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Chain Bridge: fall,
Capt. Strong Shoots Two Traitors
Captain Wm. E. Strong, of the Belle City Rifles from this city, met with quite an adventure
last week upon the Chain Bridge on the Virginia side. He was on picket duty, and in
advance of our lines some three miles.
Being mounted and in advance of his men, six rebels (two cavalry and six infantry) set on
him and took him prisoner. They led him a little distance and demanded his pistols; he
consented to deliver the contents but not the weapons a mode of procedure so unexpected????
???????r of the Day at the time, and as such had charge of the line of pickets of this command.
we had but two days before come over at double-quick to repel a supposed rebel advance on
Chain Bridge, and had been occupied day and night in throwing up earthworks to strengthen
our position. The lines of pickets had been stationed in the night of Tuesday. 3d
September and were in some cases in bad positions. I had just returned from a visit along
the left exterior line - the centre being the turnpike from Chain Bridge to
Leesburg - and
intended visiting the right exterior line. I called to Capt. Strong to accompany me
but he not being quite ready - then awaiting his dinner - I, having entire confidence in
his discretion, directed him to make a careful examination of the picket stations and
especially of the right out post and be prepared to report to me when I should return from
the examination of our exterior line, what alterations were in his judgment needed.
Particularly, I wished him to see if our enemy could pass along the banks of the Potomac
to the right of our pickets"
Capt. Strong was promoted for his bravery, and is now
Major of the 12th Regiment. He is now at home, in this city, on furlough, visiting his
relatives and friends, preparatory to entering upon active duty again. The battle of Stone
Bridge and this adventure make brilliant starting points for so young an officer.
Camp What's Name, VA,
Sept. 7th, 1861.
Dear Readers: - If you know where I am, you beat me. I'll describe as nearly as possible. Up
the river from Georgetown, D.C. is Chain Bridge, whereof the papers say much. Said bridge
is very long - as long as a fence, almost; and the scenery on either side of the Potomac
thereabouts is most romantic; a canal of the first magnitude lies parallel with the river
for some distance and Chain Bridge spans the river and canal and some twenty rods of
jagged rocks and stagnant water between. Great batteries are planted each side of the
bridge at the farther end, and also on the high, very steep hill almost directly over the
canal. And if Old Reb undertakes to get into the State of Maryland via Chain Bridge, he
will get terrible raked with canister and such, and lose a man or two - maybe more.
about half a-mile from the Virginia end of Chain Bridge, up through a mountainous gorge,
craggy and wild enough to be a fit haunt for a band of robbers or rebel guerrillas, in a
pleasant valley, between real Vermont-looking high hills...
"I've sought a bower - a bushy bower,
I love it's cool retreat,"
and here alone,
"in a sly little nook
By a babbling brook,"
Yes, a real bubbling, stony brook such as they don't keep in
Wisconsin, - I sit me down and
write for my "newspaper."
Below me are scores of soldiers from different
regiments bathing in the pure water; around are thousands, felling trees to prevent Old
Reb's cavalry from rushing onto us; about ten rods above is a strong fortification which
soldiers have built since yesterday morning and, since I have been writing, the great
cannons in it have spit forth about a shell a minute, launching them over about two
miles into the gorge where the cussed enemy are prowling around.
Glory! how they crack! Yip! there goes another; it sounds real pleasant and Bull Runny!
There, confound it, here comes a regiment of "Kentucky cavalry" from Pennsylvania,
going to encamp right in my retreat. "Prepare to dismount!- Dismount!" cries the
Captain and a hundred soldiers with swords and carbines
empty a hundred saddles on a hundred as handsome long-tailed black horses as ever pranced.
So accustomed are these steeds to "war's alarms" that the belching forth from
the batteries above don't startle them any more than they do me.- Here come the baggage
wagons, bringing the meat and tatters for the horses and the oats and pressed hay for the
men. The he-mules are braying and the h-horses are neighing and what's the use of staying
in such a pandemonium, saying things not worth defraying the expense of the postage on ?
'tention, Shanghai! In retreat--MARCH!
There - got another bower to squat under. Now I'll commence to let a communication. All the
foregoing muddle, by way of date about twelve days ago, our regiment marched from Arlington Heights, in Virginia to Kalorama
Hill back of the city of Georgetown, where we encamped beside the 5th and 6th Wis.
We have been
assigned to Gen. King's Brigade, and it seemed rather goodish to many of our boys to get
so near friends they had in the other Regiments.- for several days there was much visiting done among the three regiments; but last Tuesday
night at about eleven o'clock the long roll sounded through a great number of camps on
these Heights. And many soldiers who hadn't been rousted out by it as often as we have flew
'round like a hen with its head cut off and hurried to and fro, and made no doubt that
Old Reb. was coming sure, and coming right off. Boys of the 5th, and 6th s'posed they were
going to battle ax; they scrubbed, fretted, hustled and scampered. Our boys received the
order to "fall in in light marching order" with perfect coolness and equipped
themselves with haversack, canteen, blanket, gun and cartridges and pilgrims progressed
along with perfect order and the utmost unconcern. I concluded I had rather trudge than
march, so left our company to close their own files, and deployed to the front of column
and found Dave Quaw, in his regular position at the head of Co. K, 6th Reg't., and
seduced him to beau me along in a night-walk. And David and I sauntered along arm-in-arm, as in days long past and talked of elections in Adams county, and of the people
we like, and of others who "dislike us first-rate" (as Vansteenwyck said.) and
wondered if we should ever get back together and built air castles and Academies and
finished Courthouses and instituted mite-societies and did a great many other things in
our minds, almost as pleasant to contemplate as the veritable participation thereof. We
marched seven miles that night and about three o'clock did ourselves up in blankets and
tumbled our respective lengths down into the wet grass of an orchard in the State of
Maryland about a mile above Chain Bridge.-
Next morning awoke and found two Vermont Regiments encamped right across the road;
deployed thence and put on polite airs to the Sergt. of the Guard of said Regts., and was
politely invited to enter and hunt old acquaintances. Found boys I had played with and
been school-girls with years ago, and elderly men who had spanked me for my mischief
perpetrated in Yankee land. Partook of many hospitalities at the Sutler's did, much
visiting and went with Romey Ballou who got "used up" at Bull Run, up into a
fort near by where the Lieutenant in command, Chet. W. Walton, received me with much
kindness. Thirteen years ago we were Printer's devils together and for two years raised
Ned together since which time we have never seen or written each other, and I had no kind
of an idea where they were.
