Homer Levings describes destroying railroads and communications in Mississippi on Union General William T. Sherman’s Meridian Expedition. The original letter is in the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO), in the University Archives and Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
Camp at Clear Creek, Miss.
March 3rd 1864.
It is with pleasure that I seat myself again to answer your most welcome letters, for it has been just a month to day since I have had the pleasure of perusing your letters, or answering them. You of course are aware of the raid that has been made into Miss. by General Sherman, and of course you want to know all about it. So I will try and give you an account of it so that you may get some Idea of its magnitude and probably it would be interesting to you to have an account of our marches also, so I will give you the whole thing as near as I can.
On the third day of February the 17th Army Corps, left Vicksburg, and vicinity followed by the 16th A. C. under Gen. Hurlbut [Stephen A. Hurlbut], for Maridian [sic: Meridian] Miss. We started from here with twenty days rations on our regimental train and 40 more on the Corps train. We crossed Black River the first day (where we rec’d. a letter from you dated Jan. 17 ) and marched to Edward Station, a distance of 10 miles with out meeting with any resistance from the enemy. The next day we went on to Champion Hill, where the skirmishing commenced. The 2nd briggade [sic] of the 4th division marched in advance and the 3rd briggade [sic] followed our reg’t. in advance of the briggade [sic]. The rebs made a stand near Champion Hill but it did not amount to much for they soon skedaddled. The first rebel I see lay in a field with a ball in his back, so he of course did not scare me much. I see the Doctors take it out of him, I thought they used him pretty rough. I do not think he ever got well, but enough of this. We marched on to Bakers Creek where they made annother [sic] stand, and the 2nd briggade [sic] being tired out, the 3rd was sent forward. Here the rebs used their artilery [sic] for the first time. Our reg’t. releived [sic] the 10th Ill., who were skirmishing with them. The right wing was deployed out on the right of the road and the left wing on the left, there were three men killed here out of Co by a cannon shot. We drove them from here about three miles, where they crossed the a creek and tried to tear up a bridge but our reg’t. drove them away so they did not do much dammage [sic], and they repaired it midst the enemyies [sic] fire. We held the bridge all nigt [sic]. They tried to shell us from a hill where there [sic] battery was planted but they could not reach us and their shells did not burst. Our company took a Lieut. and three men prisoner. [paragraph break added]
The next day the 3rd Division crossed the bridge, the under the fire of the enemies [sic] guns. The 68th and 32nd Ohio suffered the most. T[he] figt [sic] only lasted about a half an hour. Loss 17 killed and wounded, rebel loss 36.
That day we marched 12 or 14 miles and camped 5 or 6 miles beyond Clinton. The 3rd divission [sic] had quite a skirmish at Clinton. At Jackson we captured a cannon. At the same time 16th A. C. were on annother [sic] road skirmishing with the rebels. The next day we went into Jackson, where we laid all day. Gen. Hurlbutt [sic] made a speech to us in from [of] McPherson’s Head Quarters [James B. McPherson]. He was drunk as usual. We crossed Pearl River that nigt [sic] and camped. The town was pretty well burned. The rebels had the railroad in running to Jackson and had got out timbers to build a bridge across Pearl river. We marched the next day to Brandon, distance 12 miles. There we commenced tearing up the railroad.
On the 8th we left Brandon and marched 17 miles, the cavalry had a skirmish, two rebels killed and a woman who was watching the fight. The rebels formed their line of battle right in front of her house, and she was standing in the door watching them, when a bullit [sic] struck her in the neck and she was instantly killed. The 9th we marched 5 miles and camped at _nortory to let the 16th A. C. pass us. Here I had a chance to see some eastern troops who were the first that I ever see. They were the 77th NY, and the 35th NJ zouaves and the 178 NY. The 25th and 32nd Wis. were also along. The zouaaves [sic] were a hard looking set of men, a good many of the 17th NY formerly belonged to Billy Wilson’s¹ regt. [paragraph break added]
10th We marched through a small town called Hillsborough [sic: Hillsboro], it was most all burnt. Our regt. was train guard. [paragraph break added]
12th We camped at Decatur. The rebs fired at our train here and killed several mules. We burnt the town to pay them for it. The rebs fired into some of our boys that were foraging. One man from Co I. was shot in the face, one of Co I. was shot twice and he played of dead on them and got away. They thought they had killed him and left him. [paragraph break added]
The 14th we left camp on a small stream called Little Chunk, for Maridian [sic] on 3/5 rations, for 5 days in our haversacks, taking only 2 teams to a regt. The rebs fell trees in the road which impeded our progress somewat [sic]. We camped about 5 miles out of town, and started in the next morning, when it began to rain and rained most all day. We got into some store houses and stayed over night. At Maridian [sic] was Gen. Pope’s [Leonidas Pope] Head Quarters and by evening we destroy all their rail road communications in Miss. [paragraph break added]
