Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry  
Dedicated to the Military and Civilian History
of Wisconsin in the Civil War
And The Iron Brigade of the West

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150 Years Ago this week

The Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry

Returned to Wisconsin

It is three years ago, to a day since the Second Wisconsin Infantry the first of the three years regiments from this State, left Camp Randall to begin their term of active Service.
The country was then unused to war. Everything pertaining to military affairs was novel. An organized regiment was a spectacle to attract people for miles around to witness. On that bright June morning, our city now accustomed to such scenes and scarcely moved to a ripple of excitement by, turned our almost en masse to view the unwented sight of a thousand Wisconsin men leaving their homes to face the perils and hardships of war. Little did we then know what the future hid behind its veil. The most sagacious had but a faint conception of the real magnitude of the struggle then hardly begun. Who of the many spectators present that morning does not vividly recall the scene of the departure? the jubilant spirits of the new volunteers, the blare of martial music, the roar of artillery, the waving handkerchiefs the mingled emotions of sadness and pride, the hearty burbs, of the multitude and the not less enthusiastic responses of the departing soldiers.
No one of all that gathering of people anticipated
what was to follow.

On Saturday last a spectacle was exhibited not less novel and appealing to the emotions of those who witnessed it more powerfully even than the scene of three years ago the return of the little remnant of the noble regiment after its long baptism of fire and blood to receive the All Hail of a grateful people as the mend of its faithful services. What gaps have been made by shot and shell in its full ranks how it has been sifted and winnowed in the tempest of repeated battles how it has been refined in the crucible of trial has already been narrated in these columns. Not an officer of the line who left with it came back! O'Connor, Stevens, Randolph, Colwell, McKee, Hughes, Noble, Sanford and Spoerri lie dead on the field of honor. Col. Mansfield and Lieut. Col. Parsons are wounded and in the hands of the enemy at Gordonsville. Capt. Rollins and Baldwin are still in Libby Prison, Richmond unless they have been recently sent farther South. The regiment returns under command of Maj. Gro. H. Otis who left the State as a private in the ranks.
After a tedious journey of seven days between Washington and this city, the veteran Second arrived here a little before 5 o'clock on Saturday afternoon

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The Storm Cometh-we hope the infatuated rebels like the 
appearance of the northern horizon. 
The storm of patriotism may shortly become the hurricane of vengeance, 
and they have only themselves to thank...

Those who sow the wind must reap the whirlwind.

Milwaukee Sentinel Editorial Saturday, April 20, 1861

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"I was not a Wisconsin soldier, and have not been
honorably discharged, but at the judgment day
I want to be with Wisconsin soldiers,"

John Gibbon 1880

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Gather up the fragments; let nothing be lost,
To show the coming ages what liberty cost

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The Grand Review

And here are passing now those yet spared from earth and
heaven of that
"Iron Brigade," of Meredith's,
on whose list appear such names as Lucius Fairchild,
 Henry Morrow, Rufus Dawes, and Samuel Williams, and
such  regiments as the 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan, and
2d, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin, which on the first day's front
line with Buford and Reynolds, in that one fierce onset
at Willoughby's run, withstood  overwhelming odds, with
the loss of a thousand, a hundred and fifty-three of
highest manliness.

Here draws near a moving spectacle indeed, the last of the
dear old First Corps; thrice decimated at Gettysburg 

in action and passion heroic, martyr-like, sublime. 

Sit down again together, Army of the Potomac!  all that
are left of us,-on the banks of the river whose name we
bore, into which we have put new meaning of our own. 

Take strength from one more touch, ere we pass  afar
from the closeness of old. 

The old is young to-day; and the young is passed.
Survivors of the fittest,-for the fittest, it seems to us, abide
in the glory where we saw them last,-take the grasp of
hands,  and look into the eyes,

without words!

Who shall tell what is past and what survives?
For there are things born but lately in the years, 
which belong to the eternities.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
Brevet Major-General U.S. Volunteers-

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Site Awards

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We thank the following organizations for their excellent 
facilities and help over the years: 
in the research of the Second Wisconsin, 
Iron Brigade of the West and Wisconsin Military History

The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 
The Wisconsin Veterans Museum,
The Civil War Institute at Carroll College,
The Public Libraries of Milwaukee,
Manitowoc, Stoughton, Oshkosh, Shawano,
Waukesha, Fond du Lac and Fox Lake,
and the National Archives. 
And public record sources across the state.

We also wish to acknowledge the help and interest of National Park Service staff at Manhattan Sites, Antietam, Shiloh, Gettysburg, Bull Run.

And the many local historians who have taken time to answer
questions and give direction.

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Last modified: June 21, 2014

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