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Letter from Col. Vandor, of the Seventh.
The following letter received this morning from Col. Vandor will be read with interest
by the many friends of that able and popular officer and those having friends to
the regiment will be glad to learn that it has been assigned to an honorable
post in the Brigade of Gen. King. We are much obliged to the worthy Colonel for
the favor of his letter, and hope to hear from him frequently.
HEADQUARTERS 7TH REG. W.V.
Camp Arlington Heights
King's Brigade, Oct 1, '61
Messrs. Atwood & Rublee, Madison-
Gents:- Remembering with much pleasure the honor of your acquaintance, and
having promised to write as soon as our military movement would permit, I take
the liberty of informing you, gentlemen, that the Seventh Regiment of Wis. V. has
been assigned to Gen. Rufus King's brigade and is now forming with the 19th of
Indiana and the 2d and 6th regiments of our own State, said Gen. King's brigade.
Our journey from Madison to Washington has been already reported to you and all
I have to say is that after an encampment near Washington on 15th Street and
another encampment immediately in front of that celebrated chain bridge on the
Potomac, we were ordered to join the army of Gen. McDowell, our present
encampment. The Brigade left Chain Bridge on the 5th inst. about ten o'clock
a.m. and arrived after a very tedious, dusty and hot journey (90deg.) at our
present destination, Arlington Heights, and took possession of the former camp of
the 23d of New York.
The brigade is encamped in order of battle, the
Sixth Regiment on the right
wing and the 19th of Indiana on the left wing and the 2d, and 7th Regiments of
Wisconsin in the centre of said Gen. King's Brigade. We are today very busy in
cleaning the camp. It is in the midst of a forest, partly cleared, and will require
several days before half way in condition. Our advance position is about six
miles distant from the enemy, two miles in front of Fort Corcoran - near Fort Tillinghast,
a position sufficiently flattering for a young regiment which has not had more
than a half dozen of battalion drills.
I cannot do other wise than to pay my thanks to Col. Schuyler Hamilton of the
U.S.A., Aide to Gen. Scott, and brother of our Major Charles A. Hamilton who
got the regiment well introduced to Gen. Scott and Gen. McCLELLAN and On Whose
Recommendation We Received That Post Of HONOR. OUR OFFICERS AND MEN ARE WELL,
STAND THE FATIGUES SO FAR SPLENDIDLY, ALTHOUGH THEY ARE VERY MUCH FATIGUED from
the Continued marches they experienced. Excuse my hurry and please to believe me
to be yours very Respectfully
Col. Commanding 7th Reg. Wis. V.
FROM THE SEVENTH REGIMENT we have a letter from a member of the Marquette
Sharpshooters in the 7th Regiment part of which has been anticipated by other
letters. We give some items, however. The letter is dated:
Headquarters 7th Reg. W.V.
Camp Randall, near Washington,
Oct 1, 1861
Eds. Journal- You have perhaps had some account of the earlier part of our trip
eastward so I shall say nothing about except that the boys were not led by their
long march in Chicago and railroad coffee to extol very highly Chicago people or
At Fort Wayne, which is a very pretty place, we had a good time. In passing
through Ohio we saw some pretty girls, fine horses, and lib timber.
At Pittsburg the ladies had a good breakfast prepared for us to which we did
ample justice and "God bless the ladies of Pittsburg" was spoken by
more than one of our boys. we did not like the looks of Pennsylvania, "
there is too much land to the acre."
We started from Harrisburg in cattle cars that looked as through they had run
into a masked battery, the most forlorn looking set of cars I ever saw in which a
white man was expected to ride. After going about a mile, one of the cars, which
happened to be the one our company occupied, gave out, and the Colonel stopped
for the night and rolling ourselves in our blankets we passed the night in an
open field without tents. The next morning we started for Baltimore and as soon
as we crossed the Maryland line things wore a different aspect with the railroad
guarded by soldiers and much of the land uncultivated. It seemed almost like a
foreign land. We were received splendidly in Baltimore. The streets were lined
with Union flags and the cry for the Union was on every lip. One lady said to me
while passing through the streets "Dont's you dare to come back here without
Jeff. Davis head!" A good supper was given us here and we slept all night
in the station house starting for Washington in the morning. At the Relay House
we found the Wisconsin Fourth Regiment, a fine looking set of fellows, the boys in
their blue army suit appearing better dressed than their officers. Washington is
surrounded with troops and the camps are as thick as they well can be. There are
some 350,000 federal troops here. (We rather think that is an overestimate. EDS.
