1864 August 27: Barrett, Beardsley, Brainard, Dahlgren, Grant, Lincoln, McClellan, an Empress and a Texas Deck
Following are the smaller news items from the August 27, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.
In Hospital, at New Orleans, of Chronic Diarrhea, June 19th, 1864, Cyrus Beardsley, Sergeant in Co. I, 153d Regt., N. Y. Volunteers, aged 34 years and 8 months.
The deceased came to Prescott in 1853, and returned to New York, his native State, in 1860, leaving many friends in this county. He enlisted in September, 1862, and performed the duties of a soldier and christian [sic] faithfully.
Death loves a shining mark.¹
ADMIRAL DAHLGREN’S DEFENSE OF HIS SON.—Admiral Dahlgren [John A. Dahlgren] has written a touching letter defending the character of his son against the imputations attempted to be cast upon it by the rebel authorities, with regard to alleged brutal orders for his proposed dash into Richmond, as a justification for their barbarous treatment of his body. After examining the photographic copy of the document alleged by them to have been found on the body of Colonel DAHLGREN [Ulric Dahlgren], he pronounced it a “bare-faced, atrocious forgery.” He feelingly alludes to to [sic] the attributes of his dead son, and describes in the most touching manner the last letter of that son to him, written just before the gallant Colonel departed upon the expedition which resulted in his death.
— The New York Herald comes out in favor of an armistice—as a war measure—and says if Old Abe [Abraham Lincoln] will act upon this hint it will save the country and secure his election. The Herald desires it to be distinctly understood that this “armistice” is an original Herald idea. It says Lincoln has tried “my plan,” and Greeley’s plan [Horace Greeley], and several other plans, but he never will be able to accmplish [sic] anything till he acts upon the Herald’s plan. In case Old Abe will surrender the whole question to the Herald’s management, that bashful sheet guarantees to finish up the job in short order.
— The New York Herald is a dirty and infamous sheet, but possesses tact and shrewdness. It wants General McCLELLAN [George B. McClellan] elected President, but it has sense enough to understand that his prospects cannot be promoted by assailing General GRANT [Ulysses S. Grant]. The Copperhead World having proclaimed GRANT the last and worst of military failures, the Herald says :
“Gen. Grant’s achievements are great and tangible. His victories are counted by the half dozen, and when the people run over in their minds the lists of our great battles they name six of the victories of this illustrious soldier where they name one achieved by any other. Gen. Grant is the man who has planted the Stars and Stripes on all that part of the rebel territory that we now occupy. * * Those politicians cut their own throats who try to ignore, underrate or sneer down a man who has fought more battles and won more victories than any other general in the army, and who has won his way from a colonelcy of militia to the Lieutenant Generalship of the United States.”
— George Dawson, writing from Washington to his paper, the Albany Evening Journal, says, “the draft in September is a fixed fact. It will be neither modified nor postponed. Those subject to the draft might as well prepare for it—by procuring substitutes in advance, or by ‘setting their house in order’ for departure, if they choose to give their person service.”
ATTACK ON A MISSISSIPPI STEAMER.—The steamer Empress on her up trip from New Orleans, was fired into by a battery of six guns on the 10th near Gaines’ Landing, and narrowly escaped destruction. She was struck while making a distance of 300 yards, about 30 times by cannon shot, disabling her machinery. The balls ploughed through her in every direction and showers of musket balls fell on every side. There were about 500 persons on board and great alarm and confusion existed. The Captain, JOHN MALLOY, who was at his post forward of the texas,² was instantly killed by a cannon ball, which took his head off completely. His last words were “never surrender the boat.” The pilots, mates, and engineers heroically kept their posts until finally the steamer was rescued by the tin clad gunboat “No. 3.” Five persons were killed, including S. E. BRAYNARD,³ Co. I, 16th Wisconsin infantry, and several wounded.
If Grant wins a battle, it is in part a triumph over the fundamental law of the Government. If Sherman [William T. Sherman] conquers Atlanta, an essential portion of the Constitution is thereafter dead. If our soldiers win a victory, its glory is lost in the consciousness that a portion of its fruit is a marred and battered Constitution.—Milwaukee News.
Men who announce such sentiments as the above desire of course that the rebels should succeed. If LEE [Robert E. Lee] wins a battle they have no fears for the Constitution. If HOOD [John Bell Hood] were to drive back and scatter the yet victorious legions of SHERMAN, the News and such as it speaks for would doubtless hail it as a constitutional triumph. Whatever interferes with the success of rebellion, is a blow at the Constitution, according to the Copperheads.
SOME of the opposition Journals are so violently in favor of peace, that they cannot tolerate the mild and milky belligerency of Gen. McCLELLAN. Thus the Catskill, (N. Y.) Recorder, an ardent Democratic sheet says :
We know where McClellan stands ; he is for war ! for “more vigorous prosecution of the war.” He is for more conscription, for more taxes, for doing Lincoln’s work more thoroughly than Lincoln is doing it ! Let any Democrat put the record thus deliberately made by McClellan with his agency in the infamous arbitrary arrest of the Maryland Legislature, and then say if he has not seen enough to cure him of all desire to see such a man in the Presidential chair.
PENSIONS AND THE HUNDRED DAY MEN.—JOS. H. BARRETT,4 Pension Commissioner at Washington, has published a letter stating that “the same rights in regard to pensions are granted to those called into the service for one hundred days, (and to their widows or dependent relatives, in case of death,) as to those who have enlisted for the term of three years. This law, under which all pensions based on service in the present war are allowed, is unequivocal in its language, making no distinction between those engaging for a longer or a shorter period.”
CLOTHING FOR THREE MONTHS’ MEN.—The War Department has decided that the allowance for clothing for three months’ men who have served less than that time shall be fixed for the full time of service. The same rule applies to six and nine months’ men. The 100 day men will be treated in this respect the same as the three months’ troops.
BRIDGED.—The great railroad bridge over the Chattahoochee river which the rebels destroyed, was re-built by Gen. Sherman, and trains passed over it on Friday. Cars now run to within three miles of Atlanta.
1. From Edward Young’s poem “The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality”—better known simply as Night-Thoughts—was published in nine parts between 1742 and 1745. This quotation is from Night V, line 1011.
2. The texas deck gets its name from the steamboat tradition of naming the highest deck after the largest state of the union in the 19th century (Texas). On a riverboat, that is the flat deck immediately behind the pilot house.
3. In the published Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, he is listed as Lu E. Brainard, from Mauston (Wis.). He enlisted November 26, 1862, and was “killed August 10, 1864, Miss. River, by guerrillas.” Capital “L” and capital “S” in 19th century handwriting are often hard to distinguish.
4. Joseph Hartwell Barrett (1824-1910) was President Lincoln’s friend and biographer (Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1864; Abraham Lincoln and His Presidency, 1904). He was admitted to the Vermont bar in 1851 and served two years as secretary of the Vermont Senate. By 1860, Barrett was the editor of the Cincinnati Gazette, and was a member of the Republican political machine in Ohio. He served as commissioner of Pensions under Presidents Lincoln and Johnson.
From the August 27, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.
Those “Commissioners” Again—What Terms Had They to Offer ?
Much has been said about the so-called rebel commissioners at Niagara Falls, and we have been repeatedly assured by the Democratic press that they came to offer “Peace upon the basis of a restored Union.” No such intimations were given by them at any time, in any manner. We did have, it is true, some ridiculously crude propositions from “Colonel” JEWETT,¹ as chaotic as his own brain, but not one word from the “Commissioners” themselves. Declaration of terms to be proposed by them have been confidently made, notwithstanding they were in direct contradiction of the assertions of the rebel government and official organs. Although the “Commissioners admitted they were unauthorized, anything that throws light on their real views regarding the question of Peace will be read with interest. In this view, the following from the Grand Rapids Eagle, giving the views of Mr. HOLCOMBE,² as expressed in a conversation with a leading clergyman of Grand Rapids, who use to be in college with him, is important, especially as it is the only statement of the views of any of the “Commissioners” that comes to us with any show of authority :³
“Holcombe positively asserted that the South did not want peace, and would not listen to the faintest intimation of peace, except on terms recognizing their absolute independence and sovereignty, with all the territory they originally claimed. He said the rebels could and would fight twenty years longer before accepting any other or less terms than these. He averred the Southern people were not fighting for slavery, and cared nothing about it; that they would relinquish it in a moment if so doing would advance their cause; that what they were fighting for was independence and separate sovereignty, pure and simple, and this they would have, or else they must be exterminated.
“Our friend questioned him closely and repeatedly if there was not some possible way to bring about a peace; and he was always answered that there could be no peace upon the basis of any reconstruction of the Union—that was altogether out of the question. Whatever might be said or had been said for political effect, the Southern States would never again unite with the Northern States on any terms. The rebels had announced, in the beginning, that the separation was final, and they meant precisely what they said, and would either die or carry this point.
“Mr. Holocome was at great pains to create the distinct impression that slavery was not the cause or object of the war, but only the convenient pretext for getting up a revolt ; that the real cause and object was independence and a separate nationality, and nothing else ; and that no peace, or truce, or compromise was possible that did not grant the rebels independence and a separate sovereignty ; and that, whatever political management could do in the North to embarrass the Government was fostered and encouraged by the rebel leaders because it aided them more or less in obtaining their ultimate object, separation and independence.”
1. William Cornell “Colorado” Jewett (1823-1893), an influential Copperhead in the Midwest and self-appointed peace advocate, traveled to Europe several times to lobby for a peaceful resolution of the War. He went to Canada on a speaking tour urging his listeners to pressure Great Britain to help negotiate a peace settlement. After his speaking tour ended, he offered his services to Confederates in Canada.
2. James Philemon Holcombe (1820-1873) was a prominent Confederate politician, a delegate to the Virginia Secession Convention (1861), elected to represent Virginia in the Confederate Congress (1862-1864), and Confederate commissioner to Canada (1863-1865).
3. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, vol. 16, no. 391 (March 28, 1863), page 16; available digitally on the Internet Archive.
The following column is from the August 27, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal. Company A of the 30th was the Saint Croix Guards and Company F was the Salomon Tigers, both primarily from northwest Wisconsin. Companies D, I, and K also contained men from northwest Wisconsin.
OUR ARMY CORRESPONDENCE.
From the 30th Regiment.
