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1865 February 4: Adjutant General’s Annual Report Provides History of Wisconsin’s Part in the War

February 5, 2015

The following is the first portion of the Wisconsin Adjutant General Report that appeared in the February 4, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal.

A portion of the newspaper is missing—article on the other side was clipped out—and we filled in from the Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Wisconsin for the Year Ending December 31, 1864 (Madison, Wis.: Atwood & Rubles, State Printers).

ADJUTANT GENERAL’S REPORT

What Wisconsin has Done for the War.
How Many Troops She has Sent.
How Many are Sill in the Field.

VOLUNTEERING AND DRAFTING.

Relief for the Sick and Wounded.

THE STATE MILITIA.

Very Interesting Document.

ADJUTANT GENERAL’S OFFICE, }
MADISON, WIS., Dec. 31, 1864 }

To His Excellency, James T. Lewis, Governor of Wisconsin :

SIR :—I have the honor to submit for your consideration and the information of the Legislature, the following report of the transaction of this Department for the past year, in the preparation of which I purposely can, as heretofore, any portion of the correspondence between the War Department and this office relative to, and also the , in the organization of troops for the General Government, your Excellency being already familiar with these matters, and presuming that a general review and recapitulation of the results attending our endeavors, and the manner in which we as State have met the demands upon our patriotism, together with a historical sketch of our regiments in the field, will be of a more satisfactory character to both the Executive and the Legislature.

REGIMENTS IN SERVICE NOV. 1ST, 1863.

At the date of my last Annual Report, there were in the volunteer service of the United States the following organizations from Wisconsin,

to wit :

The First, Second, Third, and from the Fifth to the Thirty Third regiment, inclusive,—total, thirty two regiments of infantry ;  four regiments and one company of cavalry ;  twelve Batteries Light Artillery ;  three batteries of heavy artillery ;  one company sharpshooters ;  Gibbon’s brigade band ;  numbering for service twenty-four thousand eight hundred and twelve.

The Fourth regiment had been, during the year, by order of the War Department, changed to a cavalry regiment, and the Thirty-fourth (nine months) regiment had been mustered out upon expiration of term of service, August 17, 1863.

RECRUITING SERVICE.

The opening of the current year did not present a flattering prospect to the volunteering service. The draft under the call of July, 1863, was not yet completed, and for the time there was a disposition to abide its results in determining who should serve; feeling which had been engendered and increased among the people by the action of the War Department in the disposition of credits of volunteers claimed prior to October 12, 1863.

There were then recruiting in the state, the Thirty-fifth Infantry, the Thirteenth Battery of Light Artillery, and Battery D. of Heavy Artillery, all of which were completed and mustered into the United States service early in the present year, and of which further mention will be found in the historical record.

It will be remembered that under the provisions of field Order No. _, by authority of (the then) Maj. Gen. Grant [Ulysses S. Grant], dated November 4, 1862, the Sixteenth Wisconsin was then consolidated into five companies, owing to its greatly reduced numbers in the early and many severe engagements it encountered.—The policy of the General Government having soon after been changed in the disposition of regiments of this character, and this being the only Wisconsin regiment in which the order was enforced, measures were taken and consent of the War Department obtained November 25, 1863, for recruiting five companies and reorganization of the regiment.  Lt. Col. Cassius Fairchild, commanding the regiment, was detailed to superintend the recruitment, and by a most commendable perseverance accomplished the result.  The companies were forwarded as fast as completed, the last one leaving the State in the month of October, and the regiment was thereby restored to a minimum.

The call of the President of the United States, February 1, 1864, for five hundred thousand volunteers, including the prior call for three hundred thousand, and giving credit to sub-districts for all recruits obtained under the draft just completed, to apply thereon, brought also authority for the organization of new regiments, and new life to the recruiting service.  This was greatly increased in the State by the order of your Excellency, February 10th, directing the organization of the thirty-sixth regiment of the infantry, and the appointment of the gallant, now lamented, Haskell to the command.  The prestige of his name and brilliant career, soon brought to his standard a maximum regiment which with but a short delay in the State to receive arms, was on the 20th of May, brigaded in the army of the Potomac, and at the extreme front.

