Near Campbellton, July 13, 1864
"My dear and much beloved wife,
It has been two days since I wrote you last, and as I have few leisure moments this evening I'll use them in writing you.
Yesterday we moved lower down the (Chattahoochee) River to guard the same and prevent the Yankees from crossing. The Yanks are on the opposite bank from us but there's no exchange (of fire presently) ... "
One hundred and fifty-three years ago this month Lt. Francis M. Goodwin began this letter to his wife, Susan, back home in Warren County, Mississippi. Lt. Goodwin enlisted in Company C with the 28th Mississippi Cavalry in February 1862, and then married his wife just three months later.
I doubt they had more than a couple of days together as man and wife.
As he wrote this letter, Lt. Goodwin was positioned at some point along the Chattahoochee River somewhere along the current Fulton County banks across from today's Douglas County riverbanks.
A Union dispatch dated the same day as Lt. Goodwin's letter confirms all was quiet and advised there was movement within a group of Confederates to the south along the river reporting, " ... The rebels appear to have a continuous picket-line along the river ... About two o'clock yesterday afternoon, a body of cavalry ... accompanied by four or five wagons, went toward the interior from Sandtown Ferry ....(others) moved to the south or southwest, from the same point." Clothes seen hanging on the bushes near Aderholt's Ferry gave indication of a camp, but the Union scouts couldn't determine how many men might be there, perhaps Lt. Goodwin was in this group of men.
Lt. Goodwin's letter continues, "Johnston's army is about four miles from Atlanta and fortified ready to receive Sherman again, it is the opinion of all that we will hold Atlanta, (and) that Johnston has fallen back for better position or expecting reinforcements. Some are of the opinion, that Sherman will fall back, and it is reported so at this time. I don't believe it, or that he will fall back until he makes a greater effort to accomplish his object, which is to take Atlanta."
Lt. Goodwin's opinion would prove to be true. At this point in his letter Goodwin states his willingness for the war's end due to the length of time fighting stating, "We are tired and want rest." Goodwin advised his wife the heat of July was making "it hard with soldiers while they have much duty to do," and Goodwin, a Mississippi planter, wasn't too impressed with what he had seen of Georgia, stating, "It is the poorest country I have ever been in, and at present it is impossible for us to be supplied by railroad."
How true that happened to be. In 1864, the railroad that eventually would be built through Skint Chestnut/Douglasville was approximately 20 years away, and the Atlanta West Point Railroad was more than a few miles away in Fairburn.
At this point Lt. Goodwin begins to ask his wife what she was hearing in the news reminding her that soldiers only hear what is going on right around them, not the actual progress of the war.
Pointblank he asks, "What do you think of the signs of the times? Do you think our (the Confederates) prospects are brightening any?" Goodwin wondered given the "loss of men and money expended" without any benefit what is encouraging (the North) to carry on the war?"
Apparently, at this point of the letter Lt. Goodwin was called away, but continued writing the letter on July 15th telling his wife how much he missed her, and she should write more often, at least twice a week.
He signed off stating, "Let me tell you that I love you much, yes, very much. Could I explain all my love to you, I would certainly do it, but there is no language at my control to tell you the depths of love in my heart for you. You are a good and kind woman and suit me in every respect. You have made me very happy indeed in becoming my wife. Could we be together. we would then be so happy together. Now goodbye my wife I am your affectionate husband."
I've been unable to find out the rest of the story regarding Lt. Goodwin, but I know the 28th Mississippi left the Chattahoochee River around July 17 and then took part in the Battle of Atlanta. I found mentions of a skirmish at Herring Mill along the north fork of Utoy Creek and the 28th's presence at Jonesboro.
Sadly, at some point from July 15 to the end of the year Lt. Goodwin died, but I have yet to discover his exact date or location. A man who wondered why the North persisted never returned home and never saw his beloved wife again.
I've located another letter written by Lt. Goodwin to his wife earlier than this one and will share a link to it later this week on my Facebook page, "Every Now and Then."
Lisa Cooper writes the amazing stories of Douglas County each Sunday. You can find her new book "Every Now and Then: The Amazing Stories of Douglas County" online at Amazon, print and Kindle versions. Locally, her books can be found at the Douglas County Museum of History and Art, The Farmer's Table and Lithia Springs Pharmacy.