prompt execution to be in preparation. An order from General Thomas requires troops to be provided with ten days' supplies, and that with as few wagons as possible. We are included. It doubtless means a move southward around the rebel army; this cannot be by our whole army, as that would wholly expose our communications, and with as few wagons as possible means that the rest of them are to stay. Probably it is to be an expedition by a large detachment which, when all is ready, will move off in the night with the utmost secrecy and try to surprise some vital point of the enemy's communications south of the Chattahoochee, perhaps the City of Atlanta itself. It is not very far from here. If we can effect a crossing readily, we can get there in one day, and if the remainder of our army succeeds to engage the whole of Johnston's attention, it may not be very difficult to get into that city. It is very hot here; I wish I had a lighter coat. Our team just coming up and, on looking through my scanty possessions, I found a coat bought of a sutler last year, its original hue turned into all the different hues of purple. With my pantaloons thrust into my boots, you have a picture of an officer in the field.
June 29th, 1864.
I am fortunate enough to find a blank sheet of paper in an old letter in my pocket. It is afternoon and I am encamped under my fly. We have no marching orders yet. Beyond the order for ten days' supplies, nothing has been received. I do not like to encourage the blues, but I am less hopeful than one year ago the last fourth of July. Our position then was a sad one and we have gained a great deal since, but after all when we think of what must still be done In order to crush the rebellion, it is but little. You can only crush the rebellion by subjugating the south, of that there can be no doubt. We started with big armies two months ago; they have been commanded with more ability and led with more vigor than ever before and have gained advantages of no trivial nature, but the expense of blood and treasure by which they have been bought are fearful. Every regiment in Meade's army seems to have lost more than half. Our losses in Virginia so far must reach seventy or eighty thousand men. The best correspondent puts down the enemy's loss as three to our five thousand. This army too, though it has fought no real battle, at least none decisive, has lost very heavily; our effective force has been reduced at least one-fourth and yet, excepting a tract of useless territory which it takes large detachments to guard, we have gained nothing; the enemy is always well sheltered behind strong defenses. I don't know how it will end. It will take more men, many more men. Our Government-too vacillating, too weak-it would fight it out, but it is too timid to provide the means The President does not make a call until he is driven to it by the actual depletion of the ranks; then troops are raised in a hurry and hurled against the enemy's fortifications before they have learned the first lesson of the school of a soldier. So it has been from the beginnings if the troops which have been raised in the last six months had been raised a year sooner, they might have been sufficient to fight it out, but to provide a second army after the first is slain is a wretched policy. Our Congress is the most pusillanimous thing that ever had existence; with the plainest facts before its eyes, as to the pernicious effect of the three hundredth clause, members dare not repeal it lest some of their supporters at home might thereby be disappointed in escaping the draft. There will have to be much hard fighting yet. If we do not end the war this year, I think that some other tactics will have to be tried.
June 30th, 1864.
We were just seated at
a card table last night to while away an hour, when an aid came and told
us we were to relieve our first brigade in the front line at once; as we
had not been in the front line since we came here on the 23rd, this order
was just enough, still it was exchanging a very nice place for a rather
Our court martial is in session again, and I am now in that planter's house I have told you of. Our line is not pleasant. We have to be on the watch all the time, cannot move about, as there are stray bullets constantly flying, and we have to keep right in our pits. Under such circumstances, it is not unpleasant to be on duty here a few hours in the day.
A little after midnight I was awakened by musketry and heavy artillery fire at some distance; I hurried on my boots and looked out. The rebel guns on Kenesaw Mountain were playing briskly, but their attention seemed to be directed to the extreme left of our army, which is quite distant. The musketry, which was not heavy, did not continue long, but the cannons kept at work vigorously.
We have no marching orders yet. I believe the ten days' rations are not on hand; it must be rather difficult to accumulate so much. I am told that no trains have arrived for some time and the telegraph wires have been cut. Our communications have been interrupted quite frequently of late, still we have enough to eat and suffer in no way; only for the wounded, I think it must be rather hard. They are so far from any civilized place, and field hospitals are but sad places for them.
July 1st, 1864.
I am suffering a little
from the blues, it is so tedious here and so hot. The mall has not come.
I have been looking for my commission as Lieutenant Colonel for sometime;
the malls are so slow and irregular, that is reason enough, but it is not
satisfactory. I have two new flags at Chattanooga, sent by the State for
the regiment; I have procured a detail for my quartermaster to go and get
them and take our old flag back, which is to be sent to the State. He will
also go to Bridgeport to bring the rest of my worldly possessions.
A year ago to-day was a hard day for this regiment, the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. I don't feel much like writing today. If I had a good place, I would lie down and rest, but here we are in the heat, in the open field, and those disagreeable stray bullets always flying about. One of my men was badly wounded in the hip and thigh this morning, and last evening a bullet went through Captain Steinmeyer's tent, right over his body; fortunately he was lying down at the time. Since those orders the other day to get ready with ten days' rations, we have heard nothing more about moving. General Butterfield has Left us, having obtained leave of absence for thirty days on account of sickness. He has taken his horses and all his effects with him, and the indications are that he will not return. Brigadier General Ward, of our 1st Brigade, at present commands the division; Major General Crittenden has been mentioned as a probable successor of General Butterfield.
July 2nd, 1864.
I am still on court martial, but it will not be much longer. All the appearances are that preparations for some big move are nearly completed; I think tomorrow will see us entered upon its execution. This morning at daylight our batteries opened with terrific volleys of shell and kept them up for some time, but the rebels made no reply; whether we hit anybody, I don't know. Another of my men was just brought to the rear, he was badly wounded by one of those ugly bullets which every now and then come into our lines.
July 4th, 1864.
On this anniversary, here we are under the broiling sun of Georgia. We have advanced further south since I wrote. It was ascertained yesterday that the enemy had left our front. Our forces had been massed on our right, and I have it on pretty good authority that an attack upon the enemy's extreme left was intended to be made yesterday morning, to break it if possible and get upon the railroad in his rear. With his opportunities of observation, he could not well be ignorant of these movements on our part and anticipated our move by evacuating. We started in pursuit at six o' clock, and marched all day in all sorts of directions and accomplished little. It seems to me a determined part yesterday would have been the thing, but we were content to move very cautiously. We had to be content to move very cautiously, and when we noticed that the rebels were taking up a new line on the Nicojack Creek, we made no attempt to disturb them. We got into camp very tired late last night. This morning my regiment and the 73rd Ohio made a short reconnaissance to our right to find connection with the 23rd Corps, which we accomplished. We are to go three miles from here and are likely to stay a little while. We took a large number of rebel deserters, straggling about yesterday, including officers. The Johnnies are demoralized.
July 5th, 1864.
This morning the news
comes that the enemy has left the line of the NicoJack Creek; I thought
this would be so. From what I had seen of them there, I became convinced
that most of their busy work of building earthworks was a design to deceive
us, and that all they wanted was delay to perfect their retreat. I think
we have lost a golden opportunity to strike that army a stunning blow the
last two days. McPherson and Schofield did push them some on their left
flank yesterday and took some stragglers prisoners, but what was wanted
was to push our entire line vigorously on, and not halt and dig when you
see a rifle pit in front.
Don't you think it would be a good idea to make me Major General and give me command of this army. Well, if they won't do it, I will be satisfied for the present If Governor Lewis will send me a commission as Lieutenant Colonel of my regiment; I ought to have had it long ago. I think the letter to the Governor must have been lost. It is so provoking. The field officers of another regiment in the brigade are vacant and a Captain will He Lieutenant Colonel of it. Now I don't like to be everybody's junior when I command the best and the largest regiment in the brigade. Boebel was discharged over five weeks ago, and here I am stay wafting for my commission.
I think now the enemy will not be found again this side of the Chattahoochee. It is possible we will have a short period of rest. I am very anxious to learn how things will turn out in Virginia. I see from a copy of the Sentinel that our army met very heavy losses in front of Petersburg; I am afraid the efficiency of those remaining has been greatly impaired. It seems to me the position of things there is more critical than ever before.
July 6th, 1864.
We started on the march Immediately after I had written the foregoing, and did not get to camp until about five at night. We are now within three miles of the river, and the enemy are in force in a strong position on this side, resting both flanks on the river. There were troops ahead of us yesterday, but we have had no fighting; we heard firing to our right.
July 7th, 1864.
I am sitting at a table under a fresh, green oak bower in front of our fly, as comfortable as one can be in this almost insufferable heat. We came here yesterday afternoon to encamp In the shady woods, with notice that we would be allowed a few days rest. We are about two miles from the Chattahoochee River, on a high ridge, and can see several church spires of the Gate City from our camp. The enemy has strong fortifications on the north bank of the river and occupies them. I believe, however, that the larger portion of his army is on the south side, and that the works on this side are intended rather as a defense for the crossing. The rest here will do us good; we have had a severe campaign in hot weather Since we first met the enemy at Buzzard Roost two months ago, we have been marching and fighting all the time, and even when we have been in camp, It was so near the enemy's line as to be under constant annoyance from picket firing and constantly on the alert ready for action, so that the rest ought to be a few weeks rather than a few days. The army has six months' pay due now, and it ought to be paid, but of course if military exigencies will not permit it, it can be dispensed with. I have a rent in my coat that my Adjutant says he will fix if he can have some black silk; I have often heard him sigh for silk. Won't you send me a skein? The boys are climbing trees and making all sorts of discoveries in and around Atlanta. My envelopes will not last long; I can fold a letter so as to dispense with them, bat the difficulty is about sealing.
July 9th, 1864.
I have my commission as Lieutenant Colonel, and I want those shoulder straps now. I like the new title better than Major. You have seen that Captain Lackner is promoted in my place. We are in the same place where we were day before yesterday; one corps, the 23rd, is across the river. We have doubtful and conflicting rumors concerning affairs in Virginia. The Chattanooga papers of the 6th speak of the rebel raid into Maryland and Pennsylvania; they say that Ewell has taken Harper's Ferry with a considerable force. I must go over to Division Headquarters now to see if I can be mustered in.
July 10th, 1864.
It has been raining this
afternoon; it is dripping from our green bower on my paper. We were up
early today, having received orders during the night to be ready to march
at daylight. We got all ready, some change of position was contemplated,
but it was ascertained that the rebels have crossed the river and the move
was abandoned. We may wait here some time to accumulate supplies. The rebels
burned the railroad bridge. General Howard took a rebel pontoon bridge
the other day; they were trying to get it off night before last, when he
opened upon them with several batteries. They got it loose on the south
bank, but could not get it on the other, and consequently it swung around
to our shore and we got it.
My Quartermaster has returned from Chattanooga and brought us two nice flags, a United States banner with our last year's battles inscribed in gilt and the name of the regiment, and a blue state flag with the coat of arms of the state in the center on one side and an eagle on the other, with the name of the regiment gilded on a red circular strip underneath.
It is said that the pay masters are on the way. I bought another horse Just now for sixty dollars. I have been looking for a good chance to get a good horse for some time. I rode to the river this morning. The rebels have a line of works about a mile this side; It would be Impregnable against an infantry attack, on account of stockades that were built some twelve to fifteen feet high along the rifle pits, but I think an artillery would have set it flying. Our pickets are on the northern bank and have agreed with the rebel pickets on the other side not to shoot. There they were this morning, within talking distance of each other, not the least bitter feeling disturbing the friendly intercourse. The rebels were freely walking about on the south bank, washing their clothes and spreading them in the sun to dry, white our men were doing the same on this side; some of ours had even been across and traded off coffee and sugar for tobacco. The weather is hot, still quite endurable. General Hooker says this is the healthiest part of the whole south.
July 19th, 1864.
We broke camp and crossed the river east of the railroad day before yesterday, and yesterday we marched to this place, about seven miles from Atlanta. I think we will have Atlanta before long. We had orders to be ready to march at a moment's notice early this morning, but have remained quiet. We will probably march tomorrow.
July 21st, 1864.
At last I have some good news. We fought the hardest battle and won the greatest victory yesterday of all the campaign, and my regiment covered itself with glory. We were attacked by superior numbers, the forces on our left failed us; we were outflanked, but we whipped the enemy, turned, and pursued him to the position we coveted, got it and held it. We fought the 33rd Mississippi, and virtually annihilated it; we killed the Colonel and thirty-four men, whom we have picked up inside the point we pursued them to, End beyond that our fire must have done them severe damage. The ground was covered with wounded; I had no time to count them, but had three stretchers working all night, carrying them to the rear. We took its flags and six officers' swords. Every body is speaking the praise of the 26th today. We had a very critical position and everything depended upon holding it; officers and men did bravely. The regiment we fought had nearly four hundred men; I only two hundred and sixty. I lost severely, two captains killed, one wounded, a lieutenant wounded, seven men killed and thirty-four wounded. Upon the whole, our loss is comparatively light; most of the wounds are light, and our success was great. We took a number of prisoners. I am well and unhurt.
July 23rd, 1864.
I wrote you last on the field of battle, on the field of victory, when we had accomplished what seldom falls to the fortune of one little regiment of two hundred and sixty muskets to achieve. It was a proud day for us. The boys are in good spirits; they are ready for the most desperate deeds. We have been required to send our trophies, the nags and swords, to headquarters, but I have made application to have them sent to the State, where you may some time see them at Madison. Oar pickets found early yesterday morning that the strong line of outer works about three-quarters of a mile in length in our front ha! been evacuated by the enemy. We fell in at once and marched forward and passed through them and took position on hills within easy cannon reach of the principal fortifications, to which the enemy had retired. We have thrown up works to protect us from artillery fire. We are only two and a half miles from the city; it is partly screened by high wooded hills. We have a large number of batteries in position. There has been a good deal of exchange of fire between them and the rebel artillery. It seems that, after failing to break the lines of General Thomas' Army, moving down from the north upon the city on the 20th, the enemy attempted the same upon Mc Pherson's and Schofield's yesterday, and it is probable that he threw nearly his whole army upon them. The reports are that we lost heavily, were driven in at some points. I have even heard that our left flank was turned, but that we finally succeeded to repulse the attack, with the loss, however, of Major General Mc Pherson. The enemy was in a manner compelled to make these attacks, if he wished to save the city; he had no other choice. Mc Pherson and Schofield had possession of the eastern railroad. Our lines were very much extended; as we crowded nearer the city, they would become closer and stronger, and compel them to evacuate or stand a siege; to attack then was the best thing they could do. They have been badly beaten. I am very confident now that Atlanta will soon be ours. Johnston has been superseded by Hood in the command of the rebel army. There is a rumor current that Hood was killed on the 20th and Stevenson wounded.
Sunday, July 24th, 1864.
I was interrupted about
twenty-four hours ago by sudden and lively fire at our skirmish line, which
brought us all to our feet and under arms. It proved to be nothing but
a weak, unsuccessful attack to drive in our pickets. This had scarcely
subsided when an order came to get ready to march at once, as we were to
go to the right and take up our position between the Marietta road and
the railroad. Half a mile's march brought us to the new position, by the
principal road that leads into Atlanta from the north. We are now more
exposed to the enemies fire, as all their batteries in position here seem
to be batteries of twenty pound Parrotts, which keep up a slow, steady
fire on the City of Atlanta, their especial aim, but we are protected by
strong works and there is not much danger. Our battery kept up a fire on
the city all night. We could plainly see the burning fuse of the shell
as it sped on its way. At one time there was a fire in the city, probably
caused by our shell.
The tall kind sergeant, you remember, was wounded in the breast last Sunday, I fear fatally. Few that were not with us will ever appreciate the fierceness of our struggle that afternoon; besides a strong enemy in front and on the left, we were exposed to the sun, which was literally scorching. After we had won the field and were at last relieved, the men were so exhausted that they could hardly move, and some had to be carried back though not wounded; among these was my Adjutant, who seemed to be in hysterias, and for a time I almost feared that he was dying. One Captain and Lieutenant, who had worked splendidly, were in about the same condition. I had not strength to speak above a whisper, but soon recovered. Our guns were so hot from rapid firing that the men could not touch the barrels. Our brigade commander is not in the habit of going into a very hot field and was not on this occasion where he could see the fight. What little management there was in front of my brigade was mine. I sent for regiments to come up, and this much Colonel Wood did; he sent them when requested by me, and when they came up they took the positions I designated as most important. In fact, if it had not been for Lieutenant Colonel Hurst's, 73rd Ohio, and my exertion, I doubt whether we would have advanced at all; we would have remained in the low corn fields, leaving all the hills to the enemy, and defeat would have been inevitable. I was the first to advance, and I did it rather by permission than under orders.
July 25th, 1864.
We are very near Atlanta,
actually besieging it, only I doubt whether we have troops enough wholly
to encompass it; still we are bound to take it, there can be little doubt
of it. Our batteries throw shot and shell into the city and the forts around
the city, and the rebels reply from their forts at times quite lustily.
My regiment is in a very good position and, though one or two shells have
struck within the camp, we are unhurt.
Do you want my old hat? I have put it up and will send it off by mail. You can see the mark that bullet left on the 22nd of June. I have been through so many battles; nearly two hundred officers and men of my regiment have been killed and wounded in this campaign; I have been with them always, exposed as much as any, and have come out unscathed. I have faith that I will in the future and finally come home.
The papers have doubtless told you how disastrously to the rebels the battles of the 20th and the 22nd resulted, and also that General Mc Pherson, who commanded the Army of the Tennessee, was killed. Everybody naturally thought General Hooker would be his successor, both on the score of merit and seniority. Yesterday the official notice came that General Howard had been assigned to that command and General Hooker, at his own request, relieved from duty with this army. The news was received with profound regret. The assignment of General Howard to that command is certainly very unexpected. It is well known that Sherman is unfavorably disposed towards Hooker, and the latter has had to put up with many slights during the campaign. His corps has gained a name here in the army that none other can rival, but no word of acknowledgment has ever come from General Sherman. Mc Pherson was Hooker's junior, and so is Schofield, both commanded departments, while he only commanded a corps; yet he made no objection and he would not have objected now-considering it another army from this- but to take his junior out of this very department for that command was a pointed insult and proves that the doors to his advancement under Sherman are prematurely closed. If the good name of any corps has ever been questioned during any campaign, it is that of the 4th, General Howard's. All generals and field officers of the corps got together this forenoon and took leave of General Hooker. He shook hands with us all and assured us, while the tears rolled down his cheeks, that he had never had a command that he had such perfect confidence in and had proved itself so equal to all emergencies as this corps. He was evidently very much moved.
We are now in rather a bad fix with our generals. Brigadier General Williams, of the 1st Division, has temporary command of the corps as field officer. Since General Butterfield left us, we have had a Division Commander whose profound indolence alone prevents him from manifesting his incapacity by daily blunders of the worst kind. It is too bad that men of acknowledged ability cannot keep aloof from dishonorable jealousies.
There has been considerable fighting along the lines today. Our lines are moving from the left to the right with the view, I suppose, of meeting at the Mobile Railroad. Two of my men have been slightly bruised by a shell, otherwise we are all well.
July 30th, 1864.
I had hardly dipped my pen in ink to dispatch a few officials yesterday, when orders to march came, and we had to pack up and go. We did not march far, but we were on the road a long time, at noon marching a few rods and then halting again. The heat was intense; over a dozen men were attacked by sunstroke. We came to the extreme right of the army. I believe it was intended as a reconnaissance, but we took position and fortified the front line last night, and we still remain here. The Army of the Tennessee, now under Howard, commenced shifting from the left to the right a few days ago and were there attacked by the rebels in force day before yesterday, just as they were coining into position. The rebels were again repulsed with fearful slaughter. We passed over the field yesterday, and hundreds of their men lay there awaiting burial. General Howard's entire loss was not more than five hundred and fifty, while that of the rebels cannot be less than three thousand, perhaps four thousand. I have it upon pretty good authority that they gave their forces whiskey, certainly a bad policy this hot weather. Yesterday that tartaric acid you sent me in the bag of oil silk did us a great deal of good. When it was so hot at noon, we made lemonade with it, and it was good and refreshing. General Howard rode by a few minutes ago and complimented me on the good record my regiment had gained during the campaign. The statements in the Wisconsin that portions of Johnston's Army have gone to Virginia I had, at one time, thought were true, but the recent battles near Atlanta have developed beyond a doubt the presence of the three corps with which Johnston commenced the retreat from Atlanta nearly three months ago, reduced of course by the casualties of battle, desertions, etc. I have just learned that our division is going to extend a line to the right; we won't have to march far to do that.
July 31st, 1864.
Our brigade is on the
extreme right flank of the army now and has turned to the rear, facing
west, so as to prevent the turning of the flank. There is no enemy in our
front, except some cavalry patrolling, and there is no prospect of a fight
here. The enemy has fared so 111 in all his attacks that he won't venture
another. We would like to have him try it here, nothing would afford the
26th more pleasure than to see the enemy attach them in their breastworks.
We have built miles of breastworks, but have never yet fought in any of
I have not seen an honest blade of grass in Georgia; our horses look poor; the heat and flies are hard on them, and feed so poor and scanty. While one big ny is our shelter and comfort, there are thousands of little flies which are the greatest annoyance. They are everywhere, swarming in clouds in the air, settling like locusts on our sugar, mixing like spice with our apple sauce, and floating like ducks in our coffee and tea.
Near Atlanta, Ga., August 2nd, 1864.
We are still in the same position; our progress seems to be slow. Forces are still moving from our left to our right. We have reports here of another invasion from the north by a large force of rebels; it is also said that Grant has retired from before Petersburg. The news from the east generally is not a bit encouraging; the whole of that huge struggle of the Army of the Potomac, attended as it has been by terrible loss, seems to have been for naught. Still it will not do to reason upon matters now, let us hope for the best; this very invasion may be the best thing that could happen for us. Still it will create such consternation in the north; the north is not prepared for defense. I have to go to a session of that board again this afternoon. The question before that board is a rebel flag; two regiments claim it as a trophy by right of capture. A good deal of testimony has been adduced, and each regiment proves that it captured a flag conclusively, yet there is but one. It is a very disagreeable question to decide. There is, of course, a great deal of feeling about it in both regiments.
August 3rd, 1864.
We made a move back, near
the railroad north of the city, yesterday toward evening, and have now
relieved a part of the 14th Corps in line here. We are now less than half
a mile from the place where we were before we moved to the right flank,
but we are not much exposed to shelling here.
Major Lackner returned to the regiment this morning, having been relieved as inspector of the division; I am glad he is back. I will have at least one genial companion now, without one I have been low spirited. This lonely life nourishes that state of feeling.
We are holding the line northwest of Atlanta, facing east southeast, anti as our line is thin and no other forces here, we will probably remain here for some time, while operations which are expected to compel the evacuation of Atlanta will be prosecuted on our extreme right. We have very strong, I may say impregnable works in our front.
August 4th, 1864.
We are moving again. We started immediately after dinner today and came about half a mile to the right and relieved the only brigade of the 14th Corps that still remained in position here. We have a large party out constructing a new line of works, some two hundred yards farther in advance; they will be done by night, and then we are going to occupy them. This line will be very close to the principal forts of Atlanta and, if it were not concealed from view by the woods, it would be impossible for our party to construct these works without subjecting themselves to heavy fire. Our division will be stretched out in single line and we will probably have to act on the defensive only. The 23rd and 14th Corps are demonstrate on the right and are to try to get to the railroad, and it was supposed at one time that they might have a severe fight this afternoon. We have heard heavy firing in that direction, yet all is quiet now.
August 5th, 1864.
An order detailing me
as division officer of the day called me away from writing, and the same
order kept me until noon today. I have been on my feet since daylight and
am exhausted now. We have not yet moved to the front line, but I think
we will soon, the works are nearly done. There is pretty heavy firing heard
on the right of our line again just now. For some days past Colonel Wood,
our brigade commander, has been ill and in the rear. Yesterday morning
I rode down to make him a call and had a long, pleasant talk with him about
the state of the country, both military and political points of view, when
all at once he changed the subject and commenced like this; "Now, I will
tell you what I mean to do for you; you must get a commission as Colonel
from your Governor, and I will make application to the War Department and
get it endorsed and recommended through the army channel for a special
order to muster you in as such, on account of conspicuous gallantry and
meritorious services in the battle of the 20th." He added that he would
give me a letter to the Governor asking for the commission.
Even if it should fail of success, the offer, coming from my immediate commander, is very flattering. I was taken completely by surprise and thanked him cordially. Colonels, especially now that there are few, have been given much better commands than a mere regiment, and for that reason a position would be very desirable.
August 6th, 1864.
We moved into the new
line of defenses yesterday afternoon. My regiment occupies a very good
position in an open field, extending some distance in front and within
a belt of woods which screens us from rebel sharpshooters, saving us from
a disagreeable annoyance often experienced when lines are so close together;
shells too are meanwhile directed toward the regiment on our right, which
occupies a very exposed position.
This army is great on digging. Our main work nowadays is done with pick and spade. Every position that is taken is very strongly fortified, and as long as we remain in a place the boys seem to make it their pastime to keep constantly adding to the strength of their works. They learned from the rebels.
Just here I was interrupted by the discharge of a heavy volley of musketry near the picket line directly in our front, followed immediately by a hot running fire. We all jumped up and armed and were ready for action; the fire continued some fifteen minutes, then gradually died out. It seems that the rebels sent out a strong line of skirmishers to drive back our pickets, but they are not to be fooled. They too, like the main lines, are strongly entrenched and will hold their own against anything short of a strong line of battle, and consequently made the rebels run back over the ground they had advanced over. We are in comfortable quarters listening to heavy firing a good ways off to the right. According to the sound, it would seem as though there was a battle being fought, but it may be nothing but an artillery duel.
I received another very flattering document from Colonel Wood yesterday. A letter from the Adjutant General contained an extract from the Colonel's official report of the Battle of Peach Tree Creek. I would send you the draft of it, but Colonel Wood still has it.
August 9th, 1864.
I rode over to General Howard's headquarters this forenoon. They are three miles from here. The rebel pickets have been firing into our camp today very disagreeably. One excellent man was dangerously wounded about ten paces from our fly this morning. This constant firing, when not really fighting, is the greatest annoyance of this campaign, and the losses it involves are so painful. This poor boy this morning seemed to feel it so deeply; he sobbed amid his groans and faltered forth, "Oh, I have gone through so many battles, and now I must be wounded here In camp." He gave directions to write to his father and said he could not live. In a pitched battle, we have so much to occupy us, but here in camp it is horrible to see our men wounded.
August 10th, 1864.
