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1864 October 8: News of Local Soldiers, Local Union Meetings, and an Interesting Bounty Jumper

October 14, 2014

Following are the smaller items from the October 8, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal and The Polk County Press.

From The Prescott Journal:

Finger002  We have received an interesting letter from WILLIE HATCH, giving an account of the operations of the Battery he was attached to during the late campaign and capture of Atlanta.  [William H. Hatch, from Prescott, 10th Battery Wisconsin Light Artillery]

Finger002  GEO. DRESSER, Co. M, 2d Wis. Cavalry, is home on furlough.  George’s health is poor, but his grit is good.

Finger002  We were in error last week in stating that Capt. MAXSON was home on furlough.  His time has expired and he is home to stay.  The Capt. has been a faithful and efficient officer, and can look back with well earned pride on the part he has taken in this war.  [Orrin T. Maxson]

Finger002  The remains of Capt. CHAS. P. HYATT arrived here last Wednesday morning.  The funeral exercises will be held at 11 o’clock, A. M., to morrow, (Sunday.)

Union Meetings.

Union Meetings will be held at

Oak Grove, Wednesday evening, Oct. 12
River Falls, Thursday         ”         Oct. 13
Clifton,        Saturday          ”         Oct. 15

Union Clubs will be formed at each of these meetings. Speakers will be in attendance.

.       .By order of the
Union County Committee.

Finger002  Thirty-five teams, containing a little over 200 persons, 120 of them being voters, went from here to the Mass Meeting at Hastings last Tuesday.—Some of the teams were from Clifton and Oak Grove, and Hosen Bates and Mr. Tubbs each came with a four-horse team well loaded.  Stand out of the way grumblers and little Mackerels.—The Union clans are beginning to rally.

Finger002  The Lincoln Club in this city, holds its meetings every Friday evening, and is doing a good work.  Union Clubs should be organized in each of the towns.

Union Mass Meeting.

We are not able to announce the day of the Grand Union Mass Meeting to be held here, but it will probably be on the 12th or 18th instant.  Senator TIM. O. HOWE and Judge LEVI HUBBELL, of Milwaukee, will speak.  The Great Western Band will be in attendance.

Let the people prepare to attend.  It is expected to make this the largest political demonstration ever made in the Northern part of the State.

CONVALESCENT SOLDIERS IN HOSPITALS TO BE FURLOUGHED BEFORE ELECTION.—Surgeon General BARNES has issued an order to the Superintendents of Hospitals, directing them to permit all soldiers able to travel, and yet unfit for duty, to visit their homes and remain, until after the Presidential Election.  As the order is general, and makes no exceptions, there can be no ground for complaint if the “straws” do not show the wind coming from a quarter to suit the Copperheads.

Finger002  Imagine SHERIDAN addressing his army beyond Winchester : “Boys, I am requested by the Chicago Democratic Convention to say to you that after your ‘four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war,’ the ‘sympathy of the Democratic party is heartily and earnestly extended to you.’ ”—“Beyond Winchester” would be a mighty unsafe place for the Chicago Convention about that time.  [Philip H. Sheridan]

Finger002  A man is known by the company he keeps. DON CARLOS BUELL and FITZ JOHN PORTER are fast friends of McCLELLAN, GRANT, SHERMAN, FARRAGUT, BUTLER, LOGAN, HOOKER, BURNSIDE—all the men who are at present fighting the battles of the country—are for Mr. LINCOLN [Abraham Lincoln], regarding the policy he is pledged to as the only safe and ration one.

[Don Carlos Buell, Fitz John Porter, George B. McClellan, Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, David G. Farragut, Benjamin F. Butler, John A. Logan, Joseph Hooker, Ambrose E. Burnside — all can be found in the Military Men Cast of Characters]

THE POSTMASTER GENERALSHIP.¹—The Cincinnati Gazette says Gov. DENNISON has decided to accept the position of Postmaster General.  [William Dennison]

From The Polk County Press:

UNION MEETINGS.—Union Meetings are in full blast in all parts of the State.  The people turn out in large numbers, and the enthusiasm for Lincoln & Johnson exceeds that of the campaign of 1860.  Wisconsin is down for a larger majority for the Union Ticket this fall than ever before.  [Andrew Johnson]

McCLELLAN CLUB.—We understand that the Democrats of this village have formed a McClellan Club.

— The 1st Wisconsin Regiment, whose term of service has expired, is to have a grand reception on their return, at Milwaukee, given by the ladies of the city.

PERSONAL.—We had the pleasure of welcoming back Lieut. OSCAR CLARK, and private SAMUEL EMORY, of the 10th Wisconsin Battery, on Monday last.

LIEUT. CLARK, and a few of his men are on a twenty day furlough, and will return the first of next week.  The 10th Battery and the Polk Co. “boys in blue,” have seen hard fighting, and have gained a splendid reputation in the army of the Tennessee.  [Oscar A. Clark]

Sergt. MOSES T. CATLIN of the battery left Tuesday morning for Madison.

SPEECH AT TAYLOR’S FALLS.—There was a Democratic Speech at Taylor’s Falls last week.  Quite a large party attended from this place.

Hon. IGNATIUS DONNELLY, candidate for Congress in the 2d District of Minn., will speak at Taylor’s Falls on the 17th, evening.  A large delegation may be expected from this village.

UNION MEETING AT HASTINGS.—There was a grand Union Meeting at Hastings, Minn., last Tuesday, and it is estimated that 2,000 people were present.  Some thirty-five teams loaded with the “true blue,” in all 300, went from Prescott.  The procession presented a magnificent appearance, with horses appropriately trimed [sic] with flags, and banners floating to the breeze.  Speeches were made by Senators Ramsey and Wilkinson.—Music by the Great Western Band of St. Paul.  Senator Doolittle, of our State, was expected to be present in the evening.

MARK A. FULTON.—We neglected to announce in our last issue, that MARK A. FULTON, Esq., of Hudson, is the Union candidate for Member of the Assembly for the St. Croix and Pierce Co. District.

A better nomination could not have been made.  Mr. FULTON, is a leading business man, and thoroughly believes in the policy now being carried out by Sherman, Sheridan and Grant.—He will be elected by a large majority.

BOLTING.—The Union men of Chisago County, Minnesota, have bolted the regular Assembly nomination, and adopted a new ticket.  The result will probably be to turn the District over to a Democratic Representative in the next Legislature.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1.—Ex-Governor Dennison was this afternoon sworn into office and entered upon the duties as Postmaster General.¹

— It is reported that Admiral Farragut is abdut [sic] to be assigned to a new command on the Atlantic coast—probably for the reduction of Wilmington, N. C.