In those days there were four apprentices in the same office - we two met there; one other,
O. N. Wenster, the very wittiest boy I ever saw, and now a brilliant lawyer in Montpelier,
Vt., was a three months' volunteer in the 1st Regiment of that State and has re-enlisted
for the war. The other boy was Rope Witt, who got shot in the arm in the Kansas war and is
now a printer in the Gazette office in Janesville. Not one of us ever thought of soldering
in those days; and neither of us have ever written each other since. I calculate that if
we would all meet together we should apply for a furlough and go and drink some beer or
something- Rope come to war again.
Next night at sundown we lumbered over here. She rained that night, and drizzled next day.
Some of our company had to go to chopping in the morning; little Elterman chopped his
instep; I backed him to where the Lieut. Col. gave me his horse then tied my handkerchief
around his foot from which the blood squirted and took him to a surgeon who sewed up the
gash and gave him some'at to take- me too, by gosh! - Then a detail of twenty men from
each company of our regiment had to go picketing; I went among 'em. Went up the road a
mile of more, was stationed at a junction of roads and had charge of eight posts. She
rained; three men at a post; Maj. Larrabee in command of that picket route wouldn't let us
have any fires- said Old Reb. would see the smoke and know right where to dodge us.
Couldn't realize that Old Reb, was anywhere near until the next morning we heard their
reveille; about noon heard some shooting off to the right oblique of our picket line; soon
after heard that Capt. Strong of our detail was shot; messenger ran to camp for ambulance
and surgeon; soon Capt. Strong came along on a horse, with his head tied up, and related
to me the following particulars; "While I was prowling around about fifty rods beyond
the farthest picket on my line, looking to see if I hadn't better extend the blue to the
river about a quarter of a mile to the right, I went around the point of a cliff where the
Devil never would have thought of getting and there stood six Rebel pickets and the darned
whelps fired at me; one of 'em was loaded with ball and buck; the ball whizzed by my face
and the buck shot went into my left cheek and lodged in my mouth. Here is where a bullet
went plumb through my canteen and just see how one of the cavalry men blowed the breast of
my coat all to finders." and his ruiment and wound proved what he said ; the cavalry
man had his carbine so near the Captain's breast that the buttons of his coat were
blackened and the coat was burnt. They took the Captain prisoner; but the way he delivered
his pistols was to shoot two of them and run like a deer. Cavalry men pursued and fired
near, above described, when the Captain fired on him and killed him dead as a door-nail.
"I sent two of them to glory and hurt another so he won't be well very soon. Hoop!
this is fun, Shanghai!" said the Captain, and as he went to pucker to cluck at his
horse he said he "Humph! my mouth's so sore I can't say 'get', Ugh!"
Then we remarked to myself, as the valiant Captain moved off: "Shanghai, this is your war
path again and the track is getting a little too fresh. Resolved that we ain't well; that
the farther I go into Virginia the worse we find my health; that war is unconstitutional;
that I would liked to serve my country by going home and that a copy of this resolution
published in the Adams County Independent, and forwarded to Jeff Davis, Esq., reported
This resolution was adopted with fear and trembling!
I wouldn't wonder if we should have a skirmish or a battle 'fore soon.
If I get killed, I'll
write. Lochiel, write me a first-rate "obituary."
Capt. W. E. Strong's Heroic Adventure.
We are permitted by Mr. Draper to publish the following interesting correspondence,
intended more particularly as a paper for the Historical Society but of sufficient State
interest to be brought out in advance of the published proceeding of the Society.
Head Quarters, 5th Reg. Wis Vols.
Camp Advance, Sept. 8th, 1861
Lyman C. Draper, Esq.
My Dear Sir:-Sympathizing fully in your desire to preserve for future historical purpose
the action of Wisconsin soldiers, I have persuaded Capt. Strong to write for me an account
of his adventure of day before yesterday. It is proper for me to say that he was reluctant
to do this and that only upon my telling him that as Field Officer of the day I was
entitled to his report did I induce him to give me the enclosed. I send you his report
that you may put it in a safe place for future use. On reflection however I don't see any
reason why you should not have it published, while there are many in favor of such a course. I was Officer of the
Day at that time and as such had charge of the line of pickets of this command. We had but
two days before come over at double quick to repel a supposed Rebel advance on
Bridge, and had been occupied day and night in throwing up earth-works to strengthen our
position. The lines of pickets had been stationed in the night of Tuesday, 3d September,
and were in some cases in bad positions. I had just returned from a visit along the left
exterior line- the centre being the turnpike from Chain Bridge to Leesburg- and intended
visiting the right exterior line. I called to Capt. Strong to accompany me but he not
being quite ready- then awaiting his dinner- I, having entire confidence in his discretion,
directed him to make a careful examination of the picket stations and especially of the
right outpost and be prepared to report to me when I should return from the examination of
our exterior line what alterations were in his judgment needed. Particularly I wished him
to see whether our enemy could pass along the banks of the Potomac to the right of our
pickets. On my return I found the Captain wounded- with all the marks of his encounter on
him- but full of self-reliance and manly strength. Dr. Ward had passed me and at this time
was returning with him to camp. To show you how coolly he bore up under his exertions,
upon offering him my horse, he absolutely refused saying he was as sound as ever; so he
went on to camp some two miles on foot. Col. Stannard of the Vermont 3d Regiment and myself then took a portion of the new guard
and some two hundred volunteers of the Wisconsin 2d of the old guard and scoured the woods
where the affray took place. But the birds had flown carrying with them their dead or
wounded. Darkness coming on we had to retire- not, however, before advancing our lines so
as to include this wood. The next day I took two hundred men of the Indiana 19th, and
thoroughly scoured the woods- found where horses had been picketed for some days past and
signs of the camp of pickets. We found the place of Strong's encounter and picked up what
we supposed was a Secesh pistol but we now find it was a small pocket pistol which Strong
dropped in his retreat. I am thus minute because I really think this is the bravest and
coolest act I recollect in our history. Perhaps Boone, or Brady or the Wetzels did similar
feats, but this I know that every Wisconsin soldier- I judge by my own Regiment -is eager to
embrace Strong and honor him for his bravery. The only mistake he made- and characteristic
it was- was that he failed to take a guard with him. Let me say- and I wish all at home to know it- our Wisconsin soldiers are the pride of the
army. You see in the correspondence of the papers very natural thoughts suggested by the pride
or ambition of persons in individual Regiments. There is very happily some rivalry and occasionally extra notice may be taken by some
reviewing officer of some one Regiment. This is well designed for the purpose of exciting
emulation in some one that is a little behind. Still there is but slight difference in all
our Regiments; whenever the end shall be reached that Regiment will gain the most renown
that will have the best opportunity for doing its duty. But I am writing more than I thought. When I became a soldier, I resolved to let letter
writing and all else of politics or business, even, absolutely alone, until the rebellion
was crushed. I will add, however, that we came here in the night of the 3rd September with the
Wisconsin 2nd- 2nd and 3rd Vermont, 83d and 79th New York, and two squadrons of Cavalry and
two batteries of Light Artillery. We bivouacked in a Wheat field about 2 o'clock and of
the 4th and a daylight we were all at work felling forests and throwing up earthworks. Our
Wisconsin lumbermen never plied a axe faster and whole acres were laid low in a few hours.