The 4th Division left the Corps here and went to Enterprise to destroy the rail road. The business part of the town was all burnt. The 3rd Briggade [sic] was sent the next day to Chithman (distance 14 miles) to burn a RR bridge. It was guarded by a rebel regt. which we easily drove away. The bridge was a nice covered bridge over a hundred feet long. We also burnt 300 feet of trussle [sic] work and marched back part way to Enterprise and camped. We burnt another bridge the next morning and another peace [sic] of trussle [sic] work and went in to town, and stayed over night and started back for Maridian [sic] to join our Corps and return home. We left Maridian [sic] on our rigt [sic] and saved 5 or 6 miles. [paragraph break added]
On the 20th we started about 8 o[’]clock, marched 13 miles and camped a mile from where we left the train but they had gone to Decatur. We over took our train near Hillsborough [sic]. I was taken sick with the ague, was sick about a week. The Troops crossed Pearl River the 26th. [paragraph break added]
The 27th most all of the train in the Corps was started back for camp and annother [sic] train was sent out with rations. The Doctor examined the convalescents and sent the worst ones into camp with the train. I was sent along with them. We left them 10 miles east of Canton, we went to Canton the first night. The 17th Ay. C. captured 3 new engines that the rebs had run out of the town but could not get them away. They also got 22 more locomotives that were being repaired.
March 4th — I have written nearly every thing that is of interest and I will not write much more. The regt. I understand will be here this after noon. They are at Edward Station so I will not mail this til Ed gets in. [paragraph break added]
[Homer continues in pencil] Ed has finished his letter² and I have not time to write any more for the mail will soon go out so I will close. This from your Affectionate son, — Homer Levings
1. William “Billy” Wilson was the colonel of the 6th New York Infantry, also known as Wilson’s Zouaves. A history of the 6th New York states that “The vigor with which the regiment resisted the attack undoubtedly saved Fort Pickens from surprise and capture, both of which the enemy expected to accomplish.” (New York Infantry Regiment, 6th, Historical Sketch from The 3rd Annual Report of the Bureau of Military Statistics on the New York State Military Museum website.)
2. Edwin Levings’ letter is dated March 5, 1864, so Homer’s postscript must have been written on that day.
In August of 1864, at their national convention in Chicago, the Democratic Party would nominate General George B. McClellan as their candidate for president. In this editorial, reprinted in the February 27, 1864, issue of The Polk County Press, some Democrats are already finding fault with him as a potential nominee.
The Course of General McClellan.
From the Green Bay Advocate, War Democrat.
What matters it here, in this time of peril, whether McClellan’s or somebody else’s plans and theories, in 1862, were better? It is precisely of as much consequence as the question of Grouch’s fidelity at Waterloo. It is a matter with which history has to deal–not we here in the trenches, restating an assault upon the life of the nation.
Suppose McClellan to have been badly treated. Shall the earth and the sun stand still until he is attended to ? Give him a court-martial, or a committee of inquiry, if he wants it ; shoot him or Stanton—whichever is found to be in the fault—do anything in reason that he wants done ; but let us go on meanwhile with more pressing and important matters.
Joe Hooker [Joseph Hooker] had as good a right to growl and grumble, and hump himself up. Did he do it ? Go and ask him, down there in Tennessee, good naturedly smoking his cigar under the shadow of Lookout Mountain. John Pope, as brave a fighting man as ever lived, never had the hundredth part of the time, the favor, the patient waiting, which was given McClellan to do something with the Army of the Potomac—did he fall back, glum and cross, and demand that nothing should be done until he was avenged ? He came from the command of a great army to a mere Indian border war, as gaily as though it were a holiday excursion. Burnside [Ambrose E. Burnside] did not cope with Longstreet [James Longstreet] at Fredericksburg, and was summarily sent away ; but he sought another trial and gave him hard knocks at Knoxville. McDowell [Irvin McDowell], the earliest victim of ill-luck, has been vainly urging, over since, not the indorsement [sic] of his plans at Bull Run, but a command to lead once more at the Rebel army. Rosecrans [Williams S. Rosecrans], the beloved of all, who was blown out after Chickamauga, as you would blow out a penny candle, referred to the druggist, instead of the Government, about the opium question. Even Scott [Winfield Scott], the greatest general living, who was set aside gently but firmly, takes his morning walks in the Fifth Avenue, and if he doesn’t encourage, he doesn’t discourage the attempts we are making to save the country.
