Return to the Home Page of the Second Wisconsin
1862 March, The
The Hide and Seek Game
The Second, being well and nobly officered, well clothed and
provided for in 1862.
The Austrian Rifles were being received by January and they had their new uniforms.
Camp Tillinghast, Va.
March 2, 1862
Since the recent decisive victories
achieved by the Union forces there has been a marked difference in the tone a
large number of the southern press as well as a number of the political leaders.
Occasionally an editor speaks out in meeting telling some plain truths without
mincing the words either. Jeff Davis and his manner of conducting the
governmental affairs of the so-called confederacy is hauled over the coals and
remarks indulged in not very complimentary to him or his administrative ability,
but one of the most important admissions yet come to light is made by an officer
writing to the Richmond Examiner who gives the Southern chivalry, as displayed in
the battles of Roanoke Island and Fort Henry, a terrible rebuke. He says:
"At Fort Henry, a Brigadier General,
unwounded, having a garrison almost intact, lowers the flag over a dozen guns of
the largest caliber and with a hackneyed compliment yields up his bloodless
sword. How withering and humiliating to our southern manhood was the sorrowful
reply of the Yankee commander."
On those engaged in the battle of Roanoke
Island he was particularly severe using the following plain language: "The Roanoke affair is perfectly
incomprehensible. The newspapers are filled with extravagant laudations of our
valor; the annals of Greece and Rome offer no parallel; whole regiments were
defeated by companies and we yielded only to death. Our men finally surrendered
with no blood on their bayonets and what is the loss? Richmond Blues, two killed
and five wounded; McCullock Rangers, one killed and two wounded; the other four
companies lost, in all, two killed and eleven wounded. Comment is needless.
The whole army had better surrender at
once for it will eventually come to it."
I set the last sentence down as sound
and the writer of the article shows the the Great Moguls of the bogus
confederacy have not fired his heart to the extent sought. Straws thrown up into
the air will show which way the wind blows and the publication of plain truths
like the above shows that reason is returning to some of the Southern people. All
that is wanted now is a continuance of the same line of policy heretofore
adopted by the Administration of Mr. Lincoln. The conservative policy is winning
bloodless victories in every part of the South where the presence of our armies
makes it known and I much mistake the southern character if a large majority of
those now in arms against the Union forces do not themselves give the final death
blow to rebellion by bringing the leading spirits to the punishment they so
Camp Tillinghast, Va.
March 5, 1862
One of the most important features connected with the present war is the new
position in which it is causing the Northwestern States to appear to the people
of the other sections. Hitherto this section of the country has been looked upon
by the politicians of the Northern and Middle States as very good for raising
grain &c; but when her representatives asked that a portion of the public
monies should be appropriated for the improvement of their lake and river harbors
it was a bird of a different color. The lamented Douglas with his great wisdom
and forethought years ago saw the true position the Northwest held to the
balance of the country and exerted his mighty intellect and oratorical powers to
impress it upon the nation at large. He was foiled in this principally through
the jealousy of the Empire and Keystone States; and, had it not been for this war,
the Northwest would have remained in the background for years to come. Now it is
acknowledged by all that the public service demands that some fortification and
depots of arms and munitions, with harbor and navigation improvements at well
selected points upon the great rivers and lakes should at once be made and that
it is necessary to foster these States if they would reap all the benefits their
wealth and glory will bring to the Union hereafter.
To carry out this fostering principle, the Representatives of Northern and
middle states who have heretofore ignored the rights and importance of the great
Northwest signify their willingness to vote appropriations for the establishment
of a National foundry at some favored point, for the enlargement and extension of
the Illinois and Michigan Canal by which the Great Lakes would be connected with
the Mississippi; the election of a Fort on Lake Superior commanding the Sault
St. Marie Canal; a military road on Lake Superior from Green Bay to Marquette
and divers other internal improvements necessary to place that section in
position for a successful defense.
The importance of the above measures have been long known and the Northwest,
through their representatives, have labored with untiring zeal to bring about the
proper legislation to secure them. But it was reserved for a time when the hardy
sons were freely shedding their blood to put down an internal war and the
prospect of a conflict with England and France appeared to be imminent for the
Middle and Northern States to vote to give "to the Northern States that
protection they deserve."
John W. Forney in his Philadelphia Press, thus speaks of the report of the
"Select Committee on the defense of Great Lakes and Rivers," and the
claim of the great Northwest, which he says are "presented to the country as
the never have been presented before." In alluding to the resources of this
rich and fertile region the Press says: "As we look upon the pyramid of figures representing his arguments, and see
calculation after calculation showing the population, the wealth, the tonnage, the
commerce, the manufactures, the real estate and personal property and the
political power of the Northwestern States, we feel humbled. And when we remember
that those things have come to pass almost in the span of a single generation,
that the first white man born in the State of Illinois is hardly old enough to
be a grandfather, we stand aghast at the power and strength still to come and see
the glory of the Empire and Keystone State pass away to the shores of the Great
Lakes and Upper Mississippi. The Western States have been neglected children of
the Union. They were turned out into the prairies and forests to hew timber and
dig soil, to navigate broad streams in rude boats and fight the Indians and they
attain the years of manhood strong, burly, uncouth, honest and affectionate sons.
During the generation in which their petted Southern brethren conspired to
destroy the Union, they have added to that Union an Empire greater than the
Republic itself fifty years ago. And now, when our good mother is menaced by
fratricidal hands, they are enduring privation and death to vindicate her honor
and punish her unnatural foemen.
There is something imposing in the power of this great empire. There are
immense inland seas covering eighty thousand square miles of surface and
surrounded by five thousand miles of coast. On these coasts a vast population
has come together."
From the Second Wis. Regiment
Camp Tillinghast, Virginia,
March 5th, 1862
On the morning of 22nd, Washington's
Birthday, the Second were notified
that their presence was wanted at Gen. McDowell's Head Quarters to hear
Washington's Farewell Address and fire a salute of ten rounds of blank cartridge.
As usual, the Second turned out en masse, prepared to do their might in paying
respect to the Father of his country. The drill was splendid and eclipsed
all other regiments in the brigade. Captain Hathaway read the Farewell Address.-
cheer upon cheer rent the air at the conclusion and the brave troops evince the
true spirit of the noble chieftain.
On the 25th we were again ordered to appear at head-quarters to drill in
Brigade. On this day too we made a grand appearance and won laurels. A number of
regular officers and men were present and quite a congregation of ladies. At
the conclusion of the drill, and at the request of Gen. King, the Second remained
and had a dress parade. Adjutant Dean formed the battalion and the troops being
ordered to be played - (the regiment stands at parade rest, every eye to the born,
hands in proper place, not one moving, every officer and man actually appearing
more like statues than mortals) - the band passed up and down the front of the battalion
dispensing sweet music to an admiring assembly. Lieut Col. Fairchild then put
the regiment through the manual of arms and the efficiency they displayed in
this particular is worthy of the men. At the hands of an unbiased public they
have more than once been the recipients of applause as the enclosed slips will
The Wisconsin Brigade- On Wednesday afternoon Gen. King's Wisconsin brigade
was told to be in readiness for an advance; earnestness followed the
announcement among the troops. The brave boys considered if quite a notice to
quit playing soldier and enter upon the dash and earnestness of real campaigning
and they were jubilant there at. As the order was read, cheer after cheer was
given; and our reporter says that he never saw exhibited so strong a desire to
be let loose upon "secesh" as on this occasion. The Second Regiment
was peculiarly alive in the desire and they have good reason. This is one of the
oldest regiments in the field having entered Washington and crossed into
Virginia early last June and took an active part in the battles of Centreville
and Bull Run, in the former losing three, in the latter about 160 men killed,
wounded and prisoners. Col. Edgar O'Connor and Lt. Col. Fairchild are
regular army officers and the regiment they command, in drill and discipline,
approaches as near the army regulations as any volunteer corps in service and
has received many compliments from our best officers. We shall expect to hear a
good report from the Wisconsin brigade and particularly from Col. O'Connor's
Second Regiment when the advance takes place.-
(The other extract from the Washington
Republican was published in the
Tribune last week)
Our band, under the tutorship of
Prof. Titus, is a fixed institution in the brigade and it has become so that even when
other regiments wish to make a grand show of their skill, and give a fancy parade our band
is called on to attend and do the agreeable, while theirs is left at home.
