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1864 April 30: News from the 22d Wisconsin Infantry

May 5, 2014

The following letter appeared in the April 30, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.  It was reprinted from the Madison, Wisconsin, State Journal.  We do not know who W. H. M. was, but there are four possibilities in the regiment: William H. McIntosh (Racine) in Company F, William H. Martin (Caledonia) in Company G, and in Company I 1st Lieutenant Worcester H. Morse (Beloit) and William H. Monroe (Janesville).

Most of the men in the 22nd Wisconsin Infantry were from counties in southern Wisconsin.  But there were a few men from Northwest Wisconsin scattered here and there in the regiment, especially in Company C.

From the 22d Wisconsin.

Correspondence of the State Journal.

This morning’s air is alive with the sounds of industry, from the clatter of the hammer as the carpenter drives the nail, or the blacksmith beats the iron, on and in the huge buildings being erected by government for shops or storehouses, down to the rasping of the shell in the adjoining tents, as the men ply their trade in converting rough shells into beautiful lockets for mother, wife or sister at home.

Spring approaches slowly, though the peach tree is wreathed in blossoms, the grass growing refreshingly green, and the familiar chirp of the blackbird comes down to us as a flock fly past towards the marshes of Wisconsin.

We look forward with confidence to the coming tug of war and whether it be our task to bear a part or guard communications, we shall do our best to advance the cause of nationality.  Ours is not a regiment of men who love the maddening scenes of war, but a band of patriots who took up arms in a nation’s extremity, and will gladly lay them by when the necessity no longer exists, to return to peaceful pursuits and quiet homes.

At one time, the brigade, excepting the 33d Ind., home on furlough, were under orders for Lookout Valley, but since the consolidation of the 11th and 12th army corps, the prospect seems remote of leaving this city, and ceasing to become one of its suburban villages.

The 22d were on brigade drill yesterday, with the 18th Mich., 18th Wis., and 102d Ohio, and, under command of Lieut. Col. Bloodgood,¹ acquitted themselves creditably.

Col. Utley [William L. Utley] has returned, and is temporarily in command of the brigade.  New officers are coming up from the ranks as the old hands resign, and a general satisfaction attends these changes, which are rapidly restoring that harmony which must exist between officers and men for execution of duty in the camp or field.  There have been many applicants for commissions in negro regiments, and the most of them have been successful, to the encouragement of others.

We have been favored by a visit from our former Major, Mr. Murrey [sic],² whose almost parental interest towards us has never been forgotten.

Surgeon Hanchard,³ who first learned of his promotion through the columns of the State Journal, is an excellent officer, and has gained the confidence of all parties, skillful as a physician and most gentlemanly as an individual.  Through his instrumentality and the kindness of the agent of the U. S. Sanitary Commission, several barrels of potatoes, onions and cabbages have been received by the different companies of the regiment to the decided improvement of their unchanged bill of fare.

As at Murfreesboro, the wants of the service and the capability of the rank and file of the 22d, have drawn largely upon the regiment for details, and whether on the train as guard, or at the barracks, at the “Home of Refugees” or the “State’s Prison,” clerk, carpenter or blacksmith, the soldiers of the 22d Wisconsin will be found faithful to their duty.

By a comparison of our number and health with other regiments, we stand the first best on health, though we have barely eight hundred men, while each of the other three are recruited to the maximum.

Co’s F and A are full to the minimum [maximum?], but several companies have not been strengthened by the addition of a single recruit.  There is room and welcome to many more, and if a man has any pride in serving his State and country, now is his chance to show it, and ours is the regiment in which to show it.

Soldiers and correspondents have so generally written when the gloomy spirit came upon them that a prevalent but mistaken opinion is held that a military life is all hardship, all exposure, sickness and wounds, but stand by the groups playing at ball, pitching quoits, filing shells, reading papers, studying scientific works or engaged in conversation, and you will find no despondence, but a manly freedom and a cheerful feeling which they themselves were strangers to when confined to the desk and pampered by luxury.

Uniforms are not clean and fitted as the new coat from the tailor, and our coffee is drank from nothing better than a tin cup.  We cannot have the shelter of an umbrella when rain falls, nor more than overcoats and blankets for our bedding, but the life-current flows with vigor, and the browned countenance beams with determination and good nature.

Though many comrades sleep the sleep which knows no more of earth’s awakening, many will return home toughened by the campaign and well prepared to carry on the profession with success, they reluctantly left.  No community is so healthful but that some die, and the mortality of our army now, under the care and experience of old surgeons and the attendance of agents of banevolent [sic] societies, is a little more than at home.

Hospitals are no longer the dread of old soldiers, for the minister is a frequent visitor and noble women are foond [sic] there engaged in the labor of the Samaritan.  Clean as the kitchen of a tidy housekeeper, and furnished with a variety of reading, the sick man often finds an attention to his comfort which home could not give.

The march is wearisome, but the rest is refreshing, and there are few who are not interested in the scenery of the country through which they pass, the different style of architecture, the novel manner of cultivation and all the objects which challenge the attention of the observer away from his home, and having no care for stage, car or boat, far or hotel, he having but to obey orders and look out for self.

W. H. M.

1.  Edward Bloodgood, from Milwaukee, had been the lieutenant colonel of the 22nd Wisconsin since July 22, 1862. He will become the colonel on August 17, 1864, after Utley resigns because of a disability.
2.  Edward D. Murray, from Beloit, who resigned February 4, 1863.
3.  Thomas Hanchard, from Milwaukee, who had been the first assistant surgeon and became the surgeon, officially, on April 2, 1864.

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