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1861 June 3: Stephen A. Douglas Dies

June 3, 2011

Stephen A. Douglas, leader of the Demoractic Party in the North, succumbs to typhoid fever on June 3, 1861, after a long illness. Following are the accounts of his death from the local newspapers.

Stephen A. Douglas, from "Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War" (1866)

The Prescott Journal, June 5, 1861

L A T E S T   N E W S
By Tuesday’s St. Paul papers.

[DOUGLAS IS DEAD! His potential voice is hushed—his fiery heart is still. The Nation mourns his loss. Meeting the present crisis in our National affairs with the nobleness of a Patriot and a Man, his death is lamented by all who love the American flag. The best tribute we can pay to his memory, is to emulate his patriotic love and zeal. Soldier and Statesman fall, but the Great Cause in which their souls were enlisted moves grandly on.

STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS was born on the 23d of April, 1813, in Brandon, Butland Co., Vt.—Ed. Jour.]

Chicago, June 3.

Senator Douglas died at 9:10 this morning. There were in attendance at the time, Mrs. Douglas, Dr. Miller, Mrs. Cutts, J. Madison Cutts, Jr., of Washington, D. P. Thodes, of Cleveland, Dr. McVicker, Spencer C. Benham, Dr. Hay, of Chicago. His remains will be taken from here on Wednesday to Washington.

The Hudson North Star, June 5, 1861


Senator Douglas died at 9:10 this morning. There were in attendance at the time, Mrs. Douglas, Dr. Miller, Mrs. Cutts, J. Madison Cutts, Jr., of Washington, D. P. Thodes, of Cleveland, Dr. McVicker, Spencer C. Benham, Dr. Hay, of Chicago. His remains will be taken from here on Wednesday to Washington.


We can scarecely realize the truth of the anouncement! [sic] The great Douglas is no more! The leading statesman of the age has been “summoned to that bourn from whence no traveler returns.” Can it be that he whose voice has stilled the troubled waters of the Nation, shall be heard no more forever? Must we realize the fact that Douglas has been taken from the Council of the Nation at such a trying hour as this? Would that it were not true.

The Prescott Transcript, June 8, 1861

 Douglas is Dead!

The following telegram reached us on Tuesday noon:—

 Chicago, June 3.

 Senator Douglas died at ten minutes past nine o’clock this morning. There were in attendance, at the time, Mrs. Douglas, Dr. Miller, Mrs. Coutts, J. Madison Coutts, Jr., of Washington, D. P. Rhodes, of Cleveland, Dr. McVickar, Spencer C. Benham, Dr. Hay, of Chicago. His remains will be taken from here on Wednesday to Washington.

Douglas lived long enough to banish from the minds of all his political opponents the least doubt of his patriotism. His heart was whole, and wholly for his country. His last public acts were but the clearest evidences of his love for the Union, and he did much during the few weeks previous to his death to lead the people of his own party up to the standard of fidelity to the country, by which he placed himself. His death is mourned by all, and the tolling bells and flags at half mast show how much the people feel his loss.


1861 June 1: The “Peculiar Institution”

June 2, 2011

A lengthy editorial from The Prescott Transcript of June 1, 1861, addresses slavery.

The Question.

