About Colleen Theisen

Outreach and Instruction Librarian. Lover of coffee, as well as 19th century photography, painting, tourism and print.

I have been very busy to-day fixing up Hd. Qurs.

Joseph Culver Letter, September 19, 1864, Letter 2, Page 1

Head Quarters, Co. “A” 129th Regt. Ills. Vols.
Atlanta, Georgia September 19th 1864
My Dear Wife

I have been very busy to-day fixing up Hd. Qurs. and this evening in preparing for Inspection to-morrow. We are now very pleasantly situated though we have not completed our work yet.

I saw both Bros. John and Sammy [Murphy] this morning; they are quite well. John is temporarily detailed in “Bridges Battery” and went on duty there this morning.1

You express some anxiety in yours of the 6th about my “Leave of Absence.” You have learned before this that my application failed. I have had quite a fight with the “Blues” for a few days past, but I believe I have conquered. Let us not forget “Our Father” for all his mercies and blessings.

I hope you have not had a return of the chills. This season opens up sickly, I fear, in Pontiac. May Our Father in Heaven protect you and our babe. I had anticipated much pleasure in a visit home & must confess that I was very much disappointed, for I felt confident of success. God doeth all things well and doubtless he has some good purpose to accomplish thereby.

The tobacco, handkerchief, and book for Green have not yet arrived.2 Green is looking very anxiously for his gift. Packages are generally delayed, & they will probably be along to-morrow or next day.

You say the Copperhead meeting has the appearance of being a success & wish to know if any one in Co. “A” will vote for “Mac” [McClellan], and what probability of the 129th getting home to vote. There is no probability of the 129th going home to vote; there will be too much on hand here at that time. Had McClellan accepted the nomination upon a strong war Platform, he would have had some friends and five or six of Co. “A” would have voted for him had opportunity offered. The Chicago Platform has no friends here that I know of, and McClellan’s effort to kick aside the Platform and still accept the nomination by a strong copperhead convention has left him very few friends, indeed.3 We prefer a continuation of the policy of the present administration & do not deem it advisable or necessary to make any serious changes. The Army is for Lincoln, though Illinois and Indiana troops cannot help elect him.4

I am surprised that a Copperhead meeting should be so largely attended in our county. I hope the friends of the Union are not idle.

The Chaplain [Brother Cotton] thought when he left us that he would rest a year but has accepted an appointment to Dwight. I should have liked much to have heard his speech in Pontiac. Did you hear it, or of it?

Tell Mother [Murphy] she does not long more for me to come home than I do to be there & kiss her for me. Sister Maggie [Utley] has never written. Give my love to her & kiss the children for me.

All the Company are well. We expected the pay-master here this week, but are told this evening that he will not be here until next week. Some of the men are becoming very impatient, & I fear some of their families are in want. There is something wrong as we should have been paid a month ago. Chris [Yetter] & Nate [Hill] are flourishing as usual; they are both striving very industriously to learn to play chess. What progress have you made? Green was almost as badly disappointed in my not going home as myself. He was intending to go along.

It is 20 minutes past 11 o clock; yet, late as it is, I must close my letter to-night or it will not get out in to-morrow’s mail, as I shall be very busy in the morning.

Sherman is still shipping citizens South. I told you a short time ago that the cessation of hostilities was to continue until the 22nd of October; it is only until the 22nd of this month.5

Francis Van Doren gives rather an amusing incident that happened a few days ago.6 He is driving team in the supply train and is at present engaged in moving citizens. On one of his Loads were two young ladies, one of which was very much grieved at being compelled to leave her home & was crying and lamenting her fate, when finally she consoled herself by saying “that she had a home from which Sherman could not drive her.” Her companion, who must have considerable spice in her nature, warned her not to be too certain as Sherman might yet “flank her out of Heaven.” It does seem hard to drive women and children from their homes when there are doubtless some who are innocent of any transgression of the laws, but it is a moral impossibility to subsist the citizens when we have so large an army & so extended a base of supplies.

