Wednesday, 08 August 2012 11:36 | Written by Compiled and edited by James Johnson
AN IMPORTANT EXPEDITION FROM GEN. KING'S DIVISION Destruction of the Railroad between Gordonsville and Richmond. Correspondence of the N.Y. Tribune. Fredericksburg, Aug. 8, 1862
The enemy has been concentrating in large force at and near Gordonsville, it is said under Stonewall Jackson and Lee. Their strength is variously estimated but so far as we have learned , it is yet only a nucleus for the marauding army which is devoted to the desperate word of a march over the line into the Free States. Gordonsville had direct railroad communication with Richmond by the Virginia Central over which their troops and supplies have been porting for some time past.--The importance of breaking this line is too apparent to need demonstration and Gen. King's Division have made the two attempts which have so lately been communicated to the public.The brilliant reconnaissance of the Harris Light Cavalry under Lieut. Col Kilpatrick, to Beaver Dam and that neighborhood, had this object in view. Another was determined upon, and the force left here on the 6th at command of Gens. Gibbon and Hatch and Col. Cutler, for Hanover Junction. The force was divided into two columns, the first under Gen. Gibbon and the others under Acting Brigadier Gen. Cutler.- Gibbon's force consisted of the Second and Seventh Wisconsin, Nineteenth Indiana, Capt. Munroe's battery, and the Third Indiana Cavalry, 400 strong.- Taking the telegraph road, they marched without opposition as far as Mat River, a distance of fourteen miles from camp, but here they encountered Stuart's Virginia Cavalry and two pieces of light artillery which opened upon them at long range. The column halted; and the Indiana Cavalry, which was in the advance, retiring beyond range were charged upon by the rebel cavalry. They repulsed them however without any casualty except the wounding of one man and, the rebels not choosing to follow us up, Gen. Gibbon concluded to encamp for the night, which he did, advancing his skirmishers and establishing a line of pickets. Before the force left Fredericksburg, Gen. Hatch was ordered to follow with his brigade the following morning and did so, reaching a point two miles this side of Mat River. Early of Friday morning he joining Gen. Gibbon and the combined columns crossed the Mat without opposition and advanced several miles. Hatch's force composed three companies of the Second U.S. Sharpshooters, Col. Post, a section of the New Hampshire Battery , the Twenty-second New York, Lieut. Col. Thomas, and the Thirtieth New York. Learning that a large rebel force was on his right and that there was danger of his retreat being cut off, Gen. Gibbons decided to retrace his steps. Facing about he marched toward Fredericksburg with as much celerity as the overpowering heat of the weather allowed, and when near the Bowling Green Road, a company of cavalry under Capt. Lemon, and two companies of the Seventh Wisconsin were sent to reconnoiter toward the town and check the supposed advance of the enemy from that direction. Capt. Lemon found the road clear, and rode so near the town as to be able to look quite through it. Although he met no hostile force, he learned that Generals Stuart and Lee had been there the nigh before and had gone to Guinney's Station with a view to get in to our rear. This intelligence was hardly received by Gen. Gibbons before word was brought that a part of Hatch's wagon train had been intercepted within six miles of Fredericksburg, and captured, along with sixty-seven teamsters and soldiers who had given out on the march and had been picked up by the train. The wagons, eleven in number, also contained a large number of blankets and commissary stores belonging to the Hatch's Brigade. They had become separated from the balance of the train by some miles, and the rebel cavalry coming from Guinney's got between the two parts and gobbled up the smaller train. Some fifty of them pursued the main train and charged upon it, but Capt. Drum, Acting Quartermaster, who was in charge formed the one company of the Twenty-first New York and gave the enemy such a volley that they broke and fled. On the homeward march the Indiana cavalry and Munroe's battery were in advance with Hatch and the rest of Gibbons force brought up the rear. Our cavalry drove the enemy some two miles and then came in sight of their main cavalry force, abut 1,000 strong, which was supported by artillery. Munroe unlimbered is pieces and shelled them so effectually that thy beat a hasty retreat. The Indiana Cavalry were ordered to make a detour so as to get into their rear, Gen. Gibbon and Hatch believing it possible to capture the whole force, but for some reason or other the movement was not executed and the rebels escaped. The Sharpshooters did good service in picket and as skirmishers, Co. A being engaged some two hours, and Co. C a considerable time also. the men of Co. A claim to have killed at least five, including one field officer and wounded fifteen more all at a distance of about 1,000 yards. After the encounter with Strout's Cavalry Regiment, our forces saw nothing of the enemy and returned to camp without having accomplished the object in view. The second column, commanded by Acting