Letter from Maj. Henry Winslow, aide-de-camp to Confederate Gen. Leonidas Polk, Shortly After Polk’s Death

Marietta, June 19th

Morning

Dear Son = On yesterday all day we had heavy fighting on the left. Walker’s (Maj Genl William Henry Talbot Walker, KIA Atlanta July 22, ’64)) division suffered a good deal the 53 & 54 Geo had a good many killed wounded but none from Fort Valley. Mrs Mims had a grandson named (Piney)? who lost an arm, I found him in the hospital and took the best care I could of him until he was sent off last night – he said he had not eaten a mouthful for 24 hours – I gave him coffee bread & butter & (….)? all of which he was glad to get. The Committees are doing much good. Dr Evereth (?) spent the night with us and went to the front this morning.

We are (3)? miles form our advance lines. Any hour may bring forth a general engagement or it may not take place for sometime my own opinions are unchanged as to the army falling back to the Chattahoochie for if Sherman presses Johnson until he sees a decided advantage will drop back gradually. I was up until 12 last night finding the wounded and sick and carrying them on stretchers to the cars to be sent off to Atlanta – it is a sad sight to see the mutilation of our poor fellows in the rear of our quarters in what is called the dead house for all considered mortally wounded are brought here. I helped to bring them in this morning and was told 10 or 12 died last night – some shot through the head with their brains running out, some thru the bowels and some thru the lungs and other parts it is horrible to see. We have had rain for the last 36 hours constantly and every thing is wet & drenched and consequently much sickness. Our Committees are doing much good as well as others and really is an important aid to the army and men is reduced to (….)? systems and all the Counties assisted a vast deal more of benefit would be derived from it. Many apple (cutrins)? are made when if, for four which it cannot relieve as only the sick wounded can be cared for, but it is hard to refuse a soldier wet and worn down

from the battlefield asking for food and saying he has had nothing for hours. I find the hard floor a very solid resting place but am doing much good and that (….)? the hardship. You will communicate to some member of the committee at home, the news I write to inform rest, and tell them that their contributions are a source of great comfort to all and that do not how soon some of family may receive the articles they send. I do not think there is any need for them to send cabbage and (….)? of any kind. Squashes – Potatoes – turnips – Beets – Vinegar – Whiskey – Wine – Light bread – Butter – molasses – Cakes & Biscuits – Hams are all good. By keeping the different vegetables separate and pack all while cold they will keep better and if the hams are wrapped up each separate even in paper it is better – all our boxes except six in use have been sent back & I hope have reached Fort Valley, 12 ock m – I have just seen Dr (Mathers)?son, from the front he is not hurt.

Young G W Hollingshaw (?) very slightly wounded also young Mims, not sufficiently severe to cause them to leave the lines – Murray also slightly wounded at the (….)(…)? as the others by spent balls – young Mathers(?)

Was supplied with such articles as he required – he has been sick but will return to his company tomorrow. Nine others from F.V. are injured. Our folks had better send up at least 3 on their next relief & at that time I will return if not driven off. While I have been writing a perfect storm of rain is falling and a fair prospect of continuing all day. At the same time we hear very heavy cannon (going up)? on the left, it is quite sharp and I think an extensive engagement is going on – if any thing turns up interesting I will put it down tonight. Do not write unless it is important except by some (. . . . . . . .) I send by private hand to Macon.

Love to the children & yourself

H Winslow

6 PM Rain Rain & heavy skirmishing on right center & left. Iverson’s Cavalry (BG Alfred Iverson of Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps) said to have been forced back on the left by a heavy force of infantry & cavalry. The result of all the fighting not known, further than our forces as gradually falling back on all our lines entrenching as they fall back.

Tell the people to make (cheese)? bisquits thin that (…)? Put much lard in them

2 thoughts on “Letter from Maj. Henry Winslow, aide-de-camp to Confederate Gen. Leonidas Polk, Shortly After Polk’s Death”

  1. Some additional information about this:

    On 14 June 1864, Confederate Lt. Gen. (and Episcopal Bishop) Leonidas Polk was killed near Marietta, Georgia. One of the Confederacy’s more popular commanders, it’s interesting to play “what-if” had he commanded the Confederacy at Chattanooga in lieu of the irresolute Braxton Bragg, whose loss at Chattanooga opened up the path towards the sea and defeat.

    Maj. Henry Winslow (my great-great-grandfather) was an aide-de-camp to Polk. He wrote this letter to his son. It illustrates the horrors of war and of a Confederacy falling back to one position after another.

    I am indebted to my cousin William Winslow for having this transcribed from our family tradition of illegible handwriting.

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