I think it very probable that the Campaign will open about the 1st of October.7 There is no news from Grant. All is quiet there.8 We are still ignorant of the policy Genl. Sherman will adopt or the direction the Armies will advance. God, who has been so bountiful in blessings, is still with us, & we trust will guide us to certain Victory.

The Chicago papers report Genl. A. J. Smith [is] on his way here, but I think it must be a mistake.9 We have heard nothing of him through military channels. We are looking anxiously for the result of the draft.10 We would like to see the men coming along.

I recd. a letter from the editor of the Sentinel requesting me to write an article for the paper occasionally. If I get time before the campaign opens, I will, though I have but little inclination to engage in political discussions.

All the camp is quiet & the men sleep. The moon bright and clear shines sweetiy upon us and a “Beautiful Star” is twinkling close by her. We dream of home and wonder whether in God’s good Providence we are destined to enjoy its Sweets again. Who but “He alone” can tell, and yet we hope and anticipate trusting all to Him. Let us pray for Grace to be resigned to His will. May His richest blessings rest upon you and your babe.

I can imagine you both asleep now, & I would love dearly to see the reality of my dreams. Still “All is well,” & if we only wait patiently for “God’s good time” our enjoyment will be so much the sweeter. If not on earth, yet in Heaven we may meet. Remember me very kindly to all our friends and let us not forget that we are blessed far above thousands of those around us. May Holy Angels guard you.

Good night.

Your affectionate Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Bridges’ Illinois battery, like Company M, 1st Illinois Light Artillery, was assigned to the IV Corps’ Artillery Brigade.
  2. Albert Green, a black freedman, had attached himself to J.F.C. while the regiment was at Nashville in the autumn of 1863.
  3. General McClellan, embarrassed by the “peace plank,” sought to repudiate it by placing the strongest emphasis on the Union in his letter accepting the nomination. He thus went before the country as a war leader. In the campaign which followed, Democratic speakers, taking their cue from McClellan, generally avoided mention of the “peace plank,” while inveighing against Lincoln’s policies and denouncing his so-called acts of usurpation. Randall, Civil War and Reconstruction, pp. 619-20.
  4. No provision had been made by the legislatures of Illinois and Indiana to permit soldiers to vote by absentee ballot. To have their votes counted, soldiers from these states would have to return to their homes to cast their ballots.
  5. On Sept. 10, 1864, General Sherman had issued Special Field Order No. 70, announcing that a truce is declared to exist from “daylight of Monday, September 12, until daylight of Thursday, September 22, … at a point on the Macon Railroad known as Rough and Ready, and the country round about for a circle of two miles’ radius.” O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXIX, pt. II, p. 356.
  6. Francis M. Vandoren, a 24-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois Infantry. On April 27, 1864, he was detailed as a teamster in the supply train of the Third Division, XX Corps. In the autumn of 1864 he rejoined the company and was wounded at Averysboro, N.C., March 16, 1865. Private Vandoren was mustered out with the unit on June 8, 1865 near Washington, D.C. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
  7. Sherman hoped to resume the campaign by October 1. When he did, he proposed to keep Hood’s Army of Tennessee employed, and put his “army group” in condition “for a march on Augusta, Columbia, and Charleston, to be ready as soon as Wilmington is sealed as to commerce, and the city of Savannah is in our possession.” Meanwhile, the Union armies with General Grant before Petersburg and those with Maj. Gen. E. R. S. Canby on the Gulf Coast would be reinforced “to the maximum.” Grant’s force would strike for Wilmington and Savannah, while Canby would “send a force to get Columbus, Ga., either by the way of the Alabama or the Apalachicola.” O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXIX, pt. II, pp. 358, 412.
  8. Following the battles of the Weldon Railroad and Reams Station in late August, Grant’s armies, having cut the Weldon Railroad south of Petersburg, paused to regroup. Grant’s next attack was scheduled for the end of September, and would consist of thrusts at opposite ends of his long line. General Butler’s Army of the James would attack north of the James, while units from General Meade’s Army of the Potomac would thrust westward from the Weldon Railroad and attempt to reach the Boydton Plank road and the Southside Railroad.
  9. Maj. Gen. A. J. Smith with his detachment of the Army of the Tennessee had spent most of the summer of 1864 in Western Tennessee and northern Mississippi, keeping General Forrest’s cavalry corps occupied and away from Sherman’s supply line. Smith, having accomplished his mission, had embarked his troops at Memphis, on the first leg of their trip to rejoin Sherman. Once again, as in June, Smith had to be diverted. This time it was into the trans-Mississippi to cope with Maj. Gen. Sterling Price’s column which had crossed the Arkansas and was thrusting deep into Missouri.
  10. President Lincoln on July 18 had issued a call for 500,000 volunteers. To fill this quota it was necessary to resort to the draft. Long, Civil War Day by Day, p. 541.
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I am very sorry to learn that your health is not good

Joseph Culver Letter, September 19, 1864, Page 1

Head Qurs. Co. “A” 129th Regt. Ills. Vols.
Atlanta, Ga. Sept. 19th 18641
My Dear Wife

Your letters mailed the 9th & 10th were recd. yesterday evening. I am very sorry to learn that your health is not good, but hope it is only a slight attack that will very soon be overcome.

I spent most of the day yesterday with Bro. John. Sammy was not at home, & I did not get to see him. Both are in good health.

It rained nearly all day yesterday, & this morning it is very wet and damp. We have not got our tent fixed up yet, as we did not wish to work on Sabbath. Chris [Yetter] is waiting for me to go with him for lumber,2 so I will only write a line to inform you of my good health. To-morrow or next day at farthest I will write you a long letter. Give my love to all. Rumor says the pay master is here; if so, we will know it shortly.

May Our Father in Heaven bless you & Keep you both in health.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. The 1st Brigade took up the march from the Chattahoochee to Atlanta at 6 A.M. on the 16th, and, crossing the Peachtree Creek battlefield, reached the entrenchments they had occupied in front of the city at 8 o’clock. En route they “passed the graves of the fallen dear comrades, that were ‘sleeping the sleep that knows no waking.’ ” After a halt of several hours, the march was resumed, and the brigade passed through Atlanta, going into camp about one and one-half miles south of the city. After falling out, a number of men visited the abandoned Confederate works. “They were very strong and in their erection every modern invention in the art of war had been added.” On the 17th a suitable campground was selected by Colonel Case, and it was cleared of underbrush and debris. A number of abandoned frame dwellings nearby were razed by the soldiers, and the lumber and shingles used “in erecting tenements.” Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, pp. 102-04.
  2. Colonels Case and Flynn on Sunday, the 18th, divided off the camp, assigning each company its area, within which “every four or five men were allotted a space of eight feet in width and twelve feet in length, to enjoy themselves in a glorious and noble style — in a straight line with the rest of the company.” Ibid., p. 104.

I take the opertunety to let you no wher I am and how I am geten a long

Joseph Culver Letter, September 18, 1864, Page 1Chattnooga Tenn
September 18 1864

My Dear friend I take the opertunety to let you no wher I am and how I am geten a long I am well all but my back and that is weak so that I cant do much duty I was taken Car of horses but it was hard work then the put me to cooken I would hav ben up to my Company before this time but I thot I could not [dun?] much thar ar som boys her that there times ar up and the went to the lutenen Cobburn to get him to send them to ther Company he said he did not like to spare them for that reason I dont Com for if I went to him to get my dis charg he would not let me go I hant had no pa yet I can draw as much Cloths as much as I want he said that he [lovd?] to get our pa when the pamaster Cume around Thar ar not much goen on her so I hant got much nuse to rite I have rote to the [Co it?] a good meny times but I hant had no ancer yet I dont get no leters a tall

drect your leters to in Car of Lutenen. W. J. Cobburn
Act. Quarter Master
Artilery Chattnooga Tenn
Shermans [H. Quarters?]
Capeten Josef F. Culver
Comand of Co A 129 Ill

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How is baby tonight? And its mother? Still well I hope.

