The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain: Letter written by Christi...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionThe Battle of Kennesaw Mountain: Letter written by Christian Lenker, 19th Ohio Infantry: "We heard a bugle to our right....with the well known Rebel Yell which always precedes a furious charge....".
This 4 page letter is headed, "Camp near Dallas, Ga., June 1st (64)". Included is the original stamped envelope addressed to Lenker's brother in Canton, Stark County, Ohio. Reads in part:
"Our regiment came up to the Brigade at Kingston when most of the corps had concentrated forming something like a circle. We laid there about three days and packed our extra baggage preparatory to a vigorous campaign, taking only rubber blankets and shelter tents. Here I had a social reunion with brother Val (Valentine Lenker Co. E 9th PA. Cav.) and many of my old Pa. comrades and schoolmates, belonging to Hooker's Corps, some of whom I have not seen for years. Now appreciate the society of old friends and comrades more than soldiers when they meet unexpectedly on the tented field."
"After leaving Kingston we advanced slowly across the Altoona Mountains towards Atlanta until the 25th of May when we were brought to a halt by the Rebels who inflicted a heavy loss for some of Hooker's regiments who were drawn in on masked batteries."
"Gen. Sherman made proper dispositions of our troops, and we had some fighting every day and night since. On the 27th our Corps moved to the left. Our division having the advance about four o'clock, we came on the Rebels. Our regiment was in the third line, the 78th Pa. and 6th Ind. were in the first line and drove the Rebels gallantly through the wilderness, up a hill and through an open field, charging them home to their breastworks."
"But the troops on our right failed to carry their point which gave the Rebels a fine raking flank fire on the 78th & 6th, compelling them to fall back through the open field with a heavy loss. Our regiment and the 9th Ky. came up under a heavy fire from the Rebel batteries and formed along the edge of the woods at the open cornfield, the Rebels being on the opposite side of the field."
"The Rebels were behind said breastworks and we had to lie down behind the fence to shield us from their murderous fire. Two lines had been swept away in our front, and we were the only one remaining without any support."
"After fighting some time, we saw a novel and interesting sight. The 78th Pa. who joined our left raised up under the Rebel fire, pulled down the fence in their front, picked up the rails such many as many as he could carry and advanced several rods in the open field. Then built the rails up again and laid behind them and kept up a heavy fire on the Rebs."
"As soon as our regiment saw the experiment we followed suit. It looked odd to see a rail fence charge as a moving breastwork. We lost pretty heavy by the opposition here. Our Major was wounded in the hand while carrying a rail. We had to lie flat on the ground. As soon as a man got up, a volley came from the Rebels. We kept our position till long after dark when some of our boys crawled over towards the Rebel lines to reconnoiter."
"They soon came back with the news that the Rebels were preparing for a charge on us as profound. Calm now prevailed along the entire line. Nothing was heard but the groans of the wounded, laying between the two lines. "
"Like a pack of hungry wolves lying in wait for their prey, we watched with the utmost silence for the grey forms of the Rebels to make their appearance on the brow of the hill in front of us."
"We got orders to hold our fire until they would be very close, then to let them have it. To our surprise, we heard a bugle to our right. Soon with the well-known Rebel yell which always precedes a furious charge. Now they came swooping down on our right wing like a tornado."
"Several good volleys from the right, companies stagger them for a moment. Then on they come from our right near and we have to fly precipitately to save us from being captured. The troops had been withdrawn on the right of our regiment which left an open space."
"This the Rebels found out and under cover of darkness they stealthily crawled up and behind us with the intention of capturing us, but we were too quick for them and like at other tight places, we got out the best way we could. Maj. Nash was wounded in the hand. Capt. Brewer was mortally wounded having since died. Capt. Smith was wounded in the head. We lost about 40 non-commissioned officers and privates out of our Co. Serg. Warren missing. Louis Chaffen wounded severely in the arm."
"The Rebels made several desperate night charges but were repulsed. Most fighting is done in the night, but skirmishing is going on continually, day and night. Our line is so close to the Rebel pickets that while I write here, the balls are flying over our shelter and around me."
"We roused up every night. When the fighting is going on, we sleep with cartridge boxes on and do most of our sleeping in the day time."
"It is a perfect wilderness, very hilly and the underbrush very thick. I bet it equals the wilderness in Virginia when Grant had his battles. We expected the battle to take place long ere this, but Sherman appears not to be in a hurry for some reason best known by himself, I suppose."
"I saw Sherman once, he is a tall slender plain and unassuming looking man and lays in the brush just as we do."
"The Rebels are going to fight with desperation and give us very warm work. They are well disciplined and will not leave the ranks if they are wounded slightly. But if our soldiers stand up to their post, we can whip them. I for one shall do my duty whenever I am called on, however dangerous it may be, and if anything befalls, me feel assured it was honorably at my post. But I trust in HIM who has our life in HIS power. From your brother C. L."
Some ink stains and age spots, otherwise both letter and cover are in fine condition. From the Calvin Packard Civil War Battlefield Letter Collection.
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