Wednesday, 29 August 2012 00:27 | Written by Grant County Witness
The papers of the State are full of interesting incidents of the recent battles relative to our Wisconsin regiments contained in letters from those who bore apart in them. They furnish evidence how steadily coolly and bravely they bought. A writer in the Grant County Witness speaking of the battle of Gainesville, says: The Second was the first ordered on the hill and through the dense woods that hid the fields, our Regiment was taken. - At double quick, charge bayonets, headed by our gallant Colonel the Second advanced. I thought we should be ordered to silence a battery; but if that was the intention, it was given over. The field was reached and into the leaden hail the Second was ushered. The same old banner carried by the Second through the first Bull Run fight was there and all seemed determined to avenge the insults heaped upon it that day. Men are falling in every part of our line yet the ranks are kept closed. Our Colonel (O'Conner) falls and is carried from the field to die. Major Allen is wounded in the arm and neck and yet he cheers the men on to further deeds of daring. At this juncture our line seems to waver - but see! The line is solid - we have one field officer left - Lieut Col. Fairchild is left us; and in front of the Regiment, with sleeves rolled up and sword clutched, he gives the orders in cool distinct language and for an hour and fifteen minutes the men of the Second Wisconsin fought and fell like heroes. The 7th Wisconsin, the 6th Wisconsin and the 19th Indiana all had their share, all fought well!- The entire brigade gloriously sustained the proud name they so justly have. The Second's loss was the heaviest - over one half of our regiment was either killed or wounded. We left on the field two hundred and eighty-six and could only muster one hundred and thirty four guns next morning. When the regiment slept on their arms that night (we held the field) Colonel Fairchild could not realize the the Second had grown so small, with tears in his eyes he asked "Where is the regiment - have they scattered? He was answered, "Colonel this is all that is left of the Second - the rest lay on the field" A mountain's weight seems lifted from his soul and in broken tones he exclaims "Thank God they are worthy of their name." A correspondent of the Mineral Point Tribune, writing of the same battle, says that a captain of the Stonewall Brigade opposed to them who was taken prisoner asserted that it was the first time it had been forced to turn its back on the enemy. After speaking warmly of Col. O'Connor's merits he says: "I cannot speak too highly of Col. Fairchild, the Second's model; and Allen cannot be beat for pluck. Gen Gibbon is without doubt the best Brigadier in the service. If he gets in a bad scrape he is not long in finding a way out. He thoroughly understands his business and is cool and collected on the fields of battle."
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 00:18 | Written by Cornelius Wheeler
Aug. 28th , at an early hour, we march to Hainesville, turn to the right Bethlehem Church road, and halt and lay on arms until 5 P.M. when we return to the pike and march slowly toward Centerville. At about 6 P.M., and two miles from Gainesville, while marching by the flank a rebel battery, posted on a wooded eminence to the left of the road, open fire on our column. The old Second promptly faced to the front, and directed by Gen, Gibbon, advance by quick time upon the battery, and soon met the enemy’s infantry emerged from the woods. Here for twenty minutes the Iron Brigade checked and sustained the onset of Stonewall Jackson’s whole division of rebel infantry under one of the most intensely concentrated fires of musketry ever experienced by any troops in this or any other war. Cornelius Wheeler’s diary
Saturday, 25 August 2012 23:34 | Written by Complied and Edited by James Johnson
From the Second Regiment Warrenton Aug. 25th, 1862 Dear Patriot: The 20th inst. found our brigade encamped along the line of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, on the east side of the Rappahannock river, and about a mile and a half from Rappahannock Station. On the same day there was considerable cavalry skirmishing. The enemy were concentrating the army in large numbers along the west bank of the river and every thing bespoke a speedy general engagement. On the 21st inst. the enemy opened on our right, which was commanded by Gen. Sigel, with artillery, and attempted to force a crossing at North Ford, about six or eight miles up the river, but with out success. About noon the rebels crossed the river with a portion of their artillery supported by infantry and cavalry, at Rappahannock Ford, and engaged our centre under Gen. McDowell. For some time the engagement was purely an artillery duel, with but little gain on either side. - Our brigade took a position back of a piece of woods opposite the Ford. Two companies from each regiment were deployed to the right and left as skirmishers, while the main body laid under cover of the woods. Before reaching this place, however, the enemy sent several of his shells in our midst one of which exploded near an ambulance of ours but did no harm. Our Adjutant, C. K. Dean, was sent to call in the skirmishers, and was, we think, taken prisoner for we have heard no tiding of him since. Our batteries at length succeeded in driving the enemy across the river and our division was ordered forward. We were placed under the brow of a hill which commanded