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1864 August 5: “Gen. Stoneman’s Cavalry have met with serious disaster”

August 5, 2014

Edwin Levings’ cousins, Harriet Lucinda (“Hattie”) and Lucy Louisa (“Lottie”) Levings,were the daughters of Ed’s father’s brother, Alpheus Hall Levings.  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., Aug 5th / ’64

Dear Cousin Lottie ;

                                     I rec’d your very kind letter day before yesterday ; also a brief note from Hattie.  As she promised to write soon, I guess I will write to you to-day.  You can not guess, can not imagine how glad I was to get your letter, nor have I words myself to tell you, I had been thinking of you both, eagerly watching the mails for letters from you, but instead there came only disappointment.  I did not charge you with neglect as you had feared, but thought that perhaps your time was too fully occupied to write or that because our folks write us so regularly, you thought your letters would possess no interest to us.  Now if the latter is correct, I mean, if possible, to dislodge you of that notion, for we feel we can not afford to have so long an interval in your correspondence.  I expect I am rather selfish in writing letters, that I write principally to obtain answer, but I do love to receive letters from friends, and I hope you will write often.

I will make a parenthesis here for Hattie, — Cousin Hattie, your little note has my thanks.  To be sure, it was but a morsel, but none the less welcome, none the less relished.  Had I known about the letter, I presume my feelings would have been like those of the little boy who saw and wanted the pie on his mother’s butery [sic] shelf, and she said – “By and by, Sonny.”  But I will not scold you more.  I expect a bigger bite next time and I know I shall be ready.

Dear Cousin, of what shall I write?  Not much about the war, for you must hear and read enough about that, I guess.  I am glad to know you are succeeding so will with your school.  I would really like to visit it one of these fine afternoons, for I believe your is a model school.  But your term is nearly closed, is it not?  Do you board at Mr. Cole’s?  Do you have your patience tried any, and feel that your labors are improperly appreciated.  I hope there is no cause for such in your school district, for to be thus embarrassed is quite unpleasant.

You have spoken of your prayer meetings and I assure you it affords me much pleasure to know they are still continued, and that your interest in the soldier’s welfare is undiminished.  I knew you would not forget them in your supplications at the throne of Grace, and many a time have I thought of the prayer circle, wishing I were there.  Duty now requires me on the bloody fields of strife, but, oh, how sweet the thought that, though wide the reparation, we can yet approach that same dear Friend who cares for us all ; that we have a common interest in Him ; that a common tie binds us in His love.  But, Dear Cousin, in your little prayer meeting pray not for the soldier’s bodily comfort and safety along.  Pray for the undying soul, rather.  Oh, did you ever think how many of our country’s brave defenders are laboring under the fatal delusion that patriotism is religion, that to serve one‘s country is to secure salvation in Heaven.  Such is a fact.  You can see that delusive idea prevailing in the papers ad in political speeches, and men believe it.  How then does it become us to watch and pray and labor that others may be led into the truth as it is in Jesus?

Yesterday was the day of National prayer and fasting appointed by the President.  Our army was busy with the enemy, and I believe more than one soldier’s heart responded with the praying ones at home for success to our armies.  Our pickets were advanced in our front, and we stood in line all the afternoon ready to make or repulse attack if required.  The rebels tried, but in vain, to drive back the picket line.  Our Corps is now about in the center of the army on the west side of Atlanta strongly intrenched.  The right wing of the army is operating to get possession of the R. R. leading to Montgomery, and Macon.  The road branches to those places 7 miles south of the city.  It is reported that a position of Gen. Stoneman’s¹ Cavalry have met with serious disaster — about 4,000.  They had captured an immense wagon train from the enemy loaded with supplies also several hundred prisoners, and were awaiting the arrival of the main force of Stoneman — 16,000 — but is not appearing, he concluded to return ; but soon found a large force of rebel infantry confronting him and was compelled to cut his way out after having destroyed the wagons and disabled the mules and horses.  With our present forces I do not believe we can invest the place without so weakening the lines that the enemy can break through.

You speak of fruit down here.  There are plenty of apples and black berries down here.  You can form some idea of the abundance of berries in Ga when I tell you the ladies of Atlanta have advertised for 1200 bushels for the army Medical Dept. paying $10.00 per bushel.  We got a plenty marching from the Chattahoochee River, but we have no such chances now.  There may be some “dried fruit” somewhere down here — in Atlanta possibly — I don’t get any of it.  Mother is now our chief Sanitary Commissioner.  We get along finely this campaign.  Our health is excellent and our hope, buoyant.

Emma has sent us her “photo.”  She looks just as she did when I last saw her.  I have heard people tell about the changes in human nature, but I don’t believe a word of it now.

Now Cousin Lottie, I have written you a lengthy letter.  You will write soon won’t you?  Direct Co A, 12th Wis. Vol., 1st Brig., 3rd Div., 17th A. Corps via Chattanooga.  My respects to inquiring friends, and accept this from Your affectionate Cousin,

Edwin [Levings]

1.  While attempting to seize the Confederate prison at Andersonville on July 31, 1864, George Stoneman was captured at Clinton, Georgia, along  with his aide-de-camp Myles Keogh and 700 men.  At the request of General William T. Sherman, both Stoneman and Keogh were exchanged three months later.

Edwin Levings letter of August 5, 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 August 5, 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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