Joseph Culver Letter, September 16, 1864, Page 1Hd. Qurs. Battery “M” 1st Ill. Arty.
Atlanta Ga. 16 Sept. 1864.
My Dear Sister Mollie:

How is baby tonight? And its mother? Still well I hope. I would like to drop in and make the acquaintance of my new relative. You know I never cared much about babies, but I suppose this is an extraordinary one. And a boy too. God bless the little fellow and his mother very abundantly. I saw Capt. Frank today. The 129th with its Brigade have arived from the river and gone into camp near us. Frank came over first after they came in, but only stayed a few minutes, and what is very strange I did not think to say anything to him about the baby. I noticed he was in excellent spirits and seemed tickled about something and looked at me as if to say “why don’t you say something about the baby?” He probably would not have waited for me to take the iniative, had we been alone, but I suppose he did not like to come out with it before several officers. Yet he was aware that I knew of the fact, for I told him that I had received a letter from you written the 2d of Sept. and one from mother of the 1st. I will go over tomorrow and rejoice with him. He looks well and hearty. He has applied for a leave of absence. I think his prospect for getting it is not very good.

A number of our boys have applied for furloughs I do not know whether there will be any granted or not. I have not tried for a chance, as I think there are many who need to go home more than I do, and there can go only a few if any. I can hardly hope to go home before next fall. I would much like to go next spring, but it is not probable that I can. Well if I can’t go home I shall have to write more letters – yet I don’t know whether it will pay or not. I have a few lady correspondents which I will drop untill I get out of the service – Aug 8th 1867- and write home only, and employ my time in the study of the profession of arms instead of in writing “letters of friendship. That’s the best? isn’t it? That will be “as it should be.” (What a splendid looking page this is, no wonder I think it best to stop writing to young ladies)

Sammy and I are both very well. We are having beautiful weather here and a good [rest?]. But more anon. Write [often?]

Your Brother
Lieut W.J. Murphy
Battery “M” 1st Ill. Arty.
4th Army Corps
Atlanta Georgia

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I opened my letter to say that we remain all well

Joseph Culver Letter, September 14, 1864, Page 1

Sept. 14th 64 — 1 P.M.

I opened my letter to say that we remain all well. We have orders to move to Atlanta to-morrow morning;1 so, if they are not countermanded, we will be probably located in or near the city by this time to-morrow.

I intended to write to Bro. Tom but neglected it. I find I have to be very sparing of envelopes, as I have only a very few left & no way of obtaining more. As soon as I can get some money, I will get you to send me 100; by leaving the end open, the postage will not be much. I want the best. A very inferior article costs 50 cts per pack here, & just now they cannot be obtained.

The paymaster will arrive at Atlanta to-day or to-morrow, & we will probably be paid within ten days.2 I have not heard from my Leave of Absence yet. The weather is very pleasant to-day. I presume we will get no mail until to-morrow. Remember me kindly to all. With much love, I remain, as ever,

Your affectionate Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. The 1st Brigade would rejoin the Third Division in Atlanta. The 2d and 3d Brigades had been in the city for almost two weeks. One regiment would remain at the Chattahoochie Railroad Bridge to protect the supply depots. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXIX, pt. II, p. 382.
  2. General Sherman on September 11 learned that the paymasters had arrived in Nashville and would be joining his “army group” as soon as funds were available. He suggested that his troops be paid “in great part in checks on New York.” O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXIX, pt. II, pp. 358-59.
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I shall endeavor to remember the 21st September, and, if in my power, will keep it sacred with you

Joseph Culver Letter, September 13, 1864, Letter 2, Page 1

Head Quarters, Co. “A” 129th Regt. Ills. Vol. Infty.
Chattahoochie River, Georgia
September 13th 1864
My Dear Wife

Your letters of the 2nd & 4th came to hand this evening. I am very happy, indeed, to learn of your good health; God has very signally blessed us, and my heart is grateful. I shall endeavor to remember the 21st September, &, if in my power, will keep it sacred with you.1 I did hope to spend it with you, but that seems more and more improbable every day.

You have doubtless learned before this that our loss in the capture of Atlanta was very light. We lost not a man in our Corps [the XX]. The death of John Morgan and the repulse of the Rebels in our rear are very gratifying.2

You have not yet acknowledged the receipt of the $10 I sent. I fear it was in some of the captured mails.

I am not aware that I feel any more dignified than usual, there is so very little of it in my nature. I will try and be very dignified when I get home. I have now no recollection of what transpired two years ago from Sept. 4th. Though I cannot fix dates, yet I have many, very many, recollections of the past. I have written of them to you.3

I am glad to hear from Bro. Thomas [Murphy].4 I wrote to him a few weeks ago but have not heard from him yet. I would try and console him if I knew what was the matter.

I recd. the Tribune & North Western this evening of the 7th & have been reading to the boys until a late hour. I presume the draft has transpired.5

We are so far from the city that we get no letters except what come by mail. As the way is open again, I shall expect to hear from you very often until the Campaign opens again.6

I have not heard from Bro. John yet. You speak in your letter of writing to Hospital No. 19, Nashville. I presume therefore that Bro. Sammy is there and will write to him soon.7 [Albert] Green is looking anxiously for his book. He was very much pleased to learn of the baby. Chris [Yetter] & Nate [Hill] are well & all the boys with the exception of Wm. Sutcliff. I sent forward an application for a furlough for him to-day; if that fails, I will try for his discharge.

The weather last night and to-day has been very cool. It is probable that there will be early frosts in the North.

I have not answered Harry & Jennie’s [Cheston's] letter yet. Is it not singular that we have no letters from Mother or Hannah [Culver]?

Politics ran very high here until the Chicago platform was received;8 the McClellan men have been very quiet ever since. We have considerable anxiety for results in the North this fall. The time is not long, but it will doubtless be hotly contested. I hoped to hear the result of the [Livingston] County Convention by to-day’s mail but was disappointed.

The moon shines brightly to-night, & it is cool enough for an overcoat. If we could have a light frost to kill off the numerous insects that swarm around, it would be very acceptable.

Remember me very kindly to Mother and Maggie. I presume sickness in her family has prevented Sister Maggie [Utley] from writing. Mother [Murphy] was disappointed in writing, as she expected to act [as] correspondent during your disability.

I have not yet wholly abandoned the idea of getting home, though I do not anticipate too much. Let us still hope for the best. I feel assured that should I fail to make the anticipated visit, you have still a great comfort in our child. May God bless you both with health and bestow upon you the riches of his Grace.

I should have much liked to hear what Chaplain Cotton had to say. Were my letters to the Sunday School received? Remember me kindly to all our friends. Allen Fellows recd. letters from his wife yesterday. I have not seen him since the mail came in this evening. He is well. [Major] Hoskins is also well. Lt. Smith came off Picket this evening; he is improving in health slowly.

I may have opportunity to add a line to-morrow. Kiss baby for Papa. If Mrs. Smith’s surmises be true, I may not have a right to the title. I shall take the credit, however, unless I am better informed. Hoping that the richest of Heaven’s blessings may rest upon you, I remain, as ever,

Your affectionate Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Franklin Allen, the Culvers’ first child, had been born on September 21, 1862. He died October 30, 1863.
  2. Brig. Gen. John H. Morgan, the famous Confederate raider, had escaped from the Ohio State Penitentiary with a number of his officers. Making his way south, he was placed in command of the Department of Southwestern Virginia in April 1864. Morgan and his command camped in Greeneville, Tenn., on the night of September 3, while en route to attack Federal forces near Knoxville. Early the next morning he was surprised by a detachment of Union cavalry and was killed in the garden of the house where he had been sleeping. Warner, Generals in Grey, p. 221. By September 10 trains were again operating over sections of the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad wrecked by General Wheeler and his raiders. Wheeler, having been hounded out of Middle Tennessee, was camped near Florence, Ala., while General Williams’ brigade, closely pursued by Federals, had fled eastward and had crossed the Clinch River, near Clinton, Tenn., O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXIX, pt. II, pp. 356, 378, 381.
  3. Mary Culver in her letters of September 2 and 4, missing from the Culver Collection, must have referred to something that had occurred on September 4, 1862.
  4. Thomas Murphy, Mary Culver’s oldest brother, was a Cleveland machinist and port engineer.
  5. A draft to provide additional manpower for the Union armies began on Monday, September 12.
  6. General Grant on September 10 notified General Sherman that “as soon as your men are sufficiently rested and preparations can be made, it is desirable that another campaign should be commenced. We want to keep the enemy constantly pressed to the end of the war.” O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXIX, pt. II, p. 355.
  7. Pvt. Sam Murphy was hospitalized in Chattanooga on July 26, 1864, where he remained until rejoining his unit at Atlanta in September. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
  8. To please the war Democrats, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan was nominated for the presidency by the Chicago convention, while the “peace faction” drafted the platform. After referring to “four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war,” the platform demanded the cessation of hostilities “to the end that at the earliest possible moment, peace may be restored on the basis of the Federal Union of the States.” Randall, Civil War and Reconstruction, p. 619.
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On my return from Atlanta last evening, I found three letters awaiting me

Joseph Culver Letter, September 13, 1864, Page 1

Head Quarters, Co. “A” 129th Regt. Ills. Vols. Infty.
Chattahoochie River, Ga. September 13th 1864
My Dear Wife

On my return from Atlanta last evening, I found three letters awaiting me. I am most happy to hear that you enjoy such good health, and feel thankful to “Our Father” for the continued manifestation of “His” love and mercy so richly bestowed upon us. Your letters were dated respectively 27th, 29th, & 31st. I also recd. Chicago papers to the 3d inst. How greatly God has blessed us in all things.

I wrote a short note from the Hospital in Atlanta yesterday but had to send it without an envelope. Atlanta looked very desolate yesterday. Genl. Sherman ordered all the citizens to leave and gave them their choice to go North or South.1 1,000 teams started out to Rough & Ready loaded with families with a little furniture allowed to each. They seemed in good spirits generally, except some few women who had several children and seemed quite delicate in health. All the Ambulances of the Army were sent out also, some of them filled with fair looking ladies.

The city is not over half as large as Nashville,2 but is very much scattered and in prosperous times was doubtedly a very pleasant place. I was only in the city a few hours. All that portion North of the square is very much injured with the shells, many houses are utterly ruined and quite a number burned to the ground. A majority of the principal business places are very seriously injured. There has been some fine gardens, but they are almost wholly destroyed. The citizens have dug large holes in their yards in which to protect themselves from shells. Nearly all the houses are vacated.

There are a few families which could not be moved at present. I saw one or two with very small infants & several whose condition would preclude the possibility of their being removed with safety; such, I presume, will be allowed to remain.

I am very much surprised that the Rebel Army should destroy all their commissary stores and abandon the wives and families of their soldiers to starvation. Had they left even a short supply, it had not been necessary to adopt such harsh measures as this seems to be. But it would be a matter of impossibility to take care of them here with our long base of supplies open to interruption all the time, and they did not wish to be sent North.3

I have not received Maggie’s promised letter yet, but hope it may arrive by next mail. I am almost satisfied that I shall get no opportunity to visit home this season. We are preparing rapidly for the fall Campaign, and it will doubtless open by the 1st of next month.

I have had no letters from home except the one from Harry and Jennie [Cheston], which I mentioned ten days ago. I have not heard from Bro. John [Murphy] since about the 20th of last month. I sent Seph. Ullery out [to] the front yesterday evening and expect to hear from him in a few days.4 I must close for the present but will try and add some this afternoon.

Till then, Good bye. I will write to-night. May our Father in Heaven keep & bless you and our child. We are all well.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. General Sherman, having “resolved to make Atlanta a pure military garrison or depot, with no civil population to influence military measures, issued orders deporting all citizen and family residents.” In notifying General Hood of his decision on September 7, Sherman announced that those who preferred could go south and the rest north. For the latter the Union would “provide food and transportation to points of their election in Tennessee, Kentucky, or farther north.” For the former, he would “provide transportation by cars as far as Rough and Ready, and also wagons; but that their removal may be made with as little discomfort as possible, it will be necessary for you to help the families from Rough and Ready to the cars at Lovejoy’s.” The refugees would be allowed to take with them their moveable property (clothing, trunks, reasonable furniture, bedding, &c), and their servants, white and black, provided they did not coerce the blacks. Sherman knew that this measure would “raise a howl against my barbarity and cruelty,” and he answered that “war is war, and not popularity-seeking.” General Hood, in agreeing to Sherman’s proposal for a “truce in the neighborhood of Rough and Ready” to facilitate the mass deportation, branded it as “an unprecedented measure,” transcending “in studied and ingenious cruelty, all acts ever brought to my attention in the dark history of war.” On September 10 Sherman announced that pursuant to an agreement made with General Hood, “A truce is hereby declared to exist from daylight of Monday, September 12, until daylight of Thursday, September 22 … at the point on the Macon railroad known as Rough and Ready, and the country round about for a circle of two miles’ radius, together with the roads leading to and from in the direction of Atlanta and Lovejoy’s Station,” for the purpose of affording the people of Atlanta a safe means of removal to points south. Sherman’s chief quartermaster at Atlanta was directed to afford the refugees “all the facilities he can spare to remove them comfortable and safely, with their effects, to Rough and Ready, using cars and wagons and ambulances for that purpose.” O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXVIII, pt. V, p. 822; O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXIX, pt. II, p. 356; Sherman, Memoirs, II, pp. 111-12.
  2. In 1861 the population of Atlanta was about 10,000 compared with Nashville’s 37,000. By 1864 the number of people living in Atlanta had burgeoned to 20,000.
  3. The destruction of the commissary stores did not trigger Sherman’s decision to order the evacuation of Atlanta by the citizens, as J.F.C. supposed. In a letter to Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck on September 4, Sherman, in outlining an autumn campaign, announced his proposal “to remove all the inhabitants of Atlanta, sending those committed to our cause to the rear, and the Rebel families to the front.” He would “allow no trade, manufacturers, nor any citizens there at all, so that we will have the entire use of railroad . . ., and also such corn and forage as may be reached by our troops.” O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXVIII, pt V, p. 794.
  4. Company M, 1st Illinois Light Artillery, the unit to which John and Sam Murphy belonged, was camped two miles east of Atlanta, on the Decatur road. Ibid., p. 840.
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I came here on a visit to-day

Joseph Culver Letter, September 12, 1864, Page 1

Hd. Qurs. Hospital, 3d Div. 20th A.C.
Atlanta, Ga. Sept. 12th 1864
My Dear Wife

I came here on a visit to-day. I came down with Dr. Wood in an ambulance.1 On our way, we met the mail going out, 8 sacks for our Brigade, so that I feel certain of some letters when I get back.

I am stopping for a few moments with Dr. [Darius] Johnson when I will return to camp. Josephus Ullery & Writtenhour are here.2 Ullery is well & able for duty and Writenhour is getting better. I requested Seph. [Ullery] to go out & visit Bro. John [Murphy] to-morrow as I cannot get permission. I will write you at length to-night or to-morrow.

All the Co. are well except Sutcliff.3 I heard just now that all the Leaves of Absence have been returned disapproved and that none will be granted. Mine is, of course, among the number — so ends my visit home. “God’s will be done.”

I hope to hear of your good health on my return to camp. May our Father in Heaven bless you & our child. Give my love to Mother and Maggie.

