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1862 May, The Second Wisconsin

May 2, 1862
Correspondence of the Herald

An Interesting Letter from the Grand Army
Fredericksburg, Va., May 2, '62

This morning the work of throwing the pontoon bridge across the Rappahannock at this point was completed and at three PM Generals King and Patrick, at the head of a detachment of cavalry and infantry, entered the city and took formal possession of the place much to the chagrin of the rebel occupants. A few of the citizens showed unmistakable signs of gratification upon our arrival and declared the hour of our advent into the city was the happiest one of their lives.
"Secesh" looks as jumpy as a Bear with a sore head but does not growl for fear of being caged. What is reviving to the union men (few) of the city is positively crucifying to the rebel spirits. Treason, the canker-worm of the Nation, may, and doubtless will, prowl around these parts in the grog-shops and Brothel houses for a time but its power here to do the Union cause much injury is virtually dead.
As yet but little Union sympathy is manifested; this is not to be wondered at considering the close proximity of Fredericksburg to the treasons-tainted atmosphere of Richmond. It will require considerable time for the national Physician to restore the diseased parts of the body-politic of Fredericksburg to a round and healthy state.

of this place look as if they could swallow the entire army of live Yankees; they are riling mad and can't help showing their dislike and hatred to the "mudsills. Their "pouting" and effeminate scowls are amusing to our troops who nearly kill the poor "secesh creatures" with their Yankee smiles and "frolicking." There are some good looking "Ginny g'hals" here that have already struck the fancy of some of our "Bowled solder Boys," which, if I mistake not, will in some instances bring about a Union between secesh damsels and our boys. A good chance to get a live Yankee husband will not be allowed to slip through the fingers of these young ladies; for such an excellent bargain they will readily bring their minds to the belief that secesh is a "bad egg" and won't do to such.

are already here hunting stores and business houses where they can locate and drive a good trade. These "everlasting creatures" are wide awake and all around looking for chances to made a quick penny.

with his ponderous pack of dry goods follow in the wake of the Grand Army, squinting about for the first opportunity that offers to squat and dicker of their traps with the natives. The shylocks and roman noses, like the hawkeyed Yankee, never miss a chance for a spree. Here in this city they may be seen stopping some tipped "seceshers" inquiring where they can rent a store, house, shop or shanties to put their notions in. Many of the citizens will politely answer their question while other will look daggers and give a grunt similar to that of a hog or as much as to say "Hell with you and your notions."

in this city at the present are quite flattering as there is a great demand throughout the country hereabouts for goods of every description. The majority of the Fredericksburg merchants have "vamoosed their ranches" some for the purpose of joining the rebel army and others for fear the "Yanks" would kill them, cook them and eat them. So long as the army continues in this vicinity there will be a brisk retail trade as soldiers, like sailors, will spend their small change for nick-knacks whether they want them or not.

of the entire corps de Armee of Gen. McDowell it is thought will take place within a few days for Fredericksburg and surroundings; this will please our troops who are anxious to reach Richmond and then effectually bruise the head of the "secesh serpent" so that it will never raise it in "Old Virginny" again.

will be unfurled to the breeze to morrow or the next day over this rampant city of Treason. The ceremony will be performed notwithstanding the threats of the rebel commanders to shell the city and they will have to pay due respect to that proud emblem of our nation's glory if they continue to remain in their "trenches" in the woods back of the city.

are posted with three quarters of a mile of the town enabling our forces with their spy-glasses. The longer they look at us the less they will like the warlike appearance of our corps de Armee. These fellows, before we entered the city, had been in the habit of making a dash into the "Bury" and carrying off suspected Union men and occasionally nabbing a straggling Yankee soldier who had "stole a march" upon his Brigade guard and crossed the river. This game has "played out" and the sneaking rebel thieves have wisely come to the conclusion that "discretion is the better part of valor" especially while "Abraham's boys" are in possession of the "diggings."

Reports come to us through the medium of contrabands that the rebels are entrenching themselves at Guanoe Station on the Fredericksburg & Richmond railroad, a distance of about sixteen miles from this city, where they intend to dispute our right of way on to Richmond. At first we heard they numbered at that point between twenty and thirty thousand and that others were daily arriving from Richmond. Our informants cannot be considered competent judges as to numbers as hundreds appear like thousands to them as they hastily "leg it" through the vicinity of their encampments to what they call the "Promised Land;" the "home of de nothmen." Nobody believes the they will make a stand at Guanoe Station as that is not the game they have been playing upon our line of march from the Potomac. If they can fluff us off by seeming to play a "strong hand" they will do it; this, however, they will not be allowed to do as Gen. McDowell is too wide-awake to be "held at bay' ala Manassas Dodge.

Yesterday four deserters presented themselves at the camp of the 21st New York Regiment one of them was a Pennsylvanian; he stated they were residents of that section of the country and had under the Militia Law been forced into the ranks of the rebel army and compelled to do service.
Not liking the idea of fighting against the Old Flag, they had deserted for the purpose of joining the Federal Army which they did. From these men we learned that there were two encampments at Guanoe Station, one of four and the other six thousand men; this they assert is the full Strength of their forces. They are erecting fortifications and swearing that they will "drive the d---d Yanks back to the Potomac." Before they do this they will have, as a 21st Boy said, to "Smell H----ll." If they will but stand up to their game of brag they will learn how Uncle Abraham's boys deal, cut, shuffle and play four in hand with "coveys" of their traitorous kidneys.

upon the Rappahannock, that is in this vicinity, are in excellent tune for fighting and extremely anxious to push onward to Richmond. We are strong enough to hold the Bailey of Rappahannock and force a passage through to Richmond; but troops are enjoying fine health notwithstanding the miserable weather which has prevailed during the past month. The morning reports of the various regiments show but very few cases of sickness and those are not of a very serious character.

May 4-- to day the citizens of this city had the pleasure (in a horn) of seeing Gen. McDowell, Secretary Stanton and Chase, who were accompanied by an escort of cavalry; after remaining a short time they re-crossed the river and returned to Belle Plain on the Potomac Creek where they took the steamer for Washington.

To a calm observer of passing events it was amusing to notice the secesh women of this city squinting through their windows and peeping through the half opened doors of their dwellings at the distinguished Representatives of the American government. Had Barnum's Big Show been in town it would not have attracted half the attention that our distinguished country men did. It was a hard pill for them to swallow, the might of our men parading their streets after all their vain boastings that no Yankee soldiers should ever walk the streets of Fredericksburg alive while the chivalrous soldiers of Virginia held possession of the city. Can't be helped, poor Old Virginia, you must grin and bear it until you return to your allegiance and again pay homage to the Old Flag which once waved in triumph from the cupola of your Capitol.

To-day, May 5th, we now have four companies from each Regiment doing Provost duty in and around the city affording protection to the lives and property of the citizens and yet everything remains quiet and nobody has been hurt. The people seem (that's all) to be contented with their new Rulers, who treat them with great civility.

through this country and in this city don't amount to much and won't do to "bet on" with but few exceptions, Union sympathy is assumed. The bristling bayonets of our soldiers and the "War Dogs" mounted on the heights across the river, holds in check the secessionists in whose hearts the bitterest feelings of hatred to the people of the North prevail. The fear of military power and the desire to realize a speculation by traveling with our vast army makes what is called Union men out of rebels. Every man of them would cut our throats if they dared. I would not give the toss of a brass button for all the Union sentiment as yet developed in this city.

