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1865 February 18: The Hampton Roads Peace Negotiations

February 18, 2015

This article, from The Prescott Journal of February 18, 1865, concerns the Hampton Roads Peace Conference held February 3, 1865, which was an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate an end to the Civil War.  Union President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward, met with three commissioners from the Confederacy: Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, Senator Robert M. T. Hunter, and Assistant Secretary of War John A. Campbell.¹

The Peace Negotiations.

The N.Y. Times Washington special says :  Mr. Seward reached Fort Monroe in advance of Messrs.  Stephens, Hunter and Campbell.  Upon the arrival of these gentlemen they were at once invited to an interview and informed Mr. Seward of their desire to proceed to Washington for the purpose of discussing the question of peace with the President.  Mr. Seward informed them that it was the President’s wish that the discussion should take place at Fortress Monroe, and that he had been sent to meet them at that point upon the subject.  The Commissioners pressed with considerable earnestness for leave to visit Washington, and finally alleged that their Government had consented to send them only in consequence of Mr. Blair’s assurance that they should have a personal interview with President Lincoln.  Mr. Seward assured them that this pledge should be fulfilled and at once telegraphed to the President that his presence was necessary.  [Francis P. Blair]

After Lincoln’s arrival, the conference lasted four hours, and was perfectly friendly and good tempered  throughout.  On our side the conversation was mainly conducted by the President, and on their side Mr. Hunter, Mr. Stephens occasionally taking part.

The rebel commissioners said nothing whatever of their personal views or wishes, but spoke solely and exclusively for their  Government, and at the outset and throughout the conference, declared their entire lack of authority to make, receive, or consider any proposition whatever, looking toward a close of the war, except on the basis of a recognition of the independence of the Confederate States as a preliminary condition.

The President presented the subject to them in every conceivable form, and suggested the most liberal and considerable modifications of whatever in existing legislation and action of the United States Government might be regarded as specially hostile to the rights and interests, or wounding to the pride of the Southern people, but in no single particular could he induce them to swerve for a moment from their demand for recognition.  They did not present this, conspicuously, as resting on their own convictions, but as the condition which their Government had made absolutely indispensable to any negotiation or discussions whatever concerning peace.

President Lincoln on the other hand, informed them, at every point, that such recognition was utterly and totally out of the question ;  that the United States could stop the war and arrest, even temporarily, the movement of its armies, only on the condition precedent that the authority of the National Government should be recognized and obeyed over the whole territory of the United States.  This point conceded, he assured them that upon every other matter of the difference they would be treated with the utmost liberality, but without that recognition the war must and would go on.

All the conversation which took place between the respective parties came back to and turned upon this radical and irreconcilable difference.  Neither side could be swerved a hair’s breadth from its position, and therefore the attempt at negotiation was an utter failure.  Upon separating, it was distinctly and explicitly stated that the attitude of each Government was to be precisely what it would have been if the interview had never taken place.

The cabinet received these explanations as complete and satisfactory, and the feeling was unanimous and earnest that the country must now arouse itself to renewed efforts and prepare to make fresh sacrifices in defense of the integrity of the Union and the preservation of the government.

As you know the source of this dispatch, I need not assure you that it is perfectly reliable.

The Herald has an editorial, to which it gives prominence, saying the facts stated in the article are derived from such sources as to entitle them to implicit belief.  They are correct beyond the possibility of mistake.  After referring to the motives which induced Mr. Blair to visit Richmond it continues :

Before Mr. Blair left for home Jeff Davis addressed to him a letter expressing a strong desire for peace, and offering to waive all formalities in settling our differences on the hasty or careless reader might conceal the cloven foot, or cloven government, which on close inspection was plainly visible at the bottom of it.  It seems to be a cunning effort to place the odium of continuing an unnecessary war, on Mr. Lincoln.

The President speedily sent Blair back with the assurance that he also was desirous of peace, and in substance that without stickling for mere technicalities, he would listen to what any messenger might have to say if sent by Jeff Davis or any other promising rebel, provided the necessity of preserving our own as the one Government of the whole United States were first conceded.

Thus far in the diplomatic game Mr. Lincoln had decidedly got the better of Davis.  It would not do for the shaking Confederacy to leave the matter thus, and so the astute Mr. Stephens was called to the aid of Mr. Davis, a long conference was held, and it was determined that Mr. Stephens, Judge Campbell and Mr. Hunter should proceed North, and try their joint hands at mending matters.

