Skip to content

1864 July 26: The Rebels “are ugly fellows, but gunpowder and whiskey, with which their canteens were filled, did not save them nor help them at all”

July 26, 2014

Another letter from Edwin Levings with the 12th Wisconsin Infantry near Atlanta.  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.

Near Atlanta Ga., Tuesday, July 26th, 1864

Dear Father and Mother,

                                             Last night the mail arrived bringing us 4 letters and 2 papers — 2 letters of the 4th and 10th inst from you; the other 2 from Grandmother and Cousin Emma.  We had had none for 2 weeks, and if I ever felt grateful for letters I did last night.  You should have seen the almost wild joy of the boys when it was announced the mail had come, and a very large one too.  Can you imagine our eager joy at the receipt of letters from loved ones, especially after a battle?  How gladly each reads the cheering words, notes, the solicitude felt for him & so on, and then comes swelling up from the heart the wish that they knew now that he is safe and well.—I wrote you last sabbath, but do not suppose the mail went out.  It will go to-day, I think, and this will give you two days later intelligence for us.

We have had no fighting since the battles of the 21st and 22nd inst.  Our army has been digging and throwing up works almost constantly since, and every one believes if the rebels come on to us again we can hold our own against all odds, and about use them up.  We are fortified in front, rear and on both flanks.  Our Div. is determined to hold the horse shoe line it charged and took on the 21st.  If the rebels could not take it on the 22nd charging on the south and weaker side, I doubt they can do it now, strengthened us we are, unless they outflank us.  I have heard it asserted that the credit of saving the left wing of our army that day from a most disgraceful defeat is due to our 3rd Division.  They fought like heroes and will be termed such.  The rebels came on 4 or 5 lines deep and charged as many times.  Once some of them actually got inside our works but they never got out.  The rebels that charged our Corps are said to be Longstreet’s [James Longstreet] old Corps.  They are ugly fellows, but gunpowder and whiskey, with which their canteens were filled, did not save them nor help them at all.  They carried off many of their wounded during the night, but their dead,—we had to bury them mostly ourselves.  How many they lost I can not say—have not heard a guess.  Gens. Sherman [William T. Sherman] and Logan [John A. Logan] were riding over the grounds the following day and one remarked, so goes the story, to the other that he had never seen so many rebels dead on so small a piece of ground.  Lt. Kelsey says he counted 32 dead dead on a space of ground 40 feet square.  On the left of the Div. a whole rebel Brigade broke through when the 15th Corps reenforcing us captured them.  Here it was where our beloved McPherson [James B. McPherson] was killed.  He rode down into a ravine up which rebel soldiers were coming and knowing they were in it, 2 rebel soldiers robbed him of his effects but did not know they had killed McPherson.  I think the rebels have had reinforcements.  They are reported moving our left again.—

My boil on my knee made me so lame I could not walk.  It is getting better now.  We miss the loss of our things some, but are not bothered with a load now.  Mother, will you send me a testament, mine was gobbled as was Homer’s also.  This is all the paper I have &  Homer wishes to write some, so I close.  Write soon & believe me ever your affectionate boy.  Edwin

Sunset, July 26th, 1864 ~ I had the good fortune a few minutes ago to purchase some stationery,—enough to write half a day’s letters, so you may expect we shall write to you as usual.—There is talk of our falling back, to other works lately thrown up, our present line being exposed to our own fire too much ∼ think we shall do it tonight.  I forgot to acknowledge the receipt of those letter stamps.  They came but in the nick of time and my thanks to you for them.  No more this time & so good night to you all.

Yours as ever,
.                     .E. D. Levings
.                            .1st Brig. 3rd Div 17th Corps.

Edwin Levings letter of July 26, 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 26, 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

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: