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1862 August, The Second Wisconsin

War Correspondence   

Fredericksburg, Va. 
Aug. 1st

Editors Crescent:- The recent expeditions for Gen. King's division towards Gordonsville, Culpeper and Orange Court Houses, it is evident from prisoners captured and general information obtained, have been of no small advantage to the government.
The cavalry went out in the direction of Beaver Dam Station the 19th; succeeded in destroying quite a number of cars, a large amount of flour and ammunition and capturing a Confederate Capt., and four men. On the 22d another expedition for the same Reg't. was sent out towards Culpeper Court House. Within a few miles of the place they surprised a body of the enemy, a hundred strong, killed seven, took four prisoners and forty of their horses without the loss of a man on our side. On the afternoon of the 24th inst. three regt's of Infantry, parts of two regt's of Cavalry and Gen. Gibbon's old battery started out toward Orange Court House. The 2d Wis. was one of the three, having taken the place of the 6th Wis in consequence of the delicate health of the Col. for some days past. The 6th was to move early the next morning to act as a reserve corps and to guard the Gordonsville road out about 15 miles so that the force that had gone ahead might not suffer from having their retreat cut off.
Through the kindness of Capt. Mason, Brigade Quartermaster, your correspondent gained permission to join the Co. of which he was once a member and "go for a Soldier." After stopping at the place designated, pickets were sent out in several directions. About 4 o'clock a squad of men brought in four confederate deserters who had been trying to get to our lines for the past two weeks. They were well dressed and intelligent. They told Col. Cutler where there was one of Jackson's spies supposed to be an officer in the Confederate army. Maj. Dawes of the 6th with some forty men proceeded to the house after dark and caught the bird in his nest. The spy was as firm as the rock of ages. When Col. Cutler said he would let him go if he would take the oath of allegiance he replied promptly "that he might lead a horse to water but couldn't make him drink".
Saturday morning, one of the deserters went as a guide to a detachment of Cavalry for the purpose of capturing a small body of rebel pickets. At noon they returned with three soldiers and a citizen who belonged to the Engineers Corps of Richmond and who had on this person draughts of the fortifications about the rebel capitol. So much for deserters.
On Saturday, about dark, we learned that the force ahead had seen a body of the enemy 20,000 strong and had commenced falling back. An hour later confirmed the report and that the secesh cavalry had followed them up. Early Sunday morning the 6th was ready to move; it was to march as the rear guard, this whole force having passed us in the night and the enemy's cavalry within a mile of us. This is looked about as much like fun as anything they had seen and the boys seemed to enjoy it hugely. On the return trip Col. Cutler called for a Lieut. and twelve volunteers from Co. "E" to go out on a foraging trip.
The "brave twelve"" and Lieut found it rather inconvenient to keep up with the mules with double quicking, but we soon came up to a house a short distance from the main road where the boys soon loaded the wagon. About five barrels of nice ham and bacon was taken besides a few chickens. Again we turned our faces toward Fredericksburg thinking that some thing's could be done as well as others.-

Our Washington Correspondence  

Recent Operations of the Second Regiment - a successful Reconnaissance and a Safe Return - Eighty miles in Seventy-Two Hours - Why have no Field Appointments been made from the Second?

Aug 2d, 1862

A reconnaissance in which the Second Regiment participated was made a few days since; which in the absence of more important news, will be of interest. The party consisted of the 23d and 30th New York, Campbell's battery of Regulars, sixty of Berdan's Sharpshooters, two companies of cavalry and the Second Wisconsin: in all about 1500 men under command of Brigadier Gen. Gibbon. The object was to ascertain the strength of the rebel forces at Gordonsville and vicinity which has been stated for sometime at 30, to 40,000. They left camp at Fredericksburg Thursday July 24th at 2.5 o'clock P.M. with two days rations and a rubber blanket each, marching 15 miles that afternoon, when they encamped for the night. The Second Wisconsin led the advance. At 4 P.M. Friday they had arrived within five miles of Orange Court House, making prisoners of all they saw on the road. Here they halted for the New York regiments to come up, intending to make a descent upon the town and take it by surprise.
Thus far their march had been entirely unexpected. No intimations of their approach had preceded theirs. The rebels, they had already learned, had three regiments of infantry and one of cavalry at Orange. On the arrival of the 23d New York, the general was much chagrined to learn that they had come up with only 250 men and the 30th still behind. All intentions of operating on the offense must be abandoned. Any further advance that night was also deemed unsafe.
The cavalry, which was now in the advance, retuned bringing with them a rebel mail and carrier which they had captured, when the mail was properly distributed among the soldiers who enjoyed a sight of Southern news wonderfully. Here they bivouacked for the night setting a picket guard to prevent being surprised. In about two hours the rebel cavalry, who somehow had got knowledge of their presence, made them a visit and were driven back by our cavalry. They were not again molested during the night.
Next morning at four-o'clock, previous to commencing their return march, they found it necessary to drive the rebel cavalry back once more and this time pursued them nearly into Orange and breakfasted in full sight of the Court House and a large force of rebel cavalry. They were now more that forty miles from camp. The men were tired and foot sore from two days marching and they were in the power of an enemy who greatly out numbered them. From prisoners who they had captured, they learned that the rebels had 4,000 or 5,000 at Louisa Court House and 20,000 at Liberty Mills all within a few hours march. Had the rebel cavalry given notice of the presence of our troops during the night they could come down in sufficient numbers to capture or annihilate the whole party.
To made a successful retreat under such circumstances required the most consummate skill and coolness. After breakfast, which consisted of coffee, bread and fresh mutton, the remains of forty sheep slaughtered the night before, they commenced their homeward march. The retreat was covered by Campbell's battery  of regulars, supported by two companies of infantry under command of Major Allen and a small squad of cavalrymen. On arriving at their camp ground of the morning, the rear guard overtook the sharpshooters with Gen. Gibbon and staff, the rest being in the advance. Permission was now given the men to get water but no sooner had they broken ranks than the rebel cavalry came rushing down upon them, driving before them the little squad of Union cavalry which formed the extreme rear. This movement was so sudden that the rebels were with in five rods when the rear guard was immediately formed by Major Allen and the sharpshooters opened fire bring down several horses and wounding a number of the riders. This caused the rebels to retreat as fast as they had advanced. In this manner the rebel cavalry pursued our troops fifteen miles but never did any damage to our men while they were always driven back when our troops made a stand. They arrived at camp at Fredericksburg on Sunday after noon at 2 1/2 o'clock just three days (72 hours) from the time of setting out, having marched in the time over eighty miles in an intensely hot sun. The loss to the rebels from the expedition was about twenty in wounded and prisoners and one killed. We lost none our men, all returning safe to camp. The reconnaissance was made merely for the purpose of getting information and was entirely satisfactory.
The people of Fredericksburg where much surprised to see the Yankees return headed by their band which had gone out to meet them playing Yankee Doodle, they predicting and hoping that Stonewall Jackson would "gobble" them all up.
The Second Regiment had something over  five hundred able men --or twice as many as the Twenty-third New York-- who went through this expedition. This speaks well for the discipline of the regiment considering that they have seen fifteen months service and suffered so severely in the battle of Bull Run.
Now I wish to ask why it is that no field appointments have been made from this regiment in making up the new ones. It is needless to repeat what has so often been said that there is no better regiment in the field from any State than the Second Wisconsin. At review, Secretary Seward mistook them for regulars, remarking to Gen. McClellan "that he was not aware that there was any regulars in that brigade." I understand that four field officers have been appointed from the "Sixth." They may all be good appointments - I don't know their names. But considering that the Sixth has never been in any engagement and the officers yet untried, it is not strange that the officers of the Second should think that their claims have been ignored. Their patriotism and love for their common county will stimulate them in the future rather than any duty or allegiance that they owe to the State of Wisconsin.


