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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 8

(-as transcribed from pages 122 - 143)

MR. BROWN'S STORY

"I was twenty-three years of age at the time the Greer company was recruited.  Had always been accustomed to lumbering operations and for several years had worked in the logging camps on the drives of the Chippewa Valley.  I had planned to go into the woods again that winter, and well remember how strongly my old employer opposed my enlistment.  At that time the felling of trees was done with an axe, and as head axeman it was my job to chop down the pine trees in such a way as to break them up at least, and also to be convenient for skidding.  Early in December we left Eau Claire for Camp Randall, at Madison.  The weather was extremely cold, that being the coldest winter ever known in the Chippewa Valley.  We remained at Camp Randall until the spring of 1864, then left for St. Louis.  While there it was decided that our company should be sent up the Missouri river to Fort Union, in the extreme north-eastern part of North Dakota.  As soon as the water was high enough in the spring we started.  There were two steamboats, our own, the Fort Union, and the Fort Benton, bound for the fort of that name still farther up the Missouri.  There were about 100 soldiers on each, besides perhaps as many other passengers, also supplies, etc.

"We were nearly six weeks on the trip.  One week of this time was spent at Kansas City, building a flat boat or barge, as the steamboat was found to be overloaded.  It was at this place that I had my first buffalo hunt.  Tow of us got permission to go out.  The country was a succession of ridges and ravines, making it difficult for us to keep within sight of each other, and we soon separated.  I had not hunted long before I saw three buffalo bulls some distance away, and making right toward me.  They were so much bigger, and more savage looking than anything I had expected that I was thoroughly scared and started for the boat, and not content with the speed I was making I hurriedly pulled off my heavy boots and ran in my stocking feet, regardless of the prickly pears which covered the ground.  When I got to the boat and ventured to look around I saw the buffaloes leisurely going off in an opposite direction.  My buffalo hunt made sport for the boys.

"As we went farther up the river buffalo became more plentiful.  At one place a herd of perhaps five hundred stopped our steamboat for hours.  They filled the stream in front of the boat, and also got under the paddle wheels.  The boys shot at them from the steamer decks.  They killed some.  Occasionally they would hit a big bull, who would start for the bank, and then, shaking his long mane, would charge back at the boat, but, of course, we were beyond their reach.  At one point in the river the boat passed under some high overhanging cliffs.  We were told that here the Indians were likely to heave rocks down on the boats.  To guard against this we disembarked below the cliffs and marched to the summit.  We found no Indians, but the ground was piled with bones and skulls of those who had been killed there.  It was an old Indian battle ground.

"Fort Union was situated on a high open ridge near the river.  About a half mile up the river the ground was lower, and covered with small timber, cottonwoods, etc.  A similar piece of timber, only larger and heavier, lay about a mile down the river, and the brush was so dense and thick one could see but a few feet ahead of him.  There were a number of Indian tribes near us, but only the Sioux were troublesome.  The Crows were especially friendly.  Their camp was about sixty miles north, but some of them stayed around the fort or pitched their wigwams inside the stockade.  Some of our company were granted the privilege of visiting the Crows at their camp, spending several days with them, and we were treated with all the hospitality their means would allow.  We also hunted buffalo with them, but none of us were experts, and our awkwardness in attempting to chase buffalo on their ponies gave the Indians a great deal of amusement.  The orders were that the men should only leave the fort to go any considerable distance except in companies of ten or more.  As weeks would pass without any sings of hostile Indians the men would become more careless and would often go hunting singly.  One day I took a light gun and went across the river in a skiff to hunt rabbits.  I left the skiff and returning to it only a few minutes later found the tracks of a big grizzly bear by the skiff made in my absence.   I lost no time getting out of that vicinity.
    "In our company were several of the boys who were just aching to run across a grizzly, and often told how they would fix him if opportunity offered.  At last they got their chance.  Under charge of First Sergeant Orrin S. Hall six of them went some distance from the fort for several days of elk hunting.  One day they had shot two elk, had strung one up and, it being late, had left the other on the ground.  In the morning they went to look for the one left on the ground but it had disappeared, and the tracks of a big grizzly showed what had become of it.  Hall was a brave and fearless man, and I will have more to say of him later.  With him in the lead the boys cautiously followed the grizzly's trail, and before lone came upon him standing over the dead elk.  Hall told the boys that the only show was to kill the grizzly at the first fire, otherwise some of the company would very likely be killed by the grizzly.  Telling the boys to take careful aim and to fire when he counted three, the boys raised their guns, but their hands shook so that Hall told them to put down their guns.  After a few moments he told them to try again, but their hands shook worse than ever.  Seeing it would be foolhardy to allow them to shoot under the circumstances a retreat was ordered, and the grizzly was left in undisturbed possession of the field.

"Wolves were plentiful around the fort.  We had in our company a man by the name of Blin, who made quite a business during the winter of poisoning the wolves, with the intention of skinning them later and selling the pelts.  An old buffalo would be shot and while still warm poison would be shot into it, which would spread throughout the carcass.  The wolf pelts would bring only a dollar, and it was worth more than that to skin them.  By spring there were a hundred carcasses piled up outside the fort, but Blin put off the skinning job so long that warm weather struck him, the carcasses began to smell to high heaven and the poor fellow had to tote them all to the river and throw them in.

"On New Year's day, 1865, we had a grand ball.  Each of the boys had invited a squaw for a partner weeks in advance, and the way those squaws bought gay ribbons and finery for the occasion was a sight to see.  We chipped in and paid our cook an extra $25 for preparing the spread, while we furnished the provisions.  In the absence of large game we had a hundred rabbits for meat.  Only the squaws came to the ball.  Many of them were of mixed French and Indian blood and knew something of dancing, and the others were not slow to learn.  It was a sight to note their appetites and amusing to see them tucking away in their clothing for cake they were unable to eat.

"The Sioux Indians occasionally came to the fort ready to waylay an individual or small company they might find.  One day I was hunting rabbits in the thick brush across the river when I heard the crackling of brush not far back of me, then on one side and then on the other.  I gave the call to which our boys and the Crows always responded, but received no reply.  I realized that the sounds were made by Sioux Indians, so I made a break for the river bank, but the Indians did not show themselves this time.  On another occasion I was about a mile below our fort near an old deserted log fort in a clearing.  Three Sioux on horseback started for me, but I ran and got behind the logs of the old fort.  They circled around me a number of times and tried to induce me to come out into the open, but I could not see it in that light.  Finally they rode away and after waiting for a considerable time I made for the fort.  On another occasion the Indians made a raid and captured every horse belonging to our company.  The soldiers and friendly Crows started in pursuit.  There was considerable confusion and delay in getting started; then it was sometimes hard to tell Sioux from Crow Indians.  We usually distinguished them by their horses.  I was about to shoot at what I felt sure was a Sioux, when Captain Greer stopped me telling me that was a Crow.  A little later this same Indian, who proved to be a Sioux, made for us.  I fired, but had forgotten to remove the wooden plug or "Tompkins" which we kept in our guns to prevent rusting.  The Indian kept right on, but was killed a few moments after by one of the Crows, and two pieces of my wooden plug were found imbedded in his chest.  The Crow scalped his victim, and the squaws, not content with this, later cut off the hands and feet of the corpse and otherwise mutilated it.

"The only loss of life to the company by the Indians occurred in April, 1865.  Grizzly signs had been seen in a piece of timber less than a mile from the fort where some of the boys had been detailed to cut firewood.  Early in the morning Sergeant Orrin S. Hall, George Vaux and Erastus Livermore went out to see if they could get a shot at the grizzly.  Soon Livermore came running back to the fort, stating that Hall and Vaux had both been killed by the Indians.  Livermore had a hole shot through his coat, but was uninjured.  He had seen the other two fall, but had managed to escape.  The cartridge had stuck in his gun, and being unable to shoot he had jumped over the river bank and made his way back to the fort.  We hurriedly made for the timber.  It was scarcely light.  We found Vaux badly wounded but alive.  He had crawled into a thicket and later had crawled back to the trail so we would find him.  A little further along we found poor Hall, dead, pierced with fourteen arrows and scalped.  One Indian lay dead on the field and we could see where the wounded Indian had been taken away by friends.  Vaux said that Hall died like the brave man he was, continuing to shoot until he fell.  The dead Indian was scalped and the scalp was brought back to Eau Claire by Alex. Watson, well known to old residents.  Vaux recovered and returned to this county.  We were at Fort Union just about one year.  In the spring of 1865 we returned to Louisville, Ky.  At that place I was taken sick and was sent home.  That was in August.  The company returned to St. Louis and from there went to Washington, taking part in the grand review, after which both of them returned to this section of the country."

Editor Daily Telegram:  Several weeks ago an account was given of the battle of Farmington, with the death of Captain Perkins, of the Eagle company, and the promotion of Lieutenant Wolf to the head of the company.  That was in May, 1862.

Today we have a letter from Captain Green, of the Eagle regiment, describing the siege and later battle of Corinth:

"Bivouac, South of Corinth, Miss., June 4, 1862 -- The thing 'which was to have arroven have arrived.'  Corinth is ours!  Of course you have heard through the newspapers all about the evacuation, the fight with the rear guards, the destruction of property, etc.  I only know that the enemy skedaddled; that a part of our army is in Corinth and that General Pope's corps has marched through and is now bivouacking three or four miles south of Corinth.  It is said that 4,000 prisoners were taken, but I have not seen them.  But now I will proceed to give you an account of our movements from the 27th of May to the present time; first remarking that our regiment was in the front line and met the last charge of the enemy, repulsed them and drove them into their intrenchments.  Our loss was small, only two killed and four wounded in Company I.  On the 27th of May our regiment went on Grand guard.  Well, as I was saying, we had our sentinels posted by 9 o'clock of the 27th.  The rebel guard was not over 500 yards in our front and the sentinels could see each other and even hold conversation; but they did not talk much; it is a serious breach of military discipline, and a violation of the rules of war.  About 9 o'clock in the morning we expected to be relieved, not knowing that all the forces had left camp and were marching to the front.  We soon found out, however, that we were to be relieved from picket duty only to go into more serious business, for in an hour or so a line of skirmishes came out in advance of our forces, passed beyond our guard lines and attacked the rebel pickets.  They drove the rebel pickets in, after some sharp firing, and followed them closely.  Our guards were called off post, canteens filled with fresh water, and then we started in search of our brigade.  Found it about a mile to the right and in advance of all the other forces, drawn up in line of battle in a little ravine running through an old cornfield with rising ground in front, from the top of which the land sloped down gradually four hundred yards to a creek, across which on another knoll was a rebel fort, one of the strongest of all the Corinth works, mounting twelve guns and defended by one or more brigades of infantry.  The creek ran parallel with our line of battle and extended three hundred yards to our right, when it turned and ran at a right angle with our lines, heavily timbered on the opposite side.  We had no sooner taken our position on the right of our brigade than the rebel battery commenced throwing shells at us.  We got out of the ravine as quickly as we could and laid down on the side of the hill in front, which afforded protection against cannon shot and shell.  The deep worn corn furrows comfortably hid a fellow.  Our own batteries opened on the rebels immediately, firing over our heads as well as from our right and left; a deafening, terrific cannonading was kept up for half an hour.  It seemed as if hell had broke loose.  All at once there was a cessation of the cannonading from the rebel battery and we began to cheer, supposing their guns had been dismounted.  But the rising shout was soon drowned in the quick sharp reports of musketry on our left, which increased in a few moments to volleys.  Up it came from left to right; up to our feet we sprang and forward to the top of the hill.  The left companies of our regiment were already engaged, and as soon as we reached the brow of the hill we saw the rebel infantry rushing toward us.  Bang, bang, whiz, zip, zip, sang the rifle balls.  The butternuts stood to give about three volleys, their colonel on a splendid looking white horse galloping between the two lines shouting, 'Forward my brave men!  The battery is ours!'  The horse an instant after rushed riderless through our ranks bleeding form one shoulder.  Dust and smoke until you couldn't tell a man from a stump ten yards off.  Forward we rushed, firing and shouting, officers giving orders to the tops of their voices, when a voice was heard crying; 'Look out to the right, men!  Look out to the right!'  And three men on horseback emerged into view from that direction, one of whom, a magnificent looking old soldier, we recognized as 'Old Rosy,' General Rosencrans, and at the same instant almost the rebels came out of the woods to our right and showered us with musket balls, but overshooting.  With a yell, Company A and my company wheeled 'round to the right and dashed after them to the edge of the timber, but the rebels, not more than one or two companies, who had been deployed there as skirmishers, skedaddled fast, although we wounded eight or ten of them and captured their knapsacks, blankets, and haversacks filled with five days' rations which they had laid in a pile before advancing.  The fight lasted only twenty minutes.  Thirty rebels were dead on the field in front of our regiment and a good many were picked up wounded.  A few were taken prisoners.  We lost only two killed and our wounded.  The rebel charge was gallantly executed -- they got so close to one of our batteries that the artillerymen shot some of them with revolvers.  That night we threw up intrenchments and stayed there until the night of the twenty-ninth.  The rebels left on that day.

