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1861 December, Seventh Wisconsin
FROM THE 7TH REGIMENT
CAMP ARLINGTON, DEC 8, 1861
Editors Patriot:- We had another review
yesterday there appears to be no end to them about. I suppose it is all right
though, if we do not have something to do to draw us out we would soon get lazy.
Camp life is rather demoralizing at the best, and when the boys have nothing to
do it is still more so.
Well the review, Rep Sloan and Sen. Doolittle were present, there were also many other citizen's present, sort of favored ones, I guess till near 2 o'clock. At 10 a.m. we took up the line of march, soon reached the review ground as it is only a short distance beyond the Arlington House. After we had passed in review, I had forgotten to mention it, the whole brigade was there, the right wing took up their position on the south of the field facing the city. Next the 7th, 2d, &c., all drawn up in line of battle. Soon they commenced firing, all having a number rounds blank cartridges, each regiment firing in succession from right to left. After firing a few rounds by regiment, two or three were fired by right and left wing, then by company. The 6th, 7th and 2d fire together good, either by battalion or by company, but the 19th Indiana is rather below par, their battalion firing sounded more like firing by file.
The roads are awful muddy was hard traveling. Got back safe and sound. Were visited by the Honorable gentlemen at our camp, they were present at dress parade. Having very pleasant weather now; has been cold. Had two little flurries of snow the last time, it was all gone before day light.
We are getting our tents fixed up tolerable comfortable, that is the regiment at large. They have been for the past week raising their tents by building a foundation of puncheons. Last Friday Co. "F" took a notion to beautify their street, got a lot of evergreen trees set them all along on each side; by doing so, it forms a first rate wind brake. The officers had their tents raised and small trees set in front some time ago. Before night Friday the whole regiment had their street lined with evergreens. Co. "F" seemed determined to take the lead so they formed an arch of two long slender cedars made a letter "F" and fastened it to the peak of the arch then raised it above the reach of the bayonet - looked nice. It was not long before some of the other Co.'s had followed suit, there is five or six letters suspended in midair.
At present the camp looks fine; then on dress parade without arms; looked kind of natural, very much like old Camp Randall. Could not help but think of it, just as they used to come out for their meals.
But our camp is handsome the white tents peering through the green bushes, the green arches and letters aiding much in enhancing the scene.
A gentleman from in or near Beloit, gave us a Temperance lecture this p.m., his name is for many a day; was full of fun too. I have not time to dwell upon his remarks, and could not do them justice if I had the time.
The 6th regiment went off on picket duty today they go out near Fairfax Court House. Our regiments take their turn Tuesday have to stay three days. Boys kind of dread it, can't have ay tents or fire, weather cold and damp - apt to catch bad colds, &c.; but they will do their duty if it takes a finger. That's all this time.
FROM THE 7TH REGIMENT
CAMP ARLINGTON, DEC. 13, 1861
Perhaps a short description of our first picket duty would not come amiss. I should not have undertaken the task as picketing at the present time is a common every day affair, but I do not think every regiment met with the same incidents that we had.
Our position was two miles beyond Falls Church and nine or ten miles from camp where we arrived before noon and relieved the 6th. They had met with no incident worthy of mention except a little booty a foraging party brought in. They told us that that night was the time for the rebels to make an attack on our line; that this happened about every third night. It was not though much of at the night but we were called out about midnight by the firing of the sentinel. Of course it was a false alarm but of that I have little to do or say as such alarms are very common. What I am getting at is the way the boys received the alarm. The greater portion of them were quite cool but many were very much excited. One old drummer - I will not mention his name but we will call him Casey - was fast asleep when the alarm came. He is, it appears, quite expert in packing his knapsack as he was discovered by the surgeon and a few other double quicking it down the road towards Falls Church. The surgeon tried to stop him and could not but he was finally fought back by a guard-
Just at the time he started a cavalry man was dispatched to headquarters. Those who saw the race said it was "nip and tuck" with them and when they went out of sight they were gone at the same time. When he came back we asked him what made him run. He said he thought the rest of them had gone that way. We asked him who it was that brought him back He said he came across a friend from New York. The friend had to be taken back by a guard from our regiment. He acted as if he had lost the use of his pegs. The old man acknowledged the corn; said he was scared like h---l, and promised to treat.
