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    Description

    Civil War Archive of Letters of Albert F. Matlack, 43rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. A group of 8 letters written in ink and pencil, dating from May 20, 1864 to November 8, 1864 from locations relating to General William T. Sherman's Atlanta Campaign and subsequent March to the Sea, sent to family members and friends in the town of Unionport, Jefferson County, Ohio. Also included are 9 postal covers. With the exception of one cover addressed to Albert Matlack at Cincinnati from Steubenville, Ohio before the regiment's departure to the front, all other covers are for letters written by him and bear cancellation stamps in Tennessee and Georgia during 1863-1864.

    The earliest letter in the group, dated May 20, 1864, is written from Kingston, Georgia, to Matlack's mother. It, like other letters in the group, discusses where he is, what's going on with his unit, the weather, and family matters. A day later, May 21, Matlack wrote to his friend C.D. Beebout that his regiment was "in camp about a mile and a half from Kingston Junction. There is part of the 15th and part of the 16th army corps here under Command of Gen. McPherson.... We have a report here in camp now that we are to start on an Expedition in a new direction and that we are to have 30 days rations with us." Matlack then asked Beebout, the next time he writes, to tell him what "our loss was at Ressaca [sic] . We have not saw any papers yet that say any things about it. Our regt. only lost 22 men killed and wounded. I don't see how we got off as well as we did. The 35th New Jersey a Zouave regt. in our Brigade lost 25 men."

    Matlack wrote to Beebout from Big Shanty, Georgia, on June 17, 1864, and reported that "We have came [sic] up with the rebs and have been skirmishing with them for several days but have not had no big fight on this part of the line yet. The rebs are in a range of mountain or hills and I think they intend to fight...we are getting to close to Atlanta for them to fall back mutch [sic] more...our skirmishers and the rebs are firing all the time but they don't hit each other very often." Later in the letter, he tells Beebout that the Atlanta Campaign "has been the hardest...ever I was in. We have lost a good many men by sickness and I expect we will lose more before we get through it....We are 27 miles from Atlanta by the railroad."

    On July 8, Matlack wrote to his sister that his regiment was "about one mile from the Chattahooche [sic] river. The rebels are between us and the river but I guess they going over before long. Our artillery and theirs have been firing right smart.... It is only 8 miles to Atlanta from the river." The Battle of Atlanta occurred on July 22, 1864 and Matlack wrote to his sister two days later, on July 24, in which he recounts the activities of his regiment and the death of General James B. McPherson. "Our regt. was not in any of the fighting here on the 21st [22nd] . We were back at the bridge when the fight was at Decatur. Our Brigade was drove out of the town the rebs had the strongest force. They drove our men about 2 miles from town. Our regt. came up and the next morning we moved up and occupied the town. The rebs had left in the night, they killed and wounded a good many of our men.... We are now camped about 2 miles from Decatur on the railroad between Atlanta and Decatur. Gen. McPherson was killed here on the 21 st [22nd] . He was counted one of the best men we had."

    By late August of 1864, Matlack's regiment was involved with operations at the Chattahoochee railroad bridge and surrounding areas. On August 26, Matlack wrote to Beebout that "the army is making some pretty big moves just now. I don't know much about how they will result. Part of our line has fallen back to the Chattahoochee and are fortifying. The other part I believe is trying to get in the rear of the place to cut the rail road. The report is here that the rebs are falling back to Macon but we don't know any thing certain." Atlanta fell to Sherman's army on September 2, 1864. Matlack's last letter in the group was written on November 8, 1864, shortly before Sherman commenced his March to the Sea. As Matlack indicated in his letter, his regiment was "going on a grand expedition down through the Confederacy.... We are getting ready as fast as we can and expect to start in 4 days. We will take 90 days rations besides forage of the country all we can." He also claimed that "Our regt. gave Lincoln [rubbed out] majority" of votes in the presidential election.

    Albert F. Matlack (1845-1915 or 1912) enlisted for three years of Federal service on December 12, 1861 as a private in Company G of the 43rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The regiment had a hard-fighting record as part of Fuller's Ohio Brigade in the Missouri and Tennessee campaigns of 1862, especially during the battles of Corinth. Discharged in December 1863, Matlack reenlisted (again in Company G), along with most surviving original members of the regiment, serving with it until mustered out of service with the rank of corporal at Louisville, Kentucky on 13 July 1865.

    The 43rd Ohio Infantry Regiment was organized in Mount Vernon, Ohio from September 28, 1861 through February 1, 1862, and mustered in for three years' service under the command of Colonel Joseph L. Kirby Smith. It participated in a number of important operations, including the Siege of Corinth, the Battle of Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta, Jonesboro, and Sherman's March to the Sea. It was mustered out at Louisville, in July 13, 1865.

    Condition: Letters have usual folds with some light toning, staining and smudging; otherwise good. Postal covers range from good to fragile.


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    May, 2021
    19th Wednesday
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