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1864 June 26: Ed Levings in Georgia—“We are in more danger here than we were at Vicksburg”

June 26, 2014

The original letter is in the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO), in the University Archives and Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Camp Of The 12th Wis. Vol. Infy.
Kenesaw [sic] Mountain Ga.  June 26th, 1864.

My Dear Parents,

                                  I was waked up from my slumbers this morning by the glad cry mail! mail!  When I jumped up to see what there might be for us, and your letter of the 12th inst was put into my hands.  We are very glad to hear from you again.  You can not write too often.  You do not write often enough.  I often think home letters have a charm in them that others have not.  “There’s no place like home“; so, too, there seen to be no letters like those hailing from home; and if we could hear from you more frequently, why, all the better.

I have not much news for you.  The positions of the two armies have not materially changed.  We are at a halt.  The rebs seem to have settled into the belief we can come no further, and have renewed the defiant manner so well expressed by the Scriptural words, “Thus far shalt thou come, and no further.”¹  There is the rattle of musketry on the skirmish line, sometimes fierce and rapid, but generally feeble & slow, and nobody thinks much about it.  Fierce artillery duels now and then occur and cheers by either side go up when a good shot is made.  We say at such times all is quiet, or comparatively quiet, as you see it in the papers.  No severe or decisive fighting is going on.  You would say, perhaps, “One is afraid and the other durs’nt [sic]².”  Really, we are besieging the rebels and have them in about the same fix that Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] has Lee [Robert E. Lee].  It is said the wings of our army are not more than 4 miles apart, our line being the arc of a circle.  You see then it is a hazardous thing for old Johnson [sic: Joseph E. Johnston] to tray and get away.  If he attempts it, the wings can fall upon him.  Should he try to break our center, he will rush on certain destruction.  [paragraph break added]

I think Sherman [William T. Sherman] is waiting for a full supply of stores and, perhaps, re[-]enforcements.  The R. R. is pressed to its utmost to bring supplies and can hardly do it.  There were but two days rations at Big Shanty Depot yesterday.  You will understand, then, how it happens we have gone so long without soap.  We drew a little yesterday (soft soap) a donation of the Sanitary Commission.  God bless the Sanitary Commission.  The boys are generally in first rate health and full of confidence.  The “Blue packets” are all right.  [paragraph break added]

Sherman is reported to have said the other day the rebels had staid here one day too many.  If our army is located as said to be, the rebels will have to “go up the spout.”  We are in more danger here than we were at Vicksburg.  The rebels can shell us to our discomfort, but they do not molest our camp much.  The boys run about in plain view — as unconcernedly as though no enemy were near.

We are glad of that butter, tea, berries &c.  We do not draw any thing but hard tack, pork, beef, salt, coffee and sugar, and these delicasies [sic] come in the nick of time & answer for variety, or desert, if you like it better.  When the transportation facilities are so limited we can not get any more than what is absolutely essential.  We will have a better chance when we get to Atlanta.  Wheat is ready to harvest, but there is nobody to harvest it but Uncle Sam’s mules & horses, and they need it all & more.  Our battery horses were in fine condition when we left Cairo, but are now pretty poor.  They get but half rations of corn.  [paragraph break added]

If you can get a colt to match Homer’s, I would like it and whatever the expense of keeping it may be, you may charge to me.  I hope you will not work yourself down again, and I certainly hope you will not move out to Hudson, for then I know you will work too hard.  Are you not to have any rain up there?  I do not see what you will do, but probably there will be something raised ~ more than you expect, so you will not hunger.  I need some stamps and I wish you would send 50 cts. worth or more by next letter.  I will not send the money for them as I can not get the bill I have broken.  The weather is much warmer now ~ not much rain.  We are both well.  I shall have to close as my sheet is full.  Write soon, Yours as ever, Edwin.

1.  In the book of Job, chapter 38, verse 11, the King James version of the Bible—which is what Ed probably would have been using—reads “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further.”
2.  Dursn’t means dare not, or doesn’t dare to.

Edwin Levings letter of June 26, 1864, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center

Edwin Levings letter of June 26, 1864, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center

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