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The Thirteenth was organized at Camp Tredway, Janesville, mustered into the United States service on the 17th of October, 1861, and left the State on the 18th of January, 1862, to report at Leavenworth,Kansas. The regiment proceeded by way of Chicago, Quincy and the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, to Weston, Mo., thence marched to Leavenworth City, arriving on the 23d of January. Remaining in camp until the 7th of February, they began their march to Fort Scott, having been assigned to take part in General Lane's "Southwest Expedition." On the abandonment of the expedition, with the Twelfth Wisconsin, the Thirteenth was ordered to. march to Lawrence, Kansas, there it was, sent to Fort Riley, for the purpose of joining an expedition to New Mexico. This, too, being abandoned, the regiments were ordered to return to Leavenworth, arriving on the 28th of May. In a day or two, they went aboard transports, and landed on the 3d of June at Columbus, Ky. Here they were placed on railroad guard duty from Columbus to Corinth, on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. While stationed here, Companies D and G were detached from the regiment and sent respectively to Hickman and to Smithland, Ky. The latter rejoined the regiment in November, 1862, and the former in August, 1863. The balance of the regiment, in August, proceeded to Fort Henry.
On September 2d. they marched to Fort Donelson, and entered upon garrison duty at that post. Joining an expedition to Clarksville on the 5th, the rebels were encountered near Rickett's Hill, about 900 strong. After a short skirmish, they were routed, and a large number of arms, horses and mules, and a large quantity of army stores were captured. The Thirteenth returned to Fort Donelson on the 8th, after a march of seventy miles. They remained at this place until the last of October, in the meantime engaging in frequent scouts through the surrounding country, and exercising a general surveillance over the guerillas and marauders in that neighborhood. In November, it joined the forces of General Ransom, on the Tennessee River, and proceeded on a fruitless expedition after the rebel Morgan to Hopkinsville. The command, however, had a brush with the rebel Woodward, at Garretsville, in which that leader left forty-six killed and wounded on the field, besides a large number of horses, guns and equipment's, and fourteen prisoners which were captured. Returning to Fort Donelson on the llth, they moved the next day to Fort Henry, and engaged in garrison duty at that post, having marched a distance of 160 miles. In the latter part of December, an expedition, in which the Thirteenth took part, went in pursuit of the rebel Forrest, who was then engaged in a raid on General Grant's communications into West Tennessee, but returned without coming in contact with that redoubtable rebel chief. General Sullivan was more lucky, however, meeting, him at Parker's Cross Roads, defeating him, and driving his command across the Tennessee River. Guarding supply steamers between the Fort and Hamburg Landing occupied the attention of the regiment until the 3d of February, when news was received that Fort Donelson was attacked. The regiment was immediately en route to reinforce the garrison at that post. Driving the enemy's skirmishers before them, they reached the Fort in the evening, with a loss of one man wounded. The garrison, assisted by the gunboats, had successfully repulsed the enemy. The regiment remained at Fort Donelson during the summer, engaged in scouting and garrison duty, making occasional excursions after guerillas and other rebel depredators. Julius H. Carpenter and Jacob B. Mereness, of Company C, were murdered by guerillas near the Fort on the 22d of August.
On the 1st of August, Colonel Maloney was recalled to take command of his company in the regular service, and Captain W. P. Lyon, of the Eighth Wisconsin, was commissioned as Colonel, and soon after assumed command of the regiment.
On the 27th of August, they left Fort Donelson, marching by way of Columbia, Tenn., and arriving at Stevenson, Ala., a distance of 260 miles, on the 14th of September. Here Colonel Lyon was placed in command of the post and the troops there stationed. At this time, Stevenson was the depot of supplies for the Army of the Cumberland, which had just entered on the campaign which resulted in the repulse at Chicamauga. After that battle, and the troops had gathered under shelter of the Union guns at Chattanooga, the enemy busied himself in cutting off the supplies necessary to support the troops in that position. This fact made Stevenson an important post - its capture would have compelled the surrender of the brave remnant of Rosecrans' army, or the falling back of the whole Union force towards Murfreesboro. At that time, the Tennessee River was very low and easily fordable at many points, and the garrison was very small, with but little artillery. Fortunately, the attention of the enemy was directed to other points, and no attack was made on the depots at Stevenson. The Eleventh and Twelfth corps, under General Hooker, arrived from the Potomac, and the safety of the post was secured. The rebel General W~heeler succeeded in destroying the communications with Nashville, so that the supplies at Stevenson were entirely exhausted, and the army at Chattanooga were in imminent danger of starvation. This was a very dark period in the history of the National conflict, which was not fully appreciated by the people at the time. Colonel Lyon and his command fully understood the responsibility of their position, and felt that the safety of the whole army depended upon their vigilance, energy and bravery.