From the Second Regiment  
Correspondence of the Sentinel

Camp Near Fredericksburg
August 4, 1862

Editors Sentinel:-Having recovered from the effects of our march to Orange Court House of which, doubtless, you have been informed, I sit down to give you a few particulars of this one of the best conducted military achievements of the war. I say this not that the fruits of it were such that a balance of killed, wounded and captured could be shown to our credit but the boldness of the under taking its entire success and the thorough military rules on which it was conducted may, I think justly, entitle it to such a stamp. In an hour after I had mailed my last of the 24th, we received orders to "fall in", light marching order with two days rations. We expected this as we had previous orders to be ready at any time.
At 2 o'clock we marched. As we passed through Fredericksburg, the population turned out  en masse, and many were the lowering looks we encountered from the rebel beauty who, true to their sex, displayed that characteristic which led mother Eve to eat the apple and which she has transmitted unimpaired to the daughters of this generation.
Besides the Second there were the Twenty-third and Thirty-first New York regiments a company of the second Berdan sharp shooters, two companies of the Indiana cavalry and the Washington Battery, (Regular Army) in all not more than 1,400 men under command of Brig. Gen. Gibbons. The heat was overpowering, and this added to our previous inactivity made our first day's march a severe one and when we halted for the night, many of us too tired to exert ourselves to getting supper at once, sought that test so necessary for to morrow's tug of war but it was only to awake about midnight and find ourselves cold and shivering in pools of water while the rain poured. The lighting glared and the thunder stunned us with its tremendous rolls. To Co. A, Captain Stevens was assigned the unpleasant task of picketing - an arduous duty while on the march. We were aroused at three o'clock the next morning and after a hasty breakfast were once more on our way full of life though stiff and sore. As we advanced nearer the enemy we proceeded with greater caution, guards were placed at the houses by the roadside and those persons found traveling were arrested. About noon we captured the mail proceeding to Fredericksburg, probably under the license of that city's defunct Provost Marshal. It contained some letters of importance and Richmond papers of a late date filled with their usual rodomontade about Yankee barbarisms, &c., which we read at this time with peculiar satisfaction. In the evening we had arrived within about six miles of Orange Court House. The enemy were found and it was determined before feeling their pulse to give us the necessary rest and refreshment. To effect this the better we experimented on General Pope's order - squads of men were detailed from the several companies as foragers, and only a few minutes elapsed ere the camp was strewn with dead sheep &c., It was a lesson in philosophy to observe with what zest and fury some good natured but hungry officers and privates and grabbed sheep and with what gusto they gave it its death wound. The fragrant odors of broiled steaks mingled with the evening dews bore savory promises of a glorious supper but alas! some of us were not destined to enjoy the treat.
The order came for companies B., Capt. Colwell; E., Capt. Smith; and A., Capt Stevens, to report for picket. The latter was in advance, about one mile from camp with cavalry as reserve. Immediately after it had reached its position an Orderly reported the enemy's cavalry advancing. It was the intention of Captain Stevens to await until the enemy were immediately in front and then annihilate him. But owing to the unfortunate impetuses of one or two, the decoy failed. Thinking only of dropping his man and ignorant of orders to the contrary, the men on the left of the company fired a minute to soon. All was over. A shot from the enemy, "fall back", the tramp of horses and all was still again.
It was evident they intended giving us battle at Orange Court House and as they overwhelmed us in numbers, Gen. Gibbons deemed it prudent to retire. This was done as boldly as we advanced, cooking our coffee under their very noses but they pressed too closely for us to enjoy it. Our near guard were engaged several times on the retreat and many rebels bit the dust. I'd conclude we met our reserves (Sixth Wisconsin) and provisions about fifteen miles from Fredericksburg on Saturday night. On Sunday night at 2o'clock we passed through F----, having skirmished with the enemy, had a battalion drill in their presence and marched eighty miles in seventy-two hours including all stoppages in rain and heat. I might record some personal adventures but it would I fear trespass too much on your columns. I will add however that your correspondent and another come very near taking a trip to Richmond. 
But thinking of the principle his secesh host said the chivalry followed, that it was better to run than make a poor stand, we acted upon it, so repeating another axiom of the said host in speak of his Negroes, viz if ignorance is bliss it is folly to be wise.
As the mail leaves in a few.


