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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

September 12, 1864

Union Soldier Wrote of Atlanta Citizens Leaving

A Wisconsin soldier in Georgia wrote home to his wife, telling her of seeing the people of Atlanta leaving the city, but most of the blacks staying.

“The Major and I took a moonlight ride around the city last evening and lingered some time near General Thomas’ headquarters, where that excellent band of the 33rd Massachusetts discoursed some of its exquisite music. Atlanta is really a very fine city; there must have been a great deal of wealth in it. There are many large mansions and it looks much like a western city. Two-thirds of our term of service has now expired, and we can stay only one year more. I have a hope that it won’t be a year more, still who can tell. The citizens of Atlanta are all leaving; large wagon trains leave daily with southern families and their chattels, all but the human chattels and are received into General Hood’s lines under flags of truce. Those who are not devoted to the south are preparing for a grand migration northward; thus Atlanta will be left to the soldiers alone. General Sherman has issued a stringent order, that no trader shall be allowed to settle within any fortified place south of Chattanooga. He has no sympathy with those who follow the army to make money out of it. The clerk of the paymaster of our brigade has arrived. It seems that all the armies are being paid; thus relief will soon be brought to your suffering soldiers’ families.”

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