Up to the advent of Meade [George G. Meade], every General who has had command of the Army of the Potomac, has been relieved from it under the circumstances which they probably did not regard as flattering. But of them all, there has been only one who has undertaken to inflict his wrongs—if they were wrongs—upon the country. That one is Geo. B. McClellan. He asks the country to take notice that not only his military plans but his ideas as to the politics of war, are different from those which have pursued. He publishes old letters to the President [Abraham Lincoln]. He charges Stanton [Edwin M. Stanton], the existing Secretary of War, with having connived at his defeat and the destruction of the army. He advocates the election of a man to the Governorship of Pennsylvania who decides that the draft is unconstitutional. And he permits himself to be named as the Presidential candidate of the Fernando Woods, the Vallandighams [Clement L. Vallandigham], and all the other dead weights hanging on this war. It is one of the fatalities which seem to attend that class of politicians, that they are making a candidate of that kind. So long as they keep control of the Democratic party, so long will it be beaten.
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Following are two letters from members of the Saint Croix Rifles—Company F of the 1st Wisconsin Infantry (3 years). They were published in the February 27, 1864, issue of The Polk County Press, more than a month after the first letter was written by George W. Gore. That letter was sent to Elias H. Hoover¹ in Alabama where it stirred up bad feelings in Company F and a response was sent off to Editor Fifield for the Post.
Gore was from the Saint Croix Falls area and had been discharged for a disability in October of 1863. Another letter by Gore was published in the Post a little over a year ago, reporting on the Battle of Stones River.
BRIDGEPORT, Ala., Feb. 6th, 1864.
S.S. FIFIELD, Editor Polk County PRESS ; DEAR SIR :—The enclosed letter has just been received, and the undersigned members of Company F, 1st Wis. Infantry, having been informed of its contents, asked the privilege of taking the same in charge, and accordingly send it to you, knowing you to be a friend to the solider, with the hope that you will give it an insertion in your paper. This letter is a gross libel on our Captain [Maurice M. Samuel] and every member of our company.
We feel proud of our Captain, as in all the positions he has held in the army he has discharged his duties with fidelity and promptness, which fact reflects great credit upon himself and honor upon his Command.
Indeed we should show ourselves unworthy of so brave and gallant a Captain did we allow such a vile slander to go unrebuked—a slander all the more vile, coming as it does from a man much indebted to Capt. Samuel for his discharge and other favors.
In regard to Sergeant LILLIS,² of whom we also feel proud, there never was a better or braver soldier. He has nobly earned, and we trust will soon receive a commission.
But we are glad to be rid of Mr. GORE, who has proved himself to be neither a good soldier nor a gentleman. His letter proves him to be what we learned from association with him, viz : worthy the scorn of all patriotic citizens. We could say much of him but we trust at no distant day we shall be permitted to meet him face to face.
. . . . .Very respectfully,
. . . . . . . . . your obedient servants,
|Elias H. Hoover¹||E. Warendorph|
|John F. Lenfest||M. W. Coe|
|Gus Marlett||James McCabe|
|D. P. Hewit||Peter O’Connor|
|Thomas O’Connor||F. A. Peobody [sic]|
|John A. Hunter||John Crowley|
|James Smith||John Wyett|
|Leonard Wilbur||S. W. Peterson|
|Wm H. Cowan||Briant Brown|
|Geo. W. Carson||Geo. Mallowney|
|Geo. W. Babcock||James Guilroy|
|John D. Putnam||John B. Butler|
And signed by every member of the Company present.
(The following is the letter referred to in the above communication. We publish it at the earnest request of the boys of Company F, striking out the last sentence which is very personal upon one of our drafted citizens. If MR. GORE feels grieved on account of our publishing his letter he will recollect that we hold ourself responsible, as we have his original letter in our possession—ED.)
SODOM, POLK Co., Wis., Jan. 17, 1864
SERGT. E. H. HOOVER,—Dear Sir :—Yours of the 27th of December is received and in answer I will inform you, I was not at all surprised at its contents. You may remember I told you it was ten chances to one that my coat would be stole, but you would not believe it. I strongly suspect that it was some of the “Forty Thieves” that got it. Perhaps old Ali Baba himself. I feel grateful to God that I am out of the company of such plundering villains and I hope the war will never end ’till they are killed off. I hope the infernal scoundrel who stole my co at may get a ball through him before many days are over. I think you are right about reenlisting. —LILLIS has been spreading himself like a turkey Gobler, and has so disgusted everyone that he could not get a man, though enough have volunteered to fill our quota. “VINCE”³ starts to-day with a sweet crew, whom he bought like “niggers” with the town and county money at $300 a head. Among them are Orin Weymouth, Eli Tuttle, Mike McHugh, Charles Murgaw, John Rice and a lot of like trash. It is a great thing for the State but a bad one for the country at large. I have written twice to the Captain, but have got no answer as yet, and there is a report in SODOM that Henry wrote to his mother that his father was very ill. As you mention nothing about it I suppose it was only the Gonorrhea or Siphylis. If he has not gone to H—1 yet, ask him if he got my letters. Old R———s is busy marrying the Indians who volunteered, so that their squaws can draw the State pay. I have never been from home since my return, and doubt much if I shall go out ’till I leave the accursed place. The Sodomites are exulting over their skill in evading the draft by buying “niggers” and Indians, and can now sleep easy again.
Hoping you are well, I remain yours, &c.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . G.W. GORE.
1. Elias H. Hoover, from Saint Croix Falls, was a sergeant. He also will muster out when his term expires in October 1864.
2. Sinon P. Lillis, from Saint Croix Falls, was the 1st sergeant of Company F. He will muster out when his term expires in October 1864.
3. William J. Vincent, from Saint Croix Falls, was the 1st lieutenant of Company F until he resigned in February 1862. He has been servings as the Deputy Provost Marshal for the counties in northwestern Wisconsin. Pembroke V. Wise, who you may remember was recently discharged and returned to Prescott, had followed Vincent as the 1st lieutenant.
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.
Also included here because it is from the same day, is Jerry’s discharge so that he could re-enlist as a Veteran Volunteer. Jerry’s discharge record, oddly, is in his brother’s papers, the Phineas C. Flint Papers (River Falls SC 42) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University Archives and Area Research Center. Note the biographical information and physical description included.
Camp 4th Wis Cavalry
Baton Rouge La
Feb’y 28th 1864
I arrived safe and sound at this place at 3 o[']clock yesterday morning. I immediately proceeded to go from tent to tent pulling the boys out of bed and telling them that they were attacked by the enemy.
It seems good to be here once more with the boys. Indeed it seemed as though yesterday was the happiest day of my life.
I have not re-enlisted yet but shall do so tomorrow. The Capt. says that I shall have a commission. I care but little one way or the other.¹
We stopped at Memphis and took along the recruits that had been detained there. Charley² was among the number. Rossie³ has been here about two weeks and has already won for himself the respect of all the old soldiers of the Co. I have heard the remark among their several lines, “That little Pratt makes a good soldier.” I have spoken to the Capt. asking to have him made bugler. I think he will get it.
Henry4 was highly delighted at seeing Charley. They will make a good team. Thirty-nine of the Company here enlisted and will be home on furlough as soon as the river opens. At least such is their intention now. I don’t believe I had better take one [a furlough] just now. The weather is very warm and almost oppressive to one just from the cold north. But still I do love this climate for it is really glorious.
White5 is here and doing his regular duty. I have seene [sic] nothing out of the way with him. Knowles5 says he has done firstrate ever since he has been here. You must excuse me for not writing any more now as I have several other letters to write. Thought I would just let you know that we came through all right.
Give my love to Grandmother and all friends
Your Boy, Jerry.
1. This is different than Jerry’s last letter where he said he would not re-enlist unless he got a commission. Jerry won’t officially get his commission as 2nd lieutenant until May.
2. Charles P. Nichols, from Hudson, was one of Jerry’s recruits, enlisting on October 23, 1863.
3. Roswell V. Pratt, from River Falls, enlisted November 7, 1863. He will be promoted to Chief Bugler on July 14, 1864.
4. William Henry Nichols, from Hudson, had been with Company G since April 21, 1861.
5. Henry J. White, from Hudson, had been with Company G since November 1, 1861. “Doing his regular duty” refers to being with the Company rather than being in the regimental band.
6. Sergeant Warren P. Knowles’ brother, Charles G. Knowles—both from from River Falls—was another one of Jerry’s recruits, enlisting on December 24, 1863.
The Battle of Okolona took place on February 22, 1864, in Mississippi. Union General William S. Smith¹ commanding over 7,000 cavalry was defeated by Confederate forces under General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Smith, having disobeyed orders from General William T. Sherman, was forced to fight an eleven-mile running battle before retreating across the state line into Tennessee. Smith was criticized for putting Sherman’s Meridian Expedition in danger.
From The Prescott Journal:
A private letter from Vicksburg 8th, from an eye witness, says McPherson’s [James B. McPherson] corps crossed the Big Black 15 miles east of Vicksburg on the 7th. Hurlbut’s [Stephen A. Hurlbut] took a parallel route from Vicksburg and crossed at Messenger’s ford, 5 miles above McPherson’s, on pontoons. Each column was 14 miles long. The force sent up the Yazoo was to prevent a flank movement to cut off our trains. The ironclads will try to reach Grenada to co-operate with Smith’s cavalry and drive Forrest’s command towards Canton where Bishop Polk’s [Leonidas Polk] conscripts are. Jackson is said to be fortified with cotton bales.
