Return to Home Page Second Wisconsin
The First Regiment, for three month's service, was organized
at Camp Scott, Milwaukee, in April, 1861, mustered into the
United States Service, and left the State for Harrisburg, Penna.,
June 9th, 1861. It's Colonel was John C. Starkweather and the
Captain of it's Co. K was Lucius Fairchild.
Arriving at Allatoona, on the Pennsylvania Central Railroad, Colonel Starkweather found a dispatch ordering him to report with his regiment to General Patterson, at Chambersburg, at which place he arrived on the 12th of June, where his regiment went into Camp McClure, and remained until the 16th when they moved to Hagerstown, Md. Here the regiment was attached to the brigade
of Colonel Abercrombie.
The rebel General Johnston had posted a force opposite Williamsburg to watch the movements of General Patterson, with orders to retire on his approach, without making an attempt to bring on an engagement. On the 2nd of July, General Patterson, with his force, crossed the river, the First Wisconsin being in advance of the infantry.
Throwing out skirmishers, the regiment advanced, preceded by McMullen's rangers, and followed by the Eleventh Pennsylvania and a section of artillery. Marching a few miles towards Martinsburg, the enemy under Col. Jackson was encountered posted across the road at Porterfield's farm, with four pieces of artillery. The six right companies of the First Wisconsin were deployed to the right and the left of the road as skirmishers, supported by the other four companies on the road. The skirmishers, assisted by the fire of the artillery, turned the enemies right, and routed them from the woods. The rest of the regiment was then deployed as skirmishers, and joined in the pursuit of the enemy, who was followed for about two miles, when Patterson's forces halted and encamped. The affair possessed importance at the time, from the fact that it was the first engagement of Wisconsin troops with the rebels.
The first Wisconsin soldier killed in the rebellion was George Drake, of Co. A, of Milwaukee. The first man wounded was Color Bearer Fred Huchting, of Co. E, of Madison. Sgt. W. M. Graham, of Co. B, was wounded in three places and died of his injuries. William Matthews, F. Plummer and Henry Young, of Co. G., were also wounded. Sol. Wise, of Co. K, was taken prisoner. The first shot fired at the rebels was made by Philo Jones, of Co. K, as we are informed by Gen. Proudfit.
The regiment and its gallant Colonel were highly complimented by Major General Patterson and Col. Abercrombie. for the Bravery and coolness displayed in this their first action with the enemy.
The short period of service of this regiment did not afford active duty in the field sufficient to build up much of a history, the skirmish at Falling Waters, so called, being the only action in which it was engaged. Our sketch, therefore, is necessarily brief.
On the 3rd of July, General Patterson's forces moved to Martinsburg, where they remained until the 15th, engaged in getting forward supplies. While here, the regiment was presented with a flag by the ladies of Martinsburg. On the 15th, Patterson moved his forces towards Bunker Hill. Here the regiment was placed in line of battle until the 17th, when the whole force marched towards Winchester, in expectation of a battle, but when about five miles from that place, they were ordered to file to the left, and about 11 o'clock at night, found themselves at Charleston, about 22 miles east of Winchester. General Patterson abandoned the attempt to hold Johnston in check, as ordered by Gen. Scott, and thus the rebels were able to reinforce Beaureguard on the battle-field of Bull Run. Remaining at Charleston until the 21st, the march was resumed and the regiment proceeded to Harper's Ferry, where orders were received by Col. Starkweather to proceed to the Monocacy River, for the purpose of guarding the canal and fords in that vicinity. Here nothing of importance occurred, until the 12th of August, when orders were received from General Banks for the regiment to proceed to Wisconsin for muster out, its term of service having expired. Proceeding to Wisconsin, the regiment arrived at Milwaukee, and was mustered out on the 21st of August.
The regiment's original strength was 810. Losses: deaths, 3; desertions, 5; transfers,7; discharged, 76; mustered out, 719.
First Infantry - Reorganized
On the return of the First Regiment to Wisconsin, it was reorganized, and its muster into the United States Service completed on the 9th of October, 1861, and was ordered to proceed to Louisville and report to Gen. W. T. Sherman. The regiment continued to be led by Col. Starkweather.
Leaving Camp Scott, Milwaukee, on the 28th of October, the regiment arrived at Jeffersonville, Ind., opposite Louisville, on the 30th, and went into camp two miles below the former place. Remaining there until the 14th of November, they crossed to Louisville, embarked on the steamer Baltic, and landed at West Point, at the mouth of the Salt River, moving thence on the 3rd of December to Camp Negley, south of Elizabethtown, Ky., where the regiment was assigned to the Seventh Brigade, General Negley, in General McCook's Division. After rebuilding the railroad bridge at Bacon Creek, the regiment moved to Camp Wood, near Nolinsville, on Green River, and remained there until the 14th of February, a862, when it marched with the Division for Nashville, arriving opposite that place, at Edgefield, on the 2nd of March. Here Col. Starkweather was appointed Provost Marshal. Two companies were retained for provost guard duty, and the rest of the regiment crossed the river and went into camp three miles south of Nashville, at Camp Andy Johnson.
On the 8th, while on picket on a road known as "Granny White's Pike", Company B, consisting of thirty men, under Lieut. White was attacked by about two hundred rebels. The company rallied and gallantly opposed the enemy, at the same time retiring before their superior numbers, leaving three of their number wounded on the field. After Co. B had left the field, Co. C, which was stationed in the vicinity, came up to support them, and, holding the enemy in check, brought off the wounded Willett Greenley, Henry F. Smith and John Fitzgerald.
The first two died of their wounds, being the first Union soldiers killed in Tennessee. On returning to their first position, Co. C found their knapsacks and blankets burnt by the enemy.
The regiment marched to Columbia, on the 2nd of April, where Captain Green, of Co. K, was appointed Provost Marshal, with his company as Provost Guard.
On the 5th of April, Col. Starkweather was appointed to the command of a brigade, to which the First Wisconsin was assigned. He moved with the brigade to Bigley Creek, Tenn., where he remained until the 3rd of May, engaged in keeping open the communications. On the 10th, the brigade marched with Negley's Division, to Rogersville, Ala., arriving there on the 13th. An attempt by the enemy to cut off the trains, was frustrated by Starkweather's command. Leaving Rogersville on the 14th, they made a forced march to Bainsbridge Ferry, on the Tennessee River. The rebel cavalry had recently landed on the opposite shore, and a squad of the First Wisconsin crossed, under the fire of the brigade battery, and brought over the ferry boats, which were destroyed. The command moved to Florence on the 16th, but the next day was ordered to return to Columbia, which it did, and went into camp, five miles south of that place on the 20th, having marched ninety-five miles in three and a-half days. Moving to Calioka Station on the 25th, Companies A, B, G and K, of the First, under command of Major Bingham, were sent with an expedition to Chattanooga, and arrived there on the 8th of June. These companies rejoined the regiment at Stevenson, Ala., it having arrived there on the 25th. The two companies under Major Bingham, had marched 270 miles, over a very rough country, and many days were on half rations. From June 29th, to August 18th, the regiment was stationed, first at Battle Creek, and subsequently at Mooresville, Ala., near Huntsville. General Bragg commenced his march into Kentucky, and on the 19th of August, Col. Starkweather, under orders, embarked the First Wisconsin on the cars for Nashville, arriving there, crossing the river and encamping on Edgefield, on the 20th.
Here the Twenty-eighth Brigade was organized, and placed under the command of Col. Starkweather, to which the First Wisconsin was assigned. Here, also, Lieut. Col. Lane resigned, and Maj. Bingham was commissioned as Lieut. Col. and Capt. H. A. Mitchell, as Major. The brigade was placed in Rousseau's division of McCook's corps. With the rest of Buell's forces, the regiment marched to Louisville, where it arrived on the 28th of September. At Louisville, the Twenty-first, Wisconsin, Col. Sweet, was added to Col. Starkweather's Brigade.
Taking part in the general movement against Bragg, the regiment left Louisville on the 1st of October, and with the brigade, encamped near Mackville on the evening of the seventh. In the morning, march was resumed, and Col Starkweather, with his brigade, proceeded twelve miles, to near Perryville, where the enemy was found in force. Immediately forming his command on the extreme left of the forces of General Rousseau, Col. Starkweather was soon engaged with the enemy. Jackson's division was a short distance in his front, and received the first onset of the rebels, who succeeded in breaking Jackson's lines, and forcing his men to retire through and over the Twenty-first Wisconsin, which had been stationed about one hundred yards in advance of Starkweather's main line at the foot of the hill. Generals Jackson and Terrill, were both killed, and their demoralized forces passed to the rear through the lines of General Starkweather. The First Wisconsin held the extreme left of the line. Starkweather's troops closed up, and as the enemy approached, they were met by a spirited fire from the Twenty-first Wisconsin, stationed in the advance. Col. Sweet was soon severely wounded, and Maj. Schumacher was killed, leaving the regiment without a field officer to execute the orders of Col. Starkweather. The enemy pouring in on their flanks, they were compelled to retire, which occasioned some confusion in their ranks.
