Michigan in the Civil War

Browse by Name: Austin, Judson L.

Austin, Judson L.

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Nearly 300 letters written to his wife while he was serving in Company B, 19th Michigan Infantry (1862-1865). He is concerned with folks and affairs at home. He comments on guard and picket duty; the officers (especially General McClellan); the Chaplain; the health of the men, deaths and burials; the draft, deserters and Negroes coming into camp; on rumors of battles; and speculates about the end of the war. He tells about boxes and mail from home; explains why he is fighting; and writes often of the ever present food problem.

There is an account of a fierce battle near Franklin with a cavalry unit of Bragg's army in which his brother is killed and the regiment captured and marched south to Libby Prison. He tells an interesting story about buckets of burning leather being carried through the camp to smoke out smallpox. Paroled, the men marched or rode in hog cars back to Fortress Monroe and Annapolis where he was hospitalized for a while.

After being at home for a short time, he returns to the regiment, and the march south to Atlanta begins. He describes their camps and shanties; trading with rebel pickets; prisoners taken (including a woman in man's clothing); a Sunday in camp with "preaching in one place, firing of guns in another, a brass band playing in another place, and cooking meat and washing clothes most all around you." He visits the Chickamauga battlefield, describes the destruction and evacuation of Atlanta; the march to Savannah; the capture of a rice mill and the burning of towns and plantations along the way through South Carolina. Finally the war is over. He is sent to McDougall Hospital in New York Harbor, and discharged May 26, 1865.

The collection includes originals and transcripts of all letters, as well as a partial subject index.

This collection is available on microfilm for interlibrary loan.

Finding aid available online