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1863 March, Seventh Wisconsin

March 1st, 1863

SUNDAY, March 1st - The wind has blown a perfect gale all day. Not withstanding the wind the chaplain held services this afternoon. The services was very well attended.           The wind is drying the mud up rapidly.
MONDAY, March 2d. - Continues pleasant.- We are expecting our furloughed men back now; their time is out to-night; but as they have a day or two of grace, I suppose they will improve them; there are others that have gone on the journal form of writing as long as we are in camp because some days there is but very little to write about; however, you may expect to hear from me once a week, then I will sum up the proceedings of the week.
TUESDAY, March 3d .- Somewhat cooler today; mud is drying fast. It is time for our furloughed men to be back, but they have not come yet. I suppose they will not be back till the last day of grace expires which will be tomorrow.
WEDNESDAY, March 4th. - Cold and clear; rained "right-smart" during the night, but soon dried off. Furloughed men have not returned. It appears that two men did come back last Monday, and those that went took their places; no others can go till those that are away return.
THURSDAY, March 5th. - Quite cold. Two of the furloughed men have returned; came in on the boat this afternoon. They have been reported absent without leave, and according to an order received last night from Gen. Hooker, all persons absent without leave are to be tried by a court martial; may get some of them into trouble.
FRIDAY, March 6th. -  Moderate. There is two of the first set of furloughed men away yet. It will go pretty hard with them if they cannot furnish a good reason for their absence; they will have to stand a court martial even if they were not more than four or five hours behind.
SATURDAY, March 7th. - Blustering. One man of the furloughed men arrived on this afternoon's boat; the reason why he was not back in time, was because he could not get transportation from Madison. He was detained there three days, and had it not been for the kindness of Major Callis, he might have been there yet.
It appears that the Governor did not pay any attention to the election held here for the Majorship. Capt.. Callis has received his commissions Major, and in my humble opinion, he is the deserving man. He has been with us in all our fights and always at his post. For quite a period after the battle of Gainesville he was in command of the regiment all through Bull Run battle, South Mountain and Antietam up to the time that Major Bill returned which was sometime in October, about the 4th. Major Callis has earned and deserves the promotion that the Governor has bestowed, and I for one, rejoice in it.
There are many other promotions in the regiment, but as we are about the last to hear of them, it will not be necessary for me to reiterate them.
In one of my letters, I stated that Brig. Gen. Meredith had gone to Washington and that he was ordered there on special business, but here was an error in the type, which makes it read "We are ordered there," instead of "He's ordered there." I do not wish to be misunderstood. I desire to be strictly truthful. I received two copies of THE PATRIOT a few evenings since, they are always welcome guests. I spoke of dropping the journal form of writing, because it caused a repetition of many evenings, and then some days there is very little to write about. In future, I will sum up the events of the week, and transmit them to you the close of each week.
S. J. M.

March 6, 1863

Letter from Capt. H.F. Young, 7th Regt.

The following letter, addressed to his father-in-law, Jared Warner, is from Capt. Henry F. Young, of Company F, 7th Regiment, and is published by request of the Union Club at Patch Grove, before which it was read last week. Capt. Young supported Stephen A. Douglas for President, and was always a firm Democrat. We do not suppose his mind has undergone any political change, for in 1860 the entire Douglas popular sovereignty party were loyal. Since that time the Breckinridge influence has gained largely and now controls the party. Capt. Young refuses to adopt the Breckinridge platform; that's what's the matter. And therefore, singular as it may seem, the entire un-Breckinridge-able section of the Douglas party, foes with the Republicans for a vigorous war against all Constitution destroyers and for the Union, even if a war of annihilation is necessary against all Copperheads and rebels in arms. These are facts clear as noon day light. Capt. Young's letter breathes the sprit which the soldiers now entertain and will bring home with them from the army; and then God knows whether moderation may or may not prevail to protect the sneaking cowards at home who are devising means to disgrace the Union army! Here is the letter:

DEAR FATHER: I received you very welcome and interesting letter from Madison yesterday; very glad indeed to hear that the people of Wisconsin, that is the loyal portion, are getting waked up once more for if ever this nation needed the support of every loyal man that time is now. Congress has placed almost unlimited power in the hands of the a President; that's just what was wanted. Now let the loyal people of the North sustain him; let them come out in their might and frown down all opposition; if the opposition can't be frowned down put it down in some other way, for it must go down; if men must be traitors notify them to leave the country and send them South, give them over to the tender mercies of their lord and master Jeff Davis; and if this won't do put it down with powder and ball, for when the ballot box fails us we must use the cartridge box; they are traitors and are trying to overthrow the government and give it into the hands of the South and they should be dealt with as traitors; they have forfeited all claim for protection as citizens from the government; they uphold a despotism; give them the benefit of their own infernal doctrine by sending them every d--d one South and when they won't go peaceably, force them to go then confiscate their properly for the benefit of soldier's families of toward paying expenses of the war. That would be my way of dealing with every man that in any way gave encouragement to the traitors. You may think these extreme measures; by the eternal I go in for any and every means to put down the rebellion. I now go in for arming every Negro with our lines and all that will be after come in form them into companies, regiments and brigades, giving them the same rights and privileges as white soldiers. I go in for every town and country in the loyal states having an armed vigilance committee authorized by the Governors of their states and that the said company of committee shall be held responsible for the good conduct of all citizens with their respective commands that they shall have power to suppress all newspapers that in any way or manner oppose all efforts being made to suppress the rebellion; further that they have power to force the conscription act; now this would not affect loyal and patriotic citizens, while all others have forfeited all claim for protection as citizens; the action of the Copperheads in the West and North-west has raised a howl of indignation in the army that will yet blast every man of the infernal clique to everlasting disgrace and their names to infernal infamy. Solders after one or two campaigns, after two or three battles, when they have seen their comrades shot down in battle by their side, become changed; they are no longer the mere boys they were looked upon at home. They have become grave, energetic and desperate men and are well posted on all that is going on; and let me tell you the soldiers have this day more hatred for the Copperheads of the North than for the rebels of the south; they heap curses on them loud and deep and if Mr. Copperhead don't hole up before this army is disbanded and sent home, he will be apt to find this climate an unhealthy on; the army is gaining in patriotism, health and good sprits daily. Gen. Hooker is weeding it out, almost every day there are a number of officers dismissed the service; some for absence with out leave, some for incompetency and many more for disloyalty; this is all right; hurrah for Old Joe as the boys call him; many of the officers took their cue from the Seymour party of New York and expressed themselves opposed to the administration and the war; the consequence is they have been dismissed the service with loss of rank, pay and character and now find their leaders have turned somersaults and come out in favor of a vigorous prosecution of the war which leaves the poor devils out in the cold ready for the first conscription that takes effect.  This to is all as it should be.
The boys of the company are in good health. We are having rain almost every day with cold winds which makes it very uncomfortable. Give my good wishes to all friends.
Yours Truly
H. E. Young