— The great monitor Dictator, for several months past under construction in New York, is nearly completed, and will proceed on the first of October on a secret expedition somewhere in the south.  Her destined service is said to be of such a momentous character that no time will be permitted to make a trial trip.—N. Y. Times.

— W. W. McCracken, formely [sic] a member of the Assembly, from the northern district of this State, died recently in Missouri, in the military service—Madison State Journal.

— Gens. Grant, Sherman, Rosecrans, McPherson, Sheridan, Keitz [?], Gerrard [sic], Weitzel, Crook and Gillmore were all born in Ohio.

[William S. Rosecrans, James B. McPherson, Kenner Garrard, Godfrey Weitzel, George R. Crook, Quincy A. Gillmore — all can be found in the Military Men Cast of Characters]

— The Country to Geo. B. McClellan :

“Are you for peace or war ?”
McClellan :     “Yes.”

— The re-election of Lincoln is no longer a matter of doubt ; the only question is how large shall his majority be.

— The rebels say that the Yankees have three full brigades of negro troops at Chattanooga.

A Lively Bounty Jumper.

Private Samuel W. Downing, alias “John W. Ball,” Co. H, 4th Maryland Vol., who had deserted and re-enlisted seventeen times, was shot at Annapolis last week. Since July 1863, when he deserted first, he has enlisted and deserted seventeen times, and had received as bounty or substitute money a sum total of $7,550. He operated in six different States.

1.  Until 1971 the U.S. postmaster general was a member of the President’s cabinet.

1864 October 8: Third Battle of Winchester

October 13, 2014

The following report from the New York World was reprinted by The Prescott Journal on October 8, 1864.



Sept. 2_, 1864.

Correspondence of the New York World.

At 11 o’clock in the forenoon, therefore, the armies of Sheridan and Early confronted each other between Winchester and the Opequan [sic] creek, in the following order:  The rebel line extended across the turnpike, covering Winchester, Breckinridge’s corps in the center, Rhodes’ division of Early’s corps on the left, Ramseur’s division of Early’s corps on the right, Johnson’s cavalry on the extreme right, and Fitz Hugh Lee’s, Lomax’s, Imboden’s and McCausland’s cavalry on the extreme left, opposing our own.  The Union army, the Sixth corps (two divisions) on the left, crossing the turnpike, the Nineteenth corps on the right, the Army of Western Virginia on the Opequan [sic] in reserve, General Wilson’s cavalry on the left, Generals Merritt’s and Averill’s cavalry on the right.

The cannonading, which had continued so fiercely throughout the forenoon till these dispositions were finally established, partially ceased.  As I rode to a height directly in the rear of the Sixth corps, overlooking most of the field occupied by our infantry, the old but infinitely beautiful panorama of all battlefields, made still more impressive by the natural aspects of this most lovely of valleys, was spread before and around.  Seemingly in a circle stood the mountains of the Cumberland and the Blue Ridge.  Unto their bases faded away stretches of forest, and woodland, and field, dotted by dwellings, and sparkling with streams, and glowing with the kisses of approaching autumn.  The sunshine was mild, the breezes were faint, the leaves scarcely swayed in their passing, the spires of Winchester were sliver threads.

Beyond the town, and along the pike the enemy’s wagon train, making for the rear, meandered like a white serpent.  Nearer could be seen faint columns of their line of battle, moving masses, flashing bayonets and sabers.  Their sharp-shooters and skirmishers were white specks in the cornfields, were clustered in groups about barns and houses, and nearer still our own skirmish lines posted along the edges of the woods, behind tall fences, across fields, waiting the signal.  Still nearer, directly beneath and around, the splendid marching columns of our infantry had debouched from the pike and woods upon the fields and plateaus ;  some waiting in hollows behind the crest ;  some forming in position for an advance.  The flags of the regiments had a proud look, an elastic tread was in every rank.  The 6th corps was all up and mostly ready.  The 19th corps, ascending the heights to the right, opposite the pike, were slowly wheeling into line.  The levels and hollows between the main army and the skirmish line were crossed and recrossed by galloping staff officers and orderlies, carrying and receiving orders.  Gens. Sheridan, Wright and Emery rode swiftly with their staffs along the lines, looking well to every point of advantage, upon the ground, examining with their glasses the position of the foe, and completing all dispositions for an attack.  For a moment, on this scene of beauty and expectation, there stood perfect calm.  For only a moment, the musketry and artillery were still, the smoke wreaths of our batteries standing silent in air mists as the skirmish line faded away.

The pickets and sharpshooters along the vast line of battle took breath.  In that moment, although save the advantage obtained by Gen. Wilson in the morning (neutralized and more than neutralized by the delay which afforded the enemy time to concentrate his army in the fornoon [sic],) everything was yet to begin and to be gained.  No one who glanced at the spectacle of confidence and strength, disposed for miles along the country within view, could feel his heart throb with serious doubt.

The signal long expected, was given at last Gen. Wright, to whom was assigned the command of the Sixth (his own) and the Nineteenth corps (Gen. Emory), gave the order to attack at precisely twenty minutes to twelve.  The Second (Gen. Getty’s) and the Third (Gen. Rickett’s) divisions of the Sixth corps, joined in the advance, the First (Gen. Russell’s) division being held in reserve.  The Nineteenth corps, including both divisions, under Gen. Grover and Dwight, advanced entire.  The lines, at the signal, were posted, for the most part in the edges of woods, through which the troops advanced giving their fire to the enemy.  For a few seconds the gleaming lines of our bayonets vibrated, before they entered the timber and were lost to view in the shadow of smoke.  The enemy, receiving a severe and continual volley along his entire front, gave back at first volleys as severe, but was forced to retire slowly before the attack.  The roar of battle as the two lines fairly met became thunderous.  The artillery opened simultaneously on either side.  The hollow clang of musketry in the forest was like the fierce clangor in the wilderness.  The bombs bursting in the air and the woods, dealt in bursting the havoc, and had in noise, the horror of the fiercest battle fought by Gen. Grant from the Rapidan to Petersburg.  The precision and quickness of the enemy’s cannonade was almost alarming.  Their guns posted at first in well selected overlooking positions, never knew a moment’s rest.

I counted, during the brief interval between our first advance and the crisis which succeeded it, at least forty shells per minute, which fell along every portion of our lines, and sought in some instances, the pike in the rear, where a portion of the Nineteenth corps was still advancing to the front, and where some of our cavalry were lying in wait.  Neither these nor the musketry fire which met our infantry checked the ardor of our troops.  Their fire remained unslackened for an hour, during which we had driven the enemy at some points back nearly half a mile.  The determination to win the battle, which seemed to inspire every man among our army, urged certain parks of the line along somewhat too hastily in advance.  Gen. Berge’s brigade, attached to Grover’s division of the Nineteenth corps, pushed forward so impetuously in the charge as almost to isolate itself from the division.  The enemy ere long perceived the advantage and charged in turn, threatening the gallant brigade on their flank, and it was forced to retire.  The rebels, still coming on in overwhelming force at this point, pushed back and confused another brigade of the division in support, and the entire left of the division subsequently gave way.

