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In Their Own Words

July 08, 1864

Confederate Soldier Wrote of Atlanta Campaign

From the Chattahoochee River, Confederate soldier William Jewell wrote to his sister about hardships in the face of the advancing Union army:

“… I have been marching or ditching for the last two weeks day and night. I am now on the bank of a ditch. I am well at this time. Well, Sis, I have been in several tight places since I saw you. Last week we were marched five or six miles across the Chattahoochee River. We stayed there two days and then we marched a mile and formed a line of battle and fronted 10,000 Yankees, but they did not see us. Our cavalry fought them about one hour and had to run, and we had to leave quick and then we marched three miles back where we had to entrench ourselves. We commenced ditching Sunday evening but before we finished our ditch the Yankees come on us.

“… There was some of the heaviest cannonading last night AI ever heard yet. I said last night it was about sundown, just across the river. I don’t know what it was for, nor what damage was done. I reckon there was forty fired to the minute… . The Yankees are marching down the river in the direction of West Point. They are not more than 12 or 14 miles from Atlanta.

“…The weather is very hot and dry. You said Brother wanted me to write to him and let him know where we are. Tell him we are on the Chattahoochee, 12 miles from Atlanta, but I cannot tell how long we will stay here… . We are almost without anything to eat. I have not had as much meat this week as I could eat in one day … . I am hungry all the time and cannot get anything hardly to eat… .”

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), pp. 312-313.