Good Bye.
Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Orlando S. Wood, a 25-year-old physician, was mustered into service as 1st assistant surgeon of the 129th Illinois Infantry at Stevenson, Ala., on March 6, 1864. Dr. Wood was promoted to regimental surgeon on May 21, 1865, and mustered out with the regiment near Washington, D.C., June 8, 1865. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA.
  2. Josephus Ullery, a 23-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois Infantry. On Sept. 10, 1864, he was detached as a nurse in the Third Division, XX Corps hospital. Private Ullery was discharged with the regiment on June 8, 1865, near Washington, D.C. William Writenour, a 21-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois Infantry, and like Ullery had been detached for duty as a nurse in the division hospital. Private Writenour was mustered out with the regiment on June 8, 1865, near Washington, D.C. Ibid.
  3. William Sutcliff, a 31-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as private in Company A, 129th Illinois Infantry. He received a 20-day furlough on Sept. 27 and it was extended until Nov. 5, 1864. Private Sutcliff was mustered out near Washington, D.C, on June 8, 1865. Ibid.
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Rest assured that we are all well and everything is prospering

Joseph Culver Letter, September 10, 1864, Page 1

Head Qurs. Co. “A” 129th Ills.
Chattahoochie River, Ga.
Sept. 10th 1864
My Dear Wife

Though it seems very improbable that any letter will reach you for some time to come, as our communication is so seriously interrupted; yet, should this reach you, rest assured that we are all well and everything is prospering.

We have nothing to fear yet, for we have plenty of supplies for 3 months to come. We have had but the one mail since Aug. 26th. I heard this morning that the road was torn up near Wartrace, also at Gallatin and South Tunnel.1 I think all will be well. I should prefer, however, if the letters on the road were safe in your hands or my own. I sent you a ten dollar Bill in one of them. I hope, however, none of them may fall into the enemy’s hands. For fear that some of them may, & until the way is open & safe, I shall write but briefly.

May the richest of Heaven’s blessings rest upon you and our child. Give my love to the family. With the hope of soon hearing from you, I remain,

Ever your affectionate Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. General Wheeler had spent two days wreaking havoc on the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad. In addition, the Confederates captured two trains, several stockades, and a number of small supply depots. There was no substance to the report that the Rebels had raided the Louisville & Nashville Railroad at Gallatin and South Tunnel. Wheeler, harassed by pursuing columns, had retreated into north Alabama, crossing the Tennessee River at Muscle Shoals on September 10. One of Wheeler’s brigades, Brig. Gen. John S. Williams’, had been unable to rendezvous with the main column and had recrossed the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad on the 8th at Wartrace, but it was too hotly pursued to damage the track or telegraph. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXVIII, pt. V, pp. 841-42; pt. III, pp. 959-60.
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Our opportunities for a regular mail are growing less

Joseph Culver Letter, September 8, 1864, Page 1

Head Quarters Co. “A” 129th Ills. Vols.
Chattahoochie River, Ga.
September 8th 1864
My Dear Wife

We have no mail yet, and our opportunities for a regular mail are growing less unless some other method be adopted. We hope, however, if we remain here, our facilities will be much improved. The trains run regularly but do not stop here.

I hoped to see Bro. John before this, but the 4th Corps have not returned as was reported.1 We know nothing of the movements of the Army and have no late news from the North. This place is exceeding quiet, &, if it had not been for the amount of writing and labor necessary to straighten up the books & papers, I fear I should have had the blues severely. I am almost done now, but I hope soon to have the assurance of a visit home.

I am going on Picket in a few moments, & hope to receive a letter from you before I return. Maggie’s promised letter has not yet arrived. We are all very well. May our Father in Heaven bless you and our child & grant us life, health and all needful blessings. Give my love to all the family.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. The IV Corps was camped near Rough-and-Ready until the morning of September 8, when it started for Atlanta. The advance guard passed through Atlanta at 10:30 A.M. on the 9th, and the corps went into camp two miles east of the city, south of the Georgia Railroad. O. R., Ser. I. Vol. XXXVIII, pt. V, pp. 827, 840.
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