Since then we have gone on building and strengthening and clearing up for Artillery range
until now we are safe against any foe that may come. In tents of pine bushes we live, the
ground for our bed. We are to have no tents at all hereafter. Frequent alarms come- whole nights battalions sleep on their arms in line of battle. But we
are all hopeful, all cheerful, all reliant- Our sick are few, our discipline very good. Most
of us already feel like soldiers and quite a little stock of camp stories of adventures on
picket duty are recounted over bivouac fires- how Company shot a cow and Company a pig, all
in the night time, however. But I assure you it is melancholy enough to see these deserted
mansions. Here is one with pretentious colonnade, that is the ancestral home of one now a
Colonel in the Rebel Army.- Front gate off, its hinges gone and carriage way grown up with
weeds and grass; a dilapidated family carriage standing under a shed- and farm carts with
rusted tires left just where the horses were unhitched. In spite of peremptory orders you
will see pickets sitting in mahogany chairs. In short, numerous are the mementos of by-gone
greatness and splendor that we see. If a house belongs to a rebel- that is enough for
somebody. The house of a Union man is as safe however, from any interference as a
churchyard monument in Wisconsin.
But enough, My own belief is that we shall have a night attack on our centre at Arlington
Heights within a few days; at any rate a general engagement is near at hand. In
this- as at
all times in the future- Wisconsin will be heard of through the bravery of her soldiers.
Yours, as ever, Chas. H. Larrabee.
From the Second Regiment
The Appearance of our encampment where King's Brigade can be found, Officers of the Second
Regiment, A word to the soldiers of the First and those who should be soldiers.
Camp Kalorama, Sept. 12, '61
"It is a terrace called Meridian Hill two miles North of Pennsylvania Avenue. The
house commands the vistas of the Potomac all the plain of the city and a charming lawn of
delicious green with oaks of first dignity just coming into leaf. It is lovely Nature and
the spot has snatched a grace from art."
So wrote the gay dashing Winthrop from the villa that stands near our now almost deserted
village on the loveliest day of fullest spring" but little more than three months
since." Now he sleeps his last long sleep by traitor's hand laid low yet his words
are full of life and buoyant patriotism.
This part of the country is delightful, but our camp presents a forlorn and desolate
appearance and reminds me of a picture I have somewhere seen of London after the plague.-
Truth is, now left even to guard the tents and baggage except a few from each company who
like myself are unable to shoulder a musket and stand the hardships of bivouac
tent-mates are all away, therefore I am lord of the castle but if all lords are as
lonesome as I am, they must be a miserable set. I find this the hardest part of camp life
and will be bad enough when I become able to join my regiment, for who had not rather die
like a warrior with harness on than live a life of inactivity, sheltered from danger while
others fight the battles that must bring peace and happiness to our distracted country?
New regiments arrive here almost daily from the loyal States. A Massachusetts regiment
passed here yesterday and the day before the Seventh Michigan pitched their tents close
by us We are surrounded by encampments and can see all the pomp and display of military
going on in every direction. There is a regiment of French Zouaves encamped not twenty
rods away who engage in their spirited drill morning and evening. They are dressed in a
style peculiarly their own, their lower dress consisting of a skirt that extends below the
knees and is there met by the leggings to which the skirt is attached. It is a loose
comfortable uniform but it strikes me that if they by accident should get wet in fording a
river it would puzzle them to march a double quick. When the new regiments come along and see our deserted villages and no soldiers on parade
or duty the first question that naturally arises is "where is your regiment?"
Where is Gen. King's Brigade? The reader too is undoubtedly anxious to know for in time of
war people are over anxious to learn where their friends are who have gone forth to fight
the battles of the free. Then ask the desolate hills of Virginia and they will tell you
that for the last ten days Gen. King's brigade have trod upon their heads with fearless
feet and for as many nights have slept upon the "sacred soil" by nothing
sheltered but the broad canopy of Heaven. Ask the rebel pickets and they will tell you
that the Second Wisconsin has not been there for nothing nor backward in the strife of
renown. Though nearly two hundred of the thousand and ten who came to Washington but little more
than two months ago are moldering in the dust, wounded or prisoners of war at
King's Brigade can be found at any time where duty requires it to be, where fighting is
expected to be done, where soldiers and men that love their country and their country's
freedom are at the post of danger. Allow me to say a word about our officers, more particularly about our field officers and
the way they have been supplied in cases of resignation. I believe one of the company
Captains of the First Wisconsin is our Lieut. Col. and I have heard since my regiment left
here that the Lieut. Col of the First had been commissioned Col. of the Second,
place of Col. O'Connor who has resigned. All this may be very good. I have nothing to say
against any officer nor private of the First regiment, but do think that we have in our
own regiment Captains that are, to say the least, as well qualified to fill the office of
Lieut. Col., or Col., any Captain in the First. Their bravery can not be for a moment
doubted. They have been tried by fire and smoke and iron ball and our officers that were
in any way tinctured with cowardice have resigned so that those who have stood firmly and
unflinchingly by the good old flag can be trusted. We have private in the ranks that are
better fitted to command a regiment than some who have been commissioned our
Col.'s are to
command a company.
I do not understand it. It looks to me like imposition from the first and I ask, when
officers became aware that they were not competent to fill the positions that they
occupied with honor and resigned, why was not such men as Allen, Caldwell, Randolph,
Strong, or any other of our Captains commissioned to fill their places instead of hunting
up some man who had been no one knows where or a man or men of the First that we who
compose the regiment know nothing of? Have they seen more service? Have they proved
themselves braver and better and better men? Is their military education so much superior
to that of our officers? Or is it not that "red tape" that something more than
merit has had a hand in the matter. Captain Allen is our Major and the regiment was
pleased with his promotion but with regard to the other field officers we can as yet
neither be pleased nor displeased for we know nothing about them. I believe I speak the
sentiments of the regiment when I say that we have had no field officers as yet except
Major Allen that we have had confidence in, that we hope that these we now have may prove to
be the men we need.
I can say of our company officers that there is no better in the volunteer service and we
have the greatest confidence in their courage and ability.
Captain Strong of the Belle City Rifles was taken prisoner when on picket the other night
by a party of Rebel cavalry and marched away but subsequently escaped after shooting two
of them. He was shot through the cheek but is doing well, his wound being slight.
Now a word to the boys of the First Regiment and the able bodied young men who can leave
home and do not, through their country calls and liberty is in danger. This is not the time,
O soldiers of the First Wisconsin, to bury the hatchet and lie down upon the laurels you
have won in inglorious haste while still the roar of battle is heard in the distance and
the Rebel hosts even threaten the federal Capital. Gird on again your armor and lay it not
off till the Stars and Stripes triumph over every foe. And you who have stood back
thinking you were not needed, that the battle could be fought without you and the enemy
overcome, no longer wait. Let it not be said that the cause of freedom perished for want of
men to fight her battles.
As I write I hear the sound of firing in the direction of Chain Bridge and I know not but
my friends are engaged with the enemies of our country. I would gladly be with them and
hope to be soon.
A skirmish took place yesterday not far from Chain Bridge in which we lost 6 killed, 9
wounded and 8 missing while the Rebels were routed with the loss of nearly a hundred men.
Come on ye brave sons of the West!
R. K. Beecham
Return of Lieut. Meredith-
Serenade by the Stoughton Band.-
Lieut. Meredith of the Randall Guard who was wounded at the battle of Bull's Run returned
to his home in this city on Saturday afternoon. The fact of his return being made
known to the Stoughton Band, then in the city, at about ten o'clock in the evening this Band
proceeded to the residence of S. H. Cowles where Lieut. M. was stopping and gave the brave
Lieutenant a fine serenade. The Band performed the tune "Home Again" in most
admirable style at the conclusion of which Mr. Cowles appeared at the door in behalf of
Lieut. Meredith and returned the thanks of that officer for the compliment and stated that
being quite ill he had retired and would not be able to make his appearance. The Band then
played "Yankee Doodle" in an enlivening manner.
This appropriate compliment, so well performed, must have been highly gratifying to the
feelings of the patriotic Lieutenant on his return to his home and friends. The prayers of
all his friends, and they embrace the entire community, will be earnest for the speedy
recovery of Lieut. Meredith to his usual health and vigor. His experience and bravery can
hardly be spared from his post of duty in times like these.
Cheering and Complimentary.
Lieut. A. A. Meredith of the Randall Guards in the 2d Regiment who is now in this city
suffering from a wound inflicted at the Battle of Bull Run received by the mail this
morning something over sixty letters from different member of his company all postmarked
at Washington, Sept. 17th. These letters speak in highly complimentary terms of Lieut.
Meredith and express deep solicitude for his speedy recovery and return to his command. It
is decidedly cheering to an officer in his condition to receive such evidences of good
will from the men of this company as these letters indicate. Lieut. M. feels the
compliment and prizes it highly and it will do much to cheer him up in his sufferings He
is a worthy officer and can boast of belonging to as good a company of men as can be found
in any regiment in the Grand Army of the United States. They are proud of him but not more
so then he is of them. The people here will be glad to know that the gallant
of this Company is restored to health and is in active command Lieut. Rollins is also in
good health and a most efficient officer. The Company will be glad to learn that
Lieut. Meredith's wound is doing well and he hopes to be able to return to them in three or
We are kindly permitted to make liberal extracts from the letters above referred to which
will appear in our paper to-morrow.
Soldier Life in the Second Regiment
A Whole Budget of Letters
The Boys all in Excellent Spirits.
We are permitted to publish extracts from a large number of letters received by
A. Meredith yesterday from members of the Randall Guards in the 2d Regiment. They are all
dated "Camp Advance, Va. and most of them on the 14th or 15th of September.
Capt. Randolph writes: "I am very well, and the many sick ones that we have in the company are improving. We
are to have a new suit of blue uniforms soon. I am out on picket guard most of the time
and always get something good to eat, when out."
the Orderly Sergeant writes the following musical epistle:
"The Orderly Sergeant is remarkably well,
And still he is here, though oft sent to h-ll;
A place where no one but d-d rebels go,
And fitted up well for Jeff Davis & Co.
We have just got our pay- and the glittering rocks
Make very one feel like game fighting-cocks;
Though our clothes are quite ragged-our breeches are ripped,
Which have made us all feel like fighting-cocks whipped;
But none of us yet are laid under the sod,
And the number of sick would make a poor squad
While most want to stay and to fight a few others
Would like to go home and see their fond mothers
And the Randall Guard yet- on which so much has been reckoned-
Stand "A, number one," in the ragged-second
Their legs are as long and their hearts are as brave
As when at Bull Run their hides they did save;
But in the next fight, there can be no doubt
And such scenes as Bull Run will then be played out;
And the story next time which we fellows can tell
Will be how we gave the "secessionists" h-ll.
Expecting you'll write to your Orderly Sergeant;
And we all shall be glad when we see your old phiz
And you take up your arms in the regular "biz"
Of killing the rebels who are getting mere evil,
And longing for lodging in h-ll, with the devil."
J. Y. gives a full description of the march over
Bridge recently which has been given by our regular correspondents, and then speaks of
their labors follows: "The next day they started us at work on a fort. There are two large
forts built but
a little ways from the bridge, and we are getting pretty strongly fortified now so that if
the blue devils pay us a visit we will give them a warmer reception than they gave us at
Bull Run. They kept us at work on the fort four days and every night we would be called up
and formed into a line of battle and stand about two hours when we would be ordered back
to our brush tents. One night we were called up and it was raining most powerfully and
fell into a line of battle and stood in the rain for about three hours with not a dry
stitch to our backs. That was the toughest night I ever spent in my life. Our regiment is
being called upon pretty strongly. Hardly a day passes but we are out on picket duty or
out as skirmishers. We got paid off to day in hard gold so we are flush now at least for a
spell. I presume some had as high as ten dollars into the sutler."
The letter then speaks of the great confidence all the men have in Lieut. Meredith, and
proceeds: "Be sure and come back, and if we don't thresh them out the next time, I will take a
trip to Richmond before I will travel as we did before. We are all enjoying ourselves
first rate and are in good spirits. The boys all send their love to you, and wish you
among us again. We all like our Lieut. Colonel first-rate; and like our Colonel very well
but I think he got some disease in the throat, for he had a very bad voice. The boys all
thank the ladies of Madison for the interest they have taken in the Second Regiment
and especially for the splendid flag they presented to us, We will endeavor to
protect it as long as a spark of life remains, we will make sure that the traitors
shall not trample it under their feet." We are all well as usual and stand up for anything that comes
along. Cure up that arm and let us see you down in Dixie and we will cheer our First
Lieutenant till he can't rest."
I. G. says: "I am still cooking for the boys. We have but little grumbling now; but have a
G. M. after giving the present location of the regiment proceeds. "Our company are all going out on picket to-day and are ready to give it to them at
any time and make a good job of it too. We had a small artillery fight the other day and
the rebels had to cave in, for one of our big guns stove them all to thunder; and that is
the way we calculate to do hereafter."
A. S. B. gives a good description of the movement SW of the regiment from the time of the
Bull Run fight and then says: "There was a small skirmish last Tuesday out about five miles. One of our batteries,
accompanied with a force of 2,500, were examining things a little beyond their pickets and
were headed for home when they were fired upon by the enemy's batteries: The fire was
returned by our battery and their were silenced. -The rebels did not show themselves much.
Seven of our troops were killed and twelve wounded.
In H.N.A.'s letter we find the following: "When we came over here most of us supposed that there was fighting ahead but we were
mistaken. Our fighting has been done with picks, shovels and axes on Fort Smith. The
Wisconsin boys are terrible on work but in resting they beat all. When we go to Bull Run
again I will give the fellow that inflicted that wound on your arm, a short notice to
leave this fair domain of ours and seek a home elsewhere that is more fit for rebels and
From V.H. we extract the following "The boys are as noisy as ever. We were paid off
yesterday, and received twenty-three dollars and sixty cents each. The boys are as anxious
for a fight as ever."
L.E.A. has the utmost confidence in the superiority of the 2d Regiment and the Randall
Guards, in particular, hear him. "We have slept on the ground every night and it has rained every other night but we
don't care for that we are tough and can whip more Secesh than any other regiment in the
army. We have done more picket duty than any other company in the regiment but we don't
care for that; for when we have the Captain at our side we can swim the Missouri or
Allegheny Mountains. But to return, we are in tip-top fighting order and all anxious for a
fight and all we want to make our company complete is your presence."
E.R.G. after speaking of the present location and condition of the regiment writes in the
following strain: "It was indeed an unfortunate affair for us when you got shot but we hope to see you
with us again. The next time we play ball we will be able to handle ourselves better. The
boys all have great confidence in Gen. McClellan and care anxious to try Secesh on again.
If we a only knew the man that gave you that unlucky hit we would give him a pass to the
other side of Jordan mighty quick Within three months time we will unfurl the American
flag in the city of Richmond. This time we will send no boys to mill but go ourselves and
if Jeff Davis don't wish he had leave of absence you may take my head for a football. We
all feel that the old sinner has no rights that white men are bound to respect. We propose
to make short work of him now and the best thing he can do is to get some able advocate to
plead his cause at the throne of Divine Graces for their is no room for repentance here.
He has stolen our money and attempted to overthrow the best government the world ever saw
and that too after it had nourished and protested him and gave him advantaged that few
countries afford. He has insulted the memory of Washington and of all the fathers of this
republic. The voice of those illustrious dead who consecrated the first and best fruits of
their immortal genius to the cause of liberty cries aloud from the portals of the tomb to
her children's children, to avenge them against him who now dare to
disturb their repose. With their sacred influence and the God of Battles on our side we
are invincible and conquer we must. Years hence it will be no cause of regret to you that
you survived the hardships of war and that you bled in a cause so similar to that in which
our revolutionary heroes were engaged they fought and acquire liberty- you to keep the
boon which they left you as a heritage"
S.L.S among other things says: "Hard crackers are getting to be a great delicacy in this God forsaken land of
Virginia especially for the ragged Second as the fighting Fifth calls us; but we will show
them how to put on style when we get our new clothes. We' are having some of the best
times out on picket you ever saw.
H. C. A writes a long letter giving full particulars of events since the Bull Run affair
most of which are familiar to our readers. He says:
"We are all well or nearly all as there are but three or four sick. Capt. Randolph
and Lieut. Rollins are well and seem to be in good spirits- especially to-day as we got
paid off, We are but a short distance from the enemy and have an alarm almost every
J.H.S. writes thus: "We are now in a low green valley on the old Virginia shore in daily anticipation of
a call from old Virginia shore in daily anticipation of a call from old Jeff., and in view
of this we have been under arms almost without cessation since we crossed the Potomac. We
are all I think if possible more anxious to meet Secesh than we were previous to the Bull
Run. We are on picket duty nearly all the time and that suits us for the peaches are not
all gone yet and green corn and potatoes are quite plenty and we live well"
J.E.N. writes thus: "You are aware that we have a new Lieut. Colonel I suppose you are well acquainted
with him. He attends to his regular business- up and dressed every time and we believe when
the time comes to try his metal he will stand fire.
H.A.S. writes thus: "I am enjoying the best of health and better spirits. I have not been sick since I
enlisted. The boys are all in good spirits and eager for a flight."
J.R.B. writes quite a long letter giving the scenes since the Bull Run affair. We make the
following extracts: "Although we have war in the land yet we have had during the past week more rumors of
war than anything else about midnight for every night. Some of our pickets well imagine
they see a rebel army creeping through the shadowy bushes and the result is that some
fated stump or pig or cow tastes lead or a least gun power, but some times good luck makes
it a rebel so the long roll beats- then turn out boys quick."
"The boys all long for another fight with Old Secesh, I was in sight of them the
other day and helped arrest one Secesh farmer last week. His daughter took or awfully and
wanted I should shoot her.
R.F.B. says: "Give my best wishes to all the friends of freedom in Madison. Stir up the boys so
that Wisconsin may fill up her regiments without drafting. I received a letter from my
brother yesterday. Good for him- he has enlisted."
J.D. writes: "Secesh are getting bold but we will soon give them a lesson they will not forget.
McClellan is the boy that suits me There is fire in his eye and I think he will give them
B.M. expresses himself this: "We have finally got settled down in old Virginia once more and are ready to give the
cowardly traitors what they deserve. We got our pay yesterday and you had better believe
we will not eat any sheet iron crackers for a while."
F.W. waxes warm as follows: "We expect to whip the rebels before long. I don't think is well be another Bull Run.
I know it will not be repeated there is a Wisconsin boy left to hold up that glorious old
flag for which our fore fathers have fought and enabled that this land might be free and
their children have a home. Shall a mess of bigoted Southerners upset this glorious Union
which has stood so firm so long a time? Never!
They shall quail before us like cowards and yelp like young pups!"
H.R.M. speaks thus confidently: "The Secesh are not far off. We will have a warm time here soon But we will clean
N.R. writes that that John Groover of Co. H. was accidentally shot in the thigh on the
evening of the 16th; the wound was a bad one and he has been sent to the Georgetown
T.B. expresses a great desire to see the Lieut. back and says: "The boys are all in good spirit's and are all ready for another fight."
J.W. discourses this: "Good health and excellent spirits prevail throughout the regiment and we are more
anxious than ever not to have another Bull Run affair but to drive the enemy from Bull
in more disorder than they did us. The 5th and 6th regiments think that we are wonderful
hard cases and style us the Rowdy Second. They sometimes call us the Ragged Second as we
still wear our old State clothes and they are dressed up in their regular U.S. uniforms.
But let them go on with their abuse- our new clothes are now received and though they may
call us rowdies we will show them we can do our duty."
S.W.D. says: "We have what we call a dress parade every night about two o'clock caused by
J.M.E. gives the following account of things: "You will see by the heading of this that we are again on the sacred soil of
Virginia. We have had some good times since you left and also some pretty tough ones. When
we first crossed Chain Bridge it seemed like a perfect wilderness and now we have a Fort
as large as Fort Corcoran and another one containing four or five acres beside about ten
or twenty thousand men. There is not much prospect of a fight just at present but we never
know anything about it until we are within hearing of the enemy's guns. We have either
been working on the Fort or on picket duty every day since we have been over here. I have
been on sight of the rebel pickets."
A.M. desires to have another chance. He says; "We begin to feel like trying some of that drama over again especially the fighting
part; but the run we are going to leave off."
W.S.C. writes: We have to do some scouting once in a while to take a look at our
neighbor Secesh. We
like to look at them once in a while but we would like to shoot at them better."
D.M.B. says: "We have got out tents on this side of the river and have got settled. We are
enjoying ourselves first rate and to make us feel happy we have got our pay but a few of
the boys had got in debt $12 or $18 to the Sutler and they did not care much about seeing
E.H. speaks thus kindly of Lieut. Meredith. All the letters express great sympathy for
that officer and a strong desire to see him back with them. We copy this as a fair
specimen of the good feeling for the lieutenant that pervades the entire lot of letters;
"We are now pleasantly and comfortably the camp at present and in good spirits; and
we are all very anxious to see your face once more. I have been afraid that you would not
be able to join our company again. I hope your arm is getting better I know that if we
could we would any of us relieve you from pain and bear it
cheerfully. When I speak of myself I speak of the company; they are all perfectly crazy to
have you back again. I do not think there is any prospect of a battle at present.
erected a pretty substantial fort on the hill in advance of Chain Bridge. I hope to see
you back again in time to lead us into the next battle when I hope we will have a glorious
victory. I wonder what kind of a name the Second has in Madison. We have a very good one
in adjoining regiments with the exception of the Fifth which calls us the ragged Second.
We played a good joke on them the other day. We took a private and dressed him so as to
resemble a "Secesh" as much as possible and then made believe he was a prisoner
and let him go near the camp of the 5th. There was a scattering for him I can tell you but
when they discovered the cheat they looked rather cheap."
J.K. goes off in the following style: "We are a hard looking set of boys at
present- dirty, ragged pants is our uniform; but
the material inside of them is as good as it ever was. We are pretty close to the "Old
"Secesh," and have to get out of bed in a hurry sometimes in the rain.
are all in good spirits and want to pitch into Old Secesh."
H.C. W. gives the realities of a soldier's life, thus: "We have been trying some of the realities of soldiering the past
week- working on for
days and sleeping in the open air nights; but we are good for all such things. Our company
goes out on picket his afternoon. This picketing is a grand old business; for there is
lots of green corn and sweet potatoes where we go and the Second knows how to get them."
L.O.I. gives some idea of what they are doing: "Since we left Camp Kalorama we have had no tents but had to sleep in some brush huts
which we have made. We have been at work on a fort which we call Fort Smith and it is now
finished so that I think the rebels will meet a warm reception if they come within range
of the thirty-two pounders that are pointed in every direction. I will also tell you that
it is a general thing to be called out in the night and stand in line of battle for two or
three hours because the pickets are firing nearly the whole night.