Among the many questions which have sprung into life, during the progress of this Great Rebellion, and at once assumed a relation of vital importance to the future happiness of our country, none has arrogated to  itself more of the attention of the North, or which has risen to such magnitude, or seems more hopelessly insoluble, than the one which owes its origin to the “peculiar institution,” and the policy necessary for our government to adopt in relation to it. Nothing within the confines of the possible but ought to be made the subject of occasional thought, and nothing within the limits of the probable, which affects the interest or well being of ourselves should be left undiscussed. Various are the consequences which are liable to result from the present relation which our Government sustains to this institution, and some of them are highly probable. We deem it, therefore, a matter which ought to be throughly understood, and its importance clearly seen. It is one which if the war should continue for a length of time and under the present aspect of affairs it seems certain, will as sume [sic] a gravity, that will call for a most vigorous and decided policy by our Government. Let the subject be fairly presented. The Confederate States are at open war with the United States; they have declared themselves independent of the Government; have broken its laws, defied the Government, and boldly declared themselves our enemies, – and pursued a course of conduct in every way consistent with that declaration: having seized on the Government property, and attacked the forces stationed for its defence. They are in every sense, enemies to the United States, and as such must be dealt with accordingly. Different, it is true, from a foreign enemy, but that difference lies in the degree of its offence. The government of the Confederate States have beside the white population, some four millions of slaves at its command, from whom a large and powerful army might be easily raised and equiped [sic]. That our enemies will not scruple to avail themselves of their help is proven by the fact that they are already pressing them into service. They do the entire work of coustructing [sic] the fortifications, nearly all the batteries which surrounded Fort Sumter, were built by them; such service being as injurious to our forces as if they were on the battle field. Now, it is well known that the least encouragement extended to the slaves by the Government would end in a general stampede; scores are escaping daily, some fly to our army for protection. It is reported that while Lieut. Slemmer was fortifying Fort Pickens that several slaves came to him and offered their services to aid him in his labor, if he would secure them from capture; he refused to do so, and in every instance returned them to their owners, although at the time he was in great need of help. He said that if he had thus encouraged them, he would shortly have had all the slaves in Florida for his workmen. Some instances of the same character have occurred at Fortress Menroe, and, as in the former case, they were returned. It is not customary for nations at war, and more especially where a lawfully constituted government is endeavoring to suppress rebellion, for the army to become recruiting officers for the enemy. Should the war continue, and it become necessary for our troops to invade the Confederate States, they will unavoidably come in contact with the negroes, and if our army remains neutral, that is, does not interfere in behalf of the master, there will be a general secession on the part of the slaves, Thousands will embrace the opportunity, thus offered, to make good their escape from the thraldrom of servitude. And more, if nothing is done to prevent it, hundreds will enlist under the flag of our Union to avenge them of their long accumulated wrongs; in short, there will be a general assumption of their right to secede, and their masters will be impotent to avert the consequences. That the encouragement of such a revolt would quickly crush out rebellion is well known to the South; they thus presume upon the forbearance of our government to shield them from a just retribution for their crimes, whilst they pursue their course of high-banded wickedness. They are well aware that such is the case, and the least intimation that such might be the course of the government creates the greatest horror in the minds of the Confeds.

Yet, what right have they to expect anything else? What right have they who show no mercy to expect mercy at our hands? Can they, who advocate the most detestable methods of warfare, expect to be dealt gently with? How they can plead for gentle usage who resort to such devilish cruelty as covering our citizens with tar and then setting them on fire, we fail to comprehend.

But what policy shall our government adopt? It is evident that hundreds will escape to our army and claim protection; and if thus protected, thousands more will follow in their wake; and it is equally certain that every one returned gives strength to the rebels, and thus help to protract the war, and cost the lives of thousands of our soldiers. But what will be the result of allowing the slaves to enlist, or aiding them to escape? Simply, it will terminate in the speedy abolishment of slavery.

As much as we detest slavery, we do endorse the wiping out theory which is advocated so strongly by some; believing it to be alike inimical to the best interests of the white and black. – While the effect of harboring and refusing to return the slaves who escape would be, to say the least, very inconvenient to the North, the consequences to the South would be fatal beyond conception. There must, and will be, risings, and it may end in a servile war. Shall cur troops be converted into blood hounds for the enemies of our land? or be made the instruments in saving the lives of traitors, and then be killed by those whom they have saved? If the South are wise they will refrain from using a weapon that cuts both ways. They may , by their conduct, drive our government to pursue a policy which will prove most disastrious [sic]to them. The question is one which will necessitate the exercise of all wisdom and prudence which our President and his counselors possess for its solution.



1861 June 1: More on Colonel Ellsworth

June 1, 2011

The Prescott Transcript of June 1, 1861, appeared 8 days after Colonel Ellsworth’s death, and there was not much left to say on the matter of his death by then. This piece looks more like what we, today, think of as an obituary (unlike the skimpy death notices more common at the time). We learn where his interest in the Zouaves came from, and his connection to President Lincoln.

COL. ELLSWORTH was born at Mechanicsville, near Troy, New York. At the time of his death, he was 28 years of age. He came to Chicago, in 1854-55, as an agent for the sale of patent rights, but it was a failure.

"United States Zouave Cadets, Chicago" sheet music cover, ca. 1860, from the Smithsonian Institution. Ellsworth is 2nd from the right.

