IN THEIR OWN WORDS... voices from the unpleasantness July 21st


Sergeant Major
Apr 1, 2016
Atlanta, Georgia
IN THEIR OWN WORDS... voices from the unpleasantness

First Manassas July 21st 1861

Following the battle, General Jackson wrote to his wife:

Yesterday we fought a great battle and gained a great victory, for which all the glory is due to God alone. Although under a heavy fire for several continuous hours I received only one wound, the breaking of the longest finger of my left hand; but the doctor says the finger may be saved. It was broken about midway between the hand and knuckle, the ball passing on the side next to the forefinger. Had it struck the center, I should have lost the finger. My horse was wounded, but not killed. Your coat got an ugly wound near the hip, but my servant, who is very handy, has so far repaired it that it doesn't show very much. My preservation was entirely due, as was the glorious victory, to our God, to whom be all the honor, praise, and glory. The battle was the hardest that I have ever been in, but not near so hot in its fire.

July 21, 1864
Georgia Soldier Wrote about Battle of Peachtree Creek
A Georgia soldier wrote to his sister about the Battle of Peachtree Creek.

“…We have again had ourselves exposed to a most terrific fire. God in His kind providence has again spared me, even to having allowed a minie ball to strike my pants and yet not injure my leg. But He saw fit to take a leg from our dear friend Captain B.H. Napier. Besides, the Captain, though now with one leg, is worth a dozen two-legged ones, and you must answer his letter without fail to cheer him up as much as possible. He was shot at about 3 o’clock yesterday in a dreadful charge up over the enemy’s breastworks. Being repulsed, Briggs among the wounded was left on the field of wounded and dead. Night came on and my company was sent forward on picket duty. In deploying, I heard in an excited tone, “Halt!” In feeble answer, “I am a wounded man!” “Are you a Rebel or a Yankee?” “A rebel!” Then says the picket, “Lieutenant Reed, there is a wounded man in our front.” I, now knowing who it was, but for the sake of humanity, had one of the litter bearers of our brigade to bear him off the field. …” Source: Mills Lane (ed.), “Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), p. 318.

July 21, 1864
Union Soldier Wrote of his Part in Battle of Peachtree Creek
A Wisconsin soldier in Georgia wrote home to his wife, telling her proudly of his regiment’s part in the Battle of Peachtree Creek.

“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.” Source: Civil War Letters of Major Fredrick C. Winkler, in 26th Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers Home Page
July 21, 1864
Soldier in Virginia Overly Optimistic about Georgia Situation
A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote home to his fiance, briefly describing his situation, then going into more detail about military affairs in Georgia; he was overly optimistic about things at home.

“…How long we will remain in this situation we cannot tell. It seems as if Grant is determined, if not driven away, to remain here all summer. I do wish this campaign would close, ‘tis very disagreeable, and very unhealthy, both from bullets & disease. We can stand it about as well as Grant, tho’. … It is now certainly known that Genl. Johnston has been relieved of his command and Genl. Hood has assumed command. Hood is an excellent officer, and I’ve no doubt will soon relieve the downtrodden portions of our beloved state. The Yankeys are getting uncomfortably near my home and I’m extremely anxious they should be driven away as speedily as possible. They have overrun enough of our state, and I think it is now time for them to “halt”. I received two letters from home today, and they exhibit great uneasiness lest Sherman should overrun our portion of the state. Our country is actually filled up with refugees from the northern part of Georgia. … I think there is no use in being in such a hurry, Sherman hasn’t got Atlanta yet’ not do I believe he will. If he does succeed he will be compelled to do some very hard fighting, I’m certain. … Source: Clyde G. Wiggins III (ed.), My Dear Friend: The Civil War Letters of Alva Benjamin Spencer, 3rd Georgia Regiment, Company C (Macon, Mercer University Press, 2007), pp. 135-136.

July 21, 1864
Angry Diary Entry on Yankee Marauders
An angry southern man from east of Atlanta wrote in his diary of some Yankees invading his home and making off with their things.

“At 12 or 1 o’clock at night the Yankees came here in force. Knocked us up. The house was soon filled with the thieving Yankees - robbed us of nearly everything they could carry off. Broke open all our trunks, drawers, etc. & carried off the keys. They must have practiced roguery from their childhood up, so well they appeared to know the art.” Source: Franklin M. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1954), Vol. I, p. 609.

July 21, 1864
Union Sympathizer Wrote of Johnston, Heard Sound of Battle
A Union sympathizer in Atlanta wrote in her diary of the replacement of Johnston with Hood, then she heard the sounds of battle herself.

“General Johnston is removed from his command, and Hood succeeds him. Johnston could not ‘stand,’ so his successor is expected to do wonderful things. When censured for continually falling back, Johnston replied, ‘We can rebuild cities when demolished, but if this army is once destroyed, we can never raise another.’ His men love and honor him and regret his removal. “Midnight. Words cannot picture the scenes that surround me, scenes and sounds which my soul will hold in remembrance forever. Terrific cannonading on every side, continual firing of muskets, men screaming to each other, wagons rumbling by on every street or pouring into the yard (for the remnants of fences offer no obstructions new to cavalryman or wagoner) and from the city comes up wild shouting, as if there was a general melee there. I sit in my dismantled home tonight, feeling that our earthly loves and all our pleasant things are ours so slightly… . “At day the firing increased, becoming fiercer each hour. Still the soldiers said, ‘There is no danger. We are driving back the enemy.’ Towards evening, I was standing in the yard, listening to the firing and expressing my fears of a still nearer approach of battle-scenes. Our kind soldier friend replied, ‘Oh, that is nothing. That firing is a long way off from here. Our army will never allow the Yankees to take Atlanta.’” Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Georgia: History written by Those who lived It (Savannah, Beehive Press, 1995), pp. 170-171.

July 21, 1864
Diary Entry on Encounter with Yankee Robbers
William King of Cobb County wrote in his diary of his and a neighbor’s encounter with robbers.

Last night we were disturbed by Robbers, between 10 and 11 o’clock, in a bright moonlight, two men on horseback came in the yard, and stopped under the trees near the well. I asked what they wanted, they replied that they were in search of the train encampment of the 2 div. Cavalry. I informed them that the 1st. Cavalry Div. train had been encamped here but had left during the day, but could give them no information of the 2nd. They rode off toward the western side of the house, where Maj’r Flagg for safety had placed his two horses, under the house, hearing the Maj. and his man in motion below, I gave the men no further attention, as I had a bad cold I returned to Bed, for some time I heard the Maj. and his man, this morning he informed me, that he soon discovered the rascals had stolen one of his Horses, he pursued them to their encampment nearby, as he had taken a near road, he got there ahead of them, saw the Capt. and had the men arrested when they came up, on suspicion, but as they had no Horse with them, & as his Horse he found at the gate on his return without the Halter, he presumes he broke loose from them. Tonight I will put them in the cellar for safety. The Maj’r says about 2 o’clock he was disturbed again by the sound of the Piano, he went to see who was there, and found that the Piano had been carelessly left open, and a rat was running over the keys. He lost so much sleep that he is this morning making up the loss, and Mr. Fletcher called to see me this morning he in common with the rest of us out and in town are prohibited from passing the Lines, he says while going into town a few days ago in his wagon with a load of wood at noon, a band of thieves met him on the road and took away one of his Horses, there is but little safety in moving about now, the strict orders prohibiting going in or out of town just now, I think, is attributable to the apprehension of a raid on Marietta, where the government has a large am’t of stores, it is reported that for some days past Conf. Scouts have been seen about at no great distance from the town. The cars are now running more numerously toward the river. Excluded as we are in the country we can gather but little news–I am provided with no guard yet. Long wagon trains are constantly passing up and down the Road. The flies exceed in number and annoyance anything of the kind I have ever known, leaving no comfort for man or beast. Source: Diary of William King; Cobb County, Georgia, 1864

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