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    Description

    Archive of three letters: The Battle for Atlanta, July through September 1864.
    The first letter comes with its original cover and is eight pages in length. It was written by Christian Lenker, Co. H, 19th Ohio Infantry. The letter is headed "Near Atlanta, July 24th, 1864."

    The second letter, four pages in length, is headed "In the Trenches Near Atlanta, August 21st, 1864." It was written by Charles Van Wagoner, Co. C, 141st Regt., N. Y. Vols.

    The third letter is headed "Atlanta, Georgia, Sunday, Sept. 11th, 1864." It is four pages in length, and written by Harlan P. Martin, Co. E, 123rd Regt., N. Y. Vols. and comes with its original cover.

    All three letters have excellent content and paint a good picture of the 3-month struggle to win Atlanta for the Union. The letters read in part:

    First by Christian Lenker, 19th Ohio Infantry:

    "We are progressing finely by slow degrees and occasional knockdowns with the greasy and stubborn Johnnies."

    "It commenced at Tunnel Hill, went on in succession from point to point leaving in the way Dalton, Kingston, Kennesaw Mountain, and lastly Chattahoochee River. We are now about three miles from the answer to our problem (Atlanta) and we feel confident of getting it."

    "We have taken Rebel works to make a ring large enough in circumference to fence in all the copperheads in the North providing they stand a yard apart."

    "Then we took places which in my estimation would make splendid abodes for such men as the illustrious Canadian exile and copperhead chieftain Buzzard's Roost on Kennesaw Mt. I think it would make a fine home for Val (Val Landigham),...and all other great peacemakers and lawgivers. Then they could stand on the highest pinnacle of rocks and look over the land of their poor deluded beloved, aristocratic brethren and meditate over the wrongs they had suffered by the hands of the mercenary blue bellied, abolition hirelings and Lincolnites who so cruelly drove them by the point of the bayonet from their exalted position. Would not those martyrs of liberty present an imposing spectacle to the world, viewed from such an elevated platform lately transformed from a war to a peace platform, by Sherman and his young peacemakers? I wish old Val would come down here and persuade his brethren to leave Atlanta, or we will be under the painful necessity of encroaching on their rights and making Atlanta as peaceful and sublime as Buzzard's Roost, Rocky Face, and Kennesaw Mountain; it will be cruel indeed but the fates will it so."

    "General Hood has assumed command of the Rebel Army and I presume he will fight on different tactics. Thus far he did admirably and I hope he will continue; he is butting against us like an old man against a stone wall. On the 21st he attacked Hooker and the 2nd Division of our Corps and found that our flag was still there. On the 22nd he tried to come the same game that Stonewall Jackson did when he marched through the wilderness at Chancellorsville and struck the 11th Corps in the rear, crumbling it to pieces thereby ending Hooker's campaign by a very bold and well performed maneuver."

    "General McPherson was killed on the twenty-second. During the night of the 21st two of the Corps of the Rebel Army left their position in our front and made a rapid movement to their right. The next day we moved up slowly and cautiously and the Rebels came swooping down on McPherson's flank and rear, killing him and driving his men some distance, then the tide turned and the Rebels were repulsed charge after charge, with a loss from 6,000 to 10,000. I heard that we lost four pieces of artillery. That is nothing compared with the men the Rebels lost. They would like to rout us and drives us like they did old Banks, but we have no political generals here, they are all experienced veterans."

    "We all deeply regret the loss of McPherson. In him the country loses one of her ablest Generals and noblest defenders. Here in the Army he was considered as one of the best Generals in the U. S. or any other Army; he could plan and execute while his judgment was a tower of strength. But it is as Gen. Rosecrans said at the battle of Stone River when it was reported that McCook was killed. He said, "Brave and good men must die."

    "Our Regiment lost five men on the 20th, two mortally wounded and died shortly after being shot. Yesterday we had two men wounded here in camp. The Rebels shot right in our camp. The balls are as common as the bumblebees in Canton on a warm July day. The shells are screeching over our heads like hideous dragons. They average shots one every half hour. Most of them go over our heads to the rear and some strike pretty close to us. Then you ought to see us hurry the breastworks; they have about as much attraction as a pretty girl would have, but I tell you we make the Johnnies lie low too. They burrow holes in the ground like ground squirrels."

    "If I am not mistaken this is Sunday. Since Johnson (Gen. Joseph E. Johnson) is relieved we cannot tell so easy any more for he always retreated during Saturday nights. The boys wanted to know why he always took Saturday nights to retreat. I told them I though he left his clean shirts along the road and when he word one a week, he fell back to get another one at the next point. Answer soon. From your affectionate brother, Christian Lenker."

    "N. B. I wonder if those whiskey rotten cave apes of copperheads thought they could discourage us by voting down the 100 dollar veteran bounty. We are not fighting for money. But we would like to know the names of the quitters as we have some idea of collecting relics of the tottering rebellion. Such sketches of dissipated humanity would be good specimens for young America to look at when reason and loyalty return again."


    Second letter written by Charles Van Wagoner, 141st Regt. N. Y. V.:

    "The siege of Atlanta has now been a going on a month now, but this Division is no nigher to the City than it was. We occupy the same position that we gained on the 22nd of July."

    "We have the best works that we have had during the Campaign. They can never be taken from the front. We are about 7 mile from the outskirts of the City. On our right is two 24-pounders which throw shells into the City at the rate of 1 every minute, while every few minutes our smaller guns amuse themselves by pitching shot and shell into their works. The smallest guns we have here can throw shell right into their City."

    "Last Wednesday morning the Johnnys commenced to shell us pretty lively, but our light Batteries promptly replied to them and soon had the effect of silencing them."

    "Our pickets and theirs are now on friendly terms and trade coffee for tobacco."

    "There seems to be a good dealing of fighting on the extreme right of our lines. The guerrillas ended our Rail Road communications last week somewhere near Dalton, but the trains are now running regularly again."

    "Ben Thompson never spoke after he was shot. He was shot in 3 places. One ball passed through the upper part of his head, another passed through his body and was found in his knapsack. Another struck his little finger and broke it."

    "Gen. Hooker has left us and gone to Washington. The Corps is now in command of General Williams, our Division commander."

    "Last Wednesday I was back to the Chattahoochee River. It had altered somewhat in appearance since I saw it last. They have built a new Railroad Bridge where the Rebs burnt the old one, and instead of Rebels being so thick around there, it is full of Sutlers, Commissaries, and Bakeries. It has been very rainy here for a couple of days but looks as though it might clear off this morning. Must now bring this to a close, from Charles Van Wagoner, Co. C., 141st N.Y.V., Chattanooga, Tenn., 1st Brig. 1st Div. 2nd Army Corps."

    Third letter written by Harlan P. Martin, 123rd Regt. N. Y. V.:

    "Well, we have got Atlanta at last. We are encamped on the edge of the city near the Augusta Railroad."

    "Our camp took possession of the city on the 1st inst. The Rebels destroyed a large amount of property when they left. They burnt about a hundred cars, 5 or 6 locomotives, a large amount of shot, shell & muskets and a large machine shop. This I saw in one place."

    " Atlanta is a very nice city. There is some splendid buildings in it, both public and private. There is hardly a house in the city but what has had a shell through it and most of them not less than five or six."

    "The citizens had holes dug in the ground in which they lived while we were shelling the city.."

    "The most of the citizenry stopped behind when the Rebels left the city, but General Sherman has issued an order for all the citizens to leave the place. They've nothing hardly to live on....

    H. P. Martin

    Co. E., 123rd Regt. N.Y.V.

    1st Brig. 1st Div. 20th A. C.

    not a corps

    Atlanta, Georgia"

    All three letters are in fine condition and present a colorful overview of this important Atlanta Campaign. Sixteen pages of graphic content. From the Calvin Packard Civil War Battlefield Letter Collection.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2020
    6th Sunday
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