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1864 July 31: “Gen. Hooker has resigned because Howard was promoted over him”

July 31, 2014

A two-for-one letter, with Homer Levings writing three pages and then brother Edwin Levings adding a fourth page.  As usual, Homer’s spelling is not particularly good.  The letter is written with light blue ink on very thin paper, making it a little difficult to read.  The original letter is in the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University Archives and Area Research Center.

Near Atlanta Ga.  July 31st,  1864.

Dear Parents,

                          Your kind and welcome letters of the 17th, inst. came to hand day before yesterday, just after we had mailed letters to you.  We have changed our position a little since then.  We were then in the rear line of works and are now in the front line a little to the right.  There is a flank movement going on most of the time.  The 4th, 16th, and 20th. A[rmy] Corps have moved to the extreme right.  Yesterday the army of the Tenn. moved so as to let the troops in the rear, get into position in front, thus making our lines considerably longer.  There has been several various estamates [sic] of the fight of the 28th, it reported that there were from 500 to 2,00 of the enemy burried [sic] by our men.  There was a hard fight waging yester-day [sic] all day on the extreme left, but our boys held them right to the work.  I think they must have lost [a] good half of their army in the campaign.  They seemed determined to whip us here, use up their army trying it, and the latter, I think will be the result.  We feel perfectly willing to have them charge on us in works, every day if they want to, for that is the surest and most effectual way of useing [sic] them up.  Our cavaly [sic] have been doing good work all the while as well as us.  They have cut the rail road running up to Macon and captured a large number of contrabands¹ and prisoners.  They have started on an expidition [sic] to Americus² where there is said to be about 25,000 of our prisoners.  The object is to liberate them and put arms in their hands with which to fight their way back.  They calculate that about 800 of their number are not able for duty. [paragraph break added]

It is verry [sic] quiet this morning all along the line, I suppose that is because it is sunday [sic].  For General Howard [Oliver O. Howard], (our new commander) they say will not fight on sunday [sic] if he can help it.  Gen. Hooker [Joseph Hooker] has resigned because Howard was promoted over him.  [paragraph break added]

I am glad that you have got that peice [sic] of land.  I think it was a pretty good enbestment [sic: investment].  I think if you could dispose of that so, it would be a good thing but I supose [sic] no easy matter to dispose of such property, with out [sic] to much sacrifice.  How does the colt look now[?]  Mother, those cherries and that tea come right in place, though I would rather you would keep the cherries for yourself as they were a present to you.  I had no trouble with the things I brought, the bottles did not break.  Ed says he will write so I will stop.  It is going to rain and I shall have to stop and fix up my things — you must write soon and often for letters are all that we care anything about.

Yours with Love, Homer

[Edwin takes over on page 4 :]

Near Atlanta Ga.  July 31st,  1864.

Dear Parents,

                           I will drop a line before the mail closes, though I have nothing to write.  All is quiet in our front to-day, & we are lying in the trenches.  Have just had a letter from Dale [Wilber P. Dale].   He sent me some stationery and he himself will soon be here; his health is much improved. [paragraph break added]

Gen. Howard now commands the Tenn. Army.  He looks likes a fine man; said the other day when he came how nicely we whipped the rebs, if that is the way the Tenn. army fights he was satisfied.  It is said he is a Cristian [sic] General.  Our Div. Gen. (Leggett) [Mortimer D. Leggett] is said to be a superior man in all respects, temperate, just & kind, & a real fighter — will not use liquor, nor swear, nor have any officer about him that will.   [paragraph break added]

It is raining & I must stop.  We are perfectly satisfied with your investment.  You could not have done better, it seems to me.  I will write you again before long.

                  Yours &c, Edwin

1.  During the Civil War, first the U.S. Army and then Congress decided that escaped slaves who came within the Union lines would not be returned and classified them as contraband.
2.  Americus—a city in Sumter County, Georgia—at this time was a major cotton distribution center.

Levings letter 1864-07-31, Homer and Ed

Edwin (left) and Homer (right) Levings letters of July 31, 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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