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1864 July 4: “I suppose the people of the North are to-day celebrating their independence with an enthusiasm such as never marked the 4th before”

July 4, 2014

The Battle of Marietta was a series of military operations from June 9 through July 3, 1864, in Cobb County, Georgia.  Several engagements were fought during this four-week period, including the battles of Pine Mountain (June 14), Gilgal Church (June 15), Kolb’s Farm (June 22), and Kennesaw Mountain (June 27).  The Union forces were not fully victorious until July 3, hence Ed’s paragraph about the recent news of victory over the rebels.

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. Vet. Vols.
Ga.   July 4th 1864  — .

Ever Dear Parents,

                                   As there is a chance to write and mail letters, I hasten to improve it.  Your last letter, I think, has been answered.

I suppose the people of the North are to-day celebrating their independence with an enthusiasm such as never marked the 4th before.  To add to the joyousness of the day, perhaps, has come the news of victory over the rebels.  I hope you have such news, ~ may the day not pass away without a national rejoicing over our military achievements in the cause of right.

Well, now, where do you guess I am, to-day.  In camp, of course, I might say in the wilderness, but that would be too indefinite, so I will define our position more clearly.  Day before yesterday, the 2nd, the 17th Corps¹ received orders to load the wagons and move them westward, and the men to be ready to follow at 8 P. M.  The other corps had the same orders.  We at once concluded we were going to swing around to the right and cross the Chattahoochie [sic] River.  Accordingly we moved, marching the greater part of the night and all day yesterday; and now we are 3 miles north of the river, farther from Atlanta than when in front of Kenesaw [sic] Mountain but in more probability of getting there.

There was a report yesterday purporting to be official from Sherman [William T. Sherman] that he had taken 7000 prisoners.  I do not credit it yet as to number.  He did capture a lot of them, cutting them off from their main force, and in our front on another road and further down the river is another lot said to be cut off.  I do not think it large.  Some of the 15th Corps skirmished with them in the afternoon of yesterday and drove them a mile & a half, when our Div. relieved them.  We are lying still this forenoon, but after dinner I think we will get orders to press the chaps, & try and gobble them.  This is all the news I have for you.  We left the rebels in possession of the Kenesaw [sic] Mountain, but we knew they had nearly all gone and came this way, there being less obstructions to crossing.  It is believed Johnson [sic: Joseph E. Johnston] will fall back to Cedar Bluffs 9 miles south of Atlanta, where the rebels say the Yanks can not come.

The weather is pretty warm and we find marching rather uncomfortable.  We are both well and in firstrate spirits.  It will soon be so warm, that we thought to have you send us a few things that we shall then need, more than at any other time.  You can send them by mail, then we shall be likely to get them.  We would like you to send us ½ lb. of tea, & 1 or 2 lbs. of dried currants.  I would not send for them if we were near any Commissary Post, or if there was any probability of getting such things within a few weeks.  If the postage would be more than than [sic] the things are worth, you need not send them.  We would like the tea soon.  In warm weather we need such things, not the hearty Govt. rations altogether, I want something acid, so I mention currants — I do not think of anything more.

Remember to send some stamps I mentioned in my last, & some Rurals, or other [news]papers.

I hope to hear from you soon.  We want to hear from Cousins Hattie & Lottie, also.

Yours affectionately,
.                      .E. D. Levings

1.  At this time, the 12th Wisconsin Infantry was in Francis P. Blair’s XVII Corps, Walter Q. Gresham’s 4th Division, Colonel William L. Sanderson’s 1st Brigade.

[Edwin Levings letter of July 4, 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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