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In Their Own Words

March 23, 1864

Letter from Dalton Civil War Camp

After the loss of Chattanooga, Confederate forces spent the winter at Dalton, Georgia. There was no question that with spring, General William T. Sherman would mount a new campaign on Georgia. But for right now, Confederate spirits were high, as A. J. Neal wrote his sister:

“…The snow covers the ground four or five inches, and it is cold enough to make a mud chimney pleasant. We had plenty of fun yesterday and from the noise around I suppose all the army did. Before breakfast we had a company [snow ball] fight, one row against the other… . Everything was taken in good fun, but it was rough play. The ground was speckled with blood from bruised noses… . “About half of the men are in the wood after rabbits this evening. We are kept busy with drills, inspections, reviews, &c. [with] hardly any time to spare. We are to have target practice tomorrow and on Friday a sham battle with blank cartridges… . These sham battles are exciting, but I like them better than the other kind! “… I never say this army in such fine spirits, everything is hopeful and confident since we repulsed them [the Yankees] above Dalton… . Trains of pontoon wagons are ready at this place, and we can move rapidly. “I anticipate brilliant successes this spring and after a few hard fights a glorious peace… .”

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. 285.