Camp of Gibbon's Brigade
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.
R. K. B.