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"History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"

Chapter 11 - Eau Claire County in the Civil War

by W. W. Bartlett

Part 7

(-as transcribed from pages 114 - 122)


May 10 -- I am alive and well.  I went through the battle of Farmington without being seriously hurt, but to an account of it:  On the morning of the 8th, General Pope's corps marched out of camp and towards Corinth and formed in line of battle on the hills near Farmington, driving the enemy's pickets in and making a successful reconnoisance to within three miles of Corinth.  At 8 o'clock in the evening our troops were ordered back to camp.  Company A, Captain Redfield, and several other companies from the brigade were left at Farmington on picket.  Our brigade was ordered to take up position about a mile in the rear of the pickets, to sleep on our arms.  We laid down in the open air with one blanket each and slept soundly until daylight.  At 6 o'clock on the morning -- yesterday -- we heard firing on the picket line, which was kept up steadily for two hours, when our pickets were driven in.  A rebel battery in front and to the right of us began throwing shells.  We were on the side of a hill out of sight.  Their shells fell short of us.  We knew we would soon be engaged for we saw the enemy advancing.  They came forward in line of battle, their flags flying over them and their bayonets glittering in the sunshine.  Hiscox's (Wisconsin) battery was right in front of us and doing good execution, but the advance line of the enemy was now so near and their musket balls began to rain on the battery so fast that it rapidly limbered up and went to the rear.  Seeing this the rebels gave one of their unearthly yells and started on the double quick.  My heart was in my throat.  Why don't we get orders?  Where are field officers?  "Fire!  Fire!"  I gave orders to my men, and simultaneously General Loomis, riding, said at the top of his voice: "Now, Eighth boys, go in."  With a grand hurrah our regiment advanced and poured a deadly volley, and another and another, in at the rebels, now within a hundred yards of us, which checked them.  In a moment more they turned and fled.  We started after them, firing as we ran.  Just then a squad of our cavalry came up from the rear and charged ahead, passing around our right.  They rode into a clump of timber and immediately were repulsed and sent back in all directions.  The enemy's battery opened on us hotter than ever, and half a dozen regiments poured out of the timber on all sides of us, raking us with a cross fire.  We retreated in good order to our first position, and there made a stand and delivered several volleys, but only for a few minutes, the order coming to fall back to the woods directly behind us.  We fell back, keeping our line straight, loading and stopping to fire every few steps.  By the time we reached the woods a rebel force had got on our right flank and poured the shot into us hot and heavy, which considerably hastened our retreat.  During this time the Forty-seventh Illinois passed us in disorder to the rear, and the Twenty-seventh and Fifty-first Illinois, which had been sent as reinforcements, after making a charge similar to ours on the left and being repulsed, broke ranks and fled, apparently every man for himself.  We were thus left the last regiment on the field and brought up the retreat in something like good order.  This was due alone to the company officers and men.  The lieutenant-colonel in command had been disabled early in the action and the major was well on his way to camp.  The company officers and men behaved with great coolness and bravery.  There was naturally more or less confusion, owing to the lack of orders from the fields officers, but this never grew into anything like a panic.  We carried off the dead and also some wounded of other regiments.  The enemy did not follow us into the woods, but shelled the woods fearfully.  The bursting of the shells over our head and the crackling of the tree branches made a terrible noise.  It was with an inexpressible feeling of relief that we finally struck the road leading to camp.  There we found the whole corps in line of battle, with the officers chafing because they were not permitted to march out.  But it was against Halleck's orders.  He had forbidden the corps commanders to bring on a general engagement.  But for this I verily believe that if Pope's corps had been brought out today we could have whipped the rebels and taken Corinth.  Our regiment had ten killed and forty wounded.  Lieutenant-Colonel Robbins had his horse shot and was disabled.  Your old friend, Captain Perkins, of Company C, was mortally wounded and has just died, since I commenced writing this letter; Lieutenant Beamish, of Captain Britton's Company G, was killed.  A rebel soldier gave himself up; he says he was in the Louisiana Zouave regiment that started to capture Hiscox's battery when the Eighth Wisconsin repulsed them; that seventeen of his regiment fell dead at our first fire, seven killed in the color company.  He saw our eagle and says the rebels did not know "what in thunder it meant."  The eagle deserves special praise.  He stood up on his perch, with his wings extended and flopping violently during the whole time.  The noise excited him, and if he could have screamed I have no doubt we would have wakened the echoes.  His bearer was wounded; so was the color bearer.


Free Press, May 22, 1862 -- We are called upon to announce the death of Capt. John Perkins, of the Eau Claire Eagles, Eighth Wisconsin regiment.  The sad news reached this place on Tuesday by a private letter to Mrs. H. P. Graham by her brother, Benjamin F. Cowen, who was a member of Captain Perkin's company.  He died on the 11th, some fifteen miles from Pittsburg Landing, from the effects of a wound received in a fight on the 8th.  His wound was in the hip, and we believe was caused by the explosion of a shell during a brisk engagement in which our forces under General Pope were repulsed by greatly superior numbers.  Captain Perkins had been sick for a long time and confined to hospital quarters at Cairo, and immediately after joining his company the Eighth regiment formed a part of General Plummer's brigade in Pope's division, which constituted the left wing of the grand army under General Halleck.  If we mistake not, the fight was the first time the Eau Claire Eagles had been brought under fire since they left this place in September last.

Captain Perkins was born in St. Lawrence County, New York, and was about forty-five years of age.  He remained in his native county, filling various position of public trust, until about six years ago, when he came west and settled in Bridge Creek, in this county.  Here he lived a prominent and honored citizen of his town and county, until two years ago, when he was appointed receiver of the United States land office, and he became a resident of this village.  Last spring he was elected county judge, but resigned, raised a company of volunteers, enlisted and was elected captain by a handsome vote.  This company has given the Eighth regiment a national reputation.  The noble eagle that accompanied the Eau Claire boys to the field of Glory and whose perch is the staff that bears the Stars and Stripes has given the Eighth the name of the "Eagle Regiment" all over the country.

Captain Perkins was succeeded by First Lieutenant Victor Wolf, who had helped to recruit and drill the company.  His practical military experience, both in Germany and in this country, had made him a valuable officer in the company and well fitted him to assume command.  He continued as captain of Company C until June, 1865, when he was succeeded by Lieut. Thomas G. Butler, who continued at the head of the company until it was mustered out in September.

In the spring of 1862 the following news item appeared in the Free Press:

Eau Claire Jackson Guards, Free Press, March 27, 1862 -- Captain Thomas Carmichael and Lieutenant J. F. McGrath have been engaged in getting up a company of volunteers for the Nineteenth (or Irish) regiment, and have now some forty names on the rolls.  They have worked so modestly and efficiently, too, that this company is over half full, and but little has been said about it.  We are assured that there is a prospect of filling it immediately, and Lieutenant McGrath has gone to Madison to make arrangements for the company.  The men thus far are a hale and hearty set of fellows, who will never turn their backs to the foes of their country.  We wish the company success.

(Free Press, April 3, 1862)

Captain Carmichael's company paraded the streets today under the charge of James Robinson, of North Eau Claire, who has been for some time instructing it in company drill.  They are making fine progress under Mr. Robinson's instructions.  The company is succeeding finely and is bound to fill its ranks.

(Free Press, April 10, 1862)

Lieutenant McGrath returned from Madison on Tuesday noon.  He arranged to have the members of Carmichael's company enter Captain Beebe's Tenth Artillery company, now in St. Louis, and they are to start for Milwaukee or St. Louise this week.  This will be good news tot he boys, who have been chafing for active service for some time.

The first item in the Free Press states that some forty names had already been secured.  All of these did not join the Tenth Battery, as the state roster of Wisconsin troops lists only eighteen who gave Eau Claire county as their place of residence.  Among those from Eau Claire county is the name of Thomas Carmichael, whose name appears in the Free Press article above.  He went out as a private in this artillery company, but was later promoted tot he rank of first lieutenant and was assiged to Company H of the Twenty-seventh Wisconsin Infantry.

