December 1861

From the Sauk County Rifles.
Arlington Heights, head 6th Wis. Reg.
December 12, 1861

We left this camp on Sunday morning at 8 o'clock, and arrived at our post, a distance of eight or nine miles, about twelve o'clock, and relieved the 35th New York regiment. In crossing Upton Hill a place lately occupied by the rebels the regiment halted and fell into line put on their bayonets and loaded their rifles; the Col. telling them to be sure and prime good

Generals King and Wadsworth overtook us at this point, they rode up and asked me if I had every thing ready for the men, I answered yes, the order was then given to march, and when we came to the Fairfax road, four companies, A being in the front under the lead of Lieut, Colonel Sweet turned down a lane through a thick pine forest which led to the outside of our lines the other six companies going to falls church, then leaving the road marched about one and a half miles to the outside of our lines, where we halted; then Companies B and G were ordered out about a mile for picket duty, the remaining four companies D and F, Companies A and I having already been sent to the advance, so as to join the other pickets from the other reserve; although I had not left them but a few hours they were very glad to see me on my return to head Quarters.

I met two negroes that were slaves to a man about a mile from the place I was talking to them, their master at the commencement of this rebellion owned twenty slaves the other nine taking the advantage of the war had left. The position our men occupied was on the extreme front, there being no encampments beyond Upton's Hill.-Nothing of any importance took place during the three days excepting a skirmish between some men belonging to the 4th Michigan regiment and a few rebels; one rebel was shot in the leg and taken prisoner We heard the firing distinctly and thought that we might be wanted but were not about midnight of Sunday one man belonging to company B saw two men approaching him from outside of the line and not halting he fired, and they I suppose not likening his rifle retreated; his firing caused others to fire to alarm the reserve, which fell into line whilst about twenty men with Major G Bragg and Lieut Plumber of company C went to see what the alarm cant.
After hearing the above particulars they returned and reported accordingly, when the Colonel who all this time had been as cool as a cucumber told the men that the could lie down and sleep, which they did on the ground and in the open air, and enjoyed it as well, perhaps as others would on a bed and in a house the Col. sleeping under a large chestnut tree that a rebel Lieut. was taken from some time since.

Through the above alarm it was reported in the papers here that our pickets were driven in,-it is no such thing,-that is all the firing we had, and our pickets did not leave their post until they were relieved by the 7th Wis., a few rebel scouts were seen by our men but they kept outside of the range of our rifles. Companies A, C, D, and I went foraging and took seven loads of corn stocks and some potatoes and turnips from the same field that some of the Brooklyn regiment was taken prisoners in. Having had a little time when there I endeavored to improve it by visiting some places of interest-at least to me,-one was the village of Falls Church, a neat looking place, capable I should think of containing six or seven hundred inhabitants. The old church which is built of brick and about a hundred years old is not quite as large as the court house; It is almost square with out porticoes or steeple and is now used as an hospital for the Union soldiers. In the church -yard I saw the graves of our own soldiers and the graves of the rebel soldiers side by side-it is a solemn thing, but it is so.

You must bear in mind that Falls church only a few weeks ago was in the possession of the rebels. there is another church, a frame building about as large as the Methodist Church in Baraboo, with a steeple, it is also used as a hospital for our men: there is also a store and tavern, but from appearances I should not think that either one of them was doing much business. Another place of interest was a house bout a mile from the village, which our union soldiers entered some time since and broke up the furniture; it was a good house and beautifully furniture; it was a good house and beautifully furnished, but alas, like almost everything that I have seen in Virginia is in ruins.

I enclose you a letter that I found there, which you can let doctor wood have to put in the Co. Museum. Dorland's house is also an object of interest, he being the man that gave information to the rebels that surrounded and took the Brooklyn men prisoners, also the house of Mrs. Scott, the lady, if you remember, that invited a union Captain into her house, and when he was there her daughters o which she has three, went out and gave information to the rebels and they took him prisoner. They are watched pretty narrowly now. Sergeant Reed, the color Sergeant, was posted near her house, and he told me that Mrs. c. wanted to go to get some water but he told her she could not go. Other things of interest occurred but I must close.
F. K. Jenkins

Washington City, Dec. 14, 1861

Editors Sentinel-After my last, I left Washington for another tour on the south side of the Potomac and after spending a day and night with friends in the camps of the 2d, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin Regiments near Washington I set out on horseback, in company with Major E. D. Bragg, of the 6th.

We left out camp on the 12th and struck the road near Georgetown Ferry and Aqueduct to Fairfax court House at the summit of the "heights" near Ft. Corcoran. We passed a Regiment of Cavalry who were drilling, also several regiments of infantry until we came to Ball's cross roads until recently an obscure country road crossing, with but two houses in the immediate vicinity. Thence across the London and Hampshire rail Road, which follows the deep valley of a small creek, called 4 mile run; here we were detained by a squad of Massachusetts soldiers and as on frequent occasions required to show our passes; thence up a towering hill by several Massachusetts and New York Regiments long encamped here to the summit of Upton's Hill, where Gen. Wadsworth, commands a brigade-here is a commanding view of the surrounding country and on the summit in front of the general's Head Quarters, is an observatory, erected temporarily by the command.

About a mile distant in a southerly direction and in full view is Munsons J fill , famous as bring fate last point held by the rebels and by them occupies during our session of congress last spring, and the rebel flag on which at that time was in sight of the Capitol. From Upton's Hill we struck the turnpike leading from Alexandria to Vienna and Leesburg near Bailey's Cross Roads; this took us to Fall's church. From the fact that Washington was said to have worshiped in this church, and from its being a prominent point-in determining the location of our forces during the past summer and fall.

We viewed it with interest and spent some time in the vicinity. the church is a quaint old two story brick building without taste standing in the centre of a cemetery with the rear of the building toward road and village. The door opens in the centre of one side. the pulpit is at the end to the right as you enter, just in front opposite the door is a panel work in the wall, say six feet wide by 8 feet high, divided into three parts, the centre containing the ten commandments, the panel to the left the Lord's prayer, that to the right the confession of faith, (Episcopal.) Between this and the pulpit, is a white marble slab inserted in the wall with the following words engraved thereon.
"Henry Fairfax; an accomplished gentleman, an upright Magistrate, a sincere Christian; died in command of the Fairfax Volunteers, at Saltillo, in Mexico, on the 14th day of August 1847. But for his munificence this church might have been a run."

The upper windows can only breached with a ladder, as there is no gallery or upper floor-giving the inside, after all, the appearance of a barn. The village which could not have contained exceeding 100 souls is now nearly deserted. There appeared to be a small stock of goods in one in one house which was closed up: another house appeared to be occupied and all the others deserted. About a mile farther towards `Vienna we left the turnpike to our left, and directly recrossed the Rail road at the point where our trains from Alexandria have to stop for the present, and ascended for a mile to the summit of Miner's Hill, where there is another observatory.

I availed myself of Major Braggs field Glass and although alarmed at its seeming weakness, I soon forgot all fear, in the magnificence of the view. I could see the village and battlefield of Lewisville, the village of falls church, and many miles into secesh; also the heights of Georgetown and the magnificent scenery of the upper Potomac. The residences of many rich old farmers who are now in the rebel army; their houses being occupied by our Generals as Head Quarters for their several Brigades. The view from this point is the most inspiring of any I have found mostly from the fact that as far as the eye can reach you see the grounds covered with tents and hear the constant roar of bands of martial music wagons and firearms.

At this point there are Regiments of cavalry and infantry, and the famous Rhode Island Battery.
Their cannons loaded and standing on the wheels all along the ridge and pointed toward secesh, which is but three or four miles off in constant preparation of an attack.

We next took the road over hills and through hollows to the vicinity of Lewisville, where Colonel Cobb is stationed with the 5th Wisconsin Regiment. Emery of dodge County is Lieut. col. and judge Larrabee, Major. The officers are all in good health, and popular with their regiment.
We return through he Brigades of Generals Porter, Black and Smith, to Arlington. One peculiarity of this country, as well as all that on the Potomac, and beyond Baltimore, is the abundance of pine, and the other evergreen trees. When ever a field is worn out and deserted, a spontaneous growth of evergreen shrubs immediately shoot up, and a great proportion of the natural growth in the woods in of the same kind.

Washington is correctly called te city of magnificent distances. Its public buildings and grounds are a wearisome distance apart, and of extensive proportions. It was made the seat of Government by an act of congress in 1790, at the suggestion and solicitation of George Washington. The capitol is a gorgeous structure of white marble covering an area of about 4 acres. The dome is 300 feet in height. There is too much of it to describe minutely, and so I will pass it at present.
I spent a day, profitably in the Navy Yard, on the bay below the city where many hundred hands are employed in manufacturing cannon, cannon balls, shells caps, musket balls, cartridges, and implements of war generally. this busy establishment covers 20 acres of ground, near by it, is the arsenal, where there is ammunition and munitions of war, enough if properly used, to blow every accessionst to the d---L.

The Department of the Interior of Patent Office, demands more than one day of the time of one who loves to see. It is built of white stone or marble and covers two entire squares of ground, In one of its melodious apartments may be seen carefully preserved in a large glass case the identical wearing apparel furniture, arms, camp chest saddle, &c., of the illustrious George Washington; in another those of Gen. Jackson; and in another relies of other distinguished Americans in the early days of our history. The original Declaration of Independence; the old printing press of Benjamin Franklin and an endless list of models, being of every invention patented since the Revolution.
Directly opposite is the General Post Office of white marble 204 by 102 feet; built in the Corinthian order of architecture. These buildings are about 3/4 of a mile from the Capitol and White house Respectfully.-The Treasury, War and Navy Department are all adjacent to the White House and seem to lie attached to the homestead,- being within the same enclosure. The former is some 400 feet long, and its street from supported by 36 immense columns of marble.

The Smithsonian Institute, which is situated about midway between the White House and the Capitol, between Pennsylvania Avenue and the Potomac, is built of red sand stone and in quite a different style of architecture from the other public edifices around the city. It is irregular in its shape and has towers on all its angles varying in their height, as I am informed from 100 to 150 feet; the building is 450 by 140 feet in size. My impression had been that it was a college, but I found after inspection, that it was a museum of animals birds, fishes, shells, Indian paintings and relics, fossils, &., for the free inspection of the public and that no course of studies or corpse of instructors are attached to the institution, The grounds about it are exquisitely adjoined with walks, shrubbery &c.,

The Washington Monument is on a plat of ground adjoining, and is not an object of much interest as yet, it is about 175 feet high, covered with boards and is nailed up so that one cannot enter.
Its ultimate height is to be 500 feet; but as yet te funds for its erection have been principally stolen, and the prospect of its completion is rather dull. In a building adjacent, erected for the purpose, are many curious and elegantly wrought blocks of marble stone and metal, furnished by the various states, institutions societies lodges &c., to be placed in the monument, all of them bearing inscriptions such as were thought to be proper at the time of their construction. Amongst the rest, I observed the following inscriptions:

The federal Union; It must be preserved.
Ever faithful to the constitution and the Union
Tomorrow I expect to go by way of Relay House to Frederick city to the camp of the 3d Wisconsin Regiment when I may write you again.
J. W. S.

Headquarters, 6th Wis. Vols.,
Camp on Arlington Heights, Va.
December 14th, 1861

Messrs. Editor's:- Thanksgiving has passed, and as your readers of course on that occasion thought not a little of the soldiers they will be interested in anything relative the manner in which we spent it. In the 6th there was no great demonstration or gig "blow out," but the usual drills were dispensed with and the boys "sailed in" each after a style to suit himself. A great many copartner ship were formed resulting in the purchasing and destroying of a chicken, turkey or other dainty in accordance with the disposition of the parties concerned. A few were fortunate enough to receive something from home, and were merry accordingly. colonel cutler, who is a New Englander by birth, of course lays great stress upon the proper observance of such occasions treated us with a fine lot of mince pies which although disposed of with grace were received with may thanks. On the whole we enjoyed ourselves as well as could be expected under the circumstances. Of course there was a thoughtful face here and there indicating a retrospective thoughts in the wearer; but as a general thing the boys appeared contented.

Our brigade was reviewed before the Congressmen from our State on Saturday last and although a dense fog prevented much of a display the review was by no means unsatisfactory. Senator Hopkins Gen. Atwood and others of your city were present and were cheerfully welcomed by the Madisonians here.

An incident occurred sequent upon this review which I think worthy of relating.
You must know that a good nature feeling of rivalry exists between the Wisconsin regiments here which has resulted in each receiving a nickname. The sobriquet affixed to our regiment is
the "Baby Sixth;" short for "King's Pet Babies," given to us because we have been complemented several times by that officer. The wife of one of tour congressmen seated in a carriage enquired, while the sixth was passing what regiment it was A lieutenant standing near replied "The Baby Sixth." The lady not understanding the joke which in point of fact was more complimentary than otherwise indignantly replied: "Sir! I am from Wisconsin and allow me to inform you that we send no infants to war from there"

The Lieutenant slopped slightly discomfited by this unexpected rejoinder.

Last Sunday our regiment was sent out on picket duty between Falls Church and Fairfax Court House. Not withstanding the fact that this was their first experience on the front the boys behaved themselves admirably creating no false alarms and doing their duty in a most comment rely dependent for the absolute necessities of life on the monthly remittances of husbands and fathers now fighting our battles?
Does he never realize the fact of the advanced prices of fuel and of food?
Does he forget that many of fuel and of food?
Does he forget that many of the privates now in the army have left little homes behind them on which taxes are to be paid and that those homes are now being sold for the payment of those taxes?

I pity that fellow, and lest I disturb the obese equanimity with which he views the comfort of "the privates," I offer him no picture of little children barefooted amongst the snows of Maine and Wisconsin, of half clad mothers shivering and without the means of purchasing fuel, over the body of her dying child, nor will I more than remind him that the heartaches wrought in the private's house, by the failure of the government to pay his wages, are often far greater than the damages of the battle field, and sufferings of camp can possibly inflect on the private himself and I will leave him to imagine the feeling of the private who so well knows the condition in which his family be.
I am truly yours,
A Private.