The First Wisconsin was immediately advanced to the front, supported by an oblique fire from the Seventy-ninth Pennsylvania, and with some assistance of artillery, the position was held, until the artillery horses were killed, or became unmanageable. The regiments of the brigade were ordered to hold the ground while the guns could be withdrawn. This was done, and the guns were placed in a safer position, and again opened fire. About this time a dash was made by a portion of the First Wisconsin, and the flag of the First Tennessee was captured, private Rice, of Company H, seizing it and bearing it in triumph into the ranks of the First Wisconsin. The fire of the Twenty-fourth Illinois, and Seventy-ninth Pennsylvania, held the enemy in check while the First Wisconsin took by hand, every remaining gun and caisson from the field. By this time the firing had ceased, the enemy were routed, and the brigade returned to the support of its new position. This is known as the battle of Perryville, or Chaplin Hills.
Generals McCook and Rousseau highly complimented the command of Col. Starkweather, and the former accorded it to honor and glory of having saved the left of the army.
The flag of the First was riddled with balls, and the flagstaff severed in two places. The color sergeant was wounded badly, and all the color guard were killed or wounded but three. Private James S. Durham, of Co. F, seized the colors after the color bearer fell, and gallantly bore them through the engagement.
For the service rendered in withdrawing the guns, the regiment received the thanks of the Battery, and subsequently a full compliment of colors and guidons, were presented to it by the Indiana troops, as a recognition of the bravery displayed in rescuing the guns of an Indiana Battery.
The losses were 73 killed outright or died of wounds, 140 wounded and 4 commissioned officers wounded.
The First, with the rest of the Brigade, pursued Bragg as far as Crab Orchard, where the chase was given up. Returning, the command marched by way of Lebanon and Bowling Green, to Mitchelville, on the Nashville Railroad, and engaged in guard and provost duty until the 7th of December, when it marched to camp Andy Johnson, near Nashville.
General Rosecrans had been appointed to succeed General Buell, and had reorganized the army into the Fourteenth Army Corps, the right wing under General McCook, the center under General Thomas, and the left under General Crittenden. In General Thomas' command, the division of General Rousseau was placed.
Participating in the movement of General Rosecrans towards Murfreesboro, Col. Starkweather's brigade was detached to guard supply trains. On the 30th of December, the train was attacked by Wheeler's cavalry, which succeeded in dividing it, and burning several wagons, but were soon repulsed with a loss of 83, killed, wounded or prisoners. Next day, about 5 o'clock P.M., the brigade reported to General Rousseau on the battle field of Stone River. The day had been occupied in severe fighting. During the three subsequent days, Rousseau's division was held as a reserve, and in consequence, the brigade did not suffer much in killed or wounded, being engaged in supporting batteries, skirmishing with the enemy, and making rifle pits. As many of the commissary wagons as had been destroyed by the enemy, the troops suffered from want of rations, many of them having nothing to eat but raw corn. The horse of Lieut. Starkweather was killed by a cannon ball on the 1st of January, and being in good condition, was cut up, and partaken of by many of the soldiers. The weather was severely cold and rainy, and the ground muddy. The shot of the enemy often compelled the troops to lie down on the ground in the mud.
The casualties in the regiment during the whole time, including the skirmish with Wheeler's cavalry, as reported by Surgeon Dixon, was seven wounded.
After the battle, the Regiment went into camp near Murfreesboro, and was employed in the usual routine of picket, fatigue, forage and drill duties.
Three corps were organized in the army on the 9th of January, 1863; the Fourteenth, General Thomas - Twentieth, general McCook - Twenty-first, General Crittenden. Rousseau's division was numbered the First in the Fourteenth Corps, and Starkweather's brigade numbered Third, in the division, but was changed to Second, on the 28th of April.
Col. Starkweather, in January, returned the flag of the First to Gov. Salomon. It was presented to the Regiment by Gov. Randall, in 1861, and now stands in its place in the State Capitol, a proud monument if the brave deeds performed under its shadow.
On the 24th of June, the First Wisconsin, with the brigade and division,took part in Rosecrans' movement against General Bragg, driving his troops from Hoover's Gap, turning his position at Tullahoma, and following his fleeting forces to the foot of the Cumberland Mountains, permitting him to retire to Chattanooga, while the victorious army of Rosecrans, congregated around Cowen's Station, on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, where a halt was made, in order to establish railroad communications,and prepare for a further demonstration.
On the 17th of July, Col. Starkweather was appointed Brigadier General, and was mustered out of service as Col. of the First Wisconsin, still retaining his command of the Second Brigade.