There are but forty-one daily papers published in what rebels call the Southern Confederacy.
The rebel Congress has passed and Jeff. Davis approved a bill prohibiting the importation of luxuries. [Jefferson Davis]
The old regiments are recovering from their thirty days’ visit to their homes with an average of 140 new recruits each.
It is quite probable that the Secretary of the Treasury will in a few days advertise the ten-forty loan. [Salmon P. Chase]
By orders of the War Department, no volunteer will be rejected on accounts of his height, who is at least five feet.
The 1st Minnesota Regiment having re-enlisted for the war has gone home on furlough. They reached St. Paul on the 13th and were received with great enthusiasm.
The total funded and fundable debt of the United States on the 29th of January was $1, 446,371,507. The interest of $756,717,809 is payable in gold.
The Herald’s Washington dispatch says the policy of extending the President’s amnesty to colonels is much talked of. Rebel prisoners and refugees state that this would cause whole regiments to desert.
Sixty thousand veteran troops have already en-listed. All the regiments in the Army of the Potomac, whose terms of service expire this year have re-enlisted, or about to do so.
An emancipation meeting was held at Covington, Ky., on the 14th, to elect delegates to the emancipation convention at Louisville, on the 24th. Among the speakers was J. R. Grant, father of Gen. Grant [Ulysses S. Grant].
JOHN S. BURNS, the only citizen of Gettysburg who joined the army and fought in the battle in July last, has been put on the pension roll at the rate of $8 a month. He fought with the 7th Wisconsin and is an old man.
Gen. John [Hunt] Morgan and his two staff officers who escaped with him have been made the recipients of a grand ovation and testimonial from the State of South Carolina. The testimonial consists of a magnificent horse to each, and seven sets of elegant and costly caparisons.
The steamer Mill Boy was sunk on the 1st inst., 8 miles below Jacksonport, on White river, laden with Government stores for the troops at Batesville. A part of the cargo was saved. The boat was valued at $14,000 and was a total loss.
The Richmond Examiner of the 10th inst. has an editorial denouncing the Virginia Legislature for attempting to interfere with State and war matters, by the passage of an act requesting JEFF DAVIS to remove the outlawry against Gen. BUTLER, to facilitate an exchange of prisoners. [Benjamin F. Butler]
The Richmond Enquirer also contains a long editorial bitterly denouncing the Virginia Legislature for its chicken hearted course in recommending the acknowledgement of the beast BUTLER, and yielding to terms for an exchange of prisoners in secret session. It urges DAVIS to remain firm, and declares there will be no exchange of prisoners till they get more than we have.
The Washington correspondent of the Chicago Tribune states that it has the highest authority for saying that Gen. Grant has within a few days formally, peremptorily and in the most decisive terms, rejected direct offers made to him lately by leading Democratic politicians to secure his nomination for the Presidency by their National Convention.
The Times’ Washington special says that Gen. Butler has issued an order forbidding the sale of liquor to be drank on the premises in his department, under penalty of fine and imprisonment at hard labor. also, in order that all estates in his Department, abandoned or occupied by rebels, be taken possession of by the Superintendent of negro affairs.
The Secretary of War [Edwin M. Stanton] has decided that the term three-fourths, used in connection with veteran regiments, means three-fourths of the organization serving together, and does not include men absent in prisons, hospitals, &c. Men who have not served two years will be allowed to go on furlough with their regiments, provided it goes as an organization, and they agree to re-enlist as soon as they come within the limits of re-enlistment.
Very near one hundred and ten thousand new recruits have been formally mustered into the service since the 1st of November last, and many more thousand are known to be enlisted, although not yet mustered in. The last two weeks the enlistments have averaged 1,800 a day. Of the number formally mustered into the service, New York has furnished about 16,000, Ohio 16,000, Indiana and Illinois 12,000 each, Missouri about 7,000 and Pennsylvania only the same number.
From The Polk County Press:
The U. S. steamers Wyoming and Jamestown have blockaded the pirate Alabama at Aboy China, and it is thought that her career is ended.
A large number of our prisoners who were confined at Richmond, recently made their scape by tunneling themselves out from under the walls of Libby prison. They were fifty-one days in getting out. Twenty-six of them have arrived in safety at Fortress Monroe, and among them the notorious Col. Straight, whom the rebels once held as hostage for John Morgan.
It is reported that the rebels are preparing to make a raid into Ohio, by way of West Virginia.
No news from the seat of war of any importance.
1. William Sooy Smith (1830-1916) graduated from West Point and was a career military officer and engineer renowned for bridge construction. When the Civil War started, he joined the 13th Ohio Infantry and was soon commissioned colonel. Smith was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers during the Battle of Shiloh. After the Meridian Expedition he served as chief of cavalry for Grant in the Department of Tennessee and for Sherman in the Military Division of Mississippi. He resigned from the Army later in 1864 because of ill health.
1864 February 20: Harrison Hobart Escapes; Jerry Flint a “true gentleman and soldier;” and Other News
Following are the smaller items from the February 20, 1864, issues of The Polk County Press and The Prescott Journal.
From The Polk County Press:
— A telegram from Dalton, Jan. 20th, says several brigades of the rebel army have re-enlisted for the war.
— The rebel General Vance [Robert B. Vance] has been sent to Johnson’s Island¹ as a prisoner of war.
— The rebel Congress on the 21st inst., passed a bill for an Assistant Treasurer of the Trans-Mississippi Department.
— Gov. Clarke [sic: Charles Clark], of Mississippi, has notified all aliens that they must enter the military service before the first of March, or leave the country.
— During the last two years 6,416 prisoners have been confined at Johnson’s Island,¹ in the Ohio river and there are 1,612 still remaining there.
— 450 men have been recruited for the 2d Wisconsin Cavalry since the first of December. The veteran 3d Wisconsin Infantry left Madison on the 4th inst. for the seat of war. The recruits which have joined this regiment since its return home swell the number to over six hundred men.
— We had the pleasure one day this week of taking by the hand our old friend WEBB SEAVEY, 2d Lieut. of Company H, 5th Iowa Cavalry.—Lieut SEAVEY enlisted in Nebraska, in the fall of 1861, when returning from Pike’s Peak, where he had been the year previous. His company was assigned to the above regiment. He enlisted as a private, was promoted to 1st Sergeant, and has lately been commissioned. He has re-enlisted for “three years or the war,” from the 1st of January last. Success to you, WEBB.
From The Prescott Journal:
A few days since about one hundred Union prisoners, mostly officers, escaped from the Richmond prison, and reached Gen. Butler’s line in safety [Benjamin F. Butler]. Among them was Col. HARRISON C. HOBART,² of this State.
While a Union soldier was bathing in Elk River, five of Braggs’s soldiers came to the back and took aim at him, one of them shouting “Come here, you d—d Yank, out of the wet.” The poor fellow felt quite sure he was done for, but obeyed the order. “You, surrender our prisoner, do you?” “Yes, of course I do.” “That’s kind. Now we’ll surrender to you!” And the five stacked arms before him, their spokesman adding : “We’ve done with them, and have bid old Bragg good bye. Secesh is played out. Now you surround us and take us into camp.” [Confederate General Braxton Bragg]
Lt. P. V. Wise has received his discharge, and returned home, and will renew the practice of his profession. His wound does not disable his organs of speech in the least. [see his letter to the Journal, dated February 20, 1864]]
The Hudson Times pays the following well deserved compliment to Serg’t JERRY E. FLINT, of River Falls, who has just returned to his regiment, the 4th:
“We cannot let this occasion pass without mentioning the fact that Jerry conducted himself while here like the true gentleman and soldier. He seemed to appreciate the fact that he was sent here to work, and not to loaf about the streets and saloons. We hope that Jerry may receive at the hands of his superiors, a fitting reward for his services.”
REBELS PAYING TAXES.—A Memphis dispatch to the Chicago Tribune says:
On the 6th inst., Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard, through his agent, paid his United States tax, on property in this city, amounting to over one hundred dollars. This clearly indicates that, even if he has faith in the establishment of a Southern Confederacy, he has no hopes that Tennessee will constitute a portion thereof. Over $50,000 have been paid to collectors of internal revenue during the past sixty days, in Memphis. Such alacrity in paying taxes has never before been witnessed, and is a matter of great astonishment, especially to the city and county collectors, who assist the United State officers in the collection. The Memphis office is crowded from 9 A. M. to 4 P. M., and when the office closes each day, a large number are turned off until the next morning. Ostensibly the tax is paid very cheerfully, although the officers are well aware that a majority of the tax-payers are rebels, and hate the “Lincoln Government” and its “hirelings” very bitterly.
1. During the forty months of the existence of the Depot of Prisoners of War on Johnson’s Island in Sandusky Bay, Ohio, “approximately 10,000 men were processed into the stockade. Most were Confederate officers. Twenty-six were either generals or officers who became generals during or after their imprisonment. Others confined there were a small number of privates, bushwhackers, guerrillas, and citizens suspected of disloyalty to the Union. The maximum number of prisoners at any one time was about 3,224 in January of 1864.” For more on Johnson’s Island, including listings of Confederate prisoners of war and Union guard garrison, and POW letters see the Depot of Prisoners of War on Johnson’s Island, Ohio, website.
2. Harrison Carroll Hobart (1815-1902), from Chilton, was lieutenant colonel of the 21st Wisconsin Infantry and had been a prisoner of war since September 20, 1863. On March 1, 1864, he will become the colonel of the 21st and Michael H. Fitch, from Prescott, will become the lieutenant colonel.
Hobart, a lawyer, had served in the Wisconsin Territorial House of Representatives and in the Wisconsin State Senate and the Wisconsin State Assembly. He was appointed captain in the 4th Wisconsin Infantry in July 1861, and in October 1862 was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 21st Wisconsin. Hobart fought at the battles of Stones River and Hoover’s Gap. At the Battle of Chickamauga he was wounded and taken prisoner, and was sent to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. There he helped lead the escape of 109 Union prisoners through a tunnel out of the prison on February 9, 1864. For more information on Hobart, see his entry in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History.
The following history of Frank Haskell’s service in the Civil War comes from the February 20, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.
The Thirty-Sixth Wisconsin Regiment.
By an order from the Adjutant General’s office, to be found elsewhere, it will be seen that the organization of a new regiment in this state has been authorized, the field officers and Second Lieutenants, and recruiting commissions issued.
The field officers are as follows:
Colonel—FRANK A. HASKELL¹ of Madison.
Lieutenant Colonel—JOHN A. SAVAGE, Jr.,² of Milwaukee.
Major—HARVEY M. BROWN,³ of Columbus.
The promotion of Lieut. HASKELL to the Colonelcy of this regiment will afford great pleasure to his many friends in this section, and is an act of tardy justice to one of the most brave and accomplished officers who have gone from the State. He is a gentleman of liberal education being a graduate of Dartmouth College, of fine personal appearance, of entirely correct habits and in all respects calculated to win and retain the confidence of those placed under his command.
Colonel HASKELL entered the service as Adjutant of the 6th Wisconsin, to which place he was appointed June 20th, 1861, and much of the neatness and good discipline for which this regiment has been distinguished is attributable to his influence during its organization. When Gen. GIBBON [John Gibbon] took command of the Iron Brigade, Lieut. HASKELL was promoted to Aid [sic: Aide] on his staff, where he has since remained, serving temporarily on the staffs of Generals SUMNER [Edwin V. Sumner], WARREN [Gouverneur K. Warren] and others. The fact that he was selected for this position and has since been retained in it by Gen. GIBBON, who is one of the best officers in the service and strictly a military man, is high evidence of his ability and acquirements4 in the profession of arms. He has been through all the campaigns of the Army of the Potomac since the Iron Brigade was organized, having taken part in reconnoissances [sic] to Orange Court House and Stephensburg, skirmishes at Rappahannock Station and Sulphur Springs, and the battles of Gainsville, the second Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam—where he had a horse shot under him—Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. At the last named battle, on the 3d of July, after Gen. GIBBON was wounded, he led the division in an assault in which 2,300 prisoners and 17 battle-flags were captured. He had two horses shot under him and was slightly wounded in the thigh by a bullet. On all occasions he has acquitted himself so as to receive the highest encomiums of both officers and men. It affords us great pleasure to be able to give the following extracts from official reports:
General Harrow,5 commanding the first brigade of Gibbon’s Division says:
“I mean not to disparage any other by saying that General Gibbon’s Aid [sic]-de-Camp, Lieut. Haskell, greatly distinguished himself by his constant exertion in the most exposed places.”
Col. Hall, a regular officer, commanding the 3d brigade, says:
“I cannot omit speaking in the highest terms of the magnificent conduct of Lieut. Haskell of Gen. Gibbon’s staff in bringing forward regiments, and in nerving the troops to the work by word and fearless example.”
Major General Gibbon says:
“I desire to call particular attention to the manner in which several of the subordinate reports mention the services of my gallant Aid [sic], F. A. Haskell of the 6th Wisconsin, and to add my testimony of his valuable services. This young officer has been through many battles and distinguished himself alike in all by his conspicuous coolness and bravery ; and in this one was slightly wounded, but refused to quit the field. It has always been a source of regret to me that our military system offers no plan for rewarding his merit and services as they deserve. Such men as he should be promoted on the field, though I regret to say they are frequently overlooked by the State authorities, and incompetent persons, not soldiers, placef over their heads.”
Major General Hancock [Winfield S. Hancock], commanding the corps, says:
“I desire particularly to refer to the services of a gallant young officer, 1st Lieut. F. A. Haskell, A. D. C. to Brig. Gen’l Gibbon, who at a critical period of the battle, when the contending forces were but fifty yards apart, believing that an example was necessary, and ready to sacrifice his life, rode between the contending lines, with the view of giving encouragement to ours and leading it forward, he being at the moment the only mounted officer in a similar position. He was slightly wounded and his horse was shot in several places.”
