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1865 March 11: Sam Harriman Suggests Using Rebel Deserters as Wisconsin Farm Laborers, Plus a Letter from the 22nd Wisconsin Infantry

March 16, 2015

Two letters from the March 11, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal.  The second letter comes from someone in the 22nd Wisconsin Infantry who, unfortunately, is not named.

Deserters from the Rebels—A Chance to Procure Laborers.

HEADQUARTERS 1st BRIG., 1st DIV., 9th A. C. }
February 23d,1865. }

 Messrs. Atwood & Rublee,, Editors Wis. State Journal.

GENTLEMEN—The great number of deserters now coming into our lines, taking the oath of allegiance and being sent North has suggested the idea that if we would guard against the civil effects of such a class, who have been taught by their institutions that labor is degrading to the white man, and being thrown upon the charities of the people of the North, whom they have been taught to believe are their enemies, that we should take some means to furnish these men labor, whereby they can return to their homes and families.

 The farmers of Wisconsin need the labor of these men, and they assure us they are ready and willing to labor.

If any agency were established in Wisconsin who would receive these men and furnish them places among the honest and loyal farmers of Wisconsin, where their morals would not be corrupted, such agency would not only subserve the cause of humanity, but would do much towards putting the finishing touch upon the dissolving scenery of rebellion.

Thirteen came into my lines last night, all fine, intelligent looking men and have more or less every night.

Should it be desirable, I would ticket such as appeared most deserving, to any name that might be sent me.

The recent elections in Wisconsin have shown that she can safely bear quite an influx of even disloyal men, without endangering her institutions.  Trusting you make such suggestions through your journal as you may deem expedite.

.             .Very respectfully &c.,
.                                .SAM. HARRIMAN, [Samuel Harriman],
Col. 37th Wis. Vols., Com. 1st. Brig.; 1st
.      .Division, 9th A. C.

From the Twenty-Second. 

A letter from our excellent correspondent in the 22d Regiment, dated Robertsville, S. C., February 1st, has been so long coming that much of its interest is lost.  Instead, therefore of publishing it in full, we give the substance and make some extracts.  He says the advance as far as the place where his letter was dated, was through a low, swampy, wild region where progress was very difficult.  Frequent halts were made in the early part of the march, and whenever they army stopped the soldiers set about making themselves comfortable.  The country was widely swept for forage and the army gathered strength for the rapid advances it has since made.  Good water was found abundant everywhere.  The idea that the Sunny South was free from the breath of winter was dispoiled by the presence of ice in the ponds, frozen roads and chilly night air.

Of the difference between the Georgia and South Carolina campaigns, and the conduct of the baser sort of men in the army, our correspondent says :

There is this notable difference between our Georgia campaign and this movement into the interior of South Carolina, that whereas, in the former, the out-buildings were doomed to the fire, in the latter, a clean sweep is made, and only the tall twin chimneys mark the site of the Carolina planter’s home.  We never saw the incendiary who does this work, he does not march in the ranks, nor carry a musket, but in first to plunder, and is well informed concerning the battle, of which he was a distant observer.  I say this of the “Bummer” for the reason that shameful crimes are committed, and charged to the soldier, who scorns the act and despises the actor.  Women and children are homeless and hungry in these woods, and it is charged to the army ;  and our men in rebel hands suffer every indignity at the revengeful heart of the exasperated Southerner ;  hereafter let the real criminals be known.

Carolina has sown to the winds and will reap a whirlwind, but we will but cripple her cities, and when she asks for mercy, drop the sword for the olive branch, and not imitate the savage by extending our power to the harih [sic] of the helpless—the old man, the woman and the child.

Of the way in which the soldiers amuse themselves, and the feeling of the army he says :

With the month of February, has come a genial sky and a spring-like day, and for the first time in months, large numbers of men are engaged in sports of school-boy-days—the running leap, the wrestle and the base ball.  Where these exercises are practiced, there is no depression, and it is a simple truth to say, that Sherman’s soldiers are perfectly equipped, well acclimated, and confident of their ability to manage Carolina.




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