Some will aver that the Second is wearing laurels never won; but let me refer the
doubtful to the records. It is in black and white. On this parade an order was read to
prepare to march. Four teams were assigned to each regiment, and both officers and men
were required to immediately prepare for a forward movement, that all unnecessary articles
be packed, preparatory to being left in some secure place. In accordance with this order
all hands are busy making due preparations, and you may calculate to hear with a short
time, of the triumphant march of the Army of the Potomac over the Plains of Manassas to
the gates of Richmond, to form another link in the anaconda-like chain that is now
encircling the troop of the hydra-headed monster treason.
On the 28th, we were mustered, according to law. It is presumed that we will not be paid
before April or May, as our movement will be made within a week or two at the farthest.
Of course we are not anxious, so long as we can be allowed to move which you know we feel
quite delighted over, as well as the whole country.
The monotony of camp life was somewhat enlivened by a fall of snow this morning in the
afternoon one of Co. "I," received an impression the left cheek from a snow-ball
thrown by a member of Co. "C," (this Company is from Platteville) which laid out
a young corporal hors' du combat. This warranted Co. "I" turning out to resent the
indignity thrown upon said corporal. No sooner was Co. "I" in line of battle,
armed with a plenty of snow ball ammunition, than Co. "C" was on hand to meet
the fierce onslaught of the infuriated Snake Raggers. The battle began, the air was filled
with missiles and shout upon shout rent the air as here and there was a hero with his
proboscis smashed and suffering from the effect of a nasal hemorrhage. At this stage an
armistice was asked for, as the left wing of the battalion wished to try the right wing on
a skirmish. The two walls of the adjacent fort, upon the parapets of which stood the good
natured Lieut. Col. After all due preliminary arrangements, the battle again opened with
increased fury, and many a poor hero wears a dark memento in the vicinity of the ocular
organ. At the suggestion of the Lieut. Colonel, the left wing under command of Gen. Cary,
Co. "E." was ordered to deploy a portion of the forces around the fort, and
attack the right wing in the near, but the quick eye of General Budlong, Co. "I",
commanding the right wing, detected this strategic movement, and was prepared to foil the
foe in that attempt. On came the left wing, with their colors flying, rending the air with
their maddened yells, while Gen. Budlong headed, in person, a detachment of his forces and
met the fierce onslaught. The fight now became terrific and the troop of Gen. Cary's
detachment became disorganized, and were now an easy prey to the excellent soldiers of
Budlong. He capture the full detachment with the flag, and when wheeled his forces into
line and make a charge upon Gen. Cary's forces, driving them into their quarters.
The six foot seven general flushed with victory then marched his forces from the field to
tune of Dixie and drawing them up in line at the Colonel's quarters, presented the flag,
as a trophy of war, to the Lieut. Col. The Colonel's speech on the occasion was most
eloquent indeed, and so appropriate to the occasion, that I doubt not the propriety of
publishing it in full. The Col. intimated that in his next dispatches to the War
Department, he would make a favorable mention of Gen. Budlong.
having arisen as the rightful owner of the flag and the Col. being called upon to decide
the matter said that if the snow remained, the first opportunity should be given all hands
to have a general set-to for the possession of the flag. Thus ended the matter with the
two wings. The number killed and wounded on both sided is as follows:
Right Wing-killed ...................................0,000
Total, killed, wounded and missing ..............301
are supposed to be dead, and those wounded are mostly harmed about the smeller and
The position of
Companies in this Regiment has been altered by placing Co. B on the right, Co.
"E" on the
left, Co. "A" in place of Co. "E," Co. "F" in place of
Co. "G" and "G" in place of "F" This is as it should be only
that "I" should have gone with the left wing.
The positions of Co.'s "H," "C", "D," "K,"
and " I " are not changed.
A new installment of
clothing is being received, and the Companies again present their usual neat appearance.
It is the general supposition of friends at home that the "Miner's Guards" can
turn out a force of at least eighty men for a battle. In this they are mistaken.
Since we left home fourteen have been discharged on surgeon's certificates, one is missing
since the 21st of July, and sixteen are on daily extra duty, thus leaving. us in force
only seventy men, and upon a march, we could not possibly turn out over sixty-five men,
besides the three commissioned officers. These seventy are good men, are a willing,
good-hearted, ever-ready set being prepared to go through almost any hardship
imaginable. That they will do their duty in the coming strife no one can doubt, and they
will come out of an engagement with honor to themselves and the place they hail from.
The reliance placed upon this Regiment, coupled with the extraordinary good name they
bear naturally enough nerves every man to do his might. There will be no flattering, but
each man will be prepared to meet the worst of circumstances.
March 10, 1862, the campaign opened with a general advance on Manassas; break camp,
march out on the turnpike to Fairfax Courthouse, bivouacking near Germantown or where
Germantown was. It rained all day, marching heavy, distance sixteen miles. March 11th
remained quiet. Learn that the enemy after destroying everything perishable have retreated
from Centerville and Manassas towards Gordonville and Richmond.
While in this camp a reorganization of the army into Corps de Armee (1) by
direction of President Lincoln is effected in general; it is brigaded by fours. Each corps
to consist of three divisions. Gen. McDowell commanded the First, Gen. Rufus King the
First Division, Col. Lysander Cutler of the Sixth Wisconsin assumed command of our brigade
numbered the Fourth in the division.
From the Second Regiment
May 11th, 1862
I left Alexandria yesterday at 8a.m., on the steamer
North America. I had a
very pleasant trip down the Potomac with the exception that I had not the
wherewith to purchase a dinner and consequently had to fast, which was not only
disagreeable but likely to bring on sickness when a person is just leaving the
I did not get anything to eat till I reached my regiment and that was not
till long after dark. If I had had a journey of several days to make it would
have been rather a serious matter. I wonder if some plan could not be devised
to feed soldiers when they are returning from hospitals to their Regiments.
From Alexandria to Acquia creek, a distance of 52 miles, the Potomac is indeed
a majestic river. The water is not as clear as that of the upper Mississippi but
it is far from being as muddy as the water of the lower Mississippi while it is
as wide as the Father of Waters at New Orleans. The scenery, too, in some places,
is very beautiful and in one or two places approaches grand, though the
bluffs of Potomac's shore cannot be compared with the Mississippi or our
Northern lakes and rivers. There are but few fine estates to be seen from the
river, the country on either side being covered with woods.
At Acquia Creek I exchanged the North America for the Jenny Lind, a craft of
much smaller dimensions, and proceeded to Bell Plains. From there I undertook to
perform the rest of my journey on foot but becoming tired I rested by the way
side until one of Uncle's wagons came along. Then I got aboard and rode within a
mile or two of my regiment. It did me good to get among the beautiful things of
Nature. I had been so long shut up in the filthy little town of Alexandria that
it seemed like escaping from prison to get into the country. The oaks are in
full leaf and the wild flowers cover the hills. I passed through forests of oak
and pine and now and then by an extensive plantation but the fences are broken
down and half the houses are deserted. Nature is beautiful at this season of the
year in these parts but war has made desolate the habitations of men. I reached
the bivouac of my regiment a little before taps. I found the boys all well and in
the best of spirits. We are in a clover field on the banks of the Rappahannock,
a little river about 60 yards in width, almost hid among the hills and groves of
Virginia. King's (now Gibbon's) Brigade is detailed to rebuild the railroad
bridge across the river at this place. It was burned by the rebels when they
were driven from here and the shores of the river are lined with old hulks of
steamers and ships that were also burned by them. They are great on the
destruction of property and if the war lasts much longer they will have but
little property left in Dixie.-
Fredericksburg is a village of about 200 houses, or I should say a city, for I
believe it is incorporated. It is like the most of Southern cities very old and
very small of its age. I heard the ringing of a bell there this morning which
shows that all the bells have not been moulded into cannon for Beauregard's
I do not know when we shall have a chance to pay off old scores for McClellan
seems to be doing all the work. He is following up the retreating rebels in true
Napoleonic style and showing to the world that he is a General.
McDowell's army is in excellent health and spirits. The weather is fine and
camp life attractive. Contrabands are numerous and their stories are very
amusing. We have rough times in bad weather but we make up for it when it is
pleasant. There is a great deal of fun and real enjoyment in camp life.
R. K. B.
March 15th returned in a heavy cold rain to within
about three miles of Alexandria, distance marched 14 miles.
March 16th, returned to Camp
Tillinghast and occupy the old winter quarters, distance 16 miles.
March 18th, marched 8 miles by way of Alexandria, go into camp at Fairfax Seminary.
Nothing of note transpires until April 5th, when we are apprised of the fact that
McDowells command is assigned to the department of the Rappahannock. Gen. McClellan
with the balance of his command was embarked for the peninsular. We march to Centerville,
camp on Hunting Creek, distance 15 miles. April 6th we march at an early hour through
Fairfax and Centerville to Blackburn, where we camp on the old battlefield, distance 22
miles. April 7th march from Manassas junction to Milford on Broad Run and camp, distance 8
miles. April 8th march to Kettle Run and camp. At this camp we experience one of the most
disagreeable, cold, wet, and chilly snowstorms known to occur in this climate, and in the
morning we call it snow camp. April 12th the major part of the Second Wisconsin out on the
Orange and Alexandria road and the balance with the other regiments of the Brigade march
to Catletts station on Cedar Run to rebuild the railroad bridge destroyed by the
enemy, distance 7 miles. April 21st march towards Fredericksburg to Elk Run. In
consequence of heavy rain it is flooded, cannot pass it, go into camp, distance 5 miles.
April 22d, rain ceases at an early hour. By 9 oclock we pass over the river, march
to Howard Station, distance 16 miles. April 23rd, march at an early hour, pass through
Falmouth about 4 P. M., camp about a mile from the village on the
heights opposite the City of Fredericksburg, Va., distance 10 miles.
The advance of our column had some skirmishing with the enemy
just before reaching Falmouth and the enemys pickets are to be seen on the hills
beyond Fredericksburg. April 27th, march to Potomac Creek, 5 miles to repair railroad
bridge, and the next day the Second is detached from the brigade and sent to Accokeek
Creek to rebuild a bridge at Brooks Station. May 2d, regain the brigade and march
rapidly to within two miles of Fredericksburg and camp, distance 12 miles. May 8th, John
Gibbon, Captain of Battery B, Fourth United States Artillery, having been appointed
brigadier general of volunteers, is assigned to command our brigade and Col. Cutler
returned to his Regiment, the Sixth. Move down the river and camp on the bank immediately
in front of Fredericksburg.
March 10, 1862
- I reached this place on the 10th. inst., and found my soldier friends in fine health and
exuberant spirits except Gilligan and Fletcher Kidd, of the 7th Regiment, and B.
Jonathan Booth, and young Black of Capt. McKee's company, the latter three slightly, those
of the 7th dangerously sick. That portion of the "grande
armie" located hereabouts was under marching
orders, which will serve to explain the multiplied and discordant yells of the "bhoys" that livened up the wearisome days and
made the nights hideous.
I passed the time until Thursday the 6th inst., in calling upon my old friends in the 2d,
6th, and 7th Regiments of Wisconsin, and many of the surrounding camps composed of
volunteers from other States, everywhere receiving a soldiers hospitality and welcome.
I have no reason to be ashamed of the Grant County delegation here. Captains McKee,
Callis, Finnicum and Nasmith, with their officers and men, are justly regarded by
disinterested judges of military matters as the most popular and efficient in the service.
But to return. On the 6th, betimes in the morning (for sojers are early risers), the Second
was detailed to go on picket, and receiving a unanimous call from the Officers and men to
accompany them, I, at once, accepted, merely stipulating that I should be furnished with
rifle and other new traps becoming the new character I was to assume. A keener observer
than myself might doubtless have detected a lurking waggish expression in the boys eyes as
one buckled around me the heavy cartridge box, containing 40 rounds of ball cartridges
another threw over my shoulder a haversack with three days rations, added to these a heavy
leather belt with a cap box and a sheath in which dangled a long, heavy, dangerous looking
bayonet, and you have my likeness as I set out on my first and last picket.
Our course was about due west seven miles, through the most villainous red mud you ever
saw. Passing near Camp Peck where the 2d were stationed previous to Bull Run, Balls Cross
Roads, Upton Hill, from the observatory built here, the Blue Ridge, Fairfax Courthouse,
Bailey's Cross Roads, and other points of historical interest, are before you.
The first night Capt. McKee's company, being the color company of the regiment, was
stationed in huts composed of pine and cedar boughs, nearly a mile inside the extreme
outposts. Next day, however, we were ordered to the front, and the pickets commenced in
earnest. I kept a keen lookout into the dense forest of oak, hickory and evergreen with
the balance. - A raw recruit's first night on the very confines of law and order, and one
might say civilization, is well calculated to sharpen all his senses. Hark! there goes a
musket, two more, and the long roll is beaten, and the men formed in line of battle.
Sergeant of the guard, do you see that dark object down there at a distance of nine
hundred yards, just the range of our new rifles? That is certainly a secesh; he has emerged from the wood. I
valiantly covered him with my rifle being at a safe distance myself, and awaited the order
to fire, but the officer in charge thought the best way would be to notify the captain of
the reserve guard to order a reconnaissance of the locality.
I received permission of the Adjutant Dean, to explore the neighborhood, talk to the
rebels in their houses, (the latter privilege being denied to military men), and do pretty
much as I pleased, provided I did not go beyond our lines, which was something by the way,
that I had little
taste for. I
visited, however, and had a friendly chat with the woman on the house where Capt.
Kellogg was decoyed by some rebel women, surrounded by cavalry, and captured. I also went
into the cornfield where a party of the Brooklyn 14th met with a signal discomfiture,
caused, they say, by the treachery of one Bush who resides near.
Yesterday I attended a military funeral. Although the deceased was a private, the
ceremonies were solemn, the coffin was a good one and when it was lowered into the grave,
Chaplain Richmond read the Episcopal services peculiar to such occasions. Nine of his
fellow soldiers of Co. I., dressed for the occasion, stood at the front of the coffin with
reversed arms, firing three rounds at the close of the exercises.
But this morning at one o'clock came the long and anxiously looked for order to
"march to Centerville" at 3 o'clock a.m. To do justice to the scene that
Immediately followed would require an abler pen than mine. Imagine a mighty host of
150,000 men from their camps on every hill top and valley over a space of near twenty
miles in diameter, going suddenly forth with a common impulse to engage in mortal combat
with the enemies of our country and of civilization.
This important movement, which will no doubt decide the great controversy, possessed in
itself intrinsically all the elements of the sublime. The effect was brightened by the
darkness of the hour, and it was only by the bonfires kindled at the different camps we
passed and the camps places at the rendered of streams that induced the stalwart forms of
gallant men dimly visible. The sound of martial music, the sharp, nervous orders of the
officers at the head of the column, promptly repeated by their subordinates, far down the
line, and the deafening cheers of the soldiers, could be distinctly heard when they were
miles away. But they ceased at length, and those that have relatives or dear friends in
that noble bond must await almost breathlessly the tidings that must full soon blanch many
W. N. R.
From the Second Regiment.
Fairfax Court House, Va.
March 11, 1862
On the morning of the 10th we were called up at 3 o'clock and ordered to be ready to march
at 4. We had long been looking for it and the previous night we had not had the first
intimation that we would leave on the following morning, and though we were prepared to
march on short notice we had all we could do to get ready by the appointed time. There was
a great stir in the camps as far as we could see and well we knew that the army of the
Potomac would soon be in motion. The long looked for day had at last arrived. The morning
was lovely and the roads muddy. So we moved slowly best we could in the darkness. About
daylight we reached the turnpike leading from Alexandria to Fairfax, and found it far
better walking than on the common road. The sun came up bright and dazzling but its fiery
redness told plainly that the gathering clouds would soon dash rain upon us and so it
proved, for in the course of an hour it began to rain and kept it up by spells nearly all
day, but we plodded on reaching Fairfax Court House about 2 p.m.-The earth works of the
rebels were there but that was all; the troops in our advance had cleared the way and we
had nothing to do but march on in peace Our band struck up "Red White and Blue"
and we marched through the town more joyfully than when I last was there on the night of
the 21st of July last. We camped for the night about a mile out of the village, having
marched about 18 miles; and here we are still as comfortable in fine weather at least and
no finer weather could be wished for than we are now having; it cleared away yesterday
afternoon and now it is delightful; just cool enough to be comfortable. I am sitting upon
my knapsack beneath my little tent writing by candle light. Close by the band is playing
"Old Folks at Home." It is a lovely evening; the sky is cloudless and the moon
shines brightly upon us Our encampment looks like a field covered with patches of snow or
white capped waves upon the dark blue sea. We are encamped in the edge of a piece of wilds
on the summit of a gentle hill from which in the day time can be seen the bare heads of
the mountains of the Blue Ridge beyond Manassas. We expect to move forward again soon
probably tomorrow. Centerville has been evacuated by the rebels and is now in our hands
and it is reported that Manassas is also being evacuated. A contraband came in to our camp
this morning; he lives, he says ten miles beyond Manassas and reports the rebels
dreadfully frightened and leaving as fast as possible, but it is hardly to be expected
that they will leave such a stronghold without a battle. Gen. McClellan passed us to-day
on his way to Centerville; he superintends his own affairs. Our army is a powerful one and
I hope it is in motion for some purpose. As yet there has been little fighting or rather
skirmishing, and I think when the rebels make a stand they will need all the advantage of
their strong holds to withstand us. Our arms are of the most improved kind and our
artillery is fearful.
Rebellion must fall or triumph soon and we look for its fall.
R. K. B.
LETTER FROM THE
Onward to Richmond - The Grand Army En Route for Manassas - The
First Day's March - Appearance of the Country - Centerville and Manassas Evacuated -
Fortifications - Retreat of the Enemy - Their Destination - Destruction of Bridges, Houses
& Stock - Feeling of our Troops - Wisconsin Second - Sad Effect of the Was Upon
Virginia - Union Sentiment - Contrabands
ARMY OF THE POTOMAC
Fairfax Co., Virginia
March 13, 1862
We may now truly say that "the world does move" and all is NOT
quiet on the Potomac, as the onward movement of the army after seven months inactive
campaign plainly indicates. The order to issue rations for two days and "strike
tents" preparatory to taking up our line of march for the enemy's stronghold
(Manassas) rejoiced the hearts of our brave soldiers, who, for seven months, had been
leading a life of monotony in the camp.
For this change in the programme of
military affairs the army is indoubtly under lasting obligations to "Uncle Abe"
and Secretary Stanton, who declared that the order for the army on the Potomac was
"March and Fight". The opposition to this policy had to cave and submit to a
grand march to Richmond via Manassas.
FIRST DAY'S MARCH
Monday morning, 3 A. M., the main body of the center of our army took up
its line of march for Centerville and Manassas, where it was expected that an opportunity
would be afforded to our soldiers to give the rebels a receipt in full for the Battle of
Bull Run on the memorable 21st of July, 1861. Shortly after bidding adieu to the tented
field the various bands struck up.
"In Dixie's land we'll take our stand,"
which was responded to along the lines of the gallant sons of the North and West who, to
use a common phrase, "felt their oats". When the Queen of Moon appeared in the
east and shed her light upon the earth, we beheld the grand and imposing spectacle of some
fifty thousand freemen marching forward to the Gibraltar of the Rebellion.
Through rain and mud we marched a distance
of twenty miles to Fairfax Court House which place we reached by 2 P. M. We found this
antiquated looking specimen of a Virginia village, once the headquarters of the rebel
chieftain, deserted by its inhabitants and every house occupied by a number of troops who
formed the advance of the center column of the Union forces which advanced on Sunday
morning. The division (McDowell's) to which your correspondent is attached camped about
two miles west of the Court House, six from Centerville and thirteen from Manassas.
APPEARANCE OF THE COUNTRY
The country lying between the Potomac and Fairfax Court House presented to
the eye strong evidence of the evils arising from civil war: Houses burnt down, others
unoccupied, their late inhabitants having fled to the rebel kingdom of King Davis with
hopes that once under the protecting arm of Jeff, they would be safe from the
"tyranny of the Yankees".
It was painful to behold the sad
destruction of the property, all of which was the wreck of the rebels, who appeared to be
influenced by demonic spirits, which led them to destroy everything which they cannot
convert to their own use. During the entire march we met with but two white residents, the
balance of them having gone to the wars to fight for the overthrow of the government which
affords the protection.
EVACUATION OF CENTERVILLE
Upon our arrival at Fairfax we learned of the cowardly evacuation of
Centerville by the rebels. This was a great disappointment to our troops, especially the
gallant Wisconsin Second, which had been anticipating a "good time" in getting
satisfaction for their Bull Run disaster. The same night we received the astounding
intelligence of the abandonment of Manassas by the rebels and its occupation by a regiment
of New York Infantry.
"No fight for us" was the general
exclamation of the boys on the receipt of the news. Had our forces been rested about two
hours and then pushed forward, we might 'ere the rising of the next day's sun attacked the
rear of their retreating column; but, for reasons best known to the generals in command,
our soldiers were quietly allowed to revel in a state of blissful quietude around their
camp fires while the enemy were retreating with all their stores and ammunition.
Your correspondent does not pretend to
charge the General-In-Chief of the Army of the Potomac with a want of military skill; but
when we contrast the inactive policy in this case with that which would have been
practiced by a Napoleon or other modern warriors under similar circumstances, it does
appear that there was a lack of military skill and energy of character.
RETREAT OF THE ENEMY
From the reports which continue to reach our camp we learn that the rebels
are burning houses, blowing up bridges, killing cattle, capturing union prisoners and
desolating the country which they are passing through.
Various rumors are afloat as to where the rebels intend to make a stand,
somewhat to the effect that Gordonville will be the point where they will erect
fortifications and dispute the right of way to Richmond with our Union forces; others that
they will cross the Rappahannock and fortify Fredericksburg, or else march directly to
The latter rumor appears the most reasonable, as
it is the only plan that will give them time to throw up necessary fortifications to
protect them against the overwhelming forces which it is to be hoped will be on their
track 'ere the sun sets.
A little western practice in the art of war
on the Potomac would be productive of good results. When the rebels left Manassas they
carried off with them some six hundred slaves. From the contrabands that come into our
camp we learn that the "fleet footed chivalry" made a hasty retreat from their
stronghold of which they had made so great a boast.
FEELINGS OF OUR TROOPS
Never was there an army in better trim for a fight than ours. A chance to
give the rebels battle is all they ask. They feel it within their bones that they must
wipe out the disgrace of the Bull Run defeat.
If ever a State presented a lamentable illustration of its own misdeeds
Virginia is that State. Nothing but ruin and desolation has been the reward of her
treason. Those who dragged her into the meshes of their damnable conspiracy have proved to
be her worst enemies, while she, poor fool, has suffered herself to be led by the nose and
made the catspaw of rebellion. Before the war she was fifty years behind the age; now she
is a hundred.
Through the country we have marched there
are not men enough left to form a corporals' guard. Ask the solitary women where the men
have gone and they will tell you "to the wars". We can but hope that the poor,
blind and unfortunate "mother of States", will become wise by dear bought
experience and learn that chivalry and niggers won't make a great people ion this
Since the evacuation of Centerville and Manassas the representatives of the
peculiar institution have taken it into their heads to take "French leave" of
their masters and seek new homes in the land of Freedom. What few have passed through our
camp en route for Washington appear to be quite an intelligent class.
They appear to fully understand the cause
of the war and appreciate the excellent chance afforded them to throw off the shackles of
slavery and dissolve all connection with their masters. Capt. McKee, of Co. C, 2d
Wisconsin, has a fine looking, healthy contraband officiating as his valet de chamber. The
black valet is proud of his new Yankee master, and swears "by gum" he goes to
Wisconsin with his "mas'r cap'n".
Hogs, pigs, sheep, calves, turkeys and birds of every description have
suffered at the hands of our boys who on an expedition last Thursday could be seen coming
into camp at a shoulder musket with pigs, a shoulders of mutton and turkeys sticking on
the ends of their bayonets, a sight worth seeing. It is said for scientific pig bayoneting
the Second Wisconsin cannot be beat. If the number of victims brought into camp is any
sign, the Second certainly is some "pumpkins" in the pork trade.
SECOND WISCONSIN REGIMENT
The boys of the Second Wisconsin who took such a gallant part in the Bull
Run fight are all "eager for the fray". Not one of them will be satisfied to
return home unless they have an opportunity to try their prowess with the soldiers of
Manassas. Should they be so fortunate as to cross bayonets with the enemy the will make
the name of the Second Wisconsin memorable in the history of this unholy rebellion.
HEALTH OF THE TROOPS
From what your correspondent has learned, the health of your Wisconsin
troops is better than can be expected after a winter campaign upon the muddy hills of the
Potomac. The death of Pvt. Chappell, Co. I, of the Second Wisconsin is the only one that
has occurred for some time.
The hasty departure of the postman compels me to close. In the next I will give you an
account of the fortifications at Centerville and Manassas.
Judge O'Connor has permitted us to publish the following private letter
from his son, Col. E. O'Connor, of the Second Wisconsin Regiment. It will be seen that he
considers the evacuation of Manassas the result of McClellan's strategy. Col. O'Connor
ranks high among army officers, and his opinion is deserving of highest consideration:
Washington D. C.
March 14, '62
Dear Father: - Since I wrote you last the
Grand Army has mover forward as far as Fairfax Court House, the cavalry having gone into
The splendid strategy of McClellan has forced the enemy to leave their splendidly
entrenched camp at Centerville. The defenses of Centerville, although not so nicely and
perfectly made as those around Washington, are stronger against a front attack. Every foot
of ground for three miles is covered with their entrenchments, and we could not have taken
them by a front attack. The difference between their fortifications and ours is, that ours
cannot be turned (both flanks resting on an impassible stream), while theirs can be turned
on either flank or both; and they would then be untenable.
The huts that they passed the winter in were altogether better than ours; and the idea
that the chivalry have been idle, is dissipated by a tour of their camps.
I also went over the Bull Run battle field, and had Major (now General) Barry to point out
the different positions of the contending forces, during the day. We had them defeated
and hay we did not keep them so I confess myself at a loss to understand. I can only
account for it by the failure of field officers to properly lead their regiments. I pray
God that I may do better than some that I have heard of. I do not fear but that pride,
if not courage, will keep me from disgracing myself; but I will have full position of my
faculties, I feel confident of my ability to handle my regiment on the field, if I am not
too excitable - that has yet to be proved, - for I hold that no man knows what
do till he is tried. I have been under artillery fire since I came here; but
I do not think it was enough to test my nervous system.
I have full confidence that I have too much pride TO RUN.
Your affectionate son,
FROM THE WISCONSIN
In The Woods, Near Fairfax Court House, Va.
Friday, March 14, 1862
You will undoubtedly find it difficult to make out this scribble, as I am
minus both ink and pen; but I trust you will bear with me, considering my back is leaned
against a pile of rubbish known only to those who are used to camp life, or a soldier in
defense of his country, while one LOWER arm is thrown across the other in the shape of an
X, and the ATTACHEZ thrown in an angle of forty-five degrees, while it rests there
confidently, holding up the material open which I write - upon the whole ludicrous in the
Undoubtedly you have been apprized of the advance of the Army of the Potomac, ere this,
and have become well posted on its advent into the recesses of Dixie. So far it has been
met with no impediments, and it is likely to march well on to Richmond until it meets with
We left Camp Tillinghast at four o'clock on Monday morning last, knowing not our
destination. By day-light we had neared the old picket line. From all directions there
came a perfect mass of infantry. It seemed as if the Northern Army was here EN MASSE. By
eleven o'clock we had arrived at Fairfax Court House, where we found a New Jersey
Regiment. We marched through this deserted place, (once so thriving a village), our band
playing "Hail Columbia" to the grove just in sight of Germantown, now entirely
in ruins, where we are present encamped, and will remain to-morrow, when we shall advance
Twelve thousand troops had passed thro' Fairfax in the morning, and quartered at
Centerville, which was deserted by the rebels the day previous. One battalion had gone on
to Manassas, which place they found in ruins and burning. The rebels had retreated on the
Warrington road, and from all accounts gathered from the contrabands constantly arriving,
it is inferred that Secesh are badly "done up", being poorly clad and illy
prepared to meet our forces, and are short of ammunition &c. Their artillery is poor,
but little on hand. Their means of transportation are slim indeed; for their destroying of
their scanty commissary stores at Manassas proves their inability to move their needful
The fortifications around Fairfax are nothing but rude log entrenchments with a single
front. It is proven that the rebel forces never exceeded sixty thousand at Centerville and
Manassas, and at the time of their evacuation of these two places probably not more than
thirty thousand, if that number. Centerville is very well fortified, though it would never
stand the heavy siege guns of our army. The bridges between Centerville and Manassas were
either blown up or burnt, but are now being rapidly rebuilt by a large force of Union
Numerous relics, such as old swords, broken muskets, rusty bowie knives, musket and cannon
balls, from the battle field at Bull Rum and Manassas, were brought on by our troops. Many
of our boys have visited Centerville, each bring away with him some relic of that famous
place, where, in July past, our troops made good the old adage, "He that fights and
runs away lives to fight another day."
On Tuesday evening Gen. McClellan and staff visited Manassas, and returned the next
morning. The Generals quarters are at Fairfax.
Rebels are being brought in every day, many of them taken on the other side of Manassas.
Our Cavalry are continually scouring the country, and the Fairfax jail presents the fruits
of their labors in the shape of over one hundred and fifty prisoners.
Considering that all the Union forces are in motion, you may expect but that for a few
weeks will elapse ere the end of the rebellion will be heralded forth to the North - God
grant that the Army of the Potomac may meet with no reverses.
On Sunday last we buried Private Richard Chappel, formerly of Dodgeville, on Arlington
Heights, near the burial place of the Curtis family.
Our boys are all well and happy. They are well clothed and fed, and prepared to do their
might for the Union and the Constitution. -
Our Captain is with us, having recovered from his sickness. In short, the Miner's Guards
are a determined set of fellows, with just enough Cornish with them to make them grind
their teeth and "go in on their nerve" as representatives of Old Iowa, and you
will hear a good report of every one of them.
I close, hoping in my next to record the defeat of the rebels, and that I may date it at
Richmond, the capital of the so-called Southern Confederacy, which to-day is tottering and
about ready to fall with a crash, as slowly but surely the Union Army closes around.
Regiments on the Potomac
A private letter from an officer of the Second
Wisconsin, dated Washington, 14th, says: "we are still remain in camp but are ordered
to be ready at 4 A. M. to morrow. All expect to move to morrow. Gen. King is placed in
charge of McDowell's division. Col. Cutler commands Gen. King's brigade. Haskell is his
Assistant Adjutant General. Lieut. Rollins, of the Randall Guard, Second Regiment, is one
of Col. Cutler's aids."
The same writer, in a subsequent letter, written on the 16th, says that Cutler's brigade
had orders to embark on the following Tuesday at Washington. Destination Unknown.
AN INTERESTING LETTER FROM
Rebel Fortifications - Orders
to March - The General's Address - Another Onward Movement - Return to Old Quarters - A
Contraband Letter, &c.
Fairfax Co., March 15.
The fortification at Centerville and
Manassas have not been overrated: they are undoubtedly well designed, strongly built, and
admirably located on the most commanding and strategic points along the road leading from
Fort Corcoran on the Potomac to Manassas. The fortification at Centerville will mounted
with cannon of the right caliber and guarded by a force of thirty thousand full blooded
western and Yankee soldiers could have held their position against an army of a hundred
thousand. Had the rebels been able to have mounted heavy artillery upon their extensive
battlements, Centerville would never half been abandoned without a fight, and a pretty
hard one at that. Seeing the impossibility of their being able to dispute the right of way
with the overwhelming force of the Grand union Army of the Potomac, they very wisely
showed their heels to the "Yankees," and fell back to Manassas, which place they
also left in a hurry. The fortifications at Manassas do not appear as formidable as those
at Centerville, neither is there as great a display of military skill and science in their
arrangement. After taking a careful survey of these two strategic points, and then calling
to mind the fact that one of these imaginary Gibraltar's never was mounted with any
other kind of engine of destruction than log guns, and the other with out half the
artillery necessary for its protection, I feel as if out Grand Army on the Potomac had
been badly sold by the rebels for the five month. Had we done less at playing soldier on
the romantic banks of the Potomac and examined more closely in the bluff game of the
enemy, we might by this time have seen the "flag of our Union" waving over the
Capitol of the Old Dominion.
This morning the Grand Army, with the exception of a portion of Gen. Summer's
division, received orders to strike tents an prepare for a backward movement to
Alexandria. As much as the soldiers disliked the idea of falling back, they were heartily
glad of a change, as they had become tired of the quiet and inactive life they were living
in such close proximity to the enemy. As is usual in the breaking up of a camp, everything
was bustle and noise: packing tents, knapsacks, filling haversacks with rations, loading
wagons &c., occupied the attention of officers and men for nearly an hour, when the
different regiments were called together by their respective adjutants to hear the address
of Gen. McClellan read.
The Second Wisconsin Regiment, as your readers may suppose, felt mortified and
chagrined at the sudden termination of the "Onward Movement" as they had an old
Bull Run debt to settle with the rebels with whom they had crossed bayonets but a few
months since. When those gallant sons of the far west heard Adjutant Dean read in a clear
and distinct voice read the address, which promised great and glorious times, they gave
three rousing cheers at the prospect of something turning up, after the onward to Richmond
via Manassas had "gin eout."
Whether our soldiers will experience all that the address promises is more that your
correspondent is willing to say; but that it instilled a new spirit into our soldiers none
can doubt, especially those who were present and heard the response of the brave defenders
of the Union.
Half an hour after the reading of the address our vast army was marching back to
Alexandria, through the rain and mud. For nine hours we traveled through the heaviest
storm of rain ever witnessed in this country by the oldest inhabitant. The front of our
column camped in and around Alexandria, while the rear camped, or rather stood up, all
night in the rain some four miles from the city. Notwithstanding the hardship of that
day's march of over twenty miles, not a word of complaint was uttered within the armed
host of freemen. The idea that this retrograde movement was preparatory to another
"Onward to Richmond" by a different route, made up for the disappointment
experienced in not following up the retreating foe from Manassas.
Sunday, March 9. - Eleven o'clock a.m., the Wisconsin
regiments left their dismal campground and returned to their winter quarters near
Arlington House, after an absence of seven days, during which time we accomplished about
as much as the army that marched up the hill and marched down again. We leave it to time
and the results of the military operations on the Potomac to pass judgment
upon what is
considered as the great military farce of the age.
Monday, March 10. - The Wisconsin Regiments again pulled
stakes and started for Alexandria, fully expecting that they were about to make a final
move, never again to see their old homesteads at Arlington Heights, where they had been
quartered for over seven months in a blissful state of peace. In this they were
disappointed, as Arlington is in sight of their present camp. The march from Fort
Tillinghast would have put Falstaff's ragamuffin crew of soldiers to the blush. Acting
Brigadier General Cutler, by some unaccountable maneuver, got the brigade into what the
boys called a "d----d barrel" movement. It was without exception one of the most
quixotic tramps our troops have taken over the campaign, - That night we were scattered
here, there and everywhere, men hunting their officers and officers hunting their men.
Remnants of the Brigade camped along the roadside waiting for daylight to look for their
commander and organize in military order. Our Wisconsin and Indiana boys will long
remember their recent march under Acting Brigadier Cutler. Your correspondent spent the
night with Capt. McKee, of Company C, Second Wisconsin Regiment, on the roadside, where he
halted his company, preferring to wait until morning to find the head and tail of the
scattered brigade. You may depend upon it, our western boys grumbled some that night , and
well they might, for it was one of confusion worse confounded. It was the first time we
have heard a word of complaint uttered by our Wisconsin troops. The cause justified the
To what point the Grand Army is next to be moved your correspondent cannot tell. By
special order from the War Department correspondents are forbid making any developments as
to the intended movements of the army. That troops are being shipped from Alexandria is
true, but to what point of the enemy's country we cannot say. That Wisconsin regiments are
daily expecting to embark for some port is no secret. Go where they will, you will hear a
good report of them, as they all declare they will sustain the reputation of their gallant
western brothers in arms, the first chance that is offered them upon the battle field.
The following is a correct copy of a letter which Capt. McKee's body servant, Festus
Tyler, sent to his mistress a few days after he gave her leg bail for liberty: -
March 12, 1862.
Ole Missus: I spo-e you tinks last Sunday night when you ax dis ere Festus
not to run over to dem nasty Yankees, and he said no, missus, Festus ain't gwine to do day
no how, dat you believes him. - By gum, ole missus, you didn't know dis boy knowed all de
time dat he and all de oder boys was gwine over dat night. - You's been pretty kind,
missus, and I'se kind a sorry you hab to lose all de niggers, but you see we all want to
be free and get some pay for what we does. By golly, ole missus, we are so happy wid de
Yankees; no fear of having de lash on our backs. Missus, who drives de carriage and feeds
de horses now all de boys are gwine? Golly, but young massa and de overseer have to turn
When de massa Capt. McKee and his folkses get into de ole neighborhood, Festus will
call on ole missus and take tea wid her, and tell her of all the big sights he has seen.
Guv my respects to all de white folks, and see, missus, day dey do de work right. If dey
don't, flog 'em some, as you did de niggers.
Missus, write soon to your good Festus, who you didn't want to go wid de Yankees.
Festus Tyler, Free now.
The letter was written by one of Co. C's
boys as Festus dictated. This same darkey, in giving a description of the South Carolina
soldiers, said "Dem Carolina sojers are so thin two of dem can be put in one
coffin." Mrs. Tyler, his former mistress, has lost property in slaves in the amount
of seventeen thousand dollars since last Sunday week. The last heard of her she and her
children were accompanying the rebels on to Richmond. - The rebellion has ruined her. Such
is the fate of thousands in this State who, but a few months since, were rich in worldly
possessions. Virginia presents a lamentable illustration of the evils of the curse of
slavery, which has so effectively destroyed her peace and happiness, The retribution is
terrible but just!
From the Second Regiment
Sunday evening ,
March 16, '62
We had no need of advancing on Manassas any farther than our camp at Fairfax
from which I last wrote, for the rebels did not even make a stand but blew up
their bridges, destroyed a great amount of their property, spiked some of their
largest guns and threw them into Bull Run and fled in haste and confusion,
leaving the railroad from Manassas to Harper's Ferry unburned and even cars and
a locomotive in running order on the track. The Southerners may boast of the
Bull Run of July 21st, 1861, but they cannot boast of the the Bull Run of March 11th, 1862 unless it is of the good speed they made. We won an almost
bloodless victory and having nothing more to do in that direction, we moved in
another after waiting anxiously for the order "march" for the space of
three days. On the evening of the 14th we were ordered to be ready to march at
an early hour on the following morning and we were up to time having our water
all ready the night before and coffee prepared daylight. The march commenced at
an early hour but it was afternoon ere the troops and batteries that belong to
our (McDowell's) division had passed us and King's brigade fell into swell the
mighty tide of that moving host. You can have some idea of the vastness of the
Army of the Potomac when you take into consideration that McDowell commands one
of the five divisions into which it is divided and it took six hours for a part
of that one division to pass along over a very passable, if not to say good
McClellan's "address to the army" was read to us just before we
fell in for the march; it pleased the soldiers of the Second well and when three
cheers were proposed for our young General ,we cheered most heartily. The march,
as I before said, commenced about noon, or a little after, with us; and the mist of
the morning deepened and thickened until, at the time we commenced our
march, it could not be called mist but rain and the faster we marched, the harder
it rained and - as a matter of course - the more it rained the muddier it got and
we plodded on through thick and thin, cheerful as larks, happy as ducks in a
shower. McClellan said that we must expect rough marches and hardships and
privations and this was an initiation in the line of rough marches; we looked at
it as rather a rich joke. No one complained, but each soldier did his best.
Still it rained and rained and continued to rain. The windows of heaven seemed
to open and the water fell not in drops but it poured down in torrents. We were
drenched through and through, as wet as water could make us and the rills
collecting formed brooks through which we had to wade knee deep in water as they
rushed roaring over the road wherever it lead, through a valley and in that storm
of rain, the hardest I have known in Virginia, we marched fifteen miles and
encamped for the night before dark within a few miles of Alexandria. Still it
rained as furiously as ever but in ten minutes after we stacked our arms and
broke ranks, the blaze from a hundred fires lighted up the dark woods, burning up
brightly despite of the falling water while white tents were drawn from a
thousand knapsacks and pitched so quickly that it seemed as if a large flock of
sheep had been lying in the grass and all sprang up of a sudden. It was quick
work and quickly too a whole line of bard fence was appropriated to serve as
bedsteads for us and a large pile of straw besides a wheat stack disappeared
quickly. Upon such a night soldiers cannot sleep upon nothing. I rolled up in my
blanket and sleep soundly till morning though I was wet as a drowned rat. It
rained nearly all night but when I awoke in the morning it was quite clear, and
then commenced the work of putting our things in order; fires were built, guns
cleaned and blankets and clothing of all kinds dried in a hurry. Everything we
had was wet, some our ammunition and few articles of choice in our knapsacks, but
in a short time everything was made dry and put in the best kind of trim and we
were ready once more for the march.--
For some good reason we did not go on as we expected but were marched back to
our old camp at Fort Tillinghast, but when you hear from me again it will be
from some other part of Dixie than Arlington, I reckon.
We have had a fine day to-day; through the roads were pretty bad and marching
heavy, we reached our old camp about 3 o'clock p.m. having marched about 10 miles
and we are now snugly housed for the night in our old quarters that have
sheltered us so often from the rain and the sun that they seem like the old
houses in which we passed our boyhood.--
They are dilapidated and faded now but they have served their country well
and long shall they live in the memory of those they have befriended. This is in
all probability our last meeting with them and we can't stay with them now but a
few days, and the fewer the better.
The time has come for action. Tyranny must yield when war scarred freedom
meets him the the field.
R. K. B.
From the Second Regiment
Fort Tillinghast, Arlington, Va.,
March 17th, 1862
When I wrote to you in February we were still idle and waiting for the
cheering sound of "onward march," and at last the sweet sound greets
our ears. Sunday night, the 9th inst., we rolled into our bunks and wrapped our blankets
around us as unconscious of making a march the next day as we were of going to Cuba.-
The next morning reveille beat at 3 o'clock A.M. and we fell out to roll
call. After roll call our captain tells us to pack up our knapsacks and get
ready to march at 4 O'clock. Now all was excitement and joy. We did not know of
a certainty where we were going but as all the camps around us were illumined we
concluded that the time for the advance of the grand army of the Potomac had
come and expected, of course, that we were going to visit the strong hold of the
rebels. At the appointed time we fell into ranks, bid good bye to old Camp Tillinghast
and moved off in the direction of Centerville and Manassas.