Aug. 5th again off on another reconnaissance, this time to intercept the rebel’s connections on the Virginia Central railroad. Iron brigade in the advance Aug. 6th at early hour, advance to Beaver Dam Station to Matt river, Stuart’s cavalry harassing our rear.
A full thirty miles march that day. Aug. 7th march to Spotsylvania Court House to assist the return on the Sixth regiment. About sunset they return, successful in the main object of their expedition, having burned a bridge on the Virginia Central Railroad, destroyed Frederick Hall Station and tore up a portion of railroad track; march a part of the way to Fredericksburg and bivouac.

Cornelius Wheeler’s diary

Destruction of the Railroad between Gordonsville and Richmond.

Correspondence of the N.Y. Tribune.
Fredericksburg, Aug. 8.

The enemy has been concentrating in large force at and near Gordonsville, it is said under Stonewall Jackson and Lee. Their strength is variously estimated but so far as we have learned , it is yet only a nucleus for the marauding army which is devoted to the desperate word of a march over the line into the Free States.
Gordonsville had direct railroad communication with Richmond by the Virginia Central over which their troops and supplies have been porting for some time past.--
The importance of breaking this line is too apparent to need demonstration and Gen. King's Division have made the two attempts which have so lately been communicated to the public.
The brilliant reconnaissance of the Harris Light Cavalry under Lieut. Col Kilpatrick, to Beaver Dam and that neighborhood, had this object in view. Another was determined upon, and the force left here on the 6th  at command of Gens. Gibbon and Hatch and Col. Cutler, for Hanover Junction. 
The force was divided into two columns, the first under Gen. Gibbon and the others under Acting Brigadier Gen. Cutler.- Gibbon's force consisted of the Second and Seventh Wisconsin, Nineteenth Indiana, Capt. Munroe's battery, and the Third Indiana Cavalry, 400 strong.- Taking the telegraph road, they marched without opposition as far as Mat River, a distance of fourteen miles from camp, but here they encountered Stuart's Virginia Cavalry and two pieces of light artillery which opened upon them at long range.
The column halted; and the Indiana Cavalry, which was in the advance, retiring beyond range were charged upon by the rebel cavalry. They repulsed them however without any casualty except the wounding of one man and, the rebels not choosing to follow us up, Gen. Gibbon concluded to encamp for the night, which he did, advancing his skirmishers and establishing a line of pickets.
Before the force left Fredericksburg, Gen. Hatch was ordered to follow with his brigade the following morning and did so, reaching a point two miles this side of Mat River. Early of Friday morning he joining Gen. Gibbon and the combined columns crossed the Mat without opposition and advanced several miles. Hatch's force composed three companies of the Second U.S. Sharpshooters, Col. Post, a section of the New Hampshire Battery , the Twenty-second New York, Lieut. Col. Thomas, and the Thirtieth New York. Learning that a large rebel force was on his right and that there was danger of his retreat being cut off, Gen. Gibbons decided to retrace his steps. Facing about he marched toward Fredericksburg with as much celerity as the overpowering heat of the weather allowed, and when near the Bowling Green Road, a company of cavalry under Capt. Lemon, and two companies of the Seventh Wisconsin were sent to reconnoiter toward the town and check the supposed advance of the enemy from that direction. Capt. Lemon found  the road clear, and rode so near the town as to be able to look quite through it.
Although he met no hostile force, he learned that Generals Stuart and Lee had been there the nigh before and had gone to Guinney's Station with a view to get in to  our rear. This intelligence was hardly received by Gen. Gibbons before word was brought that a part of Hatch's wagon train had been intercepted within six miles of Fredericksburg, and captured, along with sixty-seven teamsters and soldiers who had given out on the march and had been picked up by the train. The wagons, eleven in number, also contained a large number of blankets and commissary stores belonging to the Hatch's Brigade. They had become separated from the balance of the train by some miles,  and the rebel cavalry coming from Guinney's got between the two parts and gobbled up the smaller train. Some fifty of them pursued the main train and charged upon it, but Capt. Drum, Acting Quartermaster, who was in charge formed the one company of the Twenty-first New York and gave the enemy such a volley that they broke and fled.
On the homeward march the Indiana cavalry and Munroe's battery were in advance with Hatch and the rest of Gibbons force brought up the rear. Our cavalry drove the enemy some two miles and then came in sight of their main cavalry force, abut 1,000 strong, which was supported by artillery. Munroe unlimbered is pieces and shelled them so effectually that thy beat a hasty retreat. The Indiana Cavalry were ordered to make a detour so as to get into their rear, Gen. Gibbon and Hatch believing it possible to capture the whole force, but for some reason or other the movement was not executed and the rebels escaped. The Sharpshooters did good service in picket and as skirmishers, Co. A being engaged some two hours, and Co. C a considerable time also. the men of Co. A claim to have killed at least five, including one field officer and wounded fifteen more all at a distance of about 1,000 yards.
After the encounter with Strout's Cavalry Regiment, our forces saw nothing of the enemy and returned to camp without having accomplished the object in view.
The second column, commanded by Acting Brig. Gen. Cutler, was more fortunate. Proceeding down the plank road by way of Spotsylvania Court House, through Waller's Tavern Road, they halted for the night at Mount Pleasant. On Wednesday afternoon they reached Frederick's Hall Station, and Col. Mansfield Davies of the Harris Light Cavalry, sending company I, Capt. Walters, to a point two and a half miles above, led the main body to the station. Capt. Walters took up eighty lengths of rail, out the telegraph, burning the wire and poles and blew up the road beds with power. A large lot of new T rails which were piled alongside the track, were made into a barricade across the road-bed and warped and turned them by building large fires under and about them. Companies G, Capt. Swinter, H, Capt McIrwin, and E, Lieut. London commanding, went down to the station and destroyed the water tanks, telegraph wire, and 5,000 bushels of grain and a large lot of whisky and many other stores which were awaiting transportation to the enemy at Gordonsville. The force was in command of the brave and dashing Lieut. Col. Kirkpatrick, who commanded in the recent brilliant raid to Beaver Dam. Adjutant Gregory, with a party was sent down to near Bumpas Turn - Out to blow up the track and switches which was accomplished in the most through and satisfactory manner. At this point the water tanks and depot were burned, the track was destroyed and a small culvert was blown up. A little further on the track was barricaded with new rails rendered useless by burning as were those above Fredericks's Hall.
Hearing that three trains were expected up with troops from Richmond, the expedition commenced its return march. The large bridge over the Pamunky was burnt, to prevent the enemy from following us up. At Waller's Tavern, where a halt was made, Col. Cutler heard of the disaster to Gibbon's force and fearing that the enemy would cut him off, the three roads from the tavern were strongly barricaded by Lieut. Raymond, Quartermaster of the Harris Light Cavalry. Although the danger was imminent and fully realized, the men expressed their determination to cut their way though anything and everything that crossed their path. At three o'clock on Thursday morning the march was resumed, and by 8 o'clock Spotsylvania Court House was reached and a junction was effected with Gibbon's column.
At 10 P.M. last night the whole force reached camp without serious casualty, beyond the loss of 92 prisoners, and the death of a wounded Orderly who was shot in the head while carrying an order.
Among other fruits of the expedition is a large number of horses and mules some of which are very fine. Lieut. Compton of Co. C., Harris Light Cavalry, had favored me with Richmond papers of the 5th instant, which accompanies this letter. The whole affair of Col. Cutler's command was a brilliant success; and will no doubt be a severe blow to the enemy for his communication while Richmond is interrupted at a critical time when he was preparing for operation against us. 
It will require at least a week and probably more to repair the damages to the railroad and in war such a delay is often serious enough to defeat the best laid plans.