They entered Grant’s lines on the assurance that they came on the basis of Mr. Lincoln’s instructions to Mr. Blair, but, when the President and Mr. Seward met them, it turned out that all they wanted was an armistice, and the consideration of the maintenance of the Union was to be put off to a more convenient season, when their stomachs should be full of the fat to be derived from our land, and their military stores replenished. Mr. Lincoln again informed them that the preservation of the Union must be a condition precedent to any others ;  that he would never consent to but one cessation of hostilities, and that would be a final one.  Four hours of good-natured talk ensued, but it resulted in nothing more than what we have already stated.

The truth is, the rebels are very hard pressed by our armies, so that by the sword they mush perish, and so they have sought to save themselves by negotiation and diplomacy, but in this Mr. Lincoln has shown himself more than a match for them.  They have found him courteous but firm and inflexible.  He has now satisfied the clamorous peace men of the North, who have pertinaciously asserted that soft words would melt the hearts of obdurate rebels.  Talk is of no use.  All that remains is to fight it out, and the quicker the better.

The Tribune’s Washington special says :  “A telegram has been received here from the army of the Potomac reporting a message from Jeff Davis to the Confederate Congress communicating the result of the recent peace conference in Hampton Roads.  It appears in substance that President Lincoln refused an armistice of any length, refused recognition either of the Confederacy or of any of the States which compose it, refused independence and only conceded a merciful and liberal use by himself of the pardoning power.  During the conference he communicated the passage by congress of the amendment of the constitution abolishing slavery throughout the United States and declared that the question of slavery was wholly removed from his control and placed beyond negotiation.”

The Richmond Enquirer of the 6th says, “submission, abolition, and reconstruction, were the only terms that could be got out of Lincoln and Seward by the peace commissioners.  Hence the South has only to fight.  It says this result will have the effect to unite the people more closely and strongly than ever.  If defeated and destroyed, those who survive will have nothing worse to submit to than is now demanded by the enemy.”

The Richmond Sentinel says the South has been insulted.  It regards the passage of the Constitutional amendment as an outrage, and upturning of the social institutions of the South, robbing its citizens.  It says, “Lincoln’s propositions were that the South should lay down their arms and dispose of their homes, and he would appoint for the Confederate States Marshals, District Attorneys and Judges for the United States courts ;  that in executing the confiscation law, he would do it as leniently as possible ;  that he would treat neither the Confederate States nor any State separately ;  that he will listen to nothing short of unconditional submission to the Constitution and laws passed under it, that the slavery question was disposed of, and not now to be discussed.”

1.  John Archibald Campbell (1811-1889) was a successful lawyer in Georgia and Alabama, where he served in the State legislatures. Appointed by Franklin Pierce to the United States Supreme Court in 1853, he served until the outbreak of the American Civil War, when he became an official of the Confederacy. After serving six months in a military prison, he resumed a successful law practice in New Orleans, where he opposed Reconstruction.

1865 February 11: Corrected Enrollment List for Town of Osceola; News About Generals Grant, Pope, and Curtis; Casualties at Fort Fisher; 10th Wisconsin Battery in Savannah

February 17, 2015

Following are the smaller items from our two newspapers, The Prescott Journal and The Polk County Press, for their issues of February 11, 1865.

The 10th Wisconsin Battery had many men from Osceola (Polk County), various places in Saint Croix County, from Prescott (Pierce County), and from Eau Claire.

From The Prescott Journal:

Finger002 The President and Sec. Seward have had an interview with the Southern Peace Commissioners.  No immediate result was attained.  [Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward]

GEN. GRANT’S NEW HOUSE.—The new house presented to Gen. GRANT in Philadelphia, is a four-story, double-front structure of brick and brown stone trimmings.  It has sixteen rooms, among which are a billiard-room and library, and is provided with all the modern improvements.  Its cost was about $30,000.  The furniture which is to complete the gift is now in process of manufacture, and will not be entirely ready before the first of March.  [Ulysses S. Grant]

Finger002 The Supreme Court of Michigan has decided the soldier-suffrage act to be unconstitutional.  The decision elects one Democratic Congressman (BALDWIN), several Democratic members of the Legislature, and a large number of Democratic county officers.

GONE TO EUROPE.—AUGUST BELMONT, the grand manager of the Democratic party, has gone to Europe with Gen. MCCLELLAN [George B. McClellan].

Finger002 JEFF. DAVIS has appointed the 10th of March next as a day of fasting, humiliation prayer and thanksgiving. The prayers of the unrighteous have thus far done the rebellion no good.  [Confederate President Jefferson Davis]

Finger002 Nineteen out of the seventy-five Democratic members of Congress voted for the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery forever.

GENERAL GRANT has recently been quite indisposed and confined to his quarters.  He is improving, however, and will speedily be able to attend to his out-door duties.

