Chaplain Cotton starts for home to-day

Joseph Culver Letter, August 3, 1864, Page 1

Head Qurs. Co. “A” 129th Regt. Ills. Vols.
In the Field near Atlanta, Ga., August 3rd 1864
My Dear Wife

Chaplain Cotton starts for home to-day1 & I hope to have an opportunity to send this by him. He recd. his resignation accepted yesterday. I have almost wished a few times that I was going with him but the campaign is not closed yet, and I must wait patiently. We moved from our position on the extreme right to the right of our Corps last night.

We are now within a mile of the city in the trenches built by the 14th Corps yesterday.2 My health is very good. The Chaplain will have much to tell everybody when he gets home, & from him you will learn all the news. His health has been very poor for a long time. In my letter of day before yesterday I acknowledged the receipt of the handkerchiefs. The Chicago Tri Weekly is coming regularly; I shall try and continue the subscription if we get paid off in time.

Tell [Marcellus] Collins if he will continue the “Sentinel,” I will send him the money as soon after pay-day as possible. I will enclose a note to him or send it separate by the Chaplain if he comes up.

Everything is progressing favorably here though slow, yet surely we are gaining ground. All the boys are well and in good spirits. The weather was quite cool yesterday but is very warm today.

Several letters were recd. yesterday of as late date as the 25th. I shall therefore confidently expect one by next mail. I would like very much to have written to the S. School, but did not have time on [the] Sabbath as I was on duty all day.

The right of our army is swinging around & will soon hold all the railroads to & from the city.3 There is a hill between our trenches & the city that hides it from view. It is said to be visible from the Fort on our left.

I have not seen or heard of Bros. John or Sammy for a week or more; as we are several miles nearer each other, I may have an opportunity to hear from them soon. God has still been with and abundantly blessed us. We have had no [prayer] meeting for almost two weeks as we have been moving around most of the time. Sergt. Gaff wished to know yesterday what I would contribute yearly to make Pontiac a station again. I could not tell him as I feel very anxious to complete the payments on our house. I have never learned yet whether Thos. Hill paid the $100 in his hands on my notes. Though I cannot be as liberal as I wish, yet I will try and assist the Church & Sabbath School. We will not probably receive pay until the close of the Campaign. When that will be, no one, save God, knows. All the news recd. by the papers yesterday was good. The Army of the Potomac is again in motion, & we hope to hear a glorious account from them soon. I recd. a letter from Harry & Jennie [Cheston] yesterday. Jennie says she will write to you as soon as she gets home. They are visiting at his Father’s. Marion (their baby, I suppose) was not well. The last news they had from Mother [Culver] all were very well at Home. Gaff has been posted about the state of affairs at home & pretended yesterday to have known it all the time. I think, however, he has been fooled & don’t like to admit it.

I am very happy to know that your health continues so good & pray that God may continue to bless you & sustain you in your trial. Let us praise Him for the many manifestations of His Love and Mercy. Give my love to Mother and Maggie and remember me kindly to all our friends. May the richest of Heaven’s blessings rest upon you.

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

P.S. I am out of stamps.

  1. Chaplain Cotton had resigned from the service and was returning to Pontiac, Illinois. Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers, NA. []
  2. On July 24 the brigade had advanced its lines about 40 rods. Next morning men of the 129th Illinois were compelled to take cover behind their earthworks, as Confederate cannon hammered their positions. During the afternoon, enemy sharpshooters were active. On the 26th the bluecoats strengthened their works. Sharpshooters continued to bang away, killing one and wounding a number in Harrison’s brigade. After dark the division was relieved by Geary’s and placed in reserve. The Confederates on the 28th again advanced out of the Atlanta defenses and assailed the Army of the Tennessee, which Sherman had shifted from his left to his right. Ward’s division during the afternoon was ordered to reinforce the Army of the Tennessee. After the troops had marched about one and one-half miles to their right, Ward received orders to have them return to their camps, as the battle of Ezra Church had ended in the repulse of the Confederates. During the day General Hooker, who was very popular with the men, at his request was relieved as commander of the XX Corps and started north. The senior division commander, Brig. Gen. Alpheus S. Williams, became interim corps commander. On the 29th Ward’s division again moved out, marching to the army’s extreme right to support a forced reconnaissance down the Lick Skillet road, a mile west of the Alms House, by Davis’ XIV Corps division. The line of march passed Ezra Church battlefield, and many Confederate dead and wounded were seen. The reconnaissance was made without any fighting, and the division camped for the night in a large field, about one mile in advance of the Army of the Tennessee. Next day, the 30th, Davis’ division moved farther to the southwest and took position. Ward’s formed to the right and rear of Davis’ people. Earthworks were thrown up, but no Confederates were seen. Ward’s troops held their ground on the 31st and August 1, as Davis’ columns felt their way cautiously toward the Atlanta & West Point Railroad. On the 2d Ward’s division was relieved by the Army of the Ohio and marched northeast, rejoining the XX Corps near the Western & Atlantic Railroad. Next morning, the 3d, Harrison’s brigade advanced and relieved a XIV Corps brigade. The brigade’s left rested on the railroad, with the enemy works 800 yards to the front. O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXVIII, pt. II, pp. 329, 349; Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, pp. 88-92. []
  3. The Army of the Ohio, on the 3d, supported by the XIV Corps, forced its way across the north fork of Utoy Creek. Before the Federals could exploit this success and reach the Atlanta & West Point Railroad, General Hood’s troops occupied and fortified a position covering East Point and the railroad. Cox, Atlanta, pp. 190-93. []

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