Below are the names of those in the Tenth Battery who came from Eau Claire Co.:

CRAIG, John     
McCARTY, Florence
BOHN, Charles
MORMON, Christopher
MURPHY, Daniel
CRONIN, William
GRAY, Burton
GRAY, John
LEMON, William H.
WHERMAN, William
MANNING, William F.
YARGAN, Thomas

You will note among the above the name of Florence McCarty.  He lost his right arm at Red Oak Station, Georgia.  He made his home in Eau Claire after the war, and very appropriately was chosen to fire the old brass cannon at Fourth of July celebrations here for many years.

The war meetings held at the commencement of the war were mostly for the purpose of getting recruits and were mostly local in the village.  On August 7, 1862, a call was made for a county meeting for the purpose of raising funds to help the families of the soldiers who had enlisted or would later enlist.  In the Free Press of August 14, 1862, we find the following:  "On Tuesday afternoon one of the largest and most enthusiastic meetings ever held in this county took place in the grove on the west side.  Notwithstanding our farmers were in the midst of the harvest, that class of our citizens turned out nobly, and although only four days' notice had been given for the meeting, all parts of the county were fully represented.  Mr. N. B. Boyden was chosen chairman, and set the ball in motion by a good speech.  Rev. Bradley Phillips, of Chippewa Falls, and Mr. A. Meggett, of this place, then addressed the meeting at length.  Their speeches were able, eloquent, eminently patriotic and full of force.  Many short talks were made during the afternoon by various gentlemen present, but the most encouraging and patriotic feature of the occasion was the liberal manner in which subscriptions were raised.  Money was offered without stint or reserve.  Everyone seemed desirous to contribute, and almost everyone did contribute.  A large fund was made up by voluntary subscriptions, which is to be appropriated as follows:  Ever volunteer is to receive a cash bonus of $10 on enrolling his name, the balance to be disbursed to the family of each volunteer at the rate of $5 per month; and in case of wants and necessities of any family to require more a central committee will attend to them, and decide upon the additional amounts to meet the necessities of each particular case."


From Eau Claire Free Press, August 28, 1862 -- "The Eau Claire Ladies' Soldiers' Aid Society has been organized for the purpose of supplying, as far as possible, the wants of our sick and wounded soldiers.  The articles most needed in the way of clothing are slippers, shirts, drawers, dressing gowns, woolen socks, towels, handkerchiefs, etc.  In the way of eatables and delicacies fruits, canned tomatoes, tomato catsup, canned fresh meat, beef tea in cakes, jellies, pickles, Indian meal, spices, especially capsicum, essence of ginger, onions, fresh butter (in small stone jars), etc.  A liberal supply of these articles will save the lives of thousands of our brave soldiers.  If we are to have an army of a million men we must make provision for at least one hundred and sixteen thousand sick.  Shall we not do what we can in the benevolent and patriotic work of taking care of these sick and wounded?  Do they not deserve this at our hands?  Let each town and community organize at once a 'Ladies' Soldiers' Aid Society' auxiliary to the county society, and as fast as articles are made or gathered together send them to the officers of the county society at Eau Claire, who will attend to their being packed and forwards.  We expect next week to send some boxes to the Eighth Wisconsin Regiment, and probably to the Sixteenth by Sergeant Schmidtmeyer.  All articles intended for these boxes must be in before Saturday next. -- Mrs. Charles Whipple, president; Mrs. H. P. Graham, treasurer; Miss Augusta Kidder, secretary."