The peculiar fortunes of this regiment, lead me to deviate from the usual course of the report to briefly note their experience.  On the 26th of May, within less than twenty days from their leaving the State, companies H and K formed part of the line of skirmishers, with a loss of fourteen men, near Sexton’s Junction ;  June 1st they were in the charge at Turner’s Farm, and June 3d in the general engagement at cold Harbor, where, with so many of his regiment, their brave Colonel was killed by the bullet of a rebel sharpshooters, while forming the brigade of which he had command for action.  On the 7th of June the total loss of the regiment in killed, wounded and missing to that date was two hundred and thirty-four.  On the 18th following, Lieut. Col. Savage fell in action mortally wounded, and Major Brown severely.  On the 14th of August Lieut. Col. Warner lost an arm, and Maj. Hamilton was severely wounded in the face, and on the 28th of the same month the balance of the regiment present for duty, numbering near one hundred and sixty officers and men, under command of a line officer, were more than three-fourths captured in the action at Ream’s Station.  Thus, the regiment which left the State on the 10th of May nine hundred and ninety in numbers, had, in one hundred days, lost of its field officers two killed and three so severely wounded as to be incapacitated for duty for months, and was for a time itself reduced to a mere squad.  Stragglers and convalescents have since joined the command, and there were present for duty Nov. 1st, two hundred and four.

No regiment has in so short a time encountered such dangers and losses—none borne itself more gallantly or won a prouder name.

The Thirty-seventh and Thirty-eighth Regiments of infantry were also authorized on the 7th and 9th of March.

Meanwhile recruiting for old regiments continued briskly, and until the announcement by the Secretary of War that the quota of Wisconsin was full under the calls of February and March, when, the immediate incentive being removed, recruiting ceased almost entirely, leaving the Thirty-seventh and Thirty-eighth with less than half a regiment each.

A subsequent order of the War Department directed the assignment of two companies of drafted men, on duty at Camp Randall, to the Thirty-seventh, and the organized companies of each regiment were ordered to the front under command of the Lieutenant-Colonels.  Colonels Harriman [Samuel Harriman] and Bintliff were directed to remain for the recruitment for the regiments, which was accomplished under circumstances reflecting much credit upon those officers.

Under the call of the President of July 18, 1864, for 500,000 volunteers of one, two or three years term of service, the Forty-second, Col. Sprague ;  the Forty-third, Col. Amasa Cobb ;  the Forty-fourth, Col. Geo. G. Symes, and the Forty-fifth infantry, Col. H. F. Belitz, have been authorized.  The two first are completed and at the front.  The last two are yet recruiting—the Forth-fourth with five companies, and the Forty-fifth with four companies at the front under command of a Lieutenant Colonel.

Upon the return of the non-veterans of the Fifth regiment of infantry, whose three years term of service expired July 3d of the present year, three companies of re-enlisted veterans of the regiment were left at the front, and upon request of your Excellency, authority was given by the War Department to recruit seven companies for the regiment, and the colonelcy was again tendered to Col. T. S. Allen, under whose command, for the past two years, the old Fifth had won immortal honors.  The order directing its reorganization was issued on the 8th day of August, and on the second of October the seven companies, numbering twenty-six officers and five hundred and ninety six enlisted men, left Camp Randall for the front, in command of Colonel Allen.

On the 19th of August, authority was also given by the War Department, to recruit the First Battalion of Heavy Artillery to a Regiment, and recruiting appointments were immediately issued to secure this result.  This being a favorite arm of the service, recruits were rapidly mustered, and as fast as organized into companies were forwarded to the battalion at Fort Lyon, Virginia (near Washington).  The regimental organization is now complete under the colonelcy of Chas. C. Messervey, formerly Major of the battalion.

Of the foregoing organizations—all authorized or completed subsequent to the call of July 18th—are composed mainly of one year’s men ;  while those completed prior to that date are made up of three years men exclusively.  The term of service and number of each constituting the several regiments, will be found in Schedule D, appended to this report.

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