Capt. Ellsworth, as he was then called, next made a visit to New York, where he met a Frenchman, Mons. De Villiers, who was with the . From him Capt. Ellsworth obtained a translation of the Zouave manual, and he resolved to undertake the introduction of it among the militia in this country. Returning to Chicago he set about organizing the Chicago Zouaves. The Cadets voted to accept of the new drill and to change their name accordingly. For many weeks they were instructed in those brilliant and novel evolutions which subsequently elicited so much admiration in the eastern cities.

On his return from the east he entered the law office Lincoln & Herndon. Mr. Lincoln became strongly prepossessed in his favor, and through his influence and subsequent elevation to the Presidency, it was that Col. Ellsworth was brought more prominently into public notice.

On the breaking out of the Rebellion he determined on forming a regiment of “pet lambs” composed of New York Firemen, with what success his efforts were crowned is well known to the public.

1861 May 29: Colonel Ellsworth’s Death Confirmed

May 31, 2011

The May 29, 1861, issue of The Hudson North Star also carried an article on the death of Colonel Ellsworth. Ellsworth was not the actual first casualty of the Civil War, but he was the first Union officer to be killed. His death “was one of the sensational flash points” early in the war and certainly captured the attention of the press and the public.

Zouaves Avenge his Death.

The death of this young and gallant officer, while hauling down a secession flag in Alexandria, has created a profound sensation among all citizens loyal to the Stars and Stripes. Thoe following is the fullest particulars we have of his unfortunate death:

"Death of Col. Ellsworth After Hauling Down the Rebel Flag, at the Taking of Alexandria, Va., May 24th 1861," originally printed by Currier & Ives ca. 1861, from the Library of Congress

“Alexandria is at this moment in quiet possession of Federal troops; but, alas, the occupation was not unattended by the loss of life. The gallant Ellsworth has fallen. From an official report just made to the President, by Capt. Fox, it appears that his regiment was first on the other side, it having crossed the river in steam tugs. After the arrival of other troops, he proceded up the street with a squad of his men to take possession of the telegraph office. White passing along he noticed a secession flag flying from the house tope. He immediately entered the building and made his way up to the roof with one of his men; hauled down the secession emblem and wrapping it around his body descended. While on the second floor a secessionist came out of a door with a cocked double barrel shot gun. He took aim at Ellsworth, when the latter attempted to strike the gun out of his way with his fist. As he struck it one of the barrels discharged, lodging a whole load of buck shot in Ellsworth’s body, and killing him instantly. His companion instantly shot the murderer through the head with a revolver, making him a corpse a second or tow after the fall of Ellsworth. The house was immediately surrounded and all the inmates made prisoners.”

From Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War—published at the end of the war—comes this account:

 T H E   W A R   F O R   T H E   U N I O N.
Occupation of Alexandria.—Death of Ellsworth.

The month of April saw the insurrection extravagant in hope, prodigal in the promise of success…. But the month of May reversed the picture…. The occupation of the “sacred soil” of Virginia soon became necessary to the safety of the national capital. It was undertaken in the latter part of May. The enthusiasm with which the loyal states had met the crisis of danger encouraged the government to push on and punish the aggression which had precipitated that crisis.

 With a view of attacking, if possible, but, at any rate, of strenuously defending its position, the Confederacy held, in considerable force, the whole line from the Chesapeake to Edwards’s Ferry, 25 or 30 miles above the capital. With a vigor which would have been afterward repeated with good effect, the government decided to take the offensive and to occupy Alexandria, about six miles below Washington, and on the opposite side of the Potomac. General Mansfield,1with about thirteen thousand men, led this important movement. It was an impressive scene which the night preceding the attack ushered in. Vague hints had been given out of a storm about to burst forth at a moment’s warning; and, in profound stillness, under a full moon, a busy preparation was being made; scouts were sent out in every direction; the men were suddenly summoned to the novel business of war, their bayonets glittering in the cold light; upon the river, steamers were being laden with troops and the machinery of strife: then the movement was made; and when the citizens of Washington awoke on the morning of the 24th of May, the ripe result was announced of operations that had been begun and consummated while they were asleep. At about daybreak the New York Seventh touched the Virginia soil, landing at the Alexandria bridge, near which they encamped. A detachment of soldiers, with some cavalry and artillery, crossed the Potomac below Georgetown, and took possession of the Loudon and Hampshire Railroad. The Manassas Gap Railroad also, running out of Alexandria, was held by the New York Sixty-ninth, and seven hundred passengers were captured and held as hostages. Meanwhile

