James Thew, from Warner (also spelled “Werner”), Wisconsin, volunteered for service in the 10th Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery on November 28, 1861. The battery was recruited and organized under Captain Yates Beebe at New Lisbon and mustered into service at Milwaukee on February 10, 1862. The men traveled to Racine where they trained at Camp Utley until their departure for St. Louis, Missouri, on March 18, 1862. They arrived at the Gateway City on the 20th where they were subsequently quartered in Benton Barracks. On April 1, General Orders No. 57, issued by Major General Henry Halleck, resulted in the transfer of twenty-five men to the 8th Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery, and forty-six men, including Lieutenant Henry Hicks and James Thew, to the 9th Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery.
Artilleryman James Thew
Following its receipt of six guns, “trophies from Fort Donnelson, with all the munitions and equipments,” the battery, one hundred fifty-five strong, and Thew moved west up the Missouri River to Leavenworth, Kansas. Here, the battery received its horses, drilled and made preparations for a lengthy march across the plains to Denver City, Colorado. On April 26, Thew and his fellow artillerymen commenced their 700-mile trek, by way of Fort Kearney and Julesburg, Colorado, to Denver City, which they finally reached on June 2.
At Denver City the battery was divided up into three sections. James Thew and the right section, under the command of First Lieutenant James Dodge, were sent south to Fort Union, New Mexico, a distance of almost 260 miles. Shortly afterward, the left section, led by First Lieutenant Watson Crocker, started on a 480-mile trek east to Fort Larned, Kansas. Crocker and his men would remain at Fort Larned until December, 1864. The center section, led by the battery’s commanding officer, Captain Cyrus Johnson, marched 246 miles south east to Colorado’s Fort Lyon on the Arkansas River.
On July 5, James Thew and the right section left Fort Union and began a 240-mile march east to join Captain Johnson and the battery’s center section at Fort Lyon.
Thew served at Fort Lyon for much of the remainder of 1862. Battery musters listed him as being “on extra duty” by order of the fort’s commander, Colonel Jesse Leavenworth, from October 7 through the 20th and on the 31st he was on detached service with Lieutenant Henry Hicks. On June 3, 1863, he was “appointed from private to artificer to take effect from April 30, 1863.” Thew was listed as sick at Fort Larned on August 3, 1863. He “rejoined his battery” at Fort Lyon on October 25, 1863. How and why Thew wound up in the post hospital at Fort Larned remains a mystery.
On April 17, 1864, the battery’s center and right sections and James Thew finally left Fort Lyon and marched to Council Grove, Kansas, where they served as the town’s garrison until August. During their stay at Council Grove, detachments from the battery “were continually escorting trains and United States mail coaches on the Santa Fe road for a distance of 150 miles.”
Area encompassed by the 9th Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery's, service during 1863-1864
(Map generated from Plate CLXVIII in The Official Military Atlas of the Civil War)
In July 1864, Lieutenant John Edington, the battery's right section and James Thew, were sent west to Salina, Kansas, where they were to join an expedition under Major General Samuel Curtis whose objective was to clear hostile Indians from the area surrounding Fort Larned. Before leaving Salina with Curtis's force, Edington left behind Lieutenant Henry Hicks and a small detachment of Badger artillerymen, one of whom was James Thew. Thew, Lieutenant Hicks and this small detachment remained at Salina until they rejoined the battery’s right and center sections at Fort Riley, Kansas.
In October 1864, Captain James Dodge (he had been the battery’s commanding officer since Captain Johnson had been dismissed back on October 21, 1863), with the right and center sections (four guns total) and James Thew joined the Third Brigade in Major General James G. Blunt’s Provisional Cavalry Division (a part of Major General Samuel Curtis’s Army of the Border) and took part in the campaign against Sterling Price through Missouri and Arkansas.
In the battle at Westport, notes William DeLoss Love, author of Wisconsin in the War of the Rebellion, the battery broke the charge of a column 6,000 strong, three successive times, and became so well known that a rebel officer, who participated in the charge, said, ‘the brass battery, which had made such great destruction in our ranks, advancing, caused so great terror and confusion that retreat could not be avoided.”
After participating in the pursuit of Price’s defeated Confederate forces, which included a grueling march to Fort Scott, then Keittsville, Missouri and, finally, Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Badgers turned back north, marched to Paoli, Kansas, and finally, Fort Leavenworth. Here, Captain Dodge and his two sections, the center and right, were reunited with Lieutenant Crocker and the battery’s left section.
“After securing an entire new battery and equipments” in preparation for its reorganization as a veteran unit, Captain Dodge and Lieutenant Hicks, at their own requests, and some fifty fellow Badgers were mustered out." An admiring William DeLoss Love would later write, “The aggregate distance marched by the battery and detached sections during these three years was upwards of 15,000 miles. The loss by death during this period of continuous marching and exposure, in a country where the summers are intensely hot, and the winters are severely cold, was but six men.”
On January 26, 1865, James Thew and the other non-veterans were mustered out at Fort Leavenworth “by reason of expiration of [their] term of service.” Thew left the service owing the Federal Government $0.48 for one canteen.
(Information for the above history was gleaned from James Thew’s Military Service Records @ The National Archives; William DeLoss Love’s Wisconsin in the War of the Rebellion. Chicago: Church and Goodman, Publishers, 1866; Edwin Quiner’s The Military History of Wisconsin in the War for the Union. Chicago: Clarke and Co., Publishers, 1866 – Reprint: The St. Croix Valley Civil War Round Table, 2000)
Twenty-six-year-old Levi Blake volunteered for three years of service in the Federal Army at Sparta, Wisconsin, on April 20, 1861. He was mustered into Company I, 4th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, as a 1st lieutenant at Camp Utley in Racine on July 2, 1861. Blake was present for all company musters with the exception of June 1862, when he was “left sick in camp at Baton Rouge,” and February 1863, when he was “sick in New Orleans.” On September 3, 1862, Levi was promoted to captain. Shortly afterward, the paymaster noted that a “difference of pay [is] due between that of 1st Lt. and Captain of Company from August 11 to August 31, 1862 and as a commander of company from 15 July to August 11, 1862.” On June 3, 1863, Captain Blake participated in the 4th Wisconsin Mounted Infantry’s fight at Clinton, Louisiana, and was “seriously wounded in the left arm.” Levi’s arm was eventually amputated at USA General Hospital in Baton Rouge. He died of “complications” a few days later on July 10, 1863. News of Blake’s death elicited an outpouring of grief in the captain’s hometown. A local Sparta newspaper published the following eulogy in honor of the fallen officer:
Capt. Blake was wounded in the arm at Port Hudson, underwent amputation, but after lingering a few days, passed away to his eternal home. Thus has this accursed rebellion cost the life of another brave man, devoted patriot, and Christian soldier. Among the first of Wisconsin’s brave sons, L.R. Blake offered himself for his country’s defence, and has faithfully and well discharged his duty, leaving for his many friends the glorious consolation that he died in the cause of freedom and humanity.
