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Feb. 6, 1864.-
From our quiet winter life we are early on the march to Poney Mountain bivouacing in the woods near Raccoon Ford on the Riparian. Distance twelve miles. In the evening detachments from the several regiments of the Iron Brigade , Under Col. Morrow, proceed under cover of darkness to Belleville on Raccoon Ford and set fire to the village, the buildings have served for a cover for the enemy's sharpshooters. Feb. 7th.- March back to camp, occupying former quarters Distance ten miles. And thus we are awaiting the preparations going on for the final conflict. Gen. Grant in command.
ARMY OF THE POTOMAC
May 4th, 1864.
SOLDIERS: again you are called upon to advance on the enemies
of your country. The time and the occasion are deemed opportune
by your commanding general to address you a few words of
confidence and caution.
You have been re-organized, strengthened and fully equipped in every respect. You form a part of the several armies of your country the whole under the direction of an able and distinguished general, who enjoys the confidence of the government, the people and the army. Your movement being in co-operation with others, it is of the utmost importance that no effort should be left unspared to make it successful. Soldiers! the eyes of the whole country are looking with anxious hope to the blow you are about to strike in the most sacred cause that ever called men to arms.
Remember your homes, your wives and children, and bear in mind that the sooner you enemies are overcome, the sooner you will be returned to enjoy the benefits and blessings of peace. Bear with patience the hardships and sacrifices you will be called upon to endure. Have confidence in your officers and in each other. Keep your ranks on the march and on the battlefield, and let each man earnestly implore God's blessing and endeavor by his thoughts and actions to render himself worthy of the favor he seeks. With clear consciences and strong arms. Actuated by a high sense of duty, fighting to preserve the government and the institutions handed down to us by our forefathers-if true to ourselves-victory, under God's blessing, must and will attend our efforts.
GEO. G. MEADE,
Major General Commanding
Meade's message prior to
The battle resumed at daylight, on the 6th, in which the division participated in the grand charge upon the rebel front, forcing the enemy back until he was reinforced with artillery, which compelled the whole attacking force to fall back in turn. The Seventh Wisconsin was the only regiment that succeeded in holding, for a short time, the enemy's first line of breastworks. Two other fruitless attempts were made to advance the lines, and the enemy massed his forces and made a determined assault, but, after severe slaughter, was repulsed. In the last assault upon the enemy, General Wadsworth, the Division Commander, was killed and General Cutler took command of the division, Col. Robinson assuming command of the brigade, and Lieut-Col. Finnicum took charge of the Seventh Regiment. Lieut-Col. Mansfield and Major Parsons of the Second Wisconsin, were taken prisoners, and command of the regiment devolved on Captain George Otis, senior captain. On the same day Col Bragg of the Sixth, was placed in command of the Third Brigade.
May 5th. - This morning we read an order from General Meade and at an early hour we march by Stevensburg, cross the Rapidian at Germania Ford and go upon picket duty along the railroad near Chancellorsville. Distance, twenty miles. May 5th, march to Wilderness Tavern, engage the enemy in the woods; distance, ten miles.
The Iron Brigade broke camp at Culpepper Court House, at midnight on the 3rd of May, 1864, and commenced the Wilderness Campaign, reaching Old Wilderness Tavern at dusk on the 4th. On the morning of the 5th, the division moved forward in a westerly direction, in front of the Tavern, entered, the woods, and soon encountered the enemy in position. The division was immediately formed for attack, and the Second Wisconsin became the rear if the brigade, in the reserve. Ordered to advance, the command went through the heavy growth of pine and underbrush, and gallantly attacked the enemy, with momentary success, driving in his first and second lines, when, he being reinforced, they were compelled to retire before superior numbers. The Second Wisconsin then moved to the right of the brigade, and thence to the front. In doing so, it encountered a terrific fire from the enemy, which it returned with spirit, but its supports were seen to be retiring, and it was found to be imperatively necessary to withdraw. Great difficulty was experienced in getting out of the woods, and in consequence, many prisoners were taken.
The Division fell back to its original position, where it reformed, and about dark, moved to the support of the Second Corps, which was warmly engaged on the left, and advanced to within a short distance of the rebel lines, and lay on their arms during the night.