The regiment joined the brigade to which it belonged, at Nashville, in the latter part of October, and went into winter quarters at Edgefield, where it was employed in picket and guard duty until February, 1864, when, more than three-fourths of the men having reenlisted, the regiment proceeded to Wisconsin on veteran furlough.
Arriving at Janesville on the 18th, they were warmly welcomed, and hospitably entertained by the citizens of that city, and the people of the surrounding country, who had assembled to greet them. The regiment reassembled at Camp Utley, Racine, on the expiration of the thirty days furlough, and arrived at Nashville on the 31st of March, encamping at Edgefield, they engaged in garrison duty, and in guarding railroad trains from Louisville to Chattanooga. Hence they were assigned to the First Brigade, Fourth Division, of the Twentieth Army Corps, and formed part of the force designed to operate against Atlanta, but their destination was changed, and the brigade was assigned the duty of guarding the Tennessee River, between Stevenson and Decatur. About the last of April, the Thirteenth moved to Stevenson, where Colonel Lyon was placed in command of the post. Companies H, K, E, C and B, were stationed along the two railroads which crossed here, while the other companies were doing post and garrison duty at Stevenson, and guarding General Sherman's supply trains to Dalton, Ga.
On the 4th of June, the regiment marched to Claysville, Ala., where the companies and detachments of companies were distributed along the bank of the Tennessee River, for forty miles, picketing and patrolling night and day, while the enemy were engaged in similar duty on the opposite side. Earthworks, blockhouses, etc., were erected, and every precaution taken to prevent the enemy from crossing t~he river and interrupting Sherman's communications. Frequent raids were made across the river, capturing prisoners and seizing confederate stores, and several severe skirmishes occurred with the rebel outposts and guerillas.
On the lst of September, the regiment, with the exception of Company C, which was left at Gunter's Landing, marched hastily to Woodville, to prevent the destruction of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, between Huntsville and Stevenson, by Wheeler's cavalry, thence, on the 3d of September, they moved by railroad to Huntsville, where Colonel Lyon was placed in command of all troops and railroad defenses, from Huntsville to Stevenson, a distance of sixty miles, with orders to hold the railroad, and prevent its being broken, at all hazards. Lieutenant Colonel Chapman was in command of the regiment. On the 14th, the several companies were scattered along the road, with headquarters at Brownsboro. Work was immediately commenced strengthening the defenses, erecting stockades at the bridges, patrolling the road, and other duties, tending to insure the safety of the trains. The regiment was absent a short time at Decatur, during the month. On their return, they drove off a detachment of Forrest's cavalry, who were engaged in burning the railroad track. During most of the summer, and into September, much sickness prevailed in the regiment, and on the lst of October, leaving the convalescents to hold the positions along the railroad, the balance of the regiment proceeded to Larkinsville, Ala., to keep open communications with General Steadman's train of reinforcements for Huntsville, Forrest having attacked that city. Returning to Brownsboro they moved to Huntsville, removing the obstructions which Forrest's men had thrown into the railroad cuts, and quartered in the court house. Forrest having retreated, they returned next day to their positions on the railroad. On the 24th, Captain Blake, commanding the able bodied men, moved to Decatur, and assisted in the defense of that place, when attacked by General Hood, having two men slightly wounded.
One hundred and sixty of the non-veterans, including the Lieutenant Colonel and several officers, were mustered out on the expiration of their term of service. Major Bigney was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on the 21st of November, but was subsequently mustered out, on the expiration of his term of service, and on the 6th of January, 1865, Captain August Kummel was appointed Lieutenant Colonel, and on the 15th of February, Captain Charles S. Noyes was appointed Major.
