Student Essay, Private Charles Waldo, Company D.

This is a student essay of Charles D. Waldo of the 12th Wisconsin Infantry created by University of Wisconsin student Herbert E. Neeck in 1967. This essay can be located in U of W River Falls, Wisconsin, student call number 376.

The Civil War may be considered one of the first wars of the literate soldier. It was a war where men from the lowest private on up the ranks could both read and write. Our libraries and archives are filled with memoirs and diaries of the personal experiences of these soldiers both North and South. Included in these documents are what these men did, how they lived, where they went, why they joined the service, and their attitudes toward the war and their superiors.

Charles D. Waldo was one of these literate soldiers. Before he entered the service, he was a newspaper editor and while in service he continually wrote letters of correspondence to that paper. Waldo also kept a diary which covered a little better than two years of his three year enlistment.

A feeling of patriotism led Waldo to enlist into the Union Army. No evidence of disloyalty was found in his writings. He did what he was told to do with no questions asked. What Waldo thought of his superiors is revealed only by the fact that he never criticized them in his writings and never questioned their authority. Little difference in character was discovered in Waldo the soldier (as he was revealed in his diary) and Waldo the war correspondent (as he was revealed in his newspaper writings). He was what we would call today a "straight-laced soldier" who wrote of his surroundings but little about his personal life.

After intensive research in our library and research center, the writer found very little evidence of what Waldo did before he

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entered the service, or what he did for the remainder of his life after he was discharged. What the author has found, however, is that Waldo was a newspaper editor a short time before he entered military service and that he followed that profession a short time once he returned home. But in April of 1866 he sold his interests in the newspaper and there seems to be no other trace of what Waldo did from that date on. Therefore, with limited information this paper will attempt to trace the Travels and Camp Life of Charles D. Waldo" from the time he entered service until December, 1863.

Charles D. Waldo was reared in Kenosha, Wisconsin. {1} He later moved to West Bend where he went to work for the West Bend Democrat. This newspaper was biased toward Democratic ideals and constantly backed the Democratic Party. {2} On January 14, 1861, Charles became co-editor of that paper and the name was changed to the West Bend Post. {3} Under the new editors the paper still remained partial to the Democratic Party; so much so that in the November election of 1863 Waldo was called a "copperhead" by his fellow soldiers. {4}

But the National Democratic Party split and the South began to secede. To save the Union, President Lincoln began calling for troops. Out of patriotism and a sense of debt to his country, Charles answered the call and was sworn into the West Bend Union Guards on September 17, 1861. {5} As he stated his reasons for joining, "I deem it my duty to go forth to the battle field, and aid


in the fight for our country's flag, and help to maintain the honor and dignity of her government." {6} Charles enlisted with the rank of sergeant.

The company under the command of Captain John M. Price left West Bend for Madison on October 31, 1861. At Madison the West Bend Union Guards became Company D of the Twelfth Wisconsin Infantry and were assigned barracks at Camp Randall. {8} The regiment spent most of its time at Camp Randall in military drill.

In his first letter to the Post from Camp Randall Charles vowed that he would keep the people of West Bend informed through correspondence to the paper whenever possible. {9} This he did for his entire three year enlistment. Besides keeping his paper informed, Charles kept a diary. This diary also gave an excellent account of himself and his regiment for a little better than two years.

On January 1, 1862, the entire company, along with other companies in the regiment, was marched from Camp Randall to the "Capital House," in Madison and enjoyed a fine dinner. On this occasion Colonel George E. Bryant was presented the Regimental Banners. Waldo must have enjoyed this occasion very much for he wrote, "the day will never be forgotten by anyone who participated in the affair." {10} Charles must have enjoyed his stay at Madison for he often mentioned the state capital in his diary during the next two years.

But for Waldo and his company, their stay at Camp Randall was short; for on January 11, his regiment left on orders to report to Weston, Missouri. {11} The regiment traveled via railroad and

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arrived at Weston on January 16. Here the company took up quarters in a house on the outskirts of town. {12} Weston is located just across the Missouri River from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. It can only be assumed that the reason the regiment did not cross the river immediately was due to the lack of facilities at Leavenworth.

The functions of the company were the same as for any company stationed on reserve. They drilled, had dress parades, held inspections, {13} and had rifle practice. Although Charles must not have been much of an expert with the rifle, he was not the poorest; for on one occasion he wrote, "I came within three feet of the mark, hit the tree however, which was better than many did." {14}

Although being a good shot helps, there are other characteristics which make a good soldier. His company must have had Charles's marksmanship in mind when they elected him Commissary Sergeant on January 23. His new duties, which occupied much of his time, consisted of getting rations and supplies from the Quartermasters and distributing them to the men. {15}

As Commissary Sergeant Charles was well aware of what the men had to eat. To give the readers of the Post an example of what the company consumed daily, Waldo wrote: "I drew from the Quartermaster; 116 lbs. flour, or 87 lbs. hard bread; 109 lbs. beef, or 65 lbs. bacon; 7 quarts of beans, or 9 lbs. rice; or in lieu thereof, 9 lbs. hominy; 9 lbs. coffee, or 1-1/2 lbs. tea; 14 lbs. sugar, 3 quarts vinegar, and 2 quarts of salt." {16} Any food that the company would not eat Waldo peddled off for something else. {17}

The men also found other means to satisfy their hunger for food. This food was requisitioned by "forging." The victors of foraging

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ordinarily brought back turkeys, geese, chickens, and rabbits. {18} Sometimes, however, there would be a windfall. Waldo records that one evening an expedition came back "with a nice fat cow, about two hundred weight of fresh pork, [and] a bushel of apples." {19} One may think that the company was well-fed, but they received few potatoes {20} and it seemed as though no one could make bread in town to suit the company.

Although the food was not too bad, much more could have been desired of the beds. One evening after not having found a bed, Waldo slept on "the softest spot on the floor." {21} To remedy this situation, Charles set himself to work building a bed made of "crooked lumber." That evening he wrote, "I went to bed early and had a good night's rest in my new bunk, which proved to be everything, that a common soldier could ask for." {22}

The regiment, on February 15, crossed the river into Leavenworth City. Waldo liked Leavenworth much better than the backward town of Weston. "The general appearance of things here, are so far in advance of the shabby and dilapidated condition of Weston; the people so much more enlightened, and civilized, one cannot but help feel at home." {23}

At Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the Twelfth Regiment became part of the Great Southwestern Expedition under the command of Brigadier General James H. Lane. {24} The expedition started for Fort Scott on March 1 where it remained until March 27,

when, owing to difficulties connected with the command of the expedition, the War Department abandoned the project, and the Twelfth and Thirteenth Wisconsin regiments were ordered to march to Lawrence, Kansas,

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thence they proceeded to Fort Riley.... where they remained with the expectation of being sent to New Mexico.2

The regiment arrived at Fort Riