Return to the Home Page of the Second Wisconsin

1862 July, Seventh Wisconsin

Publish by Request
Death of Joseph Pryor
July 7th, 1862

Rev. James T. Pryor,
Fennimore, Wisconsin

Dear Sir:- the painful duty is enjoined upon me to announce to you that your son, Joseph Pryor, departed this life on yesterday at twenty minutes past 3 o'clock, p.m., aged 15 years and 10 months. Several minutes before the termination of his existence, he became easy and passed away without a struggle, but was unconscious. After his death he looked almost as natural as when living as he was sick but a few days and but little reduced in flesh. The Chaplain of the 19th Indiana Volunteers, officiated at his burial, (as our chaplain resigned some time ago) which took place at sunset on yesterday evening with military honors - as follows:
The Regimental Field music in front with muffled drums, playing an appropriate air, next eight men, rank and file, with arms reversed; next, ambulance with deceased; next, six pall bearers; next, the company in two ranks without arms and lastly the chaplain. 
On arriving at the grave, the eight men selected from his comrades, presented arms to their late brother soldier, then rest on arms (which is done by placing the muzzle of the gun upon the left toe, both hands on the breech and head bowed on hands,) while the funeral service was being performed; they then shouldered arms, loaded and fired three volley's over the grave, meaning peace to his ashes, peace to his soul and spread wide his fame; then returned with heavy hearts to our encampment.
He is buried in the Falmouth burying ground on the banks of the Rappahannock River. We marked his resting place with two boards one at his head marked thus: J. Pryor, Co. H., 7th Reg. W. V., died July 6, 1862;" the other, at his feet marked" J. P."
The circumstances which called us together; the various scenes through which we have passed; the willingness with which he has always done his duty; the cool bravery and anxiety he manifested for one of his years, to meet the enemies of his country on the morning of the 10th of March last when we received the order "March on Centerville, at 3 o'clock and 30 minutes, A.M." and fully expected to fight the most terrible and bloody battle of modern times. I told him he had better stay as one of the camp guards; when he requested me, with tears in his eyes, so great was his anxiety to let him go along, and urged until I told him he could go; such considerations bind us together with ties which soldiers only can realize never to be erased while memory retains her seat. As we may march any hour his resting place shall be engraved on my mind and in taking the last look with a heart full of emotion, I can but say, "Brother soldier, Rest - thy warfare's over. farewell to thee and thy narrow home, where the sound of war's deadly blast cannot reach thee. May god bless thy soul - farewell.'
I remain yours very truly,
Mark Finnicum, Captain,
Co. H, 7th Reg. W.V.

Dear Record: - We still remain at our camp opposite the city of Fredericksburg. There is nothing transpiring in this department of the army. On the 12th, General McDowell arrived from Washington - and as usual when he arrives - a review immediately takes place. It happens that our brigade - which misfortune has placed near his head quarters - is considered the flower of the army in this department and under the orders of General Rufus King has reached that efficiency in drill that is seldom surpassed even by Regulars. We were ordered to be ready for review at six P.M.; the hour found us in readiness, and on the field. We are seeing a great deal of duty in the way of marches and countermarches, and seems almost to me that there is no hostile foe here; no rebellion - clash of arms in deadly combat, but in attending church yesterday in the city of Fredericksburg, I could not think such was the case. Mothers mourning for their sons, wives for their husbands, and sisters weeping for lost brothers. 
The sight was effecting, nearly two thirds of the congregation in mourning for lost friends. The 30th Regiment of Virginia Volunteers was raised in this city and was mostly killed or wounded before Richmond. In contemplating the scenes my mind, I was carried back to congregations assembled in my own glorious State, where similar scenes meet your gaze; but friends whom they mourn fell protecting the flag of our glorious country from the insults of those who with us have shared its protection from their infancy, but now would destroy that which their fathers won by their precious blood; and in the language of divine inspiration, I would exclaim; How long dear Savior, O how long will this rebellion rage. How many more of our friends must fall to satisfy Southern traitors. Interpose and stop this scene of depostation and death - this carnage of war and hostility.  May peace once more fold her gentle mantle around our distracted country and those that learn war, learn war no more.
I visited yesterday the sacred spot where lies buried the Mother of the illustrious Washington, the father of his country, and to see how that sacred spot has been desecrated, the monument erected to her memory, and which should be considered sacred to all observers, is mutilated in various ways. It bears the marks of ball and shot said to be committed by rebels. But there is other remarks that is enough to bring feelings to a heart of stone, to think that the soldiers of our country have no more respect for the honored dead that to break the corners of a monument in order to gratify the idle curiosity of some friend. I have no doubt if they knew how the gifts were obtained would reprove them. It is strange to me that there is no guard placed around to protect the venerable dead. I will send you a small piece I picked up at the foot of the monument. The monument is not finished - is of marble - ten feet square and sixteen feet in height and when completed will be about thirty feet high.
The health of our regiment is very good. Our camp is pleasantly located. On the last bank of the Rappahannock we are favored with the best of spring water which adds greatly to our comfort. fruit again makes its appearance in camp: apples and cherries are nearly gone. The boys are luxuriating on blackberries which are abundant only a few miles from camp, but which sell at five cents per gill. Fruit commands a high price.
On the 10th, at dress Parade, our Orderly rode to our lines with a special marching order; to be ready to  march in one hour's notice. All the Quartermasters and medical stores to be sent to Alexandria except ten days rations so that no delay would be occasioned when the order to march was given. The order has not yet arrived nor is there any prospect of us getting it at present. I can not write much news as there is none. The weather is dry and hot with every sign of continued dry weather. I will write again soon. Respects to all friends.
Yours &c.
(We are here obliged to omit, for want of space, that portion which pertains to the resignation of Captain Samuel Stevens of Company G, on account of ill health. The members tender him their best wishes etc. The card is signed by sixty-two persons, including our esteemed correspondent. - ED.)

