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1864 February 20: P. V. Wise Returns From the War

February 20, 2014

The following letter from Pembroke V. Wise is from the February 27, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.  Wise had an interesting Civil War career. He enlisted on August 26, 1861, and was assigned to Company F of the 1st Wisconsin Infantry (3 years); was promoted to 2nd lieutenant on September 14, 1861; was severely wounded at Perryville, Kentucky, on October 8, 1862, and was discharged because of the wounds in early 1864.

He has obviously just returned to Prescott and hopes to resume his legal career, but instead he will re-enlist in about a month, on March 31, 1864, and serve in Company F of the 37th Wisconsin Infantry.  There he was promoted, first to Sergeant Major of the regiment on June 22, 1864 (he was assigned to drill Company K, a company composed mostly of Menominee Indians), and later to captain of the 13th U.S.Colored Troops on September 1, 1864.  Wise resigned his commission on May 19, 1865.

For the Prescott Journal.
Prescott, Feb. 20, 1864.

Notes by the Wayside.

MR. EDITOR :—In August last [1863], near Stevenson, Alabama, finding that I was unable to march on account of my wound, I tendered my resignation as 1st Lieut. Co. F, 1st Wisconsin Vols. Infantry, but Gen. Rosecrans [William S. Rosecrans] declined to accept it, and ordered me to report to Capt. Peterson, at Nashville, Tenn., for duty in the Invalid Corps.  I objected, but was overruled.  I reported accordingly, was placed in command of a company of 83 men, and continued on detached service in the Invalid Corps until 8th of February inst. [1864].  On arriving at Louisville, Ky., I tried to obtain an order to go to the front, but was refused.  Applied at Camp Chase, Ohio, for an order to go to Chattanooga, but instead thereof, received an order to report to the commandant at Camp Douglas, Illinois, where I arrived in the last of December.  This was the worst place I had yet been in.  The traitors confined within the walls numbered nearly 6,000, and there were about 1,500 Yankee guards.  These were all shut up in a lot of about 205 acres, with a wooden wall fourteen feet high all around.  This is three miles south of Chicago, i. e., Lake Street.  When I arrived there the rascally secesh prisoners of war were detailed to act as orderlies at Post Head Quarters ;  at the Quartermaster’s, to issue clothing, etc. ;  at the Commissary’s to issue rations to all the soldiers ;  at the Post Surgeon’s, as Hospital Steward, Ward Masters and Nurses in all the Hospitals ;  to issue all the medicines and nurse the sick, etc.—This, you know, would not suit me.  So I drew up a statement of the facts and obtained the signatures of several officers, and forwarded it directly to the Secretary of War.  In due time an order came back requiring the Commandant of the Post to send all of the secesh prisoners above alluded to back to quarters, along with the other prisoners.

The next day after my arrival at Camp Douglas, Ills., I applied to the Adjutant General, at Washington, for an order to go to the front, and failing to obtain such an order, I then applied for discharge on Surgeon’s Certificate of disability, for wounds received in action, and was finally honorably discharged from the service of the U. S. on said certificate on the 8th day of February, 1864.  I was determined not to be forced into the Invalid Corps, and as I had enlisted to fight traitors, if I could not obtain an order to go to the front, I was determined not to be laying around camps in the rear, where I could not render compensation to the Government for the amount of pay that I was receiving.—But I have no fault to find with the Government.  I am perfectly satisfied, and have unlimited confidence in Old Abe, our worthy President.  [Abraham Lincoln]

In am in favor of and heartily support all his measures.  I am in favor of exterminating slavery and all slavery propagandists ;  and when this is done, there will be no traitors to raise an impious hand of voice against our Government, and then we shall have really a FREE Country ;  and have a peace that will be lasting, because it will be founded on the true and eternal principles of Right and Justice.  I am determined to fight the enemies of my country, appearing in whatever manner they may arise, whether with bayonets or ballots in their hands, to the best of my ability so long as God grants me life.

In the meantime I shall make my headquarters at my old stand, in Prescott, and use my best endeavors to convince the Court and “Gentlemen of the Jury,” that my client is in the right, and entitled to a verdict.

Yours truly,
. . . . . . . . . .P. V. WISE.

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