The next move of General Rosecrans against the enemy, commenced on the 2nd of September, when the Fourteenth Corps, to which General Starkweather's brigade belonged, began its march across the Tennessee River, and over the mountains, into the vicinity of Trenton, Georgia, where it arrived on the 10th, and camped near Steven's Gap.
On the next day, Starkweather's brigade, with the division, was ordered forward to the support of Gen. Negley's division, about five miles in advance, near Dug Gap. Skirmishing as they advanced, the brigade attained a position between Negley's troops and the enemy, under severe fire. This position they gallantly held, resisting the repeated efforts of the enemy to dislodge them, until 3 o'clock in the afternoon, when a retrograde movement commenced, and the brigade was ordered to cover the retreat. This duty was admirably performed, General Starkweather succeeding in resisting all attempts of the enemy to break his lines, or drive in his skirmishers, and successfully covering the retreat of Gen. Negley's force, and securing the safety of his own command, with only the loss of two killed, one of them, however, Lieut. Robert J. Nickles, was a serious loss to General Starkweather, being a member of his staff, and highly esteemed by him.
The brigade bivouacked in line of battle, near Steven's Gap, where they remained until the 17th, when the Division moved to Owen's Gap, and the next day to Crawfish Springs, and on the 19th took position on the battle field of Chicamauga.
(The overall battle of Chicamauga. is described in the "Engagement" section. The following is the battle as relates to the First Wisconsin.)
The First Wisconsin, with the Brigade, went to the aid of Col. Croxton, of Brannan's division, who was out of ammunition, and took position in front, where they were attacked by an overwhelming force of the enemy, who approached on the right flank, and compelled a change in the position of the brigade. Here the enemy struck the line on the right and front, with such overwhelming force, as to compel the command to retire to a ridge directly in the rear, leaving part of their artillery. The enemy was attacked in the rear and flank , and driven from the field, and the missing guns were recovered. The brigade closed up on the First and Third Brigades, of Baird's division, to the support of Gen. Johnson's division. Being ordered to the support of the first line in front, whose ammunition was failing, the movement of the brigades in the darkness, became confused. The darkness was intense, and, by mistake, one of the brigades opened fire on Starkweather's brigade, from the rear and flank, which occasioned a portion of Johnson's force to fire into their right, mistaking them for the enemy, while the enemy's fire met them in front. The brigade was therefore compelled to retire, in order to reform, which was done, and it bivouacked in an open field near Gen. Johnson's train.
On the morning of the 20th, the command moved up to a ridge, and took position, forming two lines, and throwing up barricades of trees in front of each line, with artillery in the center and on the left, and covered on the right by an Iowa battery. Skirmishers were kept in front of these barricades, returning to the attack as often as they were driven back. This position was held by the brigade all day, until peremptory orders were received to fall back as well as possible. In doing so, the second line retired first. Just as this was discovered by the first line, the enemy charged in front with the bayonet, supported by his batteries, which occasioned the first line to give way, and a portion only rallied at a point where General Willich's command rested, about sunset. From there the command moved to Chattanooga. On nearing the town, the order was countermanded, and a position was reassigned the brigade at the front, where it remained until the 22nd, when, with the balance of the division, it was ordered to cover the retreat of the army to Chattanooga, going into bivouac near that place. The casualties in the regiment in the battles of Dug's Gap and Chicamauga. were 34 killed, 79 wounded, 76 missing (mostly taken prisoner) and the number of officers killed was one-seventh of all killed and wounded in the Fourteenth Army Corps.
General Starkweather was wounded in the leg by a piece of shell, but remained in command of the brigade until the army retired into Chattanooga.
In the movement on Mission Ridge, on the 25th of November, the brigade was held as a reserve, and joined in the pursuit of the flying enemy, as far as Steven's Gap, when they returned to Chattanooga. Late in 1863, about 400 drafted men were assigned to the regiment, and about 70 recruits joined it in early 1864, but these did not increase the aggregate of the regiment sufficiently to warrant the muster of a Colonel, and consequently it remained under the command of Lieut. Col. Bingham, although he was commissioned as a Colonel.
On the 13th of January, Gen. Starkweather was ordered to Washington on Court Martial duty, and all his connection with the First Wisconsin ceased. The regiment accompanied the Fourteenth Corps, in February, 1864, in the feint on Dalton, to favor Gen. Sherman's Meridian Expedition, and subsequently encamped at Grayville, Ga., until the 2nd of May.