the Ford. One of our pieces of artillery unlimbered on the hill and pegged away for some little time without calling forth any response. Our sharp shooters at the left of the battery kept up quite a rattling and the enemy's bullets whizzed over our heads quite lively. Some of our boys, in the mean time, were seated on the fence enjoying the fun, while others were wither making coffee or roasting corn which they had plucked out of a cornfield just above us, when suddenly all were brought up standing by the screaming and whizzing of solid shot and shell, directly over our heads. The smoke of our camp fires had apprised the enemy of our position and the way those iron missiles plowed up the ground around us was a caution. The boys laid close to the ground until the firing ceased and then under cover of the night were stationed at the foot of the hill to hold the enemy in check should he attempt to cross the river. During the engagement two of our boys were wounded by pieces of shell - one of them very slight, the other was shot through the leg. The steward and I took him one side, bandaged up the wound and sent him back to our hospital depot on a stretcher. The firing now ceased for the night. I slept on the ground under an ambulance. I had no blanket but fortunately it was warm. It rained some during the night, but I did not get much wet. Early in the morning our batteries opened from the right and centre. A brisk cannonading was kept up for two or three hours. Some of our infantry lying back of our artillery were killed. I am told that our practice was excellent. About noon the firing ceased but was soon after renewed on the right and here General Sigel performed a feat of military strategy which does him great credit. After engaging the enemy a short time he retreated about five miles and drew the enemy after him. After a sufficient number had crossed the river to answer his purpose, he arranged his batteries in the form of a semi-circle and drove them back with terrible slaughter. This ended the fighting for the day. Early the next morning, the 23inst, the engagement between the artillery became general along the entire line. The river, for six or eight miles, was enveloped in a dense cloud of smoke and nothing could be seen on either side. Except the flash of the cannon, which shone through this foggy veil at each discharge and warned the artillerists to throw themselves on the ground for safety. A hundred Iron missiles were groaning and hissing in the air at once shells were exploding in all directions and every now and then one of these deadly missiles would come plowing into the ground in such close proximity to us as to awaken anything but pleasurable sensation A Lieutenant in the 7th had an arm taken off by one of these unwelcome messengers and a Negro in our brigade, I am told, was killed. Our gunners did good execution. One of our batteries obliged the enemy to abandon three of their pieces and killed all of the horses belonging to one of them. About 10 1/2 a.m. our division was moving up the river to Warrenton and we left the railroad bridge at the Station on fire. Last night we encamped just out of the city of Warrenton. At the present moment we are on the west side of the city. Infantry and artillery are and have been passing for three hours. It seems as if there was no end to it. Yesterday morning Gen. King had a fit but by prompt medical assistance he was speedily brought out of it and is now much better.
August 25th. - All letters from soldiers to their friends have been prohibited for the present on account of the great military operations which are now going on, but I have a chance to smuggle this letter through and I improve the opportunity. Yesterday afternoon there was an artillery engagement at White Sulpher Springs in which the enemy were repulsed. Our colonel was at Gen. McDowell's headquarters today and saw a map of our operations and he says that Rickett has the right of our line at White Sulpher Springs, McDowell, the right center; Sigel, Banks and Cassey the center; Gen. Porter, the left of centre and McClellan the left. This line extends about forty miles. Gen. McClellan is a Fredericksburg. I have the foregoing from our Steward who is a brother of the Major and you may rely on its being correct. I would write you more, but I have only a little time to prepare several letters and I must cut this short. When anything more of interest occurs I will let you have it. I have command of our stretcher corps consisting of the band, drum corps and a detail of one man from each company. Although I do not shoulder a musket, I consider my position as dangerous as any others as we will have to be continually in the midst of the fight carrying off wounded men. I have had some pretty close calls already but in God is my trust. I will leave the issue with Him. C
EDITORS SENTINEL:-Enclosed you will find a copy of col. cutler's report of our late expedition.
We have since our arrival here, learned that Stuart, with a force of 3,500 cavalry passed over the country with six miles of us while we lay at Walter's Tavern. If col. Sullivan had obeyed orders we would have bagged them.
We arrived here Tuesday, the same day Jackson skedaddled: as usual too late for the fight though we did some tall marching to get here in time marching form Fredericksburg in two days.
We start again in the morning to follow Jackson and I hope soon to be able to send you something important.
We were reviewed to-day by General Pope. Yours respectfully Ed P. Brooks, Acting Adjutant Sixth Wis.