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1864 November 12: News from the 20th Wisconsin Infantry

November 15, 2014

The following report appeared in the November 12, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.  Thick, heavy ink from the other side of the newspaper page has obliterated some of the type, indicated here by [__].  There are more reports in this issue of the Journal than we are reprinting.


Vegetables needed in the Army.


An Expedition in Arkansas,



The Chase after Hood’s Army.

Wisconsin Soldiers on Duty in Illinois.

The Movement against Richmond.

From the Twentieth Regiment.

Affairs in Mobile Bay—S[__]g the Captured Forts—How the Soldiers Spit on the Chicago Platform—Its Insults Repelled—Scurvy Doing much Harm—Vegetables Wanted—Recruiting.

MOBILE BAY, Oct. 9th, 1864. }

MESSRS EDITORS :  The forces under Gen. Bailey are just now hard at work. Heavy details are repairing Fort Morgan, and it will soon be much stronger in its armament than when the rebels held it. At Fort Gaines a steam saw mill—a Yankee institution of course—is turning out pine lumber and our carpenters are putting up store houses and doing the other necessary work in their line of business.  A railroad is building from here to Navy Cove, three miles distant, where boats are obliged to land during the winter months. The 20th is at the Cove doing picket duty and unloading boats, besides a heavy detail under Lt. Rice, who are at work on that end of the railroad.

Every boat as it arrives from New Orleans is promptly unloaded and immediately returns for another cargo.  There is great activity throughout the District of West Florida and South Alabama, and you can guess what it all signifies as well as I can.

Interested as we are in military operations here, we still find time to study the political campaign now waxing warm in the North ;  and I assure you there are very few soldiers who do not fully understand the strategy of the great Democratic Generallissimo—Jeff. Davis [Jefferson Davis]—and the tactics of the Democratic leaders of [__] caliber—the Seymours [Thomas H. Seymour and Horatio Seymour], the Woods [Fernando Wood], Vallandighams [Clement L. Vallandigham], and the rest.  The framers of the Chicago platform certainly mistook the temper of the Union army ;  nor is it strange.  Those men know nothing of the feeling that prompts a man to take up arms in his country’s defense ;  they did not consider that the reason that sent us to the field two and three years ago exists the same to-day, greatly strengthened by the knowledge that our honor as soldiers is at stake ;  they did not think when they declared the war a failure, and demanded “an immediate cessation of hostilities,” that every soldier, from general to drummer boy, would construe it as a personal insult.  I say they did not know the feeling in the army, or they would not have dared to insert that rottenest of planks in their rotten platform ;  for, as after ter [sic] war, the men composing the army are sure to hold the balance of political power, so sure is it that every man who has anything to do with supporting the Chicago Copperhead platform will be henceforth and forever politically dead.

I find a few soldiers who are admirers of McClellan [George B. McClellan], and who will support him notwithstanding the bad company they acknowledge he keeps ;  they say he will prosecute the war vigorously, but it puzzles them to find men in the party who, as his constitutional advisers, will support him in any such vigorous policy.

If there is any body who has reason to desire peace, it is the soldier ;  but I will assume to speak for Wisconsin’s soldiers down here in Alabama, and say that no one entertains the thought of peace until the rebels shall lay down their arms and ask for it.

The health of our regiment is not very good ;  the scurvy contracted on the Rio Grande, threatens to render the regiment unfit for active service ; there is only one thing that can save us, and that is a good supply of vegetables.  Last week Surgeon Peak brought the boys thirty barrels of onions and potatoes purchases with company funds and his own handsome contribution.

Speaking of vegetables reminds me of a remark of Admiral Farragut [David G. Farragut].  The Admiral was ashore the other evening, and after inspecting the fort he called at headquarters.  The General was out, but he stopped and conversed a while with some of the staff.  Happening to remark that our regiment had suffered for the want of vegetables, the Admiral replied that it was the fault of our commanding officers ;  that the articles were to be had and the Government was able to furnish them, and would do so if proper steps of potatoes and onions, but he “kicked up thunder about it” and he gets what he wanted.  The old Admiral is looking first rate and is doubtless to “kick up thunder” for a good many years more.

Some time since Lt. Col. Starr sent in an application to send home a recruiting party ; the application has been granted, and Capt. Whitman and Lieut. Jackson will go with the party.  But I am glad to see that the Provost Marshals are doing the recruiting for us ;  they seem to have an enticing way with them that men can’t resist.  It causes us greatly to rejoice to see the names of some of our Copperhead friends in the lists of “the elect.”  Send them along ;  we’ll make as good loyal soldiers of them as ever drew bead on a reb.

Very truly,           E. G. M.

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