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More August, 1861
Escape of Three Members of the Randall
Arlington Heights, Aug. 6, 61
Editors State Journal:-Having seen an account in your valuable
paper of the escape of some of the members of the Randall Guard and knowing the report to
have been exaggerated, I take the liberty to give you a true statement of the facts as
I will commence at the time of the retreat. I had just got to one of the buildings used as
a Hospital, whither I had assisted Lieut. Meredith, when Lieut. Col. Peck gave the order
for our regiment to fall in, as I expected, to form another line of battle for the
protection of the wounded at the Hospital, but he led us along to the next house where
most of our boys came to a halt. We could see the rebels moving along near the woods
between us and Centerville with the intention of cutting off our retreat. I was so
completely worn out that I seated myself on the steps of the building but the order came
to "forward" which I obeyed at a very slow pace. Our boys did not hurry
themselves at all. We crossed Bull's Run, when I was joined by Charles Moore and A.
Whetherby, members of our company. We three concluded we could go no further and struck
south west went about half a mile into the woods and laid down. We were not permitted to
remain long as quite a large body of New Yorkers retreated past me crying the Cavalry were
coming. We went about a mile further and crawled into a thicket, where we had been about
an hour, when another body of our troops passed, followed by the Zouaves. Three men rushed
into the thicket. One a chaplain of a Connecticut Regiment, one a Rhode Island fellow, and
a Brooklyn Zouave. We heard them firing around us all night. In the morning, one of our
boys started in search of water; he had got but a few feet from the thicket when he was
discovered by one of the enemy's picket who started for his camp which was near by.
We then commenced another retreat. We three separated ourselves from the rest and hid in
another thicket about half a mile distant where we heard the reports of four guns and we
conjectured the others were taken or killed, probably the latter. It must have been about
seven o'clock when we reached our place of concealment. At times during the forenoon the
rebels came within ten rods of us. The firing ceased about noon. It had rained some in the
forenoon and at twelve o'clock it poured down in perfect torrents and commenced to rain
until we left, which was at three o'clock, as near as I could judge. We were very hungry
and cold being wet through even to our hides. We had come about a mile and a half when we
saw a man advancing towards us. We halted as he approached, he taking us for
"Secesh" asked us what luck we had had. I then told him who we were and where we
wanted to go. He said he would help us although he did belong to the Southern Militia. He
had two Minnie muskets which he had found.
He thought he had a right to them as our troops had shot one of his cows. He offered us a
rubber blanket but it was not good for much and was of no use to us. He went with us about
four miles. We traveled until dark and staid in a barn all night. In the morning we met
with a good Union Man who gave us some bread and showed us the way to go We reached camp
on Tuesday night; about dark pretty well used up. I must mention that we called at the
house of Mrs. Jackson, mother to the murderer of Col. Ellsworth. The old lady is crazy a
part of the time. She gave us some milk and bread but soon commenced raving and called us
a band of wooden nutmeg peddlers, &c. Our Governor has been here which cheers the boys
up, and the next time it will not be a big run.
Capt. Bouck-The Daily North
Western of the 7th, publishes the following letter sighed by seventy-two of
Capt. Bouck's company:
We, the undersigned members of Capt. Gabriel Bouck's company of Oshkosh Volunteers, learn
with regret that a report is current at home that he (Capt. Bouck) acted a cowardly part
on the battle field of the 21st of July 1861; that he deserted his company, leaving them
to take care of themselves the best they could, while he mounted a horse and rode to
Washington in advance of the regiment. We are happy to say such charges are false.
Capt. Bouck was with us through the whole action, went with us upon the field and was one
of the last to leave and while we were firing, he picked up a musket belonging to a fallen
soldier and joined with us in pouring the deadly elements into the enemy's ranks; and that
on the retreat to Centerville, a colonel asked
if there was any commanding officer of the regiment there; Capt. Bouck stepped out of the
ranks and said he was Captain of one of the companies; the Col. told him to take charge of
the column and forward. Feeling aggrieved that our Captain is so basely slandered, and
considering it our duty to contradict such charges,
we do hereby sign our names and hope that you will give it an insertion in your paper.
We cheerfully give Capt. Bouck the benefit of the above but we cannot understand why it
was reported to a Milwaukee paper that he was in Washington early on the Monday morning
following the fight. We hope this matter will be explained.
We are glad to know that our citizens are not
forgetting the "Belle City Rifles" nor the many privations to which they are
subject in camp life.
Their noble and heroic conduct in the field renders them truly worthy of our warmest
admiration and remembrance. Yesterday a box was packed and forwarded for them with fresh
supplies of writing paper, ink, envelopes, tobacco
ginger-schnapps, jellies, &c. This is well, but for fear there was not enough to go
round, our citizens will start another box on Saturday morning next. Any one wishing to
contribute some little token and will have the same at the old "Reading Room",
Masonic building by Saturday morning, 9 o'clock, will be in time. Little comforts that
cannot be had in camp are what is needed and, as this may be the last chance to reach them
before they march again, there will no doubt be a hearty response.
From the Second Regiment
Fort Corcoran, Aug. 8th, 1861
Dear Advocate:- Since I last wrote, nothing of much importance has happened worthy of note
till within the last few days. We have another Colonel appointed, Mr. O'Conner of Beloit,
under whose command order is fast being restored and the boys are feeling better, though
not yet altogether recovered from the over exertion of the late battle. We were very sorry
to lose Col. Coon, he was universally beloved by the Regiment and when, as an officer of
the staff, he came in sight of the Regiment, he was always saluted by the boys with
feelings of pleasure.
When the retreat was given, he waved aloft the Stars and Stripes and attempted to rally
the men, in which, for a time, he succeeded until the panic became so general that he was
forced to fall back with the rest.
Much as we regret our losing Col. Coon, we, the "Belle City Rifles" have now
experienced a loss that is infinitely greater to our company in the departure of Lieut.
Doolittle who left us last night for a place in the regular army. In Lieut. Doolittle, we
lose a good officer, a faithful friend, ever ready for any duty assigned to him and that
duty always discharged with credit to himself and fidelity to his country while his
presence with us in camp did much to alleviate our condition and reconcile us to the
privations which necessarily fall to the lot of soldiers in active service. When he left
last night he had three times three with a tiger and we sincerely hope he may find as many
friends as he leaves behind.
By the appointment of Lieut. Doolittle, Mr. Parsons receives the commission of 1st. Lieut.
in the Belle City Rifles and, much as we regret the circumstances which made that post
vacant, we feel glad that it falls to the lot of Mr. Parsons to fill it. He has taken a
great interest in the company and gained the respect and well wishes of his men. The post
of 2d lieut. has been given to Mr. Sexton and Orderly Sergeant to Mr. Hurlburt; both are
good men and will make excellent officers.
