Civil War Letters of the Christie Family

Author: Thomas D. Christie
Date: August 12, 1864
Location: Near Atlanta, Georgia
Addressee: Alexander S. Christie
Description: Camp life is described as very dull, but a reconnaissance mission proves very exciting.

Page 1  Page 2  Page 3  Page 4  Transcription

Near Atlanta, August 12th/64

My Dear Brother:

I expected a letter from you before this time, but I suppose the Harvest work has prevented it. We have got nothing from home since the dates of 30th July, but as I have nothing pressing to do today I will give you a letter gratis, for which you will give me credit, of course.

The usual health still accompanies us, & the worst season is now over, the weather getting cooler every day, so we may anticipate no trouble from the effects of old Sol during the rest of this tiresome campaign. The most we have to dread are the effects of inaction upon the men — the Recruits especially — as for the past 3 weeks we have done very little firing, & for the past two weeks very little moving. When the men have nothing to do but lie under the tarpaulins day after day, without anything to interest them except the whiz of the bullet or the shriek of a shell once in a while, they are very apt to neglect taking exercise enough & therefore lose appetite & are very much afflicted with Ennui. Sometimes we have a variation to this dull life in the shape of a vigorous shelling from the enemy's batteries, which are concealed from us by the heavy timber in our front, & are not more than 900 yards from us. The Rebels are not near so sparing of their Ammt'n as they used to be, and actually fire more now from Artillery than we do. I suppose they think there is no use of surrendering, as they did at Vicksburg, with Magazines all full, & so they give us the benefit of it. I was on Guard night before last, & had a good chance to see the effects of what we have so often inflicted on the Johnnies—a night shelling. They opened their Batteries on us at 9, & kept up a slow fire till almost daylight, getting no reply from us, although they made very good practice, bursting the shells close to our Guns, & driving all the fellows who slept a little in rear up to the protection of our works. The effect, as a view, was very fine. First, you would see the flash of the Gun through the trees, & then, about the time the report reached you, here would come the shell, flying swiftly, its fuse burning bright as a candle, & dropping sparks. About the time it neared the works you would begin to think it was time to lie down, & then the fiendish shriek of the critter as it passed over, & a bright flash followed by the report, told you that you might assume the perpendicular again. All the damage they did was the wounding of one of my horses by a fragment of spherical case. We had another horse killed by a bullet the day previous. My Gunner & I went out yesterday into the woods in front to try & find out something about the position of the Rebel forts, & to do this we passed outside of, not only the pickets, but the videttes, & got within 200 yds. of the little Rifle pit that protected the Rebel line of skirmishers. The Picket Officer went out with us to show us a point from which we could have a good view, & as we were crouched behind a stump taking observations, here comes a Rebel Officer in a fine grey Uniform, walking coolly along the Rebel pit. Our Picket Officer called the nearest vidette up & told him to shoot the Rebel, but before he could get his gun to bear the Grey back had walked behind a point of brush out of sight. We went out still further & got a good view of the Rebel works,—they are very strong, protected by a chevaux de frise, & the two large forts have 9 Guns bearing on our part of the line. While still taking notes of the distance range, etc. to be useful when the Battery should have orders to open fire, we were a little startled by seeing 3 of the Butternuts get up in the pit—now not further from us than is the mouth of your house lane from the Pond Lot Bars, take their Rifles & come over their little work, out towards the brush in which we were hidden with the obvious intention of cutting us off from our pickets as they had probably seen us. So we thought it was high time to adop [sic] Sigel's tactics & made a retreat in good order.

I find that I will have to do the same from the ink bottle, & so, Au Revoir, Thos. D. Christie

[Postscript on page one] You will have to enlist before the 5th September I believe & so you had better see about it in time as I don't think we can get up there before that time. So follow the directions of (illegible & #8212; 1 word) & come down about the last of the month if you can. That is, if you still hold your mind on the subject unchanged.

[Postscript on page four] Accept this as a scrap, merely, written to pass away time, & give my love to all the "connection." What is the last you heard from Schaller?

Page 1  Page 2  Page 3  Page 4  Transcription