A narrative of service with the Third Wisconsin Infantry/Homeward
On the next day began the march to Washington. We entered Richmond on May 11, and on the 15th camped near the old battle-field of Chancellorsville. On the 24th we marched into Washington, where the Union army passed in review before all the dignitaries of our Nation, the representatives of foreign lands, and the immense throngs of people who had gathered from far and near to see Sherman's veterans. For this review, we selected from our Regiment, eight companies of thirty-two men each—the best drilled soldiers that we had. It was my place to ride in the rear of the Regiment as it marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, and no command made a better show than ours. From the Capitol to the reviewing stand, the marching and wheeling were simply perfect.
We now went into camp near Bladensburg, where all of the men whose terms of service expired before October 1 were mustered out and sent home. On June 6, General Hawley issued his farewell order to the old Brigade. When it was broken up on the next day, the officers of the Second Massachusetts sent to the officers of our regiment the formal expression of the feeling with which they parted from us. We replied in a similar letter. Even now, after a lapse of twenty-six years, it stirs the blood to read these two messages.
The Western veteran regiments still had work before them, and were not mustered out. They were organized as a provisional Brigade under
Hawley's command, and ordered to Louisville, Kentucky. Our Regiment left the east on June 11, travelling by way of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad to Parkersburg, and then down the Ohio River to Louisville. Here the Regiment was filled up with men from other Wisconsin commands, that were mustered out of service, until we had about 1,500 on our muster rolls. It was rumored, and in fact intended, that we should go to Mexico to drive out the French. The programme was entirely changed, however, when news came of the
voluntary withdrawal of the French soldiers, and orders were issued to muster out our Regiment.
A considerable number of our old veterans did not want to go home. A company was made up of those who wished to enter the services of the Juarez government in Mexico—at least they wished to go, if I would go in command. I was not quite ready, however, to become a soldier of fortune. When our duty to the Federal Government had been accomplished, I was as anxious as any to be mustered out of the army of war, and return to the army of peace.
- This correspondence was as follows:
Second Massachusetts Infantry,
Camp Slocum, Washington, D. C.,
June 4, 1865.
We, the undersigned, officers of the Second Massachusetts Infantry, wish to express to the officers of the Third Wisconsin Infantry our heartfelt regret that the fortunes of the service are about to separate our respective organizations.
From the campaign of 1862, in the Shenandoah Valley to the present glorious close of this bloody war, we have fought and marched side by side with you in almost every rebellious state. To have been brigaded together for so long a time is in itself remarkable; no less so is it that between our two regiments there should always have existed such strong feelings of friendship and mutual regard, untinged by the slightest shadow of jealousy.
As we recall now, some of the hard positions we have been in, we cannot help remembering how often our anxiety was lessened by the knowledge that the old Third Wisconsin was close at hand to support us. We know that you have had the same thoughts about us. Nothing in this whole war will be pleasanter for us to look back upon than this feeling of mutual respect and reliance. It not only elevated the tone of both our regiments, but we honestly believe, it went a great way toward making our brigade and division what they are now acknowledged to be—among the very best organizations of the army.
We assure you that in our own State, wherever the Second Massachusetts is known, its brother regiment is also famous. Whenever any of us have been at home, among the first inquiries would be, "How is the Third Wisconsin?" It has been with pride that we have answered, "It is the same staunch old regiment that fought at Antietam and Chancellorsville."
These are not compliments but expressions of plain, honest feelings. We have been knit together by deeds not words; deeds, which, as time goes on, we shall look back upon with continually increasing pride.
Together we have shared dangers and hardships, victories and defeats; and it is hard now for us to part; but in the natural order of things, the war being over, you go towards your homes in the west, we stay near ours in the east. Let us not, however, though separated by thousands of miles, forget these old associations. Let us rather cherish them with the fondest recollections: let it be a story to hand down to our children and children's children, how the Second Massachusetts and Third Wisconsin fought shoulder to shoulder through the great rebellion, and achieved together glory and renown. We ask you to accept this testimonial as a slight evidence of our affection and esteem. We bid you farewell, and God bless you, one and all,
C. F. Morse, Lieutenant Colonel, Com.; James Francis, Major; C. E. Munn, Surgeon; John A. Fox, Adjutant; E. A. Hawes, Quartermaster; Captains—Daniel Oakey, F. W. Crowninshield, E. A. Phalen, George A. Thayer, Theodore K. Parker, Dennis Mehan, Henry N. Comey, William E. Perkins; First Lieutenants—George J. Thompson, Jesse Richardson, Moses P. Richardson, William T. McAlpine, Jed C. Thompson, William D. Toombs.
Third Wisconsin V. V. Infantry,
Camp Slocum, near Washington, D. C.
June 7, 1865.
To the officers of the Second Massachusetts Veteran Volunteer Infantry:
The undersigned, officers of the Third Wisconsin Veteran Volunteer Infantry, tender their heartfelt thanks for your friendly communication of the 4th inst. It was with mingled feelings of pride and pleasure, not, however, unmixed with pain, that we perused it—pride at being thus associated with a regiment, which by patient endurance, good discipline, and unflinching bravery, has won for itself so honorable a name as the Second Massachusetts; pleasure at the thought that, even amid the stirring scenes of active war, the finer attributes of humanity are not forgotten, and that friendship, one of the noblest sentiments of the soul, still asserts her claims; pain at the recollection of the many gallant and brave, whose names have been associated with yours in the great struggle now happily terminated, but who have given their lives for a country they loved so well.
That "every rose has its thorn" was never more apparent to us than now. While in the toil and suffering of our active campaigns, we have looked forward with unmixed joy to the time when the angel of peace should once more spread her wings over the land, and we should return home to enjoy the sweets of social and civil life, but now that the hour is at hand when we must say farewell to those with whom we have been associated in the service of our common country, when we must join the parting hand with you, our companions and brothers in arms, our joy is mingled with sadness and our smiles with tears.
We accept your communication, not only as a manifestation of personal regard, but also as a fraternal greeting from the east to the west, which rising superior to local jealousies and factional strife, and remembering only the mingled dust of our dead on many battlefields, and the common country for which they sacrificed their all, proclaims us, in heart and in country, one and inseparable.
In parting, we assure you that, highly as we prize this expression of sentiment toward us, and sacredly as we will preserve it as the highest honor yet received, it is not needed to secure remembrance. The ineffaceable pictures of the past deeply engraven in our hearts, and lit up by the eternal flame of friendship will ever keep the Second Massachusetts Veteran Volunteer Infantry prominent among our pleasing memories in the future.
Wishing you all success and happiness and Heaven's best blessing, we bid you farewell. We are, brothers, yours fraternally,
George W. Stevenson, Lieutenant-Colonel; Warham Parks, Major; J. G. Conley, Surgeon; T. J. Kopff, Assistant Surgeon; A. C. Taylor, Adjutant; J. T. Marvin, Quartermaster; I. E. Springer, Chaplain. Captains—Ralph Van Brunt, Julian W. Hinckley, N. Daniels, E. Giddings, A. D. Haskins, C. R. Barager, J. Woodford, John M. Schweers, John E. Kleven. First Lieutenants—Stephen Lieurance, Oliver A. Hegg, J. D. Goodrich, John Agnew, John B. Du Bois, Abner Hubbell, J. D. Babcock, W. W. Freeman, George H. Cutter. Second Lieutenants—E. V. Moran, Lewis Colby, Edwin F. Proctor, Elon G. Biers, David Clark, A. S. Hill.