Home Page Second Wisconsin
1863 May, The
FROM OUR LIGHT GUARD "TYPO"
Camp 2d Wis. Vols.
Near Fredericksburg Va.
May 1st, 1863
C. Seymour, Esq:
This the 1st brigade of the 1st Division 1st Army Corps of the Army of the
Potomac, now lies some three miles below Fredericksburg on the North side of the
Rappahannock and I hope it will not be considered vain in me should I assert
that we are in the best of health and spirits, and await the next onset with all
confidence in our officers and arms. During the last grand struggle of
this army never were we more confident of success and we could have held the
position we occupied on the right with surety; but it is evident that the enemy
were twice our number; therefore we could not advance and we were compelled to
seek another channel. We were neither beaten nor compelled to retreat as is
stated by numerous journals of but little consequence.
Our picket line runs along the bank of the river while the enemy's lines are on
the opposite shore. Notwithstanding, we we are in conversational distance to the
"Rebs". On either shore can be seen soldiers drawing seines for fish,
cooking meals, playing at games, &c.
We are indeed sorry to state that there are some eight regiments now preparing
to leave this army which will be something over a third of the Army of the
Potomac, as they are mostly nine months men while a few are two years.
We are inclined to believe that this army will not enter upon active service
until a reorganization is resorted to and the army filled up with new troops,
The weather here is extremely warm and summer is truly upon us; but we are not
cognizant of the fact by such evidences as greet one in those States where the
clash of arms have not resounded on the field of battle. No ploughmen can be
seen at work, no building of any description is visible and, in truth, not even a
lettuce bed or flower pot graces the surroundings of once beautiful residences
while a majority of dwellings in this section are used by the army for hospitals
headquarters, &c. It is true that this country is actually devastated - mere
grave yard for both armies!
I am happy to announce that Lieut. G. M. Woodward of Co. "B" is
promoted to Adjutant of this regiment. While every member of the Light Guard
regret the loss of such an efficient officer and gentlemanly personage from
their immediate midst, they cannot but rejoice at the success of which he is so
We are now "falling in" for picket.
C. C. Bushee
FLAG FOR THE IRON BRIGADE
There is on exhibition at the store of Messrs Tiffany & Co. a beautiful flag
which has been procured for the celebrated Iron Brigade of the First Army Corps
Army of the Potomac. The flag is an regulation size and made of heavy dark blue
It is embellished by a handsome "vignette" of an eagle shield and scroll,
motto "E Pluribus Unum", the same as on the ten dollar Treasury note.
The names of the principal battles in which the brigade had been engaged are
handsomely worked each on a separate scroll. The vignette, the scroll work and
the name of each regiment composing the brigade, the Second, Sixth and Seventh
Wisconsin, Nineteenth Indiana and Twenty-fourth Michigan, are all worked in, the
designing is most exquisitely done. A rich and heavy border adds to and completes the
The staff is mounted with a massive silver spear head. The flag has been
manufactured by Messrs. Tiffany & Co. under the supervision of W. K. Selleck,
Esq., Military Agent of Wisconsin and is the gift of number of gentlemen from
the States of Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. It is a fit and elegant
tribute to the heroism of one the most glorious organizations in the entire
N.Y. Times, May 17th '63
"FROM THE IRON BRIGADE"
The following is a private letter from a member of the Janesville company in the
Second Wisconsin regiment:
Dear Father:-We have been having a great time since I wrote you last.
We started from our old camp on the 28th of April, marched about six miles and
Remained about three hours when we were ordered to march again, it being about
twelve o'clock at night. Marched four miles to the Rappahannock river, where we
waited for the pontoon bridges; but they were delayed so long in getting them
ready that it became daylight and the rebels commenced firing on the pontoon
The Fourteenth Brooklyn was ordered down to the river to drive the rebels away
but it was "no go" they were behind breast works. Our men were obliged
to come up in plain sight although the rebels were not to be seen. Our batteries
then endeavored to shell them out but the rebels obstinately held their
position. A fire of artillery and musketry was kept up on them until about noon
but no bridge down yet.
During this time our brigade was lying where we could see all that was going on,
a shot dropping among us once in a while. Our turn came at last, as it always
does, when anything desperate is to be done.-
Companies B, E, and G, (our company,) were ordered to draw the pontoons down and
put them into the river; and away we went, hallooing and yelling, the rest of the
brigade following to cross in the boats as we got them ready.
When we came to the river the rebels opened a heavy fire of musketry upon us but
that didn't stop us. The boats were launched and filled with soldiers who went
across the Rappahannock on it. The rebels then began to scatter but the Austrian
riffles "fetched them to" and we captured over a hundred prisoners.
Within half an hour from the time we commenced, we had a bridge across the river
and the troops crossing. The rebel officers wanted to know what troops we were
and when we told them they said it was a most desperate undertaking and was the
"biggest thing of the war."
After our division had crossed, we put out our pickets within a stone's throw of
the rebel pickets. The pickets of the two forces made it up among themselves not
to fire on each other. We did nothing of any importance afterwards that day. The
next day we spent in entrenching. On the evening of the second day, our company
went on picket. We had not been on this duty more than an hour when the rebels
opened their artillery upon our fellows who were entrenching.
Our batteries replied and they had a splendid artillery duel, every shop passing
right over our picket line and we could see the result of every shot. They kept
it up two hours and then brought it to a close, our battery firing the last gun.
There were two men killed and two or three men wounded in our brigade by the
explosion of a shell.
The next day nothing of importance expired. On the second of May we recrossed
the river, our batteries keeping up a heavy fire. We got over with out any loss but
we didn't like leaving after having so hard a time in gaining our position but
we learned that the general did not intend to hold it.
On the third of May we crossed the Rappahannock again where Hooker's main force
was taking the right and forming the second line of battle. We then entrenched
ourselves and waited for the rebels but we happened to be in luck this time as
they did not attack the one where we were. The hardest fighting was about half a
mile on the left of us. On the 6th we recrossed the Rappahannock again, no better
nor worse than we were before. I don't know what the next move will be but the
general impression is that we will attack Fredericksburg again but in a
C. H. Cheny
Co. D. 2d Wisconsin, Regiment
FROM THE IRON BRIGADE
Correspondence of the Sentinel
Camp Near Fredericksburg Va.
In our experience of nearly two years that "when it rains, we
march," and when on the 20th of April we broke camp marching to and bivouacking
about eight P.M. near the Rappahannock, the rain and mud bespattered us in
regular Virginia style. Thoughts of home and speculations on the issue of the
morrow had hardly expired undue the influence of sleep when we were ordered to
fall in. It was about 11:30, the night dark and cold.- The pontoons were rumbling
over the corduroy road and troops on either side of us were ready to
We marched slowly and in silence now, watching for the boats to pass; and then
falling out, literally to put our shoulder to the wheel! Thus we advanced, the stillness
of the night being broken occasionally, the increasing mist and steady murmuring of
waters, the distinct report of a rifle and the mosquito, like hum of a bullet, told
us were filing on the banks of the Rappahannock and in the presence of the
Hardly had the grey mists which curtained the river and its banks been dispelled
by the approaching day when the enemy opened fire on our ranks. To a part
of the First Brigade of our division (Wadsworth's) was given the task of
driving the enemy from the river and placing the boats in a position to
cross, but after about three hours desultory firing, assisted by a battery they
failed and, leaving their boats on terra firma and their accoutrements! behind,
- ran. The 14th Brooklyn, however, of this Brigade fought manfully. During
this time, the "Iron Brigade" were lying close under the bank of the
river in order in which they charged thus; 24th Mich. 7th, 6th, and 2d Wis. and
19th Ind. and were greeted every now and then by the enemy's sharpshooters
losing a few from their fire. It had been said ,early to the morning, that the
Iron Brigade were to lead the way across the river but when about nine o'clock the order
came for the 2d, and 7th regiments to follow the 24th Mich. and our two Regiment's
knew, on arriving at the river's brink, that any of our troops had crossed or that
it was the intention to cross immediately. This sad blundering, the reasonability
of which rests with those staff officers who gave the orders, cost the 6th two or
three killed and wounded.
Being myself in the second line of the Brigade, the 2d and 7th, can I only speak
directly of their movements advancing at the double quick and deploying into
line of battle as we went. We arrived at the river the moment a company of the
6th had landed with bullets whistling, hurrahs, yells, and cries of the Boat! The
Boat! and Forward! our fellow simultaneously with the 6th Mich. rushed on and
crossed and in a second, like hounds slipped from their leashes, were hunting the rebs from their
rifle pits in every direction; and in ten minutes all was over. The enemy
fought bravely and well, yielding only when our bayonets were at their
In this affair the enemy's loss was 29 killed, nearly 200 wounded and 200
prisoners; our loss was much less, about 50 killed and wounded. The 7th lost
three commissioned officers, two killed and one severely wounded. Of the fighting
that has taken place on the Rappahannock these past ten days this is the only
one in which the "Iron Brigade" has been actively engaged and though
this is small in comparison with others yet the dash and eclat which characterize
it makes it well worthy of mentioning and shows that the esprit du corps of the
Iron Brigade is still at its meridian.