JOURNAL.) The Seventh Regiment has been assigned to King's Brigade and we leave
for Chain Bridge tomorrow morning, the 2d, at 8 o'clock, There has been a forward
movement of our troops across the Potomac 12,000 having crossed night before
last. We saw a balloon across the Potomac this afternoon about 4 o'clock. I have
seen Capt. McKee and several boys of the 2d Regiment. They report the boys well
and in good spirits. The Journal of the 26th has just been received and from it
the Grant County boys and especially his old scholars were glad to learn of Mr.
Pickard's recombination. When we get "over the river" I will write
again. S. W.
FROM THE SEVENTH REGIMENT
Camp Lyon at Chain Bridge, near Washington, D.C.
7th reg. Wis. V.
Oct. 2d, 1861
Eds. Wis. State Journals When we left Madison I
promised to write you occasionally in regard to any matters of interest
connected with the 7th regiment. Up to this time my duties and the hurry and
bustle of moving and removing have left me no leisure for any communications to
you. I now take the opportunity which a rainy day and the necessity of a little
rest for our regiment gives me to send you a few items . You have doubtless
before this time received and published accounts of everything of interest
connected with our journey to Washington. I cannot, however, forbear mentioning the
excellent dinner provided for us by the citizens of Janesville as we passed
through their city, the fine supper furnished, which we heard of but did not taste,
in Chicago; the strange hallucination under which the agent of the Chicago, Fort
Wayne & Pittsburgh R. R. Co. labored in being able to see ample
accommodations for 60 soldiers in a car that would only seat 48 and the slops
they passed around in accordance with their contract for taking us through under
pretense of giving us coffee, the hospitable treatment we received at the hands of
the ladies of Pittsburgh who have furnished an entertainment for every Regiment
of soldiers that has yet passed through there and did not forget to provide us
with a most excellent breakfast; the first night of the Regiment in the open air
at our bivouac in the fields just across the Susquehanna river from Harrisburg
compelled by the insufficiency of the cars we occupied, our kind reception at Baltimore
which went far beyond Chicago in their provisions for our necessities and
comfort; and the strong Union expression we met with all along our route in no
degree lessened down through the State of Maryland. There are probable many
secessionists in Maryland but the Union feeling is so demonstrative that that in
passing through, in this respect, it seemed little different from Ohio or
Pennsylvania. We arrived in Washington a little after noon on the National fast
day passing the Wisconsin 4th Regiment on our way down from Baltimore at the
Relay House where they are guarding the Railroad. The Wisconsin 3d, we there
learned, was still near Harper's Ferry. On the day after we arrived in Washington
we were ordered into camp 1.25 miles east of the city on Capitol Hill. We
remained there until Tuesday (yesterday morning ) when in compliance with an
order received on Monday evening we broke up camp and moved to Chain Bridge.
Today finds us regularly brigaded in Gen. King's Brigade with the 2d and 6th
Wisconsin and the 19th Indiana Regiments which compose the Brigade and all
encamped at the east end of Long Bridge. The 2d, until yesterday, has been across
the Potomac in Virginia hard at work building forts, cutting timber and
picketing. They had just finished pitching their tents when we arrived. The 6th
has been here for the last month. The 5th Wisconsin is now at Fall's Church,
about 5 miles from here across the river. The health of our regiment is
excellent and the boys are in good spirits as is also the case with all the
other Wisconsin Regiments so far as I can learn. Of the number of troops in and
about Washington we of course know nothing. The estimates are various ranging
from 150,000 to 400,000. My estimate from all I can gather would be about
250,000. From this point we see fortifications and encampments in every
direction. Of our own further destination we know as little. It is through by
some who profess to be knowing that we will be sent down to Fortress Monroe to
join a coast expedition. It is useless to speculate. McClellan from all
indications is cautiously advancing his posts. You have heard and will hear of important
movements by telegraph sooner and more reliably than by letter from here. We get
most of our news respecting army movements from the papers. When anything takes
place of importance in our immediate vicinity however I shall not fail to give
you and account of it. Your paper comes to us as an old friend. The Republican
Union nomination for State officers headed by the able L.P. Harvey, give perfect
satisfaction in camp. While such men are called upon to administer our State
Government, Wisconsin volunteers will not regret the loss of their votes this
fall at home. Their presence in Wisconsin would only swell the majority of the
ticket. Yours truly, B
FROM THE SEVENTH REGIMENT
The following letter was received by C.C. Keeler, Esq., of this city.
CAMP LYON, CHAIN BRIDGE
Oct 3d, 1861
FRIEND KEELER: Having a few minutes leisure, I will improved it in redeeming my
promise to write to you. We were five days on the route to Washington. Camped
1.5 miles east of the capital for two days. We then struck tents and came to
this place. We are in King's brigade, which is now composed of the 19th Indiana,
2d, 6th and 7th Wisconsin Regiments, the 5th Wisconsin having gone into Smith's
Brigade across the Potomac, some two miles in advance of us. I have I think seen
every one of the Beloit boys excepting one or two in the 5th Regiment. We are
having a first-rate time and enjoying good health. Cannot say or even guess how
long we may remain here. We are liable to move at any moment. Out pickets extend
for 5 miles along the river. A Lieutenant and 40 men from each Regiment are
detailed every day for picket duty. It is generally considered hazardous but the
men are all in for it, as they all seem to enjoy the excitement. Of the
magnitude of the army movements you can form no idea, until you have seen them.
It is a gay sight at night to see the lights of the different encampments as
they stretch for miles away upon the heights of the surrounding county. Frank
Wheeler was just in. He goes to New York this P.M. to get his supplies. The
weather is very warm here during the day and quite cool at night accompanied
with a very heavy dew and thick fog.
Address until further advice Co. K, 7th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers,
LETTER FROM CAPT. CALLIS The following private letter from Capt.
Callis contains so much information of public importance that we venture its
HEADQUARTERS, KING'S BRIGADE
October 3rd, 1861
Mr. Cover:-some time having elapsed since we have heard from you through your paper
and thinking perhaps you do not know where to send the paper, I thought best to
drop you a line by way of advising you of our whereabouts. The 2nd, 6th and 7th
regiments Wisconsin Volunteers are encamped at Chain Bridge: to our Regiment ,
i.e. the 7th, has been assigned the first post of honor in General King's
Brigade. When I say the first post of honor I mean the 7th is the advance Regiment in the
This enviable position has been obtained through the influence of our
Colonel James Ban Dor and our Major Hamilton the former having an enviable
as a military leader and the latter being a gentleman and having strong friends
in Gen. McClellan's staff. Our boys are all well and conduct themselves like
model men should. We are now exposed to the fire of the enemy should they pitch
into us. We have dared to set our foot upon the sacred soil of the Old Dominion,
and none dare to dispute our right but I must say it is enough to cast a gloom
over the most impervious mind, to see the blighting influences of the present
war, together with the relicts of the accursed institution of slavery, the exciting
as well as the approximate cause of the trouble which now agitates our once
proud republic. Slavery coupled with the indiscriminate opposition it has in the
free States and its unscrupulous adherents in the slave States, are alone changeable
with the present disorganized state of things - and the present generation will
leave the stain thus brought upon our history as a legacy to their offspring
which will be indelibly stamped on each page of true history compiled from facts
connected with the present war. We see the once fertile hills and valleys of the
Old Dominion spread out before us, a perfect picture of waste and sterility; the
once happy homes deserted and left to the mercy of the ruthless hand of the
infuriated soldier. I have not changed my opinions, early conceived, of the nature
of the grievances complained of on both sides of the question. Some men even at
this late day, talk of compromise, but the day has past for such idle sophistry;
the only way now is to seal a compromise with the blood of thousands and never
give up the goal until the compromise or treaty of peace can be written on a
sheet as pure and white as the driven snow. which sheet must be pure from the
stain of involuntary servitude and disloyalty; which may God grant. I am in the
service actuated by pure motives and if I should, in an hour of great peril, make
a mistake and give way to the nature that God has given me, I trust men in
commenting on my acts, will be as lenient as the circumstances will permit; so
that my family may not suffer the chagrin of hearing disreputable charges
against me by my personal enemies. Our Wisconsin boys are all well; I saw Mr.
Clark to day; he looks fine and I am told that he is the best Quarter Master in
the Brigade. This is truly gratifying to hear our Grant County men so favorably
spoken of. Capt. McKee is well and has the name of a model officer and his
company is the crack company of the Regiment. Col. Cobb of the Fifth is
the hospital about a mile from us. I am told that he is improving and will soon
be able to resume his command. All the Lancaster boys are well, and are known
by the name of the "bloody Second," and if any desperate fighting is
wanted they are called out to do it. I have had the honor and pleasure of seeing
old Abe, Gen. Scott, Gen. McClellan and many other big guns and I don't see that
they are different from other men, only surrounded by a combination of different
circumstances; that is what makes the man in this latter as well as former day.
I cannot say how long we shall be at this point, but if you send us any papers
send as you send to Capt. McKee, and we will get them. Yours with respect, John
P.S.-I write on the bottom of a tin plate with a bayonet for a candlestick,
so you will excuse all errors, &c.