The sympathies of the entire community will be with the relatives of the deceased in this city, who are again called upon to pass through the deep waters of affliction. Mr. L.S. Blake and family have indeed experienced the bitter evils of treason. First, in the death of a nephew, (whom they loved as a son), Joseph Mann, member of the Belle City Rifles [Company F, 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry], who nobly fell facing the enemy in Virginia [Mann was killed at Gainesville, Virginia, on August 28, 1862]. Next they were called to mourn the death at Memphis of a brother, Charles Elliot, who in the battle of Holly Springs received a fatal wound. In the battle of Prairie Grove [Arkansas] another brother, Lieut. Albert H. Blake [Company F, 20th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry], was severely wounded, and has only recently been able to resume his duties, and now we record the death of the youngest brother at Baton Rouge.
Captain Blake is buried in Baton Rouge National
Cemetery (section 3, site 101)
(References: Levi Blake’s military service records in the National Archives; Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, Vol. 1, 189; Martin, Michael J. A History of the 4th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry and Cavalry in the Civil War. California: Savas Beatie, LLC, 2006, pgs. 173-185; Quiner, E.B. Papers: Correspondence of the Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865, Vol. 8, pg. 224, Micro 933 (microfilm), Wisconsin Historical Society)
Iron Brigade authority Lance Herdegen summed up the physical appearance of the 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry’s newly minted Adjutant, 1st Lieutenant Frank Haskell, in one succinct line: “. . . his receding hair was trimmed close to his head and sideburns and a carefully trimmed mustache framed sharp intelligent hazel eyes.” Jerome Watrous, the 6th Wisconsin’s quartermaster (later captain), had “never [seen] a finer-appearing soldier” than Haskell. Though other men, including Watrous himself, would succeed the Vermont native as regimental adjutant, “Frank Haskell never had a successor,” Watrous later wrote, “[and] was as perfect a soldier as I ever knew.”
Frank Aretas Haskell was born in Turnbridge, Vermont, on July 13, 1828. After graduating with honors from Dartmouth College in the class of 1854, Haskell followed his brother and moved to Madison where he entered the law firm of Orton, Atwood & Orton in the autumn of that year. Following the outbreak of the Civil War, the 33-year-old attorney, whose only previous military experience consisted of his participation in Madison’s Governor’s Guard militia, was commissioned a first lieutenant in the 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry’s Company I. Lieutenant Haskell served as the regiment’s adjutant until April 1862 when he became aide-de-camp to the Iron Brigade’s newly minted commander, Brigadier General John Gibbon. On July 2, 1863, during the battle of Gettysburg, Haskell’s gritty performance earned high praise from both Gibbon and the Second Corps’ commander, Major General Winfield Scott Hancock.
Lieutenant Frank Haskell (WHS 3343)
On February 9, 1864, Haskell was finally promoted to colonel and assigned command of the fledgling 36th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. After spending the summer in Madison, where he oversaw completion of the regiment’s recruitment and organization, Haskell and the 36th Wisconsin Infantry joined the Army of the Potomac’s Second Corps at Spotsylvania Court House on May 19. After crisscrossing the North Anna and Pamunkey Rivers in an attempt to flank Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia, the Badgers arrived at Cold Harbor on June 2, 1864. Early the following morning Grant ordered a general advance by brigades, massed in column by regiments, upon the entrenched Confederates. “Advancing across an open field, under a heavy artillery fire, when about twenty-five rods from the enemy’s works . . . the Thirty-sixth took the lead of the brigade. About this time Colonel Boyd McKean, brigade commander, was killed, and command devolved on Colonel Haskell, who ordered the brigade forward. The men arose to obey and were met by a shower of bullets.” Haskell quickly directed the men to lie down. A few moments later he was killed by a single bullet to the head.
Haskell’s peers and fellow officers clearly considered him to be the idyllic soldier. Francis Walker, author of The History of the Second Army Corps, thought the “intelligent . . . courageous . . . and generous” Haskell “was the bravest of the brave” when, on July 3 at Gettysburg, “he rode between the two lines, then swaying back and forth under each other’s fire, calling upon the men of the Second Division to follow him, and setting an example of valor and self-devotion never forgotten by any man of the thousands who witnessed it.” Almost thirty-one years after the ill-fated Federal assault at Cold Harbor, Virginia, on June 3, 1864, Clement Warner, the 36th Wisconsin Infantry’s lieutenant colonel, submitted a letter to the Columbus Wisconsin Democrat in which he recalled his commanding officer’s performance during that final attack and, again, mourned his death . . .
Frank A. Haskell was in every respect an ideal soldier, according to the highest and best definition of that term . . . [At Cold Harbor] he was standing nearly in front of the Second Division which had thus far pressed forward through the murderous fire, and apparently seeing the hopelessness of further advance, and willing to save this remnant of his men, gave the order, ‘Lie down, men,’ which was the last order he gave . . . For an instant it seemed he was the only man standing, and only for an instant, for as he stood surveying the havoc around him, and glanced toward the enemy’s line, he was seen to throw up his arms and sink to the earth, his forehead pierced by a rebel ball . . . Thus fell one of Wisconsin’s most gallant soldiers, a thorough disciplinarian, and an accomplished scholar . . .
Haskell has gone down in history as one of the Iron Brigade’s most rigorous mentors, a courageous officer and the author of what many historians feel is the best eyewitness account of the three-day battle at Gettysburg ever written. Less well known, however, is the contempt many of Haskell’s men felt toward their “exquisitely cultured” commander. Captain Jerome Watrous blamed the 6th Wisconsin boys’ dislike of Haskell on the fact that the former “were volunteers [and] they didn’t want to be converted into Regulars . . . They kicked and thrashed, but the harder they kicked and thrashed the more thorough was Haskell’s discipline.”
While he was
undoubtedly a strict taskmaster, it was the severe manner in which Haskell
treated his men that especially rankled the 36th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry’s
Guy Taylor. “I suppose you have hurd that our regt. has been badly cut to
peases and our Cournal has been shot,” Taylor informed his wife in a June 6,
1864 letter . . .
Their is not much morning with the men over his death, he continued, and a good meny thinks that the ball that hit him came from his own men, but I do not know nor do I cair he has killed a good meny of our boys, he made them march day and night, and a good many fell rite in the rode and died, and their was no call for such marching, but the tyrant wont kill any more men.
In February 1865,
Taylor witnessed the punishment of several men in the nearby 19th Massachusetts
Infantry for fighting. Though his own
colonel had been dead for over
The 36th Wisconsin's Guy Carlton Taylor
(Monroe County Local History Room, Sparta, WI)
eight months, the method of punishment meted out by the 19th Massachusetts colonel quickly rekindled painful memories Taylor still harbored of the 36th Wisconsin Infantry’s past “tyrant [and] highway robber . . .”