We are preparing a new line in advance again and will move out there tonight or tomorrow morning. Things here go slowly. We are gradually closing upon the rebel works around Atlanta; nobody seems to doubt that we will finally take the city. We have a number of guns in position that throw shell into the town, and they keep up a constant slow fire; occasionally the rebels reply. About noon today they opened quite a fierce artillery fire upon our line, immediately on the right of my regiment, mostly with solid shot. They came down both in front and in rear of the works, but after all the fuss it has not hit a single man. I suppose the numerous shot and shell we fire are not much more effective.
August 12th, 1864.
I was out all last night superintending the construction of a new line of works. I went on duty yesterday at noon and continued until daylight today. It was rather a hard tour and I cannot get a moment's rest by day, on account of the flies. Not until night can we get the benefit of night's sweet restorer. There is nothing new today. We keep digging, getting up closer and closer to the rebels and bringing new and heavy pieces of artillery into advantageous positions. Both armies use their artillery to a considerable extent. The enemy has nothing but our thin lines to fire at and do little damage; our artillery is certainty superior to theirs and plays into their forts and the city. There is constant firing along the picket line too, and every now and then a bullet flies into camp. Still we are enjoying a comparative rest. I rather think the plan is to keep the rebels constantly engaged and to hold them here, rather than to push vigorously for the possession of Atlanta, for upon the evacuation of Atlanta, it will be rather difficult to follow up the rebel army, and still it would hardly do to let it slip away from us elsewhere. We have news that Mobile Bay has been occupied by our navy and the main defensive forts of the city passed, so that the city must fall into our hands. Many look upon this as very Important as a new base of operations, but we cannot give up our direct lines of communication with the north and those must continue to be our routes of supply. The possession of Mobile and the navigation of the Alabama to Montgomery may prove auxiliary to Important expeditions.
August 16th, 1864.
A body of rebel cavalry is raiding on our railroad lines, according to last accounts. No trains have come through from Chattanooga since Saturday. They were at Dalton on Sunday and demanded its surrender. To what extent they will succeed in interfering with our communications remains to be seen. I trust the rebels will not capture any of our mails. The monotony of our existence makes it difficult to write letters. I paid out my last fifty cents for five loaves of bread today. Don't you pity my poverty? I would send for money, but it is too risky, and then we can get almost anything on credit, so there is no distress connected with poverty.
August 17th, 1864.
Today the pay master will go to Marietta and take our mail thus far. The report is that the rebels have taken Dalton and exploded Tunnel Hill. We did not feel the shock here. They may have sprung a rock and thrown a fragment on the track, but they certainly were not allowed to do a great deal of damage in springing of mines before they were obliged to spring for their lives. I don't think the raid will amount to much-a few days interruption of all railroad travel, perhaps. I paid a visit to our division hospital today. Our men are now all under the treatment of our surgeon, a cautious, judicious man, who does not-like many others-constantly feed his patients on quinine and calomel.
August 20th, 1864.
I have the Milwaukee News
of the 12th you sent me. The injury done to the railroad seems to have
been repaired. We will have a daily mall hereafter. I am surprised to see
Judge Palne exchange the bench for the field. I had some hopes that we
might fill up our regiment under the present call and coming draft, but
I see that new regiments are being organized again; still if Wisconsin
is to furnish nineteen thousand men, there may be some chance. I wish this
campaign were over, that I might send a recruiting detail home, but I could
not come this time. Things are going on very slowly. A few days' operations
were in preparation, which would have proved decisive one way or the other,
but the plan seems to have been abandoned. We hold entrenched lines near
the rebel works, our left commands the Georgia railroad, but our right
has failed to get possession of the Montgomery and Macon Railroads. These
we can only disturb by cavalry raids. Kilpatrick is at it again now.
I believe the loss of General Stoneman is not considered a very great one. I know some other generals whose capture would be no public calamity.
August 24th, 1864.
You need not be alarmed
about those thirty thousand veterans Lee has sent to reinforce Hood. We
have not seen them yet; do not think they got very near; at all events
we are not afraid of them. Sherman has a pretty big number of men here,
and they are good at fighting, equal at any time to an equal number of
rebels. The reports are Probably just as true as those which prevailed
six weeks ago, that Johnston had sent one of his corps to Virginia.
I got my commission as Colonel by today's mall. We will see what becomes of it.
Turner's Ferry Ga., August 26, 1864.
We marched during last night and, since the moment of arrival here, I have been hard at work in letting out lines and strengthening old and building new works, and now at four o' clock I am detailed as officer of the day to go on duty at five. There is a move going on. Our army is in motion; I cannot tell particulars. We have come to the rear and are guarding the Ferry, so that if you hear of a battle shortly, know that we will not be in danger.
August 28, 1864.
Quite early yesterday
morning, squads of rebels appeared near our picket line, and patrols I
sent out soon discovered a considerable force. About noon today they drove
in a portion of our pickets, and at the same time opened upon our lines
with two pieces of artillery. It was a reconnaissance, and when they found
us posted here with infantry and artillery, they withdrew. We have a very
nice place here now-a shady grove-and it would not be bad if we were to
stay for a time. Our corps is in detachments at different points on the
river, guarding our communications, while the rest of the army has gone
on a big raid I suppose.
General Slocum has come and taken command of our corps. He was here yesterday, just as the fight commenced, and stayed until it was over. In personal appearance and manner, he is very prepossessing.
Colonel Wood has made the application to the War Department for a permit to have me mustered in, but it will be a long time before we hear from it.
August 29th, 1864.
Tomorrow the Chicago Convention
meets, and its action will doubtless be of great importance to the country.
I hope this draft will be rigidly enforced. This system of short enlistment is wrong, and its effect is very bad. There are no negroes here at all, I cannot get one for a servant; those who send South for such substitutes, will send in vain.
August 31st, 1864.
We are enjoying pleasant weather now with our easy times; the nights are very cool, everything is wet in the morning. Today there was a reconnaissance sent out; they found some rebel forces not very far out. From the main army we hear nothing; we I do not know what it is doing, nor exactly where it is. Things seem to be picking up a little in Virginia. Our success in holding the Weldon Railroad, notwithstanding the strenuous efforts of the rebels to drive us from it, is certainly of importance.
September 2nd, 1864.
I have good news-Atlanta
is ours. A strong reconnoitering party was sent out from our division this
morning early and others from the other divisions of our corps and entered
Atlanta without opposition. This is authentic. It is said also that a battle
has been fought, resulting most disastrously to the rebels, near East Point.
There was a big fire in the direction of the city last night and heavy
We have also heard some political news, the nomination of Mc Clellan and Seymour at Chicago. I am rather glad Mc Clellan was nominated. Of all the candidates before that Convention, he is certainly the most respectable and patriotic; whatever may be said of his political opinions, his antecedents and avowed principles admit of no doubt as to his loyalty to the United States and hostility to the Rebellion, and I am glad to see the majority of the Democratic party vindicate this loyalty by putting such a man in nomination. As the Union party is divided by many feuds, it must be a comfort to every one, whose partisanship and love of spoils is not stronger than his patriotism, to know that the success of the opposition will put a man like Mc Clellan at the head of the Union.
We had a visitor here last evening, the Rev. Mr. Britton, formerly of the Episcopalian Church at Madison, came out as n member of the Christian Commission, and as the 73rd Ohio is from his present residence, Chillicothe, he met them and us Wisconsin men here. A band of the 73rd came over and he made a very nice little speech to the men. Mr. Britton thought I was a very young Colonel, and asked me if I had a family.
Atlanta, September 4th, 1864.
The trains beyond Chattanooga
are out of order, we have had no mail yet. You will think the City of Atlanta
ought to afford a better place for writing than a portfolio on my knees,
but I am with my regiment in the fortifications east of the city, and here
we have been for hours unable to put up a camp, as we are to move further
to the left. Oh! such management. It is provoking. The sun is already low
and still they don't know just where we are to go, and the poor soldiers
have to lie here always ready and wait and wait.
I wrote you day before yesterday that we had taken Atlanta. Early that morning we sent out a reconnoitering party from Turner's Ferry, and the 1st and 2nd Divisions of the corps did the same from their respective camps; they entered Atlanta without opposition. Yesterday morning Colonel Wood invited me to ride down to see the city with him.
September 5th, 1864.
I thought likely, at the
very moment I should commence to write, orders to move would come, and
so they did. We are now fixing up B camp. We expected that our brigade
was all to return to Turner's Ferry, but we have found that we are all
to come here; the balance of the troops were to come down in the afternoon
and, as the Major could attend to them, I did not go back but concluded
to find quarters for the night in the city. After some troubles I found
a nice looking house, where they gave me some supper and we talked a while.
Such a nice room as they gave met it is the first time I have been in one
since I left home in April, but, when I went to bed, I found feathers too
soft for me; I thing I sleep better on a little bunk in a tent. We have
reliable information now that there has been severe fighting in the neighborhood
of Jonesborough, and it would seem that such a whipping the rebels never
got before. If reports are true, our prisoners count by thousands, and
the rebel dead and wounded that remain on the field are said to exceed
all precedent. They burned two trains, consisting of eighty cars, loaded
with arms and ammunition the night before we took the city. There was a
good deal of powder and many filled shells on the trains which exploded
and were thrown all over the neighborhood; besides a large number of small
arms, there were also two batteries of twelve-pounders I exhumed from the
ruins. We also found five very large siege guns in the city, which had
only been brought up from Augusta two days before, and a number of smaller
ones around in the city, all spiked. Their evacuation was certainly very
I think the military prospect is brightening and Mr. Lincoln will be re-elected, but, even if Mc Clellan should be chosen, unless he repudiates every act and word of his past life, his course cannot be essentially different. It is quite remarkable how diametrically opposed Mc Clellan's course has been to that advocated by the present peace faction of the Democratic party. They clamored a good deal about arbitrary arrests; he arrested the whole Maryland Legislature, when deliberating the good of the State. I believe they are opposed to a draft-to being drafted at least; he urged a draft upon the Secretary of War three years ago. They want peace at any terms; he insists upon submission on the part of the South to federal authority. I do not think General Howard was ever seriously thought of as a Democratic candidate. He is a strong anti-slavery man and a staunch supporter of the administration.
The fortifications around Atlanta was indeed very extensive; to surround them completely, would have taken an immense army, and the way to get them out was doubtless the one finally adopted-to move upon its communications. This left two courses open to Hood, to retreat at once towards Augusta, or to meet General Sherman and stake the fate of the city, and perhaps his army, upon the result of a battle. He followed his pugnacious instincts and was badly beaten. It was doubtless Johnston's intention not to risk a battle, but to abandon the city and save his army. Hood has fought four battles, one north, one east, and one west, and finally one south of the city, and raided on our railroad. He gained the satisfactory result of holding the city long enough to see a great portion of it devastated and then left it, his army broken, reduced and demoralized, and valuable stores of munitions of war left a prey to the flames.
We are encamped some ways out of the city, should think a mile or two, and the woods are so wild no one would suspect a city near.
It is reported that Rousseau gave the raiding Wheeler a very severe threshing near Talona and took a big number of forces from him. I hope he did, and trust that the prisoners taken will be retaliated upon for rebel outrages upon our negro troops. When we take those very parties prisoners who committed those outrages, it is certainly just to inflict the punishment due them for the protection of those poor negroes who have gone into our army.
I have not been in the city since the first day I came down. One curious thing is the bomb proofs we find in almost every yard; they are holes like cellars sunk into the ground, with a narrow entrance covered by an enormous heap of earth, with a narrow pipe or chimney through it for a ventilator. Many families sleep in these bomb proofs for weeks ard pass the greater part of their days in them too. By far the greater portion of the inhabitants have left. That portion of the city nearest our lines is nearly demolished.
We received an order from General Sherman last night, stating that the army had accomplished its undertaking in the complete reduction of Atlanta and would occupy the city and neighborhood until another campaign should be planned in concert with the other grand armies of the United States; then adds, the General in Chief will give notice when the movement will begin, and will establish headquarters in Atlanta and afford the army an opportunity to have a full month's rest with every chance to organize, receive pay, replenish clothing and prepare for a fine winter's campaign. Thus the General in Chief tells us of his plans for the future; it is well that he does, it will keep many from cherishing idle, demoralizing dreams of rest when there is work ahead. I expected another campaign this year. It is right that there should be one. The rebel army in its present demoralized state ought to be followed up, and the next three months certainly offer very good campaigning weather. I am ready for my part. If I could start out with four hundred muskets, as I did four months ago, it would be more gratifying. Three officers and thirty-two men killed, four officers and one hundred and fifty-three men wounded, are the casualties of the regiment in the last campaign; besides there is a large number of men sick in many of the large hospitals. That terrible army disease, scurvy, has made inroads upon us. This ever unchanging army ration is too bad. In Virginia we got potatoes, dried fruit, etc.-here in such diminutive quantities-I hope we will get some little extras for the men during this month of rest, for we have less than two hundred men fit for duty now.
September 10th, 1864
I got the Wisconsin of
the 22nd and 23rd of August last night; it must have been delayed at Chattanooga
One of them contained Mr. Gilmore's account of his own and Colonel Jacque's
visit to Richmond. Any observer of the Rebellion and its leaders could
have clearly foreseen what the result of such an interview would be. Colonel
J. may be a good minister and a good soldier too, and Mr. Gilmore may write
readable books, blat I think neither of them has shown the least whit of
diplomatic shrewdness in this self sought mission of theirs. How Davis
must have laughed in his sleeve when they left him! If he has gained no
other triumph since he began to style himself "President", he certainly
outwitted his distinguished visitors. These gentlemen evidently belong
to a class of men who preach and write very well, but who will never succeed
in bringing about practical results. I have no patience with that sort
of diversion. It is unworthy of statemen and nations.
We have collected boards and are building houses. Major L. and I have a nice little hut with a window. I got a recruit yesterday, think of it, one recruit.
We have received a lot of congratulatory orders, from the President yesterday, and from General Grant, who fires salutes with shotted guns trained upon the enemy, and finally one from General Sherman, in which he recounts the main achievements of the campaign. General Thomas is coming to review our corps in a few days. I am not ashamed of my regiment. Thetwo hundred men I have look as neat and trim and have their arms and accoutrements as bright and shining as though they had been in camp undergoing daily drills and inspection, only I am out of all music. The rains have broken all our drums; when the pay master comes, we shall raise a fund and buy a half dozen first-class drums.
General Sherman, in conducting the war, does not shrink from harshness. He says, in an order, that the City of Atlanta is wanted exclusively for military purposes, and orders all citizens to leave; this, of course, causes great excitement in town. They will lose a great deal of property by it, and it is hard for the people, but they cannot remain without falling a burden to the United States, and many of them are of very doubtful loyalty. But few men would have the courage to issue, or the firmness to execute, an order of banishment to all the inhabitants of a city. The army approves the fearless and independent course of the General in Chief; such a man we should have for Secretary of War. Wouldn't he put the draft through? and wouldn't he catch the runaways?
September 12th, 1864.
The Major and I took a
moonlight ride around the city last evening and lingered some time near
General Thomas' headquarters, where that excellent band of the 33rd Massachusetts
discoursed some of its exquisite music. Atlanta is really a very fine city;
there must have been a great deal of wealth in it. There are many large
mansions and it looks much like a western city.
Two-thirds of our term of service has now expired, and we can stay only one year more. I have a hope that it won't be a year more, still who can tell. The citizens of Atlanta are all leaving; large wagon trains leave daily with southern families and their chattels-all but the human chattels-and are received into General Hood's lines under flags of truce. Those who are not devoted to the south are preparing for a grand migration northward; thus Atlanta will be left to the soldiers alone. General Sherman has issued a stringent order, that no trader shall be allowed to settle within any fortified place south of Chattanooga. He has no sympathy with those who follow the army to make money out of it. The clerk of the paymaster of our brigade has arrived. It seems that all the armies are being paid; thus relief will soon be brought to your suffering soldiers' families.
September 22nd, 1864.
Our camps are jubilant over the splendid victory won by General Sheridan in the Shenendoah Valley, of which we have received an official despatch from Stanton. Last March, while we were at breakfast at the Newhall, who should walk in but Major General Philip Sheridan in full dress uniform, **+
September 27th, 1864.
We had a review before
General Slocum yesterday and started out at twelve o'clock, marched to
the other side of the city, and there the review took place at three P.M.,
and passed off finely indeed. The whole division appeared well. Ours is
the crack brigade in the division.
It is said that Forrest is in our rear with a considerable force; rumor has it that he has possession of Bridgeport and Stevenson; the former place is one of great importance, where he could do immense damage by destroying the long, high bridge across the Tennessee River, which it took so many months to build, but it is only rumor. Yesterday the report also was that Marietta had been attacked and a fierce fight taken Place there. It is doubtless true that a considerable rebel force is operating in our rear, but fortunately the capture of Atlanta leaves our large army at present unemployed and several detachments have already been sent to the rear, and they will doubtless soon succeed in clearing the road. It is also said the large trestle bridge at Whiteside has been destroyed; that certainly would not have occurred if the 26th had been left there to guard it.
The draft seems to have taken place on the 19th. It is a shame that one new regiment after another is being organized and drafted men put into new organizations.
October 2nd, 1864.
We get no mail; no trains have gone north from Chattanooga for some time. We get no information as to the actual state of things and have to be contented as best we may. Last night we had a grand concert in Atlanta. * ' * * + It is said that this week is to be distinguished by a ball.
October 5th, 1864.
How shall I write, when
my letter cannot go out; all communication with the north is cut off. Our
corps is still here, but we are alone. It seems that the rebels are trying
to force us from Atlanta in the same manner that we did them. Hood's main
army is in our rear; it is reported that he is heavily re-enforced. Sherman
has left Atlanta in charge of the 20th corps, and has gone back with the
rest to fight for the railroad. He is bound to succeed. We cannot give
up Atlanta again. It is to be expected that the enemy will destroy a good
deal of railroad, and it will be some time before trains can run again.