"Bivouac, near Boonville, Miss., June 6, 1862 -- We are 30 miles south of Corinth, chasing the rebels.  Beauregard's evacuation of Corinth was not altogether successful.  The road for 20 or 30 miles south of Corinth was strewn with discarded equipage, whole camps, tents, commissary and quartermaster's stores, sick and wounded soldiers, wagons, mules, etc., left or 
abandoned in the greatest haste, showing that we pressed hard after them.  We found plenty of graves, in one of which was buried a 12 pound howitzer.  It had a headboard marked 'W. C.,' with date, etc.  They had not time to round up the grave before our advance came in sight.

"October 3 -- We have completed the circle and now hail again from Corinth.  We are in camp about five miles west of town.  I am in a private house under the surgeon's care.  The enemy, Price and Van Dorn's army, is all around us everywhere, but no one seems to know just where.

"Camp near Ripley, October 8 -- I began this letter at Corinth, October 3, and had only gotten it fairly commenced when the surgeon came into my room greatly excited, saying the rebels were coming.  There were but a few soldiers in town.  Our brigade was marching from a point five or six miles southwest toward Corinth as rapidly as possible.  About noon the report of cannon was heard in the near distance and our troops began pouring into town from different directions and forming into line of battle.  I waited from 11 o'clock in the forenoon until the middle of the afternoon before our regiment put in its appearance.  I tell you it was a period of awful suspense, and I never was so glad in my life as I was to see the old Eagle regiment coming up the road.  They had been on the run for several hours and were in a state of exhaustion.  I joined my company and we went into the fight.  We doubled-quicked through a field and ran directly into the enemy in the woods, who poured a deadly fire into our ranks while we were marching and before we could form in line of battle.  The fight was hot for ten minutes or more, but the enemy were too strong for us.  They had ten times our number.  They made a charge, yelling like so many screech owls or devils.  We stood our ground and fired volley after volley into them, but it seemed to make no impression on them whatever.  They came right on like a great wave, overwhelming everything in its progress.  Catching sight of our eagle those in front of our regiment gave forth an unearthly yell and started to capture it.  Old Abe, up to that time had behaved himself with great gallantry, but at this moment a bullet slightly wounded him under one wing and he hopped off his perch to the ground and ducked his head between his carrier's legs.  All attempts to make him stay on his perch was useless.  He was thoroughly demoralized, and the same feeling extended itself to the line and they broke and ran before the rebel charge, the carrier of the eagle picking him up and carrying him under his arm as fast as he could run.  It was a new experience for us, for heretofore we had always been the victors.  The regiment and brigade dissolved so quickly that it was impossible to see what had become of them.  I found myself with Captain Wolf, of Company C, and the colors, with perhaps a dozen men.  The color bearer was shot and the next man who picked them up was wounded.  We brought them off the field with the enemy at our heels.  We got back to Battery Robinette, which opened on the rebels and checked their advance and waited the next move.  It was now dusk and the fight for that day was over.  We laid on our arms all night, and as soon as morning broke the cannonading opened and was kept up with fearful energy.  After this our advance skirmishers were driven in and we formed our lines and waited.  We did not have long to wait.  The rebel line of battle emerged from the woods and came forward to Battery Robinette through the abbatis formed by falling trees, with the greatest heroism and daring.  All the guns of the fort and the musketry of our line of battle opened on them, but on they came, closing up their ranks -- on, on, running, climbing, shooting, shouting and yelling -- their leader, Colonel Rogers, mounted on a white horse, riding in advance waving his sword and looking as grand and noble as Mars himself.  Oh, it was a terrible charge.  Right up to the parapet of the battery they swarmed, their gallant leader and his horse being shot as he leaped the ditch.  They swarmed over the parapet.  Our line of battle gave way before them and fell back, perhaps, fifty yards, when General Rosencrans, bareheaded, waving his hat and sword, rushed along in front of the line and the men soon went forward and drove the rebels back.  Some of the rebels actually got into the battery and were killed or captured by the gunners.  Many surrendered rather than run the risk of being killed on the retreat.  The ground in front was covered with their dead and wounded.  Over 3,000 rebels were killed and wounded.  Our loss was not so large, but was heavy enough.  Our regiment had ninety men killed and wounded.  The records of the world may be searched in vain, I verily believe, to find a more desperate, bloody and gallant charge than that made by the rebels.  They had everything at stake.  Everything depended on their winning the battle and they fought hard for it, but in vain.  The two armies were about equal in numbers, but we had the heaviest artillery.  As soon as the charge was over we waited for them to try it again.  But they did not charge again.  Again and again they formed their lines and advanced to the edge of the woods, but their men would go no further. Officers swore and appealed to them to go in just once more, but they had had enough."

