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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

July 23, 1864

Union Soldier Wrote of the Battle of Atlanta

A Wisconsin soldier in Georgia wrote again to his wife, describing what he had heard of the Battle of Atlanta, mentioning McPherson’s death.

“I wrote you last on the field of battle, on the field of victory, when we had accomplished what seldom falls to the fortune of one little regiment of two hundred and sixty muskets to achieve. It was a proud day for us. The boys are in good spirits; they are ready for the most desperate deeds. We have been required to send our trophies, the nags and swords, to headquarters, but I have made application to have them sent to the State, where you may some time see them at Madison. Oar pickets found early yesterday morning that the strong line of outer works about three-quarters of a mile in length in our front ha! been evacuated by the enemy. We fell in at once and marched forward and passed through them and took position on hills within easy cannon reach of the principal fortifications, to which the enemy had retired. We have thrown up works to protect us from artillery fire. We are only two and a half miles from the city; it is partly screened by high wooded hills. We have a large number of batteries in position. There has been a good deal of exchange of fire between them and the rebel artillery. It seems that, after failing to break the lines of General Thomas’ Army, moving down from the north upon the city on the 20th, the enemy attempted the same upon Mc Pherson’s and Schofield’s yesterday, and it is probable that he threw nearly his whole army upon them. The reports are that we lost heavily, were driven in at some points. I have even heard that our left flank was turned, but that we finally succeeded to repulse the attack, with the loss, however, of Major General Mc Pherson. The enemy was in a manner compelled to make these attacks, if he wished to save the city; he had no other choice. Mc Pherson and Schofield had possession of the eastern railroad. Our lines were very much extended; as we crowded nearer the city, they would become closer and stronger, and compel them to evacuate or stand a siege; to attack then was the best thing they could do. They have been badly beaten. I am very confident now that Atlanta will soon be ours. Johnston has been superseded by Hood in the command of the rebel army. There is a rumor current that Hood was killed on the 20th and Stevenson wounded.” Source: Civil War Letters of Major Fredrick C. Winkler, in 26th Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers Home Page