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1863 November, The Second Wisconsin

November 1st, 1863

The degrading and disgraceful habit of gambling among officers and men of this command prevails to an alarming degree. The General Commanding has no desire to prevent any proper amusement among those under him, but on the contrary desires to encourage it. Gambling is out of that character. If officers forget themselves and lose their self - respect so far as to become a gambler, they have no right to set the evil example before the men entrusted to their care. The indulgence in the practice has become so habitual that officers neglect their duties, remain away from their camp and quarters to indulge in it and in some instances it is found do not hesitate to indulge in the lowest tricks of blacklegs. It is idle to expect to restrain men while officers are permitted and permit themselves to indulge in this practice. It is enjoined upon all officers in this command to enforce existing orders, and circulate in relation to this vice among their men and to refrain from the practice themselves.
A continuance of the practice will be treated as conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline. All disbursing officers will be dealt with under PAR996 Revised Army Regulations. It is to be hoped that there will be no occasion to refer to this subject again or to take any further action in relation to it, but the Genl. Com'dg would be remiss in his duty did he quietly witness the demoralization of those under him through the influence of this vice.
by Command of Brig. Genl. Cutler

Signed Robert Monteith
Robert Monteith

Lieut. A.A.A.G. Hd. Qrs, 1st Brigade
November 3rd, 1863
J. H. Wood

From James Kennedy, Wisconsin State Historical Society, New Materials

The correspondent of the Providence Press, writing from the 2nd Rhode Island regiment's camp, gives the following account of the manner in which that regiment has protected it from the cold and frost while in tent:

We have been getting, for a few nights, quite a touch of winter. Indeed, the cold has pinched us "quite smartly" as our Southern neighbors say, so that we not only feel the need of warmer blankets and more of them , but of good fires also. - Necessity is the mother of invention, and the need of protection against the sudden cold has set the inventive wits of our Yankee soldiers to work in good earnest.
A plan was soon hit upon, which answers the purpose most perfectly. This is the description of it: a hole is dug in the center of the tent ..about two feet in depth and diameter. This is walled with stones laid in soft clay, and covered at the top with the exception of a small aperture for the introduction of fuel. For this aperture there must be a close fitted door or cover, which can be opened and closed at pleasure. Across one side of the tent a trench is laid and covered with wood and earth, through which the cold air is conveyed freely to the bottom of this subterranean fire place.
From the top of the same, and across the opposite side of the tent, another trench is laid and carefully covered with stone and earth, for exhaust air. It can be introduced easily into any tent or dwelling . The economy of it : it costs only three or four hours of work for three or four men. The convenience of it: being entirely under ground it takes up none of the precious room of our small tents. The utility of it: it dries and warms the earth within , and even beyond the entire circuit of the tent, and thus prevents the damp, cold, and unhealthy exhalations from the earth, which are probably the chief cause of the ill health among soldiers. The tents are also thus furnished with a moist, genial atmosphere, the heat of which can be easily increased so as to meet the exigencies of the coldest part of the season.
To realize the importance of this you must remember that the walls of our houses are only thin canvass - that they are so readily penetrated by cold, or heat, or moisture, that the atmosphere within follows rapidly the changes of the atmosphere without. Indeed, so far as that is concerned, there is but little difference between living under the tents and in the open air.
Without some such contrivance, what, therefore, would persons do, who, until within a short time, have been accustomed to live in close and warm houses? I had, rather, it is true, take my chance for a long and healthy life in the open air , both by day and by night, rather than in a close room, and upon the bare earth rather than upon woolen carpets; but then, wisdom must be exercised and time must be taken for a gradual change.
The effects of this expedient upon this regiment may be easily traced. The cases of illness from severe colds and intermittent and bilious fever, which have recently sprung up among us, are, I believe, all in the tents not thus protected. It must be also, in part, at least, owing to this arrangement that our encampment still continues so healthy, while forms of sickness incidental to these cold snaps are prevailing in encampments near to us.

Nov. 2nd we are again called on to exercise the elective franchise. The polls are opened at all company headquarters. Quite a spirited political contest ensues, but the result, well, that is best shown by an examination of the returns. 

Election in the Iron Brigade
Co. G, Second Regiment

Luther C. Dixon - received 23
Montgomery M. Cothren - received nix

Eds. State Register:- Above you will find an account of Co. "G" alias "Forty Thieves."

It is not a very big vote but an awful strong one. It includes all the votes of the company except four which were not come-at-able as the men were on "detached service." 
The vote of this regiment gives DIXON 189 and COTHREN 17 votes. The 6th regiment gives DIXON 210 votes and COTHREN 33 votes. The 7th regiment is unanimous for DIXON, giving him 309 votes. Total in this Brigade, DIXON 708, COTHREN 50.

But seven of the companies of our regiment held an election which accounts for the smallness of our vote.
As a portion of our regiment are on picket to-day the companies that held an election picked up the polls about noon and made the picket line a visit which caused us to travel about five miles over the blameless roads that Virginia affords. 
Teaching a country school and boarding round is nothing compared with a traveling election. 
This style of voting may be constitutional in point of law but I can testify that it is unconstitutional physiologically speaking for I caught a tremendous cold in the operation.
The only fault with our election was it was rather dry. I think if the "chairman of the State Central Committee" would furnish more Beer and less Blanks it would be productive of good results.
As I am somewhat tired I shall not attempt to scribble a letter tonight. 
I will close by repeating the "Soldiers' Prayer:"
Our Father which art in Washington, Uncle Abram is thy name; They victories won, thy will be done in the South as it is in the North; 
Give us this day our daily pork and crackers, and forgive us our short comings as we forgive our Quartermaster, and  lead us not by traitors but deliver us from skedaddlers;  for thine is the power over the "nigger" and the soldier 
"for the period of three years or during the war."

Charlie Dow.

Nov. 5th, march to Catlet's Station, Iron Brigade the rear guard. It is near midnight when we go into camp. Distance seven miles.

Cornelius Wheeler’s diary

Mine Run

Nov. 7th, march about sunrise toward Kelley's Ford, cannonading all the afternoon in the direction of Rappahannock Station and the Ford. We camp for the night at Morrisville. Distance fifteen miles.

Nov. 8th, march at an early hour across the river at Kelley's Ford, thence up the railroad, bivouacking for the night in line of battle at Brandy Station. Distance ten miles. In yesterday's battle at Rappahannock Station and Kelley's Ford our army captured several pieces of artillery, a bridge, a train and 2000 prisoners. (Here is where Fillmore got in his work.)

Nov 9th, about 4 o'clock A. M. march back, recrossing the Rappahannock River on a pontoon bridge to repair the railroad from Warrentown Junction to the river. We go into camp near Beverly's Ford. Distance seven miles. Remain here doing picket duty and fatigue duty on the railroad and earthworks until

Nov. 26th. March to Culpepper Ford on the Rapidan. Twelve miles.

Nov. 27th, cross the river on a pontoon bridge before daybreak, marching our upon the plank road leading from Chancellorsville to Germania Mills.

Nov. 28th, at an early hour our advance is made and soon the enemy's pickets are engaged. At Robertson's Tavern we form in line of battle and halt.

December 1863