Co. I, Second Wisconsin
Cornelius Wheeler enlisted on May 20, 1861. He was, at the time, a 20 year old teacher who was studying law, born September 16, 1840 in Medina, New York, living in Dodgeville.
He was good at what he did and was promoted to Corporal October 5, 1861. He was promoted to Sergeant October 29, 1862, not long after Antietam and became First Sergeant May 10, 1863, a little under two months before Gettysburg where he took the place of Captain Otis in Company I command. On May 25, 1864, he became a First Lieutenant. He was mustered out of service June 20, 1864 and is recorded as being in command of the Company on its return home.
Known to his friends as Corney, he was reckoned a "noble, honorable soldier, serving his Company and the command most faithfully" by George Otis, a longtime acquaintance, who believed that Wheeler was in every battle in which the Regiment engaged and was never wounded.
After the war, he worked at a bank in Portage and later served as city treasurer under a Democratic administration. He became an adjustor and general agent for Northwestern Fire Insurance Company in 1875 and his subsequent travel around the Midwest kept him in contact with veterans. He was appointed as Governor of the National Soldiers Home in Milwaukee in 1892 and was involved in several veterans group. In an interview after his appointment, he told the Milwaukee Sunday Telegraph (Jan. 2, 1892)
"While I am glad to have been deemed worthy of promotion at the hands of my superiors, there is nothing which I look back to with so much pleasure, or with greater satisfaction, than the fact that when I was a boy I enlisted as soon as I could and that I served most of my time in the ranks."