Return to the Home Page of the Second Wisconsin
1863 November, The
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
Lieut. A.A.A.G. Hd. Qrs, 1st Brigade
November 3rd, 1863
J. H. Wood
From James Kennedy, Wisconsin State Historical
Society, New Materials
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
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
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
Election in the Iron Brigade
LETTER FROM CHARLIE DOW
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
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
Teaching a country school and boarding round is nothing compared with a
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
I will close by repeating the "Soldiers'
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."
Nov. 5th, march to Catlet's Station, Iron Brigade the rear guard. It is near
midnight when we go into camp. Distance seven miles.
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.