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In Their Own Words

July 30, 1864

Wisconsin Soldier Saw Dead from Battle

As Sherman’s forces continued to take battle after battle in their effort to take Atlanta, Lt. Col. Fredrick Winkler of the 26th Wisconsin Infantry wrote to his wife:

“I had hardly dipped my pen in ink to dispatch a few officials yesterday, when orders to march came, and we had to pack up and go. We did not march far, but we were on the road a long time, at noon marching a few rods and then halting again. The heat was intense; over a dozen men were attacked by sunstroke. We came to the extreme right of the army. I believe it was intended as a reconnaissance, but we took position and fortified the front line last night, and we still remain here. The Army of the Tennessee, now under Howard, commenced shifting from the left to the right a few days ago and were there attacked by the rebels in force day before yesterday, just as they were coining into position. The rebels were again repulsed with fearful slaughter. We passed over the field yesterday, and hundreds of their men lay there awaiting burial. General Howard’s entire loss was not more than five hundred and fifty, while that of the rebels cannot be less than three thousand, perhaps four thousand. I have it upon pretty good authority that they gave their forces whiskey, certainly a bad policy this hot weather. Yesterday that tartaric acid you sent me in the bag of oil silk did us a great deal of good. When it was so hot at noon, we made lemonade with it, and it was good and refreshing. General Howard rode by a few minutes ago and complimented me on the good record my regiment had gained during the campaign. The statements in the Wisconsin that portions of Johnston’s Army have gone to Virginia I had, at one time, thought were true, but the recent battles near Atlanta have developed beyond a doubt the presence of the three corps with which Johnston commenced the retreat from Atlanta nearly three months ago, reduced of course by the casualties of battle, desertions, etc. I have just learned that our division is going to extend a line to the right; we won’t have to march far to do that.”

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