WISCONSIN WAR DOGS IN SAVANNAH.—The Savannah Republican of the 18th inst., thus facetiously alludes to the firing of salute by the battery in the streets of Savannah :

“A salute of seventeen guns was fired yesterday at the intersection of Broughton and East Broad streets, by the 10th Wisconsin Battery, Capt. Beebe.  The rapidity and precision astonished the citizens, and no doubt caused some of them to imagine what the deadly effects of such accurate artillery practice must be upon an enemy’s line.  Think of it ! the far, far Western State of Wisconsin sending War Dogs to bark in the streets of Savannah !  We won’t stand for it !  It is unconstitutional !”

The Herald’s Fort Fisher correspondence says the late casualties in Gen. Terry’s army in the fight at Fort Fisher were 691.  Of these 11 officers and 77 men were killed, 39 officers and 473 men wounded, and 92 men missing.  [Alfred H. Terry]

The Herald’s Washington special says the War Department has been notified of the arrival of the rebel Congressman Henry S. Foote within the lines of Sheridan’s army at Winchester, Va.  [Philip H. Sheridan]

The Post’s Washington special says that Secretary Fessenden, in his instructions to Jay Cook, says he intends to rely wholly hereafter upon taxes and sales of 7-80 bonds to pay the expenses of the war.  [U.S. Secretary of the Treasury William P. Fessenden]

From The Polk County Press:

Major General Pope

Major General Pope has been ordered to take command of the Military Division of the Missouri, embracing Department of Arkansas Missouri, Kansas, and the North west, and has already goes to St. Louis to assume the new and important duties devolving upon him. His appointment to this enlarged and honorable sphere of duty is a tardy but deserved recognition of the great military abilities to signally displayed by General Pope on many a well bought field.  [John Pope]

The Milwaukee “Wisconsin” says that Major General Samuel R. Curtis, of Iowa, former commander of the Missouri Department, is to succeed him in the Department of the Northwest.

GOOD CHANCE.—We learn there is but one man on the enrollment list in the town of Eau Galla [sic] liable to a draft.  Wonder what he would take for his chances.—Hudson Star and Times.

THE SIXTH DISTRICT PROVOST MARSHAL’S OFFICE REMOVED.—From the Sparta “Eagle” we learn that the Provost Marshal’s headquarters for this District has been removed from La Crosse to Sparta, the Co. seat of Monroe county.

WISCONSIN WAR DOGS IN SAVANNAH. — The Savannah Republican of the 13th inst., thus facetiously alludes to the firing of salute by the battery in the streets of Savannah :

“A salute of seventeen guns was fired yesterday at the intersection of Broughton and East Broad streets, by the 10th Wisconsin Battery, Capt. Beebe.  The rapidity and precission astonished the citizens, and no doubt caused some of them to imagine what the deadly effects of such accurate artillery practice must be upon an enemy’s line.  Think of it ! the far, far Western State of Wisconsin sending War Dogs to bark in the streets of Savannah !  We won’t stand for it !  It is unconstitutional !”

By this it would seem that the Polk county boys have been exhibiting their muscle to the Georgians.

— Jeff. [sic] Davis has appointed the 10th of March next as a day of fasting and prayer.  The prayers of the unrighteous have thus far done the rebellion no good.

— A ten inch Parrott gun costs $4,500 ;  a[n] eleven inch Rodman $6,500 ;  a fifteen inch Krupps $29,400 ;  and a twelve inch Blakely $35,000.

The Enrollment List for the Town of Osceola, is Corrected.

H. C. Goodwin, W. C. Guild, Tim. Hennessey, M. M. Nason,
Frank Smith, Ashael Kimball, Terrence Daley, Hennes Johnson,
Fowler Hale, W. H. Bowron, Wm. Wilson, Fred. Greenwold,
John Baker, Rice Webb, George Wilson, J. C. Terry,
Wm. Young, William Kent, John S. Irish, J. A. Whitney,
Joseph Berg, B. F. Wid, Corneilus Clark, Joel Brown,
Gustoff Nelson, Hiram Bass, John Kent, T. M. Bradely,
Isaac McLean, S. Rowcliffe, H. H. Herrick, Mat. Young,
E. W. Waterhouse,  Thos. McCabe, Nicholas Lavocot, T. Y. McCourt,
S. B. Dresser, John Morrisey, B. P. Pitman, W. H. Bowron,
O. F. Knapp, Joseph Corey, C. E. Mears, Frank May,
Joseph Furbish, H. H. Newbury, Jas. T. Kent, Jonas Peterson,
W. H. Kent, Cyrus Bradley, Nelson Doll, S. H. Clough,
Sam. S. Fifield, jr., A. S. Thomson, L. G. Clark, R. H. Hill,
E. L. Seavey, J. F. Nason, Daniel Mears, * Jerry Mudgett, *
A. Gillespie, Levi Nason, J. Brosanham, * Thos. Mcoy. *

* Names marked thus are persons who are over age, and their names will be stricken from the list as soon as proper affidavits reach the Pro. Marshal’s Headquarters.

1865 February 11: General Butler’s Sharp and Bitter Criticism of His Superior Commanders

February 16, 2015

The following article appeared in the February 11, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press.

Butler on Generals McClellan and Grant. 

Butler’s [Benjamin F. Butler] speech at Lowel is sharp and intensely bitter on his superiors in command.  Here is a specimen :

“I understand that there are those who were among my old friends in politics, but, who, unfortunately, have lately got upon the other side, who sneer at me as the “Hero of Big Bethel and Fort Fisher.”  I accept the title.  They do me honor overmuch.  What was Big Bethel ?  It was a skirmish, in which twenty-five men were killed and wounded.  But Big Bethel was not Bull Run ;  Big Bethel was not Fair Oaks ;  Big Bethel was not Seven Pines ;  Big Bethel was not the Chickahominy.—Big Bethel was a failure, but it was no disaster.  No West Point General commanded there.  I claim credit for this, that when we of the Volunteer army of the United States make failures we do not make disasters.  Stop a moment and compare the battles I have named with Bethel.  Why, at these there were more men slaughtered and homes made desolate than there were leaves on the trees in the forest around Big Bethel—not to be numbered.

But I am the hero of Fort Fisher too.  Well, Fort Fisher was not Chancellorsville ;  Fort Fisher was not the Wilderness ;  Fort Fisher was not Coal Harbor.  A volunteer General commanded at Fort Fisher at each attack ;  one was without result but not disaster ;  the last was a success ;  all honor to Gen. Terry [Alfred H. Terry] and his brave volunteer soldiers.  Again, it is charged upon us that we did not make so big a hole in Dutch Gap Canal as we ought to have made.  It may be that we did not (although Dutch Gap Canal was a success) make so great a hole there as was made by the explosion of the mine at Petersburg last summer ;  but, thank God, neither did we fill uselessly that hole up with American dead until it ran blood.  (Renewed applause.)  I am, therefore, content, nay, I claim to be the hero of the comparatively bloodless attacks on Big Bethel and the wholly bloodles failure of Fort Fisher ;  I do not claim to be the hero of Fredericksburg, of Chancellorsville, of the Chickahominy, of Fair Oaks, of the Wilderness, of Coal Harbor, nor of that charnel-house of useless dead in the mine before Petersburg.

1865 February 11: Sherman Heads for Charleston as the Carolinas Campaign Gets Under Way

February 15, 2015

The following letter comes from the February 11, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal.


The Campaign in Virginia.
The Armies of the Potomac and the James. 


From the Sixteenth Wisconsin.

Entering Savannah—Removal to Beaufort—
March on Pocatoligo [
sic]—A fight with the Rebels—
Lt. Chandler, of the 12th killed—Retreat of the Enemy—
Only forty Miles from Charleston—Col. Fairchild—
The Army in Splendid Condition. 

Correspondences of the State Journal.

POCATOLIGO [sic], S. C. Jan. 16, 1865. }

Our regiment left Atlanta with the rest of Gen. Sherman’s [William T. Sherman] army and marched through to Savannah, Ga., arriving there Dec. 11th, having marched three hundred miles in twenty-six days.  We destroyed the railroad running from Atlanta to Savannah as we marched and subsisted chiefly on the country generally finding abundance, and meeting with no opposition.

We remained in front of Savannah from the date of our arrival until the morning of the 21 of Dec.  The city being surrounded with rice fields which the rebels had flooded with water, we were prevented from making an assault immediately upon our arrival, but the morning of the 21st, the rebels having learned that Gen. Sherman had perfected his arrangements for successfully crossing the rice fields they evacuated, and crossing the Savannah river went into South Carolina.  We immediately marched into the town and found everything in good order.  The citizens appeared at their doors and windows and greeted our appearance with cheers and demonstrations of pleasure.  It seemed like marching through one of our northern cities.  Many ran out with refreshments distributing them among the men.

