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In Their Own Words

October 23, 1864

Union Soldier Discussed Presidential Politics from Atlanta

Col. Fredrick Winkler of the 26th Wisconsin Infantry wrote his wife from near Atlanta:

“Trains are to go through from Chattanooga to-morrow, and then we shall have our regular mails again. To-morrow, I am officer of the day. George Jones has gone to Atlanta with the wagon, in hope of getting a new mule team in place of the lost one. If successful he will bring back a load of brick, and we will have fire-places made to-morrow. It is too uncomfortable without them; after four o’clock, it is so cold that one can do nothing but shiver.

“We are over whelmed with a flood of political prints and pamphlets; they are all on the Republican side. I don’t know how my regiment will vote; it used to be strongly democratic, still I think the officers are, save one or two, for Lincoln. I never talk to them on political subjects. I am going to vote the Republican ticket straight through, but beyond that will not meddle with politics. Mr. Lincoln is personally no abler or stronger than Mc Clellan, but the influences which surround him, both of political and military-men, are such as to Support and strengthen him. I have little doubt that Lincoln will be elected, but the greater his majority, the more emphatic will be the blow to the enemies of the country.

“I am going on a foraging expedition tomorrow; besides my own regiment, I am going to have one hundred men from each of four others, and will probably be gone three or four days. A good many trains have gone into Atlanta, but none have come out from there. Our nearest neighbor, Colonel Case, of the 129th Illinois, has a Chicago paper nearly a month old, containing an account of General Sheridan’s battle of the 19th of September. Our terrific losses in consequence of that surprise are sad to contemplate, but the skill and daring of General Sheridan certainly challenges the highest admiration. Almost any other general would have made his men work like beavers to secure themselves against further disaster by strengthening their position, when his bold spirit reorganized his broken and defeated battalions and led them against his victorious and exultant foe. It is the first time in this war that such a thing has been done or even been thought of. Sheridan has shown himself to be the greatest leader of battle that has yet appeared on the American field on either side.”

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