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In Their Own Words

July 21, 1864

Atlanta Diarist on Battle of Peachtree Creek

From the outskirts of Atlanta, a Union sympathizer known only as “Miss Abby” recorded in her diary:

“General Johnston is removed from his command, and Hood succeeds him. Johnston could not ‘stand,’ so his successor is expected to do wonderful things. When censured for continually falling back, Johnston replied, ‘We can rebuild cities when demolished, but if this army is once destroyed, we can never raise another.’ His men love and honor him and regret his removal.

“Midnight. Words cannot picture the scenes that surround me, scenes and sounds which my soul will hold in remembrance forever. Terrific cannonading on every side, continual firing of muskets, men screaming to each other, wagons rumbling by on every street or pouring into the yard (for the remnants of fences offer no obstructions new to cavalryman or wagoner) and from the city comes up wild shouting, as if there was a general melee there. I sit in my dismantled home tonight, feeling that our earthly loves and all our pleasant things are ours so slightly… .

“At day the firing increased, becoming fiercer each hour. Still the soldiers said, ‘There is no danger. We are driving back the enemy.’ Towards evening, I was standing in the yard, listening to the firing and expressing my fears of a still nearer approach of battle-scenes. Our kind soldier friend replied, ‘Oh, that is nothing. That firing is a long way off from here. Our army will never allow the Yankees to take Atlanta.’”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Georgia: History written by Those who lived It (Savannah, Beehive Press, 1995), pp. 170-171.