We remained in Savannah until January 5th, when we crossed on board of transports and came to Beaufort, on Port Royal Island, where we remained until the 13th, when we marched to Broad river, which surrounds Port Royal Island, put ever a pontoon bridge in the night, and in the morning crossed, and marching a short distance ran into the rebel pickets.  Skirmishers were immediately deployed, when we advanced, driving the rebels about three miles, when the 2d brigade of our division followed them up, and our brigade, Gen. Force commanding, consisting of the 13th and 16th Wisconsin regiments and the 30th, 31st and 48th Illinois, with one section of artillery, were sent around to get to their rear, if possible, while the 2d brigade amused them in front.  Skirmishers were deployed from the 12th Wisconsin and 15th Illinois, the whole under charge of the brigade picket officer, Lieut. Chandler,¹ of the 12th.

We found them in force in our front, but succeeded in driving them easily.  Our brigade being separated from the rest of the corps, we were obliged to guard our rear as well as front.  Gen. Force [Manning Force] accordingly ordered Col. Fairchild [Cassius Fairchild] to take his regiment and the battery and be prepared to resist an attack from that quarter.  After marching about four miles we again struck the main Charleston road, getting in just ahead of the two brigades, but not cutting off the rebels, as we supposed we would.  Marching about one mile further, we drove them inside their fortifications, Fort Pocatoligo [sic], our skirmishers getting so near as to prevent them from using their artillery with much effect.

Our loss in driving them in was eight men and two officers, Lieut. Chandler, of the 12th, being killed as he was gallantly charging with his line of skirmishers upon the retreating rebels.  No better officer has fallen.

In the night the rebels evacuated, and in the morning we pursued them until we came to Pocatoligo [sic] bridge, where the Charleston & Savannah Railroad crosses, and where we at present remain.  We are encamped upon the railroad, on ground previously occupied by the rebels for that purpose.  They had erected neat log houses, which we have taken possession of, and are quite comfortable.  We will probably remain here until the 14th, 15th and 20th Corps come up.  We are now within forty miles of Charleston.  Hilton Head will be our base, getting our supplies from there up the river to our present camp, when they will follow us up by rail as we advance towards Charleston.  From here we have railroad communication with Savannah.

Gen. Foster has been trying to take this place for two years past, and it was but recently he was defeated with a loss of four hundred.  We took one prisoner who told us that when we commenced skirmishing with them in the morning, they said it was only Gen. Foster with his brigade, and that they would soon clean them out ;  but when our boys cried out, “Skedaddle, Johnnies !” they raised the cry of “Sherman, Sherman in coming !” and gave way.  They seem to be impressed with a wholesome terror of Gen. Sherman’s army.

Gen. Force is now commanding our division, which puts Col. Fairchild in command of the brigade, a position which the whole brigade is pleased to see him occupy, and one which he is well qualified to fill.  He is esteemed as one of the best officers in the Corps, is universally and deservedly popular, and is an officer of whom Wisconsin and especially Madison may well be proud.

Our army is in splendid condition, the men are all healthy and feel fine, and are anxious to be led against Charleston, feeling perfectly confident of success.


1.  Almon N. Chandler was actually a captain by this time, of Company K, 12th Wisconsin Infantry, having been promoted as of January 6, 1865. From Marietta, Wisconsin, he enlisted September 7, 1861, was promoted to 1st lieutenant October 19, 1861, and was killed in action on January 14, 1865, at Pocotaligo, South Carolina.

1865 February 11: The Army of the James “is ‘watching and waiting’ just outside the gates of the rebel Capital”

February 14, 2015

The following letter comes from the February 11, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal.


The Campaign in Virginia.
The Armies of the Potomac and the James. 


The Army of the James—From the Nineteenth Regiment.

Changes of Commanders—New Rules and Sys-
tems—Delay of paying the Troops—Desertions—
The Substitute System—Condition of the Regiment. 

In Front of Richmond, Jan. 18, 1865. }

This army is “watching and waiting” just outside the gates of the rebel Capital, with little to disturb its quiet, or interrupt the monotony of camp life.  It had been anticipated by many, and especially by the projectors, that when the bulk-head of the Dutch Gap Canal was blown out, we would be furnished with plenty of work, and that lively times would be inaugurated hereabouts.  But that which was to have opened the James to our fleet as far at least as Fort Darling, and have enabled us to flank that stronghold, has ended in the “blowing up” of sanguine expectations, and left the door to Richmond still tightly closed in that direction.


