31 July 1864: “So many horrible rumors have floated through the army”

Item Description: A letter from Charles H. Olmstead, an officer from Georgia, regarding Battle of Atlanta (Johnston’s and Hood’s retreat from Sherman) and a quarrel with another officer.

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Item Citation: From Folder 5, in the Charles H. Olmstead Papers, #1856, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription: 

Atlanta, July 31st, 1864

My Dear Wife, 

Our line of Communication with Mercer has been cut by the enemy for the past three in four days and I am afraid that among other annoyances it has caused my darling considerable uneasiness. At most?, I hear that the damage to the road is repaired by this time and that the trains have resumed their regular trips. Just as I had written this far. Dr. Godfrey made up with a report that a large raiding party had (?) through the country, doing immense damage to the Millidgeville & Eatenton R.R. burning the depot at Gordon, cutting the C. R.R. attacking Mercer’s, which place was defended under command of General Johnston. This is terrible news and gives me great anxieties, still I cannot but think that the report is much exaggerated. So many horrible rumors have floated through the army, that afterwards came to nothing, that I am slow to believe anything of the kind until I receive further confirmation. There is no hiding the fact though that the military position is a grave one and that our State is in great peril if the army allows itself to be quietly besieged in Atlanta. Gen. Sherman can easily occupy our attention with a portion of his force while with the balance he may carry desolation to enemy corners of the low spirited and dispossessed. May God grant us a deliverance out of our troubles. I have gotten quite well again and am recovering my strength rapidly. Shall report for duty today. A point of precedence has arisen between Col. Barkaloo of 57th Regiment and myself; he claims rank as Colonel from the date of his commission in the State service, which is some two months anterior(?) to my own. While I hold that as his  was not transformed entire to the Confederate Service (our company was mustered in the 54th) its organization was broken and that consequently the Colonel lost his rank. The point had already been decided in my favor by General Mercer, but now that he has life the Brigade Col. Barkaloo has signified his intention of referring the matter to a higher authority. He has been in command of the Brigade during my sickness, and as I do not wish to occupy an anomalous position, we are going together today to the Division Commander to have the matter decided temporarily before I return to duty awaiting the final action of the Secretary of War. You must not understand that there is any quarrel between us, on the contrary our dispute is all in a friendly way. I wrote you in my last of the change that had been made in our Division. your letter should now be directed Mercer Brigade, Cleburne’s Division, Harders Camp. We retain the old Brigade name until another Brigadier is assigned to us.  

You do not tell me enough about our little son, dear wife, what does the little fellow look like? Tell me the color of his eyes & hair. in a word I would have you give me a complete description of his babyship, so that I may form some idea of his peromal (?) appearance. I would give anythign to see the two babies together. I know just exactly the patronising airs Sally puts in in taking care of him.

Oh darling, how my heart yearns for home! Can I ever be happy elsewhere! I lie down at night and picture to myself a bright future of domestic happiness. My dreams are in no other changed waking or sleeping. Ambition for worldly distinction or wealth has no shore in them. Give much love to all at home. Believe me as ever, my own dear wife,

Your affectionate Husband,
Charles H. Olmstead    

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