Correspondence of the Daily Gazette   

Camp 2d Regiment Wis. Vol.
Opposite Fredericksburg, Va. 
Aug, 9, 1862

On the morning of the 5th inst. this Brigade, consisting of the 6th, 2d and 7th Wis regiments and 19th Indiana Regiment with 1st New Hampshire battery and 3d Indiana Cavalry, started on an expedition with the intention of destroying the rail road near Hanover Junction. We started at 2 o'clock in the morning. The 6th Wis Regiment and two companies of Indiana Cavalry and two pieces of 1st New Hampshire Battery took the road via Spotsylvania Court House, Col. Cutler commanding, while the rest of the expedition took the road via Hamburgh Post Office, Gen. Gibbon  commanding. The weather was excessively hot. We reached Hamburgh Post Office at 12 o'clock and were expecting to rest there until evening having marched seventeen miles. But before we had quite reached this place the booming of cannon was heard in the advance and in a moment after the Cavalry came in Pell  Mell closely pursued by the cavalry of the enemy. Our regiment had the advance. Guns were at once loaded, the artillery unlimbered and placed in position and their fire opened. They were 12 pounder Napoleon guns and made glamorous music. B and E companies were deployed as skirmishers to the right and left of the road and my company advanced in line down the road to support them. Thus we advanced slowly for half a mile when my company was also deployed as skirmishers, forming the right of the line, and the advance continued for some distance till finally we were halted in a corn field and staid there for an hour or so. Here the heat was terrible as not a breath of air could be felt while the corn  furnished no protection from the vertical rays of the sun. After staying in this corn till 3 or 4 o'clock, we returned to the Post Office, the enemy having fled. During the skirmish six of my men fell out from exhaustion and were sent to the rear. They were Corporal Andrew Douglas, privates Herman J. Langhoff, Hugh Murray, George Bacheldor, Charles W. Atherton and John J. Little. They were among the most hardy men of the regiment and of undoubted courage. We staid at Hamburgh Post Office that night and in the morning advanced slowly with skirmishers deployed some seven miles towards the rail road when the booming of cannon in our rear told us the enemy were engaging General Hatch, who with two regiments, had come out to Hamburgh to support us. We started back to his aid and pursued the enemy back to Massapanichs Creek, that day marching twenty-one miles with the thermometer at near 100, shelling them with artillery and annoying them with cavalry as they retreated and killing some seven or ten of them. The enemy's forces were exclusively cavalry and artillery.
Gen. Hatch had, on the morning of the 6th, sent all the men who had given out in our command and which Gen. Gibbon had left at Hamburgh back to Fredericksburg. But when they reached Massaponichs Creek, the train bringing us provisions and the wagons taking back the sick were attacked and all the sick of the three regiments under Gen. Gibbon were taken prisoners besides quite a number of wagons were captured. There must been been near 100 sick taken from the three regiments and among them  six from my company whose names are above given.
On the morning of the 7th we started again on the march and crossed over on the Spotsylvania Court House Road marching some seven miles. Here we rested, killed a fine lot of rebel fattened cattle and broiled the meat on sticks. In the evening, Col. Cutler having come up, we started back marching some seven miles and yesterday returned to camp. Col. Cutler's march had been unmolested. He reached the rail road (doing magnificent marching) tore it up and burned water tanks, &c., and then came deliberately back.
The enemy seemed to have learned of Col. Cutler's command and only fell upon us. He doubtless expected to bag us all. He had a brigade of cavalry and a battery of six pounders while we had, the first day, three regiments of infantry, four pieces of artillery 12-pounders and some 500 cavalry. 
The next day after Gen Hatch came up we had two more regiments of Infantry so it was rather a bad undertaking to bag us though both horses and men were so worn out that pursuit on our part was very difficult. We have only to regret the capture of our poor sick boys but console ourselves with the knowledge that the enemy have always, in our front, treated their prisoners with kindness and humanity. A day or two of rest will recruit them up all right and in a week or two at furthest we hope they will be exchanged and with us again. There is no occasion for their friends to have any apprehensions on their account. They are unhurt and will be back with us all right.
Yours truly.,
Geo. B. Ely, Captain
Co. D, 2d Wis. Vol.