At one time in command of the “Iron Brigade,” and more recently commander of a division in the Army of the Potomac, has just assumed command of the 24th corps of this army—Major General Ord [Edward O. C. Ord] taking the place made vacant by the removal of General Butler [Benjamin F. Butler].  With new lords come new laws, and many thorough and radical changes are already taking place and being ordered. This morning the corps was reviewed in front of our works by Gen. Gibbon [John Gibbon], and there is a general “brushing up,” evidently preparatory to the early opening of a new campaign, and the “negotiations for peace.”


has produced a profound sensation throughout this army, although it might have been anticipated, and really ought not to be a matter of surprise.  The failure at Wilmington and the fiasco of the Dutch Gap, has sealed his fate as a field commander.  With great administrative ability—keen, shrewd, sagacious, quick to discern and prompt to execute, he yet had little fitness for the command of armies, and with abundant means at his disposal could not win victories.  Besides, he was unfortunate in another respect, that he transferred the iron and despotic rule which crushed out the mob at New Orleans to the camps of his soldiers, and thought to secure efficiency in discipline, and the most perfect subordination by stern and arbitrary measures and terrible punishments.  Still, Gen. Butler is not dead, nor extinguished, and those who are rejoicing over his downfall and military demise, will assuredly find that his is a power in the land, and that the sun of his renown is only in partial eclipse, not set forever in darkness.  He has won for himself a great name, and that name will be imperishable upon the brightest pages of our country’s history.


The failure of the Government to meet its engagements with the army in the matter of pay, is not only subjecting officers and men to great inconvenience, but is a source of suffering to themselves and families.  A large portion of this army has been without pay for five or six months, and hundreds of soldiers have not seen the face of a Paymaster for more than eight months.  This delinquency works mischief—it discourages and demoralizes—and Government has only to persevere in it for a few months longer to break down the spirit and efficiency of the men who fight its battles.  It may be good for sutlers, but it is terribly hard on those who are obliged to go upon his books for daily food.


These are becoming alarmingly frequent in our midst.  It has been said, and I have no doubt truly, that if an examination of the records of our armies in Virginia were to be made, our losses by desertion within the last six months would be reckoned not by thousands, but by tens of thousands.  We inflict the death penalty upon deserters, and yet the crime is common.  A regiment stationed not more than a hundred yards from where I write has been largely depleted by desertion, and none of its members can now be trusted on the picket line.  The evil has its root in our system of recruiting.  By it we gather up the scum and refuse and rascality, not only of our own country, but of other countries, and empty the whole villainous mass into our armies.  A draft is ordered, and to save ourselves the necessity of entering the ranks and fighting in person against the rebellion, we employ substitute brokers who shall buy up convicts, rowdies, men rotten with disease, and all forms of wretched and depraved humanity, with whom to fill our places in the thinned ranks of veteran heroes.  The whole thing is damnable and most ruinous.  Men thus obtained desert the very first opportunity.  They cannot be trusted anywhere.  They indeed count in the filling up of quotas, but they add nothing to the strength of our armies in the field.  It is to be hoped that our people will beware of substitute brokers in the coming draft, and that no one will be enlisted or mustered as a soldier who is not worthy and well qualified.


This regiment, since the disastrous fight at Fair Oaks, has been gradually getting itself into shape again, and may now be regarded in excellent condition.  Its present effective strength is about 400.

Major Vaughn¹ is winning an enviable name as an able and efficient commander, and is well supported by staff and line officers.—The surgical department is in charge of Dr. Dodge,² of Janesville, than whom there is not a more faithful and skilled surgeon in the army.  Dr. Diefendorf [sic],³ our major surgeon, is on duty at Chesapeake Hospital.  We are comfortably hutted for the winter, and are enjoying a good degree of quiet.  Picket firing is entirely dispensed with along our lines, and only an occasional report of a gun is heard in the vicinity of Dutch Gap.  The boys, or the non-veteran portion of them, are anxiously looking forward to the time—the 19th of April next—when they shall doff the uniform of Uncle Sam and return to civil life.  And may we not all anticipate a day not far distant, when our sacrifices and sorrows on the behalf of our torn and bleeding country shall be at an end—when peace shall have been restored to our stricken land—when our national sins shall have been purged away, and every inch of American soil have been consecrated to freedom.  Then, all of disaster and suffering—all of loss and trial—all of mourning and sorrow—shall be submerged in the swelling tide of joy.


