1864 October 22: News from the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry in Vicksburg
This letter from the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry in Vicksburg first appeared in Madison’s State Journal, and was reprinted in The Prescott Journal on October 22, 1864. Company D of the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry was the St. Croix Lancers or Rangers; Company L was the Eau Claire Rangers; and Company M contained many men from Prescott.
A Letter from Vicksburg.
Presentation by the Second Cavalry to Mrs.
Harvey—The Regiment Reunited—Northern
Copperheads taking the Oath—Miscellaneous Items.
Correspondence of the State Journal.
VICKSBURG, Oct. 1.
EDS. STATE JOURNAL :—Yesterday witnessed a pleasant scene at the camp of the Second Wisconsin Cavalry. As you know, Mrs. Gov. Harvey [Cordelia A. P. Harvey] has been unceasing in her efforts to relieve the sick and wounded soldiers from our State, and has frequently been so located as to be of great service to the Second Wisconsin Cavalry. The boys of the regiment, officers and men, appreciated her efforts and felt that they must give her some token of their regard and esteem, which culminated yesterday in the presentation of a watch, chain, and “accompanying documents” in the shape of charms, pin, &c.
Mrs. Harvey was invited to visit the regiment yesterday, about 1½ miles from the city. On her arrival the bugle sounded the “call,” when the regiment formed in front of the officers’ quarters under the command of Major Woods, and as the carriage of Mrs. Harvey arrived in front of the regiment they saluted her by presenting sabres, when Capt. Ring, of Co. G, stepped forward and presented Mrs. Harvey with a beautiful watch, accompanied with the following remarks :
MRS. HARVEY:—To me has been assigned the pleasing duty of presenting to you in behalf of the officers and men of the 2d Wisconsin Vol. Cavalry, this little token of their esteem. Since our first acquaintance, we have known you as a warm and untiring friend. From the commencement of this great rebellion your time has been devoted to the soldier; his welfare, body and soul, has been your constant study, and to none more than the 2d Wisconsin Vol. Cavalry has your care been extended. It is natural, then, that we should feel toward you the deepest gratitude and a keen desire to express it. Accept, therefore, this watch as an emblem of our love and gratitude. May it serve to remind you of the great good you have done, and thus in a measure prove a reward for the sacrifices you have made for the soldier.
On receiving which Mrs. Harvey replied as follows :
CAPT. RING—My friends of the 2d Wisconsin Cavalry: My heart is full of grateful words to you to-day, but I cannot speak them here. My position seems very strange to me. I cannot talk much. In every face before me I recognize a brave defender of my country, and as such I am glad to see you. I know that you had not forgotten me, however, as a recognition of the spirit in which I have tried to serve you and others of our brave soldiers. It has been little that I could do, but that little I have done gladly. I have tried to be hopeful myself, and to speak cheering words to you, and this has often been all that I could do.
God bless you for the spirit which prompted this thought for me. I know while I receive this that the humblest friend among you who has tried to do his duty, is more deserving than I am, and it delights me to know that to every true soldier of our country Heaven has granted a prize worthier and more imperishable, even than your gift to me—in his own loyal heart. Of this I shall henceforth preserve this beautiful memento.
Soldiers: may your every heartthrob be as strong, steady and true as the tick of your treasured gift; your every wish pure as its polished gold; every loyal aspiration, full and free, as my gratitude is to you.
Mrs. Parsons, of New Orleans, then came forward, and presented Mrs. Harvey with a beautiful and exquisite boquet [sic] of flowers, arranged by herself ; after which, a pleasant social hour was spent by the guests in examining the beautiful present, and in listening to the “music by the band.” By the way, the post band here is made up largely of the old 16th Wisconsin band, and is led by Mr. Slater. It is a splendid band, and played finely on this occasion.
I must give you a description of the watch. It is of gold, with blue enamel on each side, set with diamonds, on one side in the form of a harp, on the other a boquet [sic] ; the diamonds are very fine ; attached is a heavy chain of exquisite workmanship and design, accompanying which was a pin with cross and crescent, set in pearly rich and beautiful. At the end of the chain were also attached numerous charms, as follows : ___, anchor, saber, carbine, drum, compass, cannon, Howitzer, cross, pistol, key, and field glass. The field glass is less than half an inch in length and eighth of an inch in diameter ; in one side you see a fine photograph of Gen. Grant with his name underneath, and in the other the Lord’s Prayer, which you can read as plainly as in the prayer-book. The whole forms one of the most rich and beautiful remembrances I ever saw, and there is no one more worthy to received such a present than Mrs. Harvey.—With the watch the boys add their heartfelt payers for health, prosperity and future happiness. The inscription on the inside of the watch case is as follows : “Presented to Mrs. Louis P. Harvey, of Wis., with the Love, Gratitude and Admiration of the 2d Wis. Veteran Vol. Cav. Regt.” The boquet [sic] I will not attempt to describe, as I am not gifted in that line, although it was some time in my possession.
Altogether the affair was a very pleasant one for all concerned. The speeches as you will see were neat and appropriate. Capt. Ring is a perfect pattern of a gentleman and officer. There were several Wisconsin men present on the occasion, among whom I noticed D. K. Tenney, Vandercook, Rasdall, Dr. Wilson, and numerous citizens and also officers from other regiments.
The battalion of the second cavalry which has been detached for the past two years, arrived here on Wednesday last in good health and well mounted. They left again the next day on an expedition which went down to Grand Gulf and Port Gibson, and are now there “seeking whom they may devour.” This morning they sent back an installment of cattle, household furniture, refugees, prisoners, &c. The whole expedition is expected back in a day or two.
Speculation and militia orders are rife here now. Since the Memphis scare, the militia arm of the service is most relied upon. A few days since an order was issued to enroll and organize, but as soon as perfected it was discovered that no arrangements had been made for “pocket money,” and yesterday a new order was issued revoking all exemptions, and requiring new ones to be applied for ; but before any application could be made, a fee of two dollars must be paid to the “militia fund,” (it should be called the cripples’ fund,) for the benefit of the field officers, as I am informed. I will post you on the “general trainings.” Of course, if a cripple can’t pay two dollars, he must “train ;” and if he does pay, then the officers can “train.”
Two citizens of Dane county, noted there for their opposition and Democratic proclivities, (a la Copper,) arrived here the other day and took the amnesty oath, very quietly and demurely, including the emancipation proclamation and other orders.
A vote at the Soldiers’ Home on Friday, of soldiers, resulted for Lincoln 49 and for McClellan 11.
Yours, &c., GEO. C. SMITH.