Culpepper, Va., Aug 9th 1862

Dear Brick:

"The shriek of shot and burst of shell, 
And bellowing of Mortars,"
Are now plainly heard, Tis  4 o'clock P.M. and the contest which has been but dimly recognizable since early dawn has now grown fierce - even the volleys of musketry with their peculiar twang now enlivens the scene and the brave troops that have been standing in line of battle as reserve for five hours past are now preparing to meet the enemy - many of the regiments having already moved forward. The battle field is about five miles distant from here. Our headquarters presents a scene of agitation! Gen. Pope, Banks, Siegel and McDowell, with their respective staffs and escorts, are assembled on the lawn in front of the residence of Mayor Wallach of Washington who is also present - his first visit to his family and whom with in 18 months. His family consists of a wife, son and two lovely daughters.
The General and Company have departed. I see them traversing the road leading to the front. Pshaw! 
I must discontinue writing for the present for we are ordered to pack up and I don't wish to see my Press suppressed by the enemy advance; but will tell you all to-morrow morning.
August 10, 6 A.M. The weather is intensely hot. We have our teams all loaded awaiting orders which direction to move. Cannonading ceased last night at 10--the night was bright as day.-- The battle is again raging but not quite so near us--the enemy having fell back 3 or 4 miles during the night. Sigel and Banks troops are both engaged  with one of McDowell's Divisions-- Gen. Ricketts, also Gen. Bayard's Cavalry Brigade.
I have just visited the hospitals and ascertained that Lt. Col. Crane of 3rd Wis was killed yesterday at 4 o'clock P.M. while the Regiment was making a "charge" and Maj. J. W. Scott and Capt. Hawley of Co. K of the 3rd Wis were wounded--both of the latter I had the pleasure of serving --by writing and sending telegraphs to their families-- the Mayor was wounded quite seriously in left shoulder blade; and the Capt. in the ankle. The 3rd Wis suffered very severely.
I am now writing in the Provost Marshall's office, 27 rebels have just been brought in; among them are two or three officers-- one is Col. Diermont of Va. militia.
I have but just learned that Capt. O'Brien of Co. I,  3rd Wis., is seriously wounded - with but little hope of recovery. Hundred's of rabid secession civilians are running at large through the village. There are no nurses to care of the wounded; only in one of the Hospitals can be seen the cheering smile of the fair sex. She is the wife of Capt. Forbes of Bayard's Cavalry; and while her husband is faithfully serving his country, she is faithfully bathing the wounds of our volunteers. I see her distributing her little store of blackberry wine among the faint ones. God bless her.
Headquarters train has just passed moving to the front and I must accompany them, I will write again.


Aug. 10th. Break camp, send the sick toward Washington and march to Harnwood Church up to the Rappahannock, cross the river at Alles Ford and bivouac. Distance twenty miles. Aug. 11th march at an early hour through Stevensburg, leaving Culpeper Court House to the right, pass on and join the main body of Gen. Pope’s army now massing at this point. Distance twenty-five miles. On the 9th inst. Gen. Hanks had met and engaged the rebels at this place under Gen. Jackson, and when in force on Cedar Mountain immediately in front, but on the night of the 12th they had fallen back.

Cornelius Wheeler’s diary

In Camp on the Battle Field   
August 11, 1862

Friend "Brick", there was no engagement yesterday worth of notice. - Our forces were ordered to fall back, which they did about 1 1/2 miles, and are now encamped among the woodlands principally that skirt the valley east of the Blue Ridge about one mile distant from Slaughter Mountain where the enemy, 75,00 strong, lie. They have a magnificent position - from the base to midway the mountain - where they can be seen in innumerable numbers. Gens Ewell, Longstreet and Hill are in command of the forces, while Jackson acts as Commander-in chief of the field. Notwithstanding Pope, Sigel, Banks and McDowell are all here, hastily conversing with in twenty feet of me, of the predicament in which we are placed. Our troops are again to meet the enemy - Brick, Jackson has out-generaled us thus far in this affair for he had every thing his own way. We have been sending flags of truce continually since yesterday's engagement, that we might be able to gather out dead for burial and bring within our lines the wounded - many of whom have been lying without assistance for 24 hours. One Captain O'Brien of Co. I, 3d Wis. Reg., was brought in to-day at one o'clock on a litter, by his men, as he was unable to ride in an ambulance having been wounded in the leg, back and breast most severely. - The enemy hold the field and some of the 3rd Wis. that were on the field say that a rebel General met them and in fact stood over them while they were gathering their friends together; and one of our boys picked up a saber when the General told him to "drop it"! Our dead were all stripped of clothing by the rebels.
This morning an armistice was agreed on by the opposing Generals - that hostilities should cease until 2 o'clock today. At the hour many of our teams were ordered back to Culpeper and everything prepared for another hour's wholesale murder; but another agreement, to extend the armistice until 6 tomorrow morning was entered into.

Culpepper, Aug, 12, 1862
As the trains were ordered back to this place yesterday and we had nothing to subsist or sleep on, we followed the train. Then, about mid-way to Culpeper, we met Lieut. Gen. Burnham of Harris Light Cavalry, (Gen. Burnham use to clerk for Johnson of Yankee Notion notoriety in your place) who belongs to King's troops would be on the field that night as they had been marching two-days from Fredericksburg in this direction. (good). An Orderly has just arrived from the field and tells us that King is there and we have orders to pack up..
Tis now 7 o'clock but no firing had been heard; we are going to the fields soon, and will endeavor to give you more particulars.
We have visited and revisited the hospitals here and are positive that at least 1,200 are  wounded. The death are upwards of 500. How many prisoners we have taken we know not -probably 200. We have captured four cannon and lost two, but the enemy have certainly 1,500 of our small arms.
The wounded officers at the the Virginia Hotel of this place are as follows:

Gen. C. C. Augur, Commanding Division - shot through right side.
Col. D. Donnelly, 28th N.Y. V. - shot through the abdomen, and reported dead this morning.
Lieut. Col. F. Brown, 28th N.Y. V. - shot through right arm - amputated.
Col. J. F. Knipe, 46th Pa. Vol.
Maj. Matthews, do    do
Maj. Armstrong, 5th Ohio.
Lt. A. S. Spier.    do
Lt. R. Kirkass    do
Lt. T. B. Rogson, 2nd Mass.
Lt J. I. Grafton, do
Lt. J. R. Oakley,   do
Capt. F. E. trotter, 102 N.Y.
Capt.  L. B. Stegman    do
Capt. Wm. M'Quintey, 12th Reg't  U.S.A.
Sergt. B. O'Connor 8th  Reg't-U.S.A.
Gen Geary wounded in right arm, partaking of the hospitality of Mrs. Ward.
10 o'clock and no firing; but it isn't possible all will be quiet the remainder of the day. 