The spectators were loud in their praises and pronounced it brilliant. An old
moustache, always careful of not be lauding the feats of others, will tell you
"It was a pretty good affair." Though should any one attempt to gather
light from Headquarters, he would hardly be able to tell whether anything was
accomplished by any Regiments save the 24th Michigan, 6th Wisconsin and 14th
Brooklyn, palmam qui merit ferat.- with the exception of about one
company of the 6th, the crossing was simultaneous so far as could be and Col.
Fairchild was one of the first to organize his regiment and deploy his
skirmishers, a precaution very necessary at this time as the enemy's skirmishers
were closing in, in one long semicircle and our position was not one of absolute
Entrenching ourselves we remained here until the 2d of May; we then marched
down to the U.S. ford, and on the 3d took position near Chancellorsville, where
we again entrenched ourselves, behind breast works and abattis remained until 3
o'clock P.M. on the 6th of May, when our army fell back from its position and we
took up our line of march to our present camp.
Such is a brief outline of the operations of the "Iron Brigade" since
the 20th of April.
LATER FROM THE RAPPAHANNOCK
Near Hamilton's Crossing, Va.,
May 19th, 1863
Editor, LaCrosse Republican:
The grand National amphitheatre still abounds in scenes of gigantic proportions,
as well as tableaux of interest to the world. Notwithstanding this fact, as soldiers
we are not expected or allowed to criticize; therefore we will bide our time as
we are sworn to do until such times as we are able to return to the States we
long so much to view.
The Second Wis has but just returned from picket on the north shore of the
Rappahannock; on the opposite shore of which abounds in squads, thousands of
butternuts, the distance across the Rappahannock is about one hundred and fifty
yards; and during our two days on picket enjoyed ourselves hugely by conversing
and trading with the "rebs".
At least fifty small sail boats were continually plying from shore to shore
loaded with coffee, sugar, salt, pen knives, pipes, canteens and Northern newspapers
from our side, while from the other tobacco and Richmond papers would greet us;
also letters from either side were exchanged! And on the morning of our leaving
them, one of the Light Guard swam across with a boat load of truck, and was
allowed to return unmolested, although one Major and Capt. and one Lieut. were
with the rebel soldiers. They say that when they make a promise it shall be kept
sacred, therefore our soldier returned as promised he should by the enemy.
Here is a copy of a letter we received form one of the rebel officers which
gives the truth of the death of their chieftain, Gen. Jackson:
May 17th, 1863
Gentlemen 2nd Wis Vol's:
The favorable breeze of the morning wafted to the southern shore of the
Rappahannock your kind favor which met a kind reception.
We would have preferred a political paper better but suppose you sent such as
you have for which you the thanks of Co. "I",, 19th Ga. Vol.
We send you a Richmond Sentinel of yesterday which is the only paper we have.
Our great Jackson is dead!
He was killed by our own men though his own order; he having given orders
to fire upon any person approaching from the direction where he was fired upon -
having his left arm broken in two places and receiving a shot through his right
hand. This caused an engagement to commence and one of the litter bearers, who
was taking him from the field, was shot, which gave the General a severe fall. His
left arm was ambulated near the shoulder and he seemed to be doing well until
pneumonia set in which proved fatal.
We will send you later and more interesting papers if any reach us in time from
Our regiment was relieved by fellows with "caps" on, when
the rebels bid us adieu and prepared for active service. They say they know us,
and appreciate our good qualities both as civilians and soldiers,-They admired
the quality that makes up the Regiments from the Northwest and particularly the
Black Hatted Brigade.!
We are in good trim but anticipate no engagement soon.
C. C. Busher
THE SECOND AND TWENTY-SIXTH WISCONSIN
Correspondence of the
Camp Stoneman's Switch
May 29th, 1863
EDITOR SENTINEL. Having something to say to the friends of the above
regiments at home in relation to their late doings. Therefore I communicate
through the column of your widely circulated journal.