"Elmer E. Ellsworth" drawing printed in "Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War" (1866)

Colonel Ellsworth, early in the morning, entered the town with his Zouaves, severed its communication with the South both by railroad and telegraph, and so completely surprised the rebel troops that a large number of them, unable to effect an escape, were captured. Thus was an important entrance into Virginia opened to the federal army without a battle. One single life was lost, that of the brave but imprudent Colonel Ellsworth, who was shot by Jackson,2 the landlord of a hotel, to the roof of which he had incautiously ascended to pull down a confederate flag. “Behold my trophy,” said the ardent Ellsworth, as he descended from the trap-door down the stairs. “And behold mine,” replied Jackson, as, springing from his hiding-place, he lodged the contents of his gun in Ellsworth’s breast. But the secessionist quickly paid life for life at the hands of private Brownell.3 Ellsworth was looked upon as a noble martyr in the North, and so was Jackson in the South.

1. Joseph King Mansfield (1803-1862) commanded the Department of Washington (April 27-August 17, 1861) at the start of the Civil War; he was promoted to brigadier general on May 6, 1861.
2. James William Jackson (ca. 1824-1861) was the proprietor of the Marshall House, an inn located in Alexandria.
3. Francis Edwin Brownell (1840-1894) received the Medal of Honor in 1877 for his action in killing Jackson. Later in life, Brownell donated Jackson’s shotgun, his own rifle that he used to kill Jackson, and his Medal of Honor to the Smithsonian Institution.

1861 May 28: Colonel Ellsworth Shot

May 31, 2011

The May 29, 1861, issue of The Ellsworth Journal reports the death of Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth, often named as the first casualty of the Civil War. Ellsworth, Wisconsin, now the county seat of Pierce County, was named for him.

Elmer E. Ellsworth (1837-1861) was a colonel of Zouaves before being appointed a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. A Chicagoan, he was a close friend of President Lincoln’s family and accompanied Lincoln on his trip to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration. Ellsworth was shot after pulling down a Confederate flag flying over Marshall House in Alexandria. For more details, see Ellsworth’s entry in the Cast of Characters.

The first item is a brief editorial, followed by “The News from Washington.” The articles dated May 23 must be a typo because Ellsworth was not killed until early in the morning on May 24.

Death of Col. Ellsworth.

There is probably no doubt of the authenticity of the report of the death of Col. ELLSWORTH. Since the fall of Sumter, no news has thrilled through the land like this. Young, chivalrous, competent and brave, his name is a household word, and his position as leader of the Zouaves, and the best disciplinarian in their peculiar tactics, rendered him of great value to the Government. He has fallen, but has left a name made glorious by daring, and which will be enshrined in the love of a great people. Like WARREN, he has fell at the commencement of a struggle which enlisted his soul, but his name will be linked with its history forever.

Alexandria occupied by Federal Troops

Washington, May 23.
An advance has been made to the mouth of the Potomac aqueduct at Georgetown. The New York Seventh was among the troops, and after several hours’ march, occupied a point between the bridge and Columbia Spring, on the Washington and Alexandria Railroad, District of Columbia. The troops returned to Washington this morning.

From 6,000 to 10,000 troops were sent over into Virginia this morning. Firing was heard occasionally by the driving in of the Virginia pickets. At 9 o’clock A.M., the New York Zouaves, 14th and 69th Regiments held Alexandria, while Arlington Heights are occupied by several regiments.

The entrance into Alexandria was attended by an event, such as cast the deepest gloom over this community. Col. Ellsworth, who had hauled down the secession flag from the Marshal House, was soon afterward shot by a concealed foe.

Cover of "A Requieum" is decorated with scenes of his brief Civil War service, from the Smithsonian Institution

His dead body has been brought to the Washington Navy Yard.

Accounts from Alexandria are somewhat conflicting, but there is no doubt of the fact that a man named Jackson, who shot Col. Ellsworth was instantly put to death, some say by both bullet and bayonet.

When the Federal troops reached Alexandria, the Virginia soldiers fired at them and fled.

Persons from that city say the secessionists were intensely excited. The Federal vessels were in the meantime befare [sic] Alexandria.