The weather here is intensely hot, so much so that we can do nothing in the middle of the
day. We drill in the morning before breakfast and after supper in the evening.
Our Regiment will remain with Brigadier General Sherman and I believe are to have
charge of Fort Corcoran for the present.
We have changed our drill from Scott to Hardee. We hope soon to be
furnished with the Minnie musket or rifle instead of the old Harper's Ferry musket we have
Yours as ever,
Col. Peck and Major McDonald
Letter from Lieut. Rollins:
Arlington Heights, Va., Aug. 9th, 1861
**** In a private letter which I received yesterday from Madison and dated Aug. 4th is
this statement "Yesterday morning a crowd gathered at Fuller's store door to hear the
statement of Captain (?) Daniels (Of Booth notoriety) who had just arrived from Washington
and who was an eye witness of the scenes of that
day. He says he met Colonel Peck and Major McDonald at just 3 o'clock in the afternoon at
some point (I have forgotten where now) making tracks for Washington" 1st, I have
made enquire and am unable to find anyone who has seen Daniels in or about Washington
since our regiment arrived here. 2d, All Wisconsin men who have been in Washington, so far
as I know, within the
last thirty days have visited our regiment. 3d, The statement that Col. Peck or Major
McDonald or either of them were seen at 5 o'clock P.M. on the 21st of July making tracks
toward Washington is an unqualified lie for at that hour they were both on the battle
field and the retreat had not then commenced.
I by no means justify Col. Peck in leaving his regiment after the battle to pick their way
to Washington without a commander, but that was after the battle and when the regiment was
scattered among other regiments; and if all the facts and commands of higher officers were
known, even that might look very differently.
There is nothing lost in limiting the statements in this matter, as well as in others, to
the actual facts. I am under no obligation to defend Col. Peck or Major McDonald further
than one man is bound to defend another when he is meanly and unnecessarily slandered.
Some say Lieut. Col. Peck was not with the regiment when we charged on the battery on the
hill. As to his whereabouts at that time, let those who know speak, I do not.
I heartily despise that class of contemptible croakers who, having no characters of their
own to be injured, never lose an opportunity of belying and slandering others. Capt. Ely
went to Washington and has not been with his company since. Has been sick part of the
time. I saw him the night of the 2d, riding toward Washington, a horse that had been shot
in the nose and was urged by many to get off the poor beast and let him go.
I then lost sight of him. To put it mildly, I think folks who live in houses made of glass
should not initiate the practice of throwing stones.
Truly your friend,
Wisconsin Boys Prisoners
By the following letter, which we cut from the Register,
of Portage there is ground to...hope that some of the Racine boys reported wounded or
killed may be alive and among the number mentioned. Here is the letter: Mr. C. Seymour,
editor of the LaCrosse Republican, sends us the following
La Crosse, Aug. 10, 1861
Editors: Portage Register:--I have much pleasure in stating that
a letter dated Richmond, Va., 30th uit., now before me, reports John P. Chrystie of
Portage in hospital in that place and under kind treatment. His right arm was broken and
he suffers much pain but is not in danger. About forty of the Wisconsin Second
are prisoners at Richmond and are well treated. Jackson Brown, Hawkins, Marshall, and
another of the LaCrosse company are there also. It is possible other Portage men may be in
the same place but the only name mentioned was Chrystie and that I send to you by special
request.- As this information came to hand since our paper went to press this evening, I
write you so that the
framily and friends of Mr. Chrystie may be promptly informed of his safety.
Col. of the 2d Regiment
Gov. Randall has appointed Lieutenant O'Connor, Col. of the 2d Regment in place of Col.
Peck, resigned. Of Mr. O'Connor, personally, we know nothing except that he is a graduate
of West Point. But since his appointment was made, we have heard his loyalty to the
Government questioned very decidedly and language attributed to him which, if correct,
renders his appointment one not fit to be made. He will have to place himself right on the
main question or the boys of the 2d will make his position an uncomfortable one.- Portage
We have seen similar statements to the above in
several of our State exchanges but we are satisfied they do Col. O'Connor great injustice.
Lieut. O'C. graduated at West Point and after several years active service in the regular
army, resigned his commission, married in Arkansas and settled there. His wife's family
were slave holders but their fidelity to the Union compelled them to flee to the North
last spring leaving their slaves and property to their fate. He immediately tendered his
services to the government to put down this rebellion.
The stories referred to have probably originated in people confounding Col. O'Connor with
his father. The latter should, in justice to his son, either dry up his Negro-phobia slang
or else go where their expression will not reflect upon true men.
Letter from Capt. Strong
Editors: Advocate- Thinking that a few lines from me would be
gladly received by the citizens of Racine and Racine County who have sons and friends in
the Belle City Rifles I write a statement of facts that you can publish.
I wish in a few simple words to to pay a slight tribute of respect to those who died and
to testify of the daring bravery of those who still live.
There were no cowards in the ranks of the "Belle City Rifles" on that eventful
Sunday, all were brave and fearless. To be sure they tried to excel each other in simple
deeds of daring and some ran greater risks than on theirs, but all alike were brave.
The boys were loaded down with baggage - heavy guns, uniforms, coat buttoned up the
throat, 40 rounds of cartridges each, cartridge box, cap box, bayonet, scabbard, shoulder
strap and waist belt buckled tight by order of the Commandant, haversacks with two days
rations, canteens filled with water and two heavy blankets wound over the right shoulder
and tied under the left arm; thus caparisoned and equipped like pack horses instead of
men, they marched from camp below Centerville to the scene of action where they lay from
sunrise till 91/2 o'clock just beneath the cover of a wood supporting Ayer's (formerly
Sherman's) battery in company with the N.Y. 69th, 70th and 18th regiments
quietly waiting for the ball to open. Hunter's Division led of gallantly on the right, and
after an hour's heavy firing, we were ordered to his support, here our hardships
commenced. The day was intensely hot and after 11/2 mile at double quick down through the
wood and up a hill, the boys begged so hard to throw
away their blankets that I finally found courage to ask the Colonel's consent. The
blankets were thrown off and on we went at what is called a double quick but it was more
like a run. Over hill, down through valleys, across a stream and up hills so steep that
but two could go abreast; still they went onward with a shout and a tiger.
There was cannon in front of them, cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them
which volleyed and thundered and stormed them with shot and shell. Boldly they ran well
unto the "jaws of death into the mouth of hell" The men finally halted and were
formed in line by our Colonel with the N.Y. 69th, 79th
and 18th Fire Zouaves, 2d Maine and several other regiments. This is the point in the game
where McDowell supposed the day was over. At any-rate he rode by us with his staff
perfectly unconcerned. Gen.Sherman rode by us and paid us some compliment, I do not now
remember what it was. This was about half past
ten. At this time there was a lull in the firing but shortly the cannonading commenced
again and we were ordered to the right to support our battery. We were gradually closing
in upon their fortifications and batteries. Another battery had gone around us, followed
by Ellsworth's Zouaves, and we were now occupying the extreme right. Their batteries and
large guns now opened upon us with all their fury and it seemed as though a dozen guns
were directed upon us alone. We went forward at the double quick, and it was about this
time that Humes from Beloit was struck.
