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1863 January 4: “The boys have substituted the time-step call, left! left! for that of mud! mud!”

January 4, 2013

From the January 14, 1863, issue of The Prescott Journal comes this letter from Company F of the 30th Wisconsin Infantry—the Salomon Tigers.  There is no soldier in Company F with the initials O. S. G., but this could possibly be L. Dow Gunn, who was a sergeant at this time.  The O. S. G. could stand for Orderly Sergeant Gunn.

Camp Correspondence.

From the Thirtieth Regiment.

Camp Randall, Jan. 4th, 1’63. }

Friend Lute :—The dark, shadowy, clouds of the few past stormy days have blown over Camp Randall leaving a sky clear and serene with a sun, bright and spring-like, so desirable in our present circumstances; in our conversation when we for a moment forget the vast field of mud that surrounds us, we call it pleasant—the weather is mild and has by far more the appearance of Spring than Winter.  During the night it freezes sufficiently hard to dry up the unpleasant element beneath, but by noon the frost is all out, leaving the ground the same as the day before, mud all over.

The boys have substituted the time-step call, left! left! for that of mud! mud! and through the day can be heard the fatigue duty men, as they carry wood or water, calling out, mud! mud! they thinking it more appropiate [sic] than any other at the present time.

The holidays (as the hoosier wrote in his letter to his sweetheart,) “has bin and went and oh, how lonesome!” and I must say with what little real enjoyment were they appreciated in camp—like all other days.  The Guard were mounted, Sentinels walked their beats with their usual tread, and that much dreaded Fatigue-duty, went on as ever and with but few exceptions, the day passed by with but little to mind us, that this was a day of unusual interest, more than yesterday; there being no company drill, we had free use of the field to roam around, and peek through the cracks of the high board fence if we wished.

It had been announced that in the evening the Union Vocalists (from River Falls) would give an entertainment with a free dance afterwards, all for 25 cts without supper included; this suited me being a lover of “tripping the light fantastic toe,” of course I attended, on arriving at the door I deposited with the gentleman, O. S. P. a peculiar 25 ct. Madison check, (having 15 cts. left) and walked in feeling as well pleased but not quite so portly as did our friend McIndoe [Walter D. McIndoe] and lady, who just preceded me.  By the way, we think he is the right man in the right place—she too.  The house was well filled with a first-class audience, the singing was pronounced superb and not often to be excelled; the dance like all good dances was grand and gave perfect satisfaction.

Did you hear we had moved?  Well its so.  On Tuesday we began to convey our personal property into the new barracks while the rain came down in drenching sheets.  Knapsacks, gun accoutrements, blankets and everything pertaining to a soldier’s outfit was hastily moved, and we are now comfortably situated in good pleasant quarters, with tables, benches, stoves and bunks, tastefully arranged.

The kitchen and pantry are attached to the rear of the quarters and are furnished with the large Chicago cooking stove with fixtures which has the appearance of a first rate 2d class boarding house.

The health of Co. F. appears to be gradually improving while other companies have reported as many as 48 unfit for duty.  A few cases of both Measles and Mumps are yet in camp, the Small-pox seeming to have been checked; Erysipolas [sic: Erysipelas]¹ seems to have taken the place of sore throat and is now the prevailing disease, that cause the appearance of small companies on dress parade, and the erecting of additional tents for hospitals.  Captain Meacham [Edgar A. Meacham] has been sick for a few days with severe cold and sore throat, but we hope to see him in camp tomorrow; below I give you a list of the company sick in quarters or hospital which may be a better way of informing their friends as to their situation.

The election news of McIndoe’s success and the Proclamation was received last evening with the greatest interest and applause; guns were fired in the city, and as the report reverberated along the still night air the excitement spread among the soldiers and huzzahs and cheers went up from hundreds of tongues and many exclamations; Thank God!  Old Abe’s all right yet, were halloed aloud.

Many by-words and phrases have originated since the Proclamation and have come into general use.  Our wits, Corporals B. and R. say Lincoln has ordered four hundred negroes up here to be servants for us; they have told the story to our washwoman who feels very sorry to think she will lose so much washing.

Lute, rumors are that you are an altered man, this we are all happy to hear.  I thought you would heed Mrs Micawber’s² advice at last; united in wedlock to a true and gentle woman you will receive the kindest wishes of many a married soldier.

We know not as to when we will leave here, we have seen pay-day pass by, but nary a red was left us and we begin to feel blue—officers are straped [sic]—and men are destitute of the cash.  Sutler’s checks are all the go now, and we find John [Dale] and Snyder as liberal and kind as ever; they furnish us with sutler’s goods and take trust for pay, we have borrowed from one another till we are in debt all around.  I have been thinking of sending up for Pierce Co. pocket printing press, (the one you and John used in striking off Co. orders) and go to issueing [sic] Script to pay up.  The 25th Reg. are to be paid soon and start for Dixie.  Our inquiries are answered with the same old promise, “in a few days.”

C W Brown in quarters severe cold
L B Bickford gen. debility
A Campbell liver comp’t.
H S Hamblin³ Hospital measles
G W Houghtaling liver comp’t.
L Marsh in quarters severe cold
E Preble³ Hospital rheumatism
P S Sutton³ getting dis.
T J West breached
A Stowell in quarters sprain. ankle
E Harmond [sic] cold
W W Hall cold
W M Shafer Hospital severe cold
H G Carr in quarters spinal comp’t.
C Danforth³ consumption
A Cudd rheumatism bad
B D Maynard severe cold
E P Smith rheumatism
C L Beardsly cold
J G White                              ”
L Bossott [sic]                              ”
A C Hathway [sic]                              ”
F H Lord Hospital measles

Those sick are doing well, and receive the best medical attendance.

O. S. G.

1.  Erysipelas is a type of skin infection with blisters, fever, shaking, chills, swollen red skin, and sores on the cheeks and bridge of the nose, among other symptoms. It is caused by a type of Streptococcus bacteria.
2.  Mrs. Micawber is a character in Charles Dickens’ novel David Copperfield.
3.  All of the men will survive their current medical conditions except for Charles W. Danforth, who will die from disease on January 13, 1863, in Madison. He was from Prescott. Consumption was an old term for pulmonary tuberculosis.
Harry S. Hamblin, from River Falls, will be discharged March 24, 1863, for a disability.
Eli Preble, from Prescott, will be discharged January 31, 1863, for a disability.
Philetus S. Sutton, from Red Wing (Minn.), will be discharged January 9, 1863, for a disability.

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