In the reorganization of the army in 1864, the First Regiment under the command of Lieut. Col. Bingham, retained its position in the Third Brigade, First Division, Brigadier Gen. R. W. Johnson, Fourteenth Army Corps, and moved to Ringgold, Ga., where the Fourteenth Corps was concentrating preparatory to the commencement of the celebrated Atlanta campaign.
On the 7th of May, the march commenced, and the division occupied a position in the vicinity of Dalton, exposed to the occasional fire of the enemy, until the 12th, when the Fourteenth Corps marched to Resaca by Snake River Gap, and took position in the entrenchment's before that place. On the 14th, the brigade advanced to charge the enemy's works in two lines, but being unsupported, were unable to carry the position. The First, being in the second line, suffered a loss of only five wounded. The enemy evacuated Resaca on the night of the 15th, and were soon followed by the Union forces. The First, with the brigade, followed in the pursuit, and confronted the enemy at Pumpkin Vine Creek, near Dallas, on the 27th, and on the next day advanced, and drove in the rebel skirmishers. On the 30th, an attack was made by a part of Hood's corps, on their position, which was repulsed after a severe engagement, the First losing four killed, and twenty-eight wounded.
The casualties of the First, from May 7th to June 1st, were 5 killed and 27 wounded, of which, 5 more died.
From the 1st of June, till the 17th, the regiment, with the brigade, occupied several positions near Ackworth, for the most of the time, in line of battle. On the 17th, they took part in a severe skirmish of the picket lines near Big Shanty, and next day drove the enemy's skirmishers to the main line, taking many prisoners. The enemy retreated and the army moved forward in front of their new position, near Kenesaw Mountain. Here they remained until the 3rd of July, under the most terrific fire of artillery and sharpshooters, changing positions frequently, but were not engaged in any of the charging columns, which have rendered this position famous for bloody warfare.
The casualties during this period were 3 killed, 9 wounded.
The Fourteenth Corps moved in pursuit of the enemy, towards the Chattahoochie, on the 5th of July, and on the 11th, the brigade was ordered to push the enemy across the river, which was accomplished without loss, they retiring from the north bank, crossing and setting fire to the bridges. On the 16th, the march was resumed, and the brigade crossed the Chattahoochie, at Saskes' Ferry, and advancing, drove the enemy across Peach Tree Creek, on the 18th. In the battle of Peach Tree Creek, on the 20th, the attack on our lines did not quite reach our brigade. The First was compelled to lie on the crest of a ridge in very unpleasant proximity to the flying shot and shell.
In the investment of Atlanta, the regiment was employed in fatigue and skirmish duty, until the 26th of August, when they left the trenches and took part in the movement to the west and south of Atlanta.
In this grand movement on the enemy's communications, the First Wisconsin, accompanied the Fourteenth Corps, of Gen. Palmer, and took part in the destruction of the rail road. Having completed this work, they marched, on the 30th of August, towards Jonesboro, which they reached on the 1st of September. The Fourteenth Corps took a position on the left of the army of the Tennessee, and joined in the assault on the enemy in his works, which were carried after about two hours of hard fighting. The First Wisconsin, which had been engaged in destroying the railroad, came up and rejoined the brigade, taking position in the second line. A portion of the first line having failed to advance, the First Wisconsin, led by Maj. Green, rapidly went forward under a severe fire, and drove the enemy from the brigade front, and held the position until dark, the enemy retiring to Lovejoy's station. They remained in line of battle until the 6th, when the army started on its return to Atlanta, the brigade acting as rear guard. The enemy was kept at a respectful distance, and the brigade went into camp near Atlanta, on the 8th of September.
During the month of August, the casualties were 2 killed and 28 wounded, two of which died.
On the 1st of September, an order was issued by the War Department, for the transfer of all recruits and veterans to the Twenty-first Wisconsin.
On the 16th of September, orders were received from the War Department, assigning the First Wisconsin to the Fourth Division of the Twentieth Corps. The transfer of the veterans, drafted men and recruits, having been completed on the 21st of September, the First Wisconsin left Atlanta, and moved by way of Bridgeport and Stevenson, to Nashville, where they went into camp. The term of service of the regiment having expired, they left Nashville on the 6th of October, and arrived on the 8th, at Milwaukee, where they met an enthusiastic reception on the part of the citizens. The necessary muster out rolls were made and the muster out of the last company effected on the 21st of October.
The Regimental Statistics:
Original strength was 945. They gained 75 by recruits in 1863, 66 in 1864. They gained 407 by draft in 1863 and had 15 veteran reenlistments for a total of 1508. They lost 219 by death, 10 missing, 57 desertions, 47 transfers, 298 discharged and 877 mustered out.
Quiner, Military History of Wisconsin, 1866