From the Light Guard   

The whereabouts of the Second Wisconsin and their readiness for a fight will be learned from the following extracts we are permitted to publish form a private letter:

Camp in sight of Battle Field:
Virginia, August 12, 1862

DEAR FATHER: I take a few moments to let you know how King's division is getting along as I promised mother I would write as quick as we reached Pope.
After to day's marching we reached here in the night, about 8 o'clock, went into camp and slept well all night expecting to get up in the morning and have a big battle with Jackson who was in front of us last night. But Jackson left last night. I guess he thought that we had a larger force than he could cope with.
Before we got here we heard that Gen. Pope's command had been fighting all day and was fighting yet. We could hear heavy firing and our Division was pushed through as fast as we could go so as to be in time for a little fight before it was all over. But we did not get through in time. The fight commenced Saturday and ended Sunday night. Coming thro' to where we are now camped, we had to pass the Third Wisconsin Regiment which had been in the fight. The boys looked well and felt as if they had just come from a dance. I happened to be by when one of the boys told all the particulars of the engagement. It was Banks Corps that did all the fighting. He sent out a large force to reconnoiter in front of the rebels and find out their position.
While out, a large force of rebels came on and chased them back. Banks saw that he could not get back without a fight with them and it would not do to run so he faced about and formed a line of battle and sent after the rest of his corps. They came up in time to have a chance to try their pluck. - The rebels had four or five men to our one but that made no difference with our brave boys. They pitched in and fought all day until obliged to fall back on account of the superior force of the rebels. At this critical moment Siegel come on with his whole corps. The rebels, seeing this, stopped firing and retreated back on the battle field which was strewn with the dead and dying of both sides.
Pope has some sixty thousand troops here. It is a grand sight. One cannot see them all but can see enough to make his eyes open. We expect to have a fight in less than a week. Jackson has retreated and we are after him like bees.
You must watch the papers close every day because we will have a fight sooner than you expect and a big one too. If I fall, it will be with a musket in my hand and at my post. I will never allow my name to be disgraced or dishonored by turning my back on the enemy, only when ordered; and I hope when we do get at them we will give them such a licking that they will think and dream of us in their sleeps.
Good night and love to all.

J. P. B.

From the Second Regiment   

Mansion House Hospital.,
Alexandria, Va. 13th 1862

Editors Patriot: The battle of Culpepper Court House was fought on Saturday, the 9th of August but it was not until yesterday they began to arrive at this place.
They must have had a hard time of it, for they came by the railroad, riding in common box cars and the road is one of the roughest in the known world.
When I come here from Fredericksburg nearly four weeks ago I found it hard enough although I was only sick and came most of the way on a steamer which is much easier than traveling by rail. We suffered some but our wounded must have suffered fearfully as they were jolted along over the roughly laid track, all the way from Culpepper to this place.The first train brought in 500; the next which arrived about noon brought in 300 more, and another is expected to-day with an additional 500.
We have busy times now. The hospitals have been cleared of all, or nearly all, the sick. Those able for duty, attendants with the rest, have been sent to their regiments and the convalescents have been sent to Washington except those who are able to wait upon the wounded and take the places of discharged attendants. I am of the last named class and for the last 80 hours I have been pretty busy. We have from three to four hundred wounded in this hospital alone. Some of them, about one in two, are badly, yes, I may say, dangerously wounded while the others are all in a fair way to recover. Many are only slightly wounded in the hands, arms or legs. Two have died since the first arrival, one before he was taken off the stretcher. There is one man in my room that is wounded in both legs and also in the neck. Another that was shot through the breast and one leg, but neither are dangerously hurt and say if they never get any worse wounds they will be satisfied. There is no word of complaint, no murmurs from the lips of any. Our men are true blue; they are heroes in every sense of the word.
Gen. King has left Fredericksburg in the care of Burnside and marched his division to Culpepper to join Gen. Pope and it is to be hoped that Jackson will not get off as nicely as he did when he visited the Shenandoah valley last spring.
I would much rather be with the old Second than here if I were well, but as I cannot serve my country by using the musket I will serve her by serving the heroes that were wounded in her defense. When the next battle is fought I will look for some of our boys among the wounded for by this time King's division is with Pope and another battle is expected soon. The rebels now outnumber us in the field and we want more men and that immediately. If we had the 600,000 troops called for by the President now in the field or if we can hold our own till the 1st of October and get 600,000 fresh troops in the field by that time,  we will make a short job of "crushing the rebellion", for 950,000 Northern troops can sweep all the men of South with their Negroes and blood hound into the Gulf of Mexico. But we've not got that mighty army yet, and though some states are filing up their ranks rapidly by giving enormous bribes, others are holding back for their sons want bridges, also a bounty from the government is a good thing but the present method of getting volunteers has injured the volunteering system and injured our country. We want men that can take up arms in their country's defense without a bribe. How is Wisconsin doing? I fear that many are holding back for the purpose of getting the so-called bounty that other states give. No more of this ye men of Wisconsin; show to the people of other states and the world at large that you are not governed by the "almighty dollar." Of course there is danger in war and many who go forth to battle never return, but it is sweet to die for one's country, but to live on one's country, to stay at home when tyrants strive our country to destroy or hold back for the sake of a bridge cannot be sweet to any man who has a spark of patriotism in his breast. Ye men of Wisconsin, ye men of the gallant West, we must never give up the Mississippi, our great highway. 600,000 free men to join those already in the field and six short months will see King Cotton and King Jeff with their mighty Confederacy destroyed from the face of the earth. Now is the time! enlist. Come one, come all, and let us show the world that the republic of America is not Cowards

R. K. R.

Rappahannock Station

Aug. 14th Gen Pope reviews King’s division. On the 16th we move out across the field of Cedar Mountain and camp at its base. Aug. 19th commence the movement known as Pope’s retreat. We march through Culpeper to Rappahannock Station. Distance 17 miles. Aug. 20th cross the river and camp about half mile from the station back of the railroad, the enemy’s cavalry hanging close on our rear, coming up within range of our cannon, when a skirmish ensued with loss on both sides.

