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In Their Own Words

November 03, 1864

Letter Speculated on Sherman Campaign Plans

Col. Fredrick Winkler of the 26th Wisconsin Infantry wrote his wife from outside of occupied Atlanta about Sherman’s impending campaign through Georgia:

“The all engrossing thought and subject of speculation now is the impending campaign. I had a call from Colonel Dustin today, who has been commanding our division till within a few days, General Ward being on leave of absence. The surmises are that Atlanta will be destroyed and abandoned, the railroads leading to and from it destroyed as far as possible, a portion Of Sherman’s army to demonstrate against Hood from Chattanooga, Huntsville or Rome, and the balance, including the 20th Corps, to cut loose from all communications and move deep into the enemies’ country, either towards Mobile or Savannah, to find a new base of operations. General Slocum has told Colonel Smith of the 1st Brigade, that he would afterwards regret if he did not participate in this campaign. It will doubtless be an interesting one, into a new country, living on the land as we go along, no hostile fires to oppose us. We will go in strong force. The enemies’ main armies will be employed elsewhere. Their cavalry may pick up our stragglers, but otherwise no evil can befall us. We may be called upon to start at any moment after the 4th of November. We have had a good long rest and must not complain. We have to send all our things away tomorrow, keep nothing but a change of clothes, blankets and writing material. I have two five dollar notes, secession money, one payable six months and one two years after the ratification of peace between the Confederate States and the United States of America. Ah! are they not elegant rags? I have today read a most eloquent speech, delivered by General Meagherat Nashville in favor of the election of Lincoln and Johnson. We will probably be cut off from communication for a long time. When you get letters again they may have to go by way of some port on the gulf or the Atlantic coast. We will probably be long on the way.”

Source: Civil War Letters of Major Fredrick C. Winkler, 1864 in 26th Wisconsin Infantry Volunteer Home Page