It seems to be true that a body of Federal troops had advanced to the Halifax Court House to take passession [sic] of the Junction of the Washington, Alexandria and Manassas Gap Railroad, with a view of interrupting the advance of Virginia troops towards Alexandria, from Richmond and other points. Nearly 3,000 troops arrived at Washington yesterday.

Washington, May 23.
It is reported that as soon as the Virginia troops retired from Alexandria, one of them was killed by a return shot from Federal forces. There is prospect of capturing the fugitives before morning.—The forces sent over to Virginia were two battalions and two companies of artillery. The news of the death of Col. Ellsworth was not generally known throughout Washington, until towards 10 o’clock today. The excitement was intense, especially among the military, who express the greatest impatience, and desire to be sent over to Virginia. From a spy glass view of Alexandria, the Stars and Stripes are flying from various points.

Three hundred troops from North Carolina arrived at Richmond last Monday night, and are now stationed near Old Point Comfort. They were to be followed by 500 more in a day or tow, from the same State, making a full regiment of 1000 men.

Twelve hundred Tennessee troops arrived at Richmond on Tuesday.

The camp opposite Williamsport, Md., is being reinforced, and the construction of batteries on the heights on the Maryland side is still going on with vigor.

Washington, May 25.
There were reports of fighting in the neighborhood of Alexandira, [sic] but it proves to be a mistake.

Col. Ellsworth’s funeral took place this noon from the executive mansion.—He was followed by the Zouaves, among who was the avenger of Ellsworth.—He carried the identical flag torn down by Ellsworth. Then followed the President, Secretaros Seward and Smith, officers of Zouaves in carriages, the military, &c. All the bells of the city were tolled, all flags at half mest [sic], and buildings in mourning.

Western Virginia is expected in the order of the Postmaster General for the stoppage of the mails in the seceding States. Every fair chance will be made for postal arrangments [sic] in that section.

There is a great deal of coal on the way from Cumberland, Md., to tide-way. The only difficulty in the way of which is the refusal of the rebel troops at Harpery’s [sic] Ferry to allow it to pass.

Nothing of moment took place at Alexandria last night. There is no doubt the Government has sent out advance parties to take such measures regarding railroad bridges as will impede the advance of the Confederate troops. Col. Ellsworth’s remains were this morning conveyed to the east room of the President’s house where they remain in state.

Research Tip: Help Finding Soldiers and Civilians

May 30, 2011

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was established to honor the soldiers killed in the Civil War. Southern ladies started decorating graves of fallen soldiers  even before the end of the war. Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). Logan’s GAR general order stated “The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” Flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery on that first Decoration Day.

The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. After World War I, the holiday was changed to honor Americans who had died serving in any war.

Do you need help finding your Civil War era ancestors? A good book to get you started is Exploring Civil War Wisconsin: A Survival Guide for Researchers, by Brett Barker, Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2003 (UWRF library call number: E 537 .B37 2003).

It is divided into two sections: finding soldiers and finding those who stayed at home. Part I: The Boys in Blue, has chapters on “Finding a Soldier,” “Researching a Regiment,” “Battles and Leaders,” and “The Visual Record” (finding photos). Part II: The War at Home, has chapters on “Finding a Civilian,” “Researching a Community,” and “Government and the People” (government archival records).

1861 May 29: “First Company from Northwestern Wisconsin”

May 29, 2011

The following is from the May 29, 1861, issue of The Hudson North Star.

Military Meeting in Polk County.— At a meeting of the “Polk County Rifles” held at Osceola, Friday, May 17th, Hon. Dan’l Mears was appointed Chairman, and Aug. Gaylord Secretary.1 Kenyon’s Hall being filled to overflowing with patriotic citizens of the County. Speeches was [sic] called for, and by request Dr. Thornhill and Judge Clapp2 who were very opportunely with us from Hudson, and Messrs Reymert and Bartlett3 from St. Croix responded. Their stirring appeals were heartily seconded by repeated cheers, and an enthusiasm which showed not only the old fire of ’76 but the determined spirit of 1861.

After the Election of officers by the Company, now numbering seventy-three, in view of the fact that our company will not probably be immediately called into service, several of the company expressed a desire to join the “Hudson City Guards,” now hourly expecting a call from the Governor for immediate service, and on presenting themselves for a discharge from the “Rifles” for that purpose—on motion of Hon. J. D. Reymert the following resolution was unanimously adopted.

