We moved up to this place on the evening of the 25th

Joseph Culver Letter, May 27, 1864, Page 1

Hd. Qurs., Co. “A” 129th Ills.
Behind the fortifications in front of Dallas, May 27th 1864
My Dear Wife

Yours of the 17th has just come to hand.1 I am very happy to hear that you were well. We moved up to this place on the evening of the 25th about 5 p.m. The enemy were concealed in the woods and opened a terrific fire upon the head of the column. The 1st Div. of our Corps was in advance & commenced skirmishing immediately. The 1st Div. drove the enemy back about 11/2 miles into their fortifications, & our Div. formed line of battle & moved up to their support.2 Coming up through the woods, the shell and shot fell thick around us. Walter Good, orderly of Co. “C”, had his right hand shot off.3 George Conner of my Company lost the index finger of his left hand.4 Only a few others in our Regt. were wounded & those but slightly.5

The firing on the front line was very heavy, & the loss of our 1st & 2nd Divisions, I understand, was severe.6 We moved up to within 30 yds of the 1st line & lay down. The fighting on our left was equally severe. The enemy, after attacking our front, attempted to turn our left flank, but the 4th Corps were in readiness to receive them & they were handsomely repulsed.7 I heard that the 4th Corps took 2 cannon but do not know it.8

Yesterday we were all day finding the position of the enemy & no hard fighting was done. We are told this morning that 2 Corps have already passed the enemy’s left flank, & we can hear cannonading far on our right.9 Also that 2 Corps are pushing the enemy’s Right-flank, & we can also hear cannonading far to our left. The object is to make the enemy fight a decisive battle here if possible. We now hold the fortifications on our right centre.10 If they will fight at all, we can whip them easily. We are supported by line after line & fortification after fortification for miles in our rear. Those that have just come up from the rear say that there is no end to our Army.

There has been heavy cannonading on the line we occupied yesterday but no response from the enemy. My health is excellent, & I feel very thankful God has specially preserved & blessed me. Chris [Yetter], Nate [Hill], Allen Fellows, & all are well. [Lt.] Bob Edgington was slightly injured by the falling of a limb cut off by a cannon ball on the evening of the 25th, but he is up all right again. I have never felt in better spirits. I can trust all consequences to God, & I feel that I have tried to discharge my whole duty. By this time you have full particulars of our battles. We feel very sanguine of success. We have from 40 to 60,000 troops coming that have not yet got up.11

I heard from Lt. Smith & our boys left at Resaca this morning. All are doing well; they have gone to Chatanooga & Smith to Nashville, from there he will either go home or have his wife come to him.

Still trust in God; He is caring for us & will preserve us. Let us praise and magnify him & strive diligently to do our duty. The Company are doing nobly, & I believe I love them more & more each day. Give my love to Mother & Maggie & Remember me to all our friends.

The heavy rains have cooled the atmosphere, & the weather is pleasant.12 Alf [Huetson] is busy making maps; he is well. I have not seen or heard from John or Sammy in three or 4 days, but, as no batteries have been engaged, I presume they are all right. May our Heavenly Father keep and bless you, and Holy Angels guard you. Watch & pray. Let us thank God for all his mercies. Accept much love,

from your Affect. Husband,
J. F. Culver

  1. Mary Culver’s letter of May 19 is missing from the Culver Collection. []
  2. General Hooker’s XXX Corps advanced from Burnt Hickory in three columns on the 25th. The day was hot and humid and there were hundreds of stragglers. General Johnston, having learned from his cavalry that Sherman’s “army group” was across the Etowah and threatening to outflank his Allatoona line, started his army for Dallas. On the 25th Hood’s corps took position at New Hope Church, with Hindman’s division on the left, Stewart’s in the center, and Stevenson’s on the right. When the First Division of Hooker’s corps drove in Hood’s skirmishers, Butterfield’s Third Division diverged toward the right. The earthworks assailed by the Federals were defended by Maj. Gen. A. P. Stewart’s division. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXVIII, pt. II, pp. 30, 123, 324; Ibid., pt. HI, p. 761. []
  3. Walter Good, a 28-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company C, 129th Illinois Infantry, and was promoted 1st sergeant on Dec. 6, 1862. 1st Sergeant Good was wounded in the right hand at New Hope Church on May 25, 1864, and hospitalized at Chicago’s Marine Hospital. His hand was amputated, and he was given a medical discharge on Nov. 10, 1864. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA. []
  4. George W. Conner, a 21-year-old farmer, was mustered into service on Sept. 8, 1862, as a private in Company A, 129th Illinois Infantry. Private Conner was wounded, one of the fingers on his left hand being shot off, at New Hope Church on May 25, 1864. He returned to duty and was mustered out near Washington on June 8, 1865. Ibid. []
  5. Casualties in the 129th for the day were 5 wounded. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXVIII, pt. II, p. 366. []
  6. In the fighting at New Hope Church on the 25th, the First Division had 102 killed, 639 wounded, and 4 missing; the Second Division on the 25th and 26th lost 52 killed, 439 wounded, and 18 missing. Ibid., pp. 30, 125. []
  7. One division of General Howard’s IV Corps (Newton’s) reached the area at 6 P.M. and went into action on Hooker’s left. J. D. Cox, Atlanta (New York, 1882), p. 73. []
  8. There was no truth to the report that the IV Corps had captured two Rebel cannon on the 26th. During the day Schofield’s Army of the Ohio had taken position on the left of Howard’s IV Corps, his left extending to and covering the road from Allatoona to Dallas, via New Hope Church. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXVIII, pt. I, p. 144. []
  9. General McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee, early on the 26th, arrived from Van Wirt and occupied and fortified a line covering the approaches to Dallas. Confronting McPherson’s two corps was Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee’s Confederate corps. Cox, Atlanta, p. 74. []
  10. On the 26th there was skirmishing along the entire 8-mile front. Sherman proposed to pin the Confederates in their earthworks and employ his superior numbers to turn Johnston’s right. Ibid., pp. 75-76. []
  11. Culver overstated the number of men en route to reinforce Sherman’s “army group” as it thrust deeper into northwest Georgia. About 30,000 men from the Army of the Tennessee were currently under orders to report to General Sherman. Of these about 19,000 did, but the 11,000 men of Maj. Gen. A. J. Smith’s detachment, currently en route from Red River, were detained at Memphis to operate against Confederate cavalry in northeast Mississippi. []
  12. There had been a severe thunderstorm on the night of the 25th, with the soldiers being drenched by a “cold, pelting rain.” This broke the heat wave which had gripped the region. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXVIII, pt. II, p. 124. []

About Colleen Theisen

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