My Dear Wife
. . . There is nothing new hear only a fiss fite in the 19 Mass. Reg., and the fiters all got punished and maybe you would like to know how they was punished, well they put up two post and put a pole across from one to the other it was about 12 feet high, and then they had to get up on the pole and their hands was tied togeather in frunt of them their was 5 of them and they was kept their all day without anything to eat. It made a genral show for all of the camp. More than a thousand eyes saw them, and the remarks about them, and the officers that put them up their, I wood not like to be in their Colonels plais if one of them boys ever gets a good chance at him in time of battle. He may lay as low as the Colonel of the 36 Wis. did, although he was shot by a reb (maybe) sharpshooter. There is not many that moarns over his lost hear in the armey he is known all threw this armey, and no one thinks he got more than his gust due.”
Was Colonel Haskell a “tyrant?” Was he a “perfect” soldier? The truth is, likely, somewhere in between . . .
References for the above: Alderson, Kevin and Patsy. Letters Home to Sarah, The Civil War Letters of Guy C. Taylor, 36th Wisconsin Volunteers (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2012); Haskell, Frank A. The Battle of Gettysburg, The Eyewitness Account by Col. Frank A. Haskell (Sandwich, Massachusetts: Reprint, Chapman Billies,Inc., 1993); Herdegen, Lance J. The Iron Brigade in Civil War and Memory (California: Savas Beatie, LLC, 2012); Quiner, Edwin B. The Military History of Wisconsin in the War for the Union (Chicago: Clarke & Co. Publishers, 1866).
Ernest Stanley Impey was born in Wanstead Parish near London, England, in May 1891. On October 6, 1914, the 23-year-old clerk enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) at Melbourne, Victoria. The “grey-eyed, sallow complexioned” volunteer stood 5’ 10-1/2” tall and weighed 11 stone plus 3 lbs. (157 lbs. total). Following his assignment to the 9th Australian Light Horse’s C squadron, Impey left for Egypt on February 11, 1915. Ernest became ill soon after his arrival and was admitted to No. 1 General Hospital at Mena. Stricken with a plethora of maladies, including tonsillitis, influenza, pleurisy, septicemia and varicocoele, the light horseman was placed on board the troopship Hororata and promptly sent back to Melbourne. Impey arrived in Australia on September 1, 1915. After only 445 days in the service, he was deemed “medically unfit” and discharged from the AIF at Melbourne on May 1, 1916.
Light horseman Ernest Impey early in the war . . . fully accoutered and healthy.
(Australian War Memorial)
A resilient Impey, now 25, must have regained his health for he reenlisted in the AIF’s 30th Reinforcements four months later. After a lengthy steamship voyage that commenced on November 11, 1917, and included stops at Suez and Alexandria, Egypt, and Taranto, Italy, Impey finally arrived in Southampton, England, on January 4, 1918. One more steamship journey across the English Channel brought him to the coast of France where he then marched to the Australian General Base Depot at Rouelles. In March 1918, he was assigned, as a gunner, to the 1st Divisional Ammunition Column for the Royal Field Artillery. On October 2, 1918, an accidental laceration to the right thumb landed Impey in the 55th Casualty Clearing Station. Following brief recuperative stints at the 3rd Stationary Hospital and 2nd Convalescent Depot in Rouen, he was sent to the Base Depot and finally discharged from medical care on October 19.
Impey rejoined his unit at Havre, France, on October 30. Following the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918, Impey was among many who received leaves to the United Kingdom. Impey’s month-long sojourn in England ended in March 1919 after which he returned to his unit in France. He returned to England for the final time on May 5. Impey was “granted leave to 28.9.19 [and] pension non-military employment” the following month. On October 6, Ernest Impey boarded the steamer Pakeha and started on the final leg of his journey back to Australia on October 6. He arrived at Melbourne on November 24 and was officially discharged from the AIF on December 24, 1919.
(The above was gleaned from Ernest Stanley Impey's military service records located at the Australian War Memorial.)
Tucked away in W. Craig Gaines’ voluminous Encyclopedia of Civil War Shipwrecks is the vessel John J. Roe. Nothing in the few lines Gaines devotes to this steamer suggests that she had been anything more than a hard-working vessel plying her trade before she sank in the Mississippi River off New Madrid, Missouri, on September 12, 1864. If one sifts a little more thoroughly through history’s pages, it’s clear the John J. Roe was no ordinary steamship.
Built in 1856 and likely
named after St. Louis, Missouri’s “merchant prince” Jonathan J. Roe, the
691-ton stern-wheeler was initially advertised as a “new and very swift running
passenger packet steamer” that ran between St. Louis, Cairo, Hickman, Memphis
“and all intermediate landings.” “The
delightful old tug,” as one crewmember remembered her, initially established a
solid, though less than noteworthy, reputation shuttling large quantities of
cargo and the few passengers she typically had room for up and down the
That all changed on August 5, 1857, with the addition to the steamer’s crew of a 21-year-old apprentice pilot named Samuel Clemens. Clemens owed his assignment on the John J. Roe to a professional steamboat pilot and mentor Horace Bixby. When Bixby left the Mississippi River to begin “steering” steamers on the mighty Missouri River, he, according to custom, entrusted the training of his cub pilot, Samuel Clemens, to another experienced Mississippi River pilot. Fortunately for Clemens, Bixby selected the John J. Roe and its two pilots, Zebulon Leavenworth, whom Clemens later described as a “warm-hearted and good natured giant, which is the way with giants,” and Beck Jolly, “a very handsome, very graceful, very intelligent and companionable . . . character,” as the young trainee’s tutors.
September 30, 1867 image of Samuel Clemens
(Library of Congress)
In his autobiography, Clemens, who by then had adopted the name Mark Twain, fondly recalled the time he spent on board the John J. Roe:
She was a freighter and not licensed to carry passengers, but she always had a dozen passengers on board; they paid no fare; they were guests of the captain and nobody was responsible for them if anything of a fatal nature happened to them.
She had a very spacious deck – just the place for moonlight dancing and daytime fun, and such things were always happening . . . All the crew were simple-hearted folks and over-flowing with good fellowship and the milk of human kindness. They had all been reared on farms in the interior of Indiana and they had brought their simple farm ways and farm spirit to the steamboat. When she was on a voyage there was nothing in her to suggest a steamboat. One didn’t seem to be on board a steamboat at all. He was floating around on a farm. Nothing in this world pleasanter than this can be imagined.
Clemens and his association with the John J. Rowe lasted less than a year. The former would go on to achieve his dream of becoming a professional Mississippi River steamship pilot (and much, much more), while the latter would continue to transport cargo and those, as Clemens recalled, “dozen passengers, male and female, young and old . . . of the likable sort affected by the John J. Roe farmers.” The idyllic lives of both changed markedly with the commencement of the Civil War.
Though considered a “freighter” and not a true passenger steamer, the John J. Roe spent much of her brief wartime service shuttling Federal soldiers, Confederate prisoners and the wounded of both antagonists up and down the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri, to as far south as Vicksburg, Mississippi. The steamer, which Colonel, Assistant Quartermaster General and Superintendent of Transportation Lewis B. Parsons claimed had a capacity of 1500 men, played an instrumental role in supporting Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s forces at Shiloh in 1862 and during the Vicksburg Campaign of 1863. She often carried civilians too, including women and children, and was occasionally fired upon by Confederate guerrillas during her many trips.
At the same time the John J. Roe was crisscrossing the Mississippi River carrying men and material for the Union cause, a small contingent of Badger horse soldiers based some 200 miles or more southwest of the steamship’s home port of St. Louis was also contributing to the Federal war effort. The first battalion, Second Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry, had been serving in Missouri since the regiment’s arrival at St. Louis back on March 26, 1862. After finally receiving accouterments and drawing horses at Benton Barracks in May, the Second Wisconsin Cavalry proceeded by battalions to Jefferson City where it had remained until the 28th. The Badgers then rode south to Springfield and bivouacked there until June 9. On June 13, the first battalion (Companies A, D, G and K), under the command of Major William H. Miller was ordered to Cassville. The remaining two battalions, the second and third, “took up their line of march for Batesville on the White River in Arkansas” the next day.
The Second Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry at Benton Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri
(Image WICR 30837 courtesy of Wilson's Creek National Battlefield)
The first battalion remained detached from the Second Wisconsin Cavalry’s remaining battalions for the next 15 months. During this time it served almost exclusively in Missouri and northwestern Arkansas. In addition to scouting and escort duty, the first battalion “took part in the forced march of General Francis Herron to the aid of Major General James Blunt, and was sent forward with Herron’s other cavalry and participated in the battle of Prairie Grove (Arkansas; December 7, 1862) without sustaining any loss.” On April 16, 1864, the Badgers were removed from Herron’s command and assigned to duty as the escort for General William Orme. The battalion lost five men (all killed) in the skirmish at Lane’s Prairie, Missouri, on May 26, 1864, and spent the remainder of that summer near Rolla and Springfield guarding trains and “scouting through the surrounding country.”
Upon receipt of orders directing Major Miller and the first battalion to rejoin the regiment at Vicksburg, Mississippi, the Badgers returned to St. Louis and began making preparations for the long steamship journey to the Confederacy’s Gibraltar of the West. On or near September 12, the first battalion, its horses and “considerable government freight” were loaded on board a stern-wheeler that had clearly seen much service. Joining the Wisconsin horse soldiers at the last minute were the steamer’s only two female passengers, the wives of Company D’s Captain Charles Bentley and Company G’s Major Nicholas Dale. As the men, their ladies and the horses settled in, it’s doubtful anyone gave a second thought to the name of their vessel . . . the John J. Roe.
Sometime during the evening of September 12, the John J. Rowe struck a “wreck heap” or snag in the (New) Madrid bend of the Mississippi River. Most of the battalion’s horses, 165, drowned as the steamer went down. All of the troopers and the officers’ wives were, fortunately, rescued by the crew of a nearby gunboat. According to a New York Times’ article published two days after the accident, the steamer “was valued at $50,000 and insured for $30,000.” Four lives were also reported “lost.” Those lives may have belonged to some of the steamer’s crew members as no troopers in the Second Wisconsin Cavalry’s roster are listed as drowning in September 1864.
New Madrid, Missouri, and the bend in the Mississippi River where the John J. Rowe
sank (Plate X, Map 1 in The Official Military Atlas of the Civil War)
Many years after the war, Clemens, now known as Mark Twain, wrote of the John J. Rowe’s demise:
She was dismally slow . . . so slow that when she finally sunk at Madrid Bend it was five years before the owners heard of it. That was always a confusing fact, but it is according to record, anyway . . . Up-stream she couldn’t even beat an island; down-stream she was never able to overtake the current. But she was a love of a steamboat.
In retrospect, more lives might have been lost had the John J. Roe struck that “snag” with greater velocity. Perhaps her sluggishness was a blessing in the end . . .
(Sources for the above: Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi and his autobiography; E. Craig Gaines’ Encyclopedia of Civil War Shipwrecks; Franklin T. Oldt’s and Patrick J. Quigley’s The History of Dubuque County, Containing a History of its County, Its Cities, Towns, &c. Biographical Sketches of Citizens, War Record of its Volunteers in the Late Rebellion, Local Statistics, History of the Northwest, History of Iowa, Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880; Edwin Quiner’s The Military History of Wisconsin in the War for the Union, Chicago: Clarke & Co., 1866; Emmet C. West’s History and Reminiscences of the Second Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment, Portage, WI: State Register Print, 1904; The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Vol. 10, Pt. 1, 315, 329, Vol. 17, Pt. 2, 261, Vol. 24, Pt. III, 115, 715, Series 2, Vol. 5, 224)
Twenty-six-year-old Henry S. Lee volunteered for service in the Federal Army at Milwaukee on September 9, 1861, and was mustered into Captain Richard Griffiths’ 7th Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery, as a first lieutenant at Camp Utley in Racine on October 4. At the time of his muster Lee supplied his own horse and “horse equipments,” which were valued at, respectively, $150 and $110.
Captain Henry S. Lee (author's collection)
Lee and the 7th Battery remained at Camp Utley until March 15 when it and the 5th and 6th Batteries, Wisconsin Light Artillery, were ordered down to St. Louis. Upon their arrival in the Gateway City, all three batteries were directed to report to General John Pope, who was then at New Madrid overseeing the Federal siege of Island No. 10. After landing at Cairo, Illinois, the Badger artillerymen proceeded by rail to Sykestown (now known as Sykeston), Missouri, and then marched to New Madrid, arriving there on the 21st. Three days later, Lieutenant Lee was assigned to duty with Captain Henry Hescock’s Battery G, 1st Missouri Light Artillery, which was then posted “4 miles below (south) Point Pleasant, Missouri. Lee remained with Battery G until his transfer to Tennessee in the fall of 1862 where he served on “court martial duty” through October. Following the resignation of Captain Griffiths on November 10, Lee was promoted to captain and directed to rejoin the battery, which was then at Humboldt, Tennessee.
During December 1862, the 7th Battery had several run-ins with Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his cavalry the most severe of which occurred at Parker’s Cross Roads, Tennessee, on the 31st. Here, the battery lost several guns, 4 killed and 5 wounded. Lieutenant Lee, who would not receive his captain’s commission until February 15, 1863, did not participate in the affair at Parker’s Cross Roads. Illness had forced him to remain behind in Jackson.
After taking part in the pursuit of Forrest to the Tennessee River, the 7th Battery returned to Jackson where it was reequipped. On June 1, Lee and the Badgers were ordered to Corinth, Mississippi, where they were employed in garrison duty throughout the month. On June 17, Captain Lee fell from his horse and fractured his right elbow. A week and a half later an increasingly ailing Lee submitted the following appeal to his superiors,
In consequence of a fracture of my right arm . . . and of general debility induced by an attack of congestion of the lungs, I respectfully request a leave of absence for 20 days to go to the state of Wisconsin for a better more favorable climate and to facilitate [my] recovery and fitness for duty.