Resolved, by the “Polk County Rifles,” that privates M.J. Kenyon, D.S. Freeland, Joseph Nutter, George Hayes, George Rice, Byron Kenyon, Andrew P. Anderson, W.M. Foster, and M.J. Freeland,4 who have signified their desire to join the “Hudson City Guards” for the purpose of entering at once into active service be hereby honorably discharged with the highest commendation of this company for their patriotism.

Also Resolved, that a copy of the above resolution be presented to each of those now leaving us.

A committee was also appointed to receive subscriptions for division among them. The meeting then adjourned.

In this accession to the “Hudson City Guard,” Polk County has the consciousness that we are sending no hirelings to your camp, but young men every way worthy of your consideration, who assume the part of duty, as one of principle, and should that become the point of danger, will bravely stand in its defense, firm and unwavering.

 Polk County has done nobly for the Hudson City Guards, her citizens, and the “Polk County Rifle Company” in particular have shown their devotional zeal for the Government, and the glorious ensign of our common country by the number and kind of men they sent from their midst, and from its ranks to become members of the Hudson City Guards. St. Croix County appreciates the patriotism and good will of the citizens of Polk and Pierce Counties in joining with her to make up the first company from Northwestern Wisconsin.

The boys named above came down on the 20th inst. and joined the Guards. They are as fine a set of young men as ever we saw—innured [sic] to hardships, ready and willing to go wherever duty calls, and we know well, that if required they will stand firm before the cannons mouth on the bloody battle field firm and unwavering in defence of the Stars and and Stripes.—EDS’ STAR [Editors of the North Star]

1. Daniel Mears of Osceola, enlisted October 25, 1861, and was mustered into Company D of the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment; on December 22, 1861, he became a 2nd lieutenant. Augustus Gaylord (1826-1901) was a merchant in Saint Croix Falls and county treasurer. In 1860, when Louis P. Harvey was elected Secretary of State, he hired Gaylord to be his confidential clerk, and Gaylord relocated to Madison. In early 1861, then-Governor Harvey appointed him adjutant general for Wisconsin, an office he will retain throughout the war.
2.  Dr. Samuel Payne Thornhill (1821-1879) came to Hudson in 1855 and practiced there for seven years. He enlisted on August 22, 1861, and served as a surgeon with the 8th Wisconsin Infantry (listed as Samuel B.). He moved to Austin, Minnesota, in the winter of 1869-70 and died there in 1879.  Edward A. Clapp (ca. 1832-1863) was a 28-year-old county judge in 1860. He enlisted on April 19, 1861, in the Hudson City Guards. Once mustered into Company G of the 4th Wisconsin Infantry/Cavalry, he will rise through the ranks to sergeant, 2nd lieutenant, and finally 1st lieutenant. He will be killed at Port Hudson, Louisiana, on May 27, 1863. 
3.  James De Noon Reymert (1821-1896) was the receiver for the land office from 1858 to 1861, when he opened a law office in New York state. Have not been able to identify what Bartlett this would be.
4. Melbourn J. Kenyon, Dolphus S. Freeland, Joseph Nutter, George S. Hayes, George Rice, Byron S. Kenyon, Andrew P. Anderson, William H. Foster, Martin A. Freeland, all from Osceola, all served in Company G of the 4th Wisconsin Infantry/Cavalry (the Hudson City Guards).

1861 May 25: This-n-That

May 26, 2011

Not much war news in the May 25, 1861, issue of The Prescott Transcript. Here are a few tidbits of interest.

We noticed Sergeant Winchester,1 of the St. Croix Co. Volunteers, in town last week. Some sixty or upwards of that company have volunteered for the war.
We learn that the ranks of the company are now full of volunteers for the long term.

The Beloit Rifles have disbanded, and their place in the 2d Regiment is assigned to the Wisconsin Rifles, Capt. Langworthy.

Senator Douglas is slowly improving. He is considered about out of danger.

It is stated that Col. Fremont‘s visit to Europe was for the purchase of arms for the United States, and he has returned with a large quantity.

The ladies of Richmond [Virginia] are to hold a public meeting for the purpose of passing a demand upon General Scott for the sword which was presented to him by the State of Virginia.

