Return Home Page Second Wisconsin

1862 October, The Second Wisconsin

Oct 1, 1862
I cannot close my letter to you without spilling out a little portion of my reflection concerning our chosen band of exile. I am strongly in favor of the President's policy and I view his proclamation ascertaining to slave property as so many constitutional peace offerings. I look upon his last proclamation as a master stroke of statesmanship because it was well calculated to act as a dose of Paregoric on the restless, wide-awake abolition faction of this country who I fear would have sounded the trumpet to have their secret bloodthirsty reserve rush forth from their dark subterranean dens and drag from the Presidential chair the honest and venerable old man who sits in it, or demand of him the overthrow of McClellan and the elevation of some demagogue best calculated to carry out their selfish designs, if McClellan had not so fortunately and bravely driven the enemy to his sacred soil.
Again if there is one drop of Christian sincerity in the breast of England she will not longer keep pattering about the black stain on our constitution and country. She will cease to sympathize with traitors, men who insist that God intended Negro for slaves. She will no longer furnish such men with money, guns, powder, blankets, spies and "iron clads."- She will cease to urge France to a  conjoint intervention in our domestic affairs for the sake of humanity. And she will hail with delight the news of every northern national victory.
McClellan is the idol of the army. He can say to the world that his heart is larger and that his hand is heavier than that of any other living General. If the abolition faction attempt to create and place in power a third military force who will not be dictated to by the President nor guided by the Constitution, McClellan, as the friend of the President,, the patriot of his country and lover of equality, can say to his army, " Boys will you follow me and fight with me in defense of the President and constitution of our country against the rebels of the north and south wherever we meet them?" Such an answer in the affirmative the ears of the nation never heard before then indeed the full strength of the northern army would be felt. 
No doubt the great conservative element of the country would join in and follow the happy thousands. Our soldiers are not half so effective as they would be if they were allowed to retaliate on the rebs in proportion to the atrocities committed by them (rebs.) When not allowed to do so they become disgusted with the war, loose faith in their officers and wish to be at home. And when about go into battle, they dread the slow formalities and inconsistent humane observance of our northern mode of warfare more than they do the bullets of their opponents--let that be impressed on you mind.
If we used more of the bayonet and less of the bullet against the enemy we would be more successful. All our "boys" would, having let loose their full fighting force, feel more satisfied after the battle, and enter the next with more courage and delight. I have observed that the temper of Americans is well calculated to made excellent charges and it is pity to see so many of them fall by the slow process of "load and fire at will," and also by numerous formalities which are very often ill timed. The Celtic fire predominates and burns brightly in the native American soldiers when the roar of the cannon is most brisk and heavy. For this reason it would be wise to place Americans having a large proportion of Celtic element in them as officers in the regiments which are chiefly made up of Americans, Irish, French and even Scotch. English and Germans will do together.
Officers of German and English extraction do not work well in regiments composed of Americans, Irish and French because they differ too much in temperament. For instance when regiment of Secesh is advancing close on one or ours, composed of Americans and Irish and officered with men who are a little too Gothic or in other words a little too slow and cautious, the regiment is anxious to charge on the approaching enemy sooner than allow themselves to be flanked and die in cold blood but the officer will not give the word charge and before our brave fellows can reload they are outflanked and overpowered. This is too bad and should be avoided in the organization of new regiments. All that I have said might be expressed in one world but you may not understand it so well-in is the word "dash" which means with us, courage, daring, determined, enterprising ,one who will do what he says he will, or what he is told to do by his superior officers. When a soldier performs a deed of daring, promptly he is said to possess "dash" Our "Mack " is a dashing young fellow-so is "Brick" Pomeroy or any other man who can clear the coast, dispel sorrow and gloom and plant in their stead contentment and the sunshine of Hope - read his "Valter."
Mellardy of our company was wounded on the 17th Sept. so was R. Fahy of Onalaska, 
Corporal Harries of La Crosse, and several others that you did not know.
E. C.

