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In Their Own Words

October 09, 1864

Union Soldier Wrote from Occupied Atlanta Area

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

“We have had despatches of another fight at Allatoona, in which the rebels were discomfited. General Sherman has telegraphed to General Slocum that Hood was moving south and might swing around upon him; it would seem, therefore, that the road is now clear. Then there is hope ahead, and we may at least hope, before another week passes, to be in communication with our homes. We are no longer in Atlanta I received orders on Friday night to march my regiment to the Chattahoochee River bridge and there report to Colonel Smith, commanding the 1st Brigade of our division. We came down accordingly and have just got into our new camp. There is not a board here and it is very cold; we ought to have fireplaces. We were fairly driven into bed last night by the cheerless cold at seven o’clock. To-night we will sleep in our uniforms, otherwise there is no standing it. A portion of the railroad bridge was carried off by the current about a week ago, and it has been impassable ever since; thus misfortunes multiply upon this road. The repairs will be completed today.

“We are in a terribly sad state of ignorance. We know that communications are now open, but beyond that, not a word. Several persons who came from Atlanta yesterday say that it was on the bulletin board that Grant was in full possession of Richmond. It is too good to believe, we hope and we fear, and perhaps a slightly audible mortification on being cut off is indulged in. We have not a grain of forage for our horses. I have sold my extra one, as I had not half enough for my Jennie, who is no longer as round as a ball. A sort of cane that grows in the marshes, leaves and sticks must keep them alive.

“One of our couriers was waylaid between here and Atlanta and murdered by guerrillas yesterday. His dead body was found by the wayside, rifled of his arms, with one bullet through his head and one through his breast. We have to get up at four o’ clock every morning now, so as to be on the alert in case the rebels should come, but they won’t come here. What good would it do them? The destruction of a bridge so near to Atlanta will too poorly compensate Mr. Hood even for a trifling loss, and he has learned from experience that he cannot assault our fortified positions without very heavy loss.”

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