On the 23d of November, most of the able bodied men, under Lieutenant Cobb, proceeded to New Market, where they dispersed the Fourth Alabama cavalry, destroying their camps and provisions, and killing and wounding thirteen. On the 25th of November, General Hood crossed the Tennessee River in force, tried moved direct to Nashville. General Granger was ordered to concentrate all the troops in northern Alabama, at Stevenson, and fortify it. In pursuance of this order, northern Alabama was evacuated by the Union forces, and heavy trains of government property were dispatched over the road to Stevenson. With the balance of General Granger's command, the Thirteenth marched to Stevenson, where they were immediately set to work constructing stockades and earthworks, to prevent Hood's retreat, should he attempt to do so, or to enter East Tennessee. Remaining here till Hood's defeat at the battle of Nashville, the Thirteenth returned to Huntsville, and resumed its duties on the railroad, repairing and rebuilding such of the defenses as bad been destroyed by the rebels. On the 31st of December, Company G, stationed at Paint Rock Bridge, was suddenly assailed by about four hundred rebels, and Lieutenant Wagoner and thirty-five men were captured, and two men were wounded.
In February, 1865, Company C, and the remnant of Company G, were stationed as picket and patrol at Gunter's Landing, on the Tennessee River, where Lieutenant Loucks, of Company C, with a few men, crossed the river, and in a skirmish with Pete White Cotton's band of guerillas, captured several prisoners, and in a personal encounter killed their infamous leader.
On the 20th of March the regiment was assigned to the Second Brigade, Brigadier General Beatty, Third Division, Major General T. J. Wood, Fourth Army Corps, Major General Stanley, and Colonel Lyon resumed command of the regiment. The detachments were called in, and, under orders, they proceeded by rail to Knoxville, in East Tennessee, on their way to Virginia; thence they marched by way of Newmarket and Bull's Gap to Jonesboro, and remained encamped there until the 20th of April, when they received news of Lee's surrender and President Lincoln's assassination. The corps being ordered back to Nashville, on the 20th the regiment left Jonesboro, and proceeded to that city by the way of Chattanooga, arriving on the 22d, and went into camp.
Here those men whose terms expired by the 5th of October, were discharged, and a considerable number of the Twenty-Fourth Wisconsin was assigned to the Thirteenth to complete their term of service.
On the 16th of June, with the rest of the division, the Thirteenth proceeded by way of Johnsville and the Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, to New Orleans, and went into camp at Chalmette. In July the regiment embarked for Texas, and arrived at Indianola on the 14th. Proceeding with the brigade to Green Lake the regiment suffered severely from the long march of twenty-four miles, the scarcity of water and other hardships. They remained in this camp until the 11th of September, having suffered much from sickness, produced by the heat of the climate and the lack of a vegetable diet. Many died here who had gone through the whole war without being sick. On the llth the brigade started oil a march of 145 miles to San Antonio. The heat at starting was excessive, towards night a storm arose and the temperature chanced; the men suffered severely from the chill, and many were left next day in hospital. Arriving within seven and a half miles of San Antonio, on the 24th of September, the brigade went into camp and remained until orders came in November to muster out the regiment. The papers were made out, and on the 24th the men were mustered out and ordered to proceed to Madison to be discharged from service.
Colonel Lyon's term of service having expired, he left the regiment for Wisconsin on the 10th of September, the command of the regiment devolving on Major Noyes. On the 9th of October, 1865, commissions were issued to Lieutenant Colonel Kummel, as Colonel, Major Noyes, as Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain Cobb, as Major, but neither of them could be mustered into service. Desiring to remain in Texas, Major Noyes resigned the command to Captain Cobb, and on the 27th of November, the regiment began its march to Indianola, 160 miles, where they embarked on a steamer, reached New Orleans on the 13th of December, steamed up the Mississippi, and reached Madison on the 23d, and were discharged from the United States service on the 26th day of December, 1865.
Though the Thirteenth has not been called to take part on the field of battle, yet the duties which it has performed have been just as important, for it is to the faithfulness of its sentinels, that an army owes much that it achieves on the battlefield. With its supplies cut off, its communications closed, an army is often defeated. It is then that the faithfulness and vigilance of the regiment, who guards the trains and keeps the enemy at a distance from the highways, by which supplies reach the army in an enemy's country, begins to be appreciated. The Thirteenth held many important positions, on which the success and welfare of Sherman's whole army depended. Ceaseless vigilance and stern fidelity characterized the operations of the regiment, and while others may pride themselves upon achievements in the field, this regiment may point with pride to its four years of service, as being one of the material elements in the success of the armies of the Union, whose communications and flanks it was called upon to protect.
Regimental Statistics - Original strength, 970. Gain - by recruits in 1863, 169, in 1864, 212, in 1865, 33; by substitutes, 33; by draft in 1865, 72; by veteran reenlistments, 392; total, 1,931.
Loss - by death, 183; missing, 3; deserted, 71; transferred, 6; discharged, 321 ; mustered out, 797.
Quiner, Military History of Wisconsin, 1866