We may be put on half rations and suffer privations, but we can suffer
a good deal, but we can't and will not give up Atlanta again. We are all
well and in good spirits. The men have to work very hard on a new line
of fortifications, which will be a good deal shorter than the one along
which we are now stretched out. The paymaster commenced paying my regiment
this afternoon. Eight and nine months' pay, gives the boys more Money than
they know what to do with, when there is no opportunity to send it home.
It has been raining for several days. This morning the sun shines and not a cloud is to be seen. It is of a deeper hue than in the north. Copy of a despatch from Kenesaw Mountain sent me just now says that General Corse signals from Allatoona, "Had right cheek and ear shot off, but am able to whip hell out of the rebels yet; repulsed two assaults with heavy loss to theenemy, who retreated south and west." Despatch than adds that Sherman is well pleased. I think General Corse commands a division of the 16th Corps. His language is emphatically army style. Allatoonals an important place, as we have heavy supplies stored there.
One of the most important and most curious things in the army is doubtless the Signal Service. By brandishing a white flag with a crimson square in the center in the day, and a brightly burning torch by night, the signal officer transmits orders and intelligence to distant points, where communication by courier or telegraph is impossible. Signal stations are always located on very high points. They all have very powerful glasses, by means of which they observe each other's motions. Unfortunately, I cannot send you any letters by signal; must, therefore, keep on writing until the mail goes north, which I trust will be soon. If they all do as General Corse does, it will be soon.
October 9th, 1864.
We have had despatches
of another fight at Allatoona, in which the rebels were discomfited. General
Sherman has telegraphed to General Slocum that Hood was moving south and
might swing around upon him; it would seem, therefore, that the road is
now clear. Then there is hope ahead, and we may at least hope, before another
week passes, to be in communication with our homes. We are no longer in
Atlanta I received orders on Friday night to march my regiment to the Chattahoochee
River bridge and there report to Colonel Smith, commanding the 1st Brigade
of our division. We came down accordingly and have just got into our new
camp. There isnot a board here and it is very cold; we ought to have fireplaces.
We were fairly driven into bed last night by the cheerless cold at seven
o'clock. To-night we will sleep in our uniforms, otherwise there is no
standing it. A portion of the railroad bridge was carried off by the current
about a week ago, and it has been impassable ever since; thus misfortunes
multiply upon this road. The repairs will be completed today.
We are in a terribly sad stateof ignorance. We know that communications are now open, but beyond that, not a word. Several persons who came from Atlanta yesterday say that it was on the bulletin board that Grant was in full possession of Richmond. It is too good to believe, we hope and we fear, and perhaps a slightly audible mortification on being cut off is indulged in. We have not a grain of forage for our horses. I have sold my extra one, as I had not half enough for my Jennie, who is no longer as round as a ball. A sort of cane that grows in the marshes, leaves and sticks must keep them alive.
One of our couriers was waylaid between here and Atlanta and murdered by guerrillas yesterday. His dead body was found by the wayside, rifled of his arms, with one bullet through his head and one through his breast. We have to get up at four o' clock every morning now, so as to be on the alert in case the rebels should come, but they won't come here. What good would it do them? The destruction of a bridge so near to Atlanta will too poorly compensate Mr. Hood even for a trifling loss, and he has learned from experience that he cannot assault our fortified positions without very heavy loss.
October 13th, 1864.
The railroad is to be in running order to-morrow, but the rebel army still seems to be hovering in its vicinity. It is rumored that there was fighting at Rome yesterday. It has taken two days to get a despatch from Atlanta, stating that it had been signaled from Kenesaw that Richmond was taken. If it were true, would not General Sherman have it officially from Grant himself? and would he not then tell us that it is so? The thing is false; I fear it had its origin in a base trick to influence the state elections.
October 14th, 1864.
A train has gone through at last-a welcome train- carrying heavy mails to Atlanta. If we were there, we would have our share; here we have to wait longer. They say there is another break in the road above Allatoona that will prevent our sending any mail. Since writing this, I have received an order detailing me to a military commission in Atlanta, and I will have to go with the next train.
Atlanta, October 16th, 1864.
I am here stopping at division headquarters. The first night l stopped at the Trout House, but it was so very unpleasant, and I have been invited to stay at division headquarters. The railroad has been torn up again between Resaca and Tunnel Hill. I have full faith that General Sherman will succeed in rendering his communication secure, and thus hold on to all that he has gained, but it is idle to deny that there is danger. We have intelligence that the rebels retreated southward from Dalton, and that the railroad is cleared of rebels and a good portion also cleared of rails. It is said that it will be repaired in about ten days. I am afraid they will strike out again south of Resaca. I wish our court was over, so I could get back to my regiment; it is unpleasant to be here amongst strangers.
Chattahoochee River, October 21st, 1864.
I am glad to be back again
in my own tent. My regiment was not here when I arrived; it went out on
a foraging expedition day before yesterday morning and has just now returned,
all safe and sound. On Tuesday last over four hundred mules, belonging
to a pontoon train stationed here, while grazing at some little distance,
were captured by rebel cavalry. The six mules of our team and all our private
horses were out there. The driver lost five of his mules; our horses were
saved by the heroic action of Theodore. * * *
The rebels also burned a railroad train four miles from here and fired into and tried to capture a train on the way from here to Atlanta. It arrived there just as I was to leave and they started a train of truck cars with a regiment on it and we came through unmolested. There are detachments of cavalry, probably numbering not more than fifty men, that are doing this mischief. The main rebel army seems to be retreating into Alabama.
Since my return from Atlanta our mess has been much improved. Farmers bring butter, eggs, chickens, etc. to our picket line and are there met by our men, who trade coffee and sugar for them. Our foragers have also brought in a few things, geese, ducks, apples, etc.
October 23rd, 1864.
Trains are to go through
from Chattanooga to-morrow, and then we shall have our regular mails again.
To-morrow, I am officer of the day. George Jones has gone to Atlanta with
the wagon, in hope of getting a new mule team in place of the lost one.
If successful he will bring back a load of brick, and we will have flre-places
made to-morrow. It is too uncomfortable without them; after four o'clock,
it is so cold that one can do nothing but shiver.
We are over whelmed with a flood of political prints and pamphlets; they are all on the Republican side. I don't know how my regiment will vote; it used to be strongly democratic, still I think the officers are, save one or two, for Lincoln. I never talk to them on political subjects. I am going to vote the Republican ticket straight through, but beyond that will not meddle with politics. Mr. Lincoln is personally no abler or stronger than Mc Clellan, but the influences which surround him, both of political and military- men, are such as to Support and strengthen him. I have little doubt that Lincoln will be elected, but the greater his majority, the more emphatic will be the blow to the enemies of the country.
I am going on a foraging expedition tomorrow; besides my own regiment, I am going to have one hundred men from each of four others, and will probably be gone three or four days. A good many trains have gone into Atlanta, but none have come out from there. Our nearest neighbor, Colonel Case, of the 129th Illinois, has a Chicago paper nearly a month old, containing an account of General Sheridan's battle of the 19th of September. Our terrific losses in consequence of that surprise are sad to contemplate, but the skill and daring of General Sheridan certainly challenges the highest admiration. Almost any other general would have made his men work like beavers to secure themselves against further disaster by strengthening their position, when his bold spirit reorganized his broken and defeated battalions and led them against his victorious and exultant foe. It is the first time in this war that such a thing has been done or even been thought of. Sheridan has shown himself to be the greatest leader of battle that has yet appeared on the American field on either side.
November 1st, 1864.
We have orders to prepare at once for an active campaign with very limited transportation. We will have to store our baggage in Chattanooga. General Thomas' headquarters have been moved back to that place and all property has been removed from Atlanta. I think the idea is to send a small garrison there and mass the army to operate against Hood in northern Alabama. There are some indications that he intends to invade Tennessee; in that case, he will fare about as well as Price did in Missouri. I don't think we will have a very long campaign or a bloody one.
November 3rd, 1864.
The all engrossing thought
and subject of speculation now is the impending campaign. I had a call
from Colonel Dustin today, who has been commanding our division till within
a few days, General Ward being on leave of absence.
The surmises are that Atlanta will be destroyed and abandoned, the railroads leading to and from it destroyed as far as possible, a portion Of Sherman's army to demonstrate against Hood from Chattanooga, Huntsville or Rome, and the balance, including the 20th Corps, to cut loose from all communications and move deep into the enemies' country, either towards Mobile or Savannah, to find a new base of operations. General Slocum has told Colonel Smith of the 1st Brigade, that he would afterwards regret if he did not participate in this campaign. It will doubtless be an interesting one, into a new country, living on the land as we go along, no hostile fires to oppose us. We will go in strong force. The enemies' main armies will be employed elsewhere. Their cavalry may pick up our stragglers, but otherwise no evil can befall us. We may be called upon to start at any moment after the 4th of November. We have had a good long rest and must not complain. We have to send all our things away tomorrow, keep nothing but a change of clothes, blankets and writing material.
I have two five dollar notes, secession money, one payable six months and one two years after the ratification of peace between the Confederate States and the United States of America. Ahl are they not elegant rags?
I have today read a most eloquent speech, delivered by General Meagherat Nashville in favor of the election of Lincoln and Johnson. We will probably be cut off from communication for a long time. When you get letters again they may have to go by way of some port on the gulf or the Atlantic coast. We will probably be long on the way.
November 4th, 1864.
I have just received notice that the 4th Brigade would go to Atlanta tomorrow morning, and my regiment remain here alone until further orders. We will probably start on our campaign very soon. I am ready, it is of no use to wait; the sooner, the better.
November 6th, 1864.
The order for the 1st
Brigade to march this morning was revoked. A dispatch from General Sherman
was circulated, stating that Beauregard, with Hood's army, was at Florence
and Tuscumbia, and Forrest had done some damage by gun boats on the Tennessee
River. He urges preparation already ordered to go on, but says that time
will be allowed to complete the payment of the troops and to hold an election
on the 8th inst. I thought likely that Honest Abe would want his soldiers
to vote before sending them out into the wilderness. The Army of The Tennessee
is on the way to join us; they are at present camped about four miles north
The 12th Wisconsin received two hundred and fifty drafted men and substitutes yesterday; that would have been just enough to fill my regiment and would have entitled me to muster as Colonel. If it is pleasant and my horse is well enough, I will go up there this afternoon. Jennie broke through a brook with her hind legs while on our foraging expedition. I hope she will get over it. She is the only horse I have, and if she fails me, I don't know what to do.
November 8th, 1864.
We had an election in the regiment today. This regiment is gathered, as you know, from democratic districts, and two years ago cast an almost unanimous democratic vote. Today, Lincoln received one hundred and twelve and Mc Clellan eighty-eight votes. It seems as if we were to have a pretty wet season, as it is raining again.
November 9th, 1864.
We have neither received any mail, nor has any yet gone from here. Quite a stir was created this morning by cannonading in the vicinity of Atlanta; it is said that some cavalry and artillery and Georgia militia made demonstrations against different places along the line. A division was sent out after them, but they retreated without venturing a fight. The rebels have doubtless observed that all property has been removed from the city, and inferred that we are about to evacuate and came to reconnoiter.
November 14th, 1864.
Suddenly, at four o clock, an order came for me to take my regiment out and commence destroying the railroad towards Atlanta. We all went out at once and worked long after dark; the whole railroad is In ruins. That large bridge we have been so anxious to guard all this time, is no more. We are to start at ten o clock for Atlanta.
Milledgeville, November 23, 1864.
I write at the Capitol
of the State of Georgia, We left Atlanta a week ago yesterday, in the rear
of the whole train of the corps; that is always a very tedious marching,
and we marched all night to make the distance to Stone Mountain, about
sixteen miles. We had only time for a short rest and breakfast before we
started again, and marched in the same tedious fashion until ten in the
evening. The next few days we had to work tearing up the railroad a good
deal, besides marching; only the last few days have we got into camp before
dark. We marched along the railroad to Augusta as far as Madison, and then
south to this place. The country is full of large plantations; some of
the villages are very beautiful. Madison has magnificent mansions and gardens,
roses and other flowers are in full bloom everywhere. The last two nights,
however, have nipped them with frost. I am sitting this evening at the
opening of a wall tent, with a big fire before me.
The white people of Georgia are cold and for the most part intensely Secesh, and remain true to the most terrible resolutions that they will never give up, but the negroes, black and white-for it is difflcult to distinguish them from white men-are the most devoted friends of the Yankee soldiers. Their demonstrations are literally frantic. They dance and shout and clap their hands when they see our column approach. Whatever a soldier may ask for, they hasten to do for him. Whatever their masters have, he will get. It is claimed the negroes are so well contented with their slavery; if it ever was so, that day has ceased to be. Hundreds of men go with us, and thousands would if they could take their families along. Most of them have more or less white blood in their veins, and though they are not taught even to count, they are by no means unintelligent. Up to this time I have thought the South could organize a formidable military force out of their negroes, but I am satisfied now that they dare not attempt it. Every negro in the land will defend a Yankee soldier to the utmost of his power; many of our prisoners have escaped by their aid, and not one I believe has ever been betrayed by them. At Madison they burned the calaboose or whipping post, and the wild transports of men, women and children, dancing about, was really a spectacle worth seeing.
November 26th, 1864.
We have just arrived at Sandersville and gone into camp. Our advance had a slight skirmish with rebel cavalry today, but drove them back easily. We left Milledgeville day before yesterday and traveled all through a very cold night, yet we are all in very good condition. We have employed two mulatto brothers, Hillard and Bill Ford. One is assistant cook, the other is hostler. I suppose Savannah to be our objective point; we are about half way now. I hope the remainder of our journey will be as successful and pleasant.
November 27th, 1864.
We will probably get somewhere on the Atlantic Coast in two or three weeks. We had orders to be ready at nine o' clock, but it is eleven and we have not yet started. I suppose we are rear guard again.
December 1st, 1864.
We are a little southeast of Louisville. Our march this week has been rendered slow by the creeks and rivers we had to cross, where the bridges had been destroyed. It is so warm here today that we sit about in our shirt sleeves. It is almost one o' clock. We have been waiting four hours under marching orders, we will doubtless have to be up most of the night again; our rear guard always does, but we can stand it very well. Our duty has been very easy lately. Some of the most outrageous depredations and excesses are daily committed by our soldiers here. Citizens are robbed daily of everything. It is really heart-rending to enter some of these houses and see how like demons our soldiers have behaved. There is a Judge Asa Holt and wife, temporarily sojourning on his plantation; he is over seventy years old. Day before yesterday some of the ruffians actually went so far as to put a rope around his neck and raise him up by it to make him disclose money, which they insisted he had concealed. I gave him a good guard as soon as I found him out. It is only this last week that I have learned to appreciate the horrors which accompany an invading and victorious army: On the other hand, we find many noble incidents, where privates, as well as officers, generously alleviate the suffering of the inhabitants. The rebels seem to have gathered some little force in our front; some of our foraging parties have been attacked, but I suppose there is no force adequate to offer any serious resistance to our combined forces. The weather is certainly favoring us; the Indian summer of the northwest can offer nothing more delightful.
December 3rd, 1864.
We have arrived at Springfield, within thirty miles of Savannah, so far without any opposition, except that Wheeler has undertaken to skirmish with Kilpatrick, without succeeding in the least to check our advance. This week we have had rather bad roads, creeks and swamps are very frequent, and these are rather difficult to pass with long trains. We have in one place found trees felled across the road. It has been said that our fleet has taken Savannah. We have also heard that Hood has been defeated by Thomas. Our division has been advanced the last few days and are now here on the west side of Jack's Branch, waiting for the other two divisions and their trains to cross. It will probably be afternoon before we can cross and we will have to march after dark. We are in a poor country now, pine forests and swamps, and here and there a small plantation. So far we have been able to forage all the sweet potatoes and fresh meat we wanted. Sweet potatoes have been the great staple for the Army of Georgia. If Savannah does not fall into our hands right away, our transports will doubtless effect a landing near there, from which we can draw our supplies. Any force that may attempt to defend Savannah is virtually putting itself captive into our hands it will not be long before we will enclose it so completely that supplies cannot reach it and no avenue of escape will be open. It is not improbable we will find the city, if not in the hands of our fleet, evacuated on our approach. We shall see very soon, and very soon too we shall be in communication with the north again and will have a big mail.
December 11th, 1864.
Yesterday's march brought us to within four and a half miles of Savannah. We hear a good deal of cannonading, mostly to our right. Our division is on the Charleston and Savannah railroad; we went into position yesterday, and will probably wait here for communication to be opened to our new base of supplies, which it is said will be at the mouth of the Ogeechee. The roads run through swamps here, so of course the narrow space road is easily made impregnable, if we can get through the swamps; we will have considerable difficulty; there is a strong fort on the road in our front said to be so surrounded by swamps that it cannot be got by, but there is no such thing for this army as "can't." We have all the railroads running to Atlanta in our possession, but the navigation of the river remains to them; that I think will be difficult to take from them, and while they have it, it will afford them means of communication. The southern papers have it that Hood has defeated our forces in Tennessee and is near Nashville. Of course, this is very readily disposed of as a lie. He may succeed in penetrating a good distance into Tennessee; little good it will do him, but he must not beat our armies, and I don't believe he has done so. As yet we are wholly ignorant of what has been going on in the world for the last five weeks.
December 13th, 1864.
If you could see us this Sunday morning, you would find us in an old log nigger shanty, one side of which has been broken out for fire wood, but a fire-place remains and we have a fire. We have spread hay on the ground and our blankets over it. It does not look very nice, but our tents are all on our wagon in the rear. Now we have orders to advance about a mile at once.
December 14th, 1864.
We have good news today. We heard heavy firing, both musketry and artillery, a considerable distance to our right yesterday, and this morning we received an order from General Sherman, in which he announces with pleasure that yesterday, at 4:30 P. M., the second division, 15th Army Corps, assaulted and carried Fort Mc Allister, capturing its entire garrison and armaments, thereby opening communication with the Feet and the army of Major General Foster. It is good news indeed-it is the crowning victory of the most successful campaign known in military history. Now we have a base by which we can receive an abundance of supplies and, if need be, reinforcements for further operations. Savannah must fall; there is no hope for that city. We have batteries on the river shore and infantry on an island above the city, completely commanding the river, so that the rebels have nothing left but the few miles of river below that; that they are still using and can cross straight over into South Carolina. I went over to the river today; there are immense rice plantations there and a large number of mills, both on the main land and on the islands, for threshing and grinding rice. The hulling is done by what they call a pounding mill; I saw one in full operation. The rebel troops were very kind to leave the immense stores of rice undisturbed; it is the only thing we have, except captured beef, to feed our army. Each plantation has a village of negroes, and they are all hard at work threshing and pounding their rice for the Yankees. They all do it cheerfully and are evidently sincere in their protestations that they are glad the Yankees have come.
December 15th, 1864.
We have changed positions
several times since arriving in front of Savannah; we are now between the
Charleston & Savannah and the Central Railroads. On the right, there
is also a turnpike running along the railroad. On these roads the rebels
have a very strong fort, mounted with heavy guns; they throw spherical
case loaded with balls two inches in diameter from time to time. Quite
a number of the balls and pieces of shell have come into our camp, but
no one has been hurt. We have strong breastworks, which afford us protection.
Just after we came here, I became the owner of a beautiful black mare in a rather peculiar manner. I rode out on the right a ways to see about our connection with the 14th Corps, when I was met by three soldiers, two of them mounted on mules and one on the mare in question. The latter stopped and said, "Say, I would like to give you a first-rate blooded mare." I looked at him in surprise and asked him what I should give him for her; but he said, "I just want to give her to you; I have been detailed on cattle guard and rode her so far; she is a captured horse, unfit for Government use, and I have no forage and want to give her to some one who will take good care of her." He was an utter stranger to me. Of course, I took the mare and promised to take good care of her.
On the river here is a group of beautiful live oak trees; the trunks are very thick, and the branches extend out in all directions. The trees form a grove with a continuous roof. I don't know whether the fleet has landed yet. There were obstructions in the river which had to be removed first.
December 17th, 1864.
We got our first mail today. I did not apprehend that we would have a dangerous campaign, and so it has proved. We did not have a fight all the way through, and as the weather was so favorable, it was not even attended by hardships, particularly for a mounted officer. It was like an agreeable journey, full of interest.
December 19th, 1864.
Colonel Abercrombie is quite right, that In raggedness and uncleanliness of apparel and looseness and negligence of appearance generally, the 20th Corps could not think of competing with the Army of the Tennessee or that of the Ohio. For those high soldierly qualities, those bodies are certainly preeminently distinguished. Laxity of discipline and carelessness of personal appearance is the spirit of those corps. The Army of the Cumberland also has a tendency that way, but not so much as that of the Tennessee. A year ago, when we had just come from the Army of the Potomac, we were forcibly struck by these observations; notwithstanding the Army of the Tennessee is a most efficient body of troops, they did more Righting and had to endure more hardship during the Atlanta campaign than they had ever done before. Many of their regiments were under fire for the first time, and thus have come to think they did all the fighting. To those who have been through Chancellorsville and Gettysburg and Murfreesborough and Chickamauga, the Atlanta campaign was not so terrible. The 20th Corps suffered more casualties than any other in proportion to its numbers. The only instance where our corps was favored was during the move on Jonesborough, and the operations in rear of Atlanta after its fall.
December 22nd, 1864.
There has been much rejoicing
in this array. Preparations had been made for an assault upon the enemy's
line in front of the city; it was understood that our brigade was to charge
in our front. We had made examinations of the ground with great care. For
several hundred yards we would have had to go through a deep swamp, where
all the trees, brush, briers, and vines had to be cut down; serious apprehensions
were, therefore, entertained that, Although successful, the losses would
be great. Yesterday morning while in bed, I received an order to be ready
to move upon the enemy at once. I got my regiment under arms, when a staff
officer came saying that we would move out by the flank, the enemy having
left. It might have been more satisfactory to have stormed the works and
captured the garrison, but the obstructions, when viewed, proved fully
as bad as we had supposed; then the enemy lost everything, abandoned all
his material, all his guns without even destroying them, taking away only
his demoralized militia. The victorious march of this army from Atlanta
to the seaboard, the capture of Fort Mc Allister and then of the City of
Savannah, all within forty days, is certainly one of the great achievements
of military history.
I write from a house on the outskirts of the city, where my regiment is camped. It is quite a decent frame house; there are two small rooms with fireplaces. Those who have been to the city are abusing Atlanta, although they thought Atlanta was nice when we were there. The rebels evidently left for fear of being surrounded and compelled to surrender, as there seems to be no lack of provisions. There are several locomotives, cars, cannons, munition stores, and many other things besides rice. At an arsenal we found a captain and a squad of thirty men, who seemed to have been forgotten. I am glad we have got here. They will probably open the river soon, and then communications with the north will be direct. Our old landing could only be got at by a few small boats in flood tide.
Christmas Day, December 25th, 1864.
We have such cheering news from all quarters, it seems the war must come to a speedy end. Movements in Tennessee, which were looked upon with apprehension, now present the most cheering aspect The Battle of Frankton seems to have been well fought on both sides, yet General Hood was badly whipped and lost heavily, both in numbers and morale of his troops. Now, in front of Nashville, it would seem that he has met with a crushing defeat. His disaster promises to become complete before he can recross the Tennessee. Here is this big army without an enemy before it. The rebels are crippled everywhere. Lee cannot stay in Richmond much longer; he would have left before this time if only he had some place to retreat to. North Carolina is his only chance, and there he will have Grant's forces in front and an army equal to his own under Sherman in his rear.
December 26th, 1864.
We have an order to move
to the north side of the river tomorrow, there to camp for the present;
that will take us into South Carolina, that hot-bed of secession. If the
people of that state had been listeners to the conversations of officers
and soldiers here lately, they would know that their doom is no enviable
one. It seems to be a favorite contemplation with all, how they will plunder
upon getting into South Carolina. I think General Sherman will take his
army into the interior of that state before long. It is a good plan. Soldiers
like sweet potatoes and young pork, varied with poultry, much better than
lean beef and hard tack. It is cheaper also for the United States. Then
there are some railroads there too, that ought to be fixed. I think we
will operate some this winter without very hard work, and what is still
better, won't be cut off from communication.
I have read the President's Message and Secretary Fessenden's Report today. The latter is a very interesting document; I have never studied finances at all, but it becomes a subject of great interest now. The weather is like summer. We are commencing our daily drills again.
December 30th, 1864.
I received a most disagreeable order just now, that we must move tomorrow at seven o' clock, to take up a new encampment on the north side of the river. We have such comfortable quarters here, are right by the city, and now we have to go off there. It would be some satisfaction to know the reason of this move, but it must be submitted to I suppose. Our corps was reviewed today. A blockade runner who had not been informed of the change of proprietorship to Savannah, merrily sailed up the river night before last, little dreaming that while she had escaped our navy, she would fall into the hands of our infantry. There are a good many citizens in Savannah who have been interested in blockade running.
Savannah, New Year's Eve, 1865.
We started out this morning
to go across the river. We crossed the South Branch, which took us to Hutchinson's
Island. The broader stream is on the other side of it; this was not bridged,
and the South Carolina shore was defended by some rebel cavalry. We crossed
some men in boats, but they could not get to a good landing, the ground
was so marshy. It was attempted to lay a pontoon bridge, but the wind was
so furious and agitated the water so much that it was exceedingly difficult,
besides we had not nearly pontoons enough. It was very chilly and rained
all day, and we lay there in the mud on the island until night, when all
but one brigade was sent back to their old camps. That brigade is to be
crossed by means of a steam tug and Sat boats, and I suppose we will start
out again tomorrow morning to cross the same way, and then we can easily
put a bridge across. Most of our camps had been occupied by other troops
when we came back; ours had not been broken up and carried off, but was
in the possession of a Quarter Master, who was quickly turned out, so Major
L., Captain F. and I have our old room again, which is more comfortable
than on that cold swampy island.
We have had no mail yet; it is said that one is expected today. I trust we will get it before we leave, as we have orders to be ready to march at any moment. The weather seems to have been rough on the ocean of late, three-mast steamers came in yesterday with top masts gone.
They have had a meeting in the city and passed resolutions of submission to the United States, but I think they do not represent the general sentiments of the city; all the educated classes are intensely secesh, still necessity may make them good citizens. Savannah is a very handsome city; private residences are very fine and luxuriously furnished. The Pulaski Monument is the boast of the city; there are several squares with monuments. A large park has lately been much neglected. A large number of streets are inhabited exclusively by negroes. I have seen but little of the city or its citizens. A New York Tribune correspondent publishes a daily paper at ten cents a copy, containing absolutely nothing of interest.