Head Quarters Co. “A” 129th Regt., Ills. Vols.
In the Field Near Atlanta, Georgia
August 18th 1864
My Dear Wife
It is just one week since I recd. a letter from you and just at this time it has seemed almost a month. Our communication has been interrupted, but we are informed that our mail came to-night and we will receive it in the morning. Hoping also that mail may go North to-morrow, I have been induced to write to-night.
We are enjoying most excellent health for which we have great reason to be thankful, and all the troops are in good spirits. We have had two weeks rest & feel like some new men, as we have for the past week been very comfortably situated. All we could desire might be a little
more liberty, for, being continually on the front line and directly under fire from the Enemy’s forts and sharpshooters, we are compelled to keep close under cover. The loss in our Regt. since Sunday has been very slight; I think not exceeding four or five wounded. In the Brigade several have been killed and wounded, but, taking into consideration our close proximity to the Enemy’s fortifications, it seems miraculous that our loss has not been greater. Capt. Allen of the 105th Ills. had his right arm fractured last night by a musket ball. I do not recollect whether you were acquainted with him or not. Lt. Smith is getting along much better than he anticipated but would have been much better off at home for another month at least. He was on picket two days ago and was none the worse for it, he says. Lt. Burton was here yesterday; he says Bro. John is well and has been mustered as Lt. They have not heard from Bro. Sammy yet, but I presume he has written home ere this. Cris. is writing to Mrs. Hill to-night. All the Company are well.
Alf was up to see us last night; he is growing so large and fleshy that you would scarcely know him. He has just completed a very fine set of Maps of the Country from Chickamauga here for the War Department. He is rising rapidly and becoming quite famous. I hoped to get some more sketches for you, but he has been too busy for the past three weeks.
Genl. Sherman played off a rather serious joke upon the Johnies last night. Orders were given for the whole left wing of our Army to be ready to fall back to the river last night. Early in the day a Brigade was sent out to march over a hill in the rear of the 4th Corps, &, returning through a ravine, they kept moving over the hill in full view of the Enemy toward the left & returning until Johnie seemed convinced that we were evacuating. Shortly after dark, all the caissons of the Artillery and trains were sent out toward the river, and, to all appearances, the whole Army was in motion. The Enemy, who had been very happy and cheering all afternoon, commenced massing their forces in front of us intending doubtless to demolish the whole Yankee Army in their retreat, but about midnight the right of the 14th and all of the 23rd Corps moved out, took possession of the Macon Rail-Road, and fortified before “Johnie” found out how badly he was fooled and without the loss of a man to us.
At about 3 o’clock this morning, the skirmishers and forts on our front and left opened, but no reply was made until almost daylight when almost all the Artillery on our line opened & kept a steady fire till noon. The fort directly in our front is very much injured. Hood moved his Army again to our right and has been charging all afternoon endeavoring to regain the rail-road. We have heard the artillery & musketry, though 5 or 6 miles distant, and, judging from the sound, there must have been [a] terrific battle there. We hear indirectly to-night that our Army still holds its position and that the slaughter of the Enemy has been terrible.
Still other news reach[es] us of Genl. Kilpatrick who was not captured as supposed. Our Pontoon train left here last night to assist him to cross the river, and, more glorious still, the advance of Genl. Smith’s Army is coming up. If all of this news be true, we are most favorably situated. We cannot expect the Enemy to fall back without one more desperate effort to break our lines, but unless surprised we feel fully able to hold them in check. We feel very sanguine of success, but God alone can foreknow the result.
Last night was most beautiful. The moon was shining brightly, and everything in nature seemed happy and evidenced the highest praise to Our Creator. I was very forcibly reminded of those days of quiet and unalloyed happiness we enjoyed “3 years ago.” There was very little firing in the skirmish line, and in imagination I could readily trace back through the past few years and fancy myself at “the Old House at Home” with Mary “by my side,” and, when the illusion was dispelled, I tried by singing the songs we so often sang together to continue the “spell.” “Beautiful Star,” “Mother Dear, Oh, pray for me,” &c. We lay at arms until a late hour as we heard the enemy moving and anticipated an attack. I have not often indulged in such “fancy dreams,” for invariably the booming of the cannon or the roll of musketry would arouse me from my reveries and present the realities of the present.
I hope God is dealing most kindly with you. My hopes, which have been so strangely bright all through this Campaign, are still unchanged, that “God who doeth all things well” and who has been so bounteous in blessings to us is still caring for you. Let our hearts praise him. But I must close for to-night with a hope of hearing from you early in the morning.
Give my love to Mother and Maggie & Remember me kindly to all our friends. May Our Father in Heaven sustain you in all your trials and your fondest anticipation be realized. To Him we will commit ourselves, trusting that he will keep us by Grace Divine through life and bring us to “Sweet rest in Heaven” through Christ.
Your affectionate Husband
J. F. Culver
P.S. The tobacco you sent is the best I have had since I left home. Please accept my thanks.