It is a sight to see the hundreds of slaves making tracks from the protecting king of that "divine Institution" to seek now homes where slave marauders and "Nigger driver's" lash is not recognized as an institution of "Divine Origin"- since the breaking out of the rebellion, this "peculiar kind of property" has suddenly become animated and learned the use of legs with which it is now walking out of "dicie." Hundreds have come into the various camps, some with their "traps" and others without them. Women carrying their children, old men and cripples hobbling after the advance column of the black army of Fugitives from slavery,
The counties of Fairfax, Fauquier, Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George and Carolina must by this time be nearly depopulated, so far as the Negroes are concerned. Many of them say that their owners were getting ready to take them down south but they started off preferring a Spring trip North to going South. The great exodus of these people from the land of gloom into the free States is truly remarkable. The time must come when the proper disposal of this race will become a question of vital interest for our wise Legislators to settle. A judicious system of colonization will have to be adopted by our government as provisions must be made for this peculiar race to save them from pauperism and starvation. This however is a question for future and not present consideration. While in conversation with a bright mulatto contraband the other day I asked him what he would do in the event of his master attempting to force him to return back to slavery. "Do," said he significantly touching the point of a big butcher knife fastened to his waist belt, "find his or any other man's heart with the point of this knife that would dare to make me a slave again." What an impudent and presumptuous piece of colored property! Ain't it strange that it should think and speak thus? I might narrate hundreds of instances of the kind which have come under my observation during my campaign in Virginia but time and space will not admit of a recital of the singular interviews I have had with these people.

by the rebels through this country has been upon a par with other sections of the State which has been cursed with their presence. Railroad and river bridges in this vicinity have all been burnt besides sailing and steam vessels loaded with grain and cotton have shared a like fate. The scoundrels would have burned Fredericksburg had they doubted the loyalty of its citizens to the confederate government.

from an eye witness we learned that the flight of the rebels forever from Falmouth, across the bridge to Fredericksburg on the morning of the 19th of April before the advance guard of Gen. Augur's Brigade was a scene terrific to behold.- Infantry, Artillery and Cavalry in wild confusion dashed through the narrow streets of the God-forsaken looking town of Falmouth to the long bridge which crosses the Rappahannock. Just below the fall of the river the main column of the frightened rebel army fired the bridge as soon as they marched to the opposite shore; so rapid was the destruction of the bridge that large parties of the rear of this panic-stricken army were compelled to take the water and get across the best way possible. Before they had time to evacuate the low grounds, our artillery unlimbered their guns upon the heights above Falmouth and blazed away. The falling of our shells among them started the remainder off at double quick for the city of Fredericksburg, through which they scampered pell-mell for the woods back of the city. Had not the advance guard of the corps de Armee been detained by skirmishers on the road between Collett Station and the Rappahannock they would have bagged the rebel forces, numbering some twenty five hundred, their stores and ammunitions and thus have prevented the burning of the three bridges, vessels and other property. The escape was not the fault of our Federals as the advance guard had to fight its way through the county lying some ten miles back from the river.
During these skirmishes the rebels lost some forty killed and wounded; our loss seven killed and a few wounded. A number of secesh cavalry were taken prisoners and carried to Falmouth from which place they have been removed to Washington. It is to be hoped that the next time we are so close upon their heels we shall have the pleasure of "tripping them" up before they get under way at a speed that would arrow the flight of Tam O'Shanter before the witches unto the shade. There's no denying the fact that the "chivalry" are some on a foot-race, the Yankees are nowhere when it comes to "get up and git" with F. F. V"s

provided our rebel opponents stick to their promise to dispute out right of way to Richmond. Should they do this we may have a fight. The chances, I take it, for a little "brush" between this point and Richmond are rather slim. Judging from the policy heretofore pursued by the enemy of "falling back." Should our boys cross bayonets, "somebody will be hurt" and the wool will have to fly.

The friends of our Wisconsin regiment will be gratified on hearing that the general health of the Wisconsin troops is very good. The boys feel "right side up with care," ready "cocked and primed" for a "set to" with "Old Secesh."


Letter  from the Second Regiment [New!]

Camp Second Wis. Vol.,
Near Falmouth, Va., May 3d, 1862

J.C. Cover:- Dear Sir:- I find while consulting the company returns of the regiment for April to-day -that Frank Noble and John M. Vantassel of Company "G" who were enlisted in Grant county by Lieut. Hill of said company are reported missing under the following circumstances:-

While the regiment was under march for this place starting from Collet's Station of the 21st of April, we were stopped late in the afternoon of that day, by the overflow of Elk Run about five miles from Cottell's and camped in the mud  (for it had rained all day.) Noble and Vantassel started out of camp about sundown leaving their arms and accoutrement behind to procure straw for bedding. Finding none where others had obtained some, they went farther across the field and have not been seen or heard of since. As all that section of the country is know to be, and to have been, at that time, infused with prowling bands of rebel cavalry who laid in the pine thickets by day and ventured out at night, it is highly probable that the boys were picked up by some of them and are now prisoners in the hands of the enemy.
I had no acquaintance with the missing boys and do not know where their friends at home reside so I address this communication to you for publication in the Herald hoping that it will reach them best by this means. I believe the boys were thought well of by their company officers and I am assured that there is not the least probability of their having deserted .
The circumstances of the case all united against that supposition and it is not entertained. Neither is it likely that they were killed. I trust therefore that their friends will not be unnecessarily alarmed, and that they will hear of their safety soon. If they are prisoners they will soon be exchanged and liberated.

The other Grant county boys are generally well and in good spirits.

Yours Truly, C. K. Dean


May 2d, regain the brigade and march rapidly to within two miles of Fredericksburg and camp, distance 12 miles. 

May 2nd. Recross the Rappannock, take up the pontoons, march up the river at United States Ford. Distance fourteen miles. May 3rd. Cross on a pontoon bridge at an early hour, join the main army near Chancellorsville, 6 miles.

May 3. An incident occurred here which is a story worth relating. The Second had a new second assistant surgeon. This battle was the first of his experience. On the fourth, several of the men were complaining, and he was the doctor detailed to remain with the command. Search was made for him; after some time he was found, having burrowed a hole at a safe distance and thrown up breast-works to be safe from the storm of small shot dropping promiscuously about the vicinity of the command. He was urged out from a safe retreat, and trembling appeared before the company with his German silver bottle full of sugar-coated pills. As he passed along he cried out, "Any sick here?" and the men would step out. When coming up to one he said: "What's the matter of you?" "Cut my hand, Sir, and want a piece of court plaster, if you please." "Here, hold out your hand; three pills, take one morning, noon and night." And so that new and untried doctor passed among the men. No matter what the ailment, the remedy was all the same, three pills, one morning, noon and night. It is unnecessary to state that the doctor's services were soon after dispensed with.

May 6th, march to Brewer's house on the Catlett road, eight miles. 

May 7th, march to the heights near Fitzhugh Crossing and camp, ten miles. 

Cornelius Wheeler’s diary

I returned to Falmouth May 7 and was assigned the next day to the brigade formerly commanded by Gen. King.
The same day I took command of it, I relinquished command of the battery with very great regret for it was in splendid condition and in the artillery service I felt very much at home. I did not know how I should feel with the infantry.
The brigade of which I now took command, and with which I was intimately associated for the next six months was composed of the 2nd, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin and 19th Indiana, the colonels in the order named being O'Connor, Cutler, Robinson, and Meredith. I had already formed some acquaintance with these regiments and had been strongly impressed with the high character of the material composing them by observation of the men I had obtained from them the previous fall in manning my battery.
From the character of these I was already impressed with the conviction that all they needed was some discipline and drill to make them first class soldiers and my anticipations were more than realized. In drill and discipline two of the regiments (the 2nd and 6th) had decidedly the advantage over the other two. The 2nd had for its colonel Edgar O'Connor, a graduate of West Point in 1854, and for its lieutenant colonel Lucius Fairchild (afterwards Governor of Wisconsin and U.S. Minster to Spain). O'Connor had an affection of the throat which prevented the use of his voice in drill, the result of which was that most of that kind of duty fell to Fairchild, who had great natural soldierly ability and being active, energetic and intelligent, soon mastered the tactics so that the regiment rapidly improved.
Cutler, the colonel of the 6th, was also a natural soldier though somewhat inclined to arbitrary and dictatorial measures. He soon became a good tactician and great emulation at once sprang up between these two regiments.

Each strove to become the "crack" regiment of the brigade.

John Gibbons

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.

May 11th, Maj. Duffera, upon a reconnaissance with a squadron of cavalry of the Harris Light, makes a dash upon the enemy’s pickets on the plains at the mouth of the Massapanox Run, captures a Confederate Officer and several men, succeeds in getting up quite an excitement in camp, from which action is visible by the troops, being on dress parade, the dashing major being placed under arrest for disobedience of orders for bringing on a skirmish, though it was evidently successful without much loss. While in this camp Co.'s D and F of the Second are detached with the construction corps to assist in repairing bridges, the enemy making us plenty of work. They engage us in good honest labor.
 May 23rd our division is reviewed by President Lincoln , being highly complemented for its splendid appearance and bearing on this auspicious occasion. 
May 26, cross the Rappahannock and pass through the city on the Bowling Green road to Guinies Station and camp on the grounds occupied and called Camp Alexandria by the enemy only a few days before, distance 8 miles. We suppose the object of this move was to form a junction with the army on the Peninsular, a portion of which, at this time, occupied Hanover Junction, 26 miles distant. 
May 29th, break camp march back through Fredericksburg across the Rappahannock, out through Falmouth Camp on the Catletts Road after a march of 13 miles.
May 30th up at an early hour, but do not march until 9 A. M. By which time it is very warm. During the fore part of the day, in consequence of a hot sun and dusty road, many of the men falling out and straggle after the marching column when the ambulances are full. In the afternoon we are reinforced with a shower of rain, and march much easier. At Town Run at dark. At dusk we halt and make coffee, thence to Elk Run and camp, distance marched 22 miles. General Augur’s brigade take the cars for Fort Royal in the valley, and there is talk that a whole division will follow to support General Banks, for which purpose we lay at the point until June 2nd, when General King’s division march by way of Greenwich to Haymarket under a scorching hot sun, and the men straggle badly; camp at sunset, distance 12 miles. 
June 3rd, rained in torrents all night. We are nearly drowned out , blankets, clothing all wet as water can make them; continues raining until the 5th. The div
ision is here concentrated.

Cornelius Wheeler’s diary

From the Second Regiment.
Fredericksburg, May 11th, 1862

I left Alexandria yesterday at 8am , on the steamer North America. I had a very pleasant trip down the Potomac with the exception that I had not the wherewithal 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 any thing 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. 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 a 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 the grand, though the bluffs of Potomac's shore cannot be compared with the Mississippi, or our Northern lakes and rivers.

There are but few estates to 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, when I got aboard and rode with in a mile or two of my regiment. It did me hood to get among the beautiful things of nature. I had been so long shout 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 tap. I found the boys all well and in the best of spirits. 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 l 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 he doing all the work. He is following up the retreating rebels in true Napoleonic style, and showing the the world that he a 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

Correspondence of the Herald
Letter from McDowell's Division [New!]

Camp Opposite Fredericksburg
Stafford Co., Va,. May 13th, 1862

Our new Camp-Military Movements-The Skirmish-Disappointed-A Demonstration-Secesh Frightened-Dr. Garland- Mrs. Davis-Bridge Building-the Review-A new Captain-Regimental Band- Rebel Script-Union Demonstration-Makes new Captains

Here we are in the full bloom of health rustication upon the "Ole Plantation" where Gen. Washington spent the earlier days of his life. The spot which we occupy is a beautiful clover field from which we have a magnificent view of the city of Fredericksburg, one of Virginia's strong "nest eggs" of treason. Right in sight of our comp is the memorable site where once stood the "great house" of the "Washington farm" from the "old darkies" who constituted the living historians of "Virginity", we learned that in the balmy days of yore, "mourn Massa" George Washington used to roam over the very ground we have now converted into the "tented field," and scaled the heights of the Rappahannock upon which the guns of the Union army are now planted overlooking the romantic valley of this handsome river, bidding "secesh" to keep cool. Who would have thought a few months since that the hardy sons of the far West would to-day be treading over the fields of the "Ole Plantation " where the Father of the American Republic first had inculcated into his young mind those principles of love, purity and fidelity which in after life proved of such incalculable blessing to himself and his county which he liberated from the thralldom of brutish tyranny and oppression?-
One would naturally have supposed that this consecrated spot would never have been desecrated by the foul touch of the God cursed hand of Treason - not so!
Here at the landing of the "Old Homestead", the agents of the ruling spirits of the damnable conspiracy perpetrated outrages upon the property of private individuals who had injured them in no way.
From such semi-barbarians nothing better could have been expected. They have lost all reverence for everything which constitutes a connecting link in our memories those, who in the days of the Revolution, fought,  bled and died for the establishment of those universal principles of Freedom and Equality which they now seek to destroy. In the opinion of the ignorant and deluded followers of King Davis, Washington and such men of genius were "Old fogies" and the "Mudsill Yanks" who pay due reverence to the memories of the old Patriots of '76 are fit only to be hewers of wood and drawers of water. Prior to the 2d Wisconsin moving here, it was occupied by the 21st New York Volunteers who evacuated their camp ground per orders last Saturday and pitched their tents a mile and half south-west of the rebel city.

in the Department of the Rappahannock during the past forty eight hours have resulted in Gen. Patrick's Brigade moving across the river. Pickets have been thrown out four miles beyond the city where they bold the rebels at bay. The Wisconsin Brigade now occupy the old camp ground of Gen. Patrick's forces along the river, convenient of the Canal Boat Bridge. The position the Western troops now occupy, brings them within close proximity with the advance guard so that in case of an emergency they can reinforce the advance without any unnecessary loss of time. - The entire force of Gen. McDowell's corps de Armee are so admirable arranged upon this side of the river that if needed they can be moved across the river at a "double quick" without encountering obstacles to retard their advance movement.

From the papers you have thus heard of the skirmish which took place Sunday afternoon between the rebels and the Harris Light Cavalry, in which the gallant Major Duffy drove the enemy back after capturing a rebel Lieutenant and ten men. This is the only "Brush," of any consequence that our forces have had up to the present time with the enemy. The warm reception they met on that occasion will make the "flying chivalry " rather cautious how they show their "Mugs" to our wide awake advance guard.

When news was received at head-quarters Sunday afternoon that a fight was going on between the rebels and a portion of the advance forces, orders were issued to our brigade to make ready for tight marching. It would have done old Wisconsin good to have seen her Sons on the Rappahannock hustle around, gather up their "shooting irons" and make ready for a "Double quick" to the field of battle. The optics of the whole Brigade were anxiously looking across the river in the direction of the rebel rendezvous, while every ear was pricked up to hear the order "Forward March, double quick" given by the officers in command. Their expectations of a "Bully  Brush" before sunset evaporated shortly after falling into line after seeing the advance guard returning to their camps.
Had old Indiana and Wisconsin's boys got into a fight that afternoon they would have made Southern chivalry show its heels.

Sunday night our gallant troops made the "walking ring" with their long, loud and soft repeated huzzahs over the glorious news of the capture of Norfolk and the blowing up of the Merrimac. It was music to the soul of every loyal citizen, but death to the woe bygone, chop-fallen "seceshers" of Fredericksburg whose ears were assailed with the loyal shouts of twenty thousand freemen.

While over at Fredericksburg last Monday, we were very much amused at some of the feminine seceshers who endeavor to make the "mud-sill Yanks"," riley" by turning up their delicate noses and drawing down their under lips at them. If the little creatures only chewed tobacco they would squirt their amber, if they dared, into the faces of soldiers. If one of them happen to be on the street with her veil thrown over her "kiss me quick" bonnet and she sees a "Yank" approaching, down goes the veil and away she flounders across the street for fear her proboscis might be assailed with the odoriferous smell of a live Yankee. One of these Yankee-Haters, on hearing the booming of our cannon over the capture of Norfolk, stopped us as we passed her house and inquired in a trembling voice whether the "Federals were shelling the city?" We replied in the negative, and informed her that "our boys" were merely celebrating the capture of Norfolk by way of getting their hand in for gratifying over the surrender of Richmond which would take place within Forty-eight hours. She looked at us with astonishment, gathered her calico close around her person, gave a faint scream and rushed into the house-
In her fright she took us for an "elongated secesh," and to her horror she had stopped a "Yank" These poor frightened souls really believe that feminine virtue is in a dangerous "posish" where "Uncle Abe's" boys are running at large. The report of our big guns threw the "natives" of the "Burg" into great commotion until they ascertained the true cause of the firing.

of  Fredicksburg was one of two who refused to vote for the ordinance of secession. For this unpardonable offense he became the subject of infernal persecution at the hands of the secessionists. Being a man of nerve and moral courage he bravely battled with his oppressors and defied them to their teeth. To use has own language; "For ten months the city has been under a reign of terror. Men who were loyal at heart were forced at the muzzle to the pistol and point of the bowie knife to pay homage to the tyrants who ruled with a rod of iron. Through the agency of this foul treason, the peace and harmony of the community has been destroyed. Families that were once upon intimate terms with each other are now at daggers point.-"
Nearly every family with whom the doctor had been upon the most intimate term spurned him from their presence. His practice, which was extensive, is all lost to him. The only crime of which they could accuse him was that of being loyal to the government. We found the doctor to be a true Virginian gentleman of sterling worth and intelligence. But few men of his calibre can now be found in this county.

who is a widow lady in poor circumstances with three interesting daughters to support, has been made the subject of persecutions even since the federal forces have occupied Fredericksburg merely because she has three or four Yankee boarders into her house. She informed me that her neighbors have called upon her and declared that they will have nothing to do with her whatever may be her situation if she persists in giving the Yankees accommodation. She replied she must do something to enable her to make an honest living for herself and children and so long as the northern gentleman behaved themselves and paid for what they eat at her tables she should keep them. She is one of the few sensible women of this city who sees the folly of being any longer subservient to the scoundrelism of southern dictates. We told her to stand firm to Uncle Abe's boys and they would protect her all harm. None but those who have visited this city can comprehend the extent of the hostile feeling which rankles in the hearts of these people against the "northern hordes" by few of the present generation will live to see this feeling of hatred eradicated. It is deep rooted and bitter to the core.

