War Is A Calamity~July 1864~22nd to 23rd

War Is a Calamity ~ William King

Welles criticizes Greeley’s peace efforts. George Templeton Strong forces himself to remain optimistic. The sound of canon and muskets fills the air in Virginia and Georgia.


July 22– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “At the Cabinet-meeting the President read his correspondence with Horace Greeley on the subject of peace propositions from George Saunders and others at Niagara Falls. The President has acquitted himself very well– if he was to engage in the matter at all– but I am sorry that he permits himself, in this irregular way, to be induced to engage in correspondence with irresponsible parties like Saunders and Clay or scheming busybodies like Greeley. There is no doubt that the President and the whole Administration are misrepresented and misunderstood on the subject of peace, and Greeley is one of those who has done and is doing great harm and injustice in this matter. In this instance he was evidently anxious to thrust himself forward as an actor, and yet when once engaged he began to be alarmed; he failed to honestly and frankly communicate the President’s first letters, as was his duty, but sent a letter of his own, which was not true and correct, and found himself involved in the meshes of his own frail net.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

July 22– Friday– Cobb County, Georgia– “Not feeling very well last night from a cold and some feverish feeling, I went to bed early, but had rather a restless night; this morning I feel pretty well again, my cold has pretty much passed off. May God in his goodness deliver me from sickness this summer, to be even unwell with my wife away from me and I so lonely would be sad suffering to me, but I must put my trust in God and be resigned. . . . I have written another letter to my wife [sent to safety in Savannah, Georgia] hoping I may have an opportunity of getting it off. I will continue to write regularly to her, although I fear but few of my letters will ever reach her– it is painful to be so separated without the means of communicating with each other how much more happiness were we permitted to enjoy, before this cruel, stupid politicians’ war was inaugurated!. . . . war is a calamity to beast as well as Man; yet ambition and bad men will often involve a happy country in war with but little provocation. So God deals with his creatures for the sins of a few. . . . How many fearful forebodings of evil will force themselves on my depressed heart, in God will I place my trust, he is wise and good, he will overrule all things well, whatever man in his wickedness and weakness may try to do, God will overrule all for the good of His children, could we only feel with true confidence that we were of the Household of faith how cheerfully resigned would we be to the many trials of life and be ready to depart and be at peace in Heaven, how blessed are the dead, who have died in the Lord– this sad, cruel war, upon whom rest the great sin of having involved this happy, peaceful prosperous country in it? May God deal with his accustomed mercy in punishing His weak and sinful creatures.” ~ Diary of William King.

July 22– Friday– outside Atlanta, Georgia– Determined to take the offensive Confederate General John Bell Hood launches a direct attack against General Sherman’s left flank but suffers a severe repulse, sustaining a total of 8,499 killed, wounded and missing. Federal losses amount to 3,641. The popular Union General James B. McPherson is killed and his soldiers swear take vengeance on the rebels.

July 22– Friday– Columbus, Georgia– “Since the last entry I made in December, 1863, I have been in feeble health, and overcome with troubles, so much so that I have quit going to my office and stay at home. On the 15th of May, a battle was going on at Resaca on the state railroad. Our men were ordered to lie down in the trenches while the enemy was shelling them. A shell fell near my dear Eugene . . . and exploded, killing him so dead that he was not known to speak or breathe afterwards. The night following, Willis [another son] had the sad duty to perform of burying him in the night, which was near where he was killed in a garden. Had no coffin but put him in a grave and covered him with the dirt and hurried off, the enemy not far off. This was the earthly end of dear Eugene, about twenty-five years of age. He was a good, dutiful son, of fine person, near or quite six feet high, of pleasing manners and very popular. . . . He loved his home but was denied the enjoyment of it. I had given him some land in Stewart County, built him a house (all new) . . . and eighteen Negroes. Thus ends dear Eugene, which has caused many tears to be shed. Even to this day I often cry to think and speak of him.” ~ Diary of John Banks.