It was in the fall of 1862, soon after the battle of Corinth, that Colonel Murphy, of the Eighth Wisconsin allowed the enemy to destroy an immense store of supplies at Holly Springs, which event had an important bearing on the Vicksburg campaign, making, as it did, impossible the carrying out of one of the earlier plans for the reduction of Vicksburg.

The late Col. W. F. Vilas, in his history of the Vicksburg campaign, makes the following reference to this affair:  "And to cap all, the surprise by Van Dorn of Holly Springs, the intermediate base where Grant had gathered a million dollars' worth of supplies, which the enemy destroyed, determined his (Grant's) withdrawal from this attempt.  It is humiliating to add that the cowardice of a Wisconsin officer, Colonel Murphy, of the Eighth Infantry, the Eagle regiment, who basely yielded the post at Holly Springs, which he could easily have defended, furnished the sole reason for that disaster; because, but for his action, his men would have protected the place.  It is not a consolation that he was promptly cashiered." 

In May, 1863, we find Grant's army before Vicksburg, and Captain Green, writing to his wife as follows:  "Camp near Vicksburg, May 26, 1863 -- On returning to camp (eve of the twenty-first) we had an order that the army was to charge the enemy's works at ten o'clock next day all along the line.  In the morning the army was in line of battle, waiting the order to go in.  It was about noon, however, when the bugles sounded and the Union Army, with flags waving over them, charged the rebel works.  Our brigade was held in reserve.  We stood in line of battle and saw the front go in.  They melted away before the withering fire from the entrenchments and soon disappeared from view.  Presently, when the smoke lifted, we saw them in ravines and in the ditch right under the rebel guns, with their flags planted on the outer slope of their works.  About two o'clock in the afternoon General Grant and Adjutant-General Rawlins met Generals Sherman, Tuttle, and Mower, where we were standing under arms.  Grant had a slouch hat, a torn blouse and an eye glass slung over his shoulder.  They had a conference at the head of our regiment, and several of us officers went up to where they were talking and heard what they said.  General Grant said he had a dispatch from McClernand, on the extreme right of him, down by the Mississippi River, on the lower side of Vicksburg, stating that his troops had carried the enemy's works and were now in them, and if another charge was made on another part of the line to prevent the enemy sending re-enforcements to repel hi he could go into the city.  I heard General Grant say that he did not think it was true, but it might be so, and in order that the enterprise might not fail for lack of support, he would order that another charge be made immediately; and turning to General Sherman, he said:  'Send in your reserves.'  General Sherman turned to Colonel Tuttle, our division commander, and ordered him to send in a brigade.  General Tuttle said in turn to General Mower, who commanded our brigade, 'General, charge the works with your brigade at once.'  General Mower was a brave man, there was no discount on that -- he meant to obey the order, but could not help saying, 'General, it will be the death of every man in the brigade to go in there now,' and without waiting to hear what reply was made he sent his aide to the colonels commanding the regiments of the brigade with orders to follow the advance, marching by right flank for about one hundred yards, where the ground would not permit a forward movement in line of battle, and when they got out of this to form in line of battle and charge on the double quick.  The Eleventh Missouri was in the lead, the Fifth Minnesota came next, the Eighth Wisconsin was next and the Forty-seventh Illinois in the rear.

"The orders were given.  We moved down the road diagonally to the front, marching four abreast until we struck a sunken road, three or four feet deeper than the surrounding ground.  This sunken road was perhaps two hundred yards long, then it turned to the right.  We were marching four abreast through this road until it turned, then we were to form a line of battle and march forward.  Just as we struck the road we came out in full view of the enemy, who were standing by their guns.  Our appearance was the signal for them to open fire on us with all their guns and a stream of fire shot out from the rebel works not over a thousand yards away.  It was perfectly awful.  The two regiments ahead of us had disappeared and the sunken road was full of dead and wounded.  Just as we reached it, Lieutenant Chapman, as brave a young fellow as ever was in the army, and a genial companion was shot, a canister shot hitting him in the breast and going through him.  He fell against me, his blood spurting out in streams.  I laid him down as gently as I could.  His eyes looked into mine, but he was dead, killed instantly.  We actually stepped on the dead and wounded in the sunken road, so thickly were they lying.  Men were falling all around us.  The bullets whizzed in our ears like a swarm of bees and the shells exploded among us incessantly.  We reached the turn in the road and left it, the companies making a half wheel to get into line of battle, then charged forward on the double quick, without much regard to alignment.  The ground was open and level, here and there a tree or a stump or a bunch of cane behind which a squad of men were crouching.  The works were only a few hundred yards ahead, but it seemed a mile.  We ran on through an iron hail before which our men fell like leaves, killed and wounded. Our flag went down -- then reappeared -- the air thick with the dust and the noise of the enemy's shots perfectly deafening.  It seemed as if we would never get there, but at last we reached the ditch at the foot of the entrenchments, jumped and drew a long breath of relief.  Our color-bearer was boosted up and planted his flag in the ground half way up.