Brig. Gen. Cutler, was more fortunate. Proceeding down the plank road by way of Spotsylvania Court House, through Waller's Tavern Road, they halted for the night at Mount Pleasant. On Wednesday afternoon they reached Frederick's Hall Station, and Col. Mansfield Davies of the Harris Light Cavalry, sending company I, Capt. Walters, to a point two and a half miles above, led the main body to the station. Capt. Walters took up eighty lengths of rail, out the telegraph, burning the wire and poles and blew up the road beds with power. A large lot of new T rails which were piled alongside the track, were made into a barricade across the road-bed and warped and turned them by building large fires under and about them. Companies G, Capt. Swinter, H, Capt McIrwin, and E, Lieut. London commanding, went down to the station and destroyed the water tanks, telegraph wire, and 5,000 bushels of grain and a large lot of whisky and many other stores which were awaiting transportation to the enemy at Gordonsville. The force was in command of the brave and dashing Lieut. Col. Kirkpatrick, who commanded in the recent brilliant raid to Beaver Dam. Adjutant Gregory, with a party was sent down to near Bumpas Turn - Out to blow up the track and switches which was accomplished in the most through and satisfactory manner. At this point the water tanks and depot were burned, the track was destroyed and a small culvert was blown up. A little further on the track was barricaded with new rails rendered useless by burning as were those above Fredericks's Hall. Hearing that three trains were expected up with troops from Richmond, the expedition commenced its return march. The large bridge over the Pamunky was burnt, to prevent the enemy from following us up. At Waller's Tavern, where a halt was made, Col. Cutler heard of the disaster to Gibbon's force and fearing that the enemy would cut him off, the three roads from the tavern were strongly barricaded by Lieut. Raymond, Quartermaster of the Harris Light Cavalry. Although the danger was imminent and fully realized, the men expressed their determination to cut their way though anything and everything that crossed their path. At three o'clock on Thursday morning the march was resumed, and by 8 o'clock Spotsylvania Court House was reached and a junction was effected with Gibbon's column. At 10 P.M. last night the whole force reached camp without serious casualty, beyond the loss of 92 prisoners, and the death of a wounded Orderly who was shot in the head while carrying an order. Among other fruits of the expedition is a large number of horses and mules some of which are very fine. Lieut. Compton of Co. C., Harris Light Cavalry, had favored me with Richmond papers of the 5th instant, which accompanies this letter. The whole affair of Col. Cutler's command was a brilliant success; and will no doubt be a severe blow to the enemy for his communication while Richmond is interrupted at a critical time when he was preparing for operation against us. It will require at least a week and probably more to repair the damages to the railroad and in war such a delay is often serious enough to defeat the best laid plans.
Monday, 06 August 2012 15:53 | Written by Complied and Edited by James Johnson
FROM THE SEVENTH REGIMENT CAMP GIBBON, VA., AUG 6, 1862
The following letter we find in a late number of the Berlin Courant, and as there are several items of interest, aside from what our regular correspondent has furnished us, although of a earlier date than our last issue contained, we make room for this: Our Regiments that went out reconnoitering of which I spoke heretofore, got back all safe. The 2d boys brought in one prisoner, a cavalry man. His horse was shot from under him and he was captured while the balance of the Secesh left in a hurry. They came right upon Gen. Gibbon and staff, eating dinner, and fired into them. The 2d boys were near by, had their guns stacked, and were washing their feet at a creek. None of our boys were hurt. Day before yesterday Burnside landed at Aquia Creek with twenty-nine Regiments. They had been shoving them on here night and day ever since. I think they must be about all here by this time. We think we are to go to Richmond in a few days; though it may be we will stay here a week or two yet. - Burnside's men are camped near us. Our brigade is out reconnoitering. This is the third day of their absence. The living is the worst part of soldiering. If we only received what we are entitled to we would do well enough. - Our living every day is mainly as follows; Bread, or when on march, hard crackers; coffee, every day; about once a month, tea; sugar, about two-thirds of a supply; ancient salt pork, bacon or ham - how cured, or where or when we know not; we only know it is not fit for a dog to eat much less for a soldier. I am satisfied one-half the deaths among the soldiers are caused by the kind of food they eat. Yet, thank God, all soldiers do not live quite as poor as we do. Their officers manage somehow to get vegetables for them and see that they are furnished their regular rations, when we never have been. Aug. 9th.