Skip to content

1864 September 15: “Madame Rumor says Sherman is ordered to push out after Hood as soon as possible”

September 15, 2014

The original letter is in the Edwin D. 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 Vols.
Near Atlanta Ga  Sept 15th / ’64

My Dear Parents ;

                                  Yours of the 1st inst. was rec’d day before yesterday ;  also, that of Cousin Lottie.  As I have not yet mail’d my last letter to you I will write another to send off with it, so here it is — as follows.

We are all enjoying ourselves firstrate.  Our camp, which is beautifully located on the East side of the R. R. and equidistant from Atlanta and Eastport, is in the shade of small pine, hickory, and oak trees and near a little creek, along which are numerous springs of most excellent water.  Everything about camp has the air of neatness and order.  The breastworks in front are finished, and we have more rations than we know what to do with ; and we are quietly awaiting the issue of new clothes and the arrival of some of Uncle Sam’s pay agents.  A large bakery is building and soon we shall have soft bread.

It may interest you to know the difference between campaign rations and camp rations.  The former consists of hard bread, beef, bacon, beans, dessicated potatoes, sugar, coffee, salt, pepper, with occasional tastes of vinegar, whiskey & so on.  The latter of the same, with rice, Irish potatoes occasionally, and fish, krout [sic: sauerkraut], soft bread or flour, or both, and molassess [sic].

Madame Rumor says Sherman [William T. Sherman] is ordered to push out after Hood [John Bell Hood] as soon as possible, and that our stay here is likely to be shortend [sic].  It may be so.  Possibly it is feared the general may take advantage of our resting spell and send off troops to Richmond or Mobile.  He dare not risk an open engagement with this army, for he well knows what would be the result ; and he is equally aware that that [sic] he can do nothing with it even when stronly [sic] entrenched.  Despairing of assistance and of successful operations, it seems more probable he will disperse his army to be of use where it can be given.  You do not know, I guess, how nice a trap Sherman had set for him on the first inst.  Had the 23rd Corps been up to time, Hood and his army would have all been gobbled.  The position of the contending armies on that day I will sketch for you.  Our head generals were feeling finely over their prospective success and I think old Hood’s hair stood up straight when he saw the danger.

Map from page 4 of Edwin Levings' September 15, 1864, letter, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Map from page 4 of Edwin Levings’ September 15, 1864, letter, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

This was the plan.  While the 4th and 23rd corps were swinging around in the rear of the rebels, and the 17th corps was moving to a position on the right of the 16th, represented by the dotted line A. B., the 14th Corps was to move forward its right & make a connection with the 15th Corps.  When the 23rd had occupied the line represented by C. D. it was to announce the fact by opening the ball and immediately the 14th Corps was to charge down the R. R. and then a general pressing in was to follow.  It was 3 o’clock P. M. and the 23rd Corps being 2 hours behind time & observing the rebels getting away did not get the position intended & attempted to head them off on the line E. D.  The 17th Corps was on hand.  You know the result of the movement.  The 14th charged & did good work, as it was.

Politics are discussed by us with great interest.  At present all eyes are directed to the doings of the Chicago Convention.  Many fear McClellan [George B. McClellan] will be elected, some think he will run about as Douglas [Stephen A. Douglas] did.  They await the election in great suspense, believing everything hinges on this issue.  It makes us feel bad to see so many Union men faltering just at the time when energies are most needed, at a time when they can be most valuable.  Their sacrifices are not equal to ours and, if I may use the expression, “Can they not watch with us one hour” ?  I have hope that the country will be saved.  If God has not given us over to our own ways we shall come out as redeemed people.  The are a most perverse people and unwilling to do God’s will, and the evils and calamities of war are meant to bring us to our alligiance [sic] to Him.  We can not tell what is ahead, but I apprehend there are to may be privations and sufferings more sever than we have yet had ere we come out of the struggle.

The Capt. and some other officers, I understand, have sent in their resignations.  The boys will not mourn his departure at all.  1st Lt. Charles Reynolds is a much better officer and far better liked.  Lt. Kelsey is also well liked.¹

You ask, Mother, if we lost our medicine, and if you shall send us some.  We lost the homeopathy medicine during the battle of the 22nd July.  We both think it best you do not send any at present, at least, if at all.  Not that it has grown into disfavor with us.  I have my doubts about wanting to use it any more in Dixie.

Col. Bryant [George E. Bryant] who commands the Brigade will soon leave us.  It will be difficult to find a Col. in whom there is a firmer confidence — all think highly of him & hate to have him go home.

We both have good health, I am more fleshy than at the opening of the campaign.  Homer says you may send him by letter a little pulverized alum² which he wishes to have on hand in case he would have the ague [fever].

Yours &c,          Edwin D. Levings

1.  The captain at this time was Orrin T. Maxson, from Prescott; he resigned as of September 18, 1864. Charles Reynolds, from Madison, currently the 1st lieutenant, became the captain as of October 7, 1864. Wallace Kelsey, officially listed as being from Owatonna (Minn.) was currently the 2nd lieutenant and would become the 1st lieutenant as of October 7, 1864, and be replaced as 2nd lieutenant by Alva McKee, officially from Rockford (Minn.).
2.  Pulverized alum was used to stop bleeding, for diphtheria, for croup, and for offensive foot sweat!
.

Edwin Levings letter of September 15, 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 September 15, 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: