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In Their Own Words

June 25, 1864

Letter Told of Continual Firing in Atlanta Campaign

In a letter to his wife back in Wisconsin, Maj. Fredrick Winkler painted a picture of the unglamorous side of war. He also indirectly gave tribute to the strategy Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston had adopted to slow Gen. William T. Sherman’s much larger force in the Atlanta Campaign:

“We are still in the same position we occupied day before yesterday. It is like so many we have had during this campaign, very close to the enemy’s pickets, and as the pickets keep firing constantly a great many bullets are thrown into the line, although in the second line I have had my men put up breastworks for their protection and a barricade of two lengths of rails, about four feet high, and covered with earth on the outside, sheltering our regimental headquarters from the intrusion of stray bullets; in the front line quite a number have been hurt, but not severely. It is a disagreeable mode of fighting. During these days when there is no engagement and you ought to be at rest, there is constant firing all around, and you are never out of danger and can hardly move about without indiscreet exposure. I know how much we lose in these many successive small battles, but we have as yet had no fighting at all compared to that of Virginia, and this mode of fighting may yet continue a long time. I hope, oh, so earnestly, for some decisive event that may put a speedy end to the whole contest, but I do not exactly see how it is to come. According to present appearances, it will take a series of bloody battles to accomplish that end, and it will be necessary to put more men into the field. The sooner they are got, the better it will be; we ought to have them ready now. I was interrupted by heavy firing on the skirmish line, which brought us to our feet and on the alert. It is now past six o’clock, and the sun is very near down. We have had no rain since the 21st, and it is very, very hot. We are in an open field and the only means we have of sheltering ourselves from the hot rays of the sun is to get young trees from the neighboring woods and build arbors.”

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