Cornelius Wheeler’s diary

Rappahannock Station  
They (the South) had hitherto intended, at least, to prevent reinforcements to McClellan from coming thought the Shenandoah route to Richmond, but now the resolved on pushing a very large force, at the utmost speed, through that valley, and crushing the corps of Pope's army at Culpepper, before he could reinforce them from Fredericksburg or McClellan's troops, and then defeating the other forces, to capture Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia at the East, and Cincinnati at the West, and liberate Kentucky, Western Virginia, and Maryland from the Federal Authority. All that done, they calculated that their power and importance would be demonstrated before the world, they would obtain recognition from foreign nations, and their great object in the rebellion would be accomplished. They had a magnificent conception, if it had been for a righteous end. Their force at Richmond was being enlarged to about 150,000, and the greater part of it was sent forward.
Their plans and action becoming known at Washington, it was decided that General Pope should first cross the Rappahannock and threaten Gordonsville, in order to check the rebel operations, and give freedom from molestation to McClellan in withdrawing from the Peninsula. General Cox was ordered towards Washington from Western Virginia, and President Lincoln issued a call for 300,000 men to serve for nine months.
But the enemy were not to be delayed; they pressed hard upon our forces south-west of Washington, and on the 19th of August commenced the celebrated movement known as "Pope's Retreat." The Iron Brigade that day marched through Culpepper to Rappahannock Station, seventeen miles, and the next day crossed the river and skirmished with the enemy's cavalry which hung close upon them, some loss being suffered on both sides.
Wisconsin in the War, Love, 1866

Letter from the 2nd Wisconsin  

Cedar Mountain, Va., 
August 17, 1862

Dear Witness: Sometime has elapsed since I wrote you a letter, and yet this is the first opportunity I have had. Our division has been on the march continually our marches interspersed with occasional skirmishes, brushes and melees with enemy. We (our division) are now encamped on the late battle field. It was not the good fortune of King's division to be present in time for the engagement as Gen. Pope's dispatch did not reach King in time, the line of telegraph being interrupted; but as soon as we received intelligence that the division was required the division was in motion and the march began at 4 A. M. After hard marches we reached Culpepper Court House the day after the battle, Gen. Pope attached no blame to Gen. King for the seeming tardiness in reinforcing him after he was informed of the facts of the case.
We lay encamped in sight of Jackson's forces the night we arrived and expected a renewal of hostilities the next morning but the shrewd "Stonewall" under a flag of truce, (obtained for the purpose of burying his dead,) ere old Sol had gilded the surrounding red hills, had left. Instead of burying his dead we found the plains, the hills, the village strewn with dead and dying rebels. Oh! the sight was sickening and beggars description. Here an arm, there a leg, yonder half of what was once a man and now we stumble over a corpse, here a heap of dead horses, broken wagons, knapsacks, clothes & c., and even now a week after the battle the sickening smell of the thousand carcasses of man and beast is horrible. Our men have done what he so shamefully neglected to do - buried his dead, although daily the work is renewed as dead bodies are found in the surrounding undergrowth.
Rebel prisoners (of which we took very many) report their loss at 4,000. The loss of the federal army was great yet the rebel loss was decidedly greater. Pope is adequate to the task assigned him and will make secessionism tremble in this State. Our division was reviewed by him a day or two since and the appearance of the men met his entire approbation. Our regiment was complimented especially. Our regiment seems slighted in not being permitted to gather some of the laurels Pope's army are gaining - yet I think we will ere long have the desired opportunity.
Forty-two deserters have just come into camp. I am not well - I offer as an excuse for this letter.

Your truly,

Aug. 21st move to the right to prevent the enemy from crossing the river at Beverly’s Ford, and skirmish with them, sustaining some loss. Adjutant C. K. Dean was among the number taken prisoner. The entire regiment is put on picket duty. Aug. 22nd remain in line near Beverly’s Ford, and at times are subject to heave cannonading, and luckily without loss. About nine march up the river toward Warrenton. In the afternoon it rains. Marching becomes very heavy. Bivouac just before reaching Warrenton. Distance 15 miles.

Cornelius Wheeler’s diary

Sulphur Springs

Aug. 24th move out through the town and bivouac in line of battle to Sulphur Springs, covering approaches for that direction. Aug. 26th march down to Sulphur Springs and skirmish with the enemy across the Rappahannock, mostly an artillery Duel. The Second Regiment of the Iron Brigade suffered slight loss in wounded. Distance 7 miles.

Cornelius Wheeler’s diary

Sulpher Springs
The 21st, they (the Iron Brigade) moved to the right to prevent the enemy from crossing at Beverly's Ford, and in a skirmish a few were wounded, and adjutant Dean, while conveying orders, was captured. The next two days they marched along the river toward Warrenton, and at times suffered a heavy cannonading, fortunately without loss. The 26th, they marched down to Sulpher Springs, holding an artillery duel with the enemy across the Rappahannock, the Second Regiment suffering some loss in wounded.
The 27th they marched back through Warrenton through Centerville, and bivouacked at Buckland's Mills. Early on the 28th, they proceeded by Gainesville, turned to the right on the Bethlehem Church Road, halted, and lay under arms till 5 in the evening , and them marched slowly towards Centerville. Thus they maneuvered and moved, marched and countermarched, to get away from an enemy. But a severe conflict was unavoidable, and there followed The Battle of Gainesville.
Wisconsin in the War, Love, 1866

