On to Atlanta


On to Atlanta

The Civil War Diaries of John Hill Ferguson, Illinois Tenth Regiment of Volunteers

John Hill Ferguson
Edited by Janet Correll Ellison with assistance from Mark A. Weitz

161 pages


December 2008


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Historians have shown us the drama and sweep of the swathe Sherman's March cut through the South. Officers have bequeathed us accounts of what happened in strategic and practical terms. But for a gritty, day-by-day, on-the-ground view of what the march to Atlanta meant to the common soldier, nothing can compare to the diary of an enlisted man like John Hill Ferguson.
A Scottish immigrant and a U.S. citizen since 1856, Ferguson enlisted in the Illinois Veteran Volunteers in 1860 and shortly afterward began to keep a diary. The annotated entries presented here, from 1864 and 1865, describe life in the Tenth Illinois as the troops made their way through the Carolinas and Georgia under Sherman. In these pages the details of Civil War soldiering become real, immediate, and personal, as do the daily dramas of life on the march. Smallpox struck Ferguson's unit early on, decimating his company; food, when there was any, was invariably poor; and always Confederate defenders waited up ahead, exacting a heavy toll on the advancing Northerners. These events and details, conveyed with all the force of Ferguson's fine intellect and superior powers of observation, offer an unforgettable firsthand view of that savage contest.

Author Bio

Janet Correll Ellison is English as a Second Language Coordinator for the Executive MBA Program at Quincy University in Quincy, Illinois.
Mark A. Weitz is an assistant professor of history at Auburn University-Montgomery and the author of A Higher Duty: Desertion among Georgia Troops during the Civil War (Nebraska 2000).


"Readers will entirely enjoy On to Atlanta. It is genuine, uniquely personal, and close-up. They will like John Hill Ferguson. He was a good and decent man, with a keen eye for observation."—Larry G. Ligget, Historians of the Civil War Theater

"Ferguson's account helps answer what the great scholars have been trying to understand for more than a century. What was the life of a soldier like in the Union and Confederate armies? Ferguson's own writings help explain exactly what life was like in Sherman's army. . . . Ferguson's diaries will prove very important to scholars of the war, adding a much-needed human touch to the perception of Sherman's army."—Aaron Crawford, Civil War History

"Ferguson's diary provides a detailed account of Sherman’s campaign against Atlanta and is important to historians who study that aspect of the Civil War…. This work will interest people studying Georgia in the Civil War, especially the soldiers who served in the state, the destruction of public and private property, and the civilians who lived through the experience."—Georgia Historical Quarterly

On to Atlanta is a well-edited contribution to Civil War scholarship. . . . Ferguson's diaries are particularly unique. He not only recorded his regiment's movements, camp life, and battles, he also documented the struggles they faced together as well—from inadequate rations to smallpox.”—Wyatt C. Hornsby, North Carolina Historical Review

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