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1864 March 19: The 11th Wisconsin Infantry, “Colored” Suffrage, Desertion, and Democrats

March 24, 2014

The following articles are from the March 19 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal and from The Polk County Press.

Be warned, the final item uses the “N” word.

From The Prescott Journal:

THE ELEVENTH WISCONSIN.—Yesterday morning by the steamer Sophia, Capt. D. E. Havens from Pass Cavallo, the left wing of the 11th Wisconsin arrived under command of Lieut. Col. L. H. Whittlesey.  This regiment, commanded by Col. C. L. Harris, has been in active service since September , 1861.  It was in the advance with Maj. Gen. Curtis in his march through Arkansas, terminating at Helena on which march it made 65 miles in three days, without rations, and under July sun.  In the rear of Vicksburg, and the campain [sic] terminating there, they rendered important services under Major Gen. McClernand [John A. McClernand].  They have made two campaigns in Missouri and Arkansas, two in Mississippi, two in Louisiana, and one in Texas.  They were complimented by Major Gen. Dana in general orders in a most distinguished manner.  Despite of hard service and reverses, the survivors are not dispirited or disposed to give up the fight until the enemy is subdued.  They now again go into service as a veteran regiment, nearly 400 strong.—New Orleans  Times, Feb. 22d.

A private letter of the same date from an officer of the 11th expresses a fear that the regiment may be detained at New Orleans for several weeks.

The President on Colored Suffrage.

A special to the Evening Post, Washington, 4th, says :

“Messrs. Bretonnean and Rondonnese, the delegation appointed by the colored freedmen of Louisiana to wait upon the President, presented their memorial last evening, asking that the colored people in Louisiana who were free before the rebellion, may be permitted to vote in that State.  The President received the deputation cordially, and replied that an impression had gone abroad that he was acting irresponsibly in the elections in Rebel States, but it was wrong.  He must finish the big job on his hands of crushing the rebellion, and, in doing that, if it became necessary to prevent the rebels from voting he would do so.  If the recognition of black men as having a right to vote was necessary to close the war, he would not hesitate.  He saw no reason why intelligent blacks should not vote ;  but this was not a military question, and he would refer it to a Constitutional Convention in Louisiana.

HOW THE NEGRO TROOPS BEHAVED AT OLUSTEE.—The New York Herald’s correspondent, not likely to be prejudiced in their favor, speaks thus of the conduct of the negro troops at the battle of Olustee :

“The 1st North Carolina and the 54th Massachusetts, of the colored troops, did admirably.  The 1st North Carolina held the positions it was placed in with the greatest tenacity, and inflicted heavy loss on the enemy.  It was cool and steady, and never flinched for a moment.  The 54th sustained the reputation they had gained at Wagner, and bore themselves like soldiers throughout the battle.”

A Deserter as is a Deserter.

Some men make money by enlisting, getting the bounty and deserting, and repeating the operation.  A Wisconsin friend relates the following case in point :  A big strapping fellow named George Hill,¹ a brakemen on the Milwaukee & Mississippi railroad, enlisted into Col. Starkweather’s 1st Wisconsin regiment [John C. Starkweather].  Not long afterwards he manged to obtain a discharge on some lying pretext or other, and came back to Milwaukee, where he enlisted into the 24th Wisconsin, receiving $150 bounty.  He deserted a short distance beyond Louisville with five others, whom he inveigled off with him.  He made his way East, and in the course of a few months enlisted into two regiments, getting bounty from each and deserting at the first opportunity.  He remained East from September, ’62, to January, ’63, when he skedaddled to Fort Wayne, where he became a brakeman on the Fort Wayne & Toledo Railroad.  In Toledo he was arrested last July and taken to Columbus, Ohio.  He manged to get off by making the officers believe that he had been regularly discharged, which he succeeded in doing by altering his discharge from the 1st to the 24th Wisconsin.  The trick was discovered and he was arrested and sent down the Mississippi river to Memphis.  He again escaped, and went to eastern Indiana, where he was found and arrested and sent to Chattanooga, where his regiment then was, and another time escaped.  He made his way to New Jersey, where he enlisted, got the bounty, and deserted ;  went to New York, enlisted again, got $500 bounty, and then deserted for the seventh time, and managed to reach Canada, where he is enjoying his bounty money.—Chicago Tribune.

From The Polk County Press:

Very Consistent.

Some of our Democratic friends who refused to go with the War Democrats last Falls, choosing rather to follow the Copperish leaders Ryan [Edward G. Ryan], Palmer [Henry L. Palmer] & Co., now claim that the War Democracy will control the National Democratic organization, and will put a Union man on the track who will beat Old Abe “or any other man” blind, at the next Presidential election.  As the War Democrats still work and act with the National Union Party, we cannot see how they are to control the National Democratic Convention.  The present Democratic, or opposition, leaders in congress, and in the loyal states, are still the Woods, the Ryan and Palmerites, Voorhes [sic: Andrew J. Van Vorhes], of Indiana ;  Pugh [George E. Pugh], of Ohio; Pierce and Harrington, of New Hampshire ;  Woodward, of Penn.; and Vallandigham [Clement L. Vallandigham] “over the border.”  It is a mystery to us how these would be War and “still for the Union” Democrats are to bring about their desired scheme.

The truth of the matter is, they will attempt to deceive the people by bogus professions of Unionism, while the same set of leaders will run the machine. But they will find it hard work to “make a whistle out of a pig’s tail.”  The true War Democrats will be found in the ranks of the National Union Party, and their candidate, whoever it may be, will sweep the board clean.

Democrats, “fall in!”

WILL FIGHT.—The late battle in Florida [Olustee] has decided beyond a doubt that “niggers” will fight.  The 1st N. C. regiment, (slaves), lost 86 men men [sic] out of 300.  The 54th, (free colored), lost 193 out of 350.  The 8th U. S. Colored Volunteers, (slaves), lost 155 out of 275.  They formed the rear guard on the retreat, and saved the trains from capture.

1.  George Hill, from Milwaukee, enlisted April 20, 1861, in Company B of the 1st Wisconsin Infantry (3 Months) and received a discharge for a disability on July 22, 1861. He then enlisted in Company C of the 1st (3 Years) on October 1, 1861, and deserted on July 5, 1862. Next he enlisted in Company D of the 24th Wisconsin Infantry on August 12, 1862, became a sergeant, and deserted on October 5, 1862.


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