Between three and four hundred soldiers under the directions of civil engineers are now engaged in building a Trestle Bridge across the river immediately over the ruins of the old Railroad bridge which the rebels, in their madness, destroyed. This bridge is seventy-five feet in height and six hundred in length. The work progresses finely and will, if nothing happens be completed by the last of this week or the first of next, this bridge connects the Acquia Creek Road with the Richmond and Fredericksburg. When completed, communications by rail from the creek to Fredericksburg will be opened them. We look for an advance of the forces now encamped upon the east side of the river. If the work of repairing railroads and building bridges belongs to this division of the army, it will be sometime before we enter Richmond as the work of destruction along the road we are informed has been quite extensive.

The secessionists in these parts who were educated by their designing leaders to the belief that the mission of the Union army was to lay waste the country, murder the men and ravish the women have discovered since we have occupied Fredericksburg and the surrounding country that their military valor and editors have lied in their teeth and barely deceive them as to the true character and intentions of the federal forces. The conduct of our soldiers and the rule of the military officials have been of such an unexceptionable character that the most rabid of the people cannot complain. Strange as it may appear, it is nevertheless true many of them regret that, such is the fact, as it has proved these defamers of the northern army are liars of the blackest dye and deprived them of a justifiable cause of complaint and some of the terrible deeds of which they have been howling been perpetrated, many of them would have rejoiced or they would then have something of a serious character to moan over, as it is they have to sit down and reflect of the manner in which they have suffered themselves to be duped by their cut-throat leaders who have led them out of their senses, robbed them of their property and made fools and pack mules out of them to subserve their damnable purposes.

Since I last wrote you, the command of our Brigade has passed form the hands of officiating General Cutter to those of Captain Gibbons who is now the legitimate acting Brigadier general, of the Western Brigade of Gen. McDowell's corps de Armee. The general is a young man of considerable military promise and a strict disciplinarian. Those who are personally acquainted with him speak of him in commendable terms both as a gentleman and a scholar. His command is one which he has ample reason to be proud of as the grand army of the Potomac cannot boast of a finer and more efficient body of men, then this Brigade which is composed of Wisconsin and Indiana.

Monday last General Gibbons reviewed the 2d Wisconsin Regiment and paid the officers in command a high and well merited compliment for the able manner in which they had instructed the soldiers under their command. Col. O'Connor and his junior officers have, beyond a doubt, a regiment that will pass muster before the scrutining eye of the most proficient military tactician in the service. The General will find in our western troops as brave a set of boys as ever stepped into shoe leather, easy to manage and prompt to obey. They are a class of men that can be led to the "gates of Hades," by the officer who treat them right but "devil a bit" will they be driven by one, be he Brigadier General or Captain, who only treats them "half white"

While speaking of new officers, I would nave mentioned that the vacancy occasioned by the transfer of Capt. McKee to the 15th Wisconsin Reg't in Co. C, 2d Wisconsin regiment has been filled by the appointment of 2nd Lieutenant George W. Gibson to the command of the Company. Capt. Gibson's elevation to this responsible position meets with the hearty approval of every member who consider "their George" a "Broth of good fellow."-
When it was announced that the Governor had sent on the commission, the boys gave three cheers for their new captain who responded in a very appropriate manner assuring the boys that he should perform the duties of this office to the fullest extent and should most emphatically require of them to do likewise. Accompanying the captain's commission was another for E. P. Kellogg, appointing him to the office of 2nd Lieutenant in the same company which was also offered of by his brother soldiers. 1st Sergeant Thomas Barnett, one of of the best natured fellows in "Dixie Land", has been raised a "Military Peg" from that of Sergeant to 2nd Sergeant in Co. C. Tom was called upon for a speech by the Boys but his well known "native modesty" overcome him and spoiled a "bully speech" which sergeant Tom no doubt would have made.

Among the various Regimental Brass Bands which discourses sweet music for the soldiers and the natives, the 2nd Wisconsin Band is one which is pronounced by judges of music to be an excellent corps of musicians. Every evening leader Titus "trots out " his boys with their instruments who enliven the "stilly night" with their soft and melodious music. Their performance of the "Anvil Chorus" never fails to elicit the applause of the "lookers on in benice." When they return to their "old homestead", they will give their friends and fellow citizens a rich musical feast.

Since our arrival of the Rappahannock, counterfeit rebel scrip has been circulating pretty freely among the dumb headed "secesh" merchants who refuse to take Treasury notes in payment for their merchandise from our soldiers, the consequence of which is that Confederate notes printed in Philadelphia have been passed without detection. In the little one horse town of Falmouth, over a thousand dollars has been put into circulation by our boys who purchased their notes from the news-boys who sell them at the rate of four for a dime. The denomination of these notes range from 5 to 10c. This class of paper is really worth as much as the genuine confederate scrip to the holder who will never realize a penny of the dollar. Our keen calculating 'Yankees" have made a good thing out of the operation at the expense of "old Secesh" who turned up his nose at "Uncle Sam's" legitimate issue. The "tell" is a good one and serves the "treasoning scoundrels" just right.

We read and hear a great deal about union demonstration down in Dixie's and  where the victorious army of the union have re-planted the flag, but thus far we have-not seen any of them on the art of the unionists; on the contrary, we have been forcibly struck with the magnitude of the prevailing disunion sentiment. Here and there we have a met true Union man from whom we learn that the public mind is poisoned by the damnable heresy of suspicion. The very children have been thoroughly trained to hate the northerners and reverence the new government of King Davis. The "great Union demonstrations" which have come under our observation during our march through Virginia have been confined entirely to the colored population who undoubtedly rejoiced  over the advent of the union army into Virginia. The whites are submissive, not by voluntary choice but by the force of uncontrollable circumstances, withdraw our forces from this region of the State and leave these people to act in accordance with the dictates of their own feelings and they will soon inaugurate the second act of this bloody American drama. The seeds of this unholy rebellion have taken deep root in the hearts and mind of their unfortunate and deluded Virginians. Like Iago, they "smile" at the Yankees and hate them at the same time as did that human "Prince of darkness upon the darkey moon." While in conversations  the other day with a Fredericksburg secessionist, he remarked "your government, Sir, has succeeded by force of arms in subduing us, but it never can conquer our spirits which will always rebel against it. Military despotism alone can make us submissive to the power which has crushed us to the earth and destroyed our independence" I have been devoted to convince them now that we was in error by showing them that the only object which the government had in view was to restore the constitution and union to its original standard and not to oppress or deprive the people of the south of any of their rights and privileges. I might as well have armed myself by casting pearls before swine as to try to convince this man that he was wrong so indelibly was the idea stamped upon his mind that the North sought only to conquer and oppress the South. Such is the current belief all through this country. It will take many long years to eradicate their feeling and restore a round and healthy state in the public mind. Lamentable as this is to contemplate, it is never the less true.

We must not omit to mention that our Brother Type, G. H. Otis who enlisted as a private at the formation of Co. I, 2nd Wisconsin regiment has recently been commissioned by the Governor of your  State to take the command of Co. E. "Young Otis", for such we call him, has risen from ranks to his present responsible position through his own meritorious conduct. His appointment meets with the approval of their entire company who entertain, for their Captain, the highest respect.
When next I write to the Herald, I hope to be able to address my letters from the Capital of the Old Dominion, Richmond, which judging from the signs of the times will, in a few days, be in our possession. The health of our Wisconsin troops continue first-rate the only sickness in camp is a touch of the "Grits" and slight fever.

A. F.

The following letter from. Captain Alex. Gordon Jr. who is well known in this community as a young man of honor and veracity, is a sufficient answer to the charges made by Lieut Dodge through the Janesville Gazette, and tells plainly the reason of Dodge's enmity to Col. O'Connor:

FREDERICKSBURG, Va., May 15th, 1862.

