Confederates “fought like infuriated demons”
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Autograph Letter Signed, July 30, 1864, “In the Field” [Georgia]. To “Brother Otis.” 8 pp., 5 x 8 in.
“Perhaps a few lines from me will be considered out of place by you but I have for some time past felt it to be my duty to write & say some things to you… I wish to say to you that I did while at home do some things that were not altogether right- but quite the reverse; and what I ask of one & all my friends is: that they overlook & forgive whatever I have done amiss…
This day we done nothing with the Batt[er]y: the fighting being farther on the left. So close were the combatants to each other they fought with clubbed muskets & the rebs in their rage even planted their colors upon the slight works of the 104th & pulled by the hair of their heads several of the Reg[imen]t over the works. They were it is reported all drunk with whiskey & gun powder & fought like infuriated demons. But they were badly beaten and driven back with heavy loss leaving their dead mostly upon the field..... We gained our present position on the 22nd. On that day the hardest-
fought battle of the Campaign was fought with victory to our army. [Maj. Gen. James B.] McPhersons command [Army of the Tennessee,] consisting of the 15th 16th and 17th Corps occupying the extreme left of the Army were attacked by the enemy under “Gen [John Bell]Hood” who had massed his force for the purpose of striking a decisive blow & driving the Yankees back in confusion. But his purpose was thwarted and after making seven charges; each in its turn unsuccessful our Boys repulsing every time: He withdrew leaving his dead & many wounded upon the field. Many prisoners were taken, said to number 7 thousand. Also many small arms. McPherson was killed.....
...after fighting and defeating the enemy at “Tunnel Hill”; “Buzzard Roost Pass”; “Rocky Face” Reseca” Dallas” Kennesaw to the crossing of the Chattahoochie River we are at a last confronting the Rebs before the Rebel strong hold Atlanta. After Crossing the River we have drove them from four lines of very strong works & they are now making a desperate struggle to defend the City in the “last ditch” but thus far they have succeeded only in keeping us from entering by hard fighting & charging & in every engagement have been repulsed with great slaughter. On the 20th [of July] a portion of [Maj. Gen. Joseph] Hookers [20th]corps & the 1st Brigade of our Division had a severe engagement with the Johnnys & lost heavily. The 104th Regt (Ills) lost some 50 men in killed wounded and.....”
Chester Whitman served with Battery C, 1st Illinois Light Artillery, part of General William T. Sherman’s Military Division of the Mississippi during the Atlanta Campaign. At the end of July, the Confederates are defending Atlanta, and the Federals are encircling the city, gradually cutting off the supply routes, principally the railroad lines. The Confederates attack Union positions in the Battles of Peach Tree Creek (July 20) and Atlanta (July 22), both referenced here, and then in the Battle of Ezra Church (July 28). Soon afterward, Union forces cut off the final rail line at the Battle of Jonesboro (August 31-September 1), and Hood’s forces were forced to abandon Atlanta (September 1). The first corps of Union soldiers entered Atlanta on September 2.