Letter written by Sergeant William Farries of Company E, 24th WI Infantry, to his brother, from a camp on the Chattahoochee River, GA. Farries writes that General Joseph E. Johnston and his “Graybacks” are now across the river, and the Union army is nearly finished crossing in pursuit. His regiment went scouting with General Oliver Howard to find a place to bridge the river. On the way back, Major MacArthur lost the road, causing a significant delay. The next day they received marching orders for Roswell, GA. When they reached Roswell, they had to “strip and ford” the Chattahoochee. The next day they built a line of breastworks along the river and were relieved by the 16th Corps. Farries expects to move to Atlanta soon. He does not think there will be much fighting before then, as Johnston would have attempted to make a stand before they crossed the river. They can see spires and buildings in Atlanta from the back of the camp.
If you see Watsons folks tell them he is in good health
Camp on the Chattahoochie
July 15th 1864
I recd a letter from you & one from Mary a few days ago; yours I will answer first as I have written to Mary last – We have got Old Johnson & his “Gray backs” across the river and the greater portion of our army have crossed in pursuit last Saturday the 9th our Regt went with Gen Howard on a scout to find a place to throw a bridge across the river at noon we reached our place of destination and after a short rest we started for camp all went well until our Major lost the road we had to travel until sunset before we found our camp the day was awful warm and several men were sunstruck next day we thought would be a day of rest but we had scarcely finished breakfast when we had orders to be ready to march in half an hour we were to take nothing with us but our haversacks & rubber blankets our whole Division had the same orders & we had orders to go to Roswell a town about 15 miles distant where the rebels had an extensive cotton factory. We went about half way when our Regt had orders to halt and wait for the supply train as soon as we had our guns stacked (although the order was not to leave camp) three-fourths of the regt were off scouring the country for vegetables
and in an hours time they commenced coming back to camp with potatoes beans apples beats & everything you could think of in the vegetable line they then commenced cooking and eating and did not stop until we had orders to march at 4 o’clock in the afternoon we reached Roswell at sunset where we had to strip and ford the Chattahoochie we relieved a cavelry brigade that crossed the river a few hours before Our Div. was the first infantry that crossed the river at that point We took position on a high ridge that ran parallel with the river and early next morning have built a line of breastworks with both our flanks resting on the river in the afternoon the 16th Corps crossed the river and relieved our Div. we moved back a short distance in the rear and camped for the night. About 10 A.M. we recrossed the river on a temporary bridge that our Pioneers had built; we marched to the outskirts of the town where we went into camp we stayed there until next morning when we started back to our old camp which we reached at 8 P.M. tired and almost melted. Next day we had to strike tents and move across the river to our present camp I do not think we will stay long in our present camp I think we will start for Atlanta in a few days I do not think we will have much fighting between here & A. I think if Johnson intended to make a stand between here and A he would have tried to prevent us from crossing the river we are not more than seven or eight miles from A we can see the spires & principle buildings from the camp of the 3d Brigade of our Div. I wish you would send
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my watch by mail, put it in a small box and it will come through all right I am in good health and hope this will find you all well
Your Affect Brother
William Farries, from Wauwatosa, WI. He is listed as a farmer, born in Scotland, about 5’9″, with hazel eyes dark hair, and a fair complexion. He received a $25 bounty for enlisting for 3 years service. He enlisted on August 6, 1862 as a corporal in Company E, 24th WI Infantry. He was later promoted to sergeant, and was wounded November 25, 1863 at Missionary Ridge, TN. Sgt. Farries was mustered out of the army June 10, 1865 at Nashville, TN.