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In Their Own Words

September 10, 1864

Union Solder Wrote from Occupied Atlanta

Among the Union forces occupying Atlanta was Col. Fredrick Winkler of the 26th Wisconsin Infantry. On this day, he wrote his wife:

“… We have collected boards and are building houses. Major L. and I have a nice little hut with a window. I got a recruit yesterday, think of it, one recruit. We have received a lot of congratulatory orders, from the President yesterday, and from General Grant, who fires salutes with shotted guns trained upon the enemy, and finally one from General Sherman, in which he recounts the main achievements of the campaign. General Thomas is coming to review our corps in a few days. I am not ashamed of my regiment. The two hundred men I have look as neat and trim and have their arms and accoutrements as bright and shining as though they had been in camp undergoing daily drills and inspection, only I am out of all music. The rains have broken all our drums; when the pay master comes, we shall raise a fund and buy a half dozen first-class drums. General Sherman, in conducting the war, does not shrink from harshness. He says, in an order, that the City of Atlanta is wanted exclusively for military purposes, and orders all citizens to leave; this, of course, causes great excitement in town. They will lose a great deal of property by it, and it is hard for the people, but they cannot remain without falling a burden to the United States, and many of them are of very doubtful loyalty. But few men would have the courage to issue, or the firmness to execute, an order of banishment to all the inhabitants of a city. The army approves the fearless and independent course of the General in Chief; such a man we should have for Secretary of War. Wouldn’t he put the draft through? and wouldn’t he catch the runaways?”

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