I noticed in your paper of the 8th inst., an article from the Janesville Gazette, attacking and most shamefully wronging Col. O'Connor of the Wisconsin Second regiment, upon authority of ex-Lieut. Dodge of the Janesville company.
Your remarks in regard to the matter were truthful and just; and with one exception, in regard to his being in command of the Brigade, entirely correct.
I am personally acquainted with the Colonel, both as an officer and a gentleman, and it is but justice to him and his friends to say he is a thorough disciplinarian, a well educated and prompt military man, and much loved and respected by his regiment.
Col. Fairchild who, by the way, is and ever has been on the best of terms and co-operates heartily in trying to make their Regiment an excelsior one. In this they have succeeded for they stand second to none in the volunteer service.
As for ex-Lieut. Dodge, it is plain to be seen that he is an enemy of the Colonel. The reason of this enmity is simply this: the Colonel did not see fit to grant him a furlough just on the eve of the entering of the troops into active service. Lieut. Dd. vexed at the refusal, immediately resigned his commission; and undoubtedly, the same motives prompted the unfriendly remarks in the Gazette.
Being in the same Brigade, I can truthfully say, the Regiment has never moved out of its camp without Col. O'Connor, and he has often attended to his duties when most persons would have considered themselves unable to do so.
He cares nothing for such petty slander. His Regiment know his worth, and he has many friends. It is but justice to him , however, to give him an opportunity to show to all that the confidence reposed in him in giving him that position is not misplaced. 
Respectfully yours &c.,
Capt. Alex Gordon, Jr.,
7th Wis. Reg't

Whereabouts of the Second Regiment.

Fredericksburg, May 19th, 1862

Capt Ely in a private letter, dated May 19th, says: "We are encamped in a beautiful spot on the left bank of the Rappahannock. Quietly in our front lies Fredericksburg, a pretty town with plenty of shade treed, and back of it a beautiful landscape of hill and dale, woodland and open fields. Near us on our left, is a fine hill on which it is said Washington was born, but there are no remains of the house now visible, In the town of Fredericksburg is the grave of Washington's mother and the head stone all battered with bullets shot at it in sport by secession soldiers. The enemy's pickets are about two miles in front of us across the river, and almost every day some shots are exchanged, but being on the left bank of the river, we now have no picket duty to perform. It is said there are about 30,000 rebels some eight miles off. Yesterday a flag of truce came through our camp borne by a rebel major of cavalry. He rode through with his proper guide blindfolded. We have no idea of the object of the flag, as he went direct to Gen. McDowell's head-quarters.

There are now two bridges across the river, one built on canal boats, the other on rubber pontoons, The railroad bridge is nearly completed. The Cars now run from Acquia Creek to the left bank of the river."

Washington, May 20, 1862

I have just returned from a visit to some prisoners who arrived here a few days since from Richmond, and who are now quartered in a long low building constructed for the use of the soldiers near the railroad depot, and thinking that a short account of what I saw and learned may interest your readers, I hereby write it.
There are about nine hundred, in all, some of whom were captured in the battle of Bull Run, some at Leesburg and other places and many in the late battle of Williamsburg. Some of them have an acquaintance with Southern prisons of ten months duration. Some have been confined in Charleston, some in Tuscaloosa, and some in Castle Pinckney, and it is needless to say that they all appreciate the blessings of liberty.
Among the number are ninety secesh prisoners, who were captured at the battle of Williamsburg, and who refuse to go back into the Southern army, and have taken the oath of allegiance. I conversed with some from the 14th Louisiana, the 17th Virginia, and others from the Carolina and Mississippi regiments. Most of them, and I know not that all, have six months pay due and I infer that the army has not been paid off in that length of time. Their dress is a coarse gray or drab home-dyed "shoddy;" and some of their shoes, which cost $5 a pair, would be a curiosity in a Chinese museum. They had heard of the taking of New Orleans, though the rebel leaders denied the fact, and tried to keep the information from them. This intelligence had a most disheartening effect upon the army. The late Conscription Act of the Confederate Congress, they say, meets with a determined opposition. All of the Virginia troops, and many from other States, were enlisted for one year only, and their time of service expired in April and May. In some of the regiments a third were willing to re-enlist, while the other two thirds have been forced to remain in the service against their wishes. The feeling against the act is so general and strong that they think it will ultimately break up the army. 
On no condition can the Virginians be made to leave their State. Any attempt to send them elsewhere will be the occasion for mutiny. Three companies in Roger A. Pryor's command, on learning that they would be required to continue in the service, laid down their arms and declared that they would go no further. A serious revolt was anticipated, but the officers imposed such merciless and inhuman punishment upon them that they were compelled to yield, and others were deterred from making any attempt at resistance; but murmurings loud and deep are heard all along the line of the Southern army, and some day, like the fires of the volcano, it may burst forth and overwhelm their leaders with ruin.
They agree that their fare, since captured, is much better than they received in the Confederate service. There they were allowed no coffee nor sugar, though while they had money they could buy coffee at $1.50 a pound and sugar at 40 or 50 cents a pound.
The federal prisoners who spent three or three or four days in Richmond say that the people there were anxious to exchange Confederate scrip for U.S. treasury notes, offering seven dollars for five but the Yankee boys didn't feel in a trading humor, and so saved their funds.
There is considerable speculation here in regard to the rumored intervention of England and France. There seems to be abundant evidence at this time to lead us to believe that such a step is contemplated by our friends over the water though the proper time, if there could be any proper time for such an act, it would seem had passed months ago. Doubtless when they learn of the taking of New Orleans and Norfolk and the opening of the Southern ports to commerce, they will regret that they delayed intervention so long.
The apprehension that foreign powers might take some step in this direction, without doubt, prompted the President, last winter to order an advance of the army at once. Had our army continued idle much longer, England and France might have stepped in with some show of propriety, and  demanded the opening of our Southern ports and recognized the independence of the Southern Confederacy but our successive victories over the rebels will, I trust, save us from that humiliation. We now only need  get possession of Richmond to end all apprehensions of foreign intervention; and this it seems, will be accomplished by Gen. McDowell's army, according to the programme laid down in a former letter.
The order of Gen. Hunter, which the President has so summarily vetoed, freeing the slaves in the States of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, caused quite a commotion here among the advocates and worshippers of the "peculiar institution." Though the President declares the proclamation of Gen. Hunter void and says that he has "not authorized him nor any other General to issue proclamations declaring the slaves of any State free," yet we suppose that the decision cannot affect the rights of any who have availed themselves of Gen. Hunter's act. The powers of a military commander are not definitely settled; yet we suppose that whatever the General in command of any department does as a military necessity is good and valid until annulled or set aside by his superior in command. The President, as Commander-in Chief, had the right, without doubt, to revoke, modify and annul any order of his subordinate officers, but such revocation cannot affect the legality of acts performed and under such an order. If one thousand or ten thousand slaves shall make their escape into the lines of Gen. Hunter, his language breathes a warning it would be well for our Southern friends to heed. Speaking of the resolution passed by Congress, last March, to encourage emancipation by the States, I now earnestly appeal. I do not argue, I beseech you to make the argument for for yourselves. You cannot if you wo'd be blind to signs of the times. It is unnecessary to say that such language has a significance.
It is stated from what I believe to be a reliable source that Gen Hunter had authority from the War Department to employ, arm and discipline the loyal blacks in his department, and to use them to garrison the forts; and it is also claimed by some that the Secretary of War was cognizant to the course to be pursued by him, including the emancipation of the slaves, while others promptly deny that Mr. Stanton either knew that such an order was to be issued, or that he approves it.
The commissioners for the appraisal of slaves freed by the late act of Congress are engaged in the daily performance of their duties. Up to this time claims have been filed for something over 900 slaves and they seem to come in yet without any diminution. The newspapers have stated the number of slaves liberated by the act at about a thousand, while some have estimated it at less than that. The indications now are that it will much over that number. 

Editors Gazette:- My attention has been called to an article in the Beloit Journal contradicting the statements published in your paper of April 26th, on my authority, respecting Col. O'Connor of the 2d Wisconsin regiment. The Journal concludes that you misunderstood me, or that I told you a story which the facts will not substantiate. Now, sirs, you nether misunderstood me, not did I state anything untrue. the only defect in my statement was an omission to make other statements notoriously known by every man in the 2d regiment.
I re affirm that Col. O'Connor had not been in active command of the regiment from the date of his appointment to the time I left the regiment , about the middle of March last, and I know of my own personal knowledge, that a week or ten days before that time, his voice was such that he could not take the active command of the regiment. During all the time I attended the drill and dress parades of the regiment I never saw him attempt to take command but once, and then his attempt by him giving his orders through Lieut. Col. Fairchild was such a failure that it was not repeated. He has been present at some general reviews, when his absence would have attracted the notice of the commanding officer but so far as discharging the active duties of a colonel is concerned he has almost universally neglected them at least in the manner which would bring him before his men. He has the reputation of  being in camp about one day in the week and then he confines himself to his tent.
The compliments bestowed upon the drill and discipline of the regiment are all true and will merited but Col. O'Connor is not entitled to them
In making my statements to you and permitting you to make use of my name as your authority, I had no expectation or desire of being drawn into a newspaper controversy; but inasmuch as my assertions have been publicly contradicted, I deem it proper to re-affirm them. In doing so , I have confined myself exclusively to the matters then introduced but the scope of a controversy might be enlarged if I felt disposed to continue a discussion.

Dana D. Dodge
Janesville, May 21, 1862

May 21st the Iron Brigade starts down the northern neck to rescue the Eighth Illinois Cavalry, who were reported cut off by the enemy at night. Bivouac at Millsville. 

Cornelius Wheeler’s diary

From  the 2d Regiment 
(we are indebted to Charles Hall, Esq., for the opportunity to publish the following letter.)

Camp opposite Fredericksburg, Va.,
May 21st, 1862
Richard Lester and I were fortunate enough to obtain a pass to the city today, where we passed a few hours very pleasantly. In our rambles we came to the office of the Christian Banner, and procured two copies which I will send to you, presuming that you never before saw a brown paper newspaper, and because it purports to be a Union one. You will please hand one of them to the Northwestern and oblige me.
We visited the factory at which this paper was manufactured; the proprietor informed us that paper of that size he sold at $3 per ream, and that for lack of rags, &c.., and scarcity of fuel, the establishment could only be put in operation two days in the week. Wood (when it can be obtained) sells for $12 to $18 per cord. He was compelled to use drift wood, picked up in the river. He turns out about 1,800 lbs. paper a day.
We also visited the large Foundry and Machine Shop owned by J.F. Scott, to whom Gen. McDowell applied to get up some casting, and do some blacksmithing for him, for which he would be paid. Mr. Scott utterly refused to strike a hammer for him upon which the Gen. went to the ranks of the Badger, Hoosier, and Key Stone boys and soon found volunteer mechanics enough to run all the Machine Shops in Virginia. Blacksmiths, molders, pattern makers, carpenters and painters were at once set to work and now the hum and buzz of the whole machinery in full operation can be heard all over the little city. And Mr. Scott has the extreme satisfaction, when he steps inside, to witness any number of the Northern "horde of vandals," "barbarians" and "mud sills" with cheerful countenances, and an air of "Don't care a d--n -ativeness", making free with everything, -perfectly at home, and understanding their regular biz. Dressed in Uncle Sam's blue pants, -in shirt sleeves, with aprons on they look quite gay, engaged in all kinds of work, from the foundry to the paint-shop in the garret. Six forges are in full blast under the management of the sturdy sons of old Pennsylvania wielding the heavy sledge hammer with a brawny arm and making the anvil ring to the tune of  Ten pound ten"- (You see when I was a boy in British America,* I used to fancy the hammer of the black smith said "Ten pound Ten.") They were getting out braces and other heavy iron work of the bridge. They belong to the 8th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Carpenters from the 2nd, 6th, and 7th Wis. were at work at every bench. Some of the 19th Indiana and 2d Wisconsin were employed in the machine room running iron in a lathe for repairs to an engine. In the garret, a painter was lettering a sign- "Look out for the cars," and getting up a transparency for an arch over the bridge. On a splendid Threshing Machine in the ware room, one of the boys wrote with chalk-"This machine will be run by the Yankees the ensuring fall. Farmers will do well to give them a call. Wheat 4c, oats 2c, barley 3c, terms cash; can't trust a rebel; -and on the wall- "The devil can beat the rebels and the Yankee can beat the devil. The ware room was stored with all kinds of machines- threshing and farming-cotton gins-ploughs, reapers, &c. I reckon the way the Yankees astonished the natives, so suddenly disturbing their domestic quiet, and the staid, sober habits of those Virginians, was a caution. So suddenly inaugurating such a Yankee go-a-head-ative, noisy, busy time in their very midst must make them think "somethin's busted."
The soldiers can be seen, at any and all times through the day, driving three yoke of oxen, hauling timber, at which sight the ladies stare quite amazed at "white folks driving oxen." Small Union flags are fastened to a horn of each ox. "Wo-hush-Stars and Stripes!
We also went through the Fredericksburg cemetery,
It seems that only one Regiment from this State encamped here. 93 graves were in one row, reaching the whole width of the graveyard, they all died between the 12th March and 20th April, 1862.
A darkey said "Lord, sah, dem aint nuffin to what dey beober dar. A powerful heap dar, sah; more n fo hundred (400) I reckon." He pointed to the "Potter's field," but we didn't go there. He was digging a grave. We asked him who it was for; and of what disease he died. He said it was Mr. Higgins and he "reconed he dun gone scared hisself to death ven youse fellers come".
Have we not reason to be thankful when we compare this mortality with that of our Regiment? Only eight have died , by disease, since our enlistment. Many a citizen remarked to me about the very healthy of our Wisconsin men.
We saw the house in which the mother of Washington lived, and the unfinished tomb, or rather monument, over her grave, It hears the marks of a thousand bullets or more, It was a target for the ladies(!) to fire at. The darkies told us that they used to repair there with the officers and practice rifle shooting &C., &C., &C., We returned home a little while ago not regretting our tramp. Respectfully,
W.M P. Taylor
The writer is a native of Frederickton, N. B.

May 23rd our division is reviewed by President Lincoln , being highly complemented for its splendid appearance and bearing on this auspicious occasion. 

Cornelius Wheeler’s diary

From the Second Regiment
Camp of the Second Wisconsin[New!]
In a Grove of Oaks, somewhere in the State of Virginia.
May 25, 1862

Two weeks ago last night I arrived at the camp of my regiment on the banks of the Rappahannock and this morning's sun found us still upon that clover-carpeted hill overlooking the city of Fredericksburg on the opposite shore of the river, and the beautiful valley through which the Rappahannock winds its course to the sea.
During those two weeks no important event transpired. We were called out but once with any expectation of having a fight and that was two weeks ago this very night. We did not leave our grounds however, for the brigade that was stationed on this side of the river did all the work there was to do, and succeeded in capturing thirteen privates and one Lieutenant of the dirty grays. Since then they have not given us any noticeable trouble.
Our brigade had the railroad bridge to build and part of each regiment was detailed for that purpose while the remainder drilled some, did some guard duty, and the rest of their time they amused themselves by pitching quoits, (a favorite sport of the Greek soldiers at the siege of Troy,) playing chess, chequers, and a variety of games with cards, besides reading all the papers and books they could get and manufacturing news when the papers failed to furnish a sufficient supply. Yesterday it was reported that Halleck had possession of Corinth, and taken 60,000 rebels prisoners. Then again that Banks was driven back and Winchester recaptured by the rebels. All these stories have their effect in camp.
But the bridge was finished some days ago, and the cars cross the river upon it now bringing supplies from the Potomac, therefore it was not necessary that we should longer remain in that vicinity with our cannon pointed upon the half deserted city, and at 1 o'clock p.m. or thereabouts, of this beautiful Sabbath day, we took up our line of march for a position nearer Richmond. We crossed the Rappahannock on a bridge of boats, an ancient, but an excellent way of bridging a river. I took the opportunity offered to measure the width of the river as nearly as I could by pacing. The bed of the river is so deep, and it is so completely overshadowed by the hills and forest trees, that I was very much deceived in its width. I put it at 60 yards when first looking upon it from the hill where we were encamped but I found by pacing that it was full 140 yards -more than double the distance I first set it at.
I did not have a chance to see much of the city as we passed through the outer edge only. We took a road leading nearly south and through the loveliest part of Virginia that I have yet seen. true, it hears the marks of war .-The fences in many places are destroyed and but few white persons are to be seen , but a more beautiful country than the valley of the Rappahannock can seldom be found either East or West. The road is a good substantial turnpike, lined on either side by cedar trees that grow so close together in some places as to form a complete fence, and stretching away as far as the eye can reach are large prairie-like fields, covered with luxuriant growth of clover in blossom, wheat and rye in head, or corn that looks yellow and sickly seeming entirely behind the season. These fields are interspersed with woody hills that look like Islands in the ocean. Alas! that such a fair country should need be overrun by devastating armies; but Virginia has brought this course upon her and she must suffer the penalty.
After marching about two miles we passed our outposts and soon came to the deserted posts of the rebel pickets. We were, I think, the advance brigade of the army, but it seems that the rebels were informed of out advance in season to make good their escape. They occupied their posts last night for their fires were still smoldering, and the ashes had not been rained upon though we has a heavy showered yesterday. The Negro's came out in droves to see us pass, giving the lie to the reports that they are afraid of us, and that the height of their ambition is to kill an abolitionist. When asked if there were secesh about the reply would be "See none to-day, sah."  "Any yesterday?"  "All about yesterday, yes sah." both sexes, all sizes and all shades of the African race were in every gate, at every house we passed but nary white man, woman or child, save one and as he gave us information that was afterwards found to be false, he is now with us, and under arrest. Our march was conducted superbly and when we rested it was always in the shade of the cedars, until we turned to the right leaving the cedars and turnpike for the oaks and a wagon road. We did not get sight of the "Stars and Bars," and about sunset we encamped in a beautiful grove of great headed oaks in full leaf on ground once occupied by rebels for the remains of their camps are still to be seen, and they could have left more than twenty-four hours since. In all probability they occupied this ground last night. I do not know where we are any more than this -we are about seven miles from Fredericksburg, in nearly a southern direction in one of the grandest old forests in the state of Virginia. There Goes the drum, lights out in the command, and I must close and