The more times the story was told the longer its tail got till the boys had it, that when be started off through the stumps his drum struck one (he had it on his back swinging from one side to the other) and knocked it over his head when he exclaimed: "thank God, that bomb shell hasn't hit me! when he came to the guard he was challenged with "who goes there?" "Casey and his drum." "advance Casey and his drum and give the countersign." It is not known whether he gave the countersign or not as there was not to tell, but it is supposed he did.
Another old chap tried to put his blanket in a boy's cap and about the same time one of the boys yelled out "Oh! the cavalry are upon us!" and the old man says: "Shall I take all my things?" I left about then.
Balance the War Ledger
Captain Nasmith's company has sent home $2,000 in one remittance, for circulation in grant County. Captain Callis company has sent home $1,600 in one pile.
We will have in the field from our State, say, eighteen Regiments, in the aggregate 18,000 men. Suppose each soldier should send home $7 per month, not a high estimate if we include commissioned officers, the 18,000 men will send home for circulation here, $126,000 per month, or about $1,512,000, a million and a half of dollars per year. To this may be added say $200,000 paid out by the State to the families of volunteers which is circulated at home; but leaving this out of the account, let us compare the war tax, the first installment of which is to be paid next year, with our receipts. The account will stand thus:
Receipts from soldiers per year---$1,512,200
Annual war tax, say ----------------$600,000
Balance in favor of the war,---------$912,000
We make by the war, per year, nearly a million of dollars. The financier may
endeavor to overthrow these figures by alleging that the soldier is not a
producer of wealth as the farmer and miner are; he puts money in circulation,
but does not create it as the California miner does. Well, the present effect
should be the same as though the soldier created the wealth which be
distributes. Besides wars which better the institutions of a people, enhance a
nation's wealth. The Revolutionary War paid for itself because it established
institutions at least in all the free States which attracted immigration
enhanced the price of land and stimulated all branches of industry.
The Revolutionary War was a great financial gain. So will it be with the present war if managed rightly . There are four millions of people in the south who do nothing to stimulate Northern industry, for they buy nothing of the Northern States; robbed of their wages, they have nothing to pay with. Reduced as nearly as possible to the level of the brute; they have no more or varied wants than animals. They neither desire books, newspapers, furniture, carpets, letters, melodeons, schoolmasters or preachers; nor have they any money to pay with even if they desire these things, freedom will open her greatest market in the South.
Railroads may yet pay in that direction. We have last the Southern trade entirely this summer and are not so poorly off as we were in 1858, under an ordinary collapse in business. The trade of the south at present is more necessary to European nations then to ourselves. Should our armies overthrow the shiftless beggarly system of slavery in the south and make for us an empire of freedmen with all their wants and means to purchase with this war will pay for itself in dollars and cents, and will prove that the sword of the soldier may create money in the same sense that the plow and the pick are said to create it.
J. T. M.
LETTER FROM THE 7TH REGIMENT, No 9.
Arlington Heights, Dec. 16th '61
The accumulation of small events since the date of my last had make it embarrassing for me to write. If I omit some facts and present others of less importance, you must consider that the New York dailies have exhausted these subjects, furnishing the public with the particulars of every event transpiring and adding many of a purely fictitious or imaginative character. The New York Herald for instance stating that Blenker's division was the first on the ground at the grand review which took place on the 20th inst. near Munson's Hill; when it is notorious to us that McDowell's division prepared the grounds, clearing it of trees, fences, barns, succession tenements &c. during the two days previous; and we were on the ground in our position in King's Brigade before any other regiment and McDowell was there placing his brigade cavalry, artillery and infantry in their positions in order that the other divisions might form on that basis. In short, the other divisions were our guests, if I may use such an expression. The whole affair was grand stupendous and splendid! For the balance of information I endorse the newspapers cautioning you readers not to credit the accuracy of either Harper's or Frank Leslie's Illustrations of the event. They resemble it as much as Stanley's Gallery of aborigines in the Smithsonian Institute would.
The road to Munson's Hill goes through Blenker's division at which place the boys replenish their canteens with something stronger than water. The honest German soldiers ask each applicant who has a canteen "if he fight mit Blenker," and an affirmative answer supplies him with any labeled liquid he chooses at a high price. If the stuff was analyzed, I doubt not but what many druggists would find ingredients in it of a deadly nature in their effect on the human system. That it produces intoxication, demoralization, disease and death I find abundant proof. The sutlers furnish it but you must go about to get it in a sly way the sutlers are a nuisance and the best allies the rebels have with in our lines.
The Seventh at last have seen some active duty. On the 10th we started to serve on picket and to relieve the Sixth Wisconsin guarding the line between Gen. Blenker's and Gen. Smith's divisions, about three miles to the west of Fall's Church. At 8a.m. we were ordered to march striking the road near Fort Corcoran; thence past several cavalry encampments, by way of Call's Cross Roads crossing the Alexandria & Loudon Railroad; then ascending the encampments of New York Regiments to Upton's Hill, on the summit of which Gen Wadsworth's headquarters stood, and from which elevation we could look up to Lewisville on the right and Munson's Hill on the left. On the side of the latter we could see the fortifications of the rebels, which consisted principally of fat stove pipe and logs placed in such a manner as to resemble a fort. When our troops moved to take the place some time last fall, the rebels took to their heels and it has since been christened Fort Skedaddle. In front lay Fall's Church, an indiscriminate collection of dwellings encircling two churches one of which Fall's Church proper, is a brick building, two stories high. The brick laid in alternate rows of green and red produces a fine effect. It is surrounded by trees and a cemetery. The whole village is handsome but no signs of business are manifest. From here we took a slanting direction to the southwest and finally halted in a pine thicket where our predecessors had left some fancy evergreen tents manufactured out of the raw material, Norwegian pine and red cedar, which abounds in these localities. The exhausted lands although bearing evidence of having been once very fertile now lie in waste, and nothing but scrubby pine and cedar will grow on the old tobacco fields. Other portions which have been spared cultivation by slave labor or at least have had a long time to recover their lost resources exhibit a vigorous growth of oak, chestnut, buttonwood. &c.
The left wing took the southern portion of the picket line, under the command of Major Hamilton. The right, under command of Lieut. Colonel W.W. Robinson, took the right; the line adjoining that portion guarded by Smith's division company A and F first occupied the pits on the line while company I, D, and C remained in the thicket as a reserve. We built blazing fires, boiled coffee and took our supper, as best we could. We had gay times. Before we retired or rather laid down with belt and cartridge box, &c. on us and our knapsacks for a pillow; acting Adjt Dailey warned us to be ready in case of an alarm. After some had gone to sleep and while others were bivouacking around the fires, a loud report of a gun was heard succeeded by every gun on the line of the left wing. "Fall in, fall in" was sharply echoed throughout the whole reserve and in less than 2 minutes we were in line of battle on the hill in the advance of our reserve post. Lieut Col. Robinson rode forward and soon returned reporting nothing ahead but that there might be danger in the morning if at all. In the morning we learned and saw the cause of the alarm in the form of two Negro women, a mother and a daughter, the latter was to be sold south that day, and she and her mother determined to hazard what ever fate might have in store for them within our lines. They did not choose to "bear the ills" they had but rather courted those "they knew not of."
Tis true they knew not but what they might be returned as Gen. Stone does return fugitives to their rebel masters.
The policy of the Government on this question is as much a riddle and a mystery as the ancient oracles of Egypt. Secretary Cameron says something to please the North which the President modifies to suit Reverend Johnson, the border states. So it goes, each Commander of our volunteers follows his poetical predilections in regard to contrabands, the Government is afraid to assume the responsibility. Fremont was removed because he did. But the Seventh Regiment is not afraid to assume the responsibility. Every private in the ranks would assume it; and when a thousand men assume the responsibility each one having a good musket and forty rounds of ball and three buck shot cartridge, you may be assured we were responsible. The democrats in our regiment were fiercer than those who had been Republicans.
The North Star shone pure and serene through the pine boughs and if you looked on the countenances of these women - the daughter was nearly white, and good-looking, the mother a mulatto - you would not surrender them back to suffer the contingencies of that system which tramples on the honor of man and makes merchandise of the virtue of woman. Next morning company I and D relieved A and F on the outer line and they took our place as a reserve. Nothing occurred during the day. At night the countersign was given out and the picket guards instructed in their duties. It was my good fortune to be attached to the patrol guard the line guarded by the Tigers extended from a tree which had been pierced by the enemy's bullets, in an encounter with the picket of the 14th New York on the 18th ult. (they tied two of our men to a tree and then shot them concluding by beating their heads with clubs) to its intersection with the Alexandria and Loudon railroad. About 10 P.M. the patrol started on their rounds. On coming to the first thicket we were halted, gave the countersign and passed on; but before emerging we suddenly heard the word Halt! accompanied by the clicking of a trigger, which summons we instantly obeyed, Jake Phillips had done well. On again past a farm house where Lieut. Rogers and a small party were stationed where we were halted twice, All well. From this place a line skirted along the side of a hill then turning across an open field to another pine thicket. Hardly had we made the turn when Halt! resounded through the woods accompanied by the clicking of the trigger. "Who comes there? "Friends with the countersign"" friends with the countersign" "Advance one and give the countersign" well done, Homer Loomis. In this thicket all did well, Corporal Seltzer had instructed each one in his duty. When we reached our left occupied by Lieut Bird and a party of half a dozen near the murderous tree we sat down a while then returned the same way halting on the extreme right where a small reserve was stationed and where Capt. Walter had his temporary headquarters, the only one place were we allowed to come with a rod of the guard.
In the morning we were relieved by the "Ragged Second" and the "Hungry Seventh" returned to Camp Arlington.
We captured two Negroes and three horse; also a pair of gloves which the "Jealous Sixth" had left behind.
Next day I obtained a pass to go the Washington. What I saw there would be of no interest to detail to your readers as I did not have time to make a thorough inspection. I saw, in the Patent Office, Gen. Jackson's coat, and a portion of Gen. Washington's tent, his sword, &c. The Capitol is not so grand as I expected. The city is full of strangers, members of congress and officers who strut around full of self importance. The holiday guards around the Capitol make every soldier show his pass once every ten minutes. When one can only get a pass but once in a lifetime, this is an aggravation. Next day I had to go on guard at camp. Having caught a severe cold while out on picket and having slept but one night during that time you may believe that I am worn out. On camp guard it is the custom when the "first relief" is relieved at 4o'clock in the morning to let them go to their tents till reveille, but the tyrannical dunce who was officer of the guard would not allow it. He knew the regulations. He is the Second Lieut. in a Grand Rapids company and the novelty of his position turned his head.
Thanksgiving Gov. Randall addressed this Brigade at the Arlington House, the usual bosh of compliments passed between us and him. This is a great country. The Second had a big dinner that day which was attended by all the big officers around Washington, Sec. Seward and Senator Wilson paid their respects to the Seventh riding along our line while on dress parade smoking cigars. A very vulgar practice.
The Fifth Regiment blows a great deal on their superiority in discipline and their officers. Who doubts it? The Second also blows a great deal . The Seventh has not been guilty of this practice.