Camp near Belle Plain, Va.
March 9, 63

FRIEND COVER: A part of this Brigade was recently sent on an expedition down the Northern Neckas, as the peninsula is called which extends southward between the Potomac and Rappahannock. Something was accomplished in the way of preventing conscriptions, and breaking up smuggling and our men brought away a considerable quantity of bacon, nearly fifty horses and mules, and about an equal number of slaves. They report a richer district than they have seen elsewhere in Virginia.
While there is much sickness in the new regiments, and the deaths are sadly frequent, the health of the troops who have been a year or more in the service, is excellent. The latter have learned how to cook and experience has taught them what precautions are necessary against the exposures of health in campaigning. The statement of Wilson that one man enlisted in an old regiment is worth three in a new one is hardly an exaggeration. A recruit in an old regiment has also the advantage of escaping to a great extent the tedious drill to which the new regiments are necessarily subjected. Placed in the ranks with veterans, he readily learns by imitation what long practice has taught them.
Perhaps some of your readers would be pleased to have a sketch of what may be seen at the general headquarters of this army. A few days since I rode there, a distance of six miles, through unspeakable mud, which, however (to do justice to a state which has come to a measure of grief scarcely less than that of her great crime of secession), I must say is not more superlatively bad than western clay would make with the rain and snow, the freezing and thawing and the incessant passing of teams which we have.
At Hooker's headquarters we find a compact little village, the tents numbering about one hundred and fifty and ranged in two parallel lines facing each other with an oblong space between, around which runs a plank walk. Most of the tents are warmed by a small stove, and receive their light through the semi-transparent canvas, or by throwing them open in front; a very few have the special luxuries of a door with a small window at the top, and a fireplace. At one end of the central area are the quarters of the self reliant man who has unhesitatingly taken the Army of the Potomac in his hand a, using the opportunity which these rainy days afford like a thrifty farmer, is setting all things right and preparing to hurl these forces  by the impulse of his single will on the enemy. Four tents are joined together; that in front is the office; the next is an apartment for dining and sleeping, the third is the kitchen and the last small one is for the cook.
Next to the commander's are the quarters of his Chief of Staff, General Butterfield. Opposite the prime minister's is the office of Assistant Adjutant General Williams, a native of Maine, whose admirable method and infallible accuracy render his services as chief clerk of the army indispensable under any commander. There is the chief of artillery, chief of Cavalry, chief of Ordinance, chief of topographical engineers, chief Quartermaster, chief commissary, Medical director, Inspector General, Provost Marshal, a Telegraph office with their aides, clerks, orderlies, servants &C., make up the population of this little town. It is the headquarters, assuming as it does, the functions of Reason and Will for the whole army.
At a distance of a few rods are parked more than a hundred wagons, with teams affording the transportation which these headquarters require. Generals Hooker, Butterfield and Williams have each a large covered spring wagon drawn by four horses for their use when traveling at night or in a storm. In the immediate vicinity is the Engineer Corps; also regiments of infantry and cavalry, guarding headquarters, or doing provost or picket duty. At the commencement of a day's march the General and Staff leave the tents standing which are afterwards struck and with their other effects loaded on the wagons. These teams have precedence of others on the road and lead the train.
A place is selected for the next encampment and there at night the canvas houses are again set up and occupied. This establishment is very much as McClellan left it, but most of the staff has been changed.
The remark in a recent number of the Independent that "in point of transportation our army has been better organized and cared for than any army in the field ever was," is quite incorrect. Since last August we have had only six teams to a regiment, while in the Mexican war a regiment was allowed four times as many, relieving the men entirely of the burden of their knapsacks, which an American feels so much, it not having been his habit before entering the service to carry loads on his back like the common people in Europe.
It is said that Hooker does not consider the circulation of certain newspapers which misrepresent the policy of the government, as beneficial to the army. He deprecates their influence as tending to counteract his efforts to improve the tone of feeling and discipline and to repress all patriotic enthusiasm. A soldier needs to have confidence in his leaders, and to approve the cause for which he fight, and to anticipate the success of that for which he perils so much. It were well that even patriots should remember that to write dishearteningly to a friend in the army, is so much aid given to treason, while words of cheer contribute to the success of our arms and the redemption of the nation. The admonition of Burnside to this effect, given at the meeting of the Christian Commission in New York, was most timely. Write to your fiends in the army often and honorably.
We should educate ourselves to a greatness and fervor of patriotic sentiment befitting the times. and the by our touch, communicate the sacred fire. We shall conquer, if not immediately, yet certainly "Time and I against any two," said Sir Walter Scott, as he addressed himself to the Herculean task of discharging a great debt with the productions of his pen and of great people, availing themselves of this element of time, can not fill.
"Learn to labor and to wait."
I am quite convinced that the apology for the continuance of slavery which has so generally been made by the South and accepted at the North, that its abolition was beset by such difficulties and dangers as rendered it impracticable will not stand the test of fact as developed in the progress of the war.  The freedmen, at this point, are not turbulent fellows. The officers are generally satisfied to employ them as servants; and I am informed by a man who superintends the labor of a large numbers of them at our landing that they do as much work as any men ought to perform, turning out for duty in a storm or in the night when required. If any are disposed to shirk he finds that he can best correct the fault by diminishing their wages; and you can control a laborer whom this motive will touch as you can ride a horse that obeys the bit and spur. The Negro is not a fiend or a fool; he is a man and what ever belongs to our common humanity is his. The fact of the docility of the colored race, ascertained and established is the key to the solution of the most perplexing questions of our national policy. By employing force sufficient to compel the masters to conduct themselves in a manner as worthy of citizenship as do their servants we shall have liberty and union, freedom and peace. 
S. W. Eaton

March 14th, 1863

Mesers, Editors; In accordance with my promise I shall now endeavor to give you a review of the week. When weather has been cold - yesterday and to-day quite cold. we have had one little flurry of snow, and one or two moderate rain storms.
You have no doubt long ere this printed the list of promotions of the officers of our regiment. It will not be necessary for me to speak at any length of them. The commissions arrived and were presented to the officers at dress parade last Sunday night. The promotions give general satisfaction.
It has been a little over a year since the Army of the Potomac made its debut. It has been engaged in many battles, but what has it all amounted to?
What had been gained? Many and many a brave man has gone to his long home - struck down in the vigor of manhood by the enemy's balls and others by disease; their bones lie moldering in the cold, cold grave far from home and friends with no one near to shed a parting tear. 
War is glorious, yet horrible.
A year ago we started forth, full of buoyancy eager for the fray and expecting a speedy termination of the war. A year has passed- mark the change. That buoyant eager army has melted away and the few that still remain have settled down into a moodiness that has no parallel. True, new troops have poured in by thousands, but they are even worse that the old troops. It will require a great and decisive victory to raise the drooping spirit of the soldiers and may it come soon.
For the first time since we were at Fredericksburg last summer we were called upon to attend a funeral. Our regiment had but few in the hospital. This young man was a member of Company F, by the name of Adelbert Staley. His parents live in Portage city. He enlisted in Grant county. On the 12th, last he was well and hearty. After dinner, he with his tent-mates, went after wood. One of them got a load and came back to camp. Staley with his companion went to work to get their loads. Staley tried to carry a stick but it was too heavy. They split some off of it, still it was too heavy to carry the distance he would be obliged to, which was about half a mile. He said he could carry it if it was on his shoulder. Finally he got one end on a stump and by that means shouldered it and started for camp. In crossing a rut, over which there was a foot log, he slipped and fell, the left side of his head striking the log, and the piece he was carrying coming directly on the right side, thus catching his head between the two. His skull was crushed; the piece he was carrying cutting a horrible gash in the back part of his head. He was taken up insensible and conveyed to the hospital where he died. Thus we are deprived of a good brave and faithful soldier one who has endured the hardships of a long and arduous campaigning; one who has braved the danger of the battle-field, with all its horrors unscathed at last to be a victim of accident.-
" The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away."
A portion of the regiment went on picket duty yesterday. We do not now furnish as many men as heretofore. The brigade had to furnish a certain number; then each regiment its quota ; it does not come so hard on the boys now.
S. J. M.

March 21st, 1863

The weather has been quite cold, and yesterday a snow storm set in, which has continued with more or less severity until the present time. the snow is light, and there is probably not more than two inches on the ground.
Major Callis arrived here yesterday. He met with a hearty welcome from the members of his old company. He says the weather is colder here than it was in Wisconsin when he left, and that we have more snow. He says the farmers of Wisconsin are making preparations for their spring work; and if such is the case the season is further advance there than here, as the buds on the trees have not yet began to swell.
We have recently had one death in our Regiment- the first since we left Fredericksburg. there are a few sick men in the hospital; but they are getting better. Our Regiment has been remarkably healthy this winter.
We shall soon be on the march again. Our Quartermaster has supplied new harnesses, wagon covers, wheels, &c., and everything will soon be in good marching condition.
The fight at Kelly's Ford was a complete Federal victory. We could hear the report of the guns quite distinctly. I hope all the engagement of the Army of the Potomac may be equally victorious.
 I recently saw a letter in the Grant County Witness, from a soldier, in which he expressed great sympathy for the nigger, and said that his regiment was composed of men who were all Negro worshippers. His statement may be true; but I assure you that all the regiments here are composed of men who are, with very few exceptions, not troubled with "nigger on the brain." some of the officers like to get niggers for servants, as they are as completely under their will as they were under their former masters, when they were slaves.
The feeling regarding Negroes bearing arms in the service of the United States, is about equally divided, here. If it could be shown that the employment of Negro soldiers, on the same footing as white men would assist in crushing the rebellion, of course everybody would be in favor of the project.

S. J. M.

HEADQUARTERS, 7th Wis. vol.
Belle Plain Va., 28th 1863

FRIEND COVER:- The night after I arrived in camp the officers of this Brigade "The old Iron Brigade," of which the 7th and 6th Wis. form a part, assembled at the headquarters of Gen. Meredith and drafted the following resolutions which were enthusiastically endorsed by the several regiments in the brigade, I send them to you knowing that you will publish them and hope that they will explode the damnable Copperhead heresy and politically kill and damn for ever every "Heresiarch" who peddles the slanderous imputation that we the Army of the Potomac are demoralized, I never saw the army in such uniformly good order as at the present time.
Yours Truly,
John B. Callis
put in resolution.......

Correspondence of the Daily Gazette
Noble Sentiments of the Wisconsin Regiments in the Army of the Potomac.

Camp Seventh Wisconsin Vol.,
Near Belle Plain, Virginia, March 29

Messrs Editors:-Variation on the Rappahannock, is, for the most part, atmospherically. Each spring-like day is succeeded by one of snow and rain. Preparations for a movement are still active - extra baggage being disposed of, pack mules provided, &c. Another expedition down the river has furnished more contrabands, and a large supply of grain.
In answer to inquiries concerning the general condition and sentiment of the army, and for the satisfaction of the friends of the 2d, 6th and 7th Wisconsin Regiments, I forward you a copy of the unanimous action of the officers and men of this entire brigade.
If it by your pleasure to publish, please add such notice as may suggest.
Most Respectfully,
E. F. Spaulding
Ass't Surgeon 7th Wis. Vol.

MARCH 29, 1863

Editors Patriot:-According to my promise I once more seat myself for the purpose of recording the events of the past week.
The Weather has been cool, one snow storm and two or three rainstorms and yesterday a thunder-storm.
A detail from our regiment went out on picket duty on the 25th and returned yesterday morning. The 2d ought to have gone too, but from some cause unknown to me they were sent off on another expedition down the river. By good rights we ought to have gone, but they are not to be envied much as the weather has been quite unpleasant.
Last Friday that portion of the regiment that was here was called out on our parade to hear patriotic resolutions which were drawn up by a committee composed of the officers of the 4th Brigade. Said resolution to be submitted to the men composing the said brigade to vote upon. Gen. Meredith made a few remarks. Then the resolutions were read by the Adjutant General. Not a man could help but hear every word distinctly. After the resolutions were read the General made quite a lengthy speech. He spoke frequently of the Copperheads and their determination to overthrown the government, and if their resisting the draft, or of their determination to overthrow the government, and if their resisting the draft, or of their disposition to do so and in case they did resist the draft, the Governor ought to call the old Iron Brigade to restore quiet and obedience to the Administration. That this brigade could represent three of the Northwestern states, (Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan) and let each regiment go to its own state and there enforce the draft. I wish I could give his address in detail, but I cannot as I am poor at quotations.
After the General had concluded, our Colonel addressed the men. He made quite a lengthy speech and quite appropriate to the occasion. He said he was a Democrat, but not a Copperhead; that he had been nominated for the Assembly, Senate and other public offices on the Democratic ticket, and had always handsomely whipped his opponent.
When the Colonel had concluded his speech the resolution were put to vote and passed unanimously. Every word of the resolutions could be heard by every man - even by those who were at the greatest distance form the reader.
The 2d Regiment came back last night. They captured a large quantity of corn, some beans and a "slew" of niggers. I believe they got some bacon, also.
The impression here is. that the army will soon be set in motion. Every preparation has been made and we are only waiting for the weather, roads to get in a suitable condition.
I have never known the army here to be in better spirits. I cannot account for the change. All seem to be confident of success in the Co. furloughs has been adopted, the men are more contented, as they all will have a chance to visit their homes.
S. J. M.
From the tenor of the above, it is certain to us that the soldiers don't understand what is meant by "Copperheads."