"Here rests his head upon the lap of earth.
A youth to fortune and to fame unknown,"

May 26, 1862 -It is morning-a lovely morning; not a cloud can be seen in the heavens; the bright sun looks through the wide-spreading green branches above us, brightening the dewy leaves of the trees, and shedding joy on the hearts of the soldiers beneath them. This is the romance of war, to sit in the sunlight beneath these grand old champions of freedom that for ages have waved with the storm and the lighting.
The night passed away without alarm, and morning's return found us ready, aye, eager, for action; but we rest still awhile, for not yet has the order been given to move.
Shine on bright sun, for thy rays are soul cheering. In his golden light, shake your green garments, ye oaks of a century's growth; there is joy in your movements so fearless and free.  Give your songs to the breeze, sweet birds of the woods; your notes are pleasing to the ear. All this will be for a season, but fiercer joys than the wind-shaken branches of trees, louder sounds than the music of birds, and rays of light more glorious than the light of the sun, are awaiting the brave who go forth to the red field of battle. Soon may the sun that shines so bright above us, watch from his throne in the sky the coming contest, when foe shall be rolled upon foe, and army on army; when death shall bloat himself among contending hosts, that this high handed rebellion may perish forever.
R. K. B.

From the Second Wis. Regiment  [New!]
Camp Ginnie's Station, Va.

May 26, 1862

Dear Tribune:-

Your correspondent has remained silent thus long from the fact that his department failed to furnish anything worthy of note. Since I last wrote you our time has mainly been occupied in giving "a fancy drills" and "parades" for the especial benefit of our new Brigadier General. But within the last few days the white glove style has ceased and we now find ourselves the peaceful occupants of a former secesh camp nine miles south of Fredericksburg and within four miles of Ginnie's  Station on the Fredericksburg & Richmond Railroad. How long we will remain here I know not but it is presumed that our forward movement will again commence by tomorrow.
To rebuild the railroad bridges a detail of six hundred men was made from this Corps, fifty-one of which are from this Brigade. The three bridges between Acquia Creek and Fredericksburg were built inside of three weeks-the one crossing the Rappahannock being three hundred feet in length and the other one about ninety feet each in length- the whole work is under the supervision of Mr. Stone, U. S. Bridge Builder, Philadelphia
An extensive foundry and machine shop owned by a Mr. Jones, a rank secessionist, was seized and from the Bridge force a detail of fifty men were put at work building cars, repairing locomotives, &c., a steam portable saw mill has been turned out of this building within the last week and is now at this station. A Battery of cannon has been cast here and will soon be ready for service. A blacksmith shop is attached to it where twenty-two hands are employed shoeing army horses. You will understand this force employed at labor in this establishment are all Western men - Wisconsin and Indiana. They have material a-plenty to work with and are capable of turning out anything man may desire - either of wood, iron, brass or copper. As a matter of complement let me tell you that Mineral Point is represented in this establishment in the person of Nicholas Geig.  Budlong is acting Commissary and general Orderly for the Commander of the force. He attends to the seizing of Secesh lumber whenever their representatives of the Davis click refuse remuneration for their property.
The rebels when occupying Fredericksburg appear to have delighted in acting the part of barbarians. For instance the monument to Mrs. Washington, the mother of Gen. Washington, bears the marks of seventy-five bullets besides its being chipped off at the four corners. The monument is on  a high eminence and from the mound you have a fine view of the city and surroundings. The citizens assert that this piece of architecture was used as a target during last winter. I understand an effort will be made through the soldiers to repair the monument. Hundreds would willingly contribute to so humane an object.
From the monument of Mrs. Washington you have a full view of the two rebel burying grounds. In one there are three hundred graves and in the others a hundred and eighty. No regard appears to have been paid to color. The citizens say that the white soldier often became the occupant with the slave of the same vault. These are mostly North Carolina and Georgia troops and nearly all died with three months.
On Sunday the rebel magazine at Fredericksburg exploded killing a private who was guarding it throwing his right leg over thirty feet from the spot . The brother of this young solider was an eye witness and but a little way from him  but strange to say was unharmed. In the magazine there were seventy boxes of cartridges and two torpedoes which but a few days since were taken from under the platform at the depot and placed in the magazine for safe keeping. The cause of the explosion is unknown. A number of arrests have been made but whether any of the unruly secesh are implicated in the transaction is as yet unknown.
Soon after the explosion and while the affair was being investigated a secessionist standing by remarked to one of our soldiers, "that the private killed was served right and had received his reward for being among the invaders" this man had no sooner finished his sentence than he measured his length on the mother earth. He was roundly thrashed in the presence of his fellow citizens and raised on his feet and told to "hunt his hole," and not dare to ever again offer an insult to the Union soldiers. It will teach him as well as hundreds of others of sympathizing rebels that their lips must be sealed when in the presence of the Union boys that our soldiers know how to resent an insult notwithstanding their feelings.
This part of Virginia is thoroughly secesh and they have been bold in their remarks. The women in particular have a general abhorrence of the Union soldiers. To show their contempt rather than walk under the Stars and Stripes which are hung out in front of the City Hall, they will walk in the middle of the street, draw their veils closely over their pretty shaped faces, turn up their noses and trot along as gay as you please. If you look at one she become desperately fidgety and almost frantic with rage and if you speak to her oh! my the silly thing flirt's around almost beside herself and gives you to distinctly understand that her cap is set for a "bold southerner."- Perhaps they don't understand that we Northerners are inclined to furnish them with subsistence - that but for the ready hand of Abraham they would starve in less than a week. As for good looks you cannot flatter them - in fact they have become so used to turning up their noses in contempt for things to their disliking that it spoils their good looks if they ever possessed so necessary an article.
Last evening we received the news of the falling back of Gen. Banks but the stories are so mixed up that we fear to say anything on the matter. In fact we are watching McClellan and expect every hour of hearing of his taking the Southern Metropolis

May 26th, reach camp, having marched in one day thirty-one miles, in another thirty-two.

Cornelius Wheeler’s diary

May 26, cross the Rappahannock and pass through the city on the Bowling Green road to Guinies Station and camp on the grounds occupied and called Camp Alexandria by the enemy only a few days before, distance 8 miles. We suppose the object of this move was to form a junction with the army on the Peninsular, a portion of which, at this time, occupied Hanover Junction, 26 miles distant. 
Cornelius Wheeler’s diary