I visited the Second yesterday and found them in a state of "rest",
they with the brigade having but lately returned from six days expedition down
stream bringing in back with them a large supply of contraband mounted on mules and
horses, also some prisoners, among them a rebel Lieutenant Colonel. The extent of
their march, I learn, was about 150 miles - the weather at the time extremely hot. On
their return trip, they traveled some days, thirty-five miles and other last day
made twenty miles before dinner. The consequence was that I found them slowly
recovering from the effects of great fatigue, the result of their hot and wearing
tramp. The regiment was under command of Lieut. Col. Stevens.
The part taken by the "Iron Brigade" in the late fighting on the Rappahannock
has already been noted in the State papers yet probably a few statements in
reference to the affair at the crossing on the left, and the part taken by
the Second, would not be out of place in this connection.
It was on the A.M. of the 29th inst. when the crossing was effected. The 6th Wisconsin
and the 24th Michigan crossed below the line of rifle pits, together intending to
attack the enemy on their right flank. Meantime a squad of fourteen men under
Captain Converse and Lieutenant Clarke of Company A, 2d, had shoved over the
stream in one of the pontoon boats, dragged down the hill and launched, by
Companies B and E, under cover of the regimental fire at the rebels beyond. This
boat load landed directly in front of the rifle pits, which were about one
hundred yards off, and while the 6th were forming about thirty yards below the
boys of the 2d rushed forward as skirmishers, others as they crossed, falling in.
But the "greybacks" began to skedaddle, and the rifle pits were soon taken.
Several members were prominent in capturing prisoners, among them. Corporal Jas. Daniels
and Private Jno. Mason who rushed quickly over the plain and headed off a number
off the runaways. The bridges were then laid and a general crossing took place.
The boys were then employed in digging rifle-pits beyond, using for the purpose,
tin plates and wooden shovels with which miserable tools, I understand, they made
substantial ones. They left this point on the 2d inst. and appeared at Chancellorsville,
off the right, early on the morning of the 3d, while the battle was raging, but
did not become engaged.
In this connection, I wish to state that the brigade looks as tough as ever
although considerably reduced in numbers, especially the 2d regiment which latter
is not to be wondered at considering that they have been in the service two
years and have participated in many hard fought engagements besides various skirmishes
and marched many long and weary miles. Besides that, they have not been recruited
up to any great extent.
And it is not strange, therefore, that this Brigade in which, also, is the 19th
Indiana and 24th Michigan, should think that certain nine months Pennsylvania and
New Jersey troops, now gone home, were treating them rather unfairly by
endeavoring to rob them of their well earned title of "Iron Brigade"
which was earned by them at Gainesville where they alone kept a much larger
force of the enemy at bay. In fact, so stubborn were the "black hats"
on that occasion, that Jackson himself made the remark afterwards in the presence
of a sharpshooter who was taken prisoner the next day that it was impossible
that one Brigade could keep back his whole division and refused to credit the
story told him by a member of the 7th, also a prisoner. The Pennsylvania troops
are good men and so are the "Jerseys" and in proof of their bravery do
not need to adopt a title given to the western men by Gen. Gibbon and endorsed
by General McClellan: "Let well enough alone," is a motto the Western
men think they might adopt.
I would like to say a few words in reference to an officer in the 2d well known
in Dodge county. Captain Convers of Co. A. has received notice of a transfer to
the Invalid Corps on account of disability caused by wounds received in the
Second Bull Run and he probably will not take an active part for some time to
come at least in the future movements of this regiment. The Captain, however
much he may regent leaving his company, may rest assured that his previous
conduct while with them and this regiment ,especially while on the battle-field,
has been such as to gain for him the good wishes of his company and the highest
consideration of the officers of his regiment. In this last affair, on the left, at
the rifle pits, the captain was one of the first to cross the river, helping
heartily to push the boat over and although obliged to leave the field through
sheer exhaustion after the affair, was all over, yet did he suffer none in the
estimation of his friends in consequence. On the contrary, great praise was
awarded to him for the manly manner in which he acted during the whole affair
although known to be unfit for duty.
A few words about the 26th and I am done, It is with pleasure that I learned
from good authority that the Brigade of the the 11th Corps, of which this
regiment is a part, did all in their power to check the advance of the enemy at
the fight of May 2d who came pouncing on them so suddenly that the 26th became
nearly surrounded but fighting savagely, according to a General's account, they
clubbed in many instances the advancing foe and kept up the combat until ordered
back the third time. They then fell back.