A ten pound ball passed through the ranks, 5 or six files to my left, and took off his arm
just above the elbow and also knocked young Ginty down destroying his gun and
injuring his hand. Lieut. Parsons was standing almost behind Ginty but was not struck by
the ball. The shock, however, threw him on to one knee. This was the first shot our boys
had received and I thought there might be a little faltering but there was nothing of the
kind. The ranks closed up immediately and on we went.
John T. Wilson and Amos Botsford of Racine stood beside Humes, and I ordered them to
fall out with instructions to tie a handkerchief around his arm above the wound and carry
him to the Hospital. This was immediately done. Shortly after, we were commanded to halt
in a hollow, just below the brow of a hill. Here we were perfectly safe; the cannon balls
and shell flew around us in
all directions and were evidently aimed at our regiment. But they either went beyond
us or struck the top of the swell and bounded over our heads. Some of the shells burst
very near us and I think 2 or 3 men in Company B, on the on the extreme left, were
injured. While we were lying here, the boys had a great deal of sport laughing and joking
among themselves. One would have thought they were going to a celebration instead of a
fight. Michael Coleman from Racine took a dozen canteens from the boys and ran down the
brow of the hill and filled them from a mud puddle while the balls were flying around him
in every direction. Henry Wormington from Racine ran up to the brow of the hill, and
picked up a spent cannon ball and brought it back. It was here that Ginty showed his
pluck; he came back with his right hand done up and a musket that he had found and
insisted upon falling into the ranks. I told him he had better go to the rear but as his
mind was set upon it, I finally consented. At this stage of the game the firing from the
batteries was most terrific. We had some 5 or 6 light batteries playing at the same time
from different points and they were answering them all. Ellsworth's Zouaves had, by this
time, worked their way around the edge of the woods to support their battery, which was
doing good execution. It was at this time that the enemy's celebrated Black Horse Cavalry
made their charge upon the Zouaves. It was a beautiful sight, I can assure you, to see
them come dashing down from the woods as they did, but when the smoke cleared away all
that could be seen was a few horses with empty saddles. We were soon ordered forward to
their support. We came down the hill behind which we had been lying so long, crossed a
wild ravine, filed into, and marched up the road. There was a large hill in front of us;
on this hill was the enemy's infantry and batteries. The road spoken of wound round nearly
to the top of it. It was at the top of this hill
where nearly all the regiments lost their men. Johnson's reinforcements had just come into
the action and we stationed in rifle pits, out side their fort, and in the woods to the
right of us. One Regiment at a time was ordered to charge to the top of the hill and then
fire at "Will". As fast as a regiment was cut to pieces and thrown into
confusion, they would fall back into the road.
Willie Upham was shot about the same time. I stood quite near to him when he was hit.
The ball passed through the shoulder strap that supports the cartridge box just at the
shoulder blade and came out at the back. The wound, I think, was mortal and had a Surgeon
been there I do not believe his life could have been
saved. He was carried to the rear by Douglas Smith and Thomas Wheldon. James Anderson was
shot in two places, one ball passing through his thigh, the other through the calf of his
leg. He was left near a fence close by the battle field.
I saw hundreds of soldiers that day fire their guns at "present arms." I am
proud to say that not a member of the "Belle City Rifles" did I see fire in that
way. Not a shot was fired by one of them unless something was seen to be shot at. The most
of them, I think, did good execution. George B. Lincoln, a corporal in the company, fired
32 rounds. I think the boys averaged 12 or 15 rounds each. A great many of us had very
narrow escapes. A Minnie ball struck the top of my hat, raking along the top of my head
spoiling the cap. I did not pick it up but went bare headed. Another ball struck a small
strap attached of my sword belt.
A bullet struck the hilt of Lieut. Doolittle's sword and one cut the book from Parsons's
sword belt and cut his coat for three or four inches. I fired a few shots from a Minnie
rifle belonging to a wounded man in the Second Maine Regiment. The first shot at a color
bearer, distance some 200 yards, the flag dropped. I do not know whether I killed him or
not There might have been 100 men that fired at him at the same time that I did.
After the retreat commenced and the excitement was over, I began to feel very unwell, my
head pained me badly and all at once I gave out entirely. Had it not been for Lieut.
Parsons, I most certainly should have been killed or taken prisoner. He picked me up by
main force and, with the assistance of Charles Tapling, carried me to the Hospital. Cary
Tuckman brought me some water
in his canteen and in a short time I felt better. The Cavalry were charging upon the
Hospital and it became necessary for us to leave.
Lieut. Doolittle and the boys took turns in assisting me. The retreat from here to
Washington, it is unnecessary for me to repeat, you know all about it. Of the bravery of
the Racine boys not enough can be said. No language of mine can begin to express it. They
fought like veterans. Lieutenants Doolittle and Parsons were in the thickest of the fight
and showed themselves true and brave men. They were perfectly cool and collected all
through the engagement, and were among the last that left the field. The following is a
list of killed, wounded and missing: Henry E. Benson, Wm. H. Upham, Charles Filer, Minion
F. Humes, James Anderson killed. Wounded: Thomas Crosby, shot through the arm, at
Georgetown Hospital, doing well; Henry Ginty, wounded on the right hand slightly by the
cannon ball that struck Humes, in camp doing duty; Charles Jewett, wounded slightly off
left arm by musket ball, doing duty in camp,- Missing: Fred W. Lacy, Antle Henry,
Waterford; John Anderson, Racine, they were undoubtedly taken prisoners, no one saw them
shot or wounded.
My reasons for believing Humes dead are these: His arm was shattered very near the
shoulder and the shock itself (even though he had the best of care) would kill him and
according to their own accounts, our wounded were sent to Richmond before they were
treated and that they were in a horribly sitution.