J. B. C.
FROM THE SEVENTH REGIMENT
CAMP LYON, Chain Bridge,
Washington, Oct. 5, 1861
After I had mailed a letter to the Journal yesterday, an order came to strike
tents this morning at 8 o'clock, and to be in readiness to march at 10 o'clock
for Arlington Heights to join Gen. McDowell's division. The whole Brigade
commanded by Gen. King is ordered to move so that the 7th, 6th and 2d will pitch
tents on the Heights this evening. As I write Prof. Lowe's balloon with five men
in it is nearly over my head at a height to make it appear about eighteen inches
in diameter. A battle is hourly expected at some point on the Potomac probably
near where Gen. Banks is stationed. According to all the information that can be
gathered, the enemy is concentrating at that point. The men are delighted at the
idea of meeting the enemy. Gen. McClellan crossed Chain Bridge yesterday with
his staff and body guard. This is an uncommon move and is interpreted by the
knowing to mean something."
Rumor in camp and the city says that the general is determined to make an
advance. Every opportunity for fight has been offered the enemy but they are not
disposed to accept them. You will probably received some exciting news before
this letter reaches you.
I visited the camp of the unfortunate 2nd to-day. I find many of the men are
discouraged - this is especially true of the Janesville company. Their highest
company officer has been under arrest for several days for drunkenness and was
discharged today in a manner not satisfactory to the company. Lieut. McLain
tendered his resignation today it was accepted by the Colonel and is now in the
hands of the Brigadier General awaiting his action.
The company has the fullest confidence in his courage and bravery.
He would be their choice for Captain and Sergeant Geo. F. Sanders should be groomed
to his position. The men are ready to fight but demand officers who will lead
them and not run. So far, as I learn, they have entire confidence in their
Col. Fairchild. Col. O'Connor is unable to speak a loud word. Gen. Sherman and
McClellan have said that no regiment in the field contained better fighting material
than the 2d Wis.
Gen. King's present headquarters are near the building Gen. Washington used for
his headquarters on the Potomac in the Revolution. It will be remembered it was
called Montgomery Hall, so says local tradition. The building is now in ruins.
It is important that regiments yet to come to Washington or to the battlefield
anywhere should know that laundresses had better stay at home. All necessary
nurses are detailed for that purpose by Miss Dix with whom this matter is
entrusted. The cAmp or battlefield is no place for women. They are in the way. I
would advise all ladies to stay at home and this advice is based on observation.
There are no provisions made for them and they are regarded as outsiders by the authorities
and their friends have no time to provide for them - stay at home ladies by all
All letters for the 7th Regiment should be directed to Washington. The regiment
is constantly moving and this is the only safe way to direct them to avoid their
being miscarried they will be sure to reach us from Washington. the regiment and
the name of the Co. should always to specified on the envelope.
My next will be dated at Arlington Heights.
FROM THE SEVENTH REGIMENT
The following are a few extracts from a private letter from Capt. Gordon.
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, VA.
KING'S BRIGADE, McDowell's DIV.
Oct. 5th 1861
You see by the date of this we have moved into Virginia. Our present situation is
about four miles southwest of Washington. We are surrounded on every side by
forts, and are well protected. We marched yesterday about ten miles, the
thermometer at about 85degrees, you can imagine we were fatigued.
We are on the left of the Brigade, an honorable position, our regiment being
skirmishers. We are four mile from Mauson's Hill about forty rods east of our
present camp is the residence of Gen. Lee now occupied by some of our officers.
It is a beautiful place.
On our way to camp I saw the noted Washington Monument as yet unfinished. I have
not had time to see much of Washington City for we are not here on a pleasure
We are now about eight miles from the seat of active warfare; we are anxious to
get on; we are here to fight and our only fear is that we shall be left as a
Our Colonel however is doing all he can to get us in the advance.
Our present camp is situated in a clearing in the forest so that we can see out
but one way and that straight up. The 21st N.Y. were encamped here before us and from appearances I should judge
they left in great haste for we find many things. I have a first rate wheelbarrow,
pick ax, chair with a back &c., &c.
For the first time I have a splendid bed, made of the soft side of four pine
boards covered with a blanket; boots for a pillow. This is first class accommodations. We live first rate; have plenty of bacon,
pork and beans&c.
My men are well and getting along finely.
LETTER FROM SEVENTH REGIMENT
OCT, 7,' 61
Friend Cober:-I told you in my last that I would write to you again soon, as I
have failed to keep my promise up to this time and I should have written sooner
but I suppose that some of the boys had written to you.
We are in the same Brigade with the 2nd and 6th Wisconsin Regiments which with
the 19th Indiana are the ones constituting Gen. King's Brigade. We are in Gen.
McDowell's division of the army.
