I Could Be Comfortable Enough~July 1864~18th to 20th

I Could Be Comfortable Enough ~ William King

In the midst of national tribulation there are some small joys. Whitman receives an encouraging letter from a disabled veteran. A soldier is thankful for a supply of paper and fresh apple cider. Union friends salute Confederate General Pickett on the birth of his son. A wealthy Georgia man enjoys the friendly companionship of Union officers. Yet sorry and worry are commonplace. A woman leans the details of the death of two her sons in the same battle. An Atlanta woman worries about the safety of her house. Deaths of prisoners occur every day at Andersonville. “A number of depraved and abandoned women” are imprisoned in Richmond. Common soldiers are unhappy about the dismissal of General Johnston. Welles worries about his son joining the army.

an Ohio farmer worries about his son serving with General Grant

an Ohio farmer worries about his son serving with General Grant

July 18– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Your kind letter came to hand yesterday. I was very much surprised to hear that you were in Brooklyn. I was also very sorry to hear of your illness & to think that it was brought on by your unselfish kindness to the Soldiers. There is a many a soldier now that never thinks of you but with emotions of the greatest gratitude & I know that the soldiers that you have been so kind to have a great big warm place in their heart for you. I never think of you but it makes my heart glad to think that I have been permitted to know one so good. I hope you will soon be enjoying good health again for it is one of God’s greatest blessings. I should like very much to see you back here but I suppose you must stay where it suits your health best but I will still write to you for I can never forget your great kindness to me. I have got my [artificial] leg but I think that I will never be able to walk much on it as my stump is so short but if I can’t I can go on my crutches for they appear to be a part of myself for I have been on them so long. . . . The 4 of July passed off here as usual– there was a national salute fired from the surrounding forts & there was any amount of sky rockets. They commenced celebrating the 4th on Sunday evening after dark & they kept it up until morning. I could not sleep practically all night there being so much noise.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Lewis K Brown to Walt Whitman.

July 18– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “I, being the last one of Company H to visit the battlefield of May 6th , by request of Mr. M.O. Young take pleasure in responding to a letter received of him by you soliciting information relative to the death of your beloved sons John and Thomas. Having received a painful wound myself in the knee, I did not see either of them when struck but have received full particulars of the sad events from reliable men who witnessed them. Lieutenant was kneeling down giving instructions to some of the company about firing, when he was struck in the forehead by a minie ball, it passing through his brain. He died instantly without even speaking. This [was] some 75 yards from the enemy’s breastworks. Thomas, I do not suppose, was aware of it at the time, for, after reaching the Yankee breastwork and remaining behind them for minutes, he was struck himself by a minie ball, it passing through the right side of his neck cutting the jugular vein. He turned to Lieutenant Culp and, pointing with his finger to his wound from which his life’s blood was fast gushing forth, asked him where John was. This was the only word he spoke. Noble, noble youths, their untimely fate is deeply lamented by the entire company. No more heroic soldiers have fallen since this war began than they. None more gallant have ever graced the ranks of the Confederate army. In courage and valor they were surpassed by none. I am wholly inadequate to describe with pen the grief I have felt at your irreparable loss.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to a mother in Georgia.

Petersburg under siege

Petersburg under siege

July 18– Monday– Petersburg, Virginia– “I am glad to get the paper and envelope you sent me, for it is a hard matter to get here. My health is better than it has been in a long time, or in other words I am stout and hearty. We are still here in the same place and still in line fronting the enemy. We have been here 16 days today. We are not so friendly with the yanks now. All communications, trading, &c., is stopped except an occasional exchange of papers by the officers. There is still no firing between us and I hope will not be till an advance is made. We sharpshooters have not been relieved since we came here, and do not want to be as we have a better position than back at the Brigade [headquarters]. I gave you a sketch of our position in my last letter. We still continue to catch some fish and some days a great many are caught, and our rations are a little better now, so upon the whole we are living well. In addition to this, the boys have pressed a large amount of cider from half ripe apples in an orchard near by, which was quite a treat, but the apples are given out now. Soldiers are up to any emergency that presents itself.” ~ Letters from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

July 19– Tuesday– Ashby’s Gap, Virginia; Berry’s Ford, Virginia; Charles Town, West Virginia; Darkesville, West Virginia; Kabletown, West Virginia– Federal troops in pursuit of General Early fight a number of sharp engagements, causing the Confederate forces to retreat toward Winchester, Virginia.

 July 19– Tuesday– Petersburg, Virginia– “My men had all heard of the arrival of the ‘Little General,’ as they call him, and when I was riding out of camp last night to surrender to him, I noticed the bonfires which were being kindled all along my lines and knew that my loyal, loving men were lighting them in honor of my baby. But I did not know till this morning that dear old [Union General Rufus] Ingalls, at Grant’s suggestion, had kindled a light on the other side of the lines, too, and I was over come with emotion when I learned of it. To-day their note of congratulation, marked unofficial, which I inclose, came to me through the lines. You must keep it for the baby.” ~ Letter from Confederate General George Pickett to his wife Sallie Ann.

July 19– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “A department is devoted at Castle Thunder to the detention of a number of depraved and abandoned women, to prevent their following the army and contributing by their pestilential presence to the destruction of the moral of the soldiers. Several of them are yet good looking, and may at one time have been beautiful. It has been found necessary to keep them in constant confinement, as once at liberty they follow and hover in the tract of an army like carrion crows that snuff a field of slaughter.” ~ Richmond Examiner.

 July 19– Tuesday– Cobb County, Georgia– “This morning I have remained at Home, reading and enjoying for a short time the company I had around me, who are very pleasant and intelligent men, with such a good library, had I my wife with me I could be comfortable enough even with the exclusion from town, to which I am now subjected– but knowing as I do how many families there are in town who need sympathy and advice, I must got a special permit (which has been kindly promised to me by the Commandant) now and then to go and see them; I am not excluded from visiting any . . . around in the country, having the liberty of the county, but there is no society near me. I must however endure for a time the privation as best I can– but how long I can be content to remain here without my family or any other company I do not know, were it not for the charge of the servants [i.e. his slaves], I would quit at once and return Home or go to the North, but I cannot well leave them and the property here– to remain here under existing circumstances may subject me to even a greater annoyance than that of being excluded from town– if the rumors be true that many of our cavalry are in this vicinity, their doings in addition to the many evil disposed persons about, may subject us all to suspicion, and involve us in the consequences of their actions. I think I must so arrange matters as may allow me properly either to go to the North or South for a while, until affairs in this section become more settled, if that happy day can be again before the return of peace, which I fear cannot be, how sorely the fountains of happiness have been broken up by this war. I have not been away from Home today. In the afternoon Mr. Shepard made me a visit, he like myself being excluded from town.” ~ Diary of William King.

fighting in Georgia

fighting in Georgia

July 19– Tuesday– Atlanta, Georgia– “All of my neighbors have gone. Am alone on the hill. A friend has urged me to move to town and reside with her. But this is my house, and I wish to protect it, if possible. There may be not battle here. If not, I am safe. If there is one, where is any safety?” ~ Diary of Cyrena Stone.

July 19– Tuesday– Atlanta, Georgia– “General Hood has superseded General Johnston, and there is a great deal of dissatisfaction in the army about it. The Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas troops have threatened to lay down their arms and return home on account of Johnston’s removal. What he was removed for, no one knows. I presume, though, it was for not fighting and allowing the Yanks to penetrate so far into Georgia. I must confess that I am not as much of Johnston man as I have been. He is too cautious, is not willing to risk a battle until he is satisfied he can whip it. My dearest Wife, I want a suit of some sort, a dark one if you can get one. The one I have is in rags. My pants are out at the seat and knees, but I have not worn my summer pants yet on account of getting washing done. I have washed my shirts twice since I have been here. They were not washed very nicely, but it was better than a black shirt. My darling Camilla, [if] this cruel war would end what would I give! I do want to see you so badly, my darling. It appears like I have [never] seen you and the dear little children. I think of you, my darling Wife, all the time. I feel lonely and gloomy, but, if I could only get a sight of your dear face, I know my spirits would revive.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier to his wife.

July 19– Tuesday– Milledgville, Georgia– The Confederate Union reports that Yankee prisoners at Andersonville are dying at the rate of 50 to 60 per day.

July 19– Tuesday– Nanking, China–The Imperial Army takes the city from the rebels. The total number of dead from both sides may exceed 300,000.

July 19– near Little Rock, Arkansas; Webster, Missouri; Taos, Missouri; along the White River, Arkansas; Iron Bridge, Indian Territory [now Oklahoma]– Skirmishes and raids.

July 20– Holyoke, Massachusetts– Birth of William F Whiting, politician and businessman. [He will serve as U. S. Secretary of Commerce from August, 1928, to March of 1929. Dies August 31, 1936.]

William F Whiting

William F Whiting

July 20– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “My son, Thomas G. Welles, left to-day for the Army of the Potomac, having received orders from the War Department to report to General Grant. To part with him has been painful to me beyond what I can describe. Were he older and with more settled principles and habits, some of the anxieties which oppress me would be relieved. But he is yet a mere youth and has gone to the camp with boyish pride and enthusiasm, and will be in danger of being misled when beyond a parent’s control. He is just eighteen and goes alone on his mission. I have tried to dissuade him so far as I could with propriety, but there was a point beyond which I could not well go. In the condition of the country and when others were periling their lives and the lives of their children, how could I refrain, and resist the earnest appeals of my son, whose heart was set upon going? To have positively prohibited him would have led to bad results, and perhaps not have accomplished the end desired. Yet it has been hard to part with him, and as he left me, I felt that it was uncertain whether we should ever meet again, and if we do he may be mutilated, and a ruined man. I have attended closely to my duties, but am sad, and unfit for any labor.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

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