1862 December 7: A Letter from the Salomon Tigers at Camp Randall
Following is a letter from a member of the Salomon Tigers—Company F of the 30th Wisconsin Infantry—in training at Camp Randall, Madison, Wisconsin. The letter is signed “A. L. G.,” but we cannot identify a soldier in Company F who would have had those initials! The letters must stand for something other than a name.
This letter was printed in the December 17, 1862, issue of The Prescott Journal.
HEAD QUARTERS CO. F., 30th REG.,
Camp Randall, Dec. 7, 1862.
FRIEND LUTE:—This being Sunday, and our own day as well as the Lord’s, and having just partaken of a hearty breakfast, we are sitting around the stove, comforting ourselves with the thought that this day we will rest. It is a beautiful morning, such an one as the almanacs would call “clear and cold.” Thus seated, enjoying the comforts of our little office, which we prize more highly probably for the limited space in which we have to live and move, we allow our minds to wander back to think of kind friends at home. As I am relieved for the time from military calls, I will write to you.
Until I received your letter of the 1st, we had heard from you only through the columns of your well remembered Family Paper, which is looked for with interest and its items perused with welcome.
One week ago to-day we arrived home (to Camp Randall, which we have learned to call home) from our tour into the rural districts, via Milwaukee, to Washington county, where we were ordered by the Governor to enforce the draft upon the recusant Luxenburgers.¹
On the evening of the 18th, we received orders to prepare four days rations, two days cooked and in haversacks, the other two days to be packed and sent on after us. You can only imagine with what joy and delight the word was received by the boys, after lying here so long without any great excitement or change in the form of military duty.
Accordingly everything was in order, and at four the next morning the seven companies that were assigned for the trip were on the parade ground and in line, awaiting with eager anticipation the arrival of the Colonel, and the order forward. We had not long to wait. Col. Dill himself, as prompt as his orders are decided, soon made his appearance, rode down the line to satisfy himself that all was right, and placed himself at the right of the Battalion. In a few moments we were on our way, and in due time reached Milwaukee, and wore marched through the city with bayonets fixed to Camp Washburn.
The ladies greeted us with smiles and waved their handkerchiefs as we marched through the streets; and while old men spoke words of cheer, more than one old woman stood in the doorway with tears in her eyes, as the Regiment moved along with measured steps,—showing that the music and the solemn tread of those hundreds of feet brought to her memory thoughts of some one most dear, and for whom a mother’s love and sympathy melted her to tears.
We remained in Camp Washburn three days and nights, during the draft, and on Friday night companies D, and F, aloud guard in the city Court House over the Commissioner’s books and papers, and to be ready for assistance should the city need it in case of disturbance.
On Saturday morning we again started with four days rations for West Bend, where we arrived at sunset the same evening. This if you remember is the place where commissioner Gilson was compelled to flee for his life and barely escaped falling into the hands of the mob, who sought to compel him to give up his papers or take his life, but by the assistance of Judge Frisby, who had just been drafted, he was enabled to make good his escape to Madison. Here we expected some difficulty, or fun as the boys termed it, and every one seemed eager that such should be the case. But I presume the appearance of so many glittering points of steel deterred them from the undertaking.
We remained at West Bend six days, during which time we received the kindest attention from the loyal citizens, who put forth every exertion to make us comfortable. They bro’t in pies, cakes and sweatmats [sic] of every description during the day, and at night the men came and requested the officers to let the boys go home with them and sleep in a good bed, which not being in accordance with the regulations of course could not be granted.
Friday, the day before we left, was a day long to be remembered in West Bend, as well as by the soldiers. A dinner was given by the citizens to the soldiers. The tables were loaded with good things, which, by the aid of the ladies and sergeants detailed fer [sic] the purpose, were tastefully arranged and well superintended during the entertainment. In the evening a grand ball was given at Keith’s Hall for the officers, and at the hotel for the non-commissioned officers and privates.
Having orders to march next morning, at three o’clock groups of soldiers and ladies could be seen here and there saying their fond adieus, while many a tear on beauty’s cheek told the sympathy of our fair friends for the defenders of our country’s freedom.
The Salomon Tigers are well worthy of all the praise bestowed upon them. They are ever ready to perform their duty as soldiers, and endure many camp hardships without a murmur of dissatisfaction. The company now numbers eighty-six men, capable of doing military duty. We came into camp with one hundred and one men. Joseph Sleeper was transferred to the Sharpshooters soon after we came into camp. Joseph Richert with nine other men were transferred to company I, by which means he received the appointment of 2d sergeant. Davis and Keister you well know brought disgrace upon themselves by deserting on the 2d of November. Joseph Hilton is about to receive his discharge on account of disability, induced by his sickness at Prescott.²
It pains me to record the death of our much loved brother solider John M. Miller. He was a good man and noble soldier, ever ready to do his own duty, and in case one of the guard took sick on his post, he was invariably the first man that volunteered to fill his place.
The company at present is commanded by Lieuts. Meacham and Strong [Edgar A. Meacham and Ezra B. Strong], the captain [Martin A. Driebelbis] being at home on a furlough on account of sickness. Their kind disposition and gentlemanly behavior, as well as their military discipline, have won the respect and confidence of the men.
There are several in the company sick with colds, but nothing more serious. One case of small pox was reported in the hospital to-day, which caused some uneasiness in camp for the time, but the companies have all been marched up to the Surgeon’s and been vaccinated.—The case has been moved from the hospital, and efficient steps taken to prevent the disease from spreading.
There is no telling when we will leave here, probably not till after the first January. We may not leave till spring. The drafted men have to be drilled and organized, and I presume it is thought a better regiment could be not be found for that purpose. The men all say this soldering at home don’t suit them, as they enlisted to go South.
You will hear from me again, A. L. G.
1. “Recusants” were those individuals—usually Roman Catholics—who refused to attend state-sponsored Anglican church services in England and Wales during the 1600s. “A.L.G.” is appropriating the term to apply to the individuals in Wisconsin who were refusing to participate in the state-sponsored draft. Many of the draft protestors were from Luxemburg and Germany. The 30th Wisconsin Infantry had been sent to ensure the draft could be held without further incident, like the one in Ozaukee County.
2. Joseph Sleeper was from Hartland in Waukesha County.
Joseph Reichert was from Oak Grove in Pierce County; he was transferred to Company I on October 23, along with Frank J. Birkel (Perry), Joseph Dauser (Trimbelle), Frank Keriger (Trimbelle), Nicholas Nopp (Oak Grove), John Schommer (Oak Grove), Peter M. Simons (Oak Grove), and Leland J. Webb (Watertown). Nine men from Company I were transferred into Company F. Company I also traded a lot of men with Company C.
Leander W. Davis and Hezekiah F. Keister, both from Diamond Bluff, are both listed in the official roster as mustering out on September 20, 1865. Perhaps they took an unexcused furlough!
Joseph Hilton, from River Falls, was discharged with a disability on December 2, 1862.