From the Second Regiment  
Aug. 25th, 1862

Dear Patriot: The 20th inst. found our brigade encamped along the line of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, on the east side of the Rappahannock river, and about a mile and a half from Rappahannock Station. On the same day there was considerable cavalry skirmishing. The enemy were concentrating the army in large numbers along the west bank of the river and every thing bespoke a speedy general engagement. On the 21st inst. the enemy opened on our right, which was commanded by Gen. Sigel, with artillery, and attempted to force a crossing at North Ford, about six or eight miles up the river, but with out success. About noon the rebels crossed the river with a portion of their artillery supported by infantry and cavalry, at Rappahannock Ford, and engaged our centre under Gen. McDowell. For some time the engagement was purely an artillery duel, with but little gain on either side. - Our brigade took a position back of a piece of woods opposite the Ford. Two companies from each regiment were deployed to the right and left as skirmishers, while the main body laid under cover of the woods. Before reaching this place, however, the enemy sent several of his shells in our midst one of which exploded near an ambulance of ours but did no harm.
Our Adjutant, C. K. Dean, was sent to call in the skirmishers, and was, we think, taken prisoner for we have heard no tiding of him since. Our batteries at length succeeded in driving the enemy across the river and our division was ordered forward. We were placed under the brow of a hill which commanded the Ford. One of our pieces of artillery unlimbered on the hill and pegged away for some little time without calling forth any response. Our sharp shooters at the left of the battery kept up quite a rattling and the enemy's bullets whizzed over our heads quite lively. Some of our boys, in the mean time, were seated on the fence enjoying the fun, while others were wither making coffee or roasting corn which they had plucked out of a cornfield just above us, when suddenly all were brought up standing by the screaming and whizzing of solid shot and shell, directly over our heads. The smoke of our camp fires had apprised the enemy of our position and the way those iron missiles plowed up the ground around us was a caution. The boys laid close to the ground until the firing ceased and then under cover of the night were stationed at the foot of the hill to hold the enemy in check should he attempt to cross the river. During the engagement two of our boys were wounded by pieces of shell - one of them very slight, the other was shot through the leg. The steward and I took him one side, bandaged up the wound and sent him back to our hospital depot on a stretcher. The firing now ceased for the night. I slept on the ground under an ambulance. I had no blanket but fortunately it was warm. It rained some during the night, but I did not get much wet. Early in the morning our batteries opened from the right and centre.
A brisk cannonading was kept up for two or three hours. Some of our infantry lying back of our artillery were killed. I am told that our practice was excellent.
About noon the firing ceased but was soon after renewed on the right and here General Sigel performed a feat of military strategy which does him great credit. After engaging the enemy a short time he retreated about five miles and drew the enemy after him. After a sufficient number had crossed the river to answer his purpose, he arranged his batteries in the form of a semi-circle and drove them back with terrible slaughter. This ended the fighting for the day. Early the next morning, the 23inst, the engagement between the artillery became general along the entire line. The river, for six or eight miles, was enveloped in a dense cloud of smoke and nothing could be seen on either side. Except the flash of the cannon, which shone through this foggy veil at each discharge and warned the artillerists to throw themselves on the ground for safety.
A hundred Iron missiles were groaning and hissing in the air at once shells were exploding in all directions and every now and then one of these deadly missiles would come plowing into the ground in such close proximity to us as to awaken anything but pleasurable sensation
A Lieutenant in the 7th had an arm taken off by one of these unwelcome messengers and a Negro in our brigade, I am told, was killed. Our gunners did good execution. One of our batteries obliged the enemy to abandon three of their pieces and killed all of the horses belonging to one of them. About 10 1/2 a.m. our division was moving up the river to Warrenton and we left the railroad bridge at the Station on fire. Last night we encamped just out of the city of Warrenton. At the present moment we are on the west side of the city. Infantry and artillery are and have been passing for three hours. It seems as if there was no end to it. Yesterday morning Gen. King had a fit but by prompt medical assistance he was speedily brought out of it and is now much better.
August 25th. - All letters from soldiers to their friends have been prohibited for the present on account of the great military operations which are now going on, but I have a chance to smuggle this letter through and I improve the opportunity. Yesterday afternoon there was an artillery engagement at White Sulpher Springs in which the enemy were repulsed.
Our colonel was at Gen. McDowell's headquarters today and saw a map of our operations and he says that Rickett has the right of our line at White Sulpher Springs, McDowell, the right center; Sigel, Banks and Cassey the center; Gen. Porter, the left of centre and McClellan the left. This line extends about forty miles. Gen. McClellan is a Fredericksburg. I have the foregoing from our Steward who is a brother of the Major and you may rely on its being correct. I would write you more, but I have only a little time to prepare several letters and I must cut this short. When anything more of interest occurs I will let you have it. I have command of our stretcher corps consisting of the band, drum corps and a detail of one man from each company. Although I do not shoulder a musket, I consider my position as dangerous as any others as we will have to be continually in the midst of the fight carrying off wounded men. I have had some pretty close calls already but in God is my trust. I will leave the issue with Him.


Aug. 27th, about noon, we march back through Warrenton toward Centerville, Bivouac at Buckland Mills, Distance 16 miles.

Cornelius Wheeler’s diary

Uniform Information -"At this time the 24th Michigan had not yet joined and become a part of this organization. Only one regiment in the brigade, the 2nd Wisconsin had been in battle. When the 6th and 7th Wisconsin and the 19th Indiana Regiments joined the 2nd Wisconsin this regiment was still uniformed with a gray suit that had been furnished by the State. These gray clothes were then shabby and torn. The other regiments called the 2nd Wisconsin the raggedass Second."
From Gainesville, Virginia, August 29, 1862, Capt. Wm. H. Harries, read April, 1904. 
The 7th completed the Brigade organization early October, 1861. This is also the time the 2nd received their first "Iron Brigade" uniforms.

Position of the Second Wisconsin
Battle of Gainesville

Aug. 28th , at an early hour, we march to Hainesville, turn to the right Bethlehem Church road, and halt and lay on arms until 5 P.M. when we return to the pike and march slowly toward Centerville. At about 6 P.M., and two miles from Gainesville, while marching by the flank a rebel battery, posted on a wooded eminence to the left of the road, open fire on our column. The old Second promptly faced to the front, and directed by Gen, Gibbon, advance by quick time upon the battery, and soon met the enemy’s infantry emerged from the woods. Here for twenty minutes the Iron Brigade checked and sustained the onset of Stonewall Jackson’s whole division of rebel infantry under one of the most intensely concentrated fires of musketry ever experienced by any troops in this or any other war.
Cornelius Wheeler’s

Part 2, August, 1862