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In Their Own Words

May 22, 1864

Letter from Michigan Soldier in Georgia

Another soldier in Sherman’s forces was Capt. Henry A. Potter of the 4th Michigan Cavalry. On this day, from near Kingston, he wrote his sister:

“… My health is good. We are having very warm weather at present. Our Division moves tomorrow with 20 days rations, as does the whole army. I believe. I send you some Photographs. My company was in the extreme advance the 18th. I had my men deployed as skirmishers on the left on a hill our attention all directed to the front when a regiment of rebels came charging around to my left and near. Yelling like incarnate fiends. My men saw the situation as soon as I and giving orders to fall back to the road we succeeded in reaching amid a perfect shower of leaden hail which cut the boughs and twigs above my head in every direction. We had run upon two Brigades of Confederate cavalry and with in * mile of their permanent camp. The road runs between two hills all the way we had no support (that was the [truth] of it) for four miles back. But were obliged to fight it out alone. They flanked us badly and had us entirely surrounded all but breaking the column. I did not expect to get out without being wounded or captured. But the bullets slighted me that time. Billy Egleston[William R Egleston, Lapeer, Mich, Captain Co B] was wounded in the fight near Rome, nothing serious however. Carter [Julius M Carter, Ovid, Mich] is doing well I hear and on his way home. I had one brave sergeant shot dead. I have some of the coolest and bravest men in any Co I ever saw. I saw many a rebel bite the dust from their shots, well-aimed. They lost a Col killed 2nd Georgia. We are resting today. The Army will advance in a day or two. The Trains are running regular to Kingston four miles north of us. We are about 60 miles from Atlanta. Report says Johnson[CSA General J E Johnston] will make a stand not far below here. No betting. We will know when we try them. We have flanked them out of Dalton and Resaca, two very strongly fortified places, naturally and artificially and we can flank them again or, if they will fight, we can whip them. They say Johns[t]on is reported to have said if he got whipped again he would retreat to Atlanta and hoist the stars and stripes. I have not recd any letters in a long time. Don’t know where they are. You must keep writing. We are encamped in a good place. Plenty of shade and a beautiful spring of cool water near. Whatever the rebel have preached and said about holding this country against the whole Yankee army. I know one thing, the citizens have lost all faith in them or their army, as is proved by the fine deserted residences, beautiful gardens or flowers, superb carriages and plated harness left in the flight from the ‘invader.’ I tell you Southern Aristocracy is ‘played out’ after this war is ended this country will be peopled by a different set of people. Write to your Brother.”

The Letters of Henry Albert Potter, May-August 1864