1.  Samuel K. Vaughan (d. 1872), from Portage City, is currently the regiment’s major, but will become lieutenant colonel in April 1865. He was originally captain of Company D, then major, was named colonel in August of 1865 but never mustered, instead was brevetted colonel and then brigadier general of U.S. Volunteers.
2.  Edward F. Dodge, 1st Assistant Surgeon from January 7, 1864.
3.  Daniel B. Devendorf (1820-), from Delavan, had been with the 19th since March 18, 1862. Before that he was 2nd Assistant Surgeon with the 1st Wisconsin Infantry. “Owing to impaired health he left the East in December 1855, and settled at Delavan, Wisconsin, in the mercantile business. Finding this ill suited to his tastes, he closed it at the end of two years and resumed his profession, continuing in it till 1861, when he was commissioned assistant surgeon of the 1st Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers. After the battle of Stone River, he was commissioned surgeon of the 19th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, then stationed at Norfolk, Virginia. With this regiment he lay before Petersburgh four months, and there was made medical inspector of the 18th Army Corps, and ordered to the office headquarters at Fortress Monroe, where he remained till 1864. He was also medical purveyor of the 18th and 19th Army Corps, stationed at Deep Bottom, Virginia. On the morning of the taking of Richmond, his regiment was on picket duty, and was one of the first to enter the city, and witnessed the great conflagration. At the close of the war he returned to his home in Delavan, and resumed his practice, and has continued it up to the present time (1876) with marked success.” From History of Walworth County Wisconsin, by Albert Clayton Beckwith, 1912.

1865 February 11: News from the 5th Wisconsin Infantry, Rejoicing at the Taking of Fort Fisher, Opinions on the New Call for 300,000 More Men

February 13, 2015

For once the predictions are not so far off.  This letter from Brant C. Hammond, chaplain of the 5th Wisconsin Infantry, comes from the February 11, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal.  The 5th Wisconsin contained many men from Menomonie in Dunn County.


The Campaign in Virginia.
The Armies of the Potomac and the James. 


From the Fifth Regiment. 

Rejoicing for Victory—The Beginning of the
End—The New Call—Advantage of Old
Regiments—Officers Brevetted for Merit—The
Sixth and Seventh—Men needed for the latter. 

Correspondence of the State Journal.

Near Petersburg, Va., Jan. 20th, 1865. }

Messrs Editors :  As I write there is universal joy and exultation at the victory of our brave boys and glorious tars that gives us Ft. Fisher, and thus seals the way of entrance of blockade runners to Wilmington.  Thus has Gen. Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] closed the back door of Richmond, and thus will he compel Lee [Robert E. Lee] to submit, to fight or run, and that very soon.  In accordance with oft-repeated assertions of the Richmond press, while exulting at Butler’s [Ambrose E. Butler] shameful withdrawal and our supposed failure, no more severe blow than this could be given to the Confederacy.  Why then may we not rejoice and take courage ?  It must be that the end is at hand ;  for it is not in human nature to contend where there is no prospect of success.  And where is their prospect of ultimate triumph ?  Surely in the estimation of the most violent and unbelieving traitors, they have vanished as the mist of the morning.  A few more blows, or rather the one tremendous blow which Grant has reserved for Lee may be necessary ;  that blow cannot be long delayed, and already may our hearts swell in anticipation of final victory.  The writer expects on next Fourth of July to rejoice over peace and the restoration of national unity.


Is not generally regarded here as a necessity, although gladly received “God bless Abraham Lincoln for this !” is the ejaculation of every true soldier ;  not that he believes the number in the field are sufficient for the task of crushing the Confederacy ;  not because we are not even now superior in numbers ;  but because it is at last a coming up by our governmental authorities to what has ever been our true policy—to crush the rebellion by simple might of military power.  Too long did we face them man for man ;  too long have we seemed to stand upon etiquette, in meeting them man for man.  But at last have we been aroused to the determination that, having a wickedly inhuman foe, engaged in a cause so base that were all the devils in hell to put their heads together for a million of ages, they could not fittingly describe it, and therefore being privileged to dictate all the terms, we will use this privilege and grind them to powder, if need be, by simple preponderance of numbers.  If this had been the motto and the spirit of the government at first, who can doubt but that many husbands, fathers, sons and brothers, whose bones enrich this soil of traitors, would be enjoying the sweets of their own firesides, the great end for which they have fallen having been accomplished ?  We are glad, beyond expression, that such is its motto and spirit now ;  and we trust that no trivial or weakened spirit will seize our home friends and keep them from honoring this draft upon their courage and patriotism.  Come, friends ! you who by any possibility can do so, with eager avidity serve thus the government of your fathers.  You may  thus leave to your loved ones that richest of all legaciesthe memory of your having been a Union defender.  The only remaining chance is now presented.  Grasp it without delay, or in mingled shame and sadness very soon it will be yours to lament that you bore no part in this greatest struggle of the ages.

The forming of new regiments may be a necessity, and yet the universal spirit of the army is averse to this.  No officer or man would commend it.  Look at it as we may, viewing it in its every aspect, to us it seems the better way to fill up the maximum organizations honored and tried by time.  It is better for the common soldiers, for they are then placed under those who understand their wants, and know how to provide for them in a way unknown to officers of inexperience.  Many of the things the men may want, will be undiscovered by a new officer, or if discovered, unprovided, because of failing to know just what course to pursue in obtaining these, while by an old officer, if true to his trust, they will be obtained.  It is surely better for the service ;  for there is a saving of the expense connected with the organization of a new regiment and bringing more officers into the service than are really needed ;  beside there is the loss of time, a greater period being needed to attain drill and discipline when all are new men, than when the new men are surounded [sic] by those accustomed to all the duties of a soldier.  One, who by actual observation has seen the need of perfect training as an antecedent to efficiency cannot but feel that the three months men are a useless expense to the government, except it be in some very special emergency.—It takes all of this length of time for a body of new men to become, even under good drill masters, good soldiers.

But if we are to have new regiments let us have them officered as far as possible by men fresh from the field, men whose minds and hearts are all absorbed in the great cause.  Judging from military appointments announced in your valuable journal, we trust our Governor is thus honoring those who have perilled all on many a hard fought field for country and right.

The rank of Brevet Lt. Col. and Brevet Major has been given respectively to Major Kempf¹ and Capt. Butterfield² of this regiment for bravery and meritorious conduct in the field.  Most worthily are these honors bestowed.  I may be permitted to say that Capt. Butterfield has been highly recommended by his commanding officers in the Regiment, Division and Corps for a place of greater prominence in some one of our new regiments.  He is no doubt fully elegible [sic] to any position to which he may be appointed, and it will afford his old comrades in-arms, those who know him best, great joy to see him thus honored by our State authorities.


which I have just visited, are camped side by side, being in the same brigade, some distance in the rear of our main line.  The sixth occupies a camp which we are told is pronounced by Maj. Gen. Meade [George C. Meade] to be the most beautiful and attractive of any in the army of the Potomac.  The camp is neatly and regularly laid out, the huts of uniform make and same size, and all are enclosed by a fence of pine and cedar boughs interwoven with arches at the end of each street, underneath which is the letter of the company occupying the street.  In the rear of their parade ground is another arch of large size, in front and upon a platform made of the same material very skillfully arranged ;  in the centre of the arch is the seal of our state, with the veritable Badger and motto “Forward.”

The health of both regiments is said to be good.  The aggregate number of the Sixth is over eight hundred, that of the Seventh about a third of this amount.  This latter regiment should be reimbursed wen the drafted men are forwarded, to fill up these battle-scarred organizations.

Chap. 5th Wis. Vols.

1.  Charles W. Kempf, from Milwaukee, had been captain of Company A of the original 5th Wisconsin Infantry before being promoted to major of the reorganized 5th Wisconsin Infantry on September 5, 1864. Kempf’s brevet lieutenant colonelcy was in the U.S. Volunteers and was dated back to September 19, 1864.
2.  Miles Butterfield was from Waukesha and had been captain of the original Company F before becoming captain of Company C in the reorganized 5th Wisconsin. He was brevetted major of U.S. Volunteers as of September 9, 1864, and brevetted lieutenant colonel as of April 6, 1865.

1865 February 11: The 13th Amendment Making its Way Through the States

February 12, 2015

The following article on what will become the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and on peace, comes from the February 11, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press.

The Constitutional Amendment–Peace &c. 

The States of Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, New York and West Virginia have ratified the Constitutional amendment abolishing slavery in the United States.

The subject of ratification is also up before the legislature of every other State, not in rebellion, in the Union.  Wisconsin will, without doubt, ratify the amendment with but little opposition.

In Illinois the Democrats to a man voted against it, and we dare say that in the Legislature of our won State, such bright lights of Democracy as SAT. CLARK,¹ will be furious, and will in long winded speeches endeavor to defeat the object.  Happily, however, there is a large majority of loyal men in our Legislature, there being but very few Democrats of the SAT. CLARK school in that body.

Freedom and the Union is henceforth joined together, for the people WILL ratify the amendment.

The South by their late action in the peace movement have shown us that there is no peace except the Government acknowledge their independence.  This, the Government of the United States, will never do.

The people have spoken in tones of thunder from the Pine Tree State to the Golden Sands of California, that the “Union must and shall be preserved.”  The people will back “Honest Old Abe” in his firm stand to crush the rebellion by force of arms.  The war MUST go on ;  the armies MUST BE FILLED ;  the people MUST sacrifice still of their blood and treasure, for the Union MUST be the basis of the only peace “our land of liberty” will ever see.

We have, upon which to place our hopes, a gallant navy, and the best army the world ever produced.  Our trust is in the All Wise, who will guide them to victory.  Let all men take courage.  The end will be glorious !

1.  Satterlee Clark (1816-1881) was the Wisconsin state senator from Horicon from 1862-1872.


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