The Departure of the Indian Expedition from
Fort Ridgely—What it consisted of—The March—
General Appearance of the Country—Incidents by the Way, etc., etc.
GARRISON FOR FORT WADSWORTH, D. T. }
Camp on Kettle Lake, Aug. 2d, 1864.}
In compliance with previous promise, I embrace this opportunity of acquainting your readers of the departure and progress of our expedition for the wilds of the great Northwest, under command of Major John Clowney, of the 30th Wisconsin volunteers.
Pursuant to orders, the 9th of July witnessed our departure from Fort Ridgely. The expedition comprised companies B, E, and K, 30th Wis. Vol. Inf.; company M, 2d Minnesota cavalry, and three guns of Jones’ ¹ artillery, 3d Minnesota Light Artillery. The accompanying train reached 2½ miles. Twelve miles march brought us to Camp Hope, on the Lower Sioux Agency, overlooking the Minnesota river. This agency, once the pride of the white man, now lies a complete ruin on the summit of the overhanging banks of the deep waters of the beautiful St. Peters.
July 10—We resumed our march, and 13 miles brought us to Redwood Lake, where we went into camp. Our resting place for the night was in full view of the defense thrown up by Captain Pope in 1862. Graves of whites and Indians encompassed us on all sides. The remains of the whites had been exhumed, and funeral rites gone through with by relatives, friends and acquaintances. Thus has the unfortunate been cared for who fell by the savage hand of the red man in their furious onset August 18th, 1862 ; while on the other hand the ravens of the air have preyed upon the the dingy carcasses of the red men till nothing remains to mark their resting place but hollow graves and mouldering bones.
July 11.—At 5:15 p. m. we left Redwood Lake, and after marching till fifteen minutes of 9, camped on the open prairie, three miles from water, but within range of timber, and went to bed supperless. This day was marched 9 miles.
July 12.—At 9 a. m. we left and marched five miles, and coming to water halted for the day. Our camping ground was in full view of the former residence of the notorious Joe Brown, the husband of so many Indian women, the father of a multitude of half-breeds, and the possessor of an estate of 5,000 acres. Joe was captured by the Indians in 1862, and his scalp was saved from the scalping knife through the intercession of his “better-halves.” At present Joe is the leading scout of Gen. Sully [Alfred Sully], and is said to be one of the best in the Northwest.
July 13.—At about 5:30 A. M., we broke camp, passing on the Wood Lake route, where a desperate battle between whites and Indians was fought. In the engagement the Indians are said to have numbered 3,000 and the whites 1,500. The loss sustained by the whites was 75 killed, that of the Indians unknown. The works thrown up are still existing. At 10 A. M. we crossed the Yellow Medicine at the Upper Sioux Agency. This place retains every indication of a once flurishing [sic] place. Natural advantages for manufacturing are abundant. Climbing to the summit of the hills on the western side of Yellow Medicine, a sad and desolating spectacle greets the eye. Stretching for miles lies a fertile plain, once subservient to the hand of the husbandman, now assuming a harsh and primitive state. Once beautiful buildings of brick now stand bereft of roofs, sections of walls, etc. Household furniture lies rotting, while miles of fences are torn down, burned and strewed around. Years of hard toil have been ruthlessly destroyed by savage fiends, men and women butchered, and children tortured to death. We marched twelve miles this day, camped on an elevation of ground, close by good water, with abundance of pasturage.
Before proceeding further, I will say that the Upper Sioux Agency, on the Yellow Medicine, is the last place where signs of civilization will greet us. Henceforth we are to encounter the wilds of Minnesota and Dakotah. A more beautiful section of country than the Upper Sioux Agency is very seldom met with. Wood and water are abundant. Materials for building purposes and convenient. Brick of the first class can be manufactured, in proof of which stands a kiln already burned, awaiting use. I understand the Sioux reservation lands are to be appraised by three commissioners (already appointed) and sold for the benefit of the United States. The lands comprise 710,000 acres, lying on the south and west banks of the Minnesota river, in a strip from nine to twelve miles long, running from Fort Ridgely to Big Stone Lake. I have been creditably informed that the day is not far distant when this country will have the advantage of being penetrated by two railroads—one extending from Winona, the other from Minneapolis, running due west to the foot of Big Stone Lake. I hold that the security of this country from all Indian depredations is complete, and emigrants seeking a home in the far West can here repose in safety.
July 14.—At 5½ o’clock A. M., broke camp and marched till 6 o’clock P. M., making 20 miles. The day was exceedingly warm ; men and animals suffered much from dust and the lack of water ; several oxen fell by the way. Sloughs the most filthy were explored for water, and finally an article unfit for man or beast was found, and devoured as if the best. This day’s march was over a continuous plain, no tree or shrub to relieve the eye from monotony. Our route led us past Camp Relief, where, in 1862, the Indians to the number of 1,800, comprising women, children and 250 warriors, peaceably delivered themselves up to the safe keeping of Brig. Gen. Sibley [Henry Sibley]. We camped on an eminence overlooking the peaceful waters of the Minnesota. At this point of the stream wild fruits are plentiful.