Had I not seen Willie Upham shot, I might be induced to believe he was alive as it is, I
think he is dead. I saw the change come over his countenance and saw the course of the
ball, I do not think the best Surgeon in the would could have saved him. He was left by
Smith and Wheldon in a comfortable place at the hospital, was lying off a blanket and had
a canteen of fresh water beside him and they say he was feeling easier. There may be a
slight possibility of James Anderson's being saved. The wound he received in the thigh was
a terrible one and he would
bleed to death in a short time if he was not cared for. The Belle City Rifles went into
the engagement with 85 men, rank and file, out of that number 5 were killed, 8 are missing
and some 5 are badly used up. It will be necessary to have them discharged. One has
already been discharged, making some 14 killed, disabled and discharged; 2 are wounded in
the Hospital, and fifteen are on the sick list, leaving only 71 fit for duty. The Belle
City Rifles returned from their first fight with saddened hearts. They were eager, very
eager, for it and went into the engagement confident of victory but they were obliged to
retire leaving them 8 of their bravest, noblest, best. They cannot forget it. Should
memory fail them, there are scars within that will quicken it. The names of Filer, Benson,
Upham, Humes and Anderson are sacred with us and all we desire is again to be led against
the enemy. The chord is broken and the noble boys that laid down their lives so gallantly,
so freely, on that unfortunate Sunday must and will be avenged.
To the relatives and friends of those who are gone, I can say only one word: They are the
first to suffer, the first to realize the realities of this unholy war. Other hearts must
bleed, other mothers and fathers will still have to weep for their sons, many heart
strings are yet to be broken, many firesides made desolate. Many a gallant youth whose
heart now beats high with the hope that he shall again greet his loved ones at home must
lie on the battle-field before this lesson is finished, before the end comes. God grant
that we may meet it us gallantly as did our fallen comrades. Wisconsin's gallant sons have
been shot down by traitors!
Young men of Racine, you that are left behind, there are 8 vacant places in the ranks of
the Belle City Rifles! 8 that we miss at reveille and retreat! Our comrades are gone!
Peace to their ashes - Rest to their spirits.
From the Second Regiment
Return of Dr. Lewis from Richmond-
What the rebels think of the Westerners-
their inhumanity much exaggerated-
Suppressing insubordination in our camp
Fort Corcoran, August 15, 1861
Dr. Lewis, first Surgeon of the Wisconsin Second, who was taken prisoner in the late
battle of Bull Run while nobly and unflinchingly doing his duty in caring for the wounded
and suffering regardless of his own safety, returned to our camp a few days since, having
been dismissed on "parole of honor". He had been carried to Richmond with other
prisoners of the Second Regiment and by making himself generally useful - dressing the
wounds and attending the sick of foes as well as friends, he soon gained the esteem and
confidence of the rebel commandants who allowed him, after pledging his word not to expose
plans nor situation, a knowledge which to a great extent could not be kept from one so
intelligent, to proceed to Washington and, in all probability, he will soon return to
Wisconsin. He brought word of the safety of many of our missing men, some of whom we
supposed dead. On the list of prisoners now in the hands
of the rebels I saw the names of Sergt. C.D.Y. Holdredge, C.Trowbridge, musician, and
privates E.R. Reed, E. L. Reed and G.A. Beck, all of Co H. Randall Guards. The last
missing man of our company is now accounted for and, strange to tell, though many of our
men were wounded, not one was killed.
The rebels seem to have a very good opinion of us, and told the Doctor that they
"admired our bravery and considered us soldiers in every sense of the word" that
they "did not care much for the New Englanders, but the Westerners did shoot to
kill" It is a well known fact that there is not that intense hate existing between
the South and the West that exists between the South and the East; and but for the deadly
animosity existing between New England and Southern institutions there might be a
The inhumanity exercised by the rebels toward our wounded and prisoners had been greatly
Possibly some heartless cowards did perpetrate some deeds of awful cruelty such as
bayoneting the wounded in the fiendish excitement of battle, but I do not believe that
such things were general. Dr. Lewis gives no account of such barbarities and he had an
opportunity of knowing. Reports of their cruelly
toward wounded men and prisoners had been circulated in our camp after the battle of the
18th and some of our men swore they would show no quarter to the rebels, they should
expect none at their hands, and when I was returning from the battle of the 21st, I found
one of my tent-mates, George A. Beck, who had been wounded in the leg and, having thrown
away his gun, was hobbling along supporting himself by a stick in each hand. He told me
that he would rather be shot than taken prisoner for if taken he would surely be murdered.
I kept with him and supplied him with water and rendered such other assistance as I could
until we crossed the bridge, almost in rifle range of of our reserve lines, the rebel
batteries there threw shell among us and we got separated; I had not time to search for
him in the crowd that surrounded me but hurried on to join our troops
who were forming not half a mile distant. expecting the rebels would attack us. From that
time until yesterday. I heard no word from Beck and supposed that he had been butchered
but I am rejoiced to learn that he is safe and kindly treated by his captors. No, thank
God, the rebels are not so cruel and heartless as they have been supposed to be.
Yesterday a strange case of insubordination occurred in our camp, 60 or more privates and
non-commissioned officers of the Second Maine Regiment, having refused to serve longer,
falsely alleging that they were not soldiers any longer their term of enlistment having
expired. They were at once taken prisoners by order of Brig. Gen. McDowell, and being
found guilty of insubordination and rebellion by a court martial, were sentenced to be
taken at once to the navy yard from thence to be carried to the Isle of Tortugas in the
Gulf of Mexico, there to remain until, by their good behavior, they prove themselves
worthy again to bear arms in their regiment.
Such is the end of insubordination and I trust there will be no more of it in our army.
The order was read in the hearing of Sherman's Brigades as a warning, I suppose, to
discontented spirits and will be made known to all the army for the same purpose.
Our Encampment: How
soldiers are treated, Fed, Clothed, &c.
What Wisconsin has done for her volunteers
A novel mode of promotion just introduced.
What Wisconsin has done for her volunteers
A novel mode of promotion just introduced.
Fort Corcoran, August 17, 1861
The Second Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteers is now encamped on the Virginia side of the
Potomac river and at the south of Fort Corcoran under the very mouths of the huge and
ferocious "War Dogs" that guard the Federal Capital. People in Wisconsin and
elsewhere need have no fears for the safety of Washington. Well do the rebels know that an
attack made by them would surely
be a defeat and lead to the utter destruction of their army and cause. We must all admit
that Beauregard is a wise General and will not rush his army into certain and inevitable
ruin. We have an army sufficient, at this point, to repel an attack
of all the forces of the South. Our lines are extended nearly to Falls Church, full five
miles from here and the time has not been, and will not be, when the guns of the rebels
can reach the dome of the Capitol.
We have several large springs of clear cold water near our village of white tents, which
is a luxury not always to be obtained by the soldier, while the waters of the bright
bosomed Potomac afford as a splendid bathing place which adds not only to our comfort but
also to our health, not a man of the Second having yet died
I have noticed same complaints in different papers of late from
homesick and dissatisfied volunteers who undoubtedly supposed, when they enlisted, that
war was a "kid glove affair" but, finding it far different, they are now
endeavoring to dissuade others from enlisting by complaining of their treatment, rations,
clothing &c. Let me assure the readers of the Patriot that
the volunteers of Wisconsin, at least, are well treated, well clothed and well fed. It is
true we see some hard times and any man who can not stand hard fare and hard marching,
without complaining when it is necessary that he should, is not fit to be a soldier. With
the exception of our march to and from Bull Run, we have had no real hard times. I have
worked harder and fared worse in the North of Wisconsin, on the Wisconsin and Mississippi
rivers, on the plains of the West and in the state of Louisiana than I have since
enlisting. As the only way of making an army serviceable, there must be subordination but
men are not maltreated by their superiors. I am a private in the ranks of Company H, and
have not had any difficulty with my officers. We are well supplied with clothes and
blankets and our rations, though some of the boys grumble a good deal about them, are as
good as can be expected and, in fact, good enough for any man most of the time. There are
times when suitable provisions can not be got but that is seldom and the soldiers of Uncle
Sam rarely, if ever, go to bed hungry.
The young but gallant State of Wisconsin has acted nobly in this struggle for the
maintainance of our nationality and she is not more proud of her volunteers than we are
proud of her and proud of our Governor. There is not a Regiment of Volunteers in the
service that is as well equipped in every thing but arms and we have the Harper's Ferry musket; as other Regiments also have, as the 2d Wisconsin.
Our tents are superior to any that I have seen; and we were paid by the state for the time
we were in the service of the state, which the soldiers of no other state can say.
Three cheers and a Badger,
for the State of Wisconsin
May she ever stand firmly by the old flag
May the God of our sires protect that dear land
And e'er keep her free from the traitor's vile hand;
May a beacon of Freedom the Badger State be
The pride of the West and home of the free!
The steps taken by the friends of liberty and
humanity, in supplying men for each Regiment, to attend to the sick and wounded at the
expense of the State government, is sufficient to render immortal the names of those who
first conceived the idea and will cause Wisconsin to be respected by her sister states
throughout all time. Even the South, bitter as she is against us, must and will
acknowledge that we are superior to them in philanthropy and take us for a pattern in the
future. God bless Wisconsin!
A novel case of promotion occurred in our Regiment the other day, which I will relate, as
it shows how people will often repose confidence in strangers, comparatively speaking,
which they refuse to those with whom they are better acquainted even tho' they are full as
The Second Lieutenant of one of the companies of our Regiment, having resigned or
been lost in battle, the Company, instead of electing their own Orderly or some other of
their non-commissioned officers to fill the vacancy, elected the Orderly of another
Company, thus refusing to give to their own friends and officers the honors they would
bestow upon those who had no claim upon their confidence; and giving the men of their own
company to understand that they were unfit for officers and need never expect to be
If such a thing should occur in the Company to which I belong, I would as surely leave it
as I could obtain my transfer.
The people of Madison will undoubtedly be pleased to learn that Captain J.F. Randolph is
nearly recovered from the wounds he received in the battle of Bull Run and will soon
resume the command of his Company. He is with us most of the time now and the men that
compose the Randall Guard are not given to homesickness when they see their Captain around.
Washington, Aug 15
The following are additional names of our men prisoners in the hands of the rebels; 2d
Wisconsin Wounded - G.A. Peck in leg, H. Stillman in the shoulder, W. H. Upam in the neck,
S. D. Pitcher in the leg, John Hoeback in the thigh, J. H. Beat in the thigh, John Ross in
the foot, A.S. Curtis in the thigh, Orland Wasdell in arm, P. P. Simpson in the shoulder,
John House and S. Strong in the leg, Michael Benken in the leg, F. Hasborner in the arm,
D. Lewis in the shoulder, Michael Rice in the back.
Died July 24th- Wm.Reed who was wounded in the leg; died July 28d- Edwin Foster
wounded in the foot; Marcus Conant in the head; Albert E. Farmer in the foot. Died August
10th- J. Mackline wounded in the arm, and amputated at the shoulder; Daniel Blanchard and
Letter from Capt. Strong
News from our wounded Boys
George C. Northrop, Esq.:
Mayor of Racine.
Dear Sir: I sent a dispatch informing you that Willie H. Upham was alive and would
recover. That Fred Lacy was wounded but would probably recover. That James Anderson,
instead of being killed, was very doubtful and that Antle Henry of Waterford was a
I will now write you all the information I have been able to obtain from Doct. Lewis; he
talks freely about the wounded but is not at liberty to say much about anything else.
Doct. Lewis was taken by a troop of Cavalry between the battle ground and Centerville, or
rather gave himself up on purpose to take care of the wounded. Willie Upham and James
Anderson were not picked up until Monday morning, the 22d July, and they were then carried
to a hospital near the battle field. For nearly two weeks, Doct. Lewis stayed at this
place taking care of our wounded men, after which time they were all sent to Richmond. At
Richmond Dr. Lewis had charge of over 100 wounded men, a portion of them belonging to the
2d Wisconsin. He labored night and day dressing wounds and taking care of the wounded and
did everything in his power for their comfort.
Dr. Lewis says that Willie Upham's wound's not so dangerous as at first we all supposed.
He says he is in good spirits and will recover, although it will take a long time. Lacy
has a bad wound through the right thigh but is doing well and will get well; it is nothing
more than a flesh wound, the bone being uninjured. James Anderson is shot through the
thigh has a very bad wound and Dr. Lewis thinks it doubtful whether he recovers. The
wounded are well treated and well cared for, their wounds are dressed two or three tines
each day and very good food is furnished them.
Doct. Lewis came by the way of Norfolk and Fortress Munroe. He left Richmond very
unexpectedly, did not have even time to inform the boys, and, consequently, they did not
send any word home to their friends. The dead of the 2d Wisconsin were buried on Monday or
Tuesday in one common grave. Antle Henry of Waterford is a prisoner at Richmond. Dr. Lewis
was not allowed to see any of the prisoners and brought us no news concerning him but his
name had been reported in the Tribune so I think it must be correct. John Anderson of
Waukesha has not been heard from and the probability is that he is dead although he may
yet turn up. I received a letter from his father a few days since and have written him
fully upon the subject. This is all that I can learn concerning our boys. Dr. Lewis left
so suddenly that he had no chance to converse with them but he says they were all in good
spirits and would all recover unless it might be Anderson. It was very uncertain about him
but with good care there might be a chance for him: Everything is quiet in camp and the
boys are well. Respectfully Yours,
WM. E. Strong
Aug, 16th 1861 near Fort Corcoran, Va.
Speech of M. H. Carpenter
At The Reception of the Wisconsin First Regiment
on their return to Milwaukee, August 17th, 1861
[After welcoming in appropriate terms the returned
soldiers, and paying a tribute to those who had fallen on the battlefield, Mr. Carpenter
continued as follows:]
In this interval between the return of the First and
the departure of the Seventh and Eighth Wisconsin Regiments, we naturally pause and ask
ourselves what are the ends and aims of this war? Is it a war fought for partisan propose,
for private and selfish ends? or is it a war for God, our country and truth? If in this struggle we
fall, do we fall "blessed Martyrs" or do we fall the
just victims of a unholy ambition?