Gen. GIBBON also says, in a letter to the Governor dated the 2d inst.: “Lieut. F. A. HASKELL, of the 6th Wisconsin Volunteers, has served for nearly two years on my staff. He has shown great bravery and capacity as an officer, and I am anxious to see him promoted. * * * I presume I need hardly say that I have such faith in Wisconsin troops, and such a regard for their welfare, that I would not recommend an undeserving officer to command them.”
Major Gen. MEADE [George G. Meade], commanding the Army of the Potomac, endorses the above recommendation in the following language:
“Lieut. HASKELL’s services are personally known to me, and I consider him as justly entitled to promotion for his gallantry and good conduct at Fredericksburg and subsequently at Gettysburg.”
Colonel HASKELL is now, and has been for some months, at Philadelphia, where Gen. GIBBON, temporarily disabled for active service, is in command of a rendezvous of drafted men. His numerous friends will rejoice to greet him at home and congratulate him on his promotion.
Lieut. Colonel SAVAGE is widely known through the State as one of its most talented and patriotic young men. He was appointed Adjutant of the 28th Regiment, August 30th, 1862, and was compelled to resign on account of ill health in August, 1863, having seen a year’s service in the field. He has been highly commended as a gallant and skillful officer.
Major BROWN was appointed First Lieutenant of company I, 31st Regiment, December 27th, 1862, and has been in the service ever since. He is highly recommended as a fine young officer, and particularly well qualified for the position to which he is appointed.
The second lieutenants of the regiment are taken from the ranks of regiments in the field and promoted for good conduct.
With field officers all young men, and men of approved military experience, and at least one veteran line officer in each company, this regiment, when it takes the field, can hardly fail to win a good name, and its organization affords an excellent opportunity to those ambitious of securing commissions by raising companies, while its ranks will give just the place for men who hesitate owing to their ignorance in military drill and tactics about taking their stand by the side of experienced veterans. Those enlisting in this regiment can be assured that they will be wisely led, and well cared for, and we doubt not its ranks will be speedily filled.
1. Frank Aretas Haskell (1828-1864) grew up in Vermont and came to Madison, Wisconsin, in 1854. He practiced law in Madison, and also became captain of a local militia group known as the Governor’s Guards. Haskell was appointed adjutant of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry in August 1861, with the rank of 1st lieutenant. In March 1862, his colonel temporarily took command of the Iron Brigade and brought Haskell with him as aide-de-camp. Two months later, Brig. Gen. John Gibbon retained Haskell when he took over the Iron Brigade. When Gibbon was promoted to lead a division in the spring of 1863, Haskell again accompanied him. Haskell was close to the Union’s top commanders as the Iron Brigade fought at Gainesville, South Mountain, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. On February 9, 1864, Haskell was appointed colonel of the 36th Wisconsin Infantry and he travelled home to Wisconsin to take command. It joined Gibbon’s army in Virginia on May 19 and fought for the first time in the Battle of Cold Harbor (May 31-June 12, 1864), where he was killed shortly after taking command. For more on Haskell, see the Dictionary of Wisconsin History.
Haskell wrote a famous account of “The Battle of Gettysburg” that was published posthumously, in 1898. It is available digitally on the Project Gutenberg website. The image used above is from here.
2. John A. Savage, Jr., from Milwaukee, was the lieutenant colonel of the 36th Wisconsin Infantry. He will become the colonel of the 36th when Haskell is killed in action at Cold Harbor on June 3, 1864. Savage, however, will be wounded shortly thereafter, at Petersburg, on June 18, 1864, and will die on July 4.
3. Harvey M. Brown, from Columbus, was the 1st lieutenant of Company I, 31st Wisconsin Infantry until named the major of the 36th Wisconsin. He will become the lieutenant colonel when Haskell is killed and the colonel when Savage dies.
4. Attainment of an ability or skill.
5. William Harrow (1822-1872) was a lawyer in Indiana before the Civil War and became a controversial Union general. Harrow led the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, II Corps, during the Gettysburg Campaign. He served as acting division commander while Brig. Gen. John Gibbon led the corps late in the day. Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock at that time was in charge of the left flank of the army. Harrow’s men helped repel a part of Pickett’s Charge. With the wounding of Gibbon, Harrow took command of the 2nd Division. Questions persisted, however, about Harrow’s ability to work with his superiors and his abilities to lead and inspire soldiers, as well as about his sobriety. In his official report on Gettysburg, John Gibbon praised his other two division commanders, but did not mention Harrow as an officers deserving recognition. Soon afterward, Harrow was relieved of command and never again served in the Army of the Potomac. Harrow was reassigned to the Western Theater, where he participated in the Atlanta Campaign. After a reorganization in September 1864, Harrow was left without an assignment and formally resigned from the army in April 1865.