July 15.—At precisely the hour of the day previous we packed tents, but owing to the fatigue of the 14th we made but eight miles march. Coming in full view of Lac qui Parle river, which is bounded on both sides by broken hills, the ravines thickly wooded by ordinarily sized trees and a dense growth of underbrush, Company B being in front, the 1st platoon was “deployed in line” and skirmished the passage for the “redskins,” the 2d platoon following after, and each alternate company doing likewise ; but “redskins” were scarce in this vicinity, and many of the boys evinced their confidence by taking to picking wild gooseberries, and did not make good their appearance till the western hills of the Lac qui Parle had been reached by the entire expedition. The utility of having the rear company skirmish the passage after the entire train had passed did not appear evident to me, and I failed to see the “military necessity” of it on that occasion. All things being satisfactory, a high hill was chosen as our camping ground, giving us a commanding view of the immediate country for miles. This day was as hot as the previous one, and the atmosphere more oppressive. About bedtime dark clouds loomed up from the west, and came spilling on a massed column, the artillery of heaven fired signal guns, warning us of the raising of the floodgates of the upper realm, while the lightning flashed—grapevine like—illuminating the entire sky. Rain upon rain fell, and nature drank freely for a brief spell, when all was hushed in silence. I must again remark that all the ills soldiers are heir to are not embodied in poor whisky [sic], salt junk and hard tack. “Pup-tents,” commonly called shelter tents, are to the soldier the most abominable of them all, and often are they emphatically damned in a rain storm, and on this night got a severe blessing.
July 16.—Broke camp at 6 o’clock A. M. The morning was delightful, and favorable for our march. Traveling four hours, a halt was made to rest the animals and let them feed. After an hour and ten minutes halt the march was renewed. The afternoon’s sun came out with all his power, the intense rays of which affected man and beast. The incidents of the day were enlivened by a brisk chase after a prairie wolf, which made good his escape. A march of twelve miles brought us to Lake Ann, a small body of water on the open prairie. The water of this lake being stagnant and unfit for use, wells were dug ; but the supply they furnished not being sufficient to meet the demand on them, recourse was had to the lake water, which by straining and boiling was rendered “go-down-able.” At this lake we remained for the night.
July 17th.—As early as 1 o’clock a. m. the sound of the bugle awoke us—as soon as possible, all hands flew to packing—breakfast over, “loading up” commenced, and at 20 minutes past three we had broken camp and were on our way. The 17th being the Sabbath, the commanding officer went through a general overhauling of soldiers detached from their companies as teamsters, for the purpose of finding out whether or not they were properly equipped to defend themselves against an attacking foe. Many were and more were not, but all were given to understand that they must become so at once, or abide the penalty of military disobedience, stringently administered. The train was then formed into four lines deep—the front of the column protected by Company B and one piece of artillery, the centre supported by Co. K. and another piece of artillery, while the rear was guarded by Co. E., one piece of artillery and one platoon of cavalry, while the other platoons of cavalry were deployed as flankers. The scouts being far in advance completed our marching position. A march of 32 miles brought us to Big Turtle Lake, where we camped for the night. Severe driving and want of water killed six of our oxen. The waters of Big Turtle being very inferior, we were compelled, as on former occasions, to dig for it.
The departure of the returning train from Fort Wadsworth to Fort Ridgely, compels me to draw my letter to a close, as it carried with it all letters from the boys to the dear ones at home, and is the only means of conveyance we have as yet. I understand that a mail route will be established by Major Clowney between Forts Wadsworth and Abercrombie. Abercrombie is some eighty miles distant from Wadsworth, and if things are properly managed, we can have a mail once a week hereafter. Capt. Fisk’s expedition, which is accompanying an emigrant train to Idaho, rendered us much service in getting the mails since leaving Fort Ridgely. We being five march in advance, by the aid of our cavalry we held communication with him, and his cavalry with Fort Ridgely.—Thus since the 9th of July to the present we have received three mails.
In my next I shall give you a full account of our trip from Big Turtle Lake to Fort Wadsworth.
F. J. R.
1. John Jones, from Saint Paul, Minnesota, was 39 when he became the captain of the 3r Minnesota Light Artillery Battery on February 25, 1863. He served in that capacity until the battery mustered out on February 27, 1866.
The official history of the 4th Wisconsin Cavalry in E. B. Quiner’s Military History of Wisconsin (Chicago, 1866), chapter 53, pages 925-6, has this to say about the expedition described by Jerry Flint in the letter below.
On the 25th of August , the regiment accompanied an expedition to Clinton. On reaching the Comite River at Olive Branch, they found the rebels had destroyed the bridge, and were drawn up on the opposite side with three pieces of artillery. Three hundred men of the Fourth, were dismounted in order to cross the river to fight them on foot. They moved down the river a few rods and crossed on a log which had broken in two in the middle, forming an angle, which compelled the men to get astride the tree and slide down to the water, climbing up on the other side by the branches, and arriving on the opposite shore in safety. The enemy found himself flanked and withdrew his forces and artillery. Major Craigue swam the river with 100 men and started in pursuit, the rest of the regiment following as soon as possible. Major Craigue ran the rebel force into Clinton with his advance guard, and gave them no time to recover, pressing right on without waiting for support. On reaching Clinton his ammunition being expended, he remained on the outskirts of the town to wait for reinforcements. While they were coming up, the rebels improved their time in running. The balance of the force cam up about noon and took possession of the town. The Fourth returned to Baton Rouge by the way of Green Hill Springs.
