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1863 September 26: “Polk County Boy” Writes of Enforcing the Draft in Wisconsin

September 26, 2013

The following letter appeared in the October 3, 1863, issue of The Polk County Press.  It was written on September 26 by “Polk Co. Boy,” someone in Company A (Saint Croix Guards) of the 30th Wisconsin Infantry.

Army Correspondence.

CAMP RANDALL, Sept. 26 1863.

FRIEND SAM.— Not seeing anything in the PRESS from this quarter for sometime, I will write you a few lines thinking they may be interesting to, at least, some of your readers.  There are only four companies of the 30th Regiment now in camp, four companies being at Milwaukee, and two in Missouri.  The health in camp is very good.  Company “A” has been the rounds enforcing the enrolment [sic], and so has nearly all the Regiment.  I heard a good many people ask while I was at home, what we were staying in the State for.  I would repeat to them what I have said before, keep down the spirit of rebellion against the laws and maintain peace, and we will soon leave.

There are places in the State where the civil authorities cannot enforce the laws.  In one town where we were sent to assist the enrolling officer, since we left, a man was fined and sent to jail for kicking a Copperhead who threatened to tear down the Stars and Stripes.  Another Union man was most cruelly beaten and had his leg broken by a Copperhead, for giving some information concerning a deserter, and another was shot because he joined a company of Home Guards.  The Copperhead Justice who fined the Union man shielded the other from justice.

I have seen some questions in letters that I have read that I will answer.  The first one was, “Would Democratic papers be allowed to circulate in camp?”  To this I will answer, yes.  Before every election the “Patriot” is freely circulated and read by all who have the patience to read it.  Another question asked was, “Would the soldiers be allowed to vote the Democratic ticket.”  Most certainly.  The polls are opened and the votes canvassed by the company officers, and there is as much freedom as at a town election.  “Will the Democratic ticket receive  any support from the soldiers in camp?”  I cannot answer this question, but presume there may be a few who are so bound to party that they will vote against their own interests, but the number will be VERY small.  We like the Union ticket very well, composed as it is of earnest and loyal men, the most of whom have served the State and Nation faithfully and honestly for years.  I have never heard any LOYAL man find fault with the men on the Union ticket, and we feel confident of its success and the final triumph of the cause that has called us away from our homes, and hope we can soon return to our duties as citizens, better prepared to appreciate the blessings of peace and the society of friends.

Yours respectfully,
POLK CO. BOY

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