Probably no company that went out from Eau Claire during the Civil War was recruited more quietly or quickly than the "Eau Claire Stars," which later became Company I of the Thirtieth Wisconsin Infantry.  Three full companies had already left the village and recruiting officers were constantly busy picking up recruits to fill up the ranks of earlier companies, making the task of making up a new company a more than usually difficult matter.  The history of the "Eau Claire Stars" was different from that of the other companies from Eau Claire.  Instead of being sent south to fight the Confederates they were sent up into the Dakotas to hold the Indians in check, who were threatening trouble.  In the Free Press of August 28, 1862, was the following:  "The new company is nearly full and it will be one of the best that ever went from this county.  It contains men of muscle, will, talent and military experience.  A few more men will be accepted if application is made immediately.  Fill up the ranks."  The Free Press of September 11, 1862, stated:  "The election of officers in the new company, 'The Eau Claire Stars,' took place on Monday afternoon and resulted in the choice of N. B. Greer for captain, Charles Buckman for first lieutenant and J. H. Hutson second lieutenant.  The two former were with General Scott all through Mexico and are admirably calculated to command the esteem and confidence of the noble fellows of the company.  The following are the names of the volunteers:  Peter Anderson, August Back, Edward P. Buck, Norman L. Buck, William Bell, J. M. Bernis, John A. Bride, Philo Baldwin, Charles Buckman, John L. Ball, Peter Berry, Ira G. Bills, Edwin Brown, Charles J. Branch, Ephraim Crockett, Sanders Cochran, Charles Coats, Almeron F. Ellis, Gilman Goodman, Charles Goodwin, Ira F. Goodwin, N. B. Greer, Michael Garland, J. S. Huston, Israel Herrill, John Honadel, Charles Hale, Ephraim Herrick, William Hanley, Henry W. Howard, George E. Jones, Aaron C. Hall, John Jones, James S. Jones, C. C. Knox, Thomas M. Kennedy, Michael Lawler, S. B. Luther, Erastus P. Livermore, Thomas N. McCauley, John W. Merrill, Richard Masters, W. F. Page, Philip Perry, Andrew M. Patrick, Isaac Palmer, Samuel Pitchard, Samuel Paul, George D. Olin, Ernest Roach, Lester Reynolds, William Ralph, Carl Roehrig, L. Howland, H. W. Roberts, William H. Rolf, R. L. Sumner, Thomas N. Sargent, Fred Sargent, Henry Spaulding, George Sibit, Stephen Skinner, Adrian Smith, Henry Spaulding, Alexander Watson, Michael Weircle, John Yost."

On the 22nd of September the ladies of the village presented a flag to this company at a meeting held in Reed's Hall.  Each member of the company was given a copy of the New Testament.  The flag presentation address was given by Miss Anna Wells, and was as follows:

"Soldiers of the Eau Claire Stars:

"The ladies of Eau Claire present you this emblem of liberty, wrought by their own hands, as an evidence of the faith they cherish in your patriotism, your courage and your fidelity to your country, and of their confidence that when called upon to uphold and defend it upon the field of battle you will do it with a valor and heroism that will overwhelm with destruction and defeat any domestic or foreign foe who shall seek to trample it in the dust or overthrow the government of which it is the fit and historic insignia.  Accept it, not as a trivial and meaningless compliment, but as a sacred gift, to be upheld and defended as you would your lives and your honor.  Let it be the cynosure in the hottest moment of conflict and in the darkest hour of peril.  Never let it fall before the foe.  Should the fortunes of war require it let its graceful folds envelop the patriotic dead, and when the clouds of dissension shall have passed away we cherish the hope that you may be spared to bring it back in triumph, without one stripe erased or a star obscured.  We bid you farewell and God-speed."
The "Eau Claire Stars," sixty-three strong, with fifty-eight of the Chippewa Falls company left here October 11, 1862 on board the steamer Chippewa Falls, and reached Reed's Landing in time for supper.  Here they boarded the steamer Key City and reached Prairie du Chien Monday morning.  After reaching Madison, the company not being full, about the first of December Captain Greer came back to Eau Claire from Camp Randall to pick up some twenty more recruits.  Although the Whipple company was being recruited at that time Captain Greer had no difficulty in getting the desired number and early in December took them back with him to Madison.  The following are the names of the recruits who went to Madison with Captain Greer to join the "Eau Claire Stars":

ANDREWS, Alexander     
HULL, Friend H.
BLIN, Orin S
JOHNSON, Charles
BOYER, Alexander
MERRICK, William
REYNOLDS, Richard A.
BROWN, Charles E.
RODD, John S.
CLOSE, John W.
TAYLOR, William L.
HADLEY, Clark B.
THORP, Andrew G
HADLEY, Henry F.
VAUX, George P.
HADLEY, Horace S.
WAY, Henry J.
HORTON, Elpha J.

The trip as far as Sparta was made by team.  Among the recruits taken to Madison at this time we find that of C. E. Brown, who served as a private in the Greer company, and I have prevailed upon him to relate his recollections of the "Eau Claire Stars" in the Indian country.

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