The enemy from a battery, hitherto uncovered, opened this time on our flying troops, following up their advantage.  Their shells decending [sic] among the broken columns of Grover, demoralized and shattered them still more.  The entire infantry line of the enemy recovering its courage at the sight, charged in turn, pouring in severe and rapid volleys toward the point of breakage.  Their troop0s still advanced at a double quick, firing and filing past, and almost turning the right flank of the sixth corps, led by General Rickett’s division, in their pursuit of Grover’s infantry.  The moment was a fearful one.  Such a sight rarely occurs more than once in any battle as was presented on the open space between two pieces of woodland, into which the cheering enemy poured in their eagerness.  Their whole line, reckless of bullets, reckless even of the shells of our batteries, constantly advanced.  Captain Stevens’ battery, posted immediately in their front, poured its fire unflinchingly into their columns to the last.  A staff officer riding up, _arped it to the rear to save it from capture.  Colonel Tompkins in command of the artillery of the Sixth corps, sat upon his horse with a loaded revolver close beside the battery and ordered it not to move.  It did not move.  The men of the battery, loading and firing with the regularity and precision of a field day, kept it at work in the face of the foe, who advanced at least within two hundred yards of the muzzles of the guns.  General Rickett’s division, pressed heavily in flank, gradually broke and commenced falling back.  General Getty’s division, on the left partially fell back likewise.  The day, had such a situation been suffered to continue fifteen minutes longer, would certainly have been lost to us.

Crisis of a great battle !  Crisis met, and thank God, conquered ;  though with such a loss as in the estimation of men highest and lowest in this army, can never be replaced.

General Ricketts saw the danger even before the wavering of his columns, and sent a regiment to his right flank, which formed at right angles of his main line, temporarily protecting it.  Gen. Wright, in command of the forces, acted with prompt decision.  Although it was indeed early in the day to be forced to employ the reserves of an army, he decided to employ his reserves at once.  The first division of the Sixth corps under General Russell, immediately in the rear of our broken centre, was ordered in at the double quick.  Colonel Edwards’ brigade, advancing on the right of General Ricketts’ sent its bullets crashing into the enemy’s hordes, astonishing and checking them.  General Russell, commanding the division, cheered on the troops of his own and General Ricketts’ command, galloping along the lines and endeavoring to reform the columns which were broken.  The lines were constructed with admirable quickness, and the enemy were charged in turn.

As the revived troops moved slowly forward, giving out their volleys, Gen. Russell was struck in the side by a bullet.  Straightening himself up without uttering a word of pain, he called out to the command to “move on,” and moved on with them into the fray.  In half a moment more a piece of bursted shell from one of the enemy’s batteries entered his breast, passing down through his vitals and out on the other side.  He fell from his horse without a word.  His men moved by him.  His officers, moving by, also, saw with hearts full of tears and agony which they will never forget, but which they could not then attempt, even had it been possible, to alleviate.

The enemy, not yet wholly daunted, regained and preserved a somewhat stubborn regained and preserved a somewhat stubborn front.  At this moment the brigade of Gen. Upton, also attached to the First division, moved upon the right of Col. Edwards and charged.—The charge of this brigade was the finest spectacle in the infantry battle of the day.  Gen. Upton, himself a young but laureled hero, rode at the advance of his lines and drawing his sword, sat his prancing horse like a centaur, calling his men to follow.  The brigade went in with a cheer that prophesied the event to come.  Solid and strong, its two lines moved onward out of the woods and into the field.  The rebel advance was an advance no longer.  The rout was turned.  Back over the fences, into and beyond the ravines, and into the woods still beyond their lines, flying and broken, they were pushed on.—The troops of the Sixth and Nineteenth corps, reforming and charging, soon won back the lost ground and a portion of the field beyond.

The battle now slackened for a time, and the main lines of our army were reformed preparatory to a second attack.  The Nineteenth corps was temporarily held in reserve, the Sixth corps and the Army of Western Virginia, which were posted on the left, being ordered to advance simultaneously and drive the enemy out of their position.  During all this time the cavalry of Gen. Wilson, Gen. Merritt, and Gen. Averill, on the left and right, had not been inactive.

Gen. Wilson had joined in the charge made at half-past eleven, driving the enemy’s cavalry in his front.  Gen. McIntosh, commanding one of his brigades had been wounded in the leg.  Gens. Merritt and Averill, who had both been pushing the rebel cavalry from the Opequan [sic], had formed a junction on the Winchester and Martinsburg pike, and were driving them in rapid successive charges down toward the scene of the main battle.  Fitz Hugh Lee’s cavalry had been overwhelmed by Custer, in the early afternoon.  The rest of the rebel cavalry made so little opposition, that for eight miles our troops moved at a trot gallop, corralling and driving them like sheep.  At 2 1-2 [2:30] p. m., therefore, when the second cavalry and infantry advance was ordered, Gen. Torbett [sic] with his two divisions, was in a position to cooperate in time with the main army.  The fire of our artillery, which, owing to the scarcity of good positions, had been previously not too destructive, was now increased.  More batteries had been employed by the sixth corps, and two or three batteries were put in position in the rear of Gen. Crook

A rapid cannonade was opened just before the advance.  The enemy replied to it with their usual vigor.  We advanced again about half-past 2 p. m.  It was made steadily from the first.  The enemy must have known that to withstand this attack was their last hope during the day, but although they met it with a front so stubborn, and for a moment so unyielding, that few would have ventured to wager upon their retreat, their lines were very soon shaken by the determined and fearful volleys of our soldiers.  The stern and magnificent advance of every brigade employed in this movement made up a spectacle, the grandeur of which has certainly not been equaled on any battle field of this war.  The left flank of the enemy, shattered by Gen. Crook, gave way, and began wheeling around towards the southwest, beyond the Martinsburg turnpike.  At this moment Gen. Torbett [sic], to whom the sound of our guns was a signal, moved on his advance to help the attack.  Gen. Devins’ [sic]¹ advance on the left of Gen. Lowell, in support, was confronted just before the advance by the enemy’s infantry, pouring out from a mass of woods, in retreat before Gen. Crook.  Gen. Devins [sic] had under his immediate command but two regiments, the Ninth and First New York.  The moment was critical ;  to hesitate was perhaps to lose both.  Gen. Merritt, in command of the division, shouted out, “Charge them with what you have,” and Devin, drawing his sabre, headed his regiments and went through the flying crowds, cutting them down, still further demoralizing them, and capturing 300 prisoners and three battle-flags.  The rest of the cavalry charging in turn, in conjunction with Gen. Crook, kept pushing the enemy’s left and flank.

Equally as successful an advance had been made on our left and centre by the Sixth corps.  The right flank of the enemy was also pushed back, and in a short time its centre began retreating.  The rebel line formed a triangle, the apex towards us, the base gradually narrowing as both flanks were pushed in towards each other by our attack.  As the rebel centre began to give way, Gen. Sheridan, alighting near the centre of our own lines, felt that the day was won.  Galloping up to Gen. Grover, commanding one of the divisions of the ninteenth [sic] corps, he said to him that all was going well and that now was his time also to go in.  The next instant a solid shot whistling within a foot of Sheridan’s head struck the ground behind him.  “I suppose so,” was the dry remark of the division commander, as he ordered his troops to advance to join in winning victory.

The battle was still a fierce one on both sides.  Although the day was evidently lost to the rebels, they fought on at some points with a desperate resolution.  The rear of musketry, thunder of cannonade, shouts of commanders, cheering of our men echoed now for miles over the fields ;  through the woods, and in the ravines.  More batteries moved up to the front, the cannonade grew and grew in volume until every second gave birth to the report of a gun.  Battery after battery of the enemy was silenced, but from whatever guns they could command they gave back fire for fire.  Evidently believing from the fierceness of our charges that reserves were coming up, they hurled a hissing storm of shot and shell far into our rear, plowing the roads and corn-fields and making the abodes of stragglers scenes of terror.  On and on went the battle, every moment more distant ;  men, women and children coming to their doors and peering from the windows of houses round about listened and wondered, and grew sad and pale.  Back from the front along every roadway, out of the forests, across the meadows, came ambulances and stretchers bearing the cost of triumph that was now secured.  Riding along the country in pursuit of the columns that were pushing the enemy on, one saw the lanes of victory strewn with fearful mementoes.  The dead were horrible dead.  It seemed as if the majority had received their death from shells.  Most of the bodies were dismembered, and at least half were mangled beyond recognition.

Now, if ever, was seen the good work of that class of Samaritans per force, the medical officers and ambulance bearers of an army.  Underneath flying shells, within range even of bullets, these men moved watchfully, bending down now and then to lift the sufferer and bear him to the ambulances in waiting.  So rapid and thorough was this work, that it was rare to find a wounded man uncared for one hour after the battle in which he was wounded had passed over him.  Still on, underneath the glowing sun, revived by fresh breezes, revived still more by the consciousness of victory, the Army of the Shenandoah thundered after its prey.

At the beginning of the battle, before its issues are fairly made up, there is sure to be some straggling.  There is no straggling now.  One, gazing along these columns, wreathed in the smoke of their own discharges, cannot image that a thought of retreat dwells among them.

The word is “Forward !” along the miles of the contest.  “Forward !”  You shall hear it from the lips of commanders everywhere.  From generals and colonels and captains, with a superabundance of oaths and curses and unnecessary entreaties added.  The woods ring with it.  Cheers succeed it, and the lines advance anew.  Yonder, in an orchard on the left, the troops of Getty’s division of the Sixth corps are making havoc among the enemy.  They have crossed a ravine and taken a crest, and the batteries of McCartney and others, posted in their rear on this side of the ravine, are sending over their heads a worse than equinoctial tempest of bombshells.  On the right—far to the right now—the army of Western Virginia, still pressing the foe with resistless ardor, are revenging Winchester.  The First and Third divisions of the Sixth corps, in center, are making an angle out of the triangle described before.  The cavalry of Torbett [sic], on the extreme right, are sweeping around, preparatory to a last and overwhelming charge soon to be made.  The artillery, closing up on our rear, thunders still more heavily.  Back from the mountains, back from the nearing spires of Winchester, the echoes of the battle are trembling.  The last plateau directly overlooking the plain before Winchester is gained by the whole army.  They enemy, encompassed by a semi-circle, fought still, retreating upon the furthest verge of the plateau, their artillery, driven to the plain below, being completely silenced.  Along the plateau the forward march of our battalions is as unswerving as upon parade.

Down lower and lower yet the heads of the rebels sink, and are lost behind its verge.—What a cheer then goes up from the Army of the Shenandoah !  A cheer that, like the sweep of a billow, ranges through the army, making its heart glad.  Forward, still forward, at a double quick, cheering and firing still Winchester is in full view, its roofs and steeples glowing red in the setting sun.  Our artillery borne across the ravine to the plateau, and along the plateau to its furthest verge, now does a work so terrible that to witness it is sickening.  The whole rebel army, swept down the slope and on to the plain below, is completely demoralized.  At every discharge of our guns its ranks bend helplessly forward, like the grasses of a field before a storm.  Rebel horsemen galloping everywhere upon the plain sway useless sabres and shout useless cries for their men to rally.  There is no rallying there.

And now on the right flank of Gen. Crook sweeps around into view, the enemy flying helplessly before them everywhere, the cavalry of Gen. Torbett [sic] still forward to the right, are seen galloping in resistless columns around the left flank of the rebel army.

O, what a sight is there !  These horsemen, each a hero, bent on vengeance, gallop in close ranks, with sabres gleaming red, with cries that sound above the roar of musketry and artillery, to complete the work of this great day.  Their horses, each arching a proud neck, and with nostrils wide and glowing, have a look like the Roman chariot horses of old in the midst of victory.  Faster, yet faster, with a speed greater than the weary feet of the enemy they encompass, they gallop on and in among the flying crowds.  The saber, that arm of which so many mythical deeds have been recorded, does actual work now, Generals Torbett [sic] and Merritt, with their staffs, joining in the splendid glee of the moment, are in the very front of the first line, charging and dealing death with their men.  Generals Custer and Lowell, whose brigades are making the charge, are also in front, doing good service.  The Sixth and Fourth New York, Devins’ [sic] brigade, join in the good work.  The enemy, surrounded on their left by this brilliant movement, can make but a momentary opposition.

Scores, forsaking their comrades, fly to the houses near, and conceal themselves therein.  Numbers are cut down and captured, the rest make their escape, join their flying comrades across the Winchester pike, making toward the town.  Four hundred prisoners, four battle flags, and one piece of artillery, are the prizes, aside from the dead and wounded of the enemy, of this brilliant charge.

The sun, alas, sits on the horizon’s verge.  Across that plain before Winchester, its beams shine upon a scene rivaling in picturesque sublimity all historic fields of most historic wars.  Vast, and level, and beautiful for miles, the field itself, unpeopled, would be full of romance.  Peopled as it is by thousands of rebels, shattered, demoralized, flying, by thousands of still pursuing troops, moving in well ordered battalions, resounding with a torrent of musketry and the boom of cannon, surpassing the roar of Waterloo, it is a scene which I, at least, exhausted by its excitement and the sleepless marches which have succeeded, cannot hope to suggest to any imagination.

The smoke of the battle alone would have told who were the victors.  Along the ragged front of the rebel hosts it rose in patches ;  along the solid front of the Union army it rose in straight thin clouds ;  far off on the heights surrounding Winchester, the enemy’s artillery, again hurriedly posted, thundered a faint answer to our own.

The missiles from these guns, badly aimed, plowed along the plain, endangering the rebel wounded who were left in the retreat, quite as much as our own men.

One more charge ere the sun goes down.—Once more charge with victory in its meaning—victory as its result.  The day is won ;  the rebel army is beaten and overwhelmed at every point.

Flying through Winchester, scarcely attempting a stand ;  except to protect the remaining pieces of their artillery, they are pursued by our men.  In half an hour Winchester and the heights beyond are in our possession.  The twilight gathers ;  darkness falls.  The only signs of the enemy, met in the morning and fought during the day are the echoes of their artillery wagons retreating along the pike toward Newtown.

We have taken twenty-two hundred prisoners, five thousand stand of arms, five pieces of artillery, and eleven battle flags.  Nearly three thousand rebel wounded have been left in Winchester and on the field.  Gen. Rhodes is killed.  Gens. Gordon, Goodwin, Lomax, York, and others, are known to be wounded.  The rebels must have lost at least six thousand in killed, wounded and prisoners.

Our own losses amount to between three and four thousand killed and wounded.  The losses in the 6th corps are nineteen officers killed, and one hundred and ten wounded, one hundred and sixty three men killed and fourteen hundred and sixty-five wounded.  The losses in the 19th corps are said to be between two and three hundred killed and nine hundred wounded.  The losses in the Army of Western Virginia are said to be two hundred killed and six hundred wounded.  Specimen losses, illustrating the fierceness of the battle at certain points, are shown by the fact that in Gen. Grover’s division alone, every colonel commanding a regiment was either killed or wounded.  The 37th Mass. lost sixteen officers killed and wounded.  Certain regiments of the 6th corps were almost annihilated.

I have not attempted (for you have not space) to narrate in detail the conspicuous deeds of heroism which crowned this great engagement.  Where almost every officer and man behaved with courage, such references could only serve to illustrate the character of the fighting.  There were, indeed chivalrous incidents, the memory of which has hung upon my pen through all this hasty chronicle, but I must reserve this and other matter for a future time.

1.  Thomas Casimer Devin (1822-1878), not to be confused with Brigadier General Charles Devens, Thomas Devin fought in Sheridan’s Valley Campaigns of 1864. When General Wesley Merritt replaced General Alfred Tobert as the Cavalry Corps commander, Devin received command of Merritt’s First Division. On November 19, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Devin a brigadier general of Volunteers for his part in the Battle of Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864).

1864 October 8: Draft Exemptions, and ‘Old Abe’ Donated to the State

October 12, 2014

The following two articles appeared in the October 8, 1864, issue of The Polk County Press.

Exempting Drafted Men.

It is important that people should know and act upon the information that, when the draft is made in a sub-district, it should not stop, but rather stimulate, recruiting therein. The circular from the Provost Marshal General’s office, dated Sept. 15th, and issued respecting this draft, contains the following paragraphs :

“If the quota of any sub-district shall be entirely filled by volunteers, after the draft, but before the drafted men are sent to the general rendezvous, then the persons drafted will be excused.

“Volunteers will be excepted and counted on the quota as well as drafted men until it is filled ; and when thus filled, and before the drafted men shall have been sent to the general rendezvous, for every additional volunteer mustered in, a drafted man will be excused, the person excused being taken from the bottom of the list of those drafted, in the reverse order in which they were drawn ; but in no instance will a substitute be exonerated or excused.”

“Qualified substitutes may be furnished by drafted men up to the time they are to be forwarded from the general rendezvous.”

“Local authorities may furnish substitutes for drafted me up to the period, and designate the persons for whom the substitution is made.”

Interesting Presentation.

Old Abe

Old Abe, ca. 1875¹

An interesting presentation was made at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon in the Governor’s room. This was nothing less than the presentation of the celebrated Eagle of the 8th Regiment to the State of Wisconsin. Captain Wolf, of Co. C, the color company, and the one having the care of the Eagle, presented it to Gov. Lewis [James T. Lewis], stating how it was valued by the regiment ; how it had been in their midst, between their flags, in many a victorious conflict with the enemy, and how it had cheered and kept up their spirits by its bright eye and dauntless mien during weary marches and tedium of camp life. It had been with them for three years ; and when the time of the men of the company expired, and they were about to leave the service, they and the veterans voted that the Eagle should be presented to the State, to be kept as an honored and inspiring memento of the 8th Regiment, and the times in which it had fought the battles of the national with the true and strong men who rallied around the flag.

Gov. Lewis on the part of the State had pleasure in accepting the famous eagle of the 8th regiment and assured the Captain that it would be well cared for at the Capitol where it would remain to invoke inspiring memories of the brave boys who had carried it with such honor to themselves and the State.

The Governor then handed the eagle on its perch to Quartermaster General Lund, who he said would see that it was suitably kept.

The eagle never looked better than at present, its plumage being full and glossy and its eye piercingly bright. It will be an honored curiosity at the Capitol, and the many tales connected with its service in the field with the gallant 8th, will often be told and retold to the admiring crowns that perhaps, for years and years will come to see the Badger Eagle.—Madison State Journal.

1.  “Old Abe at the Wisconsin State Capitol (Third),” ca. 1875, from the Wisconsin Historical Society, via Wikipedia, (Image ID: 7536 ).

1864 October 8: Fifth Wisconsin Infantry Donates Colors; Sketch of Phil Sheridan

October 12, 2014

The following articles are from the October 8, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.

The Colors of the Fifth Regiment.

CAMP RANDALL, MADISON, Sept. 24, 1864.

To His Excellency, James T. Lewis :

SIR :  I have the honor, just as we are on the point of leaving again for the field, to entrust to the care and keeping of the authorities of the State we are proud to represent, the old colors of the 5th Wisconsin Volunteers.

Allow me to say, simply, that these colors have never been hauled down in the face of the enemy, although they have had many miraculous escapes.  Many color-bearers have been killed or wounded ;  the first—now Capt. Geo. Madison of the 39th Regiment—having been wounded severely at Williamsburg, on May 5th, 1862.

They have passed successfully through the following battles and skirmishes, in all of which they have been under a heavy fire :

5th Wisconsin colors1.   Williamsburg, May 5, 1862.
2.   Lee’s Mills, May 7, 1862.
3.   Golden’s Farm, May, 1862.
4.   Savage Station, 1862.
5.   White Oak Swamp, 1862.
6.   Malvern Hills, 1862.
7.   South Mountain, Sept. 14, 1863.
8.   Antietam, Sept. 17, 1863.
9.   Fredericksburg, Dec. 20 to 23, 1863.
10. Marye’s Heights, May 5, 1863.
11. Salem Church, May 6, 1863.
12. Gettysburg, July 3 and 4, 1863.
13. Mine Run, Dec. 20, 1863.
14. Rappahannock Station, Nov. 7, 1863.

 No account is made of frequent marches and reconnoissances [sic] in which the regiment has been engaged.

These colors, now nearly all gone, have been pierced with some thirty or forty balls, and scarcely anything but the staff remains to recall their history.  They were not borne through the late fierce engagement of the Wilderness, a new stand having been presented to the regiment by its friends at home.

Hoping that the brave men who have so persistently and courageously defended these “Stars and Stripes” will be remembered by a generous people,

I have the honor to remain
.  .  .  .  . .Your obedient servant,
.  .  .  .  . . . .   .   .   .   .   .T. S. ALLEN,
.  .  .  .  . .   .   .   .   .Colonel 5th Wis. Vols.

A Prominent Democrat Pronounces for Lincoln.

The New York World published among the list of Vice-Presidents at the McCLELLAN [George B. McClellan] ratification meeting in New York City on the 17th inst., the name of F. B. CUTTING,¹ widely known as an eminent and able lawyer and scholar.  It seems the use of his name was wholly unauthorized and he at once published the following quiet but stinging rebuke :

 NEW YORK, Sept. 20, 1864.

“To the Editors of the Evening Post :

“My attention has been called to the fact that my name appears in the World newspaper in the list of Vice Presidents (Stand No. 1) of the McClellan ratification meeting held in this city on the 17th.  The use of it was unknown to and wholly unauthorized by me.

“I had no part in the election of Mr. Lincoln, being then in favor of Mr. Douglas ;  but I intend to vote for him in November next, in opposition to the platform and candidates of the Chicago Convention, believing that by a vigorous prosecution of the war the rebellion will be overthrown sooner than by a resort to the arts of diplomacy.

“Your obd’t servant,     F. B. CUTTING.”

Gen. Phil. Sheridan.

"General Sheridan During the War," from Sheridan's Personal Memories

“General Sheridan During the War,” from Sheridan’s Personal Memoirs²

Some time ago, before Gen. SHERIDAN [Philip H. Sheridan] took command on the Shenandoah, B. F. Taylor drew the following pen and ink sketch of him in the Chicago Journal.  It will be read with interest now :

There is no waste timber about Sheridan—not much of him, physically, but snugly put together.  A square face, a warm, black eye, a pleasant smile, a reach of under jaw showing that “when he will, he will, you may depend on’t,” black hair trimmed round like a garden border ;  no Hyperion curl about him any more than there was about Cromwell’s troopers ;  and altogether impressing you with the truth that there is just about as much energy packed away in about the smallest space that you ever saw in your life.—Men ranging down from medium size to little, with exceptions enough to prove the rule, seem to carry the day among the heroes.—Moses was something of a general, but no Falstaff ;  Alexander the Great and Peter the Great were little ;  Cromwell was no giant, and as for Napoleon—why, what was he but “the little corporal?”  Sheridan is a capital executive officer ;  perhaps he would be hardly equal to planning a great campaign, but Jehu !  wouldn’t he drive it !  With a good piece of his head behind his ears and hardly reverence enough for a Mandarin, he is not afraid of the face of clay.  As chief of cavalry, he is indeed chief among ten thousand.  Pleasant voiced, mild-mannered, not given to long yarns, you would hardly suspect he is a thunderbolt in a charge, and an emphatic human syllable all over.

Cover image from Sheridan's memoris

Cover image from Sheridan’s memoris

1.  Francis Brockholst Cutting (1804-1870) was a lawyer from New York City who served as a U.S. Representative  from 1853 to 1855 and then resumed his legal practice.
2.  “General Sheridan During the War,” from Personal Memoirs of P. H. Sheridan, General United States Army (New York: Charles L. Webster & Company, 1888): vol. 1, page 345, (available in the UWRF Archives, SPL E467.1 .S54 A3 1888).

1864 October 11: “I have given only a brief outline of the expedition but you can form some idea from it of what we are doing”

October 11, 2014

Jerry Flint, lieutenant of Company G of the 4th Wisconsin Cavalry, writes of a small cavalry raid he was involved in.  Of this raid, the official history of the 4th Cavalry says only, “Two other expeditions to Clinton were undertaken in the months of October and November, which were both highly successful”¹

The original letter is in the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University Archives and Area Research Center.

Camp, 4th Wis Cavalry
Baton Rouge La.  Oct. 11th 1864

    .My Dear Mother,

                                      I have an evening to myself to night, and it is the first one for some time when I have not been so tired that writing seemed almost out of the question.  We have [been] “raiding” considerable of late, and during such times a person gets but little opportunity for sleep or rest.

Day before yesterday we came in from a four days ride and yesterday had to move camp so that last night is the first chance for sleep I have had for a week.  Two of the nights out I rode all night, and the other two had only a part of the time to rest.  It is a pleasure, however, to get out into the country, mounted on a good horse, and go dashing along at a glorious gallop.  I will give a brief outline of my part in the raid.

We left camp about sundown on the 6th.  The column consisted of four regiments of cavalry, and one battery of artillery, all under the command of Genl Lee.  [Albert L. Lee]

We went towards Clinton, only in a round about way, and arrived in the vicinity of that place at sunrise the next morning having made a march of forty miles.  Here a party sent ahead for the purpose discovered that the place was evacuated.  The column remained where it was, through the day.  About the middle of the afternoon a party of seventy men taken from three different regiments under Maj. Montgomery of the 6th Mo Cavalry were detailed for a scout.  I was in command of the men from this regiment.  We started out about 5 o[']clock and at midnight dashed into Greensburgh [sic] 25 miles from where the we left the main column.  Finding no considerable force of the enemy, we stopped an hour, fed our horses, searched the town breaking up all the arms we could find and started forward and a little after sunrise reached Ossyka [sic] a small town on the New Orleans & Jackson railroad.

We found a few rebs, but the most of them skedaddled.  As the citizens were just getting breakfast we very politily [sic] took off our hats and seated ourselves around the tables in the several houses, and thus secured a warm breakfast, which we could do very good justice to, after a night ride of 50 miles.  We were now 75 miles from Baton Rouge by the most direct route.  We destroyed quite a quantity of muskets, captured some valuable dispatches at the telegraph office, and destroyed everything that could be of service to the enemy.

After resting our horses sufficient we started out again towards home by another route having about 30 prisoners.  The Maj. gave me the advance.  We captured some rebs on the way but only staglers [sic].  At night found ourselves again at Greensburgh [sic], where the whole column had arrived.  Stayed at this place over night and in the morning started again for Baton Rouge.  Marched slowly all day and camped at night in the vicinity of Greenville Springs, and the next day went into camp.  We brought in about 200 prisoners in all, besides getting a large number of horses and mules.  It was rather a pleasant trip though pretty hard on both horses and men.

I have given only a brief outline of the expedition but you can form some idea from it of what we are doing.  The weather is getting to delicious — warm sunny days, and cool refreshing nights.  Charly² is quite unwell, and I have got him sleeping in my tent to night because I am fortunate enough to have a mattress to sleep on.  He is a splendid fellow, and one of the best of soldiers.  Whitefield is well and.  Was out on the raid with us and was happy when he could encounter some old rebels’ hive of honey.  He is great for plunder — beats me all to nothing.  Rossie [Roswell V. Pratt] was in here to night; and seems as good a boy as ever.  I suppose Lt. Knowles is up there before this.  I hope he will have a good time for he well deserves it.  [Warren P. Knowles]

I am quite encouraged at the prospects of the the war coming to an end.  If the people at home will do their duty as well at the coming election as the armies of Grant and Sherman have done, and will do in the field, the war need not last six months longer.  The fire in the rear is all that has kept the confederacy together until now.  All the rebels we capture, say that their only hope is in the election of McClellan.  But I suppose you do not care to hear politics discussed so I will cease.  [Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, George B. McClellan]

My health is very good, and I am getting along first rate.  It is lonesome without Warren but if he is enjoying himself I certainly should not complain.  Give my love to Grandmother, Aunt Lydia, Uncle Joseph and all the good folks generally.  Tell Sarah to write.  I have forgotten whether I have answered her last letter or not, but tell her to write any way.  I don’t have so much time to write as I would if Warren was here.  I will enclose two or three photographs which I wish you to keep for me.  I shall spoil them if I carry them with me.  Well it is bedtime, and there is a general inspection at 8 o[']clock to morrow so I will bid you good night.  Make Phin [Phineas C. Flint] write for you.

Your boy,
. Jerry

1.  Military History of Wisconsin, by E. B. Quiner (Chicago, 1866), chapter 53, page 926.
2.  Could be either Charles G. Knowles or Charles P. Nichols.

Jerry Flint letter of October 11, 1864, from the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center

Jerry Flint letter of October 11, 1864, from the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center

1864 October 8: Update from the Prescott Guards and Information on Three of the Wounded

October 10, 2014

The following letter from Solomon B. Holman of Company B of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry—the Prescott Guards—at the Siege of Petersburg, appeared in the October 8, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.  The V Corps, which included the 6th Wisconsin, saw hard fighting at Cold Harbor and the Siege of Petersburg in June of 1864. Many of its men were captured in the Second Battle of Weldon Railroad on August 19, 1864.

Letter from Co. B.

R. R. September 22d, 1864 }

FRIEND LUTE :— Being at leisure I thought I would write you a few lines in regard to Co. B.

We are at present in camp about half a mile north of the P. and W. R. R. having been retrieved from the immediate front.

Inspections, Drills and Reviews are becoming the order of the day.

The most of the old first corps have been consolidated into the 3d division, 5th corps, under Gen. Crawford.¹  The 1st and 2d brigades into one, under Brig. Gen. Bragg.²  We are to be reviewed this afternoon by Gen. Warren [Gouverneur K. Warren].

We had a heavy fall of rain here last night, but despite the rain there was a continual firing all night along our front and extending to the right.  This picket firing has been kept up almost continually, day and night, for the last two weeks.

Sergt. Henry E. Smyser, Louis J. Ludkoff, and private J. W. M. Shaw have returned to the company, making thirteen men present within the Dept. and ten in the company.

Sergt. Smyser had been commissioned 1st Lieut. Co. B.  He was wounded in arm June 4th at Cole [sic: Cold] Harbor.  He is quite well at present.  Ludloff was wounded May 5th in the Wilderness.— His health is good, but his ankle is some what troublesome yet.  Corp. Frank Hare, who was wounded May 5th and taken prisoner, has been paroled, and is now at Anapolis [sic], Md.  Frank has had a hard time of it.  He was wounded in the leg and has suffered amputation twice.  The balance of the boys present are enjoying good health and in fine spirits.  The most of the spare time in camp is occupied in discussing political questions ;  all seem to be interested.—We all desire peace, and a majority think it can be attained without the independence of the South, and without the assistance of some of those copper colored individuals who have made so much of a blow lately.  We think the thing will be a bird before snow flies.—We claim the Patriot’s side.  We give them the Traitors’.

Respectfully Yours,
.S. B. H. [Solomon B. Holman]

1.  Samuel Wylie Crawford (1829-1892) was an army surgeon before the Civil War, and was on surgeon duty at Fort Sumter during the Confederate bombardment in 1861. Despite his purely medical background, he was in command of several of the artillery pieces returning fire from the fort. A month after Fort Sumter, Crawford decided on a fundamental career change and accepted a commission as a major in the 13th U.S. Infantry. He was promoted to brigadier general of Volunteers in April 1862 and participated in the Valley Campaign, the battles of Cedar Mountain and Antietam (where he was wounded), the defense of Washington, D.C., the Battle of Gettysburg, and the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign. On August 18, 1864, Crawford was wounded in the action at the Weldon Railroad. He received a brevet promotion to brigadier general in the regular army for the Battle of Five Forks. In March 1865 he was promoted to major general and was present at Appomattox Court House in April for Robert E. Lee’s surrender. Crawford retired from the Army in 1873, and authored The Genesis of the Civil War, which was published in 1887 (available to UWRF students, faculty, and staff as an electronic resource.)

