This Week in Georgia Civil War History
Dec. 28, 1862: A Georgia soldier writing home to his wife told of the aftermath of the Battle of Fredericksburg, including a new means of reconnaissance.
"...The Yanks are all quiet at present. While writing these few lines, there are balloons up taking a look at our position. ...The city is pretty well torn up by shots and furniture scattered and broken up about the streets by Yanks. They was three or four days burying their dead. They would dig holes and drag them along by the heels and four of them would pick them up and pitch them in like dogs. I seen this myself. I could not believe it if I had not seen it. ..."
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. 208.
Click here to see the Oath of Allegiance to the state of Georgia signed by an enlisting soldier on this day.
Dec. 29, 1862: A wounded Georgia soldier (see December 15 and December 24) wrote to his wife from a Virginia hospital.
"...I am getting on very well. My whole left side pains me some yet but not much. I cannot sleep on that side yet. The Dr. permits me to go about now inside the enclosure but no patient is permitted to go outside. ... My appetite is excellent and I eat about all I can get. They serve lightbread, beef, soup, peas...We get coffee and breakfast for supper. ... They have hospital underclothes, that is, shirt and drawers for us to wear all the time we stay here..."
Source: Jeffrey C. Lowe and Sam Hodges (eds.), Letters to Amanda: The Civil War Letters of Marion Hill Fitzpatrick, Army of Northern Virginia (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1998), p. 42.
Click here to see another Oath of Allegiance to the state of Georgia signed by an enlisting soldier on this day.
Dec. 30, 1862: The Confederate Union of Milledgeville printed an editorial on the sadness of Christmas for many this year.
The Southern Recorder of Milledgeville reported on another battle brewing in Tennessee, and at least one northern newspaper calling for recognition of the Confederacy as a separate nation.
A soldier writing home told of the great victory at the Battle of Fredericksburg, coupled with the sad news of the loss of one of his friends.
"...It was one of the grandest victories that our army has ever gained. While the enemy's force was double that of our's, we had the advantage of position and our men were in entrenchments. The result was every attack they made, they were repulsed with great loss. Our men being in their rifle pits and behind stone fences on the side of a bluff, the enemy to advance were compelled to advance through an open field. The line of battle was about four miles long. ...
It was while we were in our entrenchments that my much esteemed friend R.W. Milner received his fatal wound. He had taken the canteens of several of his company to bring water. While passing after water in the rear of our line, he was struck with a cannon ball about three inches below the shoulder of his left arm, taking it almost entirely off, ...Dr. Banks amputated his arm at the shoulder joint. He died the same night about 12 o'clock. ..."
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), pp. 208-210.
Dec. 31, 1862: A Georgia soldier writing home to his wife talked about the scouting work he was doing, and vainly hoped the war would end soon.
"...I remained over the river scouting 'till Christmas Day in the evening. They then ordered our company to return to the regiment. I was ordered to rejoin them. I got to camp after dark and at 3 o'clock in the night we packed our saddles and met the army at Franklin and crossed the river on the march to give the enemy a banter. ... We lay two days in ambush in the woods. It rained all night one night... I hope this war will end before long. I think the prospect of peace now is better than it has ever been since the war began. I think we will certainly have peace by May or June. ..."
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), pp. 210-211.
Click here to see yet another Oath of Allegiance to the state of Georgia signed by an enlisting soldier on this day.
The Battle of Stone's River (or Battle of Murfreesboro) began in Tennessee; there were numerous Georgians involved. This battle pitted the same two generals who would oppose each other in the first major battle fought on Georgia soil - Braxton Bragg (Confederate) and William Rosecrans (Union). The Union army attacked first, but was repulsed and pushed back, before reinforcements arrived to slow the Confederate advance. Both armies remained in the field that night.
Jan. 1, 1863: President Abraham Lincoln issued the final version of the Emancipation Proclamation. On September 22, 1862, he had issued a preliminary version announcing that on this day, he would issue a declaration as to which states were in rebellion against the United States. At that time, slaves in those states only would be freed. In the proclamation on this day, he announced that all eleven southern states that had joined the Confederacy were in rebellion, although designated areas of Louisiana and Virginia were exempted from emancipation.
Last Page of Emancipation Proclamation, with Lincoln's Signature
Four currency notes were issued by the state of Georgia - for one five cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, and one dollar.
Images by Norman Eugene Satterwhite
There was lull in the fighting at the Battle of Stone's River , as both armies re-grouped. Bragg believed Rosecrans would withdraw after being driven back the previous day, but Rosecrans continued to keep his army in the field.
Jan. 2, 1863: A Georgia soldier again wrote his wife from a Virginia hospital (see December 29), discussing his convalescence, and how much he missed her.
"...I write to you again to let you know how I am getting along. My wound is improving fast, and I think it will soon be entirely well so that I can rejoin my Reg., but I have been a little sick for a day or two extra of my wound. but I hope it will soon wear off. It is a dull heavy feeling, with a loss of appetite, and restlessness at night. I bought a quarter's worth of sausage from a negroe this morning for breakfast which tasted delicious to me and not a great while after I lay down and slept about two hours of good sound sleep and I feel better this evening. ...Yesterday a new year was ushered in upon us and it was as pretty a day as I have ever beheld. With the new year comes new hopes and new prospects, and let us resolve to live better and do better than we did in the past year. The 8th of this month will be eight months since I pressed you in my arms and bade you good-bye. ..."
Source: Jeffrey C. Lowe and Sam Hodges (eds.), Letters to Amanda: The Civil War Letters of Marion Hill Fitzpatrick, Army of Northern Virginia (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1998), pp. 47-48.
The Battle of Stone's River concluded. The Confederates attacked a Union division which had advanced, and drove it back to its original position, before being halted by Union artillery fire - forcing the Confederates to also retire to their original position. While neither army gained a decisive victory, Bragg did pull his Confederate troops our two days later, upon which Rosecrans claimed a victory - much needed for Union morale after the disastrous loss at Fredericksburg. For the relatively small number of troops involved, casualties in the Battle of Stone's River were staggering - the Union lost over 13,000 men, while the Confederates lost over 10,000.
Jan. 3, 1863: The Richmond Times Dispatch printed an observation on the piety of the Confederates expressed by a Georgia boy, as opposed (in his view) to that of the Yankees.
In an interesting side note, the first recorded baseball score in Georgia happened in Savannah on this day. In a game played by Union troops occupying Fort Pulaski, the 48th New York defeated the 47th New York by a score of 20-7.
This week's edition of Harper's Weekly printed an image of Christmas Eve - which poignantly showed what all soldiers and their families must have been feeling in those days.
Image Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library / University of Georgia Libraries
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