"Well, it was just as General Grant anticipated, our charge was a useless waste of life; McClernand did not get into the city; indeed, he had never been inside of the works.  We lay in the ditch until after dark.  During the time we were lying there the rebels would put their muskets over the parapets and shoot down at us.  If one of them showed his head above the works our boys were watching and it was a dangerous operation.  After dark an armistice was proclaimed to carry off our dead and wounded and our brigade, indeed all the troops, marched back to camp.  The regiment had thirty killed and seventy-five or eighty wounded.  The next morning an order was issued that the works were too strong to be carried by assault, that we must get them by regular approaches, consequently we are now digging our way up; exactly the same experience that the allies had before Savastopol.  I think a fortnight will end the siege.  There are supposed to be twenty-five or thirty thousand men in Vicksburg, we have not over twenty-five thousand, if that many.

"This campaign will be forever memorable in history and stamps General Grant as the greatest military genius of the age.  He whipped Johnson's thirty thousand men and drove him so far away he can do no more mischief, then turned round and penned Pemberton's men up in Vicksburg, and all with a smaller army than either Johnson's or Pemberton's.  His headquarters are only a short distance to our right and rear.  We see him every day, common as a private soldier, but he always seems to be thinking.  Grant, Sherman, Logan and McPherson are great soldiers.  If the army of the Potomac had such generals, Richmond would soon be ours."  During the progress of the Vicksburg siege the Eighth Wisconsin was moved about considerably.  Had a sharp skirmish at Mechanicsville, also near Richmond.

"Camp on Black river, 12 miles east of Vicksburg -- I wish we had as great a general as Lee to command our eastern army.  Vicksburg, July 4, 1863, 2 o'clock p.m. -- I am writing this on a yellow piece of paper in the cupola of the Vicksburg court house, and I send it to you with a bunch of splinters from one of the pillars of the steeple, where a shell had gone through it.  The whole cupola is riddled with our shells.  The long siege is at last over.

"July 4 -- Later in the day.  The scenes we witnessed on coming into the city beggar description.  I cannot write them to you.  The Confederate troops were in the last stage of starvation.  They had been living on mule meat for some days.  I saw some of it and it was enough to turn one's stomach.  The rebels were glad to see us, too.  The hills are honey-combed with caves in which they have lived.  As we walk along the street we can see women running toward each other, crying for joy, and throwing their arms around each other's necks and weeping and kissing."

Through the kindness of Mrs. Charles Coffin we furnish the following description of Vicksburg, as written by Captain Culbertson, of the Sixteenth Wisconsin:  "If there were about ninety hills like Barren Bluff sitting near together with dugways through the hills, trenches, rifle pits, forts and redoubts on every commanding point.  If there was such a place, it would be as near like Vicksburg as anything I can think of at present, but still it would want one thing to complete the scene, which these hills would want to be covered with buildings and the buildings riddled with shells.  But for all this, there are some very fine streets in the place, also some fine buildings, but the finest of all are the shade trees, which are on every street, almost hiding the houses.  If I had seen this place before the boats run the blockade I should have said that Grant was crazy to attempt anything of the kind, but the old fellow has a long head and works to win.  Let General Grant have his army in here and I would defy the world to take this place in seven years."

"Vicksburg, Miss., August 19, 1863 -- Dear Mother, Sister and Brother:  The steamer City of Madison was blown up today while lying at the levee loading ammunition to take below.  There was a detail of about three hundred men, white and black, loading her, and it was all done by the carelessness of one negro.  As they were loading percussion shells the negro threw one of the boxes filled with these shells into the hold, discharging the whole lot, and as the boat had several tons on, the bursting of the one shell set the whole cargo off.  The boat was blown so that you could hardly tell that it ever been a boat.  As near as can be ascertained now there were nearly 156 lives lost.  The steamer Walch, that lay along side of her, was nearly as bad, but I believe there was no loss of life on the Walch.  The loss of life and property was awful.  There was not a whole pane of glass left in a building within 80 rods, so great was the concussion.  Men were blown across the river and fragments of the wreck could be seen all through the city.

"Your son and brother, H. M. Culbertson"

It will be remembered that the Sixteenth regiment to which Captain Wheeler's company belonged, was badly cut up at the battle of Pittsburg Landing or Shiloh.  Later engagements, sickness and death further reduced its ranks, and it was found necessary to reorganize the regiment.  This was done by consolidating the ten old companies into five and adding "new companies B, D, F, H and K."  John Kelly, who went out as a private in Captain Wheeler's Company G, was made captain of "new company B,"  a well earned promotion.  I find no other Eau Claire man in this company, it being recruited from the eastern part of the state.  One of the "new companies," Company H, was recruited here.

