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1864 April 23: Captain Robert C. Eden on the 37th Wisconsin Infantry and Colonel Samuel Harriman

April 24, 2014

From The Prescott Journal of April 23, 1864.  A friend of Journal editor Lute Taylor, writes an amusing report on the new 37th and 38th Wisconsin Infantry regiments and of local soldier Samuel Harriman, who will be the colonel of the 37th.  The author, listed here as “R. C. Paradise” was actually Robert C. Eden,¹ captain of Company B of the 37th Wisconsin.

About Matters Various and Otherwise, mostly Military.

Camp Randall, April 15, 1864

FRIEND LUTE :—For some time your communications with Paradise, outside the married state, have been limited.—Days have rolled into weeks, weeks into months, and the months have grown into years, once the name of R. C. PARADISE¹ has graced your columns.

As you are aware, my field of labor during that time has been the Oshkosh Northwestern, but my connection with it has closed, and the city mourns its lost ‘Local.”

About these days a decree went forth from Father ABRAHAM [Abraham Lincoln] that two new regiments should be raised, and the name of the same was the 37th and 38th Wis. Volunteers.

And there came unto Oshkosh a certain man named SAMUEL, son of HARRIMAN, the same was a Colonel and a man of war, and he spoke onto me, saying: “Go to now, ROBERT, gird thy sword upon thy thigh, call around thee thy young men, and let us haste to the war, for verily thou shalt be called Captain over eighty.”

And I went and got up right speedily and girt on my harness, and opened a recruiting office, and men came to me on every side; I also issued many handbills and posters, as the sand on the sea shore.

And I took a gross of steel pens from my office and went unto a blacksmith, same was a cunning artificer in iron, and I said unto him, “Weld me now a sword.”  And he welded me a sword.

And we gat up in the morning early, and I went down by the cars, by the way as you go unto Chicago, and came unto Madison.

And in those days a certain man, the same was a man of Bilial, wrote the North Star a letter purporting to come from the 30th Reg’t, praising and magnifying Col. HARRIMAN, yet, extolling him muchly, and rating his power as greater than that of the Governor, yea also, and attributing to him power over that of the War Department of Washington.  For he said that the Colonel had [__]² kept the 30th Regiment in the State despite of the Governor and War Department and had laughed them to scorn.  The man of Belial lied.  And when I had read the letter, I took up my parable and spake :

ROBERT, the son of PARADISE, hath said, and the Boy with the Glass Eye has spoken :–Verily, luck is on my side and my star is in the ascendant.  If Capt. HARRIMAN ruleth the Governor and War Department, then shall the Commander-in-Chief bow humbly and bring presents unto the Colonel.  As Captain of Co. B, the shadow of the Colonel’s mantle will fall upon me, and I will rule Generals and Brigadiers with a rod of iron, and Colonels and such small deer will I break in pieces like a potter’s vessel.  SELAH.³

But a rumor came that the letter was written by a young man, good-looking when he was sober, who had sat in the Council of the wise men of Wisconsin, and thrown paper balls and darts in the Assembly, the same was a member of the Committee of Swamp and Overflowed Lands, and they told me saying ;–Verily, the mud of the swamps hath inged his brain, and he overfloweth with whiskey, wherefore believe him not, for he knoweth not whereof he inditeth.”

And I felt sorry for the young man, for I had known him in his better days, and I covered my face (with a tumbler) and drank many glasses of beer, in much sorrow.

And the Colonel comforted me saying “Be good cheer, ROBERT, for the talk of this young man is as the wind which bloweth where it listeth, and amounteth to the same–even a blow.

And I called my warriors and and [sic] young men together, and related the story unto them, and they raised a great shout and laughed the young man to scorn.  “Go to,” said they, we will peradventure remain in the Camp called Randall, till the cruel war is over,” for they jeered.

And now, lo and behold, the 37th waxeth strong, and recruits are joined to it every day, and they abide at Madison, which is the Capitol [sic] of the State of Wisconsin.

1.  Robert Charles Eden (1836-1907), originally from England, arrived in Oshkosh (Winnebago County), Wisconsin, in 1859. He and a partner bought the steamer “Enterprise” at Stevens Point, Wisconsin in 1861. He traveled the upper Mississippi and western Wisconsin for a year before returning to Oshkosh. In 1862, he purchased a one-third interest in the Northwestern newspaper at Oshkosh. Eden enlisted in the Civil War at Oshkosh and was commissioned captain of Company B, 37th Wisconsin Infantry on April 11, 1864, and was promoted to major on December 15, 1864. Eden was given a commission as lieutenant colonel but was not mustered at that rank, and he mustered out on July 27, 1865. In 1864 Eden had married Annie Gardner Bain, his childhood sweet-heart, and that is no doubt the reason for the remark in the first paragraph about his “married state.”
2.  This word in the microfilm of the newspaper is unreadable.
3.  Selah is found in the Book of Psalms in the Bible. Using it here goes along with the writer’s spoof of King James English as used in the Bible translation of the time.

 

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