Skirmishing on the Atlanta Campaign
Aug. 6, 1864
James I Wilson was 22 years old when this was written.
James I Wilson died 29 years, 10 months, 22 days after writing it.
It was written 158 years, 6 days ago.
It was a Saturday.
Battlefield near Atlanta, Ga.
August 6th 1864
Your letter dated July 28th reached me yesterday.
On our part of the lines nothing very exciting has transpired for a week or more. One or two demonstrations has been made but they didn’t amount to very much. Merely enough to scare the rebs a little, make some excitement for us and some prisoners.
On the 20th of July we had quite a lively time. About time all of us thought the enemy had gone and there was nothing left for us to do but march into Atlanta, the rebs made a turn on us and sent our skirmishers back in a hurry. At the first shot we began throwing up some works of rails and by the time we had them to turn bullets they were within good shooting distance and we went at them. For a while we felt a little scary, for Hooker had been driven back and we might be flanked and a number of us taken prisoner but we held our position until Hooker regained the ground he had lost. We repulsed seven charges, took seven stands of colors and killed and wounded over 6000 rebs besides their General. On the 21st they assaulted McPherson. On 22nd the same and again on the 28th the night being commanded by General Howard since McPherson’s death. In the four battles the rebels made the assault every time and their losses is estimated here at 35,000. Prisoners that we have taken lately say there is only enough old troops left in Atlanta to make another good killing.
Frank Mitchell made his appearance a few days ago. We appropriated the use of those dried currants and the papers have gone the whole rounds of the Co. and been read by all. Frank has succeeded in getting a slight wound since he came back. We was out on the skirmish lines a few days ago and posted ourselves behind a big pile of cord wood by an old distillery within 300 yards of the enemy. Frank and I was cutting around considerably, sticking our hats on a stick over the wood to let the rebs fire at it. Then one of us would watch where the shots came from and fire a volley into them. They could hit our wood pile nearly every time but the balls didn’t come through. While we was fooling away the Division on the right of us made a charge forward for the enemy’s rifle pits. Almost as soon as our men raised the yell, the rebs got all their white hats or anything else white and stuck them up. The boys took possession of the pit and rushed the prisoners back. All was intended for a demonstration to attract their attention while something bigger was going on by Howard. The rebs couldn’t see it through exactly and a heavy line of them came from their main line of works and drove our skirmishers back while they were coming out. We could get some good shots and let in. They fired back on us pretty lively and one ball glanced on a stick and struck Frank on the side of the shin. It cut through far enough to make the flood come freely but it was too near spent to do any harm. Good thing it didn’t come very hard or it would have taken a leg for him.
We have one of our Company wounded on the 22nd July through the wrist and taken prisoner the night.
Today we have orders to strengthen our works some. An attack is ---and as we are on the left flank of the Army we have to be rather careful. Our lines are shaped almost like a horseshoe. We cover each side of Atlanta except the east side. Our lines are in good condition and we have a good force all around to fill the ditches. So I don’t think we have anything to fear from them.
Several shells was thrown in rather close this morning and we had to get in the ditches for a while to evade them.
Colonel Miller died in Nashville from his wound received the 27th. We are going to raise a sum of money in the Regiment to erect a monument to his memory. About $500 has been subscribed in the Regiment so far and I think near $1200 will be raised after the paper has gone around to all. His body was taken to Aurora for interment.
Joe Arthurs just received your letter written in June a day or two ago. We have had letters from Porter since he went home. I had one from George Toller. He is at Nashville now an intends sleeping home in a few days. I suppose he will go to Fulton where his Mother lives.
Bert I know all you say about the girls is all in fun. I’ll never say anything about and I bet they talk about us as bad as we done about them. I never keep any letters on hand. I have to burn every letter I get because they would make considerable bulk and weight to carry around with me in addition to the load I am obliged to carry.
The Ceynaka Spectator came in the same mail your letter did and was read with pleasure.
Well, Bert, we are not getting Atlanta very fast and I think is bound to come some of these days and if we can succeed in using up the Army of Hood pretty well the campaign will end then for good and the of us fellows will get furloughs. I shall put in my biggest licks for one about the time the political campaign gets good and lively. We are going to have some rain so I will be obliged to stop our letter. Our little tents don’t turn rain very well and it hurries us to keep writing material dry.
Accept my best wishes for yourself and family and write when you receive this a good long letter.