The Hide and Seek Game
These are summaries of the battles. For first hand news reports, note the dates and check our "From the Front" section for more detail.
The Second, being well and nobly officered, well clothed and
provided for in 1862.
The Austrian Rifles were being received by January and they had their new uniforms.
March 10, 1862, the campaign opened with a general advance on Manassas; break camp, march out on the turnpike to Fairfax Courthouse, bivouacing near Germantown or where Germantown was. It rained all day, marching heavy, distance sixteen miles. March 11th remained quiet. Learn that the enemy after destroying everything perishable have retreated from Centerville and Manassas towards Gordonville and Richmond.
While in this camp a reorganization of the army into Corps de Armee (1) by direction of President Lincoln is effected in general; it is brigaded by fours. Each corps to consist of three divisions. Gen. McDowell commanded the First, Gen. Rufus King the First Division, Col. Lysander Cutler of the Sixth Wisconsin assumed command of our brigade numbered the Fourth in the division. March 15th returned in a heavy cold rain to within about three miles of Alexandria, distance marched 14 miles. March 16th, returned to Camp Tillinghast and occupy the old winter quarters, distance 16 miles.
March 18th, marched 8 miles by way of Alexandria, go into camp at Fairfax Seminary. Nothing of note transpires until April 5th, when we are apprised of the fact that McDowells command is assigned to the department of the Rappahannock. Gen. McClellan with the balance of his command was embarked for the peninsular. We march to Centerville, camp on Hunting Creek, distance 15 miles. April 6th we march at an early hour through Fairfax and Centerville to Blackburn, where we camp on the old battlefield, distance 22 miles. April 7th march from Manassas junction to Milford on Broad Run and camp, distance 8 miles. April 8th march to Kettle Run and camp. At this camp we experience one of the most disagreeable, cold, wet, and chilly snowstorms known to occur in this climate, and in the morning we call it snow camp. April 12th the major part of the Second Wisconsin out on the Orange and Alexandria road and the balance with the other regiments of the Brigade march to Catletts station on Cedar Run to rebuild the railroad bridge destroyed by the enemy, distance 7 miles. April 21st march towards Fredericksburg to Elk Run. In consequence of heavy rain it is flooded, cannot pass it, go into camp, distance 5 miles. April 22d, rain ceases at an early hour. By 9 oclock we pass over the river, march to Howard Station, distance 16 miles. April 23rd, march at an early hour, pass through Falmouth about 4 P. M., camp about a mile from the village on the heights opposite the City of Fredericksburg, Va., distance 10 miles.
The advance of our column had some skirmishing with the enemy just before reaching Falmouth and the enemys pickets are to be seen on the hills beyond Fredericksburg. April 27th, march to Potomac Creek, 5 miles to repair railroad bridge, and the next day the Second is detached from the brigade and sent to Accokeek Creek to rebuild a bridge at Brooks Station. May 2d, regain the brigade and march rapidly to within two miles of Fredericksburg and camp, distance 12 miles. May 8th, John Gibbon, Captain of Battery B, Fourth United States Artillery, having been appointed brigadier general of volunteers, is assigned to command our brigade and Col. Cutler returned to his Regiment, the Sixth. Move down the river and camp on the bank immediately in front of Fredericksburg.
I returned to Falmouth May 7 and was assigned the next day to the brigade formerly commanded by Gen. King.
The same day I took command of it, I relinquished command of the battery with very great regret for it was in splendid condition and in the artillery service I felt very much at home. I did not know how I should feel with the infantry.
The brigade of which I now took command, and with which I was intimately associated for the next six months was composed of the 2nd, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin and 19th Indiana, the colonels in the order named being O'Connor, Cutler, Robinson, and Meredith. I had already formed some acquaintance with these regiments and had been strongly impressed with the high character of the material composing them by observation of the men I had obtained from them the previous fall in manning my battery.
From the character of these I was already impressed with the conviction that all they needed was some discipline and drill to make them first class soldiers and my anticipations were more than realized. In drill and discipline two of the regiments (the 2nd and 6th) had decidedly the advantage over the other two. The 2nd had for its colonel Edgar O"Connor, a graduate of West Point in 1854, and for its lieutenant colonel Lucius Fairchild (afterwards Governor of Wisconsin and U.S. Minster to Spain). O'Connor had an affection of the throat which prevented the use of his voice in drill, the result of which was that most of that kind of duty fell to Fairchild, who had great natural soldierly ability and being active, energetic and intelligent, soon mastered the tactics so that the regiment rapidly improved.
Cutler, the colonel of the 6th, was also a natural soldier though somewhat inclined to arbitrary and dictatorial measures. He soon became a good tactician and great emulation at once sprang up between these two regiments.
Each strove to become the "crack" regiment of the brigade.
May 11th, Maj. Duffera, upon a reconnaissance with a squadron of cavalry of the Harris Light, makes a dash upon the enemys pickets on the plains at the mouth of the Massapanox Run, captures a Confederate Officer and several men, succeeds in getting up quite an excitement in camp, from which action is visible by the troops, being on dress parade, the dashing major being placed under arrest for disobedience of orders for bringing on a skirmish, though it was evidently successful without much loss. While in this camp Co.s D and F of the Second are detached with the construction corps to assist in repairing bridges, the enemy making us plenty of work. They engage us in good honest labor. May 23rd our division is reviewed by President Lincoln , being highly complemented for its splendid appearance and bearing on this auspicious occasion. May 26, cross the Rappahannock and pass through the city on the Bowling Green road to Guinies Station and camp on the grounds occupied and called Camp Alexandria by the enemy only a few days before, distance 8 miles. We suppose the object of this move was to form a junction with the army on the Peninsular, a portion of which at this time occupied Hanover Junction, 26 miles distant. May 29th, break camp march back through Fredericksburg across the Rappahannock, out through Falmouth Camp on the Catletts Road after a march of 13 miles.
May 30th up at an early hour, but do not march until 9 A. M. By which time it is very warm. During the fore part of the day, in consequence of a hot sun and dusty road, many of the men falling out and straggle after the marching column when the ambulances are full. In the afternoon we are reinforced with a shower of rain, and march much easier. At Town Run at dark. At dusk we halt and make coffee, thence to Elk Run and camp, distance marched 22 miles. General Augurs brigade take the cars for Fort Royal in the valley, and there is talk that a whole division will follow to support General Banks, for which purpose we lay at the point until June 2nd, when General Kings division march by way of Greenwish to Hay market under a scorching hot sun, and the men straggle badly; camp at sunset, distance 12 miles. June 3rd, rained in torrents all night. We are nearly drowned out , blankets, clothing all wet as water can make them; continues raining until the 5th. The division is here concentrated.
June 6th, at an early hour, we march out on the Warrentown pike and on through New Baltimore and camp, distance 13 miles. The Iron Brigade is now playing a game of hide and seek, making short and rapid marches back and forth over a strip of country for the sole purpose of keeping the enemy from slipping into Washington; at the same time the enemy scarcely keeps up in appearance, if anything he is playing with us about here and there as a kind of ruse, which has more or less of Confederate smartness in its makeup. We are not in the secret of the part we are expected to play, we take to the work right humbly and view the country around Warrentown with a relish that defies competition.
June 7, 1862 , found the brigade quiet in camp near the beautiful little town of Warrentown, the capital of Fauquier County, Virginia. The town consists of a handsome court house, a jail, a town hall, four churches, two academies (one for male and one for female), several stores, two hotels, two printing offices and, previous to the beginning of the war, 2,000 inhabitants. Here the women folk were somewhat haughty and arrogant at us Lincoln chaps, and seemed to delight in taunting those of the soldiers who stood guard over Gov. Smiths residence.
Many of the Iron Brigade will remember the free bath they received by the ladies then in charge of the governors residence. June 8th opened with a fine summer morning, many of the boys going to the Episcopal Church to hear a sermon by the resident rector, but before the text was read marching orders were received, services were abruptly broken up and each soldier repaired to his regiment. After a march of ten miles go into camp at Warrentown Junction.
June 9th brings to Elk Run, ten miles distant. On the 10th we make ten miles under a heavy rain, camping to the right near Harwood Church. On the 11th we reach Fredericksburg, after a march of 10 miles, and go into camp on the Lacy farm opposite the end of the city. Here orders were given to make ourselves comfortable, and we take advantage of the privileged and proceed to enjoy the short respite from a great deal of marching over pike roads. Previous to the war this Fredericksburg had a population of about 6,000 people. June 13th, Second and a section of Battery L, First N. Y. Artillery and a squadron of cavalry cross the river to reconnoiter immediately southwest of the city, a distance of seven miles over the telegraph road, returning to camp without so much being permitted as to exchange the usual morning salutations with our enemies.