Though Lee’s entreaty was granted, his convalescence in Wisconsin failed to relieve his respiratory issues. Henry rejoined the battery at Memphis on September 1863 but would never see “active” service again. In November he was detached to serve as Judge Advocate in the District of West Tennessee . . . a position he would hold until December of the following year. On March 18, 1865, Captain Lee was examined by the 6th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry’s John Niglas, who was serving as the staff surgeon. Niglas found Lee
suffering from habitual congestion of the lungs, whereby he is incapacitated for active service in the field, in consequence of which condition he served as Judge Advocate for more than a year on military posts in this district whereby his general health became much impaired even so, that in my opinion tuberculosis depositions in the superior lobes of the lungs in either side might be looked for.
The 6th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry's Surgeon (Major) John Niglas
(Tennessee State Library and Archives)
As a result of Niglas’s diagnosis and, perhaps his advice, Captain Lee officially mustered out of service on March 20, 1865. (The above came from Lee’s Military Service Records at the National Archives and Edwin B. Quiner’s The Military History of Wisconsin in the War for the Union)
“Whatever [the horses] outward appearance might have been, and it varied considerably in different units, their internal condition was by no means good,” Lieutenant Colonel Richard M.P. Preston later admitted in his history of the Desert Mounted Corps.
The great bulk of them [the horses] had taken part in the advance across Sinai, and had been in Egypt for a long time prior to that. Two years of unaccustomed and indifferent forage, added to large quantities of sand they had consumed in their food while in the desert, has more or less permanently injured their digestive organs. It is true that sand colic, the scourge of the desert, had almost ceased to trouble the force by the end of the summer of 1917, but the dire effects of sand were evident in every postmortem. In a large number of cases the membrane of the stomach and intestines were freely marked with the scars of old ulcers, and in some instances large portions of it had sloughed away. Sand muzzles were almost universally employed . . . but it was impossible to prevent sand getting into the forage; indeed quantities of it had been purposely placed there by dishonest native merchants, in order to increase the weight of bales and sacks.
It is probable that 90% of the draught horses of the artillery and transport had strained their hearts to some extent during the terrible work in the heavy sands of the desert. The writer carried out, or was present at, upwards of twenty postmortems on draught horses that died during the advance across Sinai and, in every case, found and enlargement of the heart greater than could possibly accounted for by the age of the horse. In one instance, the wall of the heart was ruptured right through. This horse had been led four miles back to camp after first showing signs of extreme distress. On arriving in camp he drank well, ate a bran mash, and lived for six hours afterwards, a wonderful example of endurance.
Preston also opined
that “horses [could] not be in too big condition at the commencement of
operations, provided they [were] kept adequately exercised while being
conditioned.” “The really fat, round
horses,” he further noted, “finished . . . operations in better condition than
those which had looked harder and more muscular, but not so fat, at the
ANZAC Mounted Division's horses in a valley near Es Salt, Palestine, in April 1918.
Note the extensive loads they're carrying in addition to their troopers. (Australian
War Memorial Image)
beginning.” Before the desert campaign ended on October 31, 1918, with Turkey’s signing of General Allenby’s Armistice, Preston was in full agreement with the Australian troopers' contention that “good blood [breeding in a horse] will carry more weight than big bone.”
The majority of the horses in the Corps were Walers,” Preston continued, and there is no doubt these hardy Australian horses make the finest cavalry mounts in the world. For many years past the Australians have been buying up the well-bred failures on the English Turf, and buying them cheap; not for racing purposes, but to breed saddle horses for up-country stations. As a result of this policy, they have now got types of compact, well built, saddle and harness horses that no other part of the world can show. Rather on the light side, according to our ideas, but hard as nails, and with beautifully clean legs and feet, their record in this war places them far above the cavalry horses of any other nation. The Australians themselves can never understand our partiality for the half-bred, weight-carrying hunter, which looks to them like a cart horse . . . It must [also] be remembered that Australian countrymen are bigger, heavier men than their English brothers. They formed just half the [Desert Mounted] Corps, and it is probable that they averaged not far short of 12 stone [168 lbs.] each stripped. To this weight must be added another nine and a half stone [133 lbs.] for saddle, ammunition, sword, rifle, clothes and accoutrements, so that each horse carried a weight of over 21 stone [294 lbs.], all day and every day for seventeen days, on less than half the normal ration of forage, and with only one drink in every 36 hours!”
The weight-carrying English hunter had to be nursed back to fitness after these operations, over a long period, while the little Australian antipodean horses, without any special care other than good food and plenty of water, were soon fit to go through another campaign as arduous as the last one.
In contrast to the
cavalryman’s, mounted infantryman’s and lancer’s horses, the Royal Horse
Artillery’s draught equines had to “carry nearly the same weight as a
cavalryman’s, and, at the same time, do [their] share in dragging along, over
hill and dale, through bush [and] through briar” a 13 lb. or 18 lb. gun (six
horses to each gun) that easily weighed, with ammunition limber, in excess of
1.3 tons. Given “the best will in the
world, and the best of horsemanship and driving, the artillery,” Lieutenant
Colonel Preston rightfully claimed, “cannot move as fast as cavalry.” If guns were expected to keep up with the
cavalry, Preston felt that three directives needed to be followed: a) orders
should be issued to the artillery first or at least early enough to “enable it
to get on the move before the cavalry start,” b) “guns should march close to
the head of the column,” and c) “if there is a shortage of water or forage, the
artillery horses should be the last to suffer from it.”
Royal Horse Artillery 18-pound gun in action in the Sinai desert during the battle of
Romani, summer of 1916. The gun had a range of at approximately 6000 yards and,
with the ammunition limber, weighed at least 1.3 tons. Note the spurs the left-most
gunner is wearing. (Australian War Memorial Image)
Though admitting some degree of partiality because he “happened to be a gunner,” Preston aptly summarized the horse artillery’s relationship with and importance to the other branches of the military in one simple statement: “Horse guns are the servant of the cavalry as field guns are of the infantry, but, unless the servant is adequately fed and looked after, he cannot serve his master properly.”
The above passages can be found in Richard Preston’s The Desert Mounted Corps (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1921).
As the 18th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry’s Lieutenant Colonel Charles Jackson (a Brodhead, Wisconsin, native) slowly crept along the skirmish line offering words of encouragement to his seven companies of Badger foot soldiers, he bent down low and peered at his watch. Jackson’s timepiece read “4 o’clock,” he would later write, at which time “I found the enemy taking position near my line. I at once opened fire upon them . . .” Farther down the skirmish line a nervous 17-year-old Canadian native from St. Denis, Quebec, made sure his musket was capped and loaded. Nelson Fountain, a 4’-11” tall, black-eyed, brown-haired “watchmaker” had volunteered for service in the 18th Wisconsin Infantry’s Company B as a musician at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, back in September of 1862. Nelson, who was only 15 at the time, needed his father’s permission to enlist as a minor, which the latter granted on September 1, 1862. Nelson was a model soldier and a healthy one to boot for he was never absent for a company muster throughout 1862 and 1863 . . . but that would soon change.
