Transcript: July 26, 1864 Letter and Analysis

Hannah Holbert:

"Camp near Atlanta, Georgia, July 26th, 1864.

Well, Catherine, I again take my pen to write you a few lines to let you know that we are getting along. My health is good and Company D is as well as usual. Joseph Moore was wounded on the 22nd in the leg just above the ankle. On the 22nd. There was hard fighting all day between the Tennessee Army and Johnson and the loss was heavy on both sides. But the rebel loss was a great deal the heaviest. The forests and fields were covered with the dead and dying Rebels, and we took about 4000 Rebel prisoners. Our loss was about 3000 in all, while the Rebels loss cannot be less than 8000. Since the 22nd, all has been tolerably quiet. We are within shelling distance of Atlanta and our guns, throw a great many shells through the city. We are now strongly fortified, but how long it will take to get into Atlanta, I cannot tell but I hope it will not be long for I'm tired of this campaign. General McPherson was killed on the 22nd and General George was wounded and it is said that the Rebels have lost several generals. McPherson was shot through the breast, George through the jaws. The days are now very hot in the nights very cool. We have no rain the last week but we still have plenty to eat and a good appetite, but we are not very well off for clothing and some are barefooted, some without coats and shirts and socks. But there is a better day coming and we hope to live to see it. We are in the hopes that the summer will close the war and that those of us living will be at home in a year. I will now close my letter hoping it will find you well and hearty. Write soon and direct as before and remember yours. EJ Alton, Catherine Schick, I have no postage stamps, and will have to send this unpaid."

"black and blue, black and blue. Here's a health to the Lassie year with my black eyes. Here's a health to Laddie with blue ones. And here's the first love as it sparkles and flies. And here's to the hearts that are true ones. Oh yes to the hearts that are tender and true with affection that nothing can smother to the eyes of the one that are brilliant and blue, and the merry black ones of the other. Now mind you, my lad whose eyes are blue, that however the graces invite you, there's nothing for you in this world that will do but a pair of black eyes to delight you. And mind you my Lassie whose eyes are black, in a pair of blue eyes to discover that light of affection you should never lack and you will always be true to your lover. Long long shall your eyes sparkle back with a kiss to the eyes that live but to behold you. Long long shall the charm of your mutual bliss and a heaven of splendor enfold you for this is the thought of a poet wise of a poet whose thoughts are true ones that to look on a pair of merry black eyes is the life of a pair of blue ones."

So within this letter, Erasmus details, the death and the wounding of two generals and also includes a poem, the letters that I've selected focus on the different aspects of war. Allton wrote poetry to his future wife and giving distinct details about the war, which is something we don't really talk about that much like a lot of these letters, as you'll find going through have very explicit and in depth details of the war. That they would read about in the papers, but this is like a very personal aspect of war in a way, and to know that these letters contained poetry and I was just really struck because the fact that he was going through so much, and still, you know, sent letters to his future wife, and the poetry it just shows a kind of like depth to his person and his character in a way that I could not fathom, given the circumstances and the things that he had seen. It's, odd in a way to look at these letters and see him detailing like dead and dying and losses, and the loss of generals and the people that he's known and seen, and yet see poetry, it in a way shows the duality of the people fighting in these wars on both sides. These are just people fighting a war in which you know, they believe certain things and that's the way is like it's just it documents the death of a General too, which I think is really cool, personally, I don't know this letter just kind of encapsulates what it means to be a human fighting in a war I feel like and the depth in which it goes and in history it's really interesting to have these case studies of individuals within a war, still maintaining semblances of humanity despite seeing like, you know, dead and dying people throughout the battlefields.