Exposed to a Most Terrific Fire~July 1864~20th to 21st

Exposed to a Most Terrific Fire ~ a Confederate soldier

In Virginia and Georgia there is hard fighting and plenty of skirmishing in other parts of the Confederacy. Citizens complain of the devastation. Soldiers worry about their families. Scotland Yard chases a killer to New York City. A future First Lady is born.


July 20– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “A very pretty girl, named Althea F. Harris, was received here yesterday from Columbia, South Carolina, where she was arrested as a spy. She was committed to Castle Thunder.” ~ Richmond Whig.

July 20– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “I shall leave tonight for my Regiment. My health is very good, but I do not believe that I would ever fully regain my strength in a hospital. I think marching and the excitement of change will be an advantage to me. We have some pretty weather now which is a rarity to us. I hope it will continue till I get hardened to Camp life again. Our prospects are not so bright as they were a few weeks past and I expect the people in Georgia are pretty low spirited. This should be avoided as much as possible. It just fires me up to fight the harder, and I am told by those just from the army that the soldiers are in fine spirits and ready for another fight.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

sharpshooters at Petersburg

sharpshooters at Petersburg

July 20– Wednesday– Petersburg, Virginia–”I am feeling very uneasy about Father & yourself & little Haddie. It has been so long since I have heard from you & the date of the letter was the 14th of June & now the Danville R R is finished & mails have come through & yet I can hear nothing from yourself or Father. Members of the Regiment lately from Atlanta returning to duty bring such conflicting rumors too that I feel doubly anxious to hear. One man says they have not only destroyed the factories but that most of the buildings in the village has been burnt. Another says they have only burnt the Wool Mill & are running the Cotton Mill on their own account & have burnt more of the buildings in the village. I don’t know what to believe but know this, that if it is not already burnt it will if Sherman is ever forced to retreat be destroyed without a doubt. It was reported to that Johnston had decided to give up Atlanta. But now he has been superceded by Hood who will fight Sherman where he is.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Barrington King to his mother.

July 20– Wednesday– Cleveland, Tennessee– “The brass band belonging to the 2nd Ohio Heavy Artillery plays every evening at the Raught (Raht) House on the hill. I like to hear it, yet it makes me very, very sad. I hear it now playing in the distance. After Rhoda and I go to bed in our snug little domicile, we hear them beat the tattoo, after that dies way the sound of the bugle pierces our ears, when the last blast [is] heard all is still for the night, and we sink to rest with a heavy heart amid fortifications and cannon ready to deal deadly missiles among our hearts’ idols who are banished and exiled from their homes.” ~ Diary of Myra Adelaide Inman.

July 20– Wednesday– Peachtree Creek, Georgia–While trying to protect Atlanta, Confederate forces are beaten back, sustaining heavy losses. Confederate causalities–dead, wounded and missing– amount to 4,796; Union causalities total 1,779.

Peachtree Creek battlefield

Peachtree Creek battlefield

July 20– Wednesday– Cobb County, Georgia– “I called to see Mrs McClatchy this morning, found her son better and all in more cheerful spirits. I heard nothing new but the rumor that some of our Cavalry in small bodies were about east and west of us, and some apprehension of their making raids upon the town, for the interruption of which trees had been cut and thrown across the Road near Colonel Brumby’s House. At 11 o’clock today the whole wagon train and horses left us, leaving the desolating marks of an army encampment behind them, fences pretty generally destroyed and the improvement of the place greatly marred, what a devastator is war. Not a chicken nor a pig left on the place; and when about leaving Sharpe informed me they were about taking off our lame mule which by the by I thought had been taken long before. . . . [Union] Major Flagg being in ill health and sympathizing with me in my lonely condition, has consented to remain with me a few days longer, greatly relieving me from my anticipated loneliness. Captain Rankin advises me to bring the Ladies up, and the servants [slaves] wish me also to do so, but all things look so dreary and lonely and we having neither poultry nor garden and none to be had in the neighborhood, they had better remain where they are now for a while longer, here for a while they would almost feel like prisoners, for almost such do I feel myself to be, so much so in addition to the danger of being innocently implicated in depredations which may be committed by Bushwhackers and Raiders, that I think I had better go to the North for 1 or 2 months, hoping that a more settled state of things may pass over our afflicted country within that time, than now exists. . . . [Union] Captain Garfield the Commissary, informs me that he has been often robbed by their own men, and that they 2 nights ago had robbed him largely of Hams and other provisions, 1 of the wagoners was suspected and arrested; the Robbers steal from the Rebels, Negroes and their own people alike; stealing and not patriotism moves them, the thieves infest both armies, but the Federal Army is more largely attended. I discover they have either destroyed or stolen the Ploughs and most of the Spades and Hoes, but few things with us seem to have been wantonly destroyed, at other places I notice much has been destroyed from mischief and badness, such as the breaking of windows, glasses, and defacing walls, etc– general lawlessness pervades the whole country.” ~ Diary of William King.

July 20– Wednesday– Newtown, Virginia; Berryville, Virginia; Stephenson’s Depot, Virginia; Philomont, Virginia; Blount County, Tennessee; La Fayette County, Missouri; Johnson County, Missouri; Arrow Rock, Missouri– Skirmishes, brawls, melees and showdowns.