- Our brigade got in yesterday. They had a tough time out in Seceshdom. Brigadier General put them through about 25 miles the first day in the hot sun. Men fell by the way-side. About 30 of the 19th Indiana boys, 22 of the 2d Wisconsin, and six of ours were captured by the guerillas. Homer Loomis, of Company I, being among the number. He was from Boscobel. Hatch's Brigade (late Augur's) lost five or six fort horse teams. Our brigade had one or two skirmishes and killed one or two rebels. Hatch had one of this orderlies killed. - While the other regiments were keeping the Secesh in business, the Wisconsin and Indiana Cavalry went down to Frederick Hill Station west of Beaver Dam, destroyed one bridge and tore up two miles of railroad track. Lots of mules and horses were brought in when they returned. But I suppose our poor sick boys have been compelled to travel to Richmond before this time. God pity them! This country is full of guerrillas. Every man is one and the women are she devils. Every white man's hand is against us. We are watched by the citizens; news is carried and sent by them. The only way to do is to shoot or make prisoner of every white man we find. We are finding it out now. The people of the North can learn only by sad experience. They will find out who they are fighting, in the course of six months, I hope. The contrabands are the only people here we can depend upon. They tell us where the Secesh are - never lie to us - wish us God speed - are are of great use to us. They leave here by car loads every day and go to Washington. - Where they go from there I know not Probably sent off on the Underground Rail Road. I was sorry to see in a late Courant an article from the La Crosse Democrat speaking lightly of General King. We think there is no better General on earth than General King. A man who said a word against him here would have to "fight or climb." Gen. King is a good soldier - understands his business - and is a MAN. All soldiers are not men, even if their position is a high one. Gen. King never puts on style. He is a plain common man and will listen to the complaint of a private as soon as he will to a Colonel. We like him above all men - will follow him to the end of the earth - and woe to those who oppose us! It is very warm here. Have had no rain to amount to anything for three weeks. The crops are very poor. We have had plenty of blackberries. Apples are plenty but very poor, and just getting ripe. Peaches will be plenty soon.
Yours &c. D.W.
FROM THE 7TH REGIMENT CAMP GIBBON, AUG. 6TH, 1862
FRIEND PEASE: - As quite a long time has elapsed since I wrote you, I thoughtI would send you a line or two this evening. by the way of letting off some of the superabundance of joy I feel tonight on account of the waking up of the Government as exhibited in the last call for 300,000 more men . Things begin to assume the shape they ought to have worn one year ago and which, if they had, the war would now have been over, and now as the question of drafting is settled and as "Old Honesty "seems terribly in earnest the men will be forthcoming, and secesh wiped out in a very short time after the new levies get into the field and our superannuated old ma, or daddy. (England.) together with Johnny Frog, see that this universal! Yankee nation is "some pumpkins" yet! if one half of it has "seceshed."
Our Brigade is now out, having been gone two days on an expedition down to the Va. Central R.R. to tear up tracks, burn bridges and sundry other devilment for the purpose of letting old "Stonewall" know that "we are about." Whilst, for the last forty hours, there has been a constant stream of soldiers pouring into this vicinity from the Potomac. - twenty eight regiments in all or about 20,00 men of Gen. Burnside's Corps de Armee, - the heroes of Roanoke, New Bern &c. Which fact, taken in connection with the advance of Gen. Pope's main army from Warrenton, means that ere long we of the 7th will have our prayers answered in one particular at least; that is, of advancing on Richmond How long before this will happen, I know not, but your humble servant has hope and faith both, that the time is short. It we do and it our luck to meet the enemy. You will hear from us. Under the programme of General Pope's there is a new life infused into the men; they at last think they will have a chance to do something towards accomplishing the purpose for which they enlisted and not spend the period of their enlistment in dress parades, reviews and guarding secesh property and it also looks as if we were going to have a change of Generals. God grant it may be so! And that our connection with McDowell's Corps do Armee had ended, and that General Burnside will take us in hand. The numbering of the days of this rebellion is in the hands of the people at home; its very hours are in their keeping; its duration, its cost in treasure and blood, is with them every hour, is fraught with life and death to their brothers, fathers, and sons now in the field, and no doubt but a war with England or France, or both, hangs upon the issues of the next ninety days. I hope Marquette will not be so laggard in enlisting men as to make it necessary to double the number that she will have to draft, but that in fact she will furnish her quota for both calls. By voluntary enlistment. surely no man whose age and ability would lay him liable to a draft will run the risk of one when he had every inducement of interest and honor to urge him to volunteer. The bounty first, and the present pay to families as well as the soldier is a special act or law. They run the risk of losing the $5 per month for their families, and the $13 per month to themselves and only receiving $11 per mouth for their pay. Whilst I can assure them that as drafted militia they will have anything but a pleasant time among the volunteers, who although they're very good boys in their way have as supreme contempt for a drafted man as an "Old Salt " for a marine and would take as much delight in showing it. There is still another reason for enlisting and that too in some of the old regiments: The additional bounty, old friends and acquaintances, and under officers with who you are acquainted. So that if there is any one that should read this and conclude to enlist in some one of the nineteen old regiments, all he, or they, have to do is to go to Madison to the Adjutant General who is authorized to enlist them for any company, in any regiment they may choose, and forward them to it. Surely no man who duty or interest dictates that he should join the army, by enlisting rather than risk a draft, will hesitate for a moment what to do. But I must close this having already spun it out to a length not intended when I begun it, promising that, should I trouble you again, I will give you something more interesting.
Wednesday, 04 July 2012 02:48 | Written by Edited by James Johnson
FROM THE SECOND REGIMENT Opposite Fredericksburg, Va., July 4d 1862
Editors Patriot:- The glorious fourth has found us still sunning ourselves on the green banks of the red Rappahannock. Although the three departments, Mountain, Shenandoah and Rappahannock have been consolidated and the command given to General Pope. We have not been called upon to leave Fredericksburg and I cannot tell when we will be, but I hope it will not be a great while, for it seems to me that we are needed somewhere else at this particular time far more than we are needed here. There has been some desperate fighting in front of Richmond within the past week and I am fearful that little Mack is contending against unequal numbers. We have heard the most depressing rumors every day for some time and we did not know but that our army before Richmond was utterly destroyed. Notwithstanding our unshaken confidence in McClellan's ability as a General, we were kept in a state of feverish, breathless anxiety, fearing that he was being overpowered and it was not till last evening that we could breather easily and to-day we have a dispatch from McClelland him self stating that he is in good condition and as his reinforcements have reached him, we feel comparatively safe. The heavy load that it has lifted from our hearts is a great relief. We can now enjoy our National birthday for our banner is triumphant still on land and on sea and through the bloody fields of Richmond are covered with the bodies of the honored dead, they have died so gloriously that we can not mourn for them as lost. They are the living dead! The President has called for 300,000 more troops and I wish to say a word to the people of Wisconsin on the subject. I know that harvest hands will be scarce and for that reason farmers will use their influence against filling up ranks with rapidity. This should not be. There are a great many men in Wisconsin yet and now is the time for them to lend their county a helping hand. That there is work to be done should keep no man at home. There are thousands who cannot possibly go to war and they must work all the harder, besides I very much mistake the character and patriotism of my countrywomen if they will not turn out and with their white hands reap, bind, thrash and carry to market the wheat crop of 1862, if necessary, that the men may go to war. Our revolutionary mothers did not shrink from toil and privation and their fair daughters have not all degenerated. The women of Wisconsin are loyal and grave, not afraid of the rain nor the sun and should it be necessary for them to till the ground that their friends may go to the defense of the old flag, their bright eyes will be all the brighter and the sun browned cheeks more beautiful to those of us who live to return from the war. At this critical moment when our nation is struggling for existence against traitors at home and despots abroad, when all the friends of earth and hell seem leagued against us, when nothing but the uprising of the freemen of the North to a man can save us from the dark abyss that is yawning before us, any man that can possibly leave home for a year or two and will not is unworthy of being called an American; and any man that will prevent another from enlisting because he fears he will lose a few bushels of wheat or that his house will cost him more than it otherwise would is no better than a traitor; and any man or woman that will not say to their best and dearest friends "go and return not till our country is no longer in danger" is a dishonor to the American name. But I close for a while to join in the sports of the day. Evening- We have had a grand time, and I doubt not but that the people of Fredericksburg think the Yankees have revived the Olympic games in their midst. They never before saw such rare sport. We had foot