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1863 August 15: What the 12th Wisconsin Thinks of Copperheads

August 19, 2013

From the August 8, 1863, issue of The Prescott Journal.


Communication from Capt. Maxson.


EDITOR JOURNAL :—As many of your readers have friends in Company A, of 12th Wisconsin Infantry, and all are anxious to know of the health and situation of their friends, I will, through your permission, make a statement of the condition of the company up to August 2d.

At the time we passed down the Mississippi river to join Gen. Grant [Ulysses S. Grant], in his campaign for the capture of Vicksburg, May 10th, the company numbered 80 enlisted men, all for duty except Corp. Meacham [Cornelius E. Meacham], who was left in hospital at Memphis, and has not joined his company since.

At the close of the siege and Jackson campaign we had lost by death, Jas. Miley [James Miley], S. M. Russel [sic: Solomon M. Russell], Wm. L. H. Pumplin and D. B. Northrup [David B. Northrop].

We have North in hospitals, H. Loring [Horace G. Loring], John McMillan, N. K. Hammer [sic: Nathan K. Hammar], H. Barlow [Henry Barlow], Jas. Ward, J. H. Holman [James H. Holman], A. N. Olin [Anthony N. Olin], A. J. Waltz [Andrew J. Waltz], J. T. Gibbs [James Gibbs], C. H. Ticknor [Charles H. Ticknor], Jas. Nichols [James G. Nichols], Jas. McGeorge, E. Tubbman [Edward Tubman], Frank Young, Fred. Garidt [sic: Frederick Garit], J. T. Hey, John Quirke [sic: no “e”], and Wm. S. Dennison.  Of the remaining with the company, four were on detached service in the Reg. and Division, thirty to thirty five could be mustered for dress parade; the balance belonged to the Quinine Brigade.

The last few days of the siege I was compelled to put men in the trenches and pits that would have an ague fit while on their post, in order to get twenty-five to thirty men for duty.  About fifty men is a reasonable hope for the company for a fall’s campaign.

Excessive labor during the siege, digging all night in the trenches, and then laying in the heat of a burning sun during the day in the works, together with poor water, are the causes of so many of the men failing to be able for duty.

I am asked by many, “How do the boys feel?”  I will answer this so that I believe ninety-nine in every hundred of the army will say, Amen; that is.  That the traitors with arms in their hands are far more respected by the army, consided [sic: considered] less dangerous to the Government, and would be far better treated in our camps, than the mean coward, who fearing to fight for the country that has given him home and protection, shouted us “God Speed,” when we left all earthly endearments “save courntry [sic],” and with our lives in our hands, went forth to battle for the free institutions which have marked us a more noble race than the subjectz [sic] of despotic and aristocratic Governments, since which time he has blocked the wheels of Government at every point where he could.  He has written letters to our soldiers offering to protect them from arrest if they would desert.  Money, besides free transportation home has been offered to men in our ranks if they would blacken their souls by deserting our country when the ship of State was supposed to be sinking.  They have given every encouragement to an enemy that had not only sunk its venomous fangs into the very throat of the Government for its overthrow, but had murdered thousands of persons of all ages, from the grey haired old man and woman, to the innocence of youth, for no other offence [sic] than a love for the country that made them all they were and hoped for.

While sympathy and material aid was given these murderers and assassins, they turned upon those whom they had so recently cheered from home, and said the Government for which we were fighting was merging into a “despotism more intolerable than that inaugurated by the House of Hapsburg.”

Now as to how the boys feel, I will will [sic] say, they are a unit in the opinion that those Copperheads who say Constitution, Law and Order, and then encourage mobs for plunder and murder; talks of political rights and parties, and then give aid to traitors to their country, are meaner men than Jeff. Davis has in his whole crowd of whipped ragmuffins [sic], and by far more dangerous to the question, as to the success of free institutions, than any one to be found in the seceded States. The army is ready to treat them as such.

O. T. MAXSON [Orrin T. Maxson, captain of Company A].

Prescott, August 14, 1863.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Barbara Wyatt permalink
    September 16, 2013 10:52 pm

    Under the heading “1863 August 15: What the 12th Wisconsin Thinks of Copperheads” entry dated, Sept 19 2013, 2nd paragraph in the reference to Cpl. Meacham.
    Edgar A. Meacham is referenced. Edgar A. Meacham enlisted 1862 as lieutenant in Co. F, 30th Wis. Infantry and later promoted to Captain. Discharged at Camp Randall, Wi. in 1865.

    Cpl. Meacham was actually Cornelius E. Meacham. Enlisted Sept 1861, in Co. A, 12th Wis, Infantry. Discharged Chattanoga, Tn. Oct. 1864 as a Corporal.
    Cornelius E. Meacham was the brother of Edgar A. Meacham.
    Sources: CW enlistment records & Family records as Edgar A. was my gg grandfather.

    • September 17, 2013 12:21 am

      Oops — it’s been a very long time since we’ve heard about Cornelius, back on November 8, 1861, when he was appointed the 4th corporal in Company A of the 12th. Edgar, on the other hand, being in a more recently-formed regiment, was the name that popped up when we typed in “Meacham.” Thanks for the heads-up; we’ll be more careful in the future.

      Would you like to add any information to Edgar’s page? Or information for a page on Cornelius (we don’t have one yet)? Just add a comment to Edgar’s page and we’ll add it.

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