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In Their Own Words

May 05, 1864

Letter on Marching near Ringgold

From just south of Ringgold, Georgia, Major Fredrick Winkler of the 26th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry wrote his wife:

“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… .”

Source: Civil War Letters of Major Fredrick C. Winkler, in 26th Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers Home Page