1861 September 18: Saint Croix Rifles Dinner
Following is an article from the September 18, 1861, issue of The Prescott Journal about the dinner given for the Saint Croix Rifles. The Rifles will become Company F of the 1st Wisconsin Infantry (3 years).
THE ST. CROIX RIFLES!
C O M P L I M E N T A R Y D I N N E R!
General Good Feeling and right Jolly Time.
On Monday last the citizens of Prescott and Pierce County gave a complimentary dinner to the St. Croix Rifles. The committee took hold of the matter with hearty good will, and the result was a perfect success. The Fair Grounds were filled with “fair women and brave men”—the soldiers and their relatives.—Old men were there, the fire of a youthful enthusiasm in their eyes—men in the prime of life, either “going to the wars,” or blessing those who go—boys full of fun, and going through the motions of the mimic fight—little children, with no real comprehension of the meaning of the scene, but only a vague, indefinite sense of danger somewhere—mothers, whose brave boys were going to meet the uncertain issues of the stormy night—sisters whose brothers were leaving the endearments of home for the danger and discipline of the tented field—and happy maidens, lending romance- to war, and showing that loyalty to them means loyalty to Freedom and Law, and giving assurance that
“The bravest are the tenderest,
the loving are the daring.” 1
It woke strange thoughts to stand on that ground where peace had won proud triumphs, and see the close formed ranks, hear the cheers of the soldiery, the cannons that thundered of war—the drums that talked of fight, and see the banners waving with “battle” written on every stripe, flashing from every star.
The dinner was ample for both soldiers and citizens, everything went off in fine style and the best of good feeling prevailed.
Just before dinner a little incident occured [sic] which is worthy of note. The married ladies, doubtless thinking with Miss Dix, that girls are hardly capable of waiting on soldiers, resolved to wait on their tables, and the girls were warned to leave the premises. Of course we don’t blame the married ladies for wishing to wait on the soldiers, but the girls, thinking it was an assumption of power, held a caucus, formed a squad, and marched in and routed their elders, and waited on the tables themselves. Good for the girls!
After dinner the whole company drilled for some time, the Light Artillery marching with them, and the Fair Ground was covered with little squads, composed of about an equal number of each sex, and discussing,—well, either Hardee’s tactics, or some thing else,—probably the latter.
About three o’clock the speaking commenced, and brief and stirring speeches were made by Lute A. Taylor, Capt. Samuels, Shel. Otis, C. P. Barnard, Hosea B. Bates and P. V. Wise. Each speech was greeted with tremendous applause and with a response from the “Little Rodman,” which was much the loudest talker on the ground. “The Red White and Blue,” “Star Spangled Banner,” and other patriotic songs were sung by Misses CHLOE HATCH, FRANK BARTHOLOMEW, FRANK M. FULLER, DETT SMITH AND LOUISE BRACKBLILL, and the singers and the songs were both loudly cheered.
Capt. SAMUEL was warmly greeted when he came upon the platform, and his speech, so proper and pertinent to the occasion, was enthusiastically received:—We give its closing portion:
On the part of the St. Croix Rifles, I return you their sincere thanks for the kind welcome you have given us this day. I am sure I have expressed the sentiment of every heart in my Company when I say that they will never to the latest hour of their existence forget the courtesy which you have shown them to-day.
As another opportunity may not occur previous to our departure, we bid you Farewell. May the days be few that shall separate us.— We go to swell the Grand Army of America, to wed ourselves to the cause that shall bring a speedy peace, But be the War short or long, the St. Croix Rifles will never falter till the last man shall have sealed the Magna Carta of our Country with his blood, to make it permanent and triumphant over treason. We go to guard your rights and to protect your Liberties. Citizens!—soldiers of the Union it will be our steady aim to become a breastwork between you and your enemies, the rebels and the anarchists. While we thank you heartily for your friendship, and your patriotic interest in us, it will be our steady aim to prove ourselves worthy of all your hopes.
After the speaking was over, the St. Croix Rifles, the Light Artillery, the ladies, and citizens formed into procession under the Marshal, M. A. DRIEBELBIS, and marched down town, where the Artillery fired a salute to the Rifles, afterwards marched to the JOURNAL Office and fired a salute, and broke ranks, all heartily pleased with the exercises of the day.
In the evening there was a dance at Dunbar’s Hall, which was largely attended. SMITH, of the Kilbourn House, furnished an excellent supper, with about two hours notice, and everythtng [sic] went off in jolly fashion. Several of the ladies wore articles of dress with the red, white and blue, and the boys stood by the colors to the last.
The St. Croix Rifles have been full for several days, and are daily expecting to leave. We give a list of the members of the company.
1. Quotation from Bayard Taylor (1825-1878), an American poet, literary critic, translator, and travel author. This is the end of his poem “The Song of the Camp”:
Sleep, soldiers! still in honored rest
Your truth and valor wearing:
The bravest are the tenderest,—
The loving are the daring.
The full poem can be found, beginning on page 274, in An American Anthology, 1787-1900: Selections Illustration the Editor’s Critical Review of American Poetry in the Nineteenth Century, edited by Edmund Clarence Stedman, Boston/New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1900 (PS 586 .S7 in the UWRF Chalmer Davee Library). This book is also available on GoogleBooks.