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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

July 13, 1864

Soldiers Held Differing Opinions on Military Situation in Georgia

A Georgia soldier with Johnston’s army wrote home to his wife; he was not optimistic about the outcome of the war, or very fond of many of his fellow soldiers.

“… 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.

Another Georgia soldier was not so down; in fact he was confident in the defenses being established around Atlanta, although he insisted the army was more important than the city. He also told his wife of some affable dealings with the Yankees.

“…I am on picket on the banks of the Chattahoochee guarding the position where our army crossed the river. We were about the last command to cross to this side and fire the pontoons. We have a singular state of affairs in our front … Just across the river are hundreds of blue coat Yankees… We are not 50 yards apart and any of us would do anything to destroy the other. Yet we walk along the river banks, talking as friendly and courteously as if to old acquaintances. The men laid aside their guns and are scattered up and down the river swapping canteens and hats and bartering one commodity for another. All day we lie in the shade of the banks and act very becomingly, but at night the men commence cursing and taunting each other and carry on rich conversations. … I am convinced Sherman is sorely perplexed and wants to see what Grant is doing before he pushes down farther. Johnston can save Atlanta by fighting for it, but the preservation of the army is infinitely of more importance than Atlanta. As long as our army continues in the field, Sherman can do little damage in Georgia…” Source: 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), p. 313.