 JULY 14, 1862

Mr. Editor: - I am sometimes favored with a copy of your paper, which I search very eagerly for some communication from our Regiment, (the 7th, Wis.,) - knowing that one company of that regiment hails from Marquette County, - but with one or two exceptions, I have never seen it mentioned in your paper; while I find regular communications in almost every country paper, where the county has a representative in the regiment.
The people of Marquette County must have come to the conclusion that we are worthless for the purpose for which were intended or that we are ashamed to let our friends at home know what we are doing.
With your permission, I would like to give your readers a short sketch of our travels since we first trod the "sacred soil" of Virginia:
We crossed the Potomac on the 5th of October, 1861, and from that day we date the commencement of our campaign. We were ordered into camp on Arlington Heights about one fourth of a mile west of the Arlington House - late the residence of  R. E. Lee, now commanding the Confederate Army before Richmond. Although our camping ground was from two to three hundred feet above the Potomac still it was damp and sickly - the soil being of a clayey nature and very springy. This was our camp of instruction.
I will not attempt a history of the little incidents that occurred during the long and dreary months we remained there. - Our leisure moments were occupied in reading, writing, eating and sleeping - varied, frequently by a deluge of rain, which kept us busy drying our bed clothing and cutting extra ditches around our tents to be prepared for the next shower continually hoping for a frost, a fight or anything for a excuse for leaving our lonesome tents. In this way we passed the time from October to the 10th of March when we heard the long wished for order, - "Onward to Manassas!"
Long before daylight that morning we were on our way, singing as we floundered through mud and darkness "In Dixie Land I'm bound to travel, Hoe it down," &c.
A little after daylight, we struck the Fairfax and Alexandria turnpike, where we took our place in line with what seemed to us a nations emigrant train. Nothing could be seen, for miles but a moving mass of men and horses. Thousands of cavalry led off in the grand gallopade followed by brigade after brigade, each in itself a little army, with its battery of artillery, supported by its thousands of riflemen.
A little after noon we came in sight of Fairfax Court House where we expected to find some preparations for our reception; but to our disappointment, we found all quiet and the place in possession of the Jersey Boys.
We passed through this dirty hole and pitched our tents at Camp King, about a mile from the Court House and within a quarter of a mile of Germantown. Here we staid three or four days when we were ordered back to Alexandria, as we supposed, to take shipping for Yorktown; but in this we were disappointed, for we were ordered back to Arlington.
After two days rest we were again put in motion for Alexandria. This time we all felt sure that we were going somewhere but again we were doomed to disappointment. We encamped at Smoky Hollow four miles from Alexandria, where we remained until sickness began to appear among us.
On the 7th of April we were again put in motion and again we traveled over the same road to Fairfax Court House and on to Centerville where we encountered the enemy for the first time in the shape of some two hundred dead horses. Up those ragged heights went our men with a firm step and unbroken front until with in short range when unable to stand the charge we broke but succeeded in forcing our way through the enemy's lines.
We formed behind the fortifications and Centerville was taken. That night we encamped on the bank of Bull Run and about two miles from the famous Bull Run battle field.
While passing Centerville, I observed numerous burying grounds showing that disease had done its work among the enemy.
The inhabitants told us that the troops from the extreme southern States suffered severely.
A great many were taken home by their  friends to be interred; but in our burying ground alone we counted no less than ninety, all belonging to one Regiment - I think the 9th Louisiana. Georgia, too, had her quota in this vast graveyard.
In passing Manassas Junction there seemed to be but little left to indicate the importance of the place except a heap of old irons - which they burned to prevent its falling into our hands.
From this place we marched along the line of the railroad resting frequently for the purpose of allowing us time to masticate a few barrels of Mexican lamb (mule Beef) and few boxes of granite cakes - those whose appetites were poor were very careless about their meat; but the rugged and hungry had to keep a vigilant guard over it, until it was overpowered by heat and forced to surrender, and when we could look quietly on and see the poor animal that had died years ago of a natural death writhing in the agonies of a second dissolution.
We arrived at Catlett's Station a few days after the rebels had burned the bridge over Cedar Run. From this after a stay of week or two we went to Fredericksburg and arrived there, as usual, after the rebels had burned all the bridges and everything as desolate as possible for our reception.
Here the resources of our brigade began to be developed. The rebel farmer's, in this vicinity, having been called to leave somewhat unexpectedly, left their fences in a rather ruinous condition. But a portion of the "Army of the Potomac" was a hand and they knew their property was in safe keeping. Our men had scarcely time to pitch their tents before the order came for our regimental officers to send out details to build up the dilapidated fences of our "Southern Brethren." We like to see brotherly love. We do not even find fault with an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth but this law requiring men to return two good rails for one poor one is more than we can swallow.
Here we staid a few weeks going about doing good, (to the enemy). Then crossed the Rappahannock and proceeded south about eight miles. Here we staid three or four days then returned to Fredericksburg and thence to Catlett's Station and Haymarket where we staid three or four days; then went to Warrenton thence to Catlet's Station and Fredericksburg where we now are.
By the route traveled we find that our journey foots up about 300 miles; and all this distance we have carried a load averaging fifty pounds weight often through the mud knee deep and the rain pouring down in torrents and at other times under a scorching sun.
All this tramping may look like doing very little for the great cause but the secret is told when we converse with prisoners taken from Stonewall Jackson, they tell us how they made forced marches from point to point, with the intention of getting in our rear, but upon reaching the rallying point they always found a strong force ready to oppose them. Thus it will be seen that we kept in check a force outnumbering us ten to one.
I have written this to show our friends at home that although our names are not among those who are winning laurels on the battle field yet we have not been idle.

July 25, 1862

After wandering over a great portion of the God-forsaken mud of Old Virginia, guarding Sesesh property, chasing old Jackson, and doing other like foolish things, we pitched our tents for the second time opposite Fredericksburg, on or about the 10th of June last.
We are now under command of General Pope, for which, God be praised. Pope suits us. I hope we will suit him. We have been waiting here for Pope to get his army together. A great share of his troops are at Culpepper Court House, others at Warrenton and Catlet's Station. I think it is a mistake that a portion of his army was a Gordonsville. Two or three hundred of our cavalry from here did go down to Beaver Dam on the Rail Road, between the junction north of Richmond and Gordonsville, tore up the Rail Road, destroyed two or three culverts, burned the depot, 40,000 rounds of cartridges and about 200 barrels of flour, captured eight men, one of them a Captain, another the telegraph operator; also captured a dispatch from Richmond saying that reinforcements should be sent to Gordonsville.
They staid at Beaver Dam till they heard the cars coming with reinforcements. Then they left on suspicion. Secesh out with their cavalry, and after the Yankees, but did not catch them. They brought their prisoners in safe. This was about a week ago. Three or four days ago our cavalry was down within ten or fifteen miles of Richmond. How the secesh must have dammed the Yankees when they found the mischief done at Beaver Dam!
Three Regiments from our division with a battery or two and a lot of cavalry left here yesterday, crossed the river and went out West reconnoitering, perhaps, according to one of Pope's late orders.  They will bring in a lot of teams as we need a few yet in the Brigade. Pope gave us, the other day, four four-horse teams to haul knapsacks. Our poor boys, while under McDowell's command were compelled to carry all their worldly goods on all their marches. To your readers it will not seem much of a job to travel eighteen or twenty miles in a day. Just shoulder a 50 lb. sack of flour and pack it up to Wautoma in a very hot day or a very rainy one, then you will realize some of the beauties of soldiering in McDowell's corps de Armee. McDowell made us a visit the same day, only staid half a day. When he first came you could hear the boys over the camp say "now look out for a review!" sure enough that afternoon our Brigade was ordered out on review.- After which McDowell left for Washington or some other place. We have heard nothing from him since.
I have seen it stated by various correspondents of newspapers in Wisconsin from the 7th Regiment, that our Regiment only numbered 650 men &c., one even getting it down to 550 men. Now this is all a mistake. According to this morning report, the 7th regiment has 926 men, of these 24 are detached for the artillery service, 9 are in the gunboat service on the western waters, 15 are in the construction corps, building bridges &c., 2 are in the signal services, 3 are at brigade headquarters on extra duty, 4 are nurses in hospitals, 1 is in the hands of the civil authority and 67 are absent, sick. Nearly all the sick will be back to the Regiment; 17 came in yesterday from Alexandria. The reason why we have so many absent sick is this: About ten days ago we got orders to march at an hour's notice. All the stores were shipped to Alexandria. The sick who could not march and carry their guns &c. were shipped to the same place on very short notice Of course one-half of them were not much sick. They could not be left here as it is contrary to all rules to leave the sick of a regiment when the regiment is about to march. We have found that out, at least the Union Army have. We have lost about 30 men by disease. We have received about 25-30 recruits about one half of whom have been discharged for disability &C &c. I may as well mention one thing now when Wisconsin is about to send off another lot of soldiers to the battle field. Let no man or boy enlist who is not perfectly sound. It is hard enough for a able bodied soldier to stand it here.
If you have weak lungs keep away. If you have had the rheumatism keep away. If you have had a leg broken keep away. If you do come, ten chances to one you will be discharged or die in a hospital.
On the 10th of May last we came into camp opposite Fredericksburg for the first time camped in a clover fields just vacated by Patrick's Brigade. Near where we camped was a stack of straw into which the boys pitched for beds. It was a little better than sleeping in damp clover. The old secesh overseer who was living on the place with a slave woman and three or four of his half white children was out in great tribulation to save his straw and enquired very particularly for General Patrick. He said Patrick had had a guard over that straw pile while he was encamped here. We told him it was no use as Gen. Patrick had played out and the boys took what rails they needed. Our brigade used up a few rails to cook their supper. In fact they could get no other wood there being none within miles of the camp. In the morning, Sunday, one captain and lot of non commissioned officers and fifty privates were detailed with a lot of teams all from our regiment to go and split rails and rebuild that fence for that old amalgamations. This miserable scoundrel assisted in firing the steamboats and other vessels when the Northern troops first came here. Among them was the St. Nicholas, the Union boat captured by the notorious "French lady" on the Potomac last summer. A guard was kept over his house and straw pile while we were in that camp. Were not the whole brigade mad! It seemed to be an insult to the manhood of our soldiers. I think our boys, under Pope's order, will have the pleasure of making the miserable old Secesh swear allegiance to the old Government or travel south.