We started from our last camping ground near Chain Bridge last Saturday about 11
o'clock and arrived here about sun-down; the tents did not get here in time for
us to pitch them that night so we laid on the ground and it went very well. We
all are getting used to sleeping on the ground and can now get up in the morning
rested although at first we thought that in more ways than one it was rather
The boys with the exception of a few who have the measles are all well; there
are some of them who are in a degree tired of a soldier's life. But that is not
to be wondered at for if anything else but love of country induced them to
come they might better have stayed at home for there is nothing very funny about
it as far as I have seen.
We are well taken care of as far as clothing, provision, &c. are concerned,
and have no right to complain as everything is done that can be done for our
welfare. We have not seen any "seceshers" since we left but in every place
there was displayed the good old Stars and Stripes.
This is the greatest country, for many reasons, that I have ever been in and it is
a unanimous vote that the sacred soil is a humbug. It is as not here at this
present time as it was in Wisconsin last harvest. The water is very poor and
scarce at that; we carry all we use over half a mile; it is very it is very much
like poor rainwater. The wonderful Potomac is but a slough which can be easily
thrown across by any one; it is deep however the water is not clear and clean
like the Wisconsin, but of a dirty yellow color.
The little streams (when found) are not like those at home in any respect and
everything around us puts us in mind of the fact that we are not in "Old
Grant" any more. One of the boys came near being put into the guard house
for singing 'Carry Me Back to Old Virginny' and I think that he should be
put in the guard house as a confirmed lunatic.
We go along however hoping for the food time that is coming, everybody tries to
feel lively and, to judge by the noise, they succeed to a charm. If jokes are free
in harvest they are more so in camp, here is a conundrum which will show for
Why is Capt.. Callis like a honey-comb?
Answer, Because he is full of sells, (cels.)
Our position at present is one of almost perfect security, hundreds of acres of
timber being cut down and left as they fell thus giving a sure aim and
preventing and approach except by the regular road which is guarded by forts
with guns placed so that an enemy approaching would be almost annilated so you
see that there is not likely to be any more Bull Run runs very soon. As for the
number of men here, there are enough to give old Jeff all the acquaintance he
wants with the "mudsills" of the North. How long we stay here or where
we go to next it is not possible for any one 'o tell.
It will not do to believe any reports you may hear. We learned from a letter to
one of the boys that we had been in battle and were all cut up; if it was so we
were not aware of it.
You get all the news long before we do so that all I write must be of our own
crowd for we do not hear from any other source than the papers.
There is one thing more and then I'll close this long letter: I am asked by the
boys to get you to request the friends of volunteers, (if they have any,) to
answer their letters as it is a source of satisfaction to hear from those they
left behind them and I am sure that if they could see how glad we are to get a
letter, they would written oftener than they do.
The boys send their best respects to al and hope that all is well.
John W. McKenzie
FROM THE SEVENTH REGIMENT
The following letter was received by N.P. Waterman, Esq., of this city:
Oct 8th, 1861
Mr. A.P. Waterman:
Dear Sir:-Having a few minutes leisure this evening, I will improve the time in
informing you of our present whereabouts. The brigade took up their line of
march from Chain Bridge last Saturday morning crossing the Potomac at
Georgetown. We are now encamped within 300 yards of the rebel General Lee's
former residence now occupied by Gen. McDowell as his headquarters.
Our brigade is about in the center of the line of advance but not really in the
advance as there are several regiments some three miles ahead of us. The
Wisconsin 5th are on our right and the Second on our left.
Of the magnitude of the army movements it is hardly possible for a person to get
a correct idea until they have first seen them.
All of the movements are conducted with great secrecy and the first intimation
we get of a movement is the order to strike tents and march. Our brigade is
generally in good health and what few cases of sickness there are are mostly of
a mild form. My own health is excellent, camp life agrees with me first rate.
Playing soldier has come to an end or rather, as our Col. says, 'is played
out," and we begin to fully realize (as a stray bullet whistles over out
heads or the booming cannon is heard) that we are in the enemy's country. I was
officer of the Guard on Sunday and we had a little excitement and stir in camp 'bout 11pm caused by one of the guard receiving a shot in his leg passing
directly through just below the knee. He is dong well, and will soon be able to
do duty again. Tomorrow there is a grand review of the whole brigade by Gen.
McDowell or McClellan, I am not positive which.
Our regiment already ranks very high amongst military men and the competition
amongst the Brigadier Generals as to which one should have us, was quite
spirited. I do not say this by way of boasting but merely to show you the high
esteem to which Wisconsin troops are held.-
From every appearance I think that we shall quite soon make an advance as our
regiment will, the day after tomorrow, receive the blue uniforms throughout, which
is certain indication to me that an advance of our division is contemplated, there
being some other regiments here a much longer time than we and who have as yet
received no intimation they were to have their uniforms exchanged. Our company
yet been out on picket duty but expect to be called upon soon.
