Head Quarters, Co. “A” 129th Ills. Vol.
Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 27th 1863
My Dear Wife
I have not had the pleasure of hearing from you since our arrival here, but hope very soon to be made happy by a letter. I am in the enjoyment of excellent health. Our duty thus far has been very pleasant.1 I went out on Picket on Monday [the 24th] & had a very pleasant time. Our post was in a very pleasant grove quite near a house, the ladies of which supplied us with some fine music, both instrumental & vocal.
We made an exchange of Arms yesterday & have all new guns (rifled).2
The last time I wrote to you, I directed my letter to New Hartford, as you requested, but think there must be letters sent that have never reached me. We have recd. two large mails from the North this week but nothing for me. We heard from Mrs. Smith on Sunday. She was much better than when we left & still improving.3
The weather was very cold on Tuesday, so much so that it required an overcoat to be comfortable. It is quite cool & pleasant to-day.
If I could only determine where a letter would find you, there are many things I wish to write, but I will wait until I hear from you. Wherever you are, I hope you are well & happy. Kiss Frankie for me. May God abundantly bless you & keep you from all harm. Write soon & often.
Your Affect. Husband
J. F. Culver
- On reaching Nashville, Colonel Case of the 129th Illinois reported to Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, who was charged with responsibility of protecting the Army of the Cumberland’s depots and lines of communication. General Granger assigned the 129th Illinois to the 2d Brigade of Brig. Gen. Robert S. Granger’s Third Division of the Reserve Corps, and the men were turned to pitching tents, between Fort Negley and the Murfreesboro Pike, near the southeastern outskirts of the city. O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XXX, pt. III, pp. 37, 372; Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, p. 34. [↩]
- Col. Case on May 30, 1863 had notified General Paine that the regiment’s caliber .69 muskets were obsolete. These weapons, manufactured more than 30 years before, had been altered from flintlock to percussion, and could not “be relied upon except at close quarters.” While they “would do a great deal of execution at one hundred yards if directed upon troops en masse,” at ranges in excess of 150 yards they were “very uncertain even in the hands of good marksmen, if fired upon an enemy deployed as skirmishers.” At a range of 300 yards, they were practically worthless. If the regiment
were attacked by “an inferior force” armed with Springfield rifle musket, the “only
salvation would be to advance rapidly upon the enemy in his own chosen position, and come at close quarters at once.” Case to Paine, May 30, 1863, Regimental Papers, 129th Illinois, NA.
When no action was taken on this request, Colonel Case on July 27 addressed a communication to General Gordon Granger. Besides repeating his former arguments, he pointed out that the caliber .69 muskets were “constantly getting out of repair,” and he had been “compelled to turn over so many as broken and damaged that we have not enough now to arm our men. ” Case to Granger, July 27, 1863, Regimental Papers, 129th Illinois, NA. [↩]
- Lieutenant Smith had remained with his wife at Gallatin when the regiment marched to Nashville. [↩]
- The rumor that Fort Sumter had fallen was false. On August 17, Union batteries emplaced in Morris Island had opened fire on Fort Sumter. Simultaneously, Union monitors and ironclad attacked Battery Wagner. Although Fort Sumter was wrecked by the bombardment and most of its guns dismounted, the Confederates held onto the pile of rubble. Battery Wagner was abandoned by its defenders on the night of September 6, and on the night of the 8th a small boat expedition from the fleet attempted an amphibious assault on Fort Sumter but was repulsed.
Union land and sea forces on July 10, 1863 had launched a campaign aimed at capturing Charleston. The Confederates, though dislodged from Folly and Morris Islands to the south of Charleston Harbor, fought on, and Charleston and Fort Sumter were not abandoned until the third week of February 1865. Daniel Ammen, The Atlantic Coast (New York, 1883), pp. 125-138. [↩]
- General Rosecrans’ Army of the Cumberland, having brought up supplies and consolidated its position, resumed the offensive on August 16. The Cumberland Plateau was crossed, and by the 20th Crittenden’s corps on the left had moved through Sequatchie Valley; Thomas’ XIV Corps in the center had reached the Tennessee River on a broad front extending from Battle to Crow Creeks; and McCook’s corps on the right was massed near Stevenson. One of Crittenden’s columns on the 21st made a forced reconnaissance to Harrison’s Landing, and on the 27th Union artillery was unlimbered and opened fire, shelling Chattanooga on the south side of the Tennessee River. Confederate General Bragg withdrew his troops from the city and prepared to defend the commanding ground beyond. O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XXX, pt. III, p. 217; Cist, Army of the Cumberland, p. 178.
Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside on August 15 had started his columns south from bases in eastern Kentucky. His goal was to drive the Confederates from East Tennessee. Advancing by way of Stanford, Somerset, and Monticello, Burnside’s troops were in possession of Chitwood’s, 15 miles into Tennessee and 55 miles northwest of Knoxville, by the 27th. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXX, pt. HI, pp. 22, 195. [↩]