Monday, September 1, 2008

Letter from 8th Iowa Cavalry

Camp 8th Iowa Cav., Near
Lost Mountain, June 20th 1864

I now find time to address you again. The 8th Iowa Cavalry have been with Sherman, so far through this campaign and none of the Clark Co. boys have been hurt. They are all well so far as I know. Some of them are dismounted and are doing garrison duty at Kingston, Ga. Among the number present are Geo. Wilson, L. F. Deselm, Wesley Templeton, M. C. Christy, Joel and Geo. Miller, Nelson Homewood, Jos. Cusyan, J. R. Fullerton, William Myers and Samuel Stark.

The Reg. now numbers 295 men mounted for duty. It left Cleveland Tenn., May 3d, 950 strong. The rest of the horses have been killed, wounded, starved, warn out and have died during the campaign. The duty was very hard on man and beast. We were frequently in our saddles all night, our horses often doing without anything to eat. They were not unsaddled, on an average, over three hours out of twenty-four. – The men were as badly used as the horses, but a few days rest brought them all right again – had a weeks rest during a rain storm and all were fresh and vigorous as before.

We have met the rebels in a dozen fields and success has crowned our banner each time. The loss of the Reg. is comparatively small, only fifty killed and wounded. A detachment of the 8th went on a reconnoissance [sic] this morning, and sent back a currier, a short time since, for the ambulances, stating that they had one man killed and several wounded near Powder Springs.

Stoneman’s and McCook’s (the 8th belongs to his command) Cavalry captured Lost Mountain the 17th with but slight resistance. The 8th made two successful saber charges after the mountain was captured with but little loss. We have made several saber charges but the “Johnnies” Never stood till we got close enough to hurt them. Schofield and Hooker have been fighting incessantly for Kinnesaws [sic] and Pine mountains for the last four days and still their artillery is hurling its missiles of death into the rebel works. Johnson’s right and left wings have been turned and are steadily being driven together. – Johnson’s army is in a critical condition. Sherman has out generaled [sic] him on every field, and has flanked him on every field except Dallas. He has won the confidence and esteem of his whole army. The officials feel confident of their ability to take Atlanta, and the rank and file know not defeat. All we ask is that the men at home do their whole duty, forward the one hundred days men as readily as possible to protect our communications and rear and guard our “Hard Tack,” and we will plant the Stars and Stripes over the towers of Atlanta before July closes, or leave our bodies to rest in the mountains and on the plains of Georgia.

The army was cut down to three-fifth rations of bread, coffee and sugar, and two-seventh rations of meat – no beans hominy or rice – making less than half rations, the 20th of May. The men are frequently two days without anything to eat, but they scarcely ever grumble. Nothing that is palatable for man or beast is left in the country. Everything is taken or destroyed. None of the citizens remained behind Johnson’s army except those that were too poor to get away, and by the time our army had passed they had nothing left by which to sustain life. The government will certainly have to feed them. We are on the right wing of our army and all the other Iowa Regiments are on the left and left center. They no doubt have done some hard fighting in the past four days. I have not seen any of [the] 6th, 15th or 39th for some time. [missing text] accounts they were all in the [missing text] hunting “Johnnies,” which is [missing text]ing on a rainy day. Their, [missing text] not over 250 yards apart.

June 22d – Hooker is s[missing text]ing away at Kinnesaw [sic] [missing text]is now trying to take it [missing text]. They are two-thirds of the [missing text] and expect to make the summit [missing text] fall. Johnson’s lines are in the [missing text] of a V, the vertex at the above [missing text] mountain. Schofield’s Corps has been fighting very hard this forenoon.

Hurrah, for old Abe! He is bound to be a Veteran, bounty or no bounty.

Yours truly,
Wm. Christy

– Published in The Union Sentinel, Osceola, Iowa, Saturday, July 9, 1864.

NOTE: There was a hole in the paper, near the ending paragraphs of this letter, which appeared on the right of the newspaper column causing text to be lost. I have annotated these occurrences with the citation [missing text]. Also this letter when it was printed in the paper was dated 1894, which is an obvious typesetter’s error, I have corrected the date so as not to lead to any confusion.

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