Thursday, 06 September 2012 19:10 | Written by Gen. B. McClellan
EQUAL TO THE BEST TROOPS IN ANY ARMY IN THE WORLD
The Special Order of Gen Gibbon given below, embodying a very high compliment to our Wisconsin troops in the Army of the Potomac from Gen. McClellan was enclosed to Gov. Salomon in a letter from Col. Fairchild and Major Stevens to the Governor, recommending certain promotions in the 2d regiment. In this connection it may be observed that the 24th Michigan Regiment has been added to Gibbon's Brigade: Headquarters Gibbon's Brigade Near Sharpsburg, MD October 7th, 1862
SPECIAL ORDERS NO.- It is with great gratification that the Brigadier General Commanding announces to the Wisconsin troops the following endorsement upon a letter to His Excellency the Governor of Wisconsin. His greatest pride will always be to know that such encomiums from such a source are always merited: "I beg to add to this endorsement the expression of my great admiration of the conduct of the three Wisconsin Regiments in Gen. Gibbon's Brigade. I have seen them under fire acting in a manner that reflects the greatest possible credit and honor upon themselves and their State. THEY ARE EQUAL TO THE BEST TROOPS IN ANY ARMY IN THE WORLD: (Signed,) Gen. B. McClellan By command of Brig. Gen. Gibbon (Signed,) J.P. Wood, Ass't Adj't. Gen.
Thursday, 06 September 2012 19:02 | Written by Edited James Johnson
Oct. 2d, 1862
My Dear Father - No doubt your heart rejoiced at the news of our unquestionable victory over the main body of the rebels on the banks of the Antietam- a creek about two thirds the size of the La Crosse river. On the afternoon of the 16th we forded the above named creek and went gloriously forward to the line of the enemy which was about two miles ahead.
Soon we halted and lay down for the night which was dark. We were not long halted when bang, bang, went volley after volley of musketry immediately in front and close to us. We supposed that our sharpshooters fell into a rebel trap but it turned out to be a good joke on secesh - they having shot each other through mistake. Next morning at day break and with a vigorous outburst of shot and shell they commenced another mistake which, thank God, ended in the death of thousands of the poor rebel rabble who persistently followed in the footsteps of the rich and cultivated political robbers who are, as time will show, the direct and indirect agents of British national jealousy sent or transported here for the purpose of destroying our national republican prosperity, this is not all; but by the absence of McDowell and the magic inspiring influence of McClellan's presence we blackened the heart and soul of Lee, Jackson, Longstreet and Hill. The entire rebel army could not help being smashed to pieces in the bed of the Potomac if we could but follow them up. You may ask me why we could not follow them up? Because as the national recognized civilized party was bound to respect a flag of truce which was presented us that the rebels might bury their dead, did they do it? No. They fled and left their putridhidious dead for us to inter. And these are the follows who claim to be chivalrous! And who, by that dirty "tub of guts," England, are called gentlemen. They are so gentle that they will not handle the corpse of their fallen comrades. They are so Christian as to renounce the "corporal works of mercy" on every battle field. It would not astonish me if the civilized nations of the earth took Jeff. Davis and his principal companions and put them to death for the shameful abuse of that universal sacred emblem a "flag of truce." When the battle was most fierce on the right of our line, I had occasion to go with an ambulance beyond our artillery front to take off some wounded men.- When there I met with some wounded rebels with whom I had brief conversation. One of them, a captain, told me that at South Mountain Pass they run short of ammunition and they were afraid that we would capture them at night. He said also that the ammunition which they were using at present was captured at Harper's Ferry by Jackson who immediately evacuated that place and came here to help Lee. All that he told me turned out to be too true, notwithstanding the conflicting reports on that bloody but glorious day. When a battalion of any size enters battle, the enemy, very naturally, fire at the centre of the mass hence the right and left wings are not so apt to suffer as much as the centre. My company, being the right of the 2d Wis. ,did not suffer as much as others because of the above cause. I know of no other. The resident was here to-day. E. C.
Thursday, 30 August 2012 00:54 | Written by John Gibbon
We then fell back across a valley and up on a hill behind passing, as we did so, a great pile of knapsacks and other equipment, lying in a piece of timber where they had probably been left when their owners had gone into action. As the troops moved back I caught sight of General Hooker on a spur just behind our former position, looking on at the battle. I rode up to him to make some explanation regarding my hesitancy in obeying the order he had sent me but he interrupted me saying, "That is all right," and added some complimentary remark about the way which we had held our position, which at once excited my pride and attracted me to him. I then left him and climbing the opposite slope, encountered General McDowell. He met me with unusual cordiality and shaking hands said he was glad to see me, as General Porter had told him I was killed. I spoke with enthusiasm of the was in which my brigade , just then passing, had behaved, and shall not soon forget his reply. "If you have such troops as that," he said, "you shall act as rear guard and be the last, except myself, to pass Bull Run!" I must admit that up to this time I had not got it through my head, that there was such a thing as a retreat or that we were to have a rear guard. My brigade was now placed in position on the ridge alongside the Pike where it climbed the hill near the Robinson House, the pieces of Battery "B" being unlimbered, were prepared for action. The sun was now just disappearing and the atmosphere so thick with smoke the eye could not reach to any great distance. We could not see any of the enemy's movements but the sound of cannon was still heard both to our right and our left. Whilst waiting in position I heard some one inquire in a short quick tone: "Whose command is this?" and turning to look I recognized General Phil Kearny. I walked up to him and told him I was directed to act as rear guard. He was a soldierly looking figure as he sat, straight as an arrow, on his house, his empty sleeve pinned to his breast. Turning toward me, he said in his curt was: "You must wait for my command, sir." "Yes," I replied, "I will wait for all our troops to pass to the rear. Where is your command, General?" "Off on the right, don't you hear my guns? You must wait for Reno, too," "Where is he?" "On the left-you hear his guns? He is keeping up the fight and I am doing all I can to help." Then in a short bitter tone he broke out with: "I suppose you appreciate the condition of affairs here, sir?" I did not understand the remark and only looked inquiringly at him. He repeated: "I suppose you appreciated the condition of affairs? It's another Bull run, sir, it's another Bull Run!" "Oh!" I said, "I hope not quite as had as that, General." "Perhaps not. Reno is keeping up the fight. he is not stampeded. I am not stampeded , you are not stampeded. That is about all, sir, my God that's about all!" It is impossible to describe the extreme bitterness and vehemence with which he uttered these words as he rode away towards his command. two days afterwards, September 1st, General Kearny was killed at Chantilly. I have seen one of the last letters he ever wrote, dated the 31st, in which he there alludes to the Battle of Bull Run:- "The army ran like sheep, all but a General Reno and a General Gibbon," and in letter dated the next day (since published) he says: "On the 30th nine-tenths of the troops disgracefully fled. I held the entire right until 10 P.M., as Reno did the left, and Gibbon the main road."
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 00:55 | Written by civilwarwisconsin
This was one of the bloodiest battles of the war, clear infantry contest , a fair stand-up fight face to face, both sides sufficiently firm to keep each other from gaining ground or position. By order of Gen. King we retreated to Manassas Junction, leaving our dead unburied, and the wounded and hospital attendants to fall into the hands of the enemy. The Second Wisconsin Regiment suffered a loss of eighty five killed , two hundred and twenty-seven wounded and missing. One hundred and sixty-two were wounded and four hundred and forty-nine engaged. Among the killed were Col.. Edgar O’Connor and Capt. Randolph of H Co. Col. O’Connor’s loss fell upon the Second with deep sorrow, for his boys had learned to love him. No sooner was the regiment brought into action then he placed himself to the rear of his colors. There he sat on his horse, cool and collected, the personification to the Napoleonic idea of a soldier. He kept his horse until wounded a second time, carried from the field, and died soon after. Maj. Allen was wounded , but did not go off duty, but stood by Gen. Fairchild, who had assumed Command. The Seventh Regiment having suffered severely, was consolidated with for the time being, the whole under command of Col.Fairchild.
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 00:46 | Written by civilwarwisconsin
CRUEL TREATMENT OF COL. O'Connor by the Rebels- The Dryden News published in Tompkins County, New York contains a letter from D. C. McGregor who was wounded in the same engagement in which Col. O'Connor was killed. Among other incidents on the battle field he relates the following: "Col. O'Connor of the 2d Wisconsin laid on the ground almost dead from a wound in the bowels when a lieutenant of the rebel army stepped up and took hold of the colonel's feet and said: "God damn you, Yankee Colonel, I want those boots and pulled them off. It hurt the Colonel so, he screamed that they might spare his life; but the Lieutenant paid no attention to him and pulled both his boots off. He said he would have to pay $15 for such boots in Richmond and it was clear gain to wear a dammed Yankee Colonel's Boots."