Two other expeditions to Clinton were undertaken in the months of October and November, which were both highly successful.
Following is Jerry Flint’s description of the August expedition to Clinton. Jerry was the 2nd lieutenant in Company G of the 4th Wisconsin Cavalry. The original letter is in the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University Archives and Area Research Center.
Camp 4th Wis Cavalry
Magnolia Grove¹ Aug. 30, 1864
One evening a week since, I had seated myself to write to you, when suddenly an order came to prepare ourselves with rations and ammunition for an expedition to start early the next morning. Accordingly I throwed [sic] my writing material [to] one side and have had no opportunity to resume my writing until now.
No doubt you have ere this heard of the brisk little fight we had at Clinton [Louisiana]. After marching all night we attacked them in their position across the Comite River² and drove them away.
Our force consisted of 3 Regts. of Cavalry and four pieces of Artillery. The Rebs had about the same number of men, but much more Artillery. The 4th Regt. had 12 wounded but none killed. The wounded, were all from three companies. Co. “G” had none shot, but one man was seseverly [sic: severely] bruised but he has been taken to the Hospital. His name is Patrick Oniel,³ one of my recruits.
He was one of the advance and while they were making a charge he became seperated [sic] from our boys, and surrounded by a dozen Rebs. He couldn’t very well manage them all and finally one struck him with the butt of his gun on the head which knocked him off his horse, insensible. After this he was run over by several horses. He is doing well now and says he run one of them through. His Sabre showed that he told the truth.
The Rebs finally fled and we went into the town, stayed two days and returned to Baton Rouge.
Weather was so hot that several horses fell dead by the heat.
David Lovell has just returned bringing a letter from Phin,4 also a Paper of tea.
Rest assurred [sic] I was thankful, for Knowles and myself were just out and unfortunately without money to buy more, having had no money pay since my return from Wisconsin.
My health is splendid, near better, and as long as I am blessed with that I am good for anything else. A man once sick in the army will ever after appreciate good health.
Whitefield is exceedingly well. He got into a pretty hot place in the fight the other day but bore his part well.
He can beat me all to smash forageing [sic], chickens and honey stand no show5 when he is after them.
Strange he will be an oddity with other men.
He often speaks of you and expresses a great desire to see you. Tender my respects to Grandmother. Also to Uncle J and Aunt L.
Tell Phin that I will answer his letter soon.
I suppose you will think this a poor specimen of a letter, at least I do.
Your Boy Jerry
1. Possibly Jerry means Magnolia Mound plantation, which was near Baton Rouge. Today it is on the National Register of Historic Places. Or he might mean they were camped in a Magnolia grove.
There is a Magnolia Grove plantation, but it is near Greensboro, Alabama.
2. The Comite River is a tributary of the Amite River, with a confluence near the city of Denham Springs, Louisiana, east of Baton Rouge.
3. Patrick O’Neil, from Hudson, enlisted December 16, 1863, and lived to muster out on July 8, 1865.
4. Phin is Jerry’s brother, Phineas C. Flint.
5. Today we would say: “stand no chance.”
The following column is from the August 27, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal. Company G of the 7th Wisconsin Infantry had many 1864 recruits from northwest Wisconsin.
OUR ARMY CORRESPONDENCE.
From the 7th Regiment—Its deeds and losses in the present campaign.
Correspondence of the State Journal.
HEADQUARTERS 7TH REG. WIS. VET. VOL’S }
Camp near Petersburg, Va., }
August 10th, 1864. }
EDITORS STATE JOURNAL :—I have seen statements from the different Wisconsin regiments in the field of their losses in the spring campaign of 1864, in the State Journal. I herewith send you a list of the losses of the 7th regiment, from the 5th of May, 1864, to the 31st day of July, 1864, taken from the official report just made which I should like to have published [in] your paper, as it may be of future use to the members of the regiment and also their friends. I could have given you the name and date of each one killed or wounded, but it would have been asking too much of you to publish 400 names. We do not feel ashamed of our record as a regiment, and are willing to let our light shine, because our deeds were not evil. The 7th does not boast of what it has done or can do, but moved quietly along.
There are two circumstances in this campaign which, perhaps, you have not heard of our being connected with. One was the long pull over Laurel Hill, on the 12th of May, where the 7th stood for nine hours with other regiments and kept up a continual fire over the brow of the hill until oak trees 21 inches in diameter were cut off with rifle balls, and fell into the rebel rifle-pits. The regiment stood in mud half knee deep where the dead lay half covered in the mud.
On the 30th of July the 7th was again in for a long pull, as the regiment was to the front works when the fort was blown up and had orders to open fire as soon as the fort went up, which was done and kept up during the greater part of the day. There is one more circumstance of bravery which I wish to mention ; that of private Melvin M. Starkweather¹ of my Company. He was wounded on the 6th of May in the Wilderness, and was absent for a few days, then came back and was wounded in the leg on the 12th of May, he left again for a few days and returned and was mortally wounded May 23d, and died May 24th.
Yours very respectfully
. .Capt. A. W. BEAN,²
. .Co. D, 7th Reg. W. V. V.
