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1864 October 15: Soldiers’ Views of the Election, Ellsworth Burnett Sent Home on Sick Furlough, Rebels at Petersburg Badly Demoralized

October 17, 2014

The following excerpts from two letters written by soldiers appeared in the October 15, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.

The Soldiers’ Views.

DAVID JARVIS, known to most of the citizens here, now serving on a gunboat on the Tennessee, writes to a friend here, under date of Oct. 5, as follows :

The condition of our country seems favorable at present, especially in the army. It is now in a state of invincibility, and all that is now requisite for a final triumph over our enemies is a full and hearty support of the Northern States in the fall election. If they will join hands with the soldier and unite in the support of ABRAHAM [Abraham Lincoln], the war will be brought to a speedy termination, and also to the honor of the U. S. A. If we fail in placing ABRAHAM in the next Presidential chair, and choose a peace man, I am afraid we have only experienced the beginning of war.

There are thousands of men in the States of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri, if a peace man is elected to the Presidential chair, will voluntarily present themselves to the rebel ranks, and thereby augment the rebel army, hoping to embarrass the North, and demand formal cessation to hostilities and disgraceful compromise which will be the beginning of wars in America. But I hope the people will awake to their best interests and unanimously proclaim for a vigorous prosecution of the war ;  the only possible way of solving the question.

Capt. “BOB” EDEN, of the 37th Regiment, under date of Oct. 4, writes as follows :

Col. SAM [Samuel Harriman] is in command of the Brigade and Maj. KERSHAW¹ of the Regiment ; Capt. E. BURNETT [Ellsworth Burnett] has been sent home on sick furlough. He is a good officer and a pleasant companion, and his health was much impaired, rendering a furlough absolutely necessary.

As for news as to the progress of the campaign, you get that sooner than we do, and more authentic and reliable at that.

The general opinion here seems to be that Petersburg will very soon be evacuated, and therefore fall into our hands.  The rebels are much disheartened at the many severe repulses they have lately met with, and appear, with but few exceptions, badly demoralized.  Their supplies too, are very short, and taken altogether, the prisoners we take are the happiest act of men alive, apparently ; that is, after they are safe in the rear of our lines.—Their first demand is, “Where can we get something to eat ? They were just going to serve out rations when we left our lines,” etc. They also say that “fighting’s played out, I reckon. You’uns can’t whip we’uns, but we’re tired of fighting and want to go home” Most of the prisoners are old men and young boys—“the cradle and the grave.”

1.  William J. Kershaw, from Big Spring, was promoted from major to lieutenant colonel of the 37th Wisconsin Infantry on September 27, 1864, and resigned on October 19. He had been wounded at Petersburg on June 17, 1864.

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