1863 March 1: “The attitude of the Northern traitors is indeed defiant and their acts desperate”
Edwin Levings, with the 12th Wisconsin Infantry in Tennessee, is on one of his rants, this time about the peace resolutions, that we have recently been reading about in the the newspapers (Prescott Journal and Polk County Press), and the anti-war Democrats or Copperheads. Ed’s 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 Butler, Tenn. March 1st 1863
Yours of the 15th ult came to hand this morning. I was afraid several days more must elapse ere we would hear from you, in consequence of the recent change in the mail-route — via Humboldt, instead of Memphis — which would perhaps cause some delay; but happily we were not compelled to wait longer. There have is now rail-way communication with Memphis from Columbus and our mails will reach us sooner by one day, for hitherto they have had to go up to Lauman’s Head Q’rs [Jacob G. Lauman] at Moscow and then come back, before we could get them.
And so you are making barrels. Are you running opposition, or are you in partnership? I hope you will do well at it, but I should think the Coopers would not thank you for stealing their trade. [paragraph break added]
I have no news to tell — all is quiet and still in this locality, and we are getting restless — nothing but the daily routine of camp and picket duty which, though not severe, is not sufficiently exciting. There is too much going on in other parts for us to look on calmly & disinterestedly. If we can not participate, we, at least, want to be on the move, somewhere, but not to no pupose [sic]. Affairs have now reached a point where the contending elements will make a terrible commotion and we may look for time deeply interesting and ominous, such as the world has not yet seen. The storm is near nearby. The attitude of the Northern traitors is indeed defiant and their acts, desperate, and the danger threatened serious, but I apprehend their conduct will expose their designs and their followers will desert them. It is through misrepresentation and slander they have produced so much disaffection in the Northern States, and it is by intrigue and political caucusing they have become so formidable and obtained so much power. They have clamored for peace on any terms, preferring the surrender to the rebels of all we have been fighting for, rather than that the government should be preserved & the rebellion put down, and, what exposes their hellish intents all through from the first & is the climax of their treason, they now conventionally proclaim their sympathy with the Jeff Davis [Jefferson Davis] rule & pledge their best exertions to coöperate with the rebels in arms to destroy the government; & call upon all like-minded to rally to their standard. This is enough. Our duty is now plain. Let the Conscription Bill be put in force and take into the field those men who are disloyal as well as the loyal. They have made a matters as they are, now make them undo their work, & if this oppose, fight them right there. There is no other way. I tell you the soldiers are terribly aroused & declare terrible punishment on the Copperheads & are in favor of any thing to put down the rebels, even the arming the slaves to fight against the slaves in the army of the rebels. Read the resolutions that will soon appear in the Mil[waukee] Sentinel & Wis State Journal [Madison, Wis.], adopted by our Regt at Dress Parade yesterday. They were submitted to us by the 32nd Ill. for adoption, a Regt composed largely of Democrats. I tell you don’t men’s views change? The resolutions were adopted. We should have drawn up something of the kind, but rather than appear egotistical & inasmuch as they handed them to us, we adopted them. I am in for three years and a longer time if that gives evidence the war rebellion will be over. What is the use of getting discouraged & saying I won’t stay longer than than three years? Going to give it up because men in our rear are fighting against you? because you want to go home? If a man can not stand the test, what did he enlist under the folds of the Star Spangled banner for? & what business has he ask its protection? The rebels have thrown everything into the sacrifice & we may as well do the same. Let us not give it up, but I am supposing you [are] some fainthearted soldier. Tell me who those rascals up there are. Ellsworth wrote us lately (yesterday) & he is down on the Copperheads. I was much pleased also to get a letter from Edward Wilcox & shall soon reply. [paragraph break added]
But I must stop. Excuse this scrawl for I must do some washing to-day & go on picket to-morrow. Write us soon — [we] are both well.
Direct via Cairo