Yesterday one of our officers was out placing his pickets when he was met by a
"Secesh" officer in the same business who immediately wanted to know
what he was doing there; our officer immediately answered his question by asking
Mr. "Secesh" what his business was in that locality and quickly giving
a peculiar whistle which brought his men about him, he succeeded in capturing
Mr. "Secesh", officer and four men and brought into camp
Today a cavalry company went out scouting and as the fruits of their day's
labors brought in twenty four horses and mules and six head of fine fat cattle; consequently
roast beef will be plenty tomorrow.
Our mail facilities are very convenient each regiment having a postmaster.
My address for the present and until further notice will be
Co. K, 7th Reg't Wisconsin Volunteers
FROM THE SEVENTH REGIMENT
Arlington Heights, near Washington
October 9th, 1861
My last letter was darted at Camp Lyon, Chain Bridge. From there Gen. King's
brigade has moved to Arlington Heights. The headquarters of the brigade is in the
Arlington House, the noted Residence of the last member of the Washington family,
Geo. Washington Park Custis and, more recently, of the rebel Gen. Lee, son-in-law of
Gen. McDowell's headquarter are also here. McDowell is the most soldierly
looking man in the army, I think.
Perhaps all of the readers of the Journal may not be familiar with the history
of the Arlington House and its residence and I will briefly state that Geo.
Washington married, for his second wife, Mrs. Custis, the grand-mother of G. W. Park
Custis and Washington adopted this grandson - the Gen. having no children of his
own. When Washington died he willed the Arlington property to young Custis who
occupied it to the time of his death four years ago to-morrow. Gen. Robt. Lee
married one of the four daughters of Custis and by this means nominally come into
possession of their property - being in his wife who is now living in Virginia
while the traitor Gen. is at the head of a division of the rebel army opposite
to Gen. Banks division on the Potomac. It is said that Mrs. Lee is still loyal
and will return to Arlington and leave her traitor husband to his own
inclinations. When Washington died he emancipated all his own slaves, but his
wife chose to retain hers, which under the laws of Virginia she had a right to
do. These slave's were willed to Custis with the Arlington property and some of
them are still living, their hair white with age. - One slave is about eighty years
old and was born at Mt. Vernon and remembers Washington distinctly. There are
now about thirty-five slaves here. They claim that by virtue of a writing they
were free as soon as Custis died but by the knavery of Gen. Lee, their term of
service was extended five years - and by this arrangement they will be free the
10th of October, 1862.
Some of the more intelligent intimate that they are confiscated on account of Massa Lee's treason and think they will
"improve the opportunity." They are
familiar with what is going on and talk very intelligently about current affairs.
One slave, a coachman, has been on the estate sixty-five years, never having been
farther away than to Washington. His wife and children ran away to New York
several years ago and thinks he will now "hab a play spell and go and see
When Gen. Lee left he took the biggest furniture, paintings and relics which
have for years been cherished by the American people as memorials of the
Washington family from this residence, not an article of which did he ever own.
The present camping ground of the 7th is a poor one, full of stumps and brush -
but all seem to be "resigned to their fate," and submit to it. There are several cases of sickness
- measles principally.- The 19th Indiana, in
our brigade has 800 cases of sickness.
Today the Wisconsin men were cheered by the presence of W. H. Watson, private
Secretary of G. Randall. The Secretary informs me that he has succeeded in
getting ten batteries of artillery, one regiment of cavalry besides several
additional regiments of infantry accepted by the Secretary of War. Generals
Scott and McClellan say they will accept all Wisconsin soldiers offered them.
They are the men for service.
Last Sunday night, Mr. Wallace Alloe a private in Capt. Nasmith's company of
Platteville was shot through the leg while on guard. There are different
opinions as to how it was done. He says he was shot by a man in a bush near by
and several who were near him confirm his statement, others think he was
accidentally shot by his own pistol in some way. He was taken to the hospital.
Last Friday night in a camp near Washington a captain tried to "run the
guard" for the purpose of testing the courage of one of his men whom he had
placed at that post and refusing to give the countersign was shot by the guard
through the heart and instantly killed. The man did his duty in the eyes of the
military law and consequently could not be called to account. It would be better
to take some other method to test the courage of a suspected guard. No one would
fire sooner under such circumstances than a coward.
According to all appearances, the rebels are gradually falling back. I went out
to the extent of our lines yesterday and saw several rebel pickets, all mounted,
which would indicate that the body of their army was not near, and they are
mounted in order to retreat more rapidly if attacked. The federal army will soon
be in possession of the country again this side of Centreville.
I am informed by the best authority that a fleet of twenty-five thousand men
sailed down the coast last Friday evening destined for Charleston. They have
gone to carry out Gov. Randall's idea of "ending the war where Charleston
was." An other expedition has been or will be sent to New Orleans. This is
the most expeditious and effectual mode of subduing the rebellion.
This afternoon McClellan had a grand review on East Capital Street of the
artillery and cavalry on the Washington side of the river, consisting of 4,200
cavalry and 120 pieces of artillery. It was a grand occasion. The President and
cabinet and foreign ministers were out and McClellan with his staff and body
guard. After the cavalry and artillery had passed in review Lord Lyon pronounce
it the most formidable and magnificent display of the kind he had ever seen.
Secretary Seward asked if any one could longer doubt that we had the elements of
a powerful nation not from these alone did he judge but from the proportionate
strength of the whole army, the part reviewed being only about a hundredth part
of the Grand Army!
Last Saturday night there was in and around Washington about THREE HUNDRED AND
TEN THOUSAND men in the army I hear Sec. Cameron say that over 50,000 cavalry
had been accepted and he would not have any more. It cannot be used to
advantage. A sufficient amount is well. It costs more than double what infantry
costs for the same number of men. It is well to have it understood that Scott or
McClellan do not want any more.
The rumor about the city of the death Gen. McCulloch and that his son is in
command of his former force needs no other refutation than the fact that Gen.
McCulloch is an old bachelor and has no children - at least none that bear his
name. It is generally discredited in well informed circles.
On this side of the Alleghenies Gen. Fremont is slandered and abused most
shamefully by the friends of the long standing Presidential candidates in
the East. They are envious and jealous of his rising frame in the West. They
hold him to account for the death of Lyon, when it is a fact that Simon Cameron
is alone responsible. Fremont did not have it in his power to reinforce Lyon -
had no men to do it with.
When he took the field the army was composed of three months men whose term of
service had expired. These eastern fogies would blame Fremont for the Manassas
affair if there was any appearance of reason in it.
Western men in this city feel indignant at the slander Fremont so unjustly
receives; and well they may. You cannot fully appreciate it without you can hear
it. But let the wind blow, Fremont will maintain himself if the authorities here
do not take away all his men.
The men are anxious to know why copies of you paper are not sent them, will you
LETTER FROM THE 7TH REGIMENT,
Oct, 13th, 61
My last letter was mailed just as we
were going to break our encampment at Chain Bridge on the morning of the 5th
inst. Orders has been received for the whole of Gen. King's Brigade to march to
Arlington Heights to form a part of Gen. McDowell's division. In obedience to which the 7th, 2nd and 6th, Wisconsin,
and the 19th Indiana, were soon filing alongside of the canal on the north bank
of the Potomac till we reached the aqueduct near Washington which conveys the
waters of the canal across the Potomac to the Virginia side. Our road was dusty,
the sun hot and the thirst of the men was poorly satisfied by the odorous water
on the canal. Then the rattling of the baggage wagons past our files raising the
dust and the weight of our knapsacks added somewhat to our practical knowledge
of a soldier's life but it was for all these hardships that the 7th had left
their homes and I heard no murmur; once in awhile a joke passed amongst the men
about the "Sandy forty" on the Indian Land. After crossing the Potomac
we ascended a ridge of hills covered with a thick growth of white oak saplings
leaving Washington in our rear till we reached our camp ground which and been
vacated by other regiments who are now occupying advance posts. The soil on
these hills or heights as they are called is red clay, heavy and mean to
cultivate. It is every where thickly sprinkled with forts; the whole ground as
far as I can find out is like a vast chess board: the yellow clay where the camp
grounds and forts are located contrasting with the green woods. The places will
be moved too soon and we shall see who wins.
As we arrived too late to mark out the ground that night all slept on the bosom
of "Ole Virginia," beneath the peaceful stars which looked quite as
bright from the blue above us as if they never before witnessed the marching of
armies for the purpose of mutual destruction. It was a silent but deep protest
Order is heaven's first law. War is disorder. Sunday morning it came my turn to
go "on guard" till the succeeding morning. I could hardly realize that
is was the Sabbath. A soldier soon loses track of the days of the week; he
measures time by the roll calls I was on the "first relief," and had a
chance to attend all meals. At nine o'clock at night I had to go again. Before
being relieved I heard a loud report succeeded by the cry "corporal of the
Guard, No. 11"; which was occasioned by the discharge of a pistol in the pocket
of one of the guard wounding him in the leg. Three such accidents have occurred
in our regiment, and all revolvers and bowie knives have been taken away from
the soldiers .
Before being relieved the last time I was sleepy and learned now hard it is to
avoid the penalty of sleeping while on guard at one's post which is death.
On the 10th we were reviewed by Gen. McDowell and his Staff, and I overheard him
making a remark when passing Company I. that our "Grey uniform looked very
well; pity they could not be dyed blue." Col. Vandor, whom a better
officer for his post is not in the army, was tickled with our conduct, and
expressed himself delighted.
Last week we have been exercised in skirmish drill. such words as "Rally by
fours," "deploy into line," "double quick" becoming
more familiar than any household words ever uttered. This drill has proved like
a medicine relieving the sick and effecting a general care of the slight
ailments. There are some cases of sickness, measles &c. but not more than was
expected after a change of climate and habit of life among over a thousand men.
As a general thing the men like and
have confidence in their officers; but it is painful to allude to the fact that
some of the latter are not able to govern themselves, much less are they fit to
govern others. Some cannot conceal their low bred instincts beneath their
uniforms, their patience is as snappish and brittle as their pronunciation of the
English language is incorrect and their utterance of profane language against
the men does no credit to them not is it likely to be of any benefit in the end.
Some of them are quite stupid yet these are the the most abusive.
The Fifth is stationed at Prospect Hill. I saw Frank Hyde in our camp this
morning looking well. He was the guest of Lieut Rogers who, by the by, is as much
among the boys and as familiar and good humored with them as if he carried a
knapsack and a gun. All like him as they also do Lieut. Bird, who is always
cheerful and gentlemanly.
Today Gen. McDowell and staff, accompanied by W. D. Russell visited our camp on
a tour of inspection. How satisfied they were I had no opportunity to discover.
The boys are disappointed at not being led against the enemy, as it was
threatened last evening. But I must close to attend divine service hoping
sometime to afford your readers something more interesting. Yours,
Wm. D. W.
FROM THE 7TH REGIMENT
Arlington Heights, Va.
7th Reg't W. V.
Oct 13, 1861
Editors State Journal- My last letter
was from Chain Bridge, where we were then encamped.
On Saturday, October 5th, our Brigade broke up camp in compliance with an order
from headquarters moved over to this place and joined Gen. McDowell's division of
We are stationed in the line of
forts built since the battle of Bull Run, between Fort Tillinghast and Ramsey.
Our camp is situated about one half of a mile north west of the Arlington House
famous as the late residence of the rebel Gen. Lee. It was formerly the old
property and was once owned by Martha Custis who was afterwards the wife of Gen.
It was the house in which Gen. Washington was married. It is now the
headquatters of Gen. McDowell. The day on which we came over was hot and dusty.
The thermometer stood at 90 degrees in the shade. Our line of march was along the
east bank of the Potomac between the bluff and the canal to Georgetown and
thence across the river on the Aqueduct up past Fort Corcoran and back to our
present position. Along the river the rays of the sun reflected from the waters
below and down from the rocks above and created a most intense heat.
Some suffered from sun stroke none however in our Regiment.
The boys of the 2d declared that it was worse than Bull Run.
We have heard the firing of heavy guns in a westerly direction at intervals for
the last three days in the night as well as during the day. It can't be all practice.
Last evening our brigade received orders to prepare one day's rations and be
ready to march at ten minutes notice.
The firing in the west continues this (Sunday) morning though not steadily. We
think there is fighting going on in Gen. Banks' division. The 7th is ready and
anxious to go, but no orders for marching have yet been received.
AFTERNOON-I learn this afternoon that the orders we received yesterday evening
to prepare rations and hold ourselves in readiness to march at ten minute's
notice were given on account of indications as of an advance upon our lines at
this point. We are between Chain Bridge and Alexandria where military men seem to
insist we shall be attacked if an attack is made upon us. I think there is no
danger of an attack though, we are too strongly fortified.
It was really singular to notice the effect the order of last evening had upon
our camp. The order was at first understood to be to march in ten minutes and
the order was given to fall in with knapsacks slung .
All was quiet for a moment and then there was a general rush for the tents.
In less time than it takes to write it some were emerging again and falling into
line fully equipped. Others took it more coolly and carefully laid aside what
must be left behind. The most remarkable feature, however, was at the
hospital among the sick. That department suddenly found itself almost entirely
deserted. All that could walk though they were able to go. A number made their
way to their company quarters slung knapsacks, took their guns and fell in who
when the real nature of the order became known were unable to get back to their
tents with assistance.
All is quiet this afternoon no
firing to be heard. In all probability we shall leave here in few days.