When we started such expressions as "Forward to Richmond! Hurrah, boys,
for Manassas!" could be heard from many of the Second. We felt that the time had
now come when it was for us to settle the question of secession on the decisive
As we marched along we found the roads crowded with cavalry that went dashing
along as though they were just going to make a charge; and all was action as
well as motion. Early in the forepart of the day, it rained a little, which made
it rather slippery walking; but not withstanding this, we made good time,
considering that we had heavy knapsacks on our backs. On the march we used to
halt once in three or four miles and rest for a few minutes. We marched through Fairfax
to a hill about two miles beyond where we stopped and camped after having
marched a distance of 20 miles. We found that the campaign tents come in play
now. These tents are six feet square and three feet high. They are fixed so they
can be taken apart and each man carries half a tent strapped on his knapsack.-
When we got here it was rumored that the rebels had left Centerville, but we
could hardly credit any such report as this because we were informed they were
strongly fortified at this place, and we could not believe they would fall back
without first giving battle.
In the morning we received reliable information that the rebels had not only
left Centerville but had evacuated Manassas also. We were greatly surprised when
we learned this fact for we were quite sure they would make a desperate struggle
upon the field where they were once flushed with victory.
We had expected to meet the rebels face to face at Manassas and whip them
badly but they are getting so expert in their new tactics introduced by Floyd
and Pillow, that it is a matter yet to be tried whether we get a chance to come
at them with cold steel or not. They do not seem to like the way our troops
fight lately; for, of late, the Union troops have fought to kill.
We staid at the camp near Fairfax until the morning of the 15th. The rebel
pickets, until the advance extended out from their front as far as Fairfax; but
no rebel pickets were to be seen now. There were several families that had lived
here unmolested by secesh and at the same time rebel soldiers all around them;
but, of course, the families are strong for the Union now. The surrounding
circumstances are such that they could not well be otherwise.
Bear in mind the surrounding circumstances are Union troops. While here, our
boys got out of rations in consequence of the provision wagons not arriving in
time and the result was several fowls were brought into camp bought without
money or price.
There are strict orders against foraging or taking anything from peaceable
citizens but it was tolerated at this time because we were out of rations.
I learned while at this camp that the guns at which the secesh had at Centerville
were only wooden logs. I get this information from those who were in Centerville
after the rebels left it, and saw the fortifications. Whether these wooden guns
have been there all the time or only placed in the parapet while their cannons
were removed is something yet to be known.
On the 12th, Lieut. Rollins, of Company H, went out to Bull Run and rode over
the ground which was strewn with dead bodies on the 21st of July. He could now
ride over the ground without having shot and shell thrown around him; but what
must have been his sensations when he saw the graves where many of his comrades
in battle now slept to wake no more until the resurrection morn.
The night previous to the 15th, we received orders to march the next day. The
report was that we were going to Alexandria, and aboard of boats down the
Potomac, and land some where on the Rappahannock. This just suited us, and in
the morning every man was up before the drums beat, ready for the march.
It was about 12 o'clock when we left our camp and took a retrograde movement
for Alexandria. We had the advantage of a good turnpike road to march on; but
soon after we started, it commenced to rain very hard and rained all the
afternoon; but I believe I never saw a time when the old Second felt better than
they did when on the march . As the country is hilly here the rain would run
down into little ravines and where these crossed the road the water was from
eight to ten inches deep, and as many of us wore shoes, we had wet feet; of
course. We got within three miles of Alexandria before dark having marched
fifteen miles. I learned that a bridge had been carried off which was over a
small stream ahead of us and that we could go no further until it was fixed. We
therefore stopped here and pitched our tents on a hill situated in the woods. As
we were wet through and the ground also being wet, the first thing we looked
after when we broke was something to keep us off from the wet soil of Virginia.
There was a residence near by, the owner of which had some board fence on his
plantation and a wheat stack; but he didn't have said loose property long for
the boys of the Second are bound to have a dry place on which to sleep whenever
they can get it.
After we got things arranged to suit us, we built up large fires and dried
our clothes and in the morning we were all right.
We expected in the morning to go to Alexandria and take passage on the boats
immediately down the Potomac and we were rather unhappily disappointed when we
got orders to go back to our old camp Tillinghast; but we were contented when we
learned that we were not going to stay only a day or two before we would have a
chance to move upon the rebels. We reached our old camp in the afternoon after
having been gone six days. The march though fatiguing , I believe was of benefit
to the regiment. I believe the regiment is in better condition for doing service
than they were before they left on the 10th inst. What we want is action; and we
are glad the hour for action has come.
I have now related to you what one regiment has been doing the past week.
Other regiments, brigades and divisions have been doing the same that we have in
fact the whole army of the Potomac has been on the move. It is reported now that
McDowell's command which comprises about 40,000 is going down the Potomac on
transports and land on or near the Rappahannock, to attack the rebels wherever
they may make a stand.
One more word, and I close, Gen. McClellan's address to the army is received
with the greatest enthusiasm by the soldiers. They put the utmost confidence in
him and believe him to be a true man and one whom they are willing to follow
every time. He says "The time for inaction has passed." This pleases
us. He promises to lead us on to meet the enemy and only prays that God may
defend the right. This is the kind of talk that suits a soldier of the army of
W. E. Moon
March 20 March 17
Letter from the Second Regiment
Alexandria, Va., March 20
The recent triumph of the Union forces at Winchester and the terrible
slaughter of the rebels has not only stricken terror in to the hearts of the
secessionists of this region of the land of gloom but it has aroused the
slumbering union feeling in the Old Dominion.
Those who but a few days since feared to avow their devotion to the
government now speak openly and above board in plain terms of what Parson
Brownlow significantly terms "the hell devised Southern Confederacy"; they denounce
it as an infernal heresy and pray for the speedy arrival of that day when
deliverance will come to the State which claims the honor of being the
birthplace and burial ground of Washington, the Father of the American Republic, to
resist the power of the strong arm of the government. Verily, the comb of the
chivalrous cock of secessia is cut and the backers of this once game bird are
fast retiring from the rebel ring. They have solved the problem as to whether
one of the F. F. V.'s can whip five of out hardy sons of Yankeedom to their
entire satisfaction. The bloody experience of the past few days has thoroughly
convinced them that they committed an egregious error in making their vain
boastings of their superiority over the stalwart men of the North. The battle
Winchester may be set down the last great battle that will be fought upon the
sacred soil. The rebellion in this State will wind up with guerrilla skirmishes.
The confederates will not make another decided stand in Virginia as they begin
to see that they cannot maintain their cause against the heavy prestige of so
misfortunes have already spread dismay in their ranks which, if reports are true
as they come to us from deserters, have created great dissatisfaction among their
troops. Those of our troops engaged in the fight at Winchester have crowned
themselves with glory. The old war horse of Mexico, General Shields, has shown to
his country that he is equal to any emergency that may arise during this
A doleful wail from secesh.
The Benedict Arnolds of the nineteenth century who disgrace this once happy
land of the free and home of the brave; are now wailing most piteously over the
successive defeats which have befallen the rebel arms. Here in secessia they
say the game is up with them. The scales have dropped from their eyes and they
now begin to see the utter hopelessness of their cause and to express the wish
that peace may soon be restored. Rabid secessionists have pronounced the
Southern Confederacy a failure. An old secesh who has two sons in the rebel army
said to us the other day. "I would to God my two boys would throw down their guns
take the oath of allegiance and return to their old love as I am convinced
that the people of Virginia have been sadly deceived by Jeff Davis
& Co." This sentiment is becoming general in this region of poor
desolated old Virginia. Well it may as the State has been nearly ruined by the
vandalism of the Southern conspirators and their hireling cut-throat crew. She
justly deserves the terrible retribution which has fallen upon her. From
observation and intercourse your correspondent can truthfully say that the Union
sentiment in Virginia is daily gaining ground. The time is not far distant when
those who once affiliated with the monstrous treason will be glad to seek
protection under what they term Abe Lincoln's government.
Departure of troops
As we correspondents are not permitted tell all we know about the future
movements of the grand army of the Potomac we must content ourselves by informing
you readers that the embarkation of troops from this port is still progressing.
Already three large fleets of sailing vessels and steamboats loaded down with
infantry and artillery have left this place.