Free Press, December 3, 1863.  On Monday last 67 men for a new company in the Sixteenth left for LaCrosse in charge of D. C. Whipple and John T. Tinker.  This company has been recruited in less time than it required to raise any previous one.  Messrs. Tinker, Whipple and M. A. Shaw have labored zealously to raise this company, and their efforts have been crowned with the most ample success.  No officers of this company were elected until after their arrival at LaCrosse.  No list of the privates in this company was printed at the time, but from the official roster the list below is furnished.  Capt., Darwin C. Whipple; First Lieut., John T. Tinker; Second Lieut., Milton Grover, Red Cedar; Second Lieut., Edward W. Allen, Eau Claire.  Privates:  John C. Bailey, Burzelia Bailey, Walter D. Bailey, John C. Barland, William H. H. Beebe, Harvey N. Benjamin, Edward J. Bonnell, John W. Brown, Wesley C. Butterfield, James G. Cleghorn, Peter Cromwell, Samuel C. Dean, Peter Deery, Isiah Drew, William H. Fox, John W. Gilbert, Freeman Grover, Jefferson Heath, John W. Heasley, Henry Hendrickson, Benjamin F. Howland, Hiram Hill, Lyman M. Hotchkiss, Azro B. Hoyt, Arch K. Humphrey, Samuel Iverson, John Johnson, Daniel E. Johnson, Dwight A. King, Myron N. Lawton, Henry Longdo, George McElrath, Even J. Morgan, Ener Nelson, Patrick Nooney, David A. Robertson, Joel Ross, John Ross, Harvey N. Saunders, Myron A. Shaw, Canute Thompson, Cary P. Wood, Henry Wyborney.

The history of Company H, which christened itself the "Williams Guards" in honor of H. Clay Williams, was published in Tom Randall's history of the Chippewa Valley, as told by Lieut. E. W. Allen, and is herewith reprinted:

"From the cold snows of the North to the balmy skies and peach blossoms of Vicksburg was a pleasant change.  After doing picket duty at Black River bridge for a month we were ordered back to Vicksburg, from thence north on transports up the river, passing Fort Pillow a few hours after the massacre by Forrest.  Company H and two other companies were landed at Columbus to assist the colored troops in defending the fort against an attack momentarily expected from that chivalrous general, which, however, he failed to make. After two weeks of hard duty we joined the command at Cairo, then preparing to join Sherman's army in Northern George.  (Georgia?)  From Cairo to Clifton, Tennessee, on transports, and thence by forced marches three hundred miles across that state, Alabama and Georgia, taking position on the left of the grand army, before Kenesaw Mountain, June 10, 1864.  We suffered terribly during this march and many gave out by the way, among whom were Lieutenants Grover and Tinker, who went to the hospital.

"From this time to the tenth of September, three months, we were constantly under arms, marching, skirmishing and fighting, our first exploits being in the battles about Kenesaw, where we lost several men; then hotly pursuing the rebels night and day, until they took refuge in their trenches before Atlanta.  We lay on our arms on the night of July 20, the enemy strongly fortified in front, and just at break of day we were ordered to charge.  Grave doubts and fears were expressed, as there were so many new recruits in the regiment, whether it would not be better to put an old and tried regiment in our place, but after a short consultation it was decided to keep us where we were, for if the charge was made, the older soldiers who were supporting them would have no confidence in them, and they would lose all confidence in themselves.  The result showed the wisdom of the conclusion.  It was a trying moment when Colonel Fairchild shouted the order, 'Fix bayonets, forward.'  Out of the timber, down a ravine, up and across a field, over their works, driving out Hardee's veterans and taking some prisoners, was but the work of a moment.  Lieutenant Colonel Reynolds, coming up quickly, said to the new men, 'You are all  veterans now, boys.'

"The general commanding the brigade sent word to General Blair, saying, 'The Wisconsin boys did nobly,' but it was praise dearly earned.  Colonel Fairchild, Lieutenant Colonel Reynolds, Capt. John Wheeler and many other officers were wounded, but fortunately none killed.  Company H lost two killed and seven wounded.  Captain Whipple particularly distinguished himself in this action, and a somewhat laughable incident occurred during the charge.  So great was the excitement but little attention was paid to his efforts to keep the men in line with the colors, but finally becoming terribly in earnest and shouting above the roar and din of battle, he sang out, 'If you don't know what line on the colors means, keep your eyes on that flag.'  We held the works all day under fire, and strengthened them at night; but about noon the next day the enemy burst on our left, and was crushing that part of our army like an egg shell, coming boldly on until they reached the works held by the Twelfth and Sixteenth Wisconsin, who repulsed them in six successive terrible charges, first in front, then in rear, and changing sides of their works as many times.  Captain Whipple showed himself the same hero here as the day before, but the strain was too much; constant fatigue and anxiety and the suffering from his wound sent him to the ambulance, Orderly Sergeant Allen took command of the company, there being no commissioned officer with the company.  Being ordered to another part of the field, by a force march, Captain Whipple again joined us and assisted in repulsing several charged, but was soon obliged to go to field hospital, and E. W. Allen, just commissioned, took command.

"The final battles of Jonesborough and Lovejoy's Station closed the campaign, and with light hearts we spread out tents in Atlanta, September 10, 1864.  Our company was reduced from ninety to twenty muskets, so severe had been the work.  Here we received a quantity of good things, pickles, berries, condensed milk, etc., from kind friends in Eau Claire, for which, if ever men felt grateful, we did.  But we did not rest long.  Hood had gone north and was eating our crackers, so we were after him again, and for five days and night we chased him over mountains, rivers and valleys, and then were ordered back to Atlanta again, where, for the first time in eight months, we received our pay, and voted for president, thirty-four for Lincoln and two for McClellan.  That was the kind of men that composed Company H.  On November 14 we started with Sherman on his grand march tot he sea, and a month of constant marching brought us to the gates of Savannah, where, after a short resistance, we marched, flags flying, into the city.  Starting again, we took Pocotaligo, out on the Charleston railroad, which fell in consequence, and next our company was at the burning of Columbia, then Cheraw, Fayetteville, Bentonville and Goldsborough were taken, and after a few days' rest, waiting for our absent men to come up, a forced march brought us to Raleigh.

