Skip to content

1864 August 13: Fifth Wisconsin Battery — “the very word soldier is synonymous with peril, hardship and privation”

August 16, 2014

Reports from various Wisconsin regiments appeared in the August 13, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.  We made each report its own post because of their length.  This post is a letter from the 5th Wisconsin Battery.

Further from Sherman’s Army.

The  Battle  of  Peach  Tree [sic Creek.

Honor Won by Wisconsin.

A Letter from a Kentucky Hospital.



From the Capital of Arkansas.

Slanders on the 35th Refuted.

From the Fifth Battery.

How Wisconsin Men Handle Cannon—Rebel
Gunners and Rival Union Batteries Sur-
passed—What one Company has Done in the
Georgia Campaign.

Correspondence of the State Journal.


MESSRS. EDITORS :  The Journal seems to be the mouth-piece by which the soldier from the Badger State talks of the noble deeds, heroic suffering, and brilliant achievements, that constitute the records of his years in rebeldom—accomplished, suffered and achieved by himself and comrades ;  and I suppose to those of your readers who have friends in the army (and who have not) the mention of each regiment or battery, touches in some heart the “mystic chord of memory,” which stretches away southward to the camp, the hospital, or the field, to some one who wears the loyal blue.

Amidst this great mass which has come out from every loyal State, to declare loyalty to the government, and to seal with blood the declaration, identity, it might be supposed, would almost lose itself, but I am quite sure that there is no such danger in the State, in the town, or village, but that every organization lies a sure identity, and every number its signification.

Perhaps I should do well to imitate the example of others and record the number “5 Wisconsin Battery,” a number which I have seldom seen in any State paper, but which has, nevertheless, recorded itself in fire and blood, on many of the battle-fields of the southwest, and never, I believe, without honor to itself and to the State from which it came.

It would be superfluous to recite what we have endured, what we have suffered, for the very word soldier is synonymous with peril, hardship and privation.

You who send us forth to do this work, know to what you send us—realize that it is to danger, perhaps to death.  That we do our duty faithfully and well is, and should be, the matters of solicitude and concern.  I shall undertake to say of the 5th Battery that none have done their duty with more zeal, and more effectually, than it has, and none can produce a record more honorable.

The great campaign which began on the 1st of May and still continues, which has already given us that part of the State of Georgia lying north of the Chattahoochee river, and which promises still more valuable results, has furnished scores of opportunities for the development of the soldierly qualities and efficiency of almost every organization in the army, and I venture the assertion that none have given better satisfaction to commanding generals than the 5th Battery, and none have been more highly complimented, and if I may be allowed my opinion, none have more justly deserved it.

We have sent our compliments to Jo Johnston [Joseph E. Johnston] something over three thousand times in the shape of shot, shell, case and cannister [sic], and from the report that prisoners bring to us, I am disposed to believe that he appreciates our efforts to be civil and courteous.  With a single section of our battery protected behind frail and hastily constructed works, we have sometimes kept a whole battery of the enemy’s silent for hours, even though protected by the strongest and most elaborate works.  The embrasures of the enemy’s works, though only of sufficient width to admit the muzzles of their guns, were so insecure that though they had six guns to our two, they could not work any of them.  I do not write this to boast, but I record it as a fact, to which a “cloud of witnesses” can be found to testify.

At the battle near Resacca [sic] the enemy suffered most severely from our fire.  I rode over the field after they were gone, and on that part of it which was under our fire were the ruins of a battery which tried to reply to us, and many dead horses.  Our conduct on that day won for us the compliments of Generals Sherman [William T. Sherman] and Palmer [John M. Palmer], and a name outside of our immediate commands.  Words of praise came from the lips of all who witnessed our practice that day.

Kenesaw [sic] Mountain witnessed the best artillery practice, I think, that has ever been seen in the Southwest.  Trained upon it, and directed against it, were some fifteen batteries, many of them rifled guns.  It was a rare opportunity for testing the efficiency of our artillery, and the practice was witnessed by all who belong to that branch of the service, with much interest.  It was also an excellent time for batteries between which the spirit of rivalry had sprung up, to test them selves, and settle “old scores.”  It was here, where so impartial a trial of skill could be made, that the 5th Battery competed so successfully with all, and bore off the palm from one of its old and worthy rivals.

When so much that is complimentary may be said of a military organization, it is hardly worth while to particularize by mentioning names.  The character of a battery or regiment is a mirror in which may be seen the commanding officer and his subordinate officers, and all that is said of the command is said of its officers also.  I predict a glorious career for our battery, one that will reflect honor upon all its members, and cause the Badger State to venerate the No. 5.

There has been no time since we came into the service when the men were in better spirits than at the present.  The home mania, which was really a malady, and from which many died, has ceased to afflict the soldier, and though “home” is still the centre of prospective hapiness [sic], he remembers it now only as a blessing to be enjoyed when his soldierly pride shall be gratified in a redeemed country, and “Father Abraham,” [Abraham Lincoln] shall sound the universal recall from our time honored Capitol, the triumphant notes of which, rolling down the “Father of Waters”¹ to the Gulf, and caught up by every mountain and river in all this “sunny land” shall be alike the death-knell of traitors and treason, and the assurance of the rejuvenescence of Columbia’s fair land.


1.  The Mississippi River.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: