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In Their Own Words

July 14, 1862

Civil War Soldiers Wrote Home about Battles

Two Georgia soldiers in Virginia wrote home to their wives, telling them about the Seven Days Battles.

“…The week which closed the month of June and ushered in July was so eventful, such rapid movements followed close upon the heels of such hazardous enterprises that the mind of one in the midst of the rush and tramp of columns and the roar of artillery and the incessant rattle of small arms and the destruction and plunder of camps finds it difficult to cull suitable portions from the immense mass of vivid recollections that crowd his mind. The plan of the attack, together with the disposition of our forces, had been made known to me by Col. Anderson two of three days before it was put into execution. It was a magnificent conception, worthy of the head of a great General. McClellan was fairly out-generalled. There can be no dispute about that. He exhibited great skill in his retreat and is by no means a despicable antagonist. I can testify moreover to the bravery of his army. Under the circumstances they fought well. The victory is as decisive as the greatest victories of history have usually been. …” Source: Anita B. Sams (ed.), With Unabated Trust: Major Henry McDaniel’s Love Letters from Confederate Battlefields as Treasured in Hester McDaniel’s Bonnet Box (The Historical Society of Walton County, Inc., 1977), p. 89.
“…We stood at the Yankees’ camp and I went over part of their camp.It is a sight worth looking at. Such a war as I never thought I would look at. You could find anything almost that you wanted to. I have no doubt but they lost and destroyed ten millions of dollars worth of property in those runs, they say retreats, but it looks more to me like a routed and whipped army. Old McClellan made a speech to his grand army in which he said ‘Men, you may think that things look dark but all is right.’ But, alas, his men saw the darkness theirselves and they know that it is dark. I don’t know where they are. The last I heard of them they were trying to get on their gunboats and General Stuart was driving them in. I hope they will never try to come to Richmond anymore. It is thought that peace will be made in a short time. God grant it, for war is a terrible thing to all the world. …”

Source: Ronald H. Moseley (ed.), The Stilwell Letters: A Georgian in Longstreet’s Corps. Army of Northern Virginia (Macon: Mercer University Press, 2002), p. 13.