Losses in the
Seventh Regiment Wisconsin Veteran Volunteer Infantry
from May 5th, 1864, to July 31st, 1864.
CASUALTIES TO OFFICERS.
|Staff & Field||–||2||3||5||1|
|Co. A . . . . . .||1||1||–||2||–|
|Co. B . . . . . .||–||2||–||2||–|
|Co. C. . . . . .||1||1||–||2||–|
|Co. E . . . . . .||–||1||–||–|
|Co. F . . . . . .||–||1||2||3||–|
|Co. G. . . . . .||1||–||1||–||–|
|Co. H. . . . . .||1||–||1||2||–|
|Co. I . . . . . .||1||–||–||1||–|
|Co. K . . . . . .||.||1_|| 1_
CASUALTIES TO ENLISTED MEN.
|N. C. S. . . . .||–||1||–||–||1||–||1|
|Co. A . . . . . .||11||22||19||12||64||3||67|
|Co. B . . . . . .||6||18||5||3||32||2||34|
|Co. C . . . . . .||–||5||18||9||37||2||39|
|Co. D . . . . . .||–||16||12||–||28||5||28|
|Co. E . . . . . .||8||18||5||3||34||6||35|
|Co. F . . . . . .||5||21||24||2||52||1||55|
|Co. G . . . . . .||5||15||10||2||32||7||38|
|Co. H . . . . . .||9||12||12||4||37||4||39|
|Co. I . . . . . .||7||14||12||5||38||1||39|
|Co. K . . . . . .||1||13||8||1||23||3||25|
Number of men equipped for duty on the morning of May 5th, 1864 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 474
Number of absentees joining the regiment between the 5th of May and 31st of July . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 521
Number of men for duty on the 31st of July . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130
Number of Officers for duty in the field from May 5th to July 31st, 1864 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
There has been one officer wounded the third time and eleven men wounded the second time during the campaign.
The following are the names of the different battles which the regiment has been engaged during this campaign :
Wilderness, Va., May 5th and 6th.
Laurel Hill, Va., May 8th, 10th and 12th.
Jericho Ford, Va., May 23d.
North Anna River, Va., May 25th.
Bethsaida Church, Va., June 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th and 5th.
Petersburg, June 18th and July 30th.
1. Melvin M. Starkweather (1841-1864) enlisted August 10, 1861, in Company D, 7th Wisconsin Infantry. He was detached to Battery B, 1st Rhode Island Artillery from April 25 to December 1862. He was wounded at North Anna and died May 24, 1864, from those wounds. The other wounds mention in this article are not in the printed roster.
2. Alexander W. Bean, from McFarland, enlisted August 10, 1861, in Company D, 7th Wisconsin Infantry. He started as the 4th sergeant, then Quartermaster sergeant June 1862, 2nd lieutenant in October 1862, was wounded at Gettysburg, and was promoted to captain of the company February 9, 1863. He mustered out September 30, 1864, when his term expired.
The following column is from the August 27, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal. Company D of the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry was primarily from northwestern Wisconsin, Company L was from Eau Claire, and Company M had a lot of men from Prescott.
By way of a quick explanation of the expedition this letter describes, the following is from Dunbar Rowland’s Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898:¹
“When General Slocum [Henry W. Slocum] made his expedition from Vicksburg to Jackson, in July, 1864, Scott² and Powers³ moved at the call of General Adams [Wirt Adams], and skirmished with the advancing enemy near Clinton. Slocum pushed on and occupied Jackson July 5, and Adams collected the Scott and Powers Regiments and Gholson’s4 Brigade, north of the city, and moved to intercept Slocum on the retreat to Clinton, bringing on the engagements of July 6-7. The enemy was severely punished and Scott and Powers pursued as far as Edwards.”
OUR ARMY CORRESPONDENCE.
From the Second Cavalry—Its part in General Slocum’s Expedition.
CAMP 2D WIS. CAV., VICKSBURG, MISS, }
July 27th, 1864. }
Eds. State Journal :—I see by reading a letter written by a correspondent of a Chicago paper giving an account of an expedition which started from this place on the first of this month for Jackson, Miss., under command of Brig. Gen. Dennis,5 that the troops that took the most active part in skirmishes and did some of the most stubborn fighting while out, were left entirely out of the ring and that none got praise or scarcely mention save Illinois regiments. Therefore, I may not present much that is new in regard to the general details of the expedition, yet I hope to show that the 2d Wisconsin Cavalry has been “tried in the fire” and not found wanting. The following are some items from a journal kept by one of the soldiers :
On the 1st of July, ’64, our regiment with two days rations, took the advance of the grand column of cavalry, artillery and infantry, beside a large train of wagons. Co. “C” taking the advance of the regiment, met the enemy’s pickets about three miles to the other side of Big Black River, skirmishing with them, drove them back to Champion Hill, and from the road where the command camped. On the morning of the 4th the 2d Cavalry formed the rear of the column ; Co. “F” the rear guard. The advance by a brisk little fight, drove the enemy from Clinton. The enemy appearing in the greatest force in the advance, the Second was ordered to the front and took up a position three-fourths of a miles in advance of the column on the Jackson road and prepared to camp for the night. The enemy fell back out of sight, when the boys began strolling out from camp for blackberries which were abundant, when the rebels advanced, fired a volley in among the unsuspecting straglers [sic] when they ran back for their arms and rallied under command of Lt. Hamilton,6 of Co. “F,” and drove the rebels back about two miles. The enemy formed in line to check them, but lost both ground and men, seven of them being killed to one wounded on our side. Our men returning to camp the rebels soon followed and secured a safe position behind a railroad grading. Capt. Ring,7 with about seventy-five men, relieved the Lieutenant with his volunteer force, and finally thinking that as it was near night, the rebels would not make further demonstration, fell back to camp, when to the surprise of all, Col. Scott,² (rebel) with about six hundred men, charged into the camp of the Second, compelling the men to saddle their horses and form their line of battle under the enemy’s fire. Cos. C, M, F, forming quickly, held the enemy at bay from their own ground, but the left, more unfortunate, gave back when the rebels took possession of their supper of hot coffee, hard tack, forage for horses, &c. A few volleys from the companies that held the ground on the enemy’s flank compelled him to fall back, and then the whole regiment charged in line, breaking that of the rebels, and the 5th Illinois cavalry on the left of our line, being all mounted, followed up the rout. All hostilities then ceased for the night.
On the morning of the 5th the 11th Illinois cavalry taking the advance, skirmishing immediately commenced, and one of their Captains and a sergeant were killed. Infantry now took the front, and cavalry took another road to protect the infantry’s flank ; the 5th Illinois still keeping the main advance of the cavalry, while the 11th Illinois cavalry and Companies L, H and B of the 2d Wisconsin were deployed on the right of the road as skirmishers. After advancing about three miles, Companies I and C of the 2nd reinforced the right and advanced still another mile, when the rebels were discovered in considerable force on a commanding eminence, and in possession of a peach orchard, across an open field. Lieut. Hamilton in command of Companies M, F, I and C to the right, and the 11th Illinois on the left, our gallant men moved on in the shower of bullets as though it was a hail storm though they brought death to many as they “zipped” through the air, and the wounded pressed back to the rear. Our boys fought rapidly and long enough to empty their cartridge boxes. The rebels fell back, slowly until they could support and use their artillery. Our men then advanced dismounted, in support of our artillery, under a severe fire from the enemy. The infantry making a flank movement on the rebels, they were compelled to abandon their position and retreated through the city of Jackson, a part of them across Pearl river. The Mayor come out to our forces with a flag of truce and surrendered the city to them and we marched in and took possession.
Major Gen. Slocum, who with his staff officers overtook the expedition at Champion Hill, and had assumed chief command, learned by rebel dispatches from Gen. Adams to Col. Scott, and captured by our scouts, that the former would reinforce the other with three thousand men if he could hold the Yankees a short time.
Having accomplished all that was intended by the expedition and having a limited supply of rations, our forces on the afternoon of the 6th, commenced the march back towards Vicksburg.
Gen. Slocum ordered Major Richmond,8 who was in command of the 2d cavalry, to move to the front, and subsequently ordered Lieut. Hamilton, in command of five companies, to remain as rear guard to the main column. As soon as our forces were on the move the rebels dashed upon them from all sides. Fierce fighting commenced in front, and the Lieutenant with his five companies being ordered to the front moved along by a road on the left of the main force, when the rebels opened upon him with shell from their battery, many of the shots striking on all sides but doing no great damage, and he formed for battle under cover of a grove of timber. The 5th Ill. and 3d Miss. (colored) cavalry were in line of battle on the crest of a hill, and protected somewhat by a fence repulsed three desperate charges made by the rebels. They, in one of these, discovering that a portion of our forces were negroes, the rebel commander leading the charge was heard to give the order to kill every d–d one of them, when a negro sergeant shot him dead on the spot, and a well-timed volley from these troops staggered the rebels and they fell back in disorder. Lieut. Hamilton with his detachment of the 2d received orders and formed his men near a railroad embankment, while shell from the rebel battery was passing through his line, and he then moved under constant fire farther to the front to hold in check an expected charge by the enemy, and in his new position was exposed in open and easy range of their guns, but the boys with great coolness closely watched the shells as they came with their scream of death and avoided them as much as possible by running to the right or left to give them room to pass, but did not break their line of battle. There were only five horses injured, and the men escaped unhurt. The whole line continued [_] rapid and fierce fire until after dark. The cavalry having done most of the fighting this day, were relieved by the infantry and fell back and rested for the night on their arms.
On the morning of the 7th, as soon as barely light, the ball opened again, and Gen. Slocum with true courage and ability, disposed of his forces that he succeeded in cutting through the enemy’s line, and saving his long train of wagons and his troops from disaster. Companies F and M, on the right, and C and I on the left of the road, advanced on the enemy dismounted, and closely followed by our reserved forces, forced the rebels back four miles when they fell upon the rear of the column and by a desperate charge on the train, succeeded in cutting our forces in two, despite the efforts of the 5th Illinois’ cavalry to prevent it, when the 3d Battallion [sic] of the 2d Wisconsin cavalry was ordered back and opened the communication by blank movements on the rebels. Brisk skirmishing continued at various points, until our forces reached Clinton, when the 2d was again ordered to the advance, and drove the enemy across Baker’s Creek where the rebels succeeded in destroying the bridge, and Capt. Ward [sic],9 of Co. C, with a volunteer force from the regiment, in about two hours, succeeded in reconstructing a temporary crossing, and our forces moved on without any other important event except to be constantly harrassed [sic] on all sides by small squads of the enemy, until they reached Big Black River where they found quiet and safety.