This is an important question; and we ought to examine the matter
honestly and thoroughly. Patriots may say "Our country right or wrong" but in
this enlightened age, the moral force necessary to success is the thought that
our country is right.
This is a question above all party politics. We should forget that we were ever separated by party lines. In this emergency we are all Republicans, all
Democrats, all Americans. Perish every party distinction, watchword and organization, BUT
LIVE our country.
We are struggling, fighting, dying to maintain the government our fathers established
for themselves and their posterity forever. It is no new invention, no modern theory we
are trying to fasten on an unwilling people. The government of the United States was
ordained by the free act of the American people and every new State that has been admitted
has been received upon her own request. The great body of the American people in all the
States, North, South, East and West, are pledged by the holiest sanctions to support the
Constitution of the United States. President Lincoln well said to the traitors and rebels
who surrounded him at his inauguration "You have taken no oath to violate the
constitution and I have taken a solemn one to support it."
More than seventy-seven years this government has been in full operation. What act of
injustice has it committed? What man or set of men can tax it with cruelty of operation?
What State can complain that it has been pillaged or plundered? Unitedly unanimously we
have gone on in a tide of prosperity that has turned our heads. We are wild with our
success, with our achievement, in the midst of unparalleled individual and national well
being, at peace with all nations, respected by all, our granaries filled, our fields
groaning with the harvest, with all this
There is "hurrying to
And gathering fears and tremblings of distress"
There is "mounting in hot haste; the steed,
The mastering squadron and the clattering car"
Go "pouring forth with impetuous speed,
Swiftly forming in the ranks of war."
And all this, for what? and why? Because slavery is
sick with surfeiting, and pants for fresh fields for her ambitions schemes. Tolerated, yes,
protected by the Constitution as a existing evil too deep for
immediate eradication; it has grown deeper and deeper in its foundations and higher and
higher in its pretensions, undermining the strength and sapping the power of the
Constitution, until at length it feels itself stronger than the Government and turns its
destructive and poisons fang upon the Constitution under which it has grown to such
fearful greatness. This black specimen of the reptile genus warmed into life in our
bosoms, now rears its scaly crest to wage a war, in which it may be that it or we must
We have undertaken this war and are now prosecuting it solely to restore order and ensure
future obedience to the Constitution. We would gladly cease our efforts here, with these
objects accomplished. We would gladly renew our guarantee to the Southern States that they
shall be protected in person and property, as of old. Would gladly do all the Constitution
ever required, and have peace again. The South can enjoy this security now. How long it will be in the power of
the South to make such terms, or in our power to grant them, God only knows. Wars rarely
end where they are expected to. The Revolution could have been stifled at its Birth by a
very little graceful concession on the part of the British Crown. The colonies sought only
for a redress of grievances; and would gladly have accepted such favor and returned to
their obedience. This the crown denied; and the colonies could not win the result they
contended for without shaking the power of the mother country to its foundation. Before the colonies had
achieved the long sought for redress of grievances, they had achieved their total
independence. Can the South learn nothing from the lessons of history? Or has God decreed
the destruction of slavery; and does he purpose to accomplish it through the folly and
madness of slaveholders?
If the South expects that we are much longer to fight this war with kid glove,- much
longer to send armies to the South, but strictly watch them to see they do not much
injure the South, she is sadly mistaken. The powers that be may say so- wish
so; but the rising determination of the North, the absolute imperious necessities of
self-existence are impelling things forward, where Secretaries of War and smooth-faced
officials cannot stop the course of events by crying "respect all the rights of
If this state of things is long continued on the part of the South, armies will march in
that direction with the express purpose of injuring the South.
This rebellion is not in strict conformity with the constitution!! and the south may find
that there is an unconstitutional way to suppress it. The South is carrying on a war that
violates every principle of gratitude and of fealty, every oath and sanction of religion,
and calls out to the North, "Now, remember your Christian principles, remember you oath to support the constitution and protect our rights"; but the South
may find that, like the Methodist, in the fight we have fallen from grace.
This is a sad state of things; dire necessities we are hinting at, but fearful as may be
the consequences of this Southern treachery and folly, yet, if it must be, we can say to
the South, if we shall see her bleeding in a war and expiring in a servile insurrection,
with more truth than it was originally spoken,
"Thou can'st not say
we did it-
Shake not thy gory locks at us."
It seems to be the unalterable decree of Heaven that
nations, like individuals, should be "perfected through suffering"
Our prosperity had hardened our hearts and was fast changing us from a love of country to
a love of self. In the impulse this terrible war has created, all the better feelings and
emotions of the heart are again in full play; our money, our lives, even, are as nothing
weighed against our country and liberty.
Liberty is involved in this struggle.- This last best effort at self government must
not perish thus. But we have work, work before us. Southerners
are not Mexicans- will not run at a yell, they, too, are Americans and have Washington to
their fathers. They are foemen worthy our steel, and foes that richly deserve
This war has forcibly reminded us of Byant's address to Freedom.
"Oh, Freedom thou art
not as poets dream
A fair young girl with light and delicate limbs
and tress gleaming from the cap
With which the Roman master crowned his slave
When he took off the greaves-A bearded man
Armed to the teeth art thou; one mailed hand
Grasps the broad shield, and one the sword; thy brow
Glorious in beauty though it be is scarred
With tokens of old wars; thy massive limbs
Are strong with struggling"
Our Washington Correspondence
List of Wisconsin Soldiers in the Hospital at Richmond
Washington, Aug 16th, 1861
Dr. J.M. Lewis, surgeon of the Second regiment of Wisconsin, returned to camp last
Tuesday. His arrival was hailed by the soldiers with every demonstration of joy. The men
have always spoken in the highest terms of their lost Surgeon and for a long time they
hardly dared to hope that he was still alive, as the last information they had of him was
when he was defending himself with his pistol against the attack of some of the Black
He left Richmond last Monday morning, having received an intimation on Saturday night that
he was to be sent to Norfolk. Up to that time he had been assiduously engaged in attending
to the wants of the wounded Government soldiers. When it was announced to him that he was
to be released and conveyed North, he asked permission of Gen. Winder to remain ten days
He said that he appreciated liberty as much as any man could, but having fallen into their
hands, he was unwilling to leave his men while they needed his assistance.
Gen. W. replied that the orders came from Jefferson Davis and were imperative and he (Gen.
W.) thought it advisable for him to get away while he had the opportunity.
Soon after he was taken prisoner, they presented an obligation and wished him to sign it,
binding himself not to take up arms again against the C.S.A. He told them that he was in
their hands and they could do as they pleased with him but he should never sign such a
paper as that.