Gemtype of Company B's Nelson Fountain
Nelson, his commanding officer and some 150 other 18th Wisconsin soldiers were posted in a thin line across the Sandtown Road several hundred yards south of Allatoona Pass. The regiment’s three remaining companies, E, F and I, eighty-four men under the command of Columbus, Wisconsin’s Captain Peter McIntyre, were stationed two miles farther south at a blockhouse guarding Allatoona Creek. These three companies would eventually be captured to a man at 4 PM by Colonel Thomas Adaire’s 4th Mississippi Infantry but not before the blockhouse they were defending had been set on fire by Confederate artillery.
Facing Lieutenant Colonel Jackson and Badgers was the entire complement of Major General Samuel French’s Confederate artillery, ten 12-pounder Napoleans and two 3” ordnance rifles under the direction of Major John D. Myrick. Myrick’s artillery was posted on Moore’s Hill 1200 yards or so south of the railroad cut (Allatoona Pass) and defended by two regiments of foot soldiers, the 39th North Carolina Infantry and the 32nd Texas Cavalry (dismounted).
At 6:30 AM Myrick’s artillery commenced its bombardment of and exchanging fire with the 12th Wisconsin Light Artillery’s three guns (two 3” ordnance rifles and one bronze Napolean) in Star Fort and two 3” ordnance rifles and one Napolean in the Eastern Redoubt. The 18th Wisconsin Infantry maintained its line and continued harassing Myrick’s gunners and their infantry support with steady fire until 10:30 AM. At that point, Lieutenant Colonel Jackson looked west and “discovered a charging column moving up between the Cartersville and Pumpkin Vine road, driving our forces rapidly toward the fort [Star Fort], west of the railroad . . .
I commenced moving my men to the fort in order to assist in its defense. I returned under a severe fire of grape, canister and shell, and reached the fort, east of the railroad [Eastern Redoubt], where I remained during the remainder of the fight.
During this withdrawal to the Eastern Redoubt the 18th Wisconsin suffered losses of four killed and eleven wounded. Nelson Fountain’s spotless company bi-monthly muster attendance record ended when he was struck in the right leg by grapeshot from one of Major Myrick’s cannons. Fountain crumpled to the ground immediately and was helped off the field by his comrades. Their timely assistance narrowly kept the plucky watchmaker from joining the eighty-four 18th Wisconsin Infantrymen at the blockhouse who would eventually be captured.
Position of the 18th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry and its line of withdrawal during the morning of
October 5, 1864.
Though Major General John Corse claimed victory at the battle at Allatoona, Georgia, Fountain and the 705 other Union casualties sustained by the Allatoona garrison and Rome Detachment (a portion of Major General John Corse’s 4th Division that reinforced the garrison during the evening of October 4) would probably agree that this triumph came with a high price. Fountain was transported to Jefferson General Hospital at Port Fulton (now Jeffersonville), Indiana, on November 11, 1864. This massive hospital, which was the third largest in the country, included 27 buildings, 24 of which were wards each having 53 beds plus one for each ward master. Fountain, as patient number 8512, was placed in Ward 2, Bed 29. Though Fountain’s condition had stabilized by this time, it was clear his return to full health would require surgical removal of a portion of his mangled right leg. Sometime during his stay at Jefferson General Hospital the “lower third” of his leg was “amputated at the right thigh.”
Jefferson USA General Hospital, Port Fulton, Indiana
In a Company B muster dated October 31, 1864 - February 28, 1865, Fountain was listed as a “non-veteran sent to Wisconsin to be mustered out.” He was eventually transferred to Madison, Wisconsin’s Harvey USA General Hospital where he was listed as a “deserter but restored without trial, he having produced evidence that his absence [from the regiment] was caused by inability to travel.” Captain William Jason Dawes, Military Assistant and member of the Veteran Reserve Corps (Dawes had been wounded at Corinth, Mississippi on October 20, 1862), was stationed at Harvey USA General Hospital when Fountain arrived. Dawes, a Fox Lake, Wisconsin, native and former captain in the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, was instrumental in getting the charge of “desertion” stricken, via the Department of the Northwest's Special Order No. 45, from Nelson Fountain’s record on March 3, 1865. Fountain finally mustered out of Federal service at Madison on May 18, 1865.
Madison's Harvey Hospital built in 1854 by Governor Leonard Farwell.
This was Fountain's last stop before mustering out. (Wisconsin
For a full presentation on the battle at Allatoona, Georgia, see my previous blog titled, "October 5, 1864: Allatoona, Georgia, The 12th Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery and a Medal of Honor."
(The above was gleaned from the following sources: Nelson Fountain’s Military Service Records, National Archives; William Scaife’s Allatoona Pass, Etowah, Georgia: Etowah Valley Historical Society, 1995; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume 39, Part I, 751-752; War Paper No. 17, William Ludlow’s The Battle of Allatoona, Michigan Commandery, Loyal Legion, April 2, 1891; Edwin B. Quiner’s The Military History of Wisconsin in the War for the Union, Chicago: Clarke & Co., Publishers, 1866; Captain William Jason Dawes' service records @ www.civilwardata.com )
On November 8, 1917, two full squadrons and two half squadrons of the Warwickshire and Worcestershire Yeomanry (about 170 troopers total) charged the rearguard of the 8th Turkish Army as its headquarters was withdrawing from the Palestinian village of Huj. “The last great charge of the British Cavalry,” as it would eventually be christened, was made in response to a request for help by the commander of the British Infantry’s 60th Division, Major General J.S. Shea. As his infantrymen, who were pursing portions of the Turkish 8th Army during its retreat northward, came upon the outskirts of Huj, they encountered severe artillery fire from the Turkish rearguard. In addition to German, Austrian and Ottoman artillery, this rearguard also included some 300 infantry and six machine guns all of which were posted on a commanding ridge just south of Huj. “Finding Colonel Gray-Cheape of the Warwickshire Yeomanry nearby,” Lieutenant Colonel R. Preston, commander of the Australian Division’s Royal Artillery, later wrote, “[Shea] requested him to charge the enemy guns at once.”
A yeomanry patrol during a respite in the desert. The horses are eating out of nosebags and
they're wearing fly veils. (1918 Imperial War Museum image on Wikipedia)
Closest to Colonel Gray-Cheape were two squadrons of his Warwickshire Yeomanry. To this force he added two half squadrons of the Worcestershire Yeomanry. Both regiments were part of the Australian Mounted Division’s 5th Mounted Brigade. In contrast to the Australian Light Horse, which were considered mounted infantry, these British troopers, who were true cavalrymen and fought as such, were armed with 1908 pattern swords (in addition to their .303 Short Magazine Lee Enfield rifles).
Colonel Gray-Cheape led his force under what cover was available to a point a little over a 1000 yards northeast of the 60th Division’s right flank. After turning and advancing northwest to within 800 yards of the ridge, he ordered his men to draw their swords and the charge commenced. “. . . ten troops galloped over the rise, and raced down upon the flank of the enemy guns,” Preston recalled.
The Turks had in position a battery of field and one of mountain guns, with four machine guns on a low hill between, the two batteries and three heavy howitzers behind. As our cavalry appeared, thundering over the rise, the Turks sprang to their guns and swung them round, firing point-blank into the charging horsemen. The infantry, leaping on the limbers, blazed away with their rifles till they were cut down.