Where they are destined we are not at liberty to tell just at this particular
time unless by authority from headquarters. It is presumed that the chivalry of
Dixie will soon be able to tell when and where the "Northern mudsills"
will turn up. From the present signs of the times it is obvious that something
is going to be did and somebody is going to be hurt in Rice and Cottondom.
Nearly a hundred vessels are now loading with troops the most of which will sail
before the rising of to-morrow's sun.
Business at Alexandria
The war has made this place of considerable importance. The streets are
crowded with strangers from all parts of the eastern and northern states. Most
of them are here on a visit to between this city and Washington are making, as
the Yankees say, "an eternal fortune". The merchants and business men
are doing a better retail business that has been done here for a number of
years. As much as the fastidious chivalry despise the Yankees they will be very
sorry to see the last of the race depart from Alexandria as they keep an immense
amount of small change in circulation. I find these Southern chaps about as keen
after the almighty dollar as their Yankee brethren.
Promotion of Captain McKee
It will be gratifying to the friends of Capt. McKee to learn that he has been
promoted to the post of Lieutenant Colonel of the 15th Wisconsin regiment. The
officers and soldiers of Co. C, 2d Wis. Vol., regretted to lose their gallant
captain under whom they fought at Bull Run. He carries with him the best wishes
of the gallant Wisconsin Second for his future success.
Yesterday we were present at a splendid review of Generals
Franklin and King's
divisions, which took place near Fort Wood some three miles from this city.-
It being known that the review was to be conducted under the superintendence
of Gen. McDowell, a large number of citizens were in attendance. This military
display was gotten up for the purpose of affording some foreign military
notables an opportunity to witness the beauty and proficiency of the American
volunteer system. The military precision with which our troops performed the
most difficult evolutions called forth the highest praise from their
distinguished visitors. On the Potomac as well as elsewhere our Western troops
are the recipients of merited commendations. Without intending to make any
invidious distinctions I would here state that the gallant Wisconsin Second was
complimented by competent judges as being the most perfect and best drilled
regiment on the Potomac. They have justly earned their reputation through the
untiring energy and discipline of the officers in command of the regiment. Gen.
McClellan who was present waved his cap as the citizen soldiers of the far west
passed. Naopolean never ever felt prouder of his Old Guard than did the General
of our boys. Yesterday was a day that will long be remembered by Lieutenant
Colonel Fairchild who was in command of the regiment. Col. O'Connor was
prevented from being present by sickness.
Of the Future
As your readers may naturally suppose, all kinds of rumors are in circulation
as to the future operations of the army of the Potomac. Some say the army is
bound for Richmond, others that the main wing will move by land to Fredericksburg
or some other rebel point of the compass.-
The "knowing one" may speculate until they are gray, but they cannot
fathom the secret of Gen. McClellan's plans are in any way posted as to the
future of the restless army of the Potomac. Let those who are over anxious to
hear of a "big things" keep cool.
Large bodies move slowly
News from Two Wisconsin Prisoners
Please publish the following letter received by S.E.
Reed, of this city. The
letter was written by a prisoner taken at the battle of Bull Run and will be
read with extreme interest by the many friends and relatives of the writer and
of Mr. Wilcox, who has not been heard of for a long time.
March 21st, 1862
Cousin Sallie:- I cannot conceive what kind of ideas you have of me for not
writing to you before but paper is too scarce for a long excuse. Wait, if you
please till across the lines.
I doubled teams with Oramel Wilcox of Co. D, Oct. 8th.
We and several more Wisconsin boys are with the Kentucky sharp-shooters. There are fourteen hundred and sixty-eight of us in the above mentioned burg.
Left Tuscaloosa March 1st, don't know when I shall get home, but will yet be
well. I am healthy, happy and fat; weigh 178 pounds.
I have not heard a word from home or the regiment since I was taken. Wilcox
is all right, thinks he'll marry in this country some where. He says you may say
to his folks if you see them that he will be there when he gets back. He can
think of no more of interest to any one.
Only you be as patient and happy as I am, I shall be a home some time.
Elisha R. Reed
Letter from Gen. Tredway
Quartermaster General's Office
Madison, March 26th, 1862
Messrs. Editors:-In your paper of the 19th inst. published a copy of an
account of Dorn & Brownell, horse and carriage hire by H. E. Paine,
Quartermaster the 2d Regiment, who as is shown by the record, certified the same
to me, in his official capacity before I drew the Paymaster General for its
This is followed by an editorial remark that "We do copy the correctness
of the bill but merely to show how fond the gallant General was of riding and
how riding he must have done particularly the 5th and 6th of May.
Now, as these remarks may not be construed to refer to any person other than
myself, I would beg to say that the account accrued prior to my entering upon my
official duties and that, although in the discharge of those duties, I am
frequently compelled to resort to the use of a horse on a house and buggy, I am
in the habit of paying the bills from my own private means, without cost to the
State or United States.
One word more: The account above referred to, accrued at the time the Second
Regiment was called into camp at this place when with great labor and little
assistance and no previous experience, Quartermaster Paine (now Col of the 4th
regiment) was called upon to perform a vast amount of labor and was, as I fully
believe, justifiable in procuring the teams as I was in ordering payment.
In regard to the "rich voucher" being an account for medical books furnished
to Geo. B. Wilbur, Surgeon of the 5th regiment, I would say that the
supply is in conformity with army regulations, and altogether proper.
Very respectfully yours,
Q. M. G.
Gen. Tredway here asserts that the furnishing of the medical library was in
accordance with the "army regulations." We don't traverse the
General's statement, for perhaps he is better posted than another, equally as
high officer who posted us quite to the contrary. We have experience in neither
military affairs, surgery, or physic, and of course must rely on what others,
professing to be posted tell us.-
But why is it that other regiments have not been furnished with the medical
libraries or if they have why are the bills not posted?
As to the buggy and horse hire, &c. the General does not pretend it was
in accordance with army regulations, therefore we have nothing to say now on that
Military Governor of Fredericksburg- Though the politeness of C. C. Dow,
Esq., we have received a copy of the Christian Banner published at Fredericksburg, Va.
We extract from it the following notice of Captain
Mansfield, formerly of this city --Portage Register.
"Capt. John Mansfield, our present Provost Marshal and Military Governor,
has made a very considerable beginning in clearing the town of some of the
curses you remaining in the place - having already captured six cases and one
barrel of liquors which he has handed over, we suppose, to the proper authorities.
We confidently believe from, what we have seen, that Gov. Mansfield will spare no
labor in his endeavor to maintain good order in town and sincerely hope that all
our citizens will cooperate with him in his efforts to do so."
--we'll bet a bushel of toads that Capt. John Mansfield made a very
considerable begging in testing the quality of those captured liquors.--- which he has handed over we suppose to the proper
authorities we suppose is
good! We know old Proper Authority saw him confounded drunk one day. Yes, there's
no doubt that all our citizens who have any good looking daughters will co-operate
with old Proper Authority in his efforts to do so.
Sam Francis.-The Kenosha Times thinks SAM FRANCIS
who was with the Second
regiment has "Perished unnoticed and unknown," as he has not been
heard from for several weeks. It says:
"The last heard from him, he was in a train of twenty cars filled with
the sick and wounded that were sent from Warrenton to Alexandra and were on the
road a week without a surgeon or medicines. They were huddled together on a
steamboat bound for Newport, R.I. Upon a trans-shipment, those who were able to
help themselves marched off, those who could not were left behind. But what
became of him is still a mystery."
Sam Francis was a man of infinite humor and unequaled as a narrator of good
stories, in which respect he had almost a national reputation. But that was his
least merit. He was also a man of infinite sympathy and kindness of heart, and
unequalled in his capacity to minister the sick - a service he was always ready to
perform. There are a vast many men in the service who could be better spared
than Sam Francis and we shall hope to hear of him again alive and well.
(Editor: Sam Francis died in Alexandra VA, in Sept 62 of illness)
More about Capt. Mansfields Tenderness to rebels- we have been shown a private
letter from McDowell's corps to a gentleman of another part of the State. He
adds confirmation to the extract published in our paper yesterday with regard to
Capt. Mansfield. Writing from Fredericksburg he says:
"The rebels of this vicinity can have no reason to complain of Yankee
rule. Capt. John Mansfield of Portage City, of the 2d Regiment is provost
marshal of this district, and his only ambition seems to be to acquire a
reputation for chivalry among the disloyal. Please remember the name - he may be a
candidate for political honors sometime in Wisconsin. He punishes a Union
soldier worse for plucking a bud from a "Secesh" rose -tree than he
would for stealing a horse from a loyal man."