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1864 March 5: “The perfection of instruction discovered in the Picket Line and Guards of the 11th Wisconsin volunteers”

March 8, 2014

The following letter, reprinted from the Madison (Wis.) State Journal, appeared in the March 5, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.

The only person from our area that we have been able to find in the 11th Wisconsin Infantry is Joseph Green, from Hudson, who was a 1st assistant surgeon. If you know of any others, please let us know.

From the 11th Wisconsin.

Correspondence of the State Journal.

OLD INDIANOLA, TEXAS, }
January 28th, 1864. }

Editors State Journal :—An event has just transpired of which as soldiers we feel so proud, that I communicate it through your columns, in order that our friends may participate in our fortune.  It is the publication of the following order :

HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES, TEXAS, }
Pass Cavallo, Jan. 28th, 1864. }

General Orders No. 12.
The field officers of this day, for January 23rd, 1864 has called the attention of the Maj-General commanding, to the perfection of instruction discovered in the Picket Line and Guards of the 11th Wisconsin volunteers.  The Commanding General acknowledges the great pleasure he feels at recognizing in the soldiers the qualities which he has heretofore heard, they possessed.  Such proficiency reflects honor on the officers and proves the existence of an “Esprit du [sic: de] Corps” which not only makes their States, but the Northwest, feel proud.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  .   .   .   .  .   .   .   .   .  By order of Maj-General
.   .   .   .   .  .   .   .   .   .  .   .   .     .   .   .   .   .  .   .   .   .   .  N. J. T. DANA,
.   .   .   Official   .   .   .  .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .  .   .   .   .   .  HUGH H. [sic: G.] BROWN,
.   .   .   .   B. WILSON [Bluford Wilson]¹.   .   .   .  .   .   . Capt. Asst. Adjt. General
.   .   .   .   .  . Capt. A. A. G.

You cannot imagine how highly we esteem this notice under the circumstances that have surrounded us since our connection with this department, not that we are not vain enough to think that we deserve praise, but this distinction is so marked that a regiment might go through a series of hard campaigns without being fortunate enough to obtain such notice, however well it might have deserved it.  Major Crooks, of the 21st Iowa, was the officer of the day who made the report.  We shall ever remember him as an officer who was not prevented by sectional jealousy from awarding praise where he deemed it due, as is to [sic] often the case.

It has taken many weary months of steady perseverance on the part of both officers and men to become prominent in such an army as this, but the receipt of such a tribute will be esteemed by every soldier a full recompense for all he has endured.  I know of but one thing that would give us more sincere gratification ;  that is, that our excellent colonel, Harris [Charles L. Harris], to whose skill and perseverance [sic] we are mainly indebted for whatever superiority we may possess, should be rewarded by promotion to a position we know he is eminently qualified to fill.  True, we should all regret to lose him, but this feeling would be overcome by the knowledge that justice had been done to an officer whom, through all the vicisitudes [sic] of a soldier’s life, we have learned to appreciate and esteem.

It is now certain that we are going into the veteran service, a sufficient number have already re-enlisted, and Lieut. Col. Whittlesey [Luther H. Whittlesey] is now at New Orleans to make arrangements for our return home.  As only two regiments are allowed out of a corps within one month, we may have to wait a few weeks, but we all anticipate spending the summer with you.—Our visit may be a short one, but I am sure it will be a happy one.  We are now so personally interested in this struggle that I do not think we could rest satisfied until the final victory is won, and we have been present to swell the shout of triumph.  But after having once again visited those whom we hold most dear, I hope we may return to duty with as much pride as the people of a State can feel in one regiment out of so many as have been sent out by Wisconsin.

The winter is said to be almost over.  We have not had a “norther” for some time, and the weather lately has been so fine that it has been common to see a nude bather on the shore in no hurry to dress after his bath.  This place is a decided improvement on Decrow’s Point.²  Some one has lived here some time ;  indeed, there are a few inhabitants still left, who live among us quite peaceably.  The entire first division is now here.  The first and third brigades are stationed about three miles down the coast, at a place commonly called “Powder Horn.”

The rebels often come within sight of us, on the prairie, but seldom within range.  When the 11th first came here, and before the balance of the brigade arrived, an attempt was made to cut them off, but I suppose that they thought taking Lieut. Col. Whittlesey, with his boys, would so much resemble the catching of a “Tartar” that they withdrew.  The only evidences of a fight were a few dead and wounded of the enemy that were found.  We had not any casualties.  The health of the entire army is very good.  Our surgeons have had easy times this winter.  Our brigade looks finely ;  every man is well clad, every non-commissioned officer wears his appropriate cheverone [sic].  I do not remember at any time before to have seen the brigade looking so well.  I hope in my next [letter] to be able to tell when we may be expected home.

CHARLIE

1.  Bluford Wilson (1841-1924) served in the 112th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and soon received an officer’s commission and appointment as regimental adjutant. He later served on several other staffs, including that of the XIII Corps. He took part in numerous battles and campaigns, including Champion Hill, Black River and the siege of Vicksburg, and the Red River Campaign. He was discharged with the rank of Major at the end of the War. After the War he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1867. Wilson was appoint United State Attorney for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois in 1869, and then Solicitor of the U.S. Treasury (1874-1876). Bluford Wilson’s brother was Major General James H. Wilson.
2.  “DeCros Point, also known as DeCrow’s Point, Decros or DeCrow’s Landing, Port Cavallo, Port Cabello, and Paso Cavallo, was an early coastal community on the western end of Matagorda Peninsula at Cavallo Pass in extreme southern Matagorda County, Texas. It was one of several settlements established on the peninsula before the region’s recurring hurricanes persuaded the residents to leave.” For more information, see the Texas State Historical Association’s Handbook of Texas.

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