races, horse races and mule races - the last named being the race of races. The contests were between the different regiments of the brigade and Generals King and Gibbon were both present. Everything passed off harmoniously. The 7th and 6th were both ahead of us in swiftness of foot, but our mules could not be beaten while the horses of the 19th won the day. I tried my fleetness in the foot contests but my feet would not come up to time. The 7th have probably had the greatest Varity of amusement to-day. The officers, being reduced for the time being, and the privates, promoted, they have had everything their own way. The officers had to police the streets and one of them, being sick, was compelled to go to the surgeon and get excused from duty. They also had a dress parade conducted entirely by the privates. Gibbon's brigade composed entirely of western men is more lively by far that the other troops that are with us. We have more music, more dancing, more athletic sports and more real fun and good times than the eastern boys, and it is generally admitted that we are not bad on a march. Still there is a noticeable difference between each regiment of our brigade. The 2d is probably the hardest set of boys, but good natured and easy to get along with. They wear an air of fearless carelessness where ever found. The 6th is more stately and distant and march to slower music that we do. The 7th puts on the least style and crow the least; it is now the largest regiment in the brigade, and is well drilled. It is the truest friend the 2d ever found. The 19th Indiana is an indifferent, don't care regiment. They pride themselves on their fighting pluck - which is undoubtedly good - more than their drill. As a brigade we get along finely together.
Friday, 22 June 2012 16:58 | Written by Leander Stillwell
After the evacuation of Corinth, Pittsburg Landing continued to be our base of supplies and commissary stores were wagoned from there to the various places where our troops were stationed. And it happened, while the regiment was at Bethel, that I was one of a party of about a hundred men detailed to serve as guards for a wagon train destined for the Landing and return to Bethel with army rations. There was at the Landing at this time, serving as guards for the government stores, a regiment of infantry. There were only a few of them visible, and they looked pale and emaciated, and much like dead men on their feet. I asked one of them what regiment was stationed there and he told me it was the 14th Wisconsin Infantry.
This was the one I had seen at Benton Barracks and admired so much on account of the splendid appearance of the men. I mentioned this to the soldier, and expressed to him my surprise to now see them in such bad shape. He went on to tell me that the men suffered fearfully from the change of climate, the water, and their altered conditions in general that they had nearly all been prostrated by camp diarrhea and at that time there were not more than a hundred men in the regiment fit for duty, and even those were not much better that shadows of their former selves. And judging from the few men that were visible, the soldier told the plain, unvarnished truth. Our regiment and the 14th Wisconsin soon drifted apart, and I never saw it again. But as a matter of history, I will say that it made a excellent and distinguished record during the war.
Friday, 08 June 2012 17:56 | Written by Fred Beseler
Co C, 1st WI Volunteer Heavy Artillery
Edwin Ferris Underwood was born March 28, 1828 in Herkimer County, New York, the son of Chester Bucknam Underwood and Susan Stetson. He married Permela Margaret Van Slyke on June 3, 1847 in Oneida County, New York. They moved west to Wisconsin in 1852. Edwin began farming in Dodge County, Wisconsin upon his arrival to Wisconsin. He continued farming and with his family consisting of 5 children. Edwin was 36 years old when he answered the call to join his comrades in the Civil War. General Orders Number 21, issued September 14, 1864 called to the men of Wisconsin to recruit eight additional companies to complete the regimental organization. Edwin was assigned to Company G. They were assigned duty as part of the 4th Brigade, De Russy's division, 22nd Army Corps. Edwin was stationed at Fort Ellsworth, a fortification constructed west of Alexandria, Virginia. It was one of the defenses of Washington, D.C. during the Civil War. Fort Ellsworth was built in 1861 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. It was only in use during the Civil War and was dismantled in 1865, at the close of the Civil War. Although only in war a relatively short period of time, the war took its toll on Edwin. He completely lost hearing in his right ear from Heavy Artillery fire. He also suffered from debilitating dysentery and rheumatism for the remainder of his life. Many friends and neighbors helped him on his farm until he became to infirmed to do farm work and had to sell the farm. By 1887, his eye sight began to fail. In 1902, his wife passed away. Unable to take care of himself due to Senile Debility, he moved in with his daughter, Nellie. In 1914, he became completely blind. On March 11, 1919, Edwin passed away at the age of 91 years. He is buried in the Union Cemetery in Lebanon, Dodge County, WI..