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In Their Own Words

July 05, 1864

Union Sympathizer on War Near Atlanta

A Union sympathizer in Atlanta only known as “Miss Abby” wrote in her diary on this day:

“[Gen. Joseph E.] Johnston’s army fell back to the river last night. ‘Joe’ is something of a nocturnal traveller. His headquarters are now on this side of the [Chattahoochee] river. It is reported that a force of the Union army are near Fairburn, endeavoring to cut the LaGrange road. Where the main army is, we have no means of knowing.

“A young man was telling me today of an incident he witnessed in some of the recent engagements. The Federals were charging a battery, and the color bearer was shot. Before he fell, another soldier rushed up and caught the flag, but soon shared the fate of his comrade. Another brave boy snatched the banner from the falling, dying man, who yet held it erect, and he, too, was killed. The stars-and-stripes did not fall until it fell with the seventh brave man. The young man relating this incident is in the Confederate army. ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘when that old flag went down at last by the side of those brave men, I almost forgot where I was. I could not see for the smoke and dust - or something else.’ I felt that war, fearful and bloody, was each hour coming nearer.”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Georgia: History written by Those who lived It (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1995), pp. 169-170.