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In Their Own Words

May 09, 1864

Letter on Fighting in Northwest Georgia

From near Buzzard Roost in northwest Georgia, Maj. Fredrick Winkler of the 26th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry wrote to his wife:

“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.”

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