1865 June 3: Governor Lewis Addresses the 35th Wisconsin; How the Male Population of the South was Wasted by the War; More on the Capture of Jefferson Davis
The following articles all come from the June 3, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal.
Governor Lewis and the 35th Regiment.
SOLDIERS OF WISCONSIN : It is with a feeling of mingled joy and sadness that I meet you on this occasion. Joy that so goodly a number of you have been spared to us by a kind Providence through so many hard fought battles. Joy that you, together with every Wisconsin regiment in the field, have in the face of a common enemy gloriously maintained the honor of your State and country, and joy beyond measure at the crowning success of this unparalleled struggle to crush a rebellion greater than has hitherto shook to its foundations any nation, and now that peace is restored that you can soon go home to your own firesides, and industrial pursuits, where the State of your adoption will welcome and honor you. But sadness, because the cruel sods of disloyal, though chastened Virginia, cover the lifeless forms of so many brave and noble men, whose presence is so much missed in your camp circles.
Men whose warm hearts beat high with patriotism, and around whose every fibre clustered affection’s dearest bands. Sadness and sympathy for your brave wounded comrades who are eking out a miserable death-in-life in our hospitals, and deep sadness for the cruel, cruel murder of our loved and honored Chief Magistrate. [Abraham Lincoln] * * * * * *
Your greatest anxiety undoubtedly is to be mustered out and sent home. I have anticipated that, and will do all in my power to hasten that day. The Secretary of War assures me that he will send you home at the earliest possible moment. As soon as he hears from Texas and Arkansas he will be able to say, and that will probably be within ten days. I hope you will be on your way home within that time. I want you to go home as a regiment and see you marching proudly through the streets of our own Capital city. I am glad of this opportunity to meet you as soldiers and shall be still more glad to meet you at home as citizens.
The Male Population of the South—Terrible Destruction by the War.
Some of the facts disclosed by Lee’s surrender [Robert E. Lee] show how frightfully the male population of the South has been wasted by the war. In many localities it will be found to be nearly annihilated. A few months ago, a general consolidation of companies and regiments took place, in several of the rebel corps, whole regiments, that once numbered one thousand men and more, being absorbed in single companies of less than fifty men. The following figures were taken from the rolls of Hardee’s corps [William J. Hardee], including present and absent :
Ten regiments consolidated, 237 men ; three regiments, 210 ; twenty regiments, 627 ; eleven regiments, 819 ; five regiments, 456 ; representing 100,000 men on the original rolls ; one regiment, 201 ; eight regiments, 424, representing 10,000 Texas troops ; one regiment, 40 left out of 1,200 ; reserve artillery, ten batteries, 560 ; seven regiments, 419 ; eighteen regiments, 719. Single regiments consolidated, and not represented above, showed the following numbers on their rolls : 21, 82, 16, 46, 124, 22, 50, 31, 185, 24, 41, 65, 180, 35, 50, 11, 42, 40, 100.
Eight companies consolidated amounted to 38 men ; five companies, 66 ; ten companies, 82 ; eleven companies, 59 ; ten companies, 65 ; fifteen companies, 54 ; ten companies, in one case, 81 ; in another, 69. The average in Lee’s corps, before consolidation, was about 80 men to the regiment, and these corps represented over half the army.
General Bates’ [sic: William B. Bate, so Bate’s] division has lost every general and field-officer, and three-fourths of the men in battle, since the army left Dalton. It lost thirty per cent, at the battle of Bentonville alone. Other facts of the same kind might be stated, if it were possible to place the matter in a stronger light.
The Capture of Davis.
The Herald’s correspondent says it was fully a week before Gen. Wilson [James H. Wilson] received the proclamation of President Johnson [Andrew Johnson] offering a reward for the capture of Davis [Jefferson Davis] and others. He had sent scouts in all directions, and took every precaution to preclude the possibility of any fugitives escaping who were within the range of his cavalry division. He gained information that Davis and escort had been at Washington, Ga., and immediately sent forces in all directions to picket the ferries on Ocmulgee and Flint Rivers ; also the cross roads leading thereto. Col. Pritchard [Benjamin D. Pritchard] left Macon at 8 o’clock, resting on the seventh, with orders for pushing on by forced marches, until 100 miles down the Ocmulgee from 25 to 30 miles beyond our outposts, take possession of all ferries, and throw scouts on the opposite side of the river, to ascertain the approach or passage of parties from Richmond. They had special directions to look out for Jeff. Davis and cortege. Colonel Pritchard marched all night of the 7th, and went into camp at 8 o’clock A. M., on the 8th, thirty-six miles from the place. Starting at 10 o’clock he again set out in pursuit. He arrived Hawkinsville at 6 o’clock. Here he found a detail of officers and twenty-five men guarding the ferry, and the citizens had gathered in a body, threatening to mob the soldiers. Col. Pritchard rode up to the mob, told them if they harmed the soldiers in any way, after he left, he would return and burn the town to ashes. This had a salutary effect, and the mob disbanded.