May 28, 1862     [New!]                                                                                        
During the afternoon of yesterday we were under orders to be in readiness to march at a moments notice, but up to the present time see no signs of a forward movement. The railroad bridge at this point was completed last evening and the cars have reached the station with army supplies
The 19th Indiana Band, having received new silver instruments, were out last evening until a late hour serenading. -This band is considered one of the best one of the service
Geo. Sanders one of the best men living , a true soldier has been promoted to a First Lieutenancy of Co. D. George is one of the politest of fellows and might be considered a regular "lady catcher."
I see by the Janesville Gazette that a rather impertinent article is published on Col. O'Connor, purporting to be the doings of ex-Lieut. Dodge, formerly of this Regiment. Such items are uncalled for, and especially when such men as Mr. Dodge, the author of the paragraph, are virtually indebted to the Colonel for many favors, which will cost him a life time to repay. Our Colonel is attentive to the interests of his men, and a through disciplinarian, worthy of leading a brave and gallant regiment into action . But we that know the Colonel are well in to leave his actions to speak for themselves, and desiring the reckless fault finders to pick flaws for us. We consider ourselves capable of judging the merits of our leader without the aid of paltry aspirants. So much for Dodge the ex-Lieutenant.
Our boys are not hard up for amusements. To while away time is one of the hardest duties known to the soldier therefore you will not be surprised at the exertions on their part to kill the weary hours of camp life. Were you present now you would see, here and there, a squad of four and six enjoying a social game at cards, some playing for a stake, while around them are grouped numerous ones of the soldiery intently reviewing the exciting game. Occasionally you hear of one having been so lucky as to win and then again you will perceive another, sorrowfully begging the loan of a V until next pay day. It is no uncommon thing to hear of this and that one having absolved the coming two months pay at the gaming table. In fact "poker" has become one of the regular games through out the camps. I learn that the Colonel intends issuing an order forbidding gambling among officers and men within the line. It would be a glorious thing to check so great an evil for all must agree that it is one of the greatest evils on record. 
Religious documents are circulated among the soldier pretty freely by the American Tract Society but whether they tend to better the condition of the men is, as yet,not a subject for a journalist to discuss. There was a time when we could proudly enter a church but the twelve months of camp life has brought a change o'er our dreams. There are a number in our regiment, personally known to me, who are steadfast to the cause of religion, and undoubtedly will forever remain so. They are a set of men that you can always depend on, never flinching from the arduous duties imposed on the soldier. Such men are worthy of position of honor in the service. Were the Second gifted with an excellent Chaplain, a man willing to exert himself in behalf of Christianity, and true to his calling, it would be different. But, we are not blessed with a Chaplain, instead a man visits us whenever he thinks muster-day is close at hand and it becomes necessary he should be present in order to draw his two hundred and sixty-two dollars. There is nothing so much felt the loss of in the army as a good Chaplain. Men may discuss it in whatever form they please but a Chaplain is of more benefit to a Regiment than the Colonel himself. We have one consolation, and that is that Mr. Richmond, the so called Chaplain of the Second, will have the pleasure of returning home with the knowledge that he has failed to prove the title he so ridiculously abuses. He has his warning, let him profit by it.
The sick in our Regiment is quite heavy. For the third time since we left Catlett Station our hospital has been cleared of its patients, by shipping them to Alexandria and Washingto. Company "I" has eight in the general hospital and the other companies will average about the same. Since I last wrote you, ten of our Regiment have died.
A day or two since, Chris Wagoner paid us a visit. Chris looks as natural as ever and, by all appearances, appears to be reaping a full share of the worldly goods. Chris. is doing business at Alexandria. He says he will be in Richmond as soon as we do with a large stock of goods.
Our men have been rather flighty since hearing of the brave doings of the Fifth Regiment. As for the gallant Cobb, we knew enough of him before and considered that he would do his duty wherever placed, and as he commands one of the best Regiments in the service we expect nothing else but good reports from him .
The Second will anxiously abide her time, and if possible meet her brothers on an equal footing.
The Mineral Point papers reach us regularly once a week.
Our friends will please be particular in directing their letters. In all cases direct as follows;

to A----B-----
Washington D. C.

McDowell's Corps  
Company "I"
Second Regiment Wis. Vol.
Orders have just come to prepare for marching. I close hoping to chronicle something of interest in my next.
Yours, L---B----

Doct: Tucker  
Surgeon S. Tucker of the 2nd Wis. Regt. returned to this place on Monday, having been summoned home on account of the sickness of his son, Theodore, but who was dead and in the grave before the stricken father reached home; but he and the family have the hearty sympathies of all. 
They wish to express through this medium their heartfelt thanks to this community, and to the good Templars for their attention during Theodore's illness.
The Doctor tells some amusing as well as some shameful stories of the manner in which McDowell had been for months using our army to protect rebel property in Virginia even to the oppression of our volunteers and, in which, our northern freemen were made to suffer indignities from traitorous, haughty slave masters and mistresses of the districts in which they happened to be stationed; but these infamous proceedings are now pretty much broken up; and McDowell is despised and by all the officers and soldiers who know him.
He ought to be driven from the field and the Army; since his cowardly truckling course at Bull Run, he ought not to have been again allowed in the Army at all.

  The Second Wisconsin.-General Roberts, one of the members of General Popes staff and an inspector of the army, declared at La Crosse that the 2d Wisconsin Regiment, before it was so badly cut up, justly ranked as the best regiment in the Army of the Potomac!"

From the 2d Wisconsin.-  We hardly think the rumors of the return home of the remaining members of the Belle City Rifles are true. We should be glad, should they get furloughs to recruit, yet when men are so much  needed, and especially trained men, in the army, we have little faith that they will be permitted to leave just when offensive operation of such magnitude are being made against the rebels. Lieut Hurlbut is at home, discharged for physical disability. Capt. Parsons is still very sick. He has been removed to a private house and under the care of Dr. Tillapaugh and is doing as well as could be expected. Three pieces of his coat, as well as a piece of his shoulder strap driven downward by the piece of shell that wounded him, have recently been taken away by the Doctor. Judson, we are glad to state, is on the gain and will, beyond doubt, retain his leg which is doing finely.

Causalities in Company A 2d Regt.-  This company raised in this immediate vicinity has, in the recent battles, become almost extinct- only a few remaining of the one hundred men which left the State full of strength and vigor. This blow falls heavily upon the relatives and intimate friends of the fallen brave ones; but not them alone, Every heart beats in lively sympathy with those more immediately affected.
We console ourselves with the thought that they fell fighting for their country- their face to the foe. But however consoling this may be to the affected heart, nevertheless we can but think how unjust wicked and damnable this rebellion is and how many more of our friends and relatives are to be sacrificed before peace shines upon the land; and how many millions of dollars are yet to be expended be fore the "Stars and Stripes" float triumphantly and majestically throughout the length and breadth of this once fair and happy America. May the blessings of peace soon illuminate the sky and bring joy and tranquility to every living  soul.

  SAM FRANCIS- The family of our old friend Sam Francis received advices from an officer of the 2nd Regiment saying  that Sam had been cut off from his regiment during a scouting expedition and that it was reported that he had received a bullet through the face and was probably prisoner in the hands of the enemy- not very consolatory, though there is but little doubt that Sam could make himself as comfortable in adversity as any man, provided he has the use of his tongue.
Fortunately after a three days absence, Sam returned alive and well and, intercepting the letter, appended a postscript setting matters all right again.

 John Anderson, a member of the Bell City Rifles and taken prisoner at Bull Run, got home last week, having been released on parole. He was detained at Richmond several months and then sent to Columbus S. C. where he remained until two months ago when he was again sent to Richmond until released.
He says the prisoners were better treated in South Carolina than at Richmond. Their food was cleaner and water better, they also had a yard to walk in, which at Richmond was denied them. In Columbus, the fare was two hard biscuits per day and a small piece of fresh beef with good water. They employed themselves making ornaments of bone from which enough was realized to purchase many little articles of comfort
In Richmond, their food was dirty and they were confined while the guards ,as a general thing, were unfeeling and brutal; in cases shooting the boys, and often threatening them with the bayonet.
He says they have given up any hopes of obtaining their Confederacy during Lincoln's administration, but they say there's going to be a Democratic President next time then they can accomplish their designs.
Some of the 2d Wisconsin Prisoners, communication from Adjutant Dean, the 2d Wisconsin Regiment, to the Adjutant General, gives the following,
 The following enlisted men of the 2d Regiment were captured by a detachment of rebel cavalry on the 6th inst. near Appomattox Creek, about six miles from Fredericksburg. The regiment was involved at the time in a reconnaissance with orders to destroy a portion of the Virginia Central Railroad at Beaver Dam Station, These men (with others) had fallen out on the march and had been sent back to comp at the river, seventeen miles from Fredericksburg, by returning in and were thus intercepted and taken:
Names of men taken prisoners as above.
Co A. Sergeant Alured Larke; Privates Charles Brandstetter, Luther M. Preston, James W. Mardin, Abram M. King, Frederick Martin
Co. D. Corporal Andrew Douglas; Privates Heran Langhoff; Hugh Murray, Chas. W. Atherton; J. Little; Geo W. Batcheldor
Co. E. Corporal Joseph M. Waite.
Co. H. Private Henry Chilcote
Co. I.  Corporals Gottlieb Mancher, Mark W. Terrill; Privates John M. Anderson, Wm. Basche

May 29th, break camp march back through Fredericksburg across the Rappahannock, out through Falmouth Camp on the Catletts Road after a march of 13 miles.

May 30th up at an early hour, but do not march until 9 A. M. By which time it is very warm. During the fore part of the day, in consequence of a hot sun and dusty road, many of the men falling out and straggle after the marching column when the ambulances are full. In the afternoon we are reinforced with a shower of rain, and march much easier. At Town Run at dark. At dusk we halt and make coffee, thence to Elk Run and camp, distance marched 22 miles. 

Cornelius Wheeler’s diary