Oct. 2d, 1862
My Dear Father- No doubt your heart rejoiced at the news of our unquestionable victory over the main body of the rebels on the banks of the Antietam- a creek about two thirds the size of the La Crosse river. On the afternoon of the 16th we forded the above named creek and went gloriously forward to the line of the enemy which was about two miles ahead. Soon we halted and lay down for the night which was dark. We were not long halted when bang, bang, went volley after volley of musketry immediately in front and close to us. We supposed that our sharpshooters fell into a rebel trap but it turned out to be a good joke on secesh - they having shot each other through mistake. Nest morning at day break and with a vigorous outburst of shot and shell they commenced another mistake which, thank God, ended in the death of thousands of the poor rebel rabble who persistently followed in the footsteps of the rich and cultivated political robbers who are, as time will show, the direct and indirect agents of British national jealousy sent or transported here for the purpose of destroying our national republican prosperity, this is not all; but by the absence of McDowell and the magic inspiring influence of McClellan's presence we blackened the heart and soul of Lee, Jackson, Longstreet and Hill. The entire rebel army could not help being smashed to pieces in the bed of the Potomac if we could but follow them up. You may ask me why we could not follow them up? Because as the national recognized civilized party was bound to respect a flag of truce which was presented us that the rebels might bury their dead, did they do it? No. They fled and left their putridhidious dead for us to inter. And these are the follows who claim to be chivalrous! And who, by that dirty "tub of guts," England, are called gentlemen. They are so gentle that they will not handle the corpse of their fallen comrades. They are so Christian as to renounce the "corporal works of mercy" on every battle field. It would not astonish me if the civilized nations of the earth took Jeff. Davis and his principal companions and put them to death for the shameful abuse of that universal sacred emblem a "flag of truce."
When the battle was most fierce on the right of our line, I had occasion to go with an ambulance beyond our artillery front to take off some wounded men.- When there I met with some wounded rebels with whom I had brief conversation. One of them, a captain, told me that at South Mountain Pass they run short of ammunition and they were afraid that we would capture them at night. He said also that the ammunition which they were using at present was captured at Harper's Ferry by Jackson who immediately evacuated that place and came here to help Lee. All that he told me turned out to be too true, notwithstanding the conflicting reports on that bloody but glorious day.
When a battalion of any size enters battle, the enemy, very naturally, fire at the centre of the mass hence the right and left wings are not so apt to suffer as much as the centre. My company, being the right of the 2d Wis. ,did not suffer as much as others because of the above cause. I know of no other. The resident was here to-day.
E. C.

Oct 5
From Capt. Rollins-We are permitted to copy the following extracts from a letter received in this dity from Capt, Nat. Rollins, of the 2d Regiment, dated at camp near Sharpsburg, October 5th. He says:
"The Republican Convention at Fond du Lac did well  in endorsing Lieut. Col. Bragg. He has proved himself a splendid man and, in congress, the Administration will feel his support.
"I have just been called upon to make a report of the changes in my company since the organization of the Regiment and having collected the facts, I can give them to you. Killed in action, 11.
Died of wounds received in action, 8. Discharged for disability, 12. Transferred, 2. deserted, 2. Prisoners of war, mostly wounded, 27. Otherwise missing in action, 1. Promoted in company, 1. Yotal loss, 64. Remaining on company rolls, 53, as follows: Absent, sick, 13. Detached service, (absent) 10.  Absent in hospitals, wounded, 10. Present, in all, with Regiment, 20. Of the 20 present there are two sergeants, two corporals, and sixteen privates. I thought the above might be interesting to you as you knew  the company (The Randall Guards) so well when in Madison.
"The regiment is small. Col. Fairchild is in Washington sick. Lieut. Col. Allen is at home wounded. Two better officers never lived."