July 22– Friday– Burge Plantation near Covington, Georgia– “We have heard the loud booming of cannon all day. Mr. Ward [the overseer] went over to the burial of Thomas Harwell, whose death I witnessed yesterday. They had but just gone when the Reverend A. Turner, wife, and daughter drove up with their wagons, desiring to rest awhile. They went into the ell [a large back room] and lay down, I following them, wishing to enjoy their company. Suddenly I saw the servants [slaves] running to the palings, and I walked to the door, when I saw such a stampede as I never witnessed before. The road was full of carriages, wagons, men on horseback, all riding at full speed. Judge Floyd stopped, saying: ‘Mrs. Burge, the Yankees are coming. They have got my family, and here is all I have upon earth. Hide your mules and carriages and whatever valuables you have.’ . . . Sadai [nine year old daughter] was taking down and picking up our clothes, which she was giving to the servants [slaves] to hide in their cabins; silk dresses, challis, muslins, and merinos, linens, and hosiery, all found their way into the chests of the women and under their beds; china and silver were buried underground, and Sadai bid Mary [a slave] hide a bit of soap under some bricks, that mama might have a little left. Then she came to me with a part of a loaf of bread, asking if she had not better put it in her pocket, that we might have something to eat that night. And, verily, we had cause to fear that we might be homeless, for on every side we could see smoke arising from burning buildings and bridges. Major Ansley, who was wounded in the hip in the battle of Missionary Ridge, and has not recovered, came with his wife, sister, two little ones, and servants [slaves]. He was traveling in a bed in a small wagon. They had thought to get to Eatonton, but he was so wearied that they stopped with me for the night. I am glad to have them. I shall sleep none to-night. The woods are full of refugees.” ~ Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge.

July 22– Friday– Pine Bluff Arkansas; Wright County, Missouri; Coldwater River, Mississippi; Clifton, Tennessee; Vidalia, Louisiana; Condordia, Louisiana; Newtown Virginia; Berryville, Virginia– Incursions, sorties and assaults.


July 23– Saturday– New York City– “I will not let myself doubt the final issue. What further humiliation and disaster, public and private, we must suffer before we reach the end, God only knows; but this shabbiest and basest of rebellions cannot be destined to triumph.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

July 23– Saturday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Fifty barrels of vegetables were shipped from this city last evening by the Soldiers’ Aid Society, for West Virginia boys at Martinsburg. This gift will be greatly relished by the boys after their many privations. They must be heavily tired of flitch and hard tack.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

July 23– Saturday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “The bronze statue of Washington captured by General Hunter’s command, having served its purpose at the Sanitary Fair has been removed to the yard of the Lindsley Institute, the temporary capital of the State, where it attracts considerable interest.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

July 23– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “This morning we crossed Chain Bridge and are once more in the District of Columbia. We are under orders to move and I expect we shall take transports back to Petersburg. Our campaign has been brief but successful.” ~ Diary of Union officer Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

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July 23– Saturday– Cobb County, Georgia– “The greater part of this morning we have heard heavy firing of cannon toward the South East. I learnt last evening that the Federal forces had gone into Atlanta the previous afternoon, but have heard none of the particulars. I hope the citizens did not abandon their homes as they did here, as painful as it is to be restricted as we are here, it is a duty to remain at home and give personal attention to one’s interests, the path of duty is the path of safety, running away from Home even before an enemy is cowardice and weakness– my stay here though subjecting me to many inconveniences, has been and still is a source of much gratification in affording me an opportunity of knowing the character of the Federal Army, and understanding their feelings and plans and so far none, even among privates in their intercourse with me have manifested any other feelings than those which are kind and gentlemanly. I have had nothing to pain me in my free intercourse with them, but everything has tended to allay any unkind feelings which I may have previously entertained and I truly wish all our ultra disunion men of the South could have enjoyed the same privilege I have for the past 3 weeks– both in sorrows and in joys. . . . The heavy firing has continued all day and still continues at dark.” ~ Diary of William King.


July 23– Saturday– Union lines outside Atlanta, Georgia– “I wrote you last on the field of battle, on the field of victory, when we had accomplished what seldom falls to the fortune of one little regiment of two hundred and sixty muskets to achieve. It was a proud day for us. The boys are in good spirits; they are ready for the most desperate deeds. . . . Our pickets found early yesterday morning that the strong line of [Confederate] outer works about three-quarters of a mile in length in our front ha! been evacuated by the enemy. We fell in at once and marched forward and passed through them and took position on hills within easy cannon reach of the principal fortifications, to which the enemy had retired. We have thrown up works to protect us from artillery fire. We are only two and a half miles from the city; it is partly screened by high wooded hills. We have a large number of batteries in position. There has been a good deal of exchange of fire between them and the rebel artillery. . . . Our lines were very much extended; as we crowded nearer the city, they would become closer and stronger, and compel them to evacuate or stand a siege; to attack then was the best thing they could do. They have been badly beaten. I am very confident now that Atlanta will soon be ours. Johnston has been superseded by Hood in the command of the rebel army.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife.

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