In Their Own Words
July 13, 1864
Gloomy Letter from Confederate Soldier
From north of Atlanta, Confederate soldier William Dickey wrote to his wife:
“… We are having rain every day. The ground is wet. We have to sleep on the wet ground. I did not sleep much last night. I had fever one thing and watching the tent another thing to keep me from sleep. These old soldiers will steal anything they can lay their hands upon. A Great many of them will do it. They stole a good many things last night again… . I tell you, it is awful to think of the wickedness and corruption attending an army. It is perfectly demoralizing to all classes of men, let alone boys. I think of it sometimes and wonder that we are not all destroyed for our wickedness and sinfulness. I sometimes think there is not enough goodness to save us from being destroyed. I believe if the country is ever saved, it will be from the many prayers of the good women of our country. Don’t understand me to say there is no good men. But there is, comparatively speaking, so few… . I think this is the most gloomy time I have experienced in the war. I tell you there is a great gloom resting over the Confederacy at this time. But it is said the darkest hour is just before day. I sincerely hope that it is the case with us at this time. I hope the bright day will come with us soon. We should all do our duty and put our trust in God. I think that is our only and best hope.
“… There is some desertion from our army. There are a great many Tennesseeans and up Georgians that are leaving the army and say they are going back home. I tell you it is enough to make any man desert. If the Yankees were to drive our army though our country and we were to pass on by you and the children, I could not say that I would not desert and try to get to you. That is the case with a great many men in Johnston’s army… .”
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), pp. 314-315.