The Special Order of Gen Gibbon given below, embodying a very high compliment to our Wisconsin troops in the Army of the Potomac from Gen. McClellan was enclosed to Gov. Salomon in a letter from Col. Fairchild and Major Stevens to the Governor, recommending certain promotions in the 2d regiment.
In this connection it may be observed that the 24th Michigan Regiment has been added to Gibbon's Brigade:
Headquarters Gibbon's Brigade
Near Sharpsburg, MD
October 7th, 1862

It is with great gratification that the Brigadier General Commanding announces to the Wisconsin troops the following endorsement upon a letter to His Excellency the Governor of Wisconsin.
His greatest pride will always be to know that such encomiums from such a source are always merited:
"I beg to add to this endorsement the expression of my great admiration of the conduct of the three Wisconsin Regiments in Gen. Gibbon's Brigade. I have seen them under fire acting in a manner that reflects the greatest possible credit and honor upon themselves and their State.

(Signed,) Gen. B. McClellan

By command of Brig. Gen. Gibbon
(Signed,) J.P. Wood, Ass't Adj't. Gen.

Oct. 10th, the 24th Regiment of Michigan, Col. Henry Morrow, fresh from home, joins the brigade.

Cornelius Wheeler’s diaries

Letter to Lucius Fairchild 1862

A letter from Major Thomas Allen to Lucius Fairchild after his wounding at Brawners Farm:

Madison Wis., Oct. 13 1862

"Dear Lucius"
My hand is sorer than ever and I am mad as H-ll. Pieces of the ball have been working out, and I have no quiet night or day.
I write to call attention to our paroled prisoners, some of whom are now here. Having men away from Columbus, Ohio where they say an attempt was made to make them do duty in violation of their parole. They ought to be exchanged forthwith. We also have some forty who were taken at Bull Run in 1861. They are scattered about. Some here and some in St. Louis and some at Prairie Du Chien. They have been over looked and attention of the War Department and of General Gibbon ought to be called to the matter. By attending to this some sixty or seventy men may be added to the effective force of the "Second".
I have not seen Mary and I am not in humor to see any women.
Among the men who ought to be exchanged are Sergt. Dexter of "A" Co, Sergt. Wendrey of "K" Co, and Davis of "H" Co.
Truly Yours,
T. J. Allen

The following letter from Col. Fairchild to Mr. Yates, of this city will be read with interest by the many friends of the young man in this city:
NEAR SHARPSBURG, MD, Oct. 13, 1862

Dear Sir: You have lost a son who has fallen in the ranks of this regiment while gravely fighting for his country.
I wish to add my testimony that John was a good soldier and a good man. At the battle of South Mountain, his Captain was badly wounded and I left him command of his company. He gallantly led them through that fight and the fearful battle of Antietam doing his duty nobly and fell while cheering on his men on the 17th of September. You may well be proud of his memory as we are. None among the many brave men of the 2d have behaved better than did your son.
No man can fall in a better cause.
I am , very truly yours
L. Fairchild,
Col., 2d Wis. Vols.

To James Yates, Esq,
Racine, Wis.
Headquarters, 2d. Wis. Vol.
Near Sharpsburg. Md. Oct. 14th.

Friend Cober: - After arriving at the camp of the Second Regiment after my visit to Lancaster, to my sorrow and deep regret, I was officially informed of the death of Corp. Michael Cook, John St. John and Martin J. Barnhisell of Co. C. They died recently of their wounds in hospital at Washington D.C.
Co. C. now musters in ranks for duty 22 men, apparently in good spirits. A great many of the soldiers who were slightly wounded are daily returning. Among the ones who have recovered from their wounds, and returned to Company are  Sergt. J. Glow, Alpheus Currant, S. M. Train and W. F. Bouldin and we expect more every day.
The Enemy was in Frederick city yesterday. I have not learned what they accomplished. The remnant of Co. C is just waiting for the well known command of Gen. B. McC, which is always "Forward march."
The general health of camp is good.
G. W. Gibson
Co. C, 2d Wis. Vol.

Nov. 4th being the day for general election in Wisconsin, polls were opened at each company's headquarters, and vote. Gen. Gibbon being assigned to command Rickert's Division, Col. Morrow, of the 24th Michigan, assumes command of the Brigade.

In the afternoon we march to Bloomfield, four miles.

Cornelius Wheeler’s diaries

On my return to the army, I found Gen. McClellan had fulfilled his promise by assigning to my brigade a new western regiment- the 24th Michigan - Col. H. A. Morrow - and on the 16th I inspected it. In a letter, dated that day, I said: "I reviewed my new regiment this afternoon and was very much pleased with its appearance. From its bearing I have no doubt it will not be long before it will be a worthy member of the 'Black Hats.'"

John Gibbons

Washington, D. C., Oct. 17, '62
M. M. Pomeroy, Esq,-
Dear Sire:- There is but little of interest to write about of a public nature. All is thought to be quiet on the Potomac unless Gen. Stuart is preparing for another raid. I fancy there was a great deal of commotion when it was found that Stuart was in Pennsylvania. 'Oh, that we had a few such dashing Generals in our ranks' is the exclamation on many lips.
But, to local matters. A letter received from the 2d Regiment a few days since informed me that they were on the bank of the Potomac opposite Shepardstown but were under orders to be ready with 100 rounds of ammunition and five days rations for a movement. The brigade (Gibbon's) has been reinforced by the addition of a Michigan Regiment of 1,100 men. The boys are glad that  their new comrades are Western men. Col. Fairchild as returned to his regiment much improved in health. 
Milo Pitkin who has been with me for five weeks has retuned to the Hospital and is on duty there. It is doubtful if he is again fit for hard service. Long marches in the hot sun and over dusty roads has ruined thousands of our men. Lieut. Sherwood, formerly of the 2d, but now of the Pennsylvania cavalry is stopping in the city making out the pay rolls for his regiment. He looks well. Private Sloan of Co. B. has returned to his regiment. Frank Chapman is on duty at the Grace St. Hospital in Philadelphia.- Robert Scott and James Blakeslee  are still quartered at Annapolis, but are at present on a visit to this city looking after their knapsacks and other traps.- the boys look finely and as hearty as bucks. They footed it from Annapolis to Washington. Jacob Markle is in Judiciary Square Hospital in this city. He is improving and doing finely. C.D. Clark is at the Emory Hospital. I saw him on Sunday last. His wound has become a bad one, his hand and wrist are very much swollen. He will undoubtedly lose his right hand. Poor fellow it made me feel bad to sit and look at him and think that he had got to go through the world minus his right hand. I am sorry to say that Emory Hospital is not one of the best in the city. 
Laverty, the tailor, is now in the city, having returned from prison life in Richmond. So much changed was he that I hardly knew him when he came to see me. His recollections of Richmond are not pleasant.
The Capitol which was used temporarily for a hospital is now vacated and being cleaned and got in readiness for the next session of Congress. As a hospital it was most miserably managed.-
Speculation - that is the trouble; steal - that is the word. Are the pickings good? What is the chance for stealings? These question are often asked by office seekers in Washington.
Hospital stewards get's  all pay but if the surgeon is a rascal the two combined make a handsome thing in running a hospital. Some of them are closely watched now-a-days.
To-day was the day for paying out small change at the Treasury - $15 a read. Various are the dodges resorted to to get a large pile. As high as $50 were offered to a man if he would procure $2,000 worth of them. The next payment is next Wednesday when $30,000 will be exchanged to accommodate the people.
Mrs. Edwin O. Brewster, whose husband was killed at Gainesville, is now engaged in the good work of taking care of the Wisconsin sick.
he works under the joint patronage of Miss Dix and the Wisconsin Soldiers Aid Society.- there is work here to do. There were, last week, over 700 sick and wounded Wisconsin soldiers in the hospitals of Washington, Georgetown and Alexandria, over 100 in Baltimore, and enough more in Philadelphia, Annapolis, Frederick, and other places to make over 1,000 sick and wounded men - mostly wounded - in hospitals from five regiments. 
Well might G.eneral McClellan say they were equal to the best soldiers in the world. They have made their mark, but they have not done. The small handful left is worth, in battle, ten times their number of new men.
Yours in haste,

Camp, 2d Wis. Vol's
Batesville, Md.
Oct, 23, 1862

Dear Tribune.-
For a month past the Brigade has been under marching order but as yet we see no signs of a move to the opposite side of the Potomac. By our latest budget of news from the McClellan headquarters, we learn that no move is in Contemplation and the opinion is prevalent that the Rebel army must first centre around Gordonsville, before the army of the Potomac follows in pursuit. Lee is reported as safely ensconced with his main force at Gordonsville and that but a mall force of the Stuart Cavalry are in our front that occasionally a regiment of infantry appears about Winchester merely as a reconnaissance to observe our movements and blindfold our Generals at the same time concentrating a force sufficient to cope with the Potomac army. The idea had that the rebels would give battle at Winchester on the advance of the Union forces may be discarded as the rebel could not possibly hold Winchester any length of time against our advancing masses. Gordonsville becomes the only point of safety but even that point can be flanked. In fact there is no point between the Potomac and Richmond, but but what our forces could flank them. Should a battle occur any where in the vicinity of Gordonsville, which is very likely, it will prove a greater contest than any of the previous battles fought in either Maryland or Virginia. The Rebels will desperately contest the advance of our forces on the key of Richmond and our paramount object will, and must be, to have sufficient force and that force ably managed by a general fully up to his rank in every way capable and willing to ask his men in fair stand up fight.
If all the national troops were of the stamp of the western troops there would be no reverses to our arms. This is saying a great deal for the western boys, but you have yet to hear of an instance where the brave heroes of the west have not nobly stood up to their work. The battles of Shiloh, Corinth, Gordonsville, I,uka, Rich Mountain and Antietam are but records of their valor and endurance.
The President's late Proclamation receives the favor of the greater part of the army. Many of the officers were disposed to consider it untimely, yet believed it proper to acquiesce and a policy, if pursued by the government,  which would cripple the foe. For my part, I have but little faith in proclamations and believe that nothing is to be gained by the issue of such a document and hold that by the bayonet, and in that only, is peace to be insured to this distracted nation.
But a little time intervenes between now and Election and as the Soldiers are to vote, suppose you folks give us the necessary tickets. Blanks & c., have been received from the State government. As yet, we know not the names of the rival candidates except the congressional nominations. Col. Bragg of the 6th reg., the nomiated for Congress in Forth District, has received a leave of absence and gone home. Tt is the opinion of your correspondent that the officers of the army in nomination had better remain with their commands that their presence at home will not be the means of securing additional votes. If the people believe them capable they will elect them and whatever they might do will not better their case in the least. We of the 3d district are for Cobb to the backbone and believe the Col. just the man for the place. When Simpson improves in his habits and cuts loose from the cut throat demagogues known to be in that district, then we will consider his case. The man may be good enough and able and having all the qualifications necessary for a representative  but the company he keeps is enough to eternally d----m any man. I admire a Democrat but have yet to be convinced of sincerity of a certain clique of the old party who are now clamorous in their support of M. Simpson. If they are sincere in their perturbed support of the war, I can't see. it. On this point I am to be posted and actions only will convince me of their determination to be honest and true patriots. Let our friends at home understand that the army reads and, as a general thing, are as well posted on what is going on in the several States as if they were there in person and can judge for themselves of the ability of the man to represent their district either in Congress or the State Legislature.
Our regiment has just been supplied with new clothing throughout and each man looks as neat and tidy as you please to have one appear. We find the overcoat a very necessary article and are in hopes to get our winter supply before a move is made. These cold nights our shelter tents and single Army Blanket prove of but little account and a general cry is made for overcoats.
The following promotions have been made in company "I" on recommendations of Capt. Otis, for general good conduct and gallantry on the battle fields:
Sarg't W. Noble to be 2d Lieut., vis. Sanford deceased.
Sarg't Geo. H. Legate, to be orderly Sarg't, vis. Noble promoted.
Corp'l Cornelius Wheeler to be Sarg't
Privates Joseph O. Williams, and Thomas H. Rowland to be corporals - all to rank from the 16th of October 1862.
Lieut Sanford was buried at Sharpsburg. His brother arrived here last week but immediately left for Washington. He will take the remains of the Lieut. to Warren on his return home.
From a letter just received from Washington, I learn that our wounded are doing well and that the sick are about the same. The 2d will be able to take into the next fight 190 men. Co. "I" will have twenty-four.

