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On the Lookout for Joseph Wheeler’s Johneys as Sherman Closes on Atlanta
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a scout came in and told us that old Wheeler had crossed the river above with three thousand and was comming down to burn the Bridge and we went to work and built some works to protect us and keep the devils at bay and hold them untill we got reinforced and then we put out pickets and I went out about one mile and was out all night and looked for the Johneys but we looked in vain

WILLIAM HELSLEY. Autograph Letter Signed, August 29, [1864], Chattanooga, Tennessee, 3 pp. 8vo.

Inventory #21265.24       Price: $200

N.B. The University of Tennessee holds three letters by Helsley.

Complete Transcript

                   Chattanooga Tenn August the 29th

Beloved Mary

            Your welcome letter of the 20th came to hand this morning and was glad to hear that you was well, and all the rest at home. your letter found me getting along very well, and in Pretty good health I wrote you a letter yesterday and I have not much newes to day. last evening about one hour before sundown there was a scout came in and told us that old Wheeler had crossed the river above with three thousand and was comming down to burn the Bridge and we went to work and built some works to protect us and keep the devils at bay and hold them untill we got reinforced and then we put out <2> pickets and I went out about one mile and was out all night and looked for the Johneys but we looked in vain for thare was not any made their apperance and to day everything is quiet again

            Your letter brought me ond dollar and it came just when I needed it for I was about out of tobacco and you may send me a coupl of dollars more in your next. And I will pay all when I get home with good interest and I hope that it will not be long untill you see me thare.

            You wrote about Almira Clarks being married and I wish her good luck, but by your letter it seems as though she was not to have much pleasure, and I do not see what got into old Allen to act the way he did you did not <3> write wether they Arrested him or what they done with him. in your next give me all the particulars and how Almira feels about it and if the Neighbor are for or against old Allen and what Mike Templeton is about this Summer but I must close and hope this will find you well. My Love to you. And write soon

                                                                                    Good Bye

                                                                                    William J. Helsley

Historical Background

Organized at Alliance, Ohio, in September 1861, the 19th Ohio Volunteer Infantry served in the area of Louisville, Kentucky, until February 1862, when it marched to Nashville. It participated in the Battle of Shiloh and the siege of Corinth, Mississippi. Late in 1862, it pursuit Confederate General Braxton Bragg into Kentucky and was in reserve at the Battle of Perryville. Returning to Nashville, the 19th Ohio fought at Stone’s River at the end of 1862 and beginning of 1863. It remained at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, until June, when it advanced on Tullahoma and then Chattanooga, Tennessee. In September 1863, the 19th Ohio fought in the Battle of Chickamauga and returned to Chattanooga until November 1863. From December 1863 to April 1864, it operated in East Tennessee, including the Knoxville area. The regiment re-enlisted on January 1, 1864.

From May to September 1864, most of the 19th Ohio fought in the Atlanta campaign, then pursued Confederate General John Bell Hood into North Alabama and central Tennessee. Apparently, a portion, including Helsley remained near Chattanooga to guard the army’s supply lines. The 19th Ohio fought in the Battles of Franklin and Nashville, then marched to Huntsville, Alabama, where it remained until March 1865. After more operations in East Tennessee and Nashville, the regiment relocated to Texas, where it was mustered out at San Antonio in October 1865.

William J. Helsley (1839-1916) was born in Ohio and married Mary Yauser on September 10, 1861, in Trumbull County, Ohio. Helsley enlisted as a private in Company G of the 19th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in October 1861. He reenlisted at Chattanooga as a corporal on January 1, 1864, and he was mustered out with his company in October 1865. In 1870, he was a farmer in Trumbull County, Ohio, and owned $2,000 in real property. He lived in Trumbull County for the rest of his life.

Mary Yauser Helsley (1836-1923) was born in Trumbull County, Ohio, and married William J. Helsley there on September 10, 1861. They had three children.

Joseph Wheeler (1836-1906) was born in Georgia but spent most of his early life with relatives in Connecticut. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1859, near the bottom of his class. At the beginning of the Civil War, he served in the Georgia state militia artillery as a first lieutenant but soon became colonel of the 19th Alabama Infantry. He led this regiment at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862. As a brigade commander he harassed Union patrols as the Confederate army withdrew from Corinth to Tupelo, Mississippi. He then transferred to the cavalry branch and commanded various cavalry units for the remainder of the war. Aggressively attacking Union supply lines, he was promoted to major general in January 1863. He led the Army of Tennessee’s Cavalry Corps throughout 1863 and 1864. After the Confederate victory at Chickamauga, Wheeler engaged in major raids into central Tennessee to destroy railroads and Union supply lines. Serving a similar purpose during General William T. Sherman’s march through Georgia and South Carolina. Captured in Georgia in May 1865, Wheeler was imprisoned for two months before being released on parole. After the war, he was a planter and lawyer in Alabama and served a term in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1880s. In his 60s he served in the cavalry in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

Almira E. Clark (1841- ) was born in Ohio. She married Benjamin M. Whinery on August 13, 1864, in Trumbull County, Ohio.

Michael Templeton (1823-1909) was a farmer in Trumbull County, Ohio, with $1,800 in real property in 1860. He married Lovina Fusselman in 1848, and they had ten children between 1848 and 1865.


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