"When Captain Whipple, who had been sent home sick, rejoined us, how glad we were to see him.  Here the war virtually closed.  The fighting was over, but we were a long way from home, but marching was easy now, for every day brought us nearer to our loved ones there.  On to Petersburg, Richmond and Washington, where on the twenty-third of May, we took part in the grandest pageant ever seen in America, the grand review; Mrs. Sherman throwing bouquets at our tattered and worn colors.  We were soon transferred to Louisville, Ky., where, on the fourth day of July, 1865, General Sherman took a final farewell of us, and a few days after we were mustered out, sent to Madison, received our final pay and discharged on August 21, 1865, and with light hearts started for home, never more, it is hoped, to be called to take up arms for our beloved country against internal foes."

On the roster of Captain Whipple's company will be found the name of John C. Barland, who furnished to the Telegram the following reminiscences of that company.

J. C. Barland, on request of the editor of the Telegram, furnished an article on the late war, says, "to give a comrade's recollection of the old Sixteenth Wisconsin volunteers should have some response.  The pressure of circumstances makes it difficult for me to do so just now.  Still I would fain offer something, for when is not a tribute due to those gallant men?  Through the dimming mists of fifty years again they come before my vision.

    "I see them muster in a gleaming row,
    With ever youthful brows than nobler show,
    We find in our dull road their shining track,
    In every noble mood,
    We feel the orient of their spirits glow,
    Part of our life's unalterable good -- 
    Of all our saintlier aspiration."

Company G, the first to go, enrolled some of the choicest spirits that Eau Claire could give.  I cannot stop to enumerate.  Of one I will speak.  John Kelly:  rough, yes rough, but a diamond in the rough.  Years later, when asked, "Do you receive a pension?" his answer:  "John, why should I receive a pension?  I was a better man physically, morally and mentally when I came out than when I went in."  This was true.  He was a growing man to the last day of his life, and no finer thing can be said of any man.

In the fall of '63, while Vicksburg and Gettysburg still echoed in our ears, Company H enlisted and later joined the Sixteenth at Vicksburg.  Of that company, Eau Claire may be proud. There were Whipple and Tinker and Allen, so finely identified with the early history of Eau Claire, all worthy of mention if these limits permitted.  Only a few remain -- Merton of Bloomer, a good soldier, and most worthy man, and Cleghorn of Eau Claire, splendid soldier, good citizen, who gave of his best to his country and the little valley that bears his name.

From the miasmas and sickness of the Mississippi valley the early spring of '64 found us at Huntsville, Alabama, after a series of arduous marches to join Sherman for the capture of Atlanta.  It was a grewsome sight, that Sunday afternoon, when we arrived at Huntsville after a long forced march.  The beautiful stream that bubbles up from a great spring in the heart of Huntsville was lined with our boys, their shirts in their hands picking off the greybacks, and washing in the stream.  From Huntsville through an enemy's country, 400 miles of forced marching and fighting to our goal, Atlanta.  On the long march, unable to obtain supplies, many a soldier had to go barefoot.  Such was the writer's fate, who was known as the barefoot corporal.  It was near the base Kenesaw that we joined Sherman.  It was here that Company H received its baptism of fire.  For hours we had marched to the deepening sound of artillery.  At first only a throb on the air, and then, nearer and clearer and still clearer.  A strange silence stole over the men, and Captain Whipple, marching at our side said:  "Well boys, that is what we have been marching so long for to find at last."  And next the order to file right into line, and now the bullets are whistling in our ears and the shells from Kennesaw are bursting in our midst.

The great struggle for Atlanta was on.  It lasted through all those long, hot summer months.  These limits will only permit of a glimpse.  There was a constant roar of battle, day and night, upon some part of our line, swelling now into the assault upon Kenesaw, where we were repulsed, now upon Lost Mountain, or South Mountain, which stood like sentinels between us and Atlanta, or again at Peachtree Creek, on the twenty-second of July, when Hood flung himself upon us in the madness of desperation.  It was here that the Sixteenth Wisconsin, of all its memorable conflicts, distinguished itself the most.  Hood's veterans had fiercely attacked our left wing in hope of turning it, and largely it was determination of the Sixteenth Wisconsin which prevented this.  If Hood could have turned our flank at that time he would have won a vast prize, for there, on our left flank, were massed the wagon trains of our army.  It was the fortune of the writer at that time to be detailed to guard the wagon train.  Five hundred six-mule wagons were massed not three miles from Decatur.  Hood, for the moment, had turned our flank and was sweeping down upon our train.  The wagon fled in a furious panic to form behind the center.  The train guards were deployed in a thin skirmish line to hold Hood in check.  It was there the Sixteenth, with others, saved the day, and Hood was turned back.  It was this incident that enabled the writer to speak intelligently of that field.  As we passed down the lines to rejoin our train, behind the center, we passed the Sixteenth where they lay in the midst of the carnage that had been wrought.  There were the dead rebels as thick as leaves, right up to the very food of the Sixteenth's lines.  As we passed down the lines there were long rows of our own dead and wounded, and further on, young McPherson, the brave commander of our own army of the Tennessee, lay still in death.

It was only a few days later that, assaying to go to the regiment which lay beyond a little wood and down an open slope, that I ran across Willard Bartlett, a member of Company G.  He was cooking at a fire.  I knew him to be a good soldier, and I said to him, "How is this, Willard?"  "Well," he said, "I have only three days more to get my discharge and I prevailed on the officers to let me cook, so I might have a chance to get through."  The writer passed on through the wood to the open slope.  Though I knew that the regiment lay not forty rods away, not a sign of them was visible.  No enemy was in sight.  The stillness of death hung over the little valley.  As I emerged from the woods the sharpshooters in the trees beyond got a line upon me.  The bullets flew thick and fast.  You may be sure I walked pretty fast.  Though I did not like to have the Sixteenth see me run, when I got within ten rods of the ditch I heard Ed Allen's voice calling, "Run, John, why don't you run?"  I ran.  "Why," said Ed, who was down in the ditch almost out of sight, "it's not safe to show your head.  The rebs are only ten rods away in another ditch."  I stayed curled up in the bottom of the narrow ditch till it was dark and then I returned to my train, but I stopped on my way to see Willard Bartlett.  They told me he had been shot soon after I had left him; slain doubtless by one of the bullets aimed at myself.  I give this incident that you may just get a glimpse of this terrible conflict."