Norfolk, Va., Oct 29th, 1862

DEAR BRICK:- Yours of the 23d inst,. was received to day with tickets enclosed. I receive your sterling paper regularly and I assure you it is amusing to a man down in Dixie to read the proceedings of two of the conventions that were held in your city. One fugled by Hon. (?) H. D. Barr-(e) on, the other by Resolution Rodolf and Chase (he must have been named after Col. Stoddard chased him), A. Stevens, three of the most miserable low - lived puppies that disgraced any community except three or four at Eau Claire.
I have received letters from home stating that the Breckinridge thieves were going to try to clean me out of the army.  Let the dirty wretches try it on and when they get through they will learn though the grates of Fort Warren that I am yet here and they where they should have been years ago. Do any of them remember of loaning eight square California gold pieces each worth $49 to merchants in your city that belonged to Government for a day or two, and expected and received $50 therefore? I have seen them do it.
You must feel awful bad, Brick, to be read out of the company of such men and by such men as Rodolf and Stevens. Well, don't feel bad, but go up North a little further and let Barron, Old Young, Galloway, Gray, Safford and Hugssen read you out again and if it don't improve your chances for all things earthly, and heavenly too, one hundred per cent, then may I forget the teachings of the lamented Douglas, and that Honest Old Abe is President. 

Hell is nearly full of such men sitting in the same pew with Benedict Arnold and, as Benedict is fond of company, he will slide along and make room for all that I have mentioned. - They'll go there sure.
We are going to help Uncle Abraham out of this little difficulty and then settle up some political matters at home.
Gen. King and Staff dined with us today. 
The General is looking and feeling first rate.
Yours Truly, 

Oct.  31st, 1862
FRIEND BRICK: Your note  with tickets was received a day or two since. - Stoddard will get almost,  if not all, the vote of company B. I sincerely hope he may be elected. Allow me to say that I think you have taken the right position. Stick 'o it and give Rudolph, Stevens & C. their deserts.
To-day Rublee of the Madison Journal was in camp peddling Republican ticket. The brave soldiers are of great consideration just now. Bosh! The old political organizations are as corrupt as anything can be and unless they're broken up, root and branch and a new set of men with a new set of principles, of which honesty shall be one of the component parts, our country will soon be one of the institution that were- the last Congress came near killing the nation. Another such and we are gone.
I want to see the 6th district do its part in establishing a new state of things politically and in my opinion the election of T. B. Stoddard to Congress will do it. As I said before, he will get the vote of the soldiers hailing from La Crosse. They know him to be an honest upright man who, if elected, will work for country, not party.
Thomas Spence certainly did a wise thing when he declined the nomination of the secession Democracy.(?) Rudolf Stevens and all who affiliate with them have no friends among the soldiers.
Yesterday Hooker's corps moved over into Virginia. Burnside arrived over the day before. Our brigade is now encamped about six miles out from the river in the direction of Snicker's force. I do not anticipate a further forward movement for some days.
Second Regiment.

November 1862