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In Their Own Words

October 05, 1864

Union Solder Wrote of Determination to Hold Atlanta

Col. Fredrick Winkler of the 26th Wisconsin Infantry wrote his wife from occupied Atlanta:

“How shall I write, when my letter cannot go out; all communication with the north is cut off. Our corps is still here, but we are alone. It seems that the rebels are trying to force us from Atlanta in the same manner that we did them. Hood’s main army is in our rear; it is reported that he is heavily re-enforced. Sherman has left Atlanta in charge of the 20th corps, and has gone back with the rest to fight for the railroad. He is bound to succeed. We cannot give up Atlanta again. It is to be expected that the enemy will destroy a good deal of railroad, and it will be some time before trains can run again. We may be put on half rations and suffer privations, but we can suffer a good deal, but we can’t and will not give up Atlanta again. We are all well and in good spirits. The men have to work very hard on a new line of fortifications, which will be a good deal shorter than the one along which we are now stretched out. The paymaster commenced paying my regiment this afternoon. Eight and nine months’ pay, gives the boys more Money than they know what to do with, when there is no opportunity to send it home. It has been raining for several days. This morning the sun shines and not a cloud is to be seen. It is of a deeper hue than in the north. Copy of a despatch from Kenesaw Mountain sent me just now says that General Corse signals from Allatoona, ‘Had right cheek and ear shot off, but am able to whip hell out of the rebels yet; repulsed two assaults with heavy loss to the enemy, who retreated south and west.’ Despatch than adds that Sherman is well pleased. I think General Corse commands a division of the 16th Corps. His language is emphatically army style. Allatoona’s an important place, as we have heavy supplies stored there. One of the most important and most curious things in the army is doubtless the Signal Service. By brandishing a white flag with a crimson square in the center in the day, and a brightly burning torch by night, the signal officer transmits orders and intelligence to distant points, where communication by courier or telegraph is impossible. Signal stations are always located on very high points. They all have very powerful glasses, by means of which they observe each other’s motions. Unfortunately, I cannot send you any letters by signal; must, therefore, keep on writing until the mail goes north, which I trust will be soon. If they all do as General Corse does, it will be soon.”

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