A couple of nights since we had to stand out in the rain till we were wet entirely through
we did not feel well the next morning but we are all right now for yesterday we got our
tents and were paid off so that we have everything we want except our new clothes; and we
thing we will have them in a few days so the 5th and 6th will have no cause for calling us
the ragged Second."
F.L. lets off as follows: "We had no warning of the time of leaving Camp Kalorama so we did not have any
rations, that is not much- so, of course, we made our breakfast on apples across the Chain
Bridge. We left in the afternoon h-ll bent- thought we were going to have a fight but as it
happened, it was more for shovels and picks than anything else. The other day we were
called into a line of battle by an alarm given by a balloon man who said that the whole
rebel army was formed in a line of battle. Three of our companies were sent out that night
to skirmish the woods (ours was one.) We formed a line by moonlight and waited an attack.
Twelve or fifteen guns were fired by the pickets of the Wisconsin bloody 5th at some
stumps or trees; but we must excuse them - they are not used to such business. We are all
in good spirits."
We have thus gone through with a large portion of the letters received by Lieut. Meredith
and made brief extracts from each. They all show that the men are in good spirits and
anxious to do their country service. These letters exhibit the character of the men of the
Randall Guard remarkably well. we have seldom looked over the same number of letters
written by any class of Men that would bear the test of criticism in point of handwriting
style of composition or spelling equal with these. They show a good degree of intelligence
and education. Of such materials are our Wisconsin soldiers made. They can fight, work, teach
school, make laws or answer any other call of their country. They must prove victorious in
battling for the Union.
Patriot War Correspondence
From the Second Regiment
Who can describe the wondrous beauty of a tree,
And who so stupid that he can't its beauty see.
Camp Advance Sept, 10, 1861
We left our lovely situation on Meridian Hill, in
something of a hurry on the afternoon of the 13th of Sept, with tents and baggage to try
our fortunes once more with our regiment upon the "sacred soil" where rebels by
thousands have gathered to overthrow the best and freest government ever established upon
We found our boys all well, though rough and ragged for they had taken with them only the
clothes upon their backs, and had seen something of the reality of war in the wild life
they had been leading since they had arrived in Old Virginia. As it was just night when we
arrived at camp, we did not pitch our tents and for the first time in many days I
with my comrades. Our brigade had been building strong fortification upon a commanding
eminence (which is now completed and ready for use) in the rear of our encampment. We had
got settled for the night but were lying round in a careless indifferent manner, the
volunteers favorite position, when suddenly the sound of one of the great guns of the fort
came booming our upon the still evening air and in no short space of five seconds
It was the signal to call the men to arms and every man sprang at once for his gun. In two
minutes time that careless laughing jesting crowd of men that looked as if they never
dreamed that such a thing as order existed, formed in lines, even and unbroken lines ready
But the night passed away and morning returned and still the foe came not nor
did our troops
advance. The alarm was occasioned by some skirmishing and house burning among the pickets.
Since that time all has been peaceable and quiet here and the regular online of camp life
goes on undisturbed.
We are encamped in a wild and lovely spot although its beauty is fast departing before the
all destroying hand of war that spares nothing, alas! The areas not the beautiful nor the brave.
The face of the country is hilly and picturesque and most in a state of nature. Art
has done but little to beautify the hills and cultivate the very valleys and what
she has done seems to be detracted from, rather than added to, their former loveliness. When
our brigade came first on these hills they were covered almost entirely with forest trees
in their natural pride and grandeur tossing their haughty heads and shaking their
green large branches in the breeze and sun with fearless joy We are above destruction, they
seemed to sing, even through their branches rushed the spotted breeze. We have stood upon
these hills and smiled when the bright sun bathed us with yellow light and gentle winds
moved softly through our heavy boughs and in the storm we laughed in merry scorn and sang
as loud as did the fierce storm-king but when the dark clouds covered the sky and frowned
upon us as we stood in their black shadows; when thunder struck in deafening peals above our
heads and shook the very hills, when lightning flashed in bright glare around, dashing
against us in their fury, thrusting their burning tongues, firing our leaves we frowned on
the frowning days, shouted back defiance of the thunder's and on our naked breasts received
the burning fiery bolts. We have seen whole incarnations coming into existence and
flourish for a time, then pass away and their moldering bones through which our roots have
penetrated furnish us food, but we are eternal, we cannot decay, and yet these same old trees
that have stood the lighting and the storm for countless years in their wild free beauty
are now lying like an army of brave men slain on the battle field lifeless and disfigured
with garments torn and soiled, moldering slowly in the wind and rain. The have been
overturned by the axes of our soldiers that they may not be a hiding place for the foes
that are, like destroying locusts, around our Capitol. A soldier's duty is to destroy and
though it may make his heart ache to destroy the beauty and magnificence of a primitive
garden such as this was without adding a shrub or flower to embellish and adorn in place of
those he tears up, it cannot be helped for there is a principle for which we are contending
that must be maintained, though desolation sweeps over all the land. What would all the
beauty of all this vast and beautiful country signify were freedom dead? But let all the
beauty perish if only freedom is left us, we have a foundation in which to build a country
beautiful as before. Since my arrival at this place I have learned that Col.
not resigned but is still our Col. and gives general satisfaction to the regiment. Lieut.
Col. Fairchild is also well liked and we feel sure that we have what we have needed
heretofore- good officers- Officers that can lead us in the field.
Governor Randall was in the camp yesterday and made us a short speech in which he said
that he was sorry we had not received our clothes from the Government before this and if
we did not get them soon he would do his best to furnish them for us at the expense of the
state of Wisconsin and call on or have it charged over to the Government. The Governor
sees plainly that we need clothes, though we are not in a suffering condition, the other
Wisconsin regiments have been dressed up in their blue
uniforms since they arrived at Washington and, as a matter of course, they lord over
us some- call us the "Ragged Second and other names not as appropriate. We,
in turn, boast
of our prowess in war and crack jokes upon them without mercy. The Fifth clams to be the
"Fighting Fifth", a title they are welcome to when they earn it, but the
Second can say
with pride that their pickets generate no false alarms and it is well known that
are driven in, which has not yet been done, there will be a strong force of the enemy close
at their heels. These things, simple as they are, have created some hard feelings between the
Fifth and Second but I think they will wear away soon.
I am again almost a well man but at present am afflicted after the manner of one of olden
me. The weather is cool and the health of our regiment is better than could be expected,
Capt. J.F. Randolph is all right once more and we hope soon to see Lieut. Meredith with
From a Prisoner at Richmond.
The following are extracts from letters written by David Strong to his father:
Richmond, Va. Sept 28, 61
Your very welcome letter of Sept. 8th was received yesterday. I have recovered of my wound
excepting a slight lameness which the doctor say s well render me unfit for service for a
year or two. Enclosed in yours, I found a two dollar bill which I am very thankful for. It
came in the right time for I have been very sick and low.
Now I am able to buy some little delicacies for which I have longed; besides protecting me
from the cold. One thing I cannot account for: in your letter was a note containing $2.50
in gold from a friend at Fort Monroe. Now who is that friend? surely it was a God-send,
coming from some benevolent Friend who does not want to be known.
T.S. Brookens is safe in the prison joining the one I am in (for I have been moved from
the hospital to the prison.) He would not leave me; although he could have got away by so
doing; I begged him to go, but he would not leave me. A. J. Curtis is in the hospital
nearly well; no bones broken.
Daniel O'Brien is a prisoner here with me unharmed.
In a letter dated October 4, 1861, David writes:
Mr. T.S. Brookens who so nobly helped me off the field has been sent to New Orleans.
I sent the letter with the two dollar bill to Hon. John F. Potter. It is possible that he
is the friend who added the $2.50 in gold.
A Sound Appointment- We hear that Capt.
Thomas D. Allen of the Miners Guards has been or is to be appointed Major of the Second
Regiment. Tom Allen was one of the officers who, at the battle of Manassas, proved himself
under the most trying circumstances fit for command. He has courage, self-possession and the
confidence of the regiment who know him. We believe in the promotion of such men.
The Second Wisconsin Regiment
We learn from a private letter from a member of the Randall Guards belonging to the Second
Regiment that matters with that regiment are in a very much improved condition over the
past. Col. O'Connor is not yet able to attend to his duty but the letter says that Lt.
Col. Fairchild and Maj. Allen are now running the thing tip top. The regiment is
encamped about one mile west of the Arlington House near Ft. Tillinghast. The letter
says: "We now have our entire new suit all dark blue with the army hat with plume, the
handsomest uniform in the service. Gen. McDowell drills our brigade in person and does not
hesitate to give us now the highest praise of all. We now drill most of the time and have
a splendid camp and, all things taken together, have cheered the boys up very much and put
new life to them.
Capt. Randolph's health is reported as being excellent. This will be gratifying news to
his many friends in this city. We are much pleased to hear so favorable an account from
the Second regiment whose fate seems to have been rather a hard one in the past. It has
the material in it to do good service and we have no care but it will do it.
Racine Boys in Richmond
In a letter received to day, (25th) by J.I. Case, from John H. Anderson, a member of the
Belle City Rifles, dated at Richmond, Va., Sept. 15th, he writes: "I am a prisoner of war here. All the boys here belonging to the Belle City Rifles
are Wm. H. Upham, F. Lacy, James Anderson, Antle Henry and myself. Upham, Lacy and James Anderson are wounded but fast recovering.
There are many of our regiment here. We are confined in Tobacco factories. Two out of
every three men in Richmond are soldiers. We want for nothing save liberty and clothes or the the money to buy them.
Our addresses- Prisoners, no cause for calling us the ragged Second."
Welcome Home.-It being understood Tuesday
of last week that Capt. (now Major) W.E. Strong would arrive on the 10:34 train from
Chicago, quite a large gathering of friends met him at the Depot. His reception was such a
one as a soldier merits who has faithfully and bravely done battle for his country.
The sweet "Welcome Home " by the band and hand clasps of so many friendly hands,
our country gave to the mind of Major Strong, the assurance that his Racine friends honor him for
his bravery. We, in common, with all our citizens congratulate him upon his promotion.
The Wisconsin Soldiers now Prisoners at Richmond.
Hon. D. Worthington received a letter last evening from Geo. A. Beck formerly a clerk in
the Madison Insurance office who enlisted in Capt. Randolph's company and was taken
prisoner at Bull's Run. The letter is dated Richmond, Va., Oct. 4, and was forwarded by
the flag of truce recently sent to Fortress Monroe. Mr. Beck states he was wounded
in his left leg about three inches below the knee by a rifle ball which fractured the
smaller bone or fibula.
He retreated with the army four or five miles when he was unable to go further, laid down
in the woods and on the subsequent Monday was taken and put in a hospital at Centerville
whence he was sent to Richmond. It was seventeen days after the wound was received before
the ball was extracted. He is now able to walk with a stall, though his leg is some
what crooked in consequence of the contraction of the cords and muscles. He thinks there
were in all from 80 to 100 Wisconsin prisoners taken to Richmond, some of whom have been
transferred to Orleans. This is only an estimate, his means of accurate knowledge being
limited, since he has no access to the different prisons. The following extract from the
letter will be of interest to our readers: "I know of but three men of Capt.: Randolph's company here besides
myself- the two Rees and
Sergeant Hyldridge. Some of the states have sent money to their soldiers here. To day, the
Rhode Island men received $2.50 each for the privates and some time ago the state of
Michigan sent from $2:50 to $7:00 each to their men here.
This they greatly needed. The Wisconsin boys need some money very much and it would make many glad. I do not ask any
attention to this though I had but $2.50 when taken prisoner and a little money
would come mighty handy to purchase a loaf of bread now and then or other little
The letter, of course being unsealed and subject to the inspection of the rebel authorities,
is silent as to the treatment received by our prisoners and conveys no information of the
condition of affairs at Richmond. The reference however to a need of money to purchase a
loaf of bread is significant. Money would doubtless have been sent to our soldiers at
Richmond 'ere thus if there were any mode of transmitting it. How Michigan and Rhode
Island succeeded is not explained.