Our block came on the last day of May when we were out of town, and I was not as interested in making it as reviewing the Civil War History this month. I have a lot of detail, but it is one soldier's first letter, another's last, and my Great Grandfather and Great Great Great Uncle were just beginning their part in the important campaign for Atlanta, which history reports beginning on May 7th..
On the 26th, Billy wrote to his sister Carrie, heading his letter "In the woods, 40 miles from no place". He described their activities, following the main action the first few days. On the 14th, the regiment went to the front at 5 a.m. and their company was in the skirmish line, holding that job until noon when "there was a charge made by our men, but repulsed and fell back on the first hill where we built works and bought our artillery up and knocked the devil out of the Rebel works." (According to the regimental history, the 82nd lost 23 killed and wounded in action at Buzzard Roost Gap.) They had a couple of days camping in the rear of the line until "morning of the 16th, the morning of the Reb's retreat. On the 17th we moved out after the scamps, went through the works which were very strong, found lots of artillery and small arms. Also, their dead were on the field, which looked to me as though the Johnny Rebs had got a nice licking. Saw 5 or 6 hundred Rebel prisoners. 17th, crossed the river at Ressacca and followed the Rebs. On the 18th, we moved a few miles farther, stopped in a beautiful grove and got dinner, then moved on again, passed through some nice country today. On the 19th, we passed through Kingstrom, a very nice town but had been deserted by principally all of its inhabitants. Prisoners going to the rear every day. On the 23rd we waded a pretty good sized river which I have forgotten the name. On the 24th, we moved about 1 mile, then marched and went into camp where we are now and good prospects of staying here today. Had a nice shower last night which was what I have been wishing for every day since we started. Carrie I suppose I might make my history some larger if I had paper, but I will write when the campaign is over." The regimental history has the 82nd on duty guarding the train from May 24th to June 11th, though the historian himself was not there, as he was wounded in the head in the action on the 14th, and relied on reports by his superior officers for this time until his return to the Regiment in early July. The river Billy couldn't remember was likely the Etowah.
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Last month, I mentioned Eli Hause, a new recruit to the Indiana 52nd in April 1864 and called him a friend of my great grandfather Calvin's. I forgot to say Eli was Calvin's first cousin, as their mothers were sisters. Calvin was born in 1845 and Eli in 1846. This first letter from then 18-year-old Eli to Calvin is dated 10 May.
Columbus Fort Halleck
Kentucky May 10th 64
I seat myself to scribble you a few lines to let you know how I am getting a long by this time, I feel as well as could be expected of one in my circumstances I have not heard from home yet and then I have some very sore feet and now I will tell you how I got them, just take notice we went out on a scout and was gone a bout four days and a half now will tell you how far we marched we started last Thursday noon and marched sixteen miles that after noon, that was putting us through very fast what do you say eh. well we stopped at a little town called Clinton and stayed all night and the next day we marched 18 or so miles to a little town called Philisiann and staid there all night and the next day we marched from there to a little town called Mayfield 18 miles and staid there all night and about midnight we was waked up with the firing of guns and we were called up into line ready for action and then & there learned that a squad of guerrillas had come in on the rear of one of the picket posts and captured ten men and run so we pulled off and went back to and slept untill morning and then we harnessed up and marched twenty eight miles across to Clinton again that was Sunday you know well we staid there all night again and the next day we marched back here again sixteen miles and got here last night alwright except sore feet we marched some where near 100 miles in a little less than four days and a half and accomplished nothing at all only lost 10 men out of the 21 Mo I never got to shoot my gun until this morning we all shot into the river, I did not tell the folks whether Will was well or not but he is all wright, our dinner is pretty near ready so I will bring this to a close I would like to get one or two of them papers now to read if you have any thing very interesting Oh yes Cal you must tell me who enlists for one hundred days whether you enlist or not if you do command your Reg to come down here with the fifty twos. Well I have no more interesting news to write so I will bring this to a close by asking you to write soon and give me all the news when and what is going on in old Jennings.
Eli W. Hause
Co K 52 Reg
Uncle Shep would have rejoined the 52nd Regiment in Columbus after his furlough in Indiana, On May 20th, he wrote to his sister Carrie from on board the boat Hannibal at Vicksburg, where they were to be stopped for a few hours. They left Columbus on the 16th and had just arrived in Vicksburg [that is about a 400 mile trip]. As far as Shep knows they are going on down to "Read River" [probably the Red River - that campaign ended just two days after Shep's letter was written], but beyond he did not know. He wrote "Don't care much about going down that way for folks say the Rebs down there are mighty careless about shooting at 'we all'. Perhaps you think this is no matter to joke about but we had as well laugh as . ... I think the less trouble we borrow, the less we will have. The longer I live the more I think that no matter how hard our lot may seem, it is all for our good. You know if there was no bitter there would be no sweet. If we could truly say to our Heavenly Father under all circumstances, as did Christ when He was crucified - Thy will be done and not mine. It would be much better for us." Shep reported the weather was very warm and his health was generally very good, he could not ask for better. He closes by saying they are bringing blackberries on the boat to sell, only 20 cents a pint. He guesses they would not be ripe yet at home.