Family Letter of R.J. Bates
This letter is from R.J. Bates who is part of the Georgia Home Guard at this point in the Civil War. His post at the time was in Marietta, Georgia and his letter to his wife concerns Sherman’s forces and their progress toward Atlanta. The family farm was potentially in the path of approaching Union forces and R.J. Bates instructs his wife to prepare for their arrival. In the letter R.J. refers to his wife as “Sissi.” His spelling has not been corrected but instead supplemented. The family farm was in Woodstock, Georgia which lies between R.J.’s post in Marietta and the Etowah River he refers to in the letter. All are within approximately 25 miles of each other.
Permission to publish this letter granted by the Family of R.J. Bates
Cobb County Georgia Marietta May 22, 1864
Mrs. S.A.M. Bates
I take the presant [present] opportunity to drop you a few lines hoping this will reach you well. [T]his leaves me well. [A]t this time I hav[e] nothing good to [w]rite. [T]rubal [Trouble] is at the door. [T]he Yankes [Yankees] crost [crossed] Etawha [Etowah] River this morning. Johnson Arme [army] are still falling back. I think the arme [army] will fall back as far as Atlanta Before ther[e] is a general ingagement [engagement] with the armies. I fear our country is gon[e] up the Spout. Our Batt. is her[e] in Marietta Doing Pickett [picket] Dutie [duty] and Provose [provost] dute [duty]. Ever[y] thing is in a confuse[d] state her[e] this morning. Citizens are leaving her[e] today with thir [their] familys [families] and Negroes all Sceared [scared] to Deth [Death]. [T]his is quite a gloomey [gloomy] time. I fear that our little home will will be over run by the Yankes [yankees]. I say of now [no] better advise you than to remane [remain] at home and if the Yankes [yankees] comes on you treat them kindly and mabe [maybe] they won’t take your meet [meat] and bread. I do not think they will interrupt you or at least I hope they wont. [O]ne thing Dear wife do the best you can for your self. [H]ide every thing you can from the Yankes [yankees]. [T]ell Father to get all his Grone [grown] Negroes to hide out in the woods for a while I think is the Best. I do Not think it will do to run them for this risin [reason]. If the Yankes [Yankees] takes this country they will take all so it is now [no] use to run from them. Sissi take cur [care] of what money you hav[e] got mabe [maybe] it will do us some good. Sissi when you read this letter dont git [get] alarmed. [I]t is all so and can not be helped now but could of [have] ben [been] in time but that is past and gon[e]. [T]his is bringing my words to pass. I [k]new six montes [months] ago that we would be over run by the Yankes [yankees] or at least thought so.
I do not [k]now when I will see you again. [I]t may be some time first and mabe [maybe] no maney [many] days. [I]t is awing to how every thing workes [works]. But one thing if you are over run by the Yankes [yankees] I will come to you but not look until you see me. [Y]ou just take car[e] of your self and dont be about me for a momant [moment]. I will take car[e] of no one but I expect to travil [travel] a rough road. [W]hen you get this, read it and tur [tear] it up. I must close hoping you will get this in due time. Gen Johnson waggon [wagon] train is now coming in town falling back. [G]reat excitement her[e] to day. Every thing in confucion [confusion].
Sissi just be quiet and reman [remain] rite [right] at home. [I]t is nothing more than I hav[e] expected for some time
Good by[e] Dear wife. [T]his is from your Best friend and lover.
Late this eavning [evening] it is ruard [rumored] her[e] that one forces are going to make a stand at Etawha [Etowah] River as it was reported her[e] this morning. But I can not tell what is the factus [facts]. [W]hat I [k]now of the cituation [situation] of the arme [army] is what I hav[e] heard other say.