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    Civil War Archive of William C. Holliday, Chaplain with the 90th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. An expansive archive of approximately one hundred and ten letters from William C. Holliday (1838-1921), of the 90th Ohio Infantry Regiment. He enlisted December 21, 1863 as a Chaplain and mustered out with the regiment on June 13, 1865. The bulk of the letter's date from May 14, 1864 to May 18, 1865 and are on average between four and five pages in length. There are also three letters from 1868 and 1869, along with a dozen partial or undated letters. The 90th Ohio was particularly active during the Atlanta Campaign, with coverage of the Battles of Resaca, Dallas, Marietta, and Atlanta. The regiment also fought during the Franklin-Nashville Campaign and the Battle of Asheville, just days before the war ended. The majority are written to his wife, Eliza, as well as his mother and brother. Holliday writes in exceptional detail, describing battles, casualties, and his opinions on the war. Several of his letters are diary-style and span days, especially when he was engaged in fighting.

    Holliday wrote to Eliza on May 14 (though the letter has daily entries up to May 18), describing the Battle of Resaca, "...Yesterday was an interesting day. We found the rebels about two miles from where I wrote last. We were first in line of battle. Breastworks were thrown up & about the middle of the afternoon our brigade (Whitakers) ascended the hill driving the enemy. Hooker's corps was operating on the right flank. Our brigade advanced up a little valley by the extreme left wounded & dead men were brought back rapidly from Whitaker's Brig. Our left was left all exposed & the rebels took advantage of it & threw a whole division in against us, which compelled us to fall back in perfect disorder except our regiment. It is said that they came off in good order except two companies which were cut off from the rest & they went North with the other regiments ...Every man for himself...About as I was retreating the bullets came whizzing right past where I was. I got behind a big tree but it became evident that the enemy was throwing a large force against us, firing became rapidly...The bullets whizzed by, I went back to a battery which had been planted on a little hill...Our troops in the meantime were retreating in great confusion. As soon as they got out of the way the battery opened on them. I was back of the battery on an elevation & I could see the shells fall & burst right in amongst them. Mercy, but it swept them off. They advancing into an open field & six pieces of Cannon throwing shell grape & canister & among them. I could see their ranks open about 20 feet every shot. The firing of artillery only continued about half hour when it is said they left 300 dead in the field."

    He continues in the letter, "...This morning we went up at daylight. While we were eating breakfast the bullet came feeling for us. It sounded as though it were feeling for me. I cut breakfast off & got back in a battery just behind our Brigade & began writing this when some bullets came...Heard skirmishing & cannonading has began this morning making the Earth tremble. I saw General Sherman & Hooker last night... May 17th south of Resaca about 4 miles - ...we moved through the rebel works down to Resaca oh, a small village on a little river. I had an opportunity of going over the battlefield or a portion of it. In several places where the heaviest fighting had been dead men of both sides lay all around. It was a terrible sight indeed. The rebels left in a great hurry. They were strongly fortified & they could have held that place if any. They left their dead & part of their wounded. There had been a much greater battle than I supposed. Our shells had done terrible execution. As we passed above toward the river we saw between 50 & 100 of their badly wounded lying in the bushes. What a sight met my eyes! Their wounds had not been dressed. No one is left to care for them. The dead were scattered all along through the woods...Women were crying. Rebels had taken their husbands at the point of bayonet..."

    On May 21, Holliday describes the destruction of towns in the path of the armies: "...We are within 1/2 Mile of Cassville, a nice Village. The rebels in their Retreat always go through these towns & consequently the towns have to be shelled to drive the rebels out. Here the people all leave & the soldiers plunder at a desperate rate. Not infrequently on our march we see large splendid homes & barns in flames. So far only 15 of our men have been wounded & then killed. This is rather remarkable as we have been under fire to some extent for 10 days. Every few miles we see dead or wounded men on the march. Men who are shot on the Skirmish line & it is a fact that there is about as many remarks made about dead horses as dead men. Some of our men have made narrow escapes...How near bullets have come to me I know not but I have heard them say as they passed me 'Where is you?' God is good..."

    Holliday then writes to his mother in the middle of the Battle of Dallas on May 29, "...The night was dark. The heavens threatened rain. So here we go...Now we begin to ascend a mountain...the lightning flash, the thunders roar. It is terribly grand. Dark as Egypt. A fence is set on fire to give us light. One soldier remarks that 'this is a hard way to serve the Lord.' Up up we go. Missed the road. We holler at each other to find where we are. Many fall out by the way. Can't go any further. We finally go into Camp about midnight on a rocky side hill...Oh it is awful. It makes the heart sick. I have no doubt but that we will whip them effectively. But many will be slain... I am determined, God willing, to see the end of this war & get home again. So you see that I am not as brave as you thought I was. I have heard as many shells & balls passed by as I want to hear..."

    Holliday writes to his wife on June 12, describing the fighting around Marietta in the lead up to the battle, "...Our regiment has been & still is right in front. Day before yesterday we had two companies on the skirmish line. One of our boys was killed instantly, shot through the breast [John Hoskins]. You will remember the boy's family when I tell you that he was a son of Job Hoskins...We dug a grave about 3 ft deep, wrapped him in his blanket, put his gun blanket over him oh, & after I offered a short prayer, the grave was filled. A rough board was placed at the head of the grave with name, company & regt on it. Sad very sad indeed. No tears were shed over his grave. I could not shed any. It has become so common an occurrence. I will write to his father the sad news..."

    In a two-day letter from June 15-16, Holliday writes to Eliza, describing the Battle of Marietta and the death of Confederate General Leonidas Polk. The letter reads in part, "...While I write our artillery is shelling the rebels like everything. Don't know whether they are falling back on Atlanta or not. We have not got into position yet...They report that the rebel Gen. Polk was killed by a shell yesterday near where I write...Just after I was done writing yesterday every preparation was made for battle. Our corps was marred & moved down into this woodland in line of battle & we concluded to go in our brigade & our regiment was in front. There was pretty heavy fighting for about 1 hour & 1/2 I tell you it sounded vicious. The Stray shots come back feeling after us pretty thick. The fighting appeared to be right in our front & indeed there was pretty heavy skirmishing, but the principal skirmishing was on the left of us. We halted right here & there & threw up breastworks. The men have worked all night on their works. Several men were wounded in our brigade but none killed or hurt in our regiment. I think the rebels are trying to get away..."

    The next day on June 17, he continues to describe the relentless fighting, "...Yesterday there was considerable skirmishing & on some parts of the line rather warm times. Our lines were advanced considerably. In the afternoon we had a nice little time. The rebels shelled us. I was back of the regiment with the surgeons & others when the shelling began. I was lying on the ground. My horse was not saddled. I did that in a hurry, but while I was doing that there must have been a half-dozen shells bursting over our heads...Captain Chief of Artillery in our division was killed yesterday in front of our regiment. Shot in the head. Was an excellent officer...I stood on the very spot. The blood was yet visible on the ground...I hear nothing but boom boom boom....I find the shell coming in the direction of me is the most alarming thing that I've ever heard... My curiosity as to warfare is satisfied. Everyday I become more & more bitter in my feeling toward it. There is nothing that I can see in killing persons that affords me any pleasure. But when I have to see the dead & dying I want them to be our enemies..."

    On June 23, 1864, he wrote to Eliza, again referring to her as "Mrs. Holliday", "...What suffering have I seen in the few days just passed. It is indescribable. Three poor men died in the ambulances while we were coming to the station. My next reason for coming back here which is about seven or eight miles from the regiment was to get where I could not see & smell dead men. I am sick at heart with the sights &c. Then to get out of hearing those everlasting guns. For the last 15 days I have heard every minute the cracking of guns & every hour the war of artillery... "

    On July 6, Holliday describes stumbling upon a Confederate soldier who had committed suicide, "...Stone Mountain can be seen away in the distance raising prominently above all the country. But of all the sights yet was the man, a Rebel hanging to a tree. Had been there several days I think that he must have hung himself. His feet reached ground, was hanging with the strip of bark, but I will not sicken you with the description. I could however sit down & eat beside of the victim. I have become used to seeing sights...I also knelt & prayed in the woods, then more than ever do I think of the loved ones at home..."

    The Battle of Atlanta is described in a pair of letters written July 22 and 24, 1864, just outside the city. In the first letter, Holliday writes, "...They resisted our advance here pretty strongly...I did not think the rebels would fight us right in the city, but I believe they now intend to do so. I hope they will feel confident of complete success. They may hold us off several days or weeks, but my opinion is before that this reaches you our army will triumphantly hold Atlanta..."

    On July 24, Holliday writes, "...When I wrote you day before yesterday there was a terrible battle raging about 1 mile & a half on the left of us in the 17 Corps...The 17 corps was advancing & before the lines were formed or any breastworks thrown up & indeed before the corps commenced on to the 16 corps the rebels attacked them in heavy columns. Drove our men about 1/2 mile took 12 pieces of artillery & about 400 of our men prisoners. Our troops were reinforced by the 16th corps & drove the Rebels, reoccupied the best ground & we procured the artillery except four pieces & took about 1,200 prisoners. Gen. McPherson commander in the army...was killed in the engagement. This is quite a loss to us. He was an able General. We could hear the roar of artillery & the volleys of musketry here & could follow the sounds very distinctly realizing the fact that our troops were repulsed. It was terrible...A good many of our men were killed & wounded but many more Rebels...All things taken into consideration it resulted in quite a victory to our side. All our generals ask them is to fight us here. This their new general Hood seems determined to do. General Johnson refused to command the Army any longer because Jeff Davis told him to hold Atlanta which he said could not be done with the forces he had & hence refused to command it any longer...Our generals are very much pleased with the charge of command. Johnson is there ablest general in my opinion. Our army will gradually mine around the city to fortify as it advances, so that it in the course of days, Atlanta will be nearly surrounded...accounts of the battle of the 22 put our loss at about 3,000, Rebels lost 9000. General Hardy (Rebel) is said to have been wounded & to have fallen into our hands & died. This will balance our loss in McPherson. It was a desperate battle. The rebels have been rather quiet since..."

    He returns to his regiment in September after Atlanta was taken. On the 23rd, he wrote from inside the city, "...The town of Atlanta is all riddled with bullets & shells. I was much mistaken in supposing that the town was destitute of women & children. It is full of them, or rather was full of them. They're all ordered a Way North or South...My sympathies were aroused for the destitute women & children, especially the latter..."

    The 90th Ohio left Atlanta shortly thereafter, and was next engaged during the Franklin-Nashville Campaign in late 1864. Holliday writes on December 7 about a skirmish preceding the Battle of Nashville, and also about a young child, "...A black Negro woman apparently 26 years old with a little girl about as old as Lama and just about as white. As about the same color and as curly as long as used to be. She is very smart. Ask her who her father is. 'His name is Jones. He is a white man. In the rebel Army.' And so it is. That's the kind of children they sell in the South. Great God! What an institution is slavery... I went to the regt this morning. Had not been there more than an hour until the rebels advanced their skirmish lines and drove our skirmishers back more than 1/4 of a mile. Then our boys rally and drove them back. From where our regiment is we could see the whole thing. It looked fine to see our boys all along the line driving the rebel skirmishers. They would shoot and run. It appeared to be in advance of the rebels all along the line. One of the boys of my regiment was shot, poor fellow. I am afraid he will die. Shot in back, the ball coming out of the side of bowels. I rode down in the ambulance with him to the hospital..."

    In a series of letters from December 15 through 21, he describes the Battle of Nashville to various family members. In a letter to his mother dated December 18, 1864, he writes, "...Yesterday morning we moved early in the AM. Our troops had moved rapidly after the panic stricken and fleeing rebels about four miles. It was night. They slept on the mud and under the rain. It rained all day, but this army is so flushed with victory that they did splendid marching though tired and worn from two days incesent fighting and almost sleepless nights. We came about fifteen miles. Rebels are still going. It is the greatest victory of the war..."

    The archive is unusually frank and detailed when sharing the level of carnage that comes with war. It is a fact that Holliday himself seemed to recognize. He addresses it in a letter to his wife on January 19, "...How many husbands do you suppose there are who tell their wives all they do?...I know a good deal about men in the Army. There are not an innumerable multitude who would be willing that their wives know all they do. But I try to avoid everything wrong. I believe that I do nothing that I would object to your knowing."

    In the last consequential war-dated letter, Holliday writes on April 10, 1865, following Lee's surrender and the Battle of Asheville. It was fought on April 6 and was one of the war's final battles. Writing to his wife, the letter reads in part, "...O how grateful to God should I be and trust I am for the indescribably glorious news that awaited our arrival at this place this afternoon. 'R.E. Lee surrendered his army to Gen. Grant.' Tremendous cheering followed the announcement but many were incredulous, but a few minutes ago the news was given us officially. While I write the band is playing 'Hail Columbia,' 'Star Spangled Banner' &c. Men are cheering and shooting their guns, singing, throwing up hats and letting out generally. It is night, but how can I sleep over such glorious intelligence as this, 'Praise God from whom all blessings flow.' We have had a week of labor and hard marching and attended with some danger. I intended to write a full account of our expedition to Asheville North Carolina, but, dear me, I shall not do so unless I run out of something to write. I will just say now concerning it a few things. Asheville is away beyond The Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, 70 miles from here. All that distance is in the enemy's country. 40 miles of our way was along the edge of the water of the French Broad River...We found a few more Rebels there than we expected to find and they showed a bold front. Our instructions were not to take the place if it required any loss. After skirmishing a while, we retreated in the evening...I heard a few more shells and bullets than I expected to hear..."

    Condition: A few examples of soiling and toning, with minor edgewear in places. Overall very good.


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