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1864 July 11: “Sherman is still winning [and] the army is steadily gaining ground on the rebels, we conclude Atlanta is almost in our grasp”

July 11, 2014

This letter from Edwin Levings, with Company A of the 12th Wisconsin Infantry in Georgia, is written on stationery from the U. S. Christian Commission.  Ed asks his parents to send more stationery because he is soon out.  Ed made the most of this piece of stationery, writing all around the edges.  Instead our usual image of the first page of the letter, this time we show you the inside two pages so you can see the lengths he went to.  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.

Levings letter 1864-07-11002

Chattahoochee River Ga., July 11th /’64

 Dear Parents,

                            I will improve the morning in writing to you.  We were glad to hear from again and to know that all are well at home.  Night before last eve received a Rural and Sentinel from you and had something to read once more.  Continue to send us from time to time such papers and you will furnish not us only, but others, the means of pleasant and profitable recreation.  You do not know what a strong desire there is in the army for reading matter.  A paper, book, or tract is eagerly siezed [sic] and read by many and I often wish the boys were better supplied with something to read.

We have been talking this morning about sending to you for some stationery.  I concluded it will pay so to do.  Note paper costs here 60 cts. per quire¹ as do envelopes 65 cts. per package.  It will be very high for some time yet.  We have about used up all we had, and unless we can get some more soon—as is a scarce article—we shall have to write on our cartridge paper.  Till When we get to Atlanta, we will try and get a supply; but when that will be I am unable to say.  The last sentence is awkward.  But to amend it is hardly worth any waste of paper, so let it go.  Will you send us by next mail, then, 1 quire note paper and 1 pkg. envelopes, and have it so arranged that it will not be charged letter postage.

We are both in good health yet, and so are the other boys.  The weather is pretty warm but not more so than up in Wis., I judge.  I suppose the farmers are busy now with preparations for harvest.

Sherman [William T. Sherman] is still winning.  The army  is steadily gaining ground on the rebels, we conclude Atlanta is almost in our grasp.  The rebels in our front fell back across the Chattahoochee night before last in out front to another line of intrenchment.  We were on picket.   Word came by a deserter of the movement and before daylight the boys started over to their lines.  The Capt. [Orrin T. Maxson] and 10 men, including Homer, were the first into the big fort.  As there were [sic] no order to go and as some of the other companies were firing at them, supposing them rebels.  I thought I would not be in a hurry.  I concluded I needed a little Sanitary and so picked a qt. of blackberries.  As soon as day we all went over.  One of the boys captured 3 rebels & their arms.  He found them asleep.  Our troops then came over & the skirmish line was pushed up to within 300 yards of the river where we could look right down on the Johnnies & see them plainly.  We hastily rolled up logs & piled up rails for shelter.  The rebs shooting at us lively from behind their works across the river, thinking to drive us away.  The boys would crawl up rolls rolling logs till they had enough & then Mr. Reb had to lie low.  Some of them we know bit the dust.  [paragraph break added]

John Crippen, who came to see Homer² several times when sick, was wounded near the shoulder blade while in the rifle pits.  The wound is not deep, nor serious, but will probably be sore.  No other casualty in the Co.  William Olison [sic],³ he’s formerly of our Co., was killed the other day while on the skirmish line, shot in the head.  The rebs have 2 or 3 strong lines of earth works near the river.  There is one fort in view.  The 16th & 22 Corps have crossed the river on our right.  [paragraph break added]

We got some of the Atlanta papers of of the 8th inst. — they are full of bragadocio [sic] & deceit.  They are whistling to keep their courage up.  I wish I had one to send you.  [paragraph break added]

Well, I think this campaign will not end with the capture of Atlanta but it may.  If Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] destroys Lee’s [Robert E. Lee] army then this campaign will wind up shortly.  The rebels rest their hopes mainly on Lee’s army.  Though they say Johnson [sic: Joseph E. Johnston] is a match for Sherman & will have him soon right where he wants him.  It will be the other way.  They report our army totally demoralized, that Johnson [sic] fell back to prevent us from getting away, that he is drawing us on & will destroy us before a while and the people believe it.  None of their calculations have come to pass & in their discouragement they are bracing themselves up with vaunting & lies awaiting some Divine interposition to favor their cause.  Poor fools.  [paragraph break added]

Write soon.  Yours &c,  Edwin

Making a quire

Making a quire

1.  A quire is four sheets of paper, or parchment, folded to form eight leaves.
2.  Edwin’s brother Homer Levings, also in Company A.
3.  Ole O. Oleson, from Prescott, transferred to Company G of the 12th Wisconsin. He was killed in action July 8, 1864, at the Battle of Nickajack Creek.


Edwin Levings letter of June 11, 1864, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Edwin Levings letter of July 11, 1864, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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