Note:  The Willard W. Bartlett referred to was a brother of Hon. William P. Bartlett of this city.

Editor Daily Telegram. -- We take up today the story of another company from Eau Claire county.  The town of Pleasant Valley seems to deserve a considerable share of credit for this company, which later became Company K of the Thirty-sixth Wisconsin infantry.  I furnish you a picture of Capt. Warren Graves, who died near Petersburg, Va.

The first reference in the press to this new company for the Thirty-sixth regiment is the following:

(Free Press, March 3, 1864.)

"The work of recruiting goes on in a satisfactory manner, and at the present rate men are coming forward it is confidently expected the towns of Lincoln, Bridge Creek and Brunswick will yet raise their quota prior to the draft.  Eau Claire county has made a record which shines too brightly to be dimmed by failure to respond to the demands of the hour, and some of her sons have helped to make the grand old state of which we are proud to be the children, a synonym for all that is manly, courageous and brave.  Since Friday last about one hundred and twenty men have enlisted to fill various quotas for this and adjoining counties, and the new company now being raised for the Thirty-sixth Regiment.  The town and county have already furnished a large amount to avoid conscription and are ready to make further advances in the same direction, if the men will come forward.  The enthusiasm is at fever heat in this county, and the boys are determined to close up this rebellion before another summer."

Before the end of the month the ranks were filled and the company left for the front.

A week later further mention is made as follows:

(Free Press, March 24, 1864.)

"One week ago last Monday, amid general enthusiastic rejoicing and well wishes from those they left behind, the volunteers of the new company for the Twenty-sixth Regiment, numbering one hundred and twenty men, left this place for Madison, where they are to be mustered into service.  As we glanced at the many familiar friends leaving to share the uncertainties of war,, one could not help noticing the large number of 'Old Pioneers' in the ranks on whose countenance age had already deeply stamped its never failing mark.  They have proven their deep patriotism by enlisting side by side with younger companions, to assist in quelling this unholy rebellion, which speedily must have a termination.  In the ranks were to be seen men whose 'silvery locks' told that many summers had passed over them, beside the beardless youth whose ardent desire to serve his country knows no bounds; all leaving with many blessings and fervent wishes for their safe journey through scenes which they may be called to pass, and for their speedy return home when duties are discharged.  Although recruiting for the company only commenced four weeks ago, it raised its maximum number in much less time; and in general appearance will compare with any other company raised in this section.  A number of the volunteers are residents of Chippewa and Buffalo counties, all stout, well built, rugged looking fellows, as if inured to the privations, hardships and exposures of outdoor life.  The company is yet unorganized, having expressed a wish to leave the selection of officers until they reach the place of destination, where they will be assigned to the Thirty-sixth Regiment."

The announcement of the election of captain and first lieutenant is given two weeks later.

(Free Press, April 7, 1864.)

"We understand that the new company recently raised here for the Twenty-sixth Regiment has selected W. Graves for captain and E. A. Galloway for first lieutenant.  Both of these men are qualified to discharge the perplexing duties of their offices in a creditable manner.  Charles H. Withcrow, late of the Twenty-fifth Regiment, took six or eight new recruits with him last week to Madison."

I have found no satisfactory account of the service of the Graves company.  Thomas Randall, in his history of the Chippewa Valley devotes a small amount of space to it, but his statements are not altogether accurate.  The following is taken from his book:  "Company K, Thirty-sixth Regiment, was recruited under the call of the President for five hundred thousand men, in February and March, 1864, through the efforts of Capt. Warren Graves and Lieut. E. A. Galloway and Joseph R. Ellis, all of Pleasant Valley, in this county, and nearly all the men were from the country towns in Eau Claire, Chippewa and Dunn counties.  It was a brave and hardy company of men, but the regiment was the most unfortunate of any that left his state, and of the eighty-eight men in Captain Graves' company, only one returned unscathed.  W. W. Crandall, of LaFayette, Chippewa county, was neither sick, wounded nor taken prisoner while every other man in the company was either killed, wounded, taken prisoner or sent to hospital.  Captain Graves was wounded, sent to hospital and died.  Lieutenant Galloway was killed while leading an assault on the enemy's works.  Many were taken prisoners in the deep railroad cut south of Petersburg, and suffered horrors a thousand times worse than death in rebel prisons, and many painful circumstances grew out of the long suspense and almost hopeless uncertainty as to their fate."

The number in the company was considerably larger than stated by Mr. Randall.  The Free Press states that 120 joined, but some of these must have failed to muster in.  The official roll shows 102 names.  Captain Graves did not die of wounds and was not wounded, but died from heat and overexertion during an engagement.  There is no such name as W. W. Crandall given on the official muster roll.  There was a David Crandall, from Red Cedar, but this Crandall was wounded at Cold Harbor.  Although this company unquestionably was fearfully decimated by death, wounds and prisoners taken, yet it is too strong a statement to say that only one returned unscathed.  Of course, there is no means of telling how many have temporarily been sick and in hospitals, but I find over 20 names of those who were mustered out at the time of the general mustering out of the company on the twelfth of July, 1865, and a considerable number more who were mustered out a few weeks earlier.


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