Will Fisher to his mother
August 8, 1864

Dear Mother,

Yesterday the 7th was my second military birthday. I enlisted the 7th of August 1862 and here it is ’64. So short a time seemingly but yet to look back in review Oh! What a fearful experience, tens of thousands of dollars would not buy this useful school of experience of me.
There has been no change of importance in our immediate vicinity since my last. The date of my last I think was the 3rd, also one a day earlier.
The weather continues about the same, a little too dry and a great deal too hot in the middle of the day.
My health is very good again but did have a turn of diarrhea for about four days, became strait again day before yesterday. I haven not been troubled near so much with this complaint in this department as I was in Va. The worst turn of it was at Bridgeport last winter. I think the principle cause of diarrhea so much in the army is eating too hearty at night before sleeping. This produces a disagreement of the stomach, sour stomach &c and the fact is our diet is such that it is almost impossible to cure the complaint by dieting. A soldier’s fare presents no lighter food for supper than for dinner, consequently he must eat meat victuals or “nix.” You are well aware what a peculiar appetite I have in this respect. For my part I had sooner eat grass than coffee and hard tack. I live and enjoy my living well, but to tell you the plain truth, you or anyone not used to it would actually starve to death on what we live. I refer entirely to field rations not camp. I suppose the troops will draw soft bread today which will be a great change and treat and be ample cause for each regt. along the line to give three cheers for Gen. Sherman. He is very popular indeed with his men. The loss of Gen. Hooker in this department is felt very severe indeed.
I believe all the railroad communication with Atlanta has been severed, but the Macon road, not permanently but soon will be.
I believe Gen. Sherman is able to cause abandonment of the city, but is waiting for something else. The most feasible something that I can imagine is that the Union forces now operating in the Mississippi Dept., will move up on the back or lower side of this place and block the game for the Rebs. The idea of one army “bagging” another is simply out of the question in an open country even with three times their number, but that it can be fearfully injured there is no doubt. There is no “water privilege” to do the “back door” work for us here as at Vicksburg. Our lines now form one vast semi-circle around the east, north and west sides of the city, but yet I can see no reason why they are not at liberty to retreat by the still open side if they choose. This, of course, gives them the advantage of working upon interior lines while we are on exterior ones. You can see how much easier for them to reinforce rapidly from one portion of their lines to another than for us. But we will wait patiently the developments of time for the result of this most bold daring and wonderful campaign. In the language of a Rebel paper, “not surpassed by that of Napoleon Bonaparte against Moscow,” which is no less true than astonishing.
Yesterday (Sabbath), the chaplain, who has returned to the regt. from his labors in the hospital, preached two excellent sermons. In the morning from the text “Ye are not your own,” and at sundown on the “Immortality of the Soul,” commenting on the origin of the soul, its existence, mission and the evidences of its immortality &c. In morning he said the text “Ye are not your own,” at first thought naturally met the opposition of human nature – man was naturally so independent that he refuses the idea of being dependent, but he went on and proved the assertion very clearly and I thought knocked his own Methodist theory of “free moral agency” rather in the head.
Mr. White is an oldish man, has some peculiarities and sings more like a calf, but is a good fair speaker, tip top preacher and is very much liked. I presume it would be quite novel to you to attend service where the balls from skirmishers’ muskets would go ripping and whizzing by, even through the tents sometimes, yes and men too if they happen to be in the way of them, yet the speaker nor audience pay no more attention to them than to a fly.
It is wonderful how rarely a man is hit considering the amount of these deadly missiles flying around, they are chance balls to be sure, yet just as fatal if they happen to go in the right place. This is owing to the close proximity of our works, but happily the pickets are both concealed in a thick wood which puts a veto on this deadly sharpshooting. I feel very much like speaking in strong terms about this practice but will let it go well emphasized.
I never in all my life saw the beat of the flies here. They are indeed “legion” for their numerousness. They will “blow” anything wet or dry. Imagine my surprise and indignation when I beheld them audaciously “blowing” my sugar bag - not the best thing to keep sugar in you may think, nevertheless, it is what we use. A soldier is by no means complete without a bag for sugar, for coffee, salt &c, besides one for miscellaneous articles, also an oil cloth one to carry meat in. This with a small cup, knife, and some old fruit can, holding about a quart, to buckle on the outside of the haversack for a coffee pot, makes a buttery, cellar provision and all complete. Not a very choice cellar I assure you in this scorching hot sun when it is hot enough to melt lean pork through any number of thicknesses of cloth between it and the sun.
But I must stop, for I am afraid such little matters are not interesting to you and besides Lem will probably give you all such details verbally. But Lem don’t know the ropes as well as I do, although I think his experience would satisfy most anyone.
I want you to mention in particular if you get my last letter, for it was done in manuscript style with a leaf of Harpers Weekly, containing the picture of the battle of the 22nd June that I promised to send you. My reason for sending it in this shape was that I had only one stamp and it was too heavy for that and I thought this legal, as the ends were unsealed, so let it go.
Do you think it any ways probable that Wash. Co. will secure many of her quota before the “draw.” I hear there is some talk of their raising a new regt. there, is this so? I think it is a bad policy sending Hugh Cowan to recruit in the revolted states of Ga. And Ala. I think we ought to have these and their full quota besides. I’ll bet he don’t get 3 men in all. The recruiting agents are now thicker than hairs on a dog. Every man who is able ought to rush to arms and before the snow flies either make every traitor yield or annihilate them and all return well paid for having done our duty, by all the blessings that a peaceful happy country can afford us. This is my idea of the matter, but it seems to be the policy of many, too many, to hang about the street corners at home and blow about injustice and the abuse of “State rights” or “Constitutional rights,” and concoct their devilish schemes to thwart every good purpose of the government. Still they cry peace, peace only, well no matter what terms. These two “hobbies” of the peace men, viz: “State and constitutional rights” form the most serious drawbacks to our cause. For my part I would sooner witness the butchery of every soul in the Reb army, yes, in the confederacy too, and have the seed extinct, than to compromise one single iota with them, other than the conditions which are always open to them. I am just as radical as that, for it does seem impossible for a race of people like those of the court to be duped by leaders however hot-headed into such a perfectly inexcusable rebellion as this.
It is showering a little this afternoon and it spatters through the tent on my paper so that it is rather wet writing.
There is a good deal of talk here about being paid. The paymaster was here but I do not anticipate our being paid until the city is taken and even then the campaign may not close, but I think we will stop long enough to be paid and recruit up some. There is no such thing as an army keeping on the field without any recuperation. The animals, if nothing else, must be kept in order and a great many of them are killed and the army must stop and replace them.
For six months up to the 1st of July, I will probably draw $88.00. $13.00 for 4 months and 18 for 2 months, after the soldier’s pay was increased. From 1st of May privates draw 16, corpls. 18, and sgts. 20. I expect to be able to send you quite a pile this time if nothing happens. There will be some differences between $40 every two months and 26 but I earn it well.
The government still furnishes clothing at the old rates, so that by food and clothing at the old prices and raising the wages besides, they pay pretty well. They only charge 3.50 for the very best pants, shoes 1.50 and they cost the government a good deal more than this. We are all ahead this year on clothing, draw more than we did last year.
How does Aunt Sarah stand the warm dry weather you are having now? I can imagine her wishing for rain. I should think the flies would trouble her a great deal. I suppose C. is quite busy this summer, so many city boarders there, some of them could find good summer quarters in the army. Love to all. Write as often as possible, for I don’t have many letters. Should like a silk handkerchief and pack of thick envelopes.

Your son,