1862 October 22: Visiting the 30th Wisconsin Infantry at Camp Randall
“Flotsam and Jetsam” was a semi-regular column written by Robert Eden for The Prescott Journal. Usually it does not include anything military-related, but in the October 22, 1862, issue of the Journal Eden includes a description of his visit to the 30th Wisconsin Infantry which was training at Camp Randall in Madison. John Dale, the sutler for the 30th Wisconsin, accompanied Eden on his visit. We reprint only the portion of the column detailing the visit to the 30th Wisconsin.
Written for the JOURNAL.
FLOTSAM AND JETSAM.
NO. SIX—BY BOB EDEN.
Thirtieth Wis. Vol.—The Camp—Proficiency of Thirtieth in Drill.
DEAR LUTE:—On Monday last I thought I would pay a visit to the city situated on the two lakes, the fair Capital of the State of Wisconsin. . . .
On enquiry we [John Dale and Robert Eden] found that the 30th Wis. Vol. had that evening arrived in Madison. A fond recollection of many a good man and true who we knew were to be found there, urged us to the camp, thitherwards we accordingly directed our steps. We found the boys “virtuous and happy,” a little used up by the fatigues of the road ; but there was no fatigue in the kind, hearty welcome of Arthur “Kox” [Cox], Sid. Starr, George Merrick, Dav. Fulton, and many other “star performers,”—(nothing personal to Sid.) of “Gideon’s Band.”
Our military education, LUTE, has been somewhat neglected, the drilling portion of it having been mainly confined to the blue article generally used for over-alls ; but still, we have, here and there, seen troops drilled, and in our private opinion, the drill of the two companies from St. Croix and Pierce counties, Capts. HARRIMAN [Samuel Harriman] and FULTON [David C. Fulton], can’t be beat, for the time they have been at it. We did not see a company in the 29th, which was on Battalion Drill shortly after, that could anything like come up to it. I have the less hesitation in saying this from the fact that I heard the same opinion expressed by an officer of the 29th, who was standing near me, to a friend.
The Fair Grounds at Madison, is a beautiful site for a camp, as from the rolling nature of the ground ; the barrcks [sic] are well drained and dry, and the same peculiarity gives a fine view of the men at drill, parade, etc.
After having inspected the various beauties and celebrities of Camp Randall, and in company with the Great John [Dale], I retreated slowly on the city. As we mounted the little hill, just outside the gates of the camp, and turned to look on the scene behind us, I could not help thinking, as I saw the long blue line, topped with the glistening bayonets, wheel, march, and counter-march, and reflected on the material of which that and most of the regiments formed the response to this last call were composed, I could not, I say, help thinking what an awful solemn thing this war is.
Not that the thought then presented itself to me for the first time, but a knowledge of the high talents and abilities of many who stood in those ranks, ready and willing to lay aside all that those talents entitle them to, and to take their chance with the many, brought the fact nearer home to me than it perhaps ever has been before. But one more last look, and then farewell to Camp Randall.
R. C. E.