July 20– Wednesday– Liverpool, England– A detective from Scotland Yard boards a ship to New York City, hoping to catch Franz Muller for the July 9th murder of Thomas Briggs.

July 20– Wednesday– Le Ma-sur-Seine, France– Birth of Michel Gaston Carraud, composer. [Dies June 15, 1920.]

Erik Axel Karlfeldt 1931

Erik Axel Karlfeldt

July 20– Wednesday– Karlbo, Sweden– Birth of Erik Axel Karlfeldt, poet. [Dies April 8. 1931 and posthumously receives the Noble Prize for Literature that year.]

July 21– Thursday– Buffalo, New York– Birth of Frances Folsom Cleveland [dies October 29, 1947], the only child of Oscar and Emma Folsom. [A graduate of Wells College, Frances, at age 22, will marry President Grover Cleveland, 27 years her senior and her father’s law partner. During her time as First Lady she will serve as an excellent hostess and, like Jackie Kennedy in later decades, a fashionable trend-setter. Five years after President Cleveland’s death, she will marry Thomas Preston, businessman and educator.]

Frances Folsom Cleveland

Frances Folsom Cleveland

July 21– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The bearer of this is a most estimable widow lady [Mrs. Ann G. Sprigg] , at whose house I boarded many years ago when a member of Congress [1847-1848]. She now is very needy; & any employment suitable to a lady could not be bestowed on a more worthy person.” ~ Lincoln to William P. Fessenden, new Secretary of the Treasury.

July 21– Thursday– Petersburg, Virginia– “How long we will remain in this situation we cannot tell. It seems as if Grant is determined, if not driven away, to remain here all summer. I do wish this campaign would close, tis very disagreeable, and very unhealthy, both from bullets & disease. We can stand it about as well as Grant, though. It is now certainly known that General Johnston has been relieved of his command and General Hood has assumed command. Hood is an excellent officer, and I’ve no doubt will soon relieve the downtrodden portions of our beloved state. The Yankees are

getting uncomfortably near my home and I’m extremely anxious they should be driven away as speedily as possible. They have overrun enough of our state, and I think it is now time for them to halt. I received two letters from home today, and they exhibit great uneasiness lest Sherman should overrun our portion of the state. Our country is actually filled up with refugees from the northern part of Georgia. I think there is no use in being in such a hurry, Sherman hasn’t got Atlanta yet– not do I believe he will. If he does succeed he will be compelled to do some very hard fighting, I’m certain.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

July 21– Thursday– Cobb County, Georgia– “Mr. Fletcher called to see me this morning, he in common with the rest of us out and in town, are prohibited from passing the Lines. He says while going into town a few days ago in his wagon with a load of wood at noon, a band of thieves met him on the road and took away one of his Horses, there is but little safety in moving about now, the strict orders prohibiting going in or out of town just now, I think, is attributable to the apprehension of a raid on Marietta, where the [Federal] government has a large amount of stores, it is reported that for some days past Confederate Scouts have been seen about at no great distance from the town. The [railroad] cars are now running more numerously toward the river. Excluded as we are in the country we can gather but little news– I am provided with no guard yet. Long wagon trains are constantly passing up and down the Road. The flies exceed in number and annoyance anything of the kind I have ever known, leaving no comfort for man or beast.” ~ Diary of William King.

July 21– Thursday– outside Atlanta, Georgia– “We have again had ourselves exposed to a most terrific fire. God in His kind providence has again spared me, even to having allowed a minie ball to strike my pants and yet not injure my leg. But He saw fit to take a leg from our dear friend Captain B. H. Napier. Besides, the Captain, though now with one leg, is worth a dozen two-legged ones, and you must answer his letter without fail to cheer him up as much as possible. He was shot at about 3 o’clock yesterday in a dreadful charge up over the enemy’s breastworks.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his sister.

July 21– Thursday– Atlanta, Georgia– “General Johnston is removed from his command, and Hood succeeds him. Johnston could not stand, so his successor is expected to do wonderful things. When

censured for continually falling back, Johnston replied, ‘We can rebuild cities when demolished, but if this army is once destroyed, we can never raise another.’ His men love and honor him and regret his removal. . . . Words cannot picture the scenes that surround me, scenes and sounds which my soul will hold in remembrance forever. Terrific cannonading on every side, continual firing of muskets, men screaming to each other, wagons rumbling by on every street or pouring into the yard (for the remnants of fences offer no obstructions new to cavalryman or wagoner) and from the city comes up wild shouting, as if there was a general melee there. I sit in my dismantled home tonight, feeling that our earthly loves and all our pleasant things are ours so slightly . . . . the firing increased, becoming fiercer each hour. Still the soldiers said, ‘There is no danger. We are driving back the enemy.’ Towards evening, I was standing in the yard, listening to the firing and expressing my fears of a still nearer approach of battle-scenes. Our kind soldier friend replied, ‘Oh, that is nothing. That firing is a long way off from here. Our army will never allow the Yankees to take Atlanta.” ~ Diary of Cyrena Stone.

July 21– Thursday– Bald Hill, Georgia; Atchafalaya, Louisiana; Plattsburg, Missouri; Barrancas, Florida– Skirmishes and raids.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: