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1862 March, The Second Wisconsin

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.

Army Correspondence
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 richly deserve.


Army Correspondence

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

Editors: Tribune:-

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 show:
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.-
Sunday Chronicle.

(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. 
Later.-Some difficulty 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:

Left Wing-killed......................................0,000
"""""""""''wounded....................................   150
Right Wing-killed  ...................................0,000
'''''''''''''''''''wounded ....................................150
''''''''''''''''''''missing ..........................................1
Total, killed, wounded and missing ..............301

[Note.-Those killed are supposed to be dead, and those wounded are mostly harmed about the smeller and peeper.]
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.
Yours, Judge.

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. 

March 11  
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 hospital.
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 army.
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 McDowell’s 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 Catlett’s 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 o’clock 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 enemy’s 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 Brook’s 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.

Cornelius Wheeler’s diary

Camp Tillinghast, Va.,  [New!]
March 10, 1862

FRIEND COVER: - 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. F. Kinney, 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 a chest.   
W. N. R.

From the Second Regiment.
King's Brigade

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Richmond.

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.

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 enlightened age.


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.

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.

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.

Letter from Col. O'Connor
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 Manassas.
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 he can 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
But I have full confidence that I have too much pride TO RUN.

Your affectionate son,


In The Woods, Near Fairfax Court House, Va.
Friday, March 14, 1862

Dear Tribune:
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 extreme.
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 the "chivalry".
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 to Manassas.
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 articles.
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 laborers.
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.
Adieu, JUDGE

The Wisconsin 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.


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 murmuring.
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 niggers now.
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.

Yours affectionelly,
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 

Arlington, Virginia, 
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 turnpike, road.
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

Messrs Editors:-

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 battlefield.
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 the Potomac.

W. E. Moon
2d Wisconsin

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 many, 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 struggle.

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.

Military Review

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


March 21

News from Two Wisconsin Prisoners

Messrs Editors:-

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.

Salisbury, N.C. 
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

March 26

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 payment.
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, 
W.W. Tredway,
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 score.

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."