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1864 August 13: Thirty-Seventh Wisconsin Infantry at Peterburg

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 Pembroke V. Wise with the 37th Wisconsin Infantry.  Company F of the 37th contained many men from northwestern Wisconsin, as well as a few in other companies.

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 Thirty-Seventh Regiment.

Trip of Co. K to the Potomac Army—Rebel
Recruiting in Maryland—Conservative Democrats
ordered to fall in—Affairs at Petersburg.

Correspondence of the Daily State Journal.

July 26, 1864.                   .}

Messrs. Editors :—Co. K and a detachment of the 37th Wisconsin, amounting in all to 105 men, started from Madison on the morning of the 14th of July, were furnished with a good supper at the “Rest” at Chicago, and arrived at Harrisburg at 12:45 p. m. on the 16th, where we had to lie over, on account of the Baltimore Railroad being cut by the rascally secesh, until the 19th, arriving in Washington on the 20th.  Here we laid over until the 21st.

I was reliably informed when passing thro’ Maryland, that the Democrats, who lately made the armed raid into that State, and who stole so freely from the loyal people therein, that when arriving in a village or town, certain officers detailed with a guard for that purpose, inquired for the residence of certain good Conservative Democrats, sent out for them, and when so collected together, they were ordered to “fall in,” and told that “arms and horses would be furnished them.”  They invariably demurred, but the officer politely informed them that he held in his hand a list of the “Knights of the Golden Circle,” that he had their names and their oaths, by which they had sworn to aid the Confederates the first opportunity, and if they longer refused, they would be “treated as deserters and shot down.”  By these means they largely recruited their forces.  That these are facts I have no doubt.

The trip from Washington, on board the steamer John Brooks, via Fortress Monroe to City Point, where we arrived at 4 P. M. on the 22d, was very pleasant.  I noticed particularly that the colored population is very very scarce on the plantations, &c, after entering the State of Maryland.  I do not mean that there were greater numbers North, but that they have almost disappeared in Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia, except what we see in the army.

“City Point” is a city that has sprung into existence since May last.  Steamers run regularly here on time.  Monitors, gunboats, ships, schooners and wild steam tugs are scattered all along the bay and river.

From City Point we rode out six miles on a military railroad train, to Charles Station, thence three miles on foot through the dust, brought us to the old camp of the 37th Wisconsin, one mile in rear of the trenches which the regiment has occupied since the 17th inst., and about one mile and a half from Petersburg.

I served over two years in the Army of the Cumberland, but I never saw anything to equal what I find here.  The whole face of the country has been dug up, and there are lines after lines of very strong entrenchments, and supported by immense earthworks, built in regular fort fashion.  Grant’s [Ulysses S. Grant] invincible army drove them over two miles of such fortifications on the memorable 17th and 18th days of June last, and if he had had fresh troops then, he would have driven the Johnnies pell mell into Richmond before the 20th of June.  Our rifle trenches are not more than one hundred and twenty-five paces from the first line of the rebels, and the firing of small arms is continuous night and day, with every now and then a general pounding away with the big guns.  The siege is progressing slowly but surely.

The Thirty-seventh Wisconsin has been constantly day and night under a heavy fire since the 17th inst.  Many of our officers are sick, but some are improving.  The traitors have the exact range of Col. Harriman’s headquarters, and rain shells and minnies about him continually, but he maintains his steadiness and equanimity as cool as a cucumber.  [Samuel Harriman]


1.  Pembroke V. Wise, who had been in Company F of the 1st (3 years) Wisconsin Infantry, and on March 31, 1864, re-enlisted in Company F of the 37th Wisconsin Infantry.  Wise was from Prescott.

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