They prefer to await events and wear the laurel when it is won. We have had no fault to find with our officers. On the contrary our Lieut. Colonel has the confidence of all, and is a through disciplinarian. Not even the enemies of Col. Van Dorr voice their objections to him on account of his military capacity. They acknowledge him able to command even a division but as he is a German, some of our inferior officers objected to him because the Queen's English does not glide over his tongue with that slippery elegance so desirable in an orator. They hate to be corrected in broken English, although his word of command is clear and distinct and loud enough to wake the Sven sleepers or drown the roar of artillery. We have as good officers as any other regiment and while marching in review at Munson's Hill we kept a better line than either the Second, Sixth or Nineteenth Indiana.
Your very tired
Mr. J.C. Mann, serving in Company H, 7th Regiment, Wisconsin volunteers writes us from Washington that he receives a package of our paper regularly and that he distributes them to the boys from Grant. He gives a cheery account of the manner Christmas was spent at Arlington. A nice dinner was provided by the officers for all the men. They had oysters, nice butter and cigars as extra fare. In the evening all who wished, attended a ball. We have not room for Mr. Maun's letter entire. He closes by asking the friends at home to write oftener and hope for a better day.
FROM THE 7TH REGIMENT
CAMP ARLINGTON, Dec 22, 1861
Editors Patriot:-Since last I wrote you, there has nothing of moment occurred, without I except one or two sham fights, which took place near Bailey's cross roads. the last was the best and of that I will make a few remarks, We took up the line of march between 9 and 10 o'clock a.m., and arrived at the Cross Roads before noon, where we stacked arms and waited for the coming of the balance of the Division, which arrived on the ground in time for operations, which was 2 o'clock p.m.
While we were in waiting, as a matter of course, peddlers with pies, apples, and other eatables, appeared; as soon as they came to a halt the boys swarmed around their wagons so thick that it was impossible for an outsider to get at them; however, this state of things was of short duration-the boys wanted to buy faster than the peddler would handout and made change whereupon the boys got their backs up"- some swore same said upset him, &c.
The latter plan was adopted; for soon could be seen the uprising of one side of the institution and then on the opposite side to scatter; when lo! peddler and all contraptions were scattered on the ground. When he (the peddler) had recovered his equilibrium he asked the boys to tip the wagon back which they did with a relish because the good things were under it.-
Then came a tug of pushing and scratching did not get mixed up in that scrape. but soon another traveling bakery appeared and halted close to where I stood; the boys all excitement as they termed it, "rallied" on this sutler and were upon the point of giving his establishment "a boost" when he threw overboard a barrel of apples and in the excitement and eager haste for the apples he made his escape. In this melee I got mixed. I could not with stand the rush and was borne into the midst o the crowd; I thought then every one for him self so I pitched in. Suffice it to say-I got all I wanted but whether it was apples or jams. I don't like to tell. I do not want you to think the boys are as bard as would appear by what I have written-such incidents are not common.
At 2 p.m. the battle was opened. the way the blank cartridge suffered was a caution.- the 7th opened the fire, and was supported on either blank by a battery of artillery; the 6th was in position on our right. soon the fire passed along the entire line of battle which was perhaps 1/2 mile. The 19th Indiana was kept as our reserve and the 2d as a reserve for the 6th. we had 20 rounds of blank cartridges; when they were all exhausted our ranks were opened right and left and the reserve formed a line in front. We make a number of advances as of driving the enemy, but nary a retreat.-
Gen. McDowell commanded. The men appear to place confidence in him, and well they may In his noble mien there is all that goes to make the soldier, the officer, the warrior-at least so far as my judgment goes.
S. J. M.
FROM THE 7TH REGIMENT
CAMP ARLINGTON, 7th W. V. Dec 26, 1861
DEAR PATRIOT:- But a short time has elapsed since last I wrote you but as we have had such good times, I thought I would write again I will here insert a few lines which in my last I neglected. It concerns the peddler arrangement. from the reading in my last one would quite naturally suppose that only our regiment was engaged in the muss, but of those most active the greatest majority was from to their regiments. Our regiment bears the name of being the least meddlesome and most peaceful regiment that ever stood pitched on the ground we occupied when on picket duty. I was told this by a man living near there. The 7th is peaceable regiment and the boys take pride in knowing they bear that reputation.
Now for the "good times" I spoke of. We were awakened in the morning (25th) as usual by the beating of the reveille at 6:30. Then breakfast was ready eat all we wanted as mater of course. Next came guard mounting this through we laid in for the good things that is my tent mates and I. Such as oysters crackers, apples, corn meals, &c., made some "dodgers," these the boys pronounced tip top but I could not answer for that in as much as my palate never inclined in that direction, but suppose they tasted good to their sore lips.-
The dinner passed off well and was a near relative to our Thanksgiving dinner. some of the companies had oysters for dinner some took their oysters about 5 o'clock P.M.-and some companies had none at all , at all, companies A., B, F and K were among those that furnished the oysters for the whole company. company A took theirs for dinner, the others Ai believe partook of their oysters towards evening.-
Company E's supper was got up on about the best scale of any that I see. A long table was erected in the middle of the street intended to accommodate the entire company. When all was ready the company was formed in at head of the street double file, and then marched up to and around the table much after the fashion of Old Camp Randall. the meal was discussed and three hearty cheers was given for the Captain three more for the cooks for cooking them so nicely. the Captain appears to be one of the kind who likes to see those around enjoying themselves he not only furnished the oysters and crackers but a goodly amount of butter and a barrel of good apples we had no dress parade and in fact no duty was imposed on us except what was absolutely necessary. the Colonel gave passed freely not to Washington but to Alexandria, and a great many obtained passes but I preferred to say at home. from the time the oysters was devoured till the tattoo all was quite. After tattoo, as the Major requested the Drum Major to take the drum coir over to the Quarter master's tent we all went were drawn up in front and gave him such a "serenading" as he never had before played two or three tunes and as there was no treat offered and no one shown themselves some one proposed to go over to the 2d, which we did a large crown following us, serenaded the colonel, but as there was such a large crowd and terrible noisy besides, the Major did not wait for the colonel to make his appearance but returned to camp. Well after a while the 2d brass band came over, of course they could make better musings than the drum choir could but they (the brass band) showed no better intention than the martial band did but they got treated to the lemonade. Guess they won't make a cats paw of the old drum Major again.
The brass band after playing a few tunes and getting a few treats went over at the 6th where they called out the Colonel who spoke a few words after which the band came back played before our colonel's tent or at least some of the officers near him and finally topped lf with a serenade for captain collis and another treat.
While the band was over to the 6th another stirring scene was being enacted at the guard between the regiments. The officer that passed the the band through had the countersign and authority to pass only the band and of course all those that had followed them were of a necessity obliged to stop. the next thing then was three groans for the 6th which was executed in good style as many of the boys have colds, this had been kept up for some time when all at once and of a sudden the whole crowd was surrounded by a company of the 6th with guns, bayonets fixed, and charged bayonets on our boys. It so happened that one of the officers that was on guard duty was in the crowd he ordered the 6th to open ranks and let his boys out, which they did somewhat crestfallen. Some little more parleying and our boys fell back as far as our tents, when another three groans was given in honor of the 6th, all passing off quite agreeable to both parties.-
There will be between regiments coming from the
same State more or less competition and rivalry. There is little of this however
exiting between the 7th and 2d, the two are quite friendly but both are down on
I said that nothing occurred from oysters till tattoo, but just at that time my memory failed me, something was going on all the time, one of the Hospital tents is vacant it has a good floor the officers collected all the ladies they could from the three regiment and had a genuine dance.
The boys dot together in company F and had a dance on the ground in the street almost if not every company in the regiment was represented at this grand ball, it was genuine all but the ladies, but by turning the brim of the cap bock makes a man a lady or at least represent ladies now aint't that a queer way?
Oh! we have heaps of fun, I cannot describe as I would like all the little details of our enjoyment here and of which our friend are so anxious to hear my descriptive powers are not over large but I try to think of everything and describe it, but there is so may in the tent talking laughing cracking jokes, &c.,
That it is almost impossible to think of
The weather has been very fine this month except two days, the fore part of this week. wind blew up a storm from the east but the wind shifted to westward and the rain was changed to snow, snowed for a little while Wisconsin fashion, melting as fast as it fell, it is pleasant again. Christmas was the pleasantest Christmas that I ever enjoyed, no snow, warm and pleasant and not a cloud to dim the brightness of the God of day.
Yours' till New Year, Badger
LETTER FOR THE 7TH REGIMENT NO 10
Arlington Heights, Dec. 30th, 61
Cold weather has prevailed in this region for a week past. Sharp frost and high winds, with an occasional fine day dovetailed between makes up the aggregate of days which the weather Sergeant has been pleased to deal out to us. I suppose a new requisition on the clerk of the weather will have to be made before we advance on the enemy.
To gratify the wishes of the Richmond papers the enemy endeavored to advance so as to winter on the banks of the lovely Susquehanna, but the Pennsylvania boys like Old Buck ever jealous of the welfare of "our southern brethren" had an interview with them at Gainesville, and persuaded them not to expose themselves to the inclemency of a Pennsylvania winter but to "wait for something to turn up." They are first reluctant but before the close of the interview willingly acquiesced with the desires of our boys.
Christmas we celebrated throughout the Army according to the inclinations of the different regiments. The Seventh was bush putting up log huts a la corn crib, under their tents, the latter serving as a roof. Some paid a visit to Blenkers retuning heavily laded. After supper the fifers and drummers throughout the Brigade made night hideous while the musical amateurs serenaded the officers and the daughter of the Regiment whose winning and modest demeanor has endeared her to all. We have but few of the gentler sex with us and those we have are treated with respect by all.
Last Saturday, the 28th, we had another sham battle at Munson's Hill where we went through the usual maneuvers. The cavalry charge was the most imposing although the artillery is by no means uninteresting. The Parrot and rifled guns sputter forth flame and smoke with a wicked spite, made one believe almost that there was a real enemy in front.
The infantry moved in squares through brush and briars, trailing arms when we could not march upright. Then all reducing square and forming in line when we loaded and fired at will which the boys enjoy more than any other part of their exercises. Only one accident occurred which resulted from the practice of overloading ,some putting in their guns half a dozen cartridges. One of the Second Wisconsin boys busted his gun and had his hand shattered on the occasion by this recklessness. He was removed from the field in an ambulance.
On our return we were assailed in the usual manner by ye sergeants. Queer cusses these sergeants. The amount of responsibility resting on ye Sergeants shoulders is positively prodigious. Did you even hear the sergeants chorus? If you have you'll never want to again. It is executed on a single string. I wish some of ye Sergeants were executed in the same manner. Thus:
Colonel-Column forward, guide right, march.
Chorus of Sergeants.-Close up boys, close up.
Colonel.-By the right flank, march.
Chorus of Sergeants.- Close up, close up, boys, close up.
Gem. King.-On head of column, close en masse.
Chorus of Sergeants.-close up, boys, D---n you close up.
Gen. King.-On first Battalion, deploy column.
Chorus of sergeants.-close up! close up! close up!
Colonel.-by Division in succession, right face, file left, march. Route Step
Chorus of Sergeants.-close up boys, close up, close up!
Captain.-Arms 'port break ranks march.
Chorus of Sergeants.-close up.
"Thus they while their happy hours away."
Last night we had a good joke on Baby a sobriquet attached to John C. Hamlin,
a private in the ranks of ye tigers. Privates Harrison Mathew, formerly of Fond du Lac, and Joe. Hurd and a few other
jolly souls had imported at great expense and vigilance a suspicious looking
black bottle from Blenker's which they proceeded to enjoy in a retired tent,
where they had a convivial time all alone by themselves. But Baby accidentally
nosed out their retreat and was bribed with a mouthful for his discretion and
silence. But Baby could not hold the secret, on the contrary, he communicated it
to the rest of ye tigers. This did not please Privates Mathews and Hurd who had
hitherto maintained good reputations as temperance men, so they determined to
avenge the obloquy which Baby had cast on their fair fame. Joe. Hurd proposed
they should have a mock roll call and Mathews rushed to Lieut. Rogers tent,
borrowed his coat and seated as first Lieut. and Hurd acted as first Sergeant.
The roll was called and Baby refused to answer to his name. So Lieut Matthews
and Sergeant Hurd took him to the guard house promising him as it was only play,
they would take him out in ten minutes. Baby consented and was marched to the
guard house when upon arriving at the latter place, Lieut Mathews cried out in a
commanding tone-"Sergeant of the guard! Here take this prisoner, and keep
him till further orders," which order was promptly complied with but Baby's
ten minutes lasted all night. And even in the morning he could only be released
by the order of Capt. Walther.
Moral.-Baby will not inform and play spy again soon.
The Sixth Regiment have refrained from getting up jokes on the Seventh since the Garn scrape. Previous to that lively incident each commissioned officer had a copy of Burton's encyclopedia of Wit and Humor, from which they would cut out paragraphs and by a felicitous turn of words would get up jokes on the Seventh. But now they hang their heads quite Chop-fallen. While they were out on picket they fired on a barn mistaking it in the night for the enemy. Then their colonel took off his shoulder straps, donned citizens clothes and went out scouting. At dawn he found the barn. There were forty shingles killed, ten mortally wounded and two boards slightly injured showing the good execution of the sixth's Belgian rifles.
One of the Sixth's Lieutenants says there is a company of skull crackers in his regiment which he proposes to march against the Seventh with out arms if we stack arms.
Our Lieut. replied that he had no doubt of the fact as it furnished a solution for the enigmatical disposition manifested by the Sixth as the active drilling as such a Corp must account for the many cracked characters in said regiment. However if they attack the Seventh says our Lieut, we will retreat behind the Arlington barn.
The Sixth's man subsided.
My attention has been called to a letter over the signature of Lieut. Misner, published in the Columbus Gazette, which I pronounce to be a tissue of falsehood.
He said that frost four inches deep covered the ground; that we did not have enough to eat; only one blanket, &c. &c.
We have plenty of bread, beef, pork, rice, hominy, potatoes, every ten days coffee and sugar. Then the Government had given each man a blanket in addition to those we brought with us from Wisconsin; also two pairs of good woolen stockings, two pairs drawers, good strong sewed shoes, although many did not take them, preferring to by their own boots. In fact everything we needed had been furnished us. We have been a little tardy in building winter quarters and now it is cold but at the time Lieut. Misner's letter was written, no such weather had visited us.
True life in camp and on picket is no holiday work this cold weather. Many are sick because they cannot stand it, but no good motive impelled the carpet-knight Lieutenant to write such a letter full of such awful lies as that I refer to. It would have been well if it would have been read a few nights since in his presence while he was eating oysters and telling yarns about California to our other officers.
Our doctors have a fine time. If a man dies it is nature's fault. No timely assistance on their part harasses the march of death. Probably it is better than it they did a tend to their duties. Their ignorance might in the later event in crease the number of victims. Yesterday (Sunday) James Prist of Company G died of Typhoid fever. He was buried this morning, the band playing the Dead March in Saul. The boys are affected with fits of severe coughing which the cold and exposure on guard duty has aggravated. It presents the symptoms of an epidemic and is very severe. Several in company I are unwell - a larger number than ever before. While some are recovering, others take their place on the sick list.
To-morrow we are to have a muster review which is a preliminary to payday. By the end of the week we go out on picket again. How we shall bear it I will let you know.
The men in the Army are generally satisfied with the course pursued in regard to Mason and Slidell. They hope our government has seen its way through the dilemma without tarnishing the honor of the nation On the other hand they would as willingly undergo the hazard and hardship which a war with England would bring on us to vindicate our national honor. Each one however hears on good will towards that Power for its course and you may rest assured that the remembrance of her insults will be stored in hears for a future day of reckoning.
Yours truly W.D.W.