After that he was permitted to go at liberty within their lines and he several times
visited the battle-field. He afterwards signed a conditional release, himself dictating
the conditions which was written across the back of it.
After remaining at the hospital in the vicinity of Manassas two weeks, they were removed
to Richmond. He says the wounded receive as good attention and treatment as they can under
the circumstances. He wanted to visit the prison where Congressman Ely is confined but was
not permitted. He has a complete list of all the wounded of the Wisconsin regiment and of
several other regiments which are in their hospital at Richmond. I send you a copy of his
list of the Wisconsin soldiers. This, with the list of thirty published in Col. Corcoran's
letter, will be nearly complete. This is an entirely separate list from that given by
Col. C., he giving only the names of prisoners, and this being those in hospital.
The following is a list of the soldiers of the Second Wisconsin in the hospital at
Richmond copied from the books of Dr. J. M. Lewis, August 11th.
|S. P. Jackson
|Fred H. Main
|A. B. Clarke
|S. D. Pitcher
|J. P. Encking
|Fred N. Lacy
|W. H. Upham
|P. C. Irvine
|E. C. Best
|E. L. Reed
|E. R. Reed
|G. A. Beck
|W. A. Owens
|Wm. H. Mardin
|O. G. Evanson
This last name, P. Stillman, I think must belong to
some other regiment, or it may be a repetition of P. Simpson, of Company E.. as both are
reported wounded in the same manner. I cannot find any P. Stillman on the regimental roll,
nor the name of any missing soldier who would be likely to be mistaken for it.
Wm. H. Mardin of Company K; W.A. Owens of Company I; Henry Silliman of Company D; A.B.
Gaskill, Company K; W.H. Upham of Comany F; A.J. Curtis and F. Reckler of Company
in the above list of Doctor Lewis, have been reported killed in some of the papers.
The number unaccounted for is reduced to fifteen. The list furnished you by Mr. Benedict
was probably as correct as any that has been published as the information contained in
that was given by the commanding officers of each company with the further knowledge of
the men. The missing not included in either of the lists of Mr. Benedict's, Col.
Corcoran's or Dr. Lewis are as follows:
J.M. Carhart, H.C. Parker and Edgar Stafford of Company A; D.M. Knox of C; W.R. Doty of
Company C; J.S. Bell, H.D. Perry and Jason Brown of Company D; A. Henry of Company F; Geo.
W. Buffell of Company G; Henry Balcke of Company I; and C. Deusink, J. Grace, W.H. Hyde
and R. W. McKennon of Company K.
Col. Corcoran reports the name of one that I think may be intended for A. Henry of
Company F mentioned above, and his list may possibly include some others; not having it
before me, I am not certain about it.
Lieut. Col. Peck is, I believe, the best abused man in the State of Wisconsin, not
excepting even the loan commissioners. Gen. Sherman speaks very highly of Mr. Peck, and
fully exonerates him from all the charges that have been made against him. He left the
fields in company with Gen. Sherman, and by his order; nor did he throw away his sword and belt as has been stated. I saw him have them both in
Washington after the battle. Perhaps some of our Wisconsin editors who are so very ready
at jack-knife engravings, may think that Gen. Sherman needs bolstering; if so, that is
another thing altogether: let them bestow a portion of their censure where it belongs! Or better yet, if they are not satisfied with the
manner that the fighting was done at Manassas, let them show their bravery by taking a
hand in-, the Government is yet receiving enlistments, and few more are wanted for the
From the Second Regiment
Condition of Virginia - our respect for The rebels -
the falsehoods of H.B.S.
the falsehoods of H.B.S.
Fort Corcoran, August 19, 1861
I have been over some portion of Virginia since we crossed the Potomac and I find it is a
deplorable condition. Surely the chariot wheels of war have already made deep marks on the
"Old Dominion", marks that will require the rain and sunshine of many years to
wear away. Our tents are pitched in what had been a beautiful peach orchard, the orchard still remains but the beauty has long since fled; and
the house of the owner surrounded by ornamental shrubbery of the most beautiful species is
now occupied by the sutler of our regiment. And wherever I have been I have found the
country in the same ruined and desolate condition, houses are converted into shops and
barracks and plantations into commons; fences are torn down and crops are going to waste
for the want of care - the Unionists have fled to Washington and the Secessionists to
Manassas, leaving a wide extent of country almost depopulated. We passed on our march to
Centerville, many houses, and even villages, entirely deserted or occupied only by a few
of the sable sons and daughters of Africa which the South generally, and Britannia
particularly, delights to see upon her soil so thick that woolly heads and coal black
faces darken all the land.
The nearer we approached the rebel lines, the more desolate the country became, having
been scoured in every direction by their foraging parties. To the honor of our officers,
let me say that all foraging, taking by stealth or by force, was strictly prohibited your army, but it is impossible for 20,000 or 25,000 men to pass through a
country without leaving their footprints and, to a great extent, destroying its beauty.
One can have no idea of the appearance of a country in time of war unless he has been
there and with his own eyes seen the utter desolation that reigns like the "King of
Terrors over a silent grave yard where ever a great army has passed" I now perhaps
have some faint conception of the appearance of the Old World when scourged by the
devastation armies of the middle ages. When reading of the crusades, of the
overrunning of Europe by the followers of Mahemet, of the fearful and horrible devastation
of the armies of Alaric and Atilla, or the brilliant and triumphant, though destructive,
successes of the first Napoleon, I never could realize that they were one tenth part true
but looked upon them as exaggerated war stories. But here I see in Virginia, the birth
place of the "Great Father of his Country", our revered Washington, the same
scenes reached, though on a smaller scale, and I have a foundation upon which imagination
can build a superstructure that may perhaps equal but never exceed the awful reality of
those eastern wars. In all probability there is not another State in America that will
suffer during this contest as Virginia must, and has, suffered. I have seen but a small
portion of that part where the hand of war has destroyed every green thing but I have seen
more real desolation than in all my life besides, and I have seen much of the
world. Virginia must hereafter be styled the battle Ground of America as Belgium is
of Europe, for here the forces of the North and South have met and must meet again and
again in battle until her thousand hills shall run red with human gore!
Since the battle of Bull Run I notice that our men have far more respect for the Rebels,
which has been considerably increased by assurance that prisoners were well treated and
that the wounded were not bayoneted on the field by them.
We have learned that they are not a miserable rabble, half clothed and half armed but a
well armed powerful army. True, they have taken some advantages of us which we consider
dishonorable but we are compelled to admit that in the same situation we would do the
same. And as near as I can learn, they have a better opinion of us since they have found that we are not afraid to fight; that one of their men
is not a match for five of ours. I have it as my opinion that the North and South think
more of each other today then they have before for the last fifteen years.
While writing this I have received the New York Tribune of
August 10th and it contains one of the many false and scandalous reports of the battle of
July 21st and the retreat of our army to the Potomac, written by one who had nothing else
to do but "hie over the long bridge in the best of spirits reaching the Virginia
shore at 5 o'clock" when he had learned "that our troops had silenced three of
the enemy's batteries and was driving him back on Manassas" and then adds to the
calamity of a repulse, false reports, lies, branding us as
cowards, panic stricken, flying from an imaginary foe. This letter is dated August 1st
written from Washington and signed H.B.S., which stands (judging from the article) for
Headless, Blundering, Simpleton. When I read the article to my tent-mates, Packard
exclaimed, "I'll shoot the first reporter that I ever see upon the battle field
again, by Jove!" and if he fails to bring him down, there are others that will try
their hands on the same detestable object. True, this one never reached the battle-field,
he was too much of a coward to start until he was sure that victory was ours and - let him
answer this question, for I cannot find anything to the contrary in his report - did he
not return to Washington without his wounded friend, panic stricken to the fullest extent
of the term?
I have not the time to take up the different portions of his narrative and prove their
falsity but I declare upon my honor - and I know not but this same H.B. S. is one of the
greatest men in America, and care less - that the whole thing from beginning to end is a
complication of falsehoods, and the good sense of any sane man would say, if it were true,
keep it from the knowledge of the enemy, but such is not the doctrine of H.B.S. - hear him:
"The moral of this long recital is to exhibit some of the better fruits of one of the
most causeless and senseless panics that ever chased a conquering army far off the battle
field when no enemy dare pursue in the hope that in the coming exigencies of the war,
whenever our soldiers are about to be stricken with a panic they will pause one moment and remember the foolish fright of their brethren from
"The most causeless and senseless panic"- is not this a libel on every
soldier engaged in that hard fought battle! I say it fearlessly for I know it to be the
truth, that we would never have retreated from the field of battle had we not been so
ordered and then had no notion of going to the Potomac but expected to take up our old
stand at Centerville, and did stop upon our old camp grounds where we remained until
ordered forward by our officers. Does that look like panic, when we fought for a whole day
and retreated, only when the enemy, reinforced by an army larger than our own, outnumbered
us three to one? and not through fear, but because our officers considered it the wisest
course, and gave orders accordingly. H.B.S. is looked upon by every soldier as I look upon
him, unfit to bear the appellation of Gentleman, much more a man.
Wilkes description of the Battle of
Bull Run - Capt. Ely's account of the cowardice of our field officers - the poor people of
Virginia and their prospects for the winter.
Fort Corcoran, August 21st., 1861
I have just finished reading an account of the memorable battle of July 21st. by Geo.
Wilkes, editor of the Spirit of the Times, and I find it by far
the most elaborate and, as far as my knowledge extends, the most accurate account of the
battle that has been published and, as such, I would recommend it to the readers of the Patriot
and all others who may read this article, if they wish to know the truth. It is true that
I do not agree with him when he calls our retreat a panic, which he does in a mild way,
throwing the blame upon the regulars. Allow me to say once more that I saw no signs of
panic among our troops, we retreated in disorder but on our rout we talked over the
affairs of the day as coolly as if we had been by our own firesides in Wisconsin; and
other regiments showed no more sighs of panic than my own and on our way to the Potomac,
after we were ordered from Centerville, we rested time after time, sleeping as carelessly
and unconcerned by the road-side as if we had been in our camps of Arlington. Too much
time has elapsed since that day for me to attempt an account of the battle but I must and
will contradict reports that I know to be false. However, as the whole Wilkes account is
truthful and more elaborate that I possibly could give not having the advantages he
enjoyed, I recommend it to all.
I find in the Milwaukee Sentinel the following item: Capt. Ely
of the Janesville Volunteers, 2nd regiment, in an account of the battle written to his
wife and published in the Janesville Gazette says: Lieut. Col.
Peck and Major McDonald, our only field officers, had dismounted early in the day and they
remained back in the wood so that we had no regimental officer with us. Valuable
regimental officers these.
Now if Capt. Ely wrote that letter he has told a downright falsehood for every man of the
Second knows that Col. Peck led his regiment into battle as bravely and fearlessly as any
Colonel in the field, riding in front of his men when shot and shell flew thick and fast
around him tho', I am sorry to say, he did not stay by his regiment when we retreated and
during the battle did not show that cool bravery which we had expected from him by his
soldierly conduct during the earlier part of the day before we were brought in range of
the death dealing rifle pits. Honor to whom honor is due. But these things concerning the
battle must be of little interest to your readers now and I will endeavor to find
something relative to the present, in future, unless I find some outlandish lie that
demands notice, in order that justice may be done; that men may receive the honor due them
and they who have disgraced themselves may receive likewise their reward There are many
poor people in Virginia as well as in the other Southern States and they are now in a
destitute condition. The soil of Virginia is poor and at the best produces but light
crops; indeed; I have not seen a more barren and unproductive country; even the stony
fields of New Brunswick better repays the husbandman for his labor than the sacred soil of
the Old Dominion. And now that hundreds of plantations are lying fallow, not having been
plowed last spring as the war spirit was abroad in the land, and hundreds of others that
were plowed and planted are over grown with weeds while fields of wheat and meadows of hay
have been destroyed by the march of armies or lie wasting slowly in the rain and sun,
there is a hard show for the poor whose only dependence is on their scanty fields.
One of my companions who returned from picket short time since, related to me the
following which is but a fair representation of the condition of thousand, perhaps, in
suffering Virginia. "We were posted near a cornfield which had escaped the hands of
friend and foe until then and as I was somewhat hungry, I followed the example set by others, entered the field and plucked two ears of corn which I
roasted and after putting one of them in my haversack, sat down upon the carpet of grass
to enjoy the unfrequented luxury of an ear of green corn.
While engaged in eating my simple rations, the owner of the field came out and with tears
running down his face, he begged the Major to keep the boys from taking the corn as it was
all in the world he had to maintain himself and family through the fast approaching
winter, that he could not get a pass to Washington and had no money to help himself with, if he coped. The Major promised all he asked and
strictly fulfilled his pledge, while I paid him for the corn I had taken."
Very many good and loyal citizens must suffer unheard of privations when winter, cold
and pitiless, sets in, through the treason and lawlessness of those who would destroy
every vestige of freedom for their own aggrandizements. It is fearful, the prospects
before them, any yet I see no way in which they can be assisted even by those who are most
willing to assist them, I can but mention the fact, perhaps some of the philanthropists of
the nation can and will suggest some plan for the relief of those who must suffer, and
that greatly too before another spring will clothe the earth in verdant robes, and bring
the blessings of a peaceful and plentiful harvest.
R. K. BECHEM