Gen. Edward S. Bragg, U.S.A., from the Library of Congress

Gen. Edward S. Bragg, U.S.A., from the Library of Congress

2.  No, not the Confederate General Braxton Bragg that we are used to seeing. This was Union Brigadier General Edward Stuyvesant Bragg (1827-1912) from Wisconsin. He had moved to Fond du Lac in 1850 where he practiced law and was elected district attorney in 1853. When the Civil War started he was commissioned captain of Company E of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry. He was promoted to major in September 1861, lieutenant colonel in June 1862, and colonel in March 1863. Bragg missed the Battle of Gettysburg due to wounds suffered at the Battle of Chancellorsville. He was promoted to brigadier general of Volunteers in June 1864, and commanded the Iron Brigade for the later part of the War. Bragg mustered out in 1865 and returned to Wisconsin to resume his law practice. After the War, Bragg was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served from 1877 to 1883, and again from 1885-1887. In 1888, President Grover Cleveland appointed Bragg the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Mexico (serving 1888-1889); was appointed consul general in Havana, Cuba in May, 1902, and in Hong Kong in September, 1902 (serving from 1903 to 1906).
The image of General Bragg is from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, and is available digitally in their online catalog.

1864 October 8: Stern Letter from Sherman to Mayor of Atlanta

October 9, 2014

The following letter by Union General William T. Sherman appeared in both The Polk County Press and The Prescott Journal of October 8, 1864.  Both sets of headlines are used here, the Journal on the left and the Press on the right.  Only the Journal had the introductory paragraph between the headlines and the letter.

Gen. Sherman on the Rebellion.


LETTER TO THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA. He Talks Like a Father to the Georgia Rebels.
Reasons for Sending away the To the Mayor and City Council at Atlanta,
Inhabitants of Atlanta. Responding to the Removal of Citizens.

The Major of Atlanta and two members of the City Council recently addressed a letter to Gen. SHERMAN urging him to revoke his order directing the removal of the people from that city.  The letter set forth in strong terms the great hardships which would follow the execution of the order.  Gen. SHERMAN’S reply, which we give below, is one of the most powerful presentations of the monstrous crime of the rebellion that has ever been made.  It is stern, but its sternness is that of the Surgeon who applies the knife to save the life of his patient :

In the Field, Atlanta, Ga., }
September 12, 1864. }

James M. Calhoun, Mayor, E. E. Rawson and S. C. Wells, representing the City Council of Atlanta:

GENTLEMEN.—I have your letter of the 11th, in the nature of a petition to revoke my orders removing all the inhabitants from Atlanta.  I have read it carefully, and give full credit to your statements of the distress that will be occasioned by it, and yet shall not revoke my order, simply because my orders are not designed to meet the humanities of the case, but to prepare for the future struggles in which millions of good people outside of Atlanta, have a deep interest.  We must have peace, not only in Atlanta, but in all America.  To secure this we must stop the war that now desolates our once happy and favored country.  To stop the war, we must defeat the rebel armies that are arrayed against the laws and Constitution, which all must respect and obey.  To defeat these armies we must prepare the way to reach them in their recesses, provided with the arms and instruments which enable us to accomplish  our purpose.

Now, I know the vindictive nature of our enemy, and that we may have years of military operations from this quarter, and therefore deem it wise and prudent to prepare in time.  The use of Atlanta for warlike purposes is not consistent with its character as a home for families.  There will be no manufactures, commerce or agriculture here for the maintenance of families, and sooner or later want will compel the inhabitants to go.  Why not go now, when all the arrangements are completed for the transfer, instead of waiting till the plunging shot of contending armies will renew the scenes of the past month?  Of course I do not apprehend any such thing at this moment, but you do not suppose that this army will be here till the war is over.  I cannot discuss this subject with you fairly, because I cannot impart to you what I propose to do, but I assert that my military plans make it necessary for the inhabitants to go away, and I can only renew my offer of services to make their exodus in any direction as easy and comfortable as possible.  You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will.

War is cruelty, and you cannot define it ;  and those who brought war on our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out.  I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace.  But you cannot have peace and a division of our country.  If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but gon on till we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war.  The United States does and must assert its authority wherever it has power ;  if it relaxes one bit to preserve it, it is gone, and I know that such is not the natural feeling.  This feeling assumes various shapes, but always comes back to that of Union.  Once admit the Union, once more acknowledge the authority of the National Government, and instead of devoting your houses and streets, and roads to the dread usages of war, I, and this army at once become your protectors, and supporters, shielding you from danger, let it come from what source it may.  I know that a few individuals cannot resist a torrent of error and passion such as has swept the South into rebellion ;  but you can point out, so that we may know those who desire a government, and those who insist on war and its desolation.

You might as well appeal against the thunder storm as against these terrible hardships of war.  They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop this war, which can alone be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride.—We don’t want your negroes or your horses, or your houses or your land, or anything you have ;  but we do want and will have a just obediance [sic] to the laws of the United States.—That we will have, and if it involves the destruction of your improvements we cannot help it.  You have heretofore read public sentiment in your newspapers, that live by falsehood and excitement, and the quicker you seek for truth in other quarters, the better for you.

General William T. Sherman, from the Library of Congress

General William T. Sherman, from the Library of Congress²

I repeat, then, that by the original compact  of government, the United States had certain rights in Georgia which have never been relinquished and never will be ;  that the South began war by seixing [sic: seizing]  forts, arsenals, mints, custom houses, etc., etc., long before President Lincoln [Abraham Lincoln] was installed, and before the South had one jot or title of provocation.  I, myself, have seen in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi, hundreds and thousands of women and children fleeing from your armies and desperadoes, hungry, and with bleeding feet.  In Memphis, we fed thousands upon thousands of the families of rebel soldiers left on our hands, and whom we could not see starve.  Now that war comes home to you, you feel very different—you depreciate its horrors, but did not feel them when you sent car loads of soldiers and ammunition and moulded¹ shells and shot to carry war into Kentucky and Tennessee, and desolate the homes of hundreds and thousands of good people, who only ask to ilve [sic: live] in peace at their old homes, and under the government of their inheritance.  But these comparisons are idle.  I want peace and believe it can only be reached through Union and war, and I will ever conduct war purely with a view to perfect an early success.

But, my dear sirs, when that peace does come, you may call on me for anything.  Then will I share with you the last cracker, and watch with you to shield your homes and families against danger from any vuarter [sic: quarter].  Now, you must go, and take with you the old and feeble ;  feed and nurse them, and build for them in more quiet places proper habitations to shield them against the weather until the mad passions of men cool down and allow the Union and peace once more to settle on your old homes at Atlanta.

Respectfully yours,
(Signed)    W. T. SHERMAN.

1.  We are used to seeing this as “molded,” but this was an acceptable variant spelling.
2.  Both photographs of William T. Sherman are from the Library of Congress. The larger one showing Sherman on the horse was taken in Atlanta in 1864.


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