Arkansas has been admitted as one of the Confederate States. Delegates present, R. W. Johnson, A. Rust, A. Garland, W. W. Watkins, and H. T. Deneson.2

New York, May 21.  The Tribune says that yesterday, by a bold stroke, Government obtained possession of most invaluable documentary evidence against the sympathizers with treason in the North. At a given hour the officers of the law visited every considerable telegraph office in the Free States, seizing the manuscripts of dispatches for a year. Government can now trace the secret operations of the rebels and their orders and abettors, and henceforth hold the Northern enemies of the Republic at its mercy.

(Special to the World).— Mr. Barksdale,3 of Mississippi, writes that he has a company in Virginia, which he intends marching on Washington. Forty cannon are planted at Harper’s Ferry. The Pawnee is anchored off Alexandria.
Fifteen thousand Alabama troops, and twenty cannon landed last night at Mannasus Junction, en route to Harper’s Ferry.

1. Possibly Judson W. Winchester of River Falls, who will serve as a sergeant, 1st sergeant, and 2nd lieutenant with Company F of the 37th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. [Actually it was William H. Winchester - see the two comments below.]
2. All of these men except Deneson were elected on May 10, 1861, as commissioners to the Confederate Congress. Robert Ward Johnson (1814-1879), U.S. Senator from Arkansas from 1853-1861 and Confederate Senator from Arkansas from 1862-1865; Albert Rust (1818-1870), U.S. Representative from Arkansas from 1855-1861 and will serve as colonel of the 3rd Arkansas Infantry; Augustus Hill Garland (1832-1899) represented Pulaski County at the secession convention and later will serve in both the Confederate House of Representatives and Senate.
3. William Barksdale (1821-1863) had served as a captain in the Mexican War and as a U.S.  Representative from Mississippi (1853-1861). On May 1, 1861, he was appointed colonel of the 13th Mississippi Infantry, which he will lead in the First Battle of Bull Run.

1861 May 25: Meeting of the River Falls Rifles

May 25, 2011

Minutes of the May 25, 1861, meeting of the River Falls Rifles, from the Jerry Flint Papers, River Falls Mss BN, University Archives and Area Research Center, University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

May 25. Company met.—Report on uniform [unreadable].—Committee on Music appointed – A.L. Cox & Dr. Andrews, said Committee.—Moved that Mr. Farham, Mr. Cornish, Mr. Walls & Mr. Boughton be elected muscians for the Com[pany] – they were elected.—Adjourned to drill & to meet in one week.


From the Jerry E. Flint Paper, River Falls Mss BN, University Archives & Area Research Center, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

1861 May 22: Dangerous Illness of Senator Douglas

May 24, 2011

The May 22, 1861, issue of The Hudson North Star published the following three articles about Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas. Sen. Douglas will not die until June 3, 1861.

Dangerous Illness of Sen. Douglas.

We are deeply pained to hear that Senator Douglas is thought by his physicians to be past recovery. Since his last great speech at National Hall, in this city, he has been suffering from a complication of maladies, the most marked and painful of which was a rheumatism of an inflammatory character. Within a few days past his disease has assumed the form of a typhoid fever, under which he is said to be rapidly sinking. Last night his symptoms were particularly alarming, and though his physicians were unremitting in their attentions, and willing to form a favorable prognosis from the slightest hopeful indication, they were greatly troubled by the evident prospect of a speedily fatal result. Mr. Douglas has had a constitution of wonderful recuperative force; his vital powers have great activity; and his will, by no means unimportant on a sick bed, has the strength of iron. These, we devoutly trust, may yet bring him through, and prolong his life for the benefit of his country, whose demands in this great emergency he has answered with that fervent patriotism which has blotted out the past. —Chicago Tribune, 18th.

LATER.—On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Douglas, of whose dangerous sickness we give the Chicago Tribune‘s account, was “better.” It is so stated in the Chicago Evening Journal of the 18th, received at this office. The foregoing is fully twelve hours later than the article of the Tribune, and affords reasonable ground to believe that he will recover. The silence of the Telegraph is also favorable. We need not add, that the apprehension of a fatal result produced a most profound sensation yesterday. St. Paul Press.

STILL LATER.—The H. S. Allen brings the astounding report that ‘DOUGLAS IS DEAD.’ We hope the report may prove untrue—but are fearful that it is correct.—Ed[itor], Star.