. . . The leading troops of the cavalry dashed into the first enemy battery. The following troops, swinging to the right [north], took three heavy howitzers almost in their stride, leaving the guns silent, the gun crews dead or dying, and galloped round the hill, to fall upon the mountain battery from the rear, and cut the Turkish gunners to pieces in a few minutes. The third wave, passing the first battery, where a fierce sabre vs. bayonet fight was going on between the cavalry and the enemy, raced up the slope at the machine guns. Many saddles were emptied in that few yards, but the charge was irresistible. In a few minutes the enemy guns were silenced, their crews killed, and the whole position was in our hands.
Lieutenant Mercer, the only Warwickshire Yeomanry officer to pass through the charge uninjured, described the harrowing ride,
Machine guns and rifles opened up on us the moment we topped the rise behind which we had formed up. I remember thinking that the sound of crackling bullets was just like hailstorm on a iron-roofed building, so you may guess what the fusillade was. . . . A whole heap of men and horses went down twenty or thirty yards from the muzzles of the guns. The squadron broke into a few scattered horsemen at the guns and seemed to melt away completely. For a time I, at any rate, had the impression that I was the only man left alive. I was amazed to discover we were the victors.
Casualties among the British yeomanry were high. Twenty-six troopers, including three squadron commanders, were killed outright, while another 40 were wounded. One hundred horses also lost their lives during this assault. In his written account of the cavalry operations in Palestine and Syria titled, The Desert Mounted Corps, Lieutenant Colonel Preston blamed the high loss among the horses on the enemy gunners’ target choice. “Apart from the fact that a horse presents a much bigger target than a man, it is probably that infantry, especially machine gunners, when suddenly charged by cavalry, have a tendency to fire ‘into the brown,’ where the target looks thickest, which is about in the middle of the horses’ bodies, thus dropping many horses but failing to kill the riders.”
1930 sketch of the charge at Huj by Cyril Falls. (Image in History of the Great War BasedPreston also felt that this particular action “was of interest” because it demonstrated
on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial
Defence Military Operations Egypt & Palestine from June 1917 to the end of the War
Volume 2 Part I and modified by the blog's author)
what may be accomplished, under suitable conditions, by even a very small force of cavalry when resolutely led. The charge was made on the spur of the moment, with little preliminary reconnaissance of the ground, without fire support, and with the equivalent of little more than one squadron of cavalry. It resulted in the capture of eleven guns and four machine guns, and the complete destruction of a strong point of enemy resistance, at a cost of seventy-five casualties.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Preston, “There was considerable divergence of opinion in the cavalry as to the best method to be employed in the mounted attack . . .
Prior to operations the 5th Mounted Brigade had been practicing the following method for the attack of lightly entrenched troops. A regiment charged in column of squadrons in line, with a distance of 150 to 200 yards between squadrons. The leading squadron charged with the sword, and, having passed over the enemy position, galloped straight on to attack any supports that might be coming up. The remainder of the regiment charged without swords. The second squadron galloped over the trench while the enemy troops were still in a state of confusion, dismounted on the farther side, and attacked from the rear with the bayonet. The third squadron dismounted before reaching the trench, and went in with the bayonet from the front. Two machine guns accompanied the last squadron and came into action on one or both flanks, as the situation demanded, to deal with any counter-attack that might develop . . .
Where a mounted attack had to cover a considerable distance of open ground before reaching a charging distance, the most usual formation was in column of squadrons in line of troop columns. Our own gunners were of the opinion that this formation offered the most difficult target for artillery, provided the interval between troops was not less than 25 yards, and the distance between squadrons not less than 100 yards. The experience of the campaign seemed to point to the fact that cavalry also suffered less from machine-gun fire in this formation than in any other, at any rate at ranges beyond 1000 yards.
As a reminder, a regiment of British yeomanry consisted of 26 officers and 523 other ranks. The “other ranks” were made up of one warrant officer, 37 senior non-commissioned officers, 22 artificers, 6 trumpeters and 457 privates. Troopers were divided into 3 squadrons with 4 troops per squadron.
For further reading see Lieutenant Colonel Richard Martin Peter Preston’s The Desert Mounted Corps, An Account of the Cavalry Operations in Palestine and Syria 1917-1918 (Boston and New York: Houghton and Mifflin, Co. 1921) and Henry S. Gullett’s Sinai and Palestine, Vol. VIII, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918 (Sydney, Australia: Angus and Robertson, Ltd., 1939).
Twenty-four-year-old Robert F. Mullen volunteered for three years of service in the Federal Army at Taycheedah, Wisconsin, on October 4, 1861. He was mustered into Company A, 18th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry at Camp Trowbridge in Milwaukee as a 1st sergeant on February 10, 1862. The 18th Wisconsin left for St. Louis on March 30. Upon their arrival at the Gateway City, the Badgers were immediately sent south to Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River. Here, they joined Brigadier General Benjamin Prentiss’s Sixth Division (in Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of Tennessee), which was camped some 4 miles south on the Pittsburg-Corinth road. Mullen and the 18th Wisconsin participated in the April 6-7, 1862, battle of Shiloh. The regiment was decimated during its first fight losing 25 killed, including its commanding officer, Colonel James Alban and Major Josiah W. Crain, 91 wounded and 174 missing (most of whom were taken prisoner).
Captain Robert F. Mullen (author's collection)
The 18th Wisconsin, which numbered only 500 men now, remained in camp until May 1 when it and the Sixth Division, now led by Brigadier General Thomas J. McKean, started south toward Corinth. At Corinth, the Badgers performed picket and garrison duty and drilled under their new commanding officer, Colonel Gabriel Bouck. Following a brief hospital stay for an undisclosed illness in June, Robert Mullen assumed command of Company A as a result of his promotion to 2nd lieutenant on July 7. On July 18 the regiment, which was now part of the Sixth Division’s Second Brigade, Colonel John Oliver commanding, was ordered to reinforce the Federal Army at Bolivar, Tennessee. The Badgers eventually returned to Corinth in August and took part in the battle that was fought there from October 3rd through the 5th. The 18th Wisconsin Infantry suffered 26 casualties (5 killed and 21 wounded). Three privates in Lieutenant Mullen’s Company A, Edward Flynn, Ludwig Hoelzer and John Sturgeon, were wounded.
The Badgers and the
marched west to Grand Junction, then south to Yocona, Mississippi, some 48
miles below Holly Springs, and north back to Moscow, Tennessee. Mullen and his comrades guarded railroads in
and around Moscow until the middle of January 1863. McArthur’s Division and the 18th Wisconsin
marched west to Memphis, where they embarked on transports and steamed down the
Mississippi River to Young’s Point just above Vicksburg. The Badgers spent the next two months camped
on the banks of Lake Providence where they struggled to cut a canal from the
lake to the Mississippi River. On March 17,
Mullen received his 1st lieutenant’s commission and was officially promoted to
that rank on March 29. The Badgers,
McArthur and the Seventeenth Corps eventually moved down the Mississippi to
Milliken’s Bend and Grand Gulf, where they went ashore, marched to Raymond and, shortly afterward, captured Jackson, Mississippi, on May 14. The 18th Wisconsin, which was now part of
Colonel John B. Sanborn’s First Brigade in Brigadier General John E. Smith’s
Seventh Division, suffered casualties of 6 killed and 16 wounded in the fight
at Jackson. After seizing
Jackson, the Seventeenth Corps turned west and started toward Vicksburg. The 18th Wisconsin was held in reserve during
the battle of Champion Hills and participated as sharpshooters during the
engagement at Big Black River bridge. McPherson’s Corps and the Badgers reached
Vicksburg on May 18 and were deployed just east of the Confederate
fortifications north of the Southern
Railroad. “Here they remained,”
noted Edwin Quiner, author of The
Military History of Wisconsin in the War for the Union,
chiefly engaged in skirmishing duty until the surrender of the city on the 4th of July. They remained in the city engaged in guard and provost duty most of the time, until the 11th of September, when they moved with the division to Helena [Arkansas] with a view to reinforce General Steele.
On September 4, an ailing Robert Mullen requested a 20-day leave of absence from the 18th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry’s then commanding officer, Major Charles H. Jackson. Jackson approved the request and sent the following note along with the appeal up the chain of command to the Seventeenth Corps Assistant Adjutant General, Lieutenant Colonel William Thomas Clark:
Lt. Mullen commanded the Co. through the entire [Vicksburg] campaign and since the surrender of Vicksburg has been Acting Adjt. of the regiment. He is an efficient officer and I ask this for his meritorious conduct.
Clark passed the request to his superior, Seventh Division commander Brigadier General John E. Smith, who promptly approved and forwarded Mullen’s application
Brigadier General John E. Smith
on to the Seventeenth
Corps’ senior officer, Major General James B. McPherson. General McPherson endorsed the request on
September 6, 1863. Lieutenant
17th Corps' Commander Major General James B. McPherson
Mullen started for home at Taycheedah on September 12. On October 2, he was examined at his home by Surgeon John Miller from nearby Fond du Lac. Miller found Mullen
suffering from general debility attended with hoematuria the sequel of intermittent fever, from which he has suffered for the last thirty days, and in consequence thereof he is, in my opinion, unfit for duty and unable to travel, and I further declare my belief that he will not be able to resume his duties in a less period than twenty days from this date thereof.
Mullen’s period of leave
lasted until November 17. He rejoined
his regiment, which was now part of the Major General William T. Sherman’s Fifteenth
Corps, Army of the Cumberland, at Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was listed on
Company A’s November/December 1863 returns as a “provost marshal on detached
service.” Mullen and the regiment
crossed the Tennessee River, took part in the November 25 assault on Missionary
Ridge and aided in the enemy’s pursuit as far as Ringgold, Georgia. The
regiment returned to Chattanooga on November 28 and remained there until early
December when it marched to Huntsville, Alabama. Mullen’s “detached service” continued in
January and February of 1864, this time as adjutant general of the Fifteenth
Corps’ First Brigade, First Division.
During its time at Huntsville, the regiment performed guard, outpost and provost duty. Mullen was also promoted to captain on April 15, 1864. In May, the Badgers moved a few miles south to Whitesburg, Alabama, where they were again employed in guard duty. On June 19, the 18th Wisconsin Infantry was transferred to Allatoona (aka Allatoona Pass) a major supply depot for Sherman’s Army located on the Western and Atlantic Railroad. The Badgers were ordered back to Chattanooga and eastern Tennessee on August 22, where they helped repel a raid by Major General Wheeler and his Confederate cavalry against General Sherman’s communications. The regiment retraced its steps to Cowan, Tennessee, where it guarded the railroad until September 19, when it was ordered to rejoin the garrison at Allatooona.
On October 5, 2,025 Federals at Allatoona, under the command of Major General John M. Corse, were furiously attacked by 3,276 Confederates led by Major General Samuel French. At the battle’s onset, four companies of the 18th Wisconsin Infantry, including Captain Mullen, were initially deployed as skirmishers, while the remaining three companies, E, F and I, were stationed in a blockhouse guarding the railroad bridge two miles south of town. Shortly before noon at the fighting’s peak, the 18th Wisconsin’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Jackson, withdrew his four companies into the eastern redoubt “in order to assist in its defense.” “I returned under a severe fire of grape, canister and shell,” Jackson noted in his after-action report, “and reached the fort, east of the railroad, where I remained during the remainder of the fight . . . Three companies of the regiment were at a railroad bridge two miles south of this place . . . They were kept in the house over forty hours, and only surrendered when the roof was on fire and the men suffocating from smoke and heat.” Though the Confederate attack at Allatoona was repulsed, the 18th Wisconsin Infantry lost 4 killed, 11 wounded and 78 missing (captured).
Following the battle of Allatoona, the regiment’s non-veterans and recruits were assigned to the 93rd Illinois Infantry, which accompanied General Sherman on his march to Savannah, Georgia, and north through the Carolinas to Goldsboro. The 18th Wisconsin’s veteran soldiers, however, were furloughed and sent to Wisconsin on November 28. They reassembled in Milwaukee a month later and were immediately sent to Nashville. The Badgers arrived in Nashville on January 11, 1865, and were forwarded on to Chattanooga. Here, they reported to General Steadman who assigned them to the First Brigade, First Provisional Division, Fifteenth Army Corps. The Badgers made their way back to Nashville where they proceeded "down the Cumberland River and up the Ohio River to Cincinnati, thence by rail to Pittsburg and ultimately Baltimore, Maryland." They embarked on steamers in early February and arrived at Beaufort, North Carolina, a few days later. After taking the train to New Bern they caught up with General Sherman’s army at Goldsboro and rejoined their comrades in the First Brigade (Brigadier General William T. Clark), Third Division, Fifteenth Corps in late March. Mullen and the Badgers took part in the last battle (March 19-21) of the Carolinas’ Campaign at Bentonville, North Carolina, and, after General Joseph Johnston’s surrender, accompanied the Fifteenth Corps to Washington, where they took part in the grand review. On June 9, 1865, Captain Mullen was listed on “detached service as aide- de-camp to Brigadier General John T. Clark. Following the grand review the regiment proceeded to Louisville, Kentucky, where it and Captain Mullen were mustered out on July 7. Mullen and his comrades arrived back in Madison on June 29, 1865.
The above was gleaned
from Captain Mullen’s Service Records (National Archives), Edwin Quiner’s The Military History of Wisconsin in the War
for the Union (Chicago: Clarke & Co., Publishers, 1866), William R.
Scaife’s Allatoona Pass (Georgia: Etowah Valley
Historical Society, 1995), Peter Cozzen's The Darkest Days of the War, The Battles of Iuka & Corinth (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997, pgs. 326-327) and the War or the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Volume 24, Pt. 1, pg. 157 and Volume 39, Pt. 1, pgs. 751-752).