The total loss to our forces was then supposed to be about one hundred and seventy-five in killed, wounded and missing, and that of the enemy was acknowledged to be more than three hundred. By the above, which I believe to be correct, your readers can see that the gallant 2d Cavalry played a very conspicuous part, never flinching at any place and really deserving more credit than the troops who were the especial favorites of a correspondence who could not chronicle gallantry save that exhibited by the troop0s from his own State. All who were with this expedition deserve all honor for their bravery.
Yours respectfully, H. B.
1. Military history of Mississippi, 1803-1898: Taken from the Official and Statistical Register of the State of Mississippi, compiled by Dunbar Rowland (originally published 1908; reprint in 1978 by Reprint Co. of Spartanburg, S.C.).
2. John Sims Scott, colonel of the 1st Louisiana Cavalry. Scott raised the 1st Louisiana cavalry regiment starting in June 1861, and the regiment was mustered in September. The 1st Louisiana Cavalry was one of the most heavily endowed regiments, receiving some $500,000, largely from Louisiana planters, as many of the troopers of the Regiment were sons of planters or their relatives. Some of the more notable engagements the regiment participated in were Nashville, Elk River, Richmond (Ky.), Munfordville, Stone’s River, Murfreesborough, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Big Hill (Ky.), Perryville, and Danville (Ky.). General Richard Taylor surrendered his army, which included the 1st Louisiana Cavalry Regiment, to General E.R.S. Canby near Citronelle, Alabama, on May 5, 1865. Final parole was at Gainesville, Alabama, on May 12, 1865. For more on Scott and the 1st Louisiana Cavalry, see They Rode with Forrest, by Michael R. Bradley (Pelican Publishing Co., 2012).
3. Frank P. Powers, colonel of the 14th Arkansas. There are few records of Powers’ service during the Civil War, with the exception of his leadership at the Battle of Plains Store during the Siege of Port Hudson. On May 21, 1863, Powers commanded his forces in the Battle of Plains Store (La.). This Union victory closed the last Confederate escape route from Port Hudson.
4. Samuel Jameson Gholson (1808-1883) was a lawyer in Mississippi before the Civil War and served multiple terms in the Mississippi House of Representatives (1835, 1836, 1839) and also in the U.S. House of Representatives (1836-1838). His had an often stormy tenure, including a severe dispute with Henry A. Wise of Virginia that nearly resulted in a duel. Gholson next served as federal judge in Mississippi (1839-1861), resigning when Mississippi seceded. He was an advocate of states’ rights and served as a member of Mississippi’s secession convention. When the Civil War broke out, Gholson enlisted as a private in the Monroe County Volunteers, which became Company I of the 14th Mississippi Infantry. He rose through the ranks to captain, colonel, and brigadier general. At the Battle of Fort Donelson, he was severely wounded and surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant’s forces. After his exchange, Gholson returned to active duty and fought at Iuka and Corinth. By mid-1863 he was a major general of Mississippi State Troops and in 1864 became a brigadier general in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States. He was placed in command of a brigade of cavalry attached to the division of General James Chalmers (under General Nathan B. Forrest). While serving in the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana, Gholson was severely wounded in a fight with Union cavalry on December 27, 1864, at Egypt, Mississippi. The amputation of his left arm ended his combat duty for the rest of the War.
5. Elias Smith Dennis (1812-1894) served in the Illinois House of Representatives (1842-1844) and in the Illinois State Senate (1846 -1848). In 1857 President Buchanan appointed him Kansas Territory Marshal for the Leavenworth area, but was dismissed in 1858. When the Civil War started, Elias was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 30th Illinois Infantry. He was promoted to colonel in May 1862 and to brigadier general of Volunteers in November 1862. During the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign, he was accused of selling army provisions to the Confederates while his own men were underfed. Despite that, he was placed in command of the District of Northeast Louisiana. Troops from his command participated in the Battle of Milliken’s Bend (June 7, 1863). Elias served as the commanding officer of Union militia in Louisiana until the end of the war.
6. Roswell R. Hamilton, from Richland Center, was commissioned 1st lieutenant of Company F, 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry, on December 23, 1861, and served until his term expired on February 5, 1865.
7. George W. Ring, from Milwaukee, was the captain of Company I, 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry. He enlisted October 25, 1861, promoted 1st lieutenant November 26, 1861, promoted captain September 24, 1862, and promoted major of the 2nd February 15, 1865. He mustered out when his term expired on February 25, 1865.
8. George N. Richmond, from Portage, was originally the captain of Company E. He became the major of the Third Battalion on March 4, 1863. Richmond was “dismissed” November 17, 1864.
9. Myron W. Wood, from Lancaster, was the captain of Company C, 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry. He enlisted October 31, 1861, promoted to 1st lieutenant December 7, 1861, promoted to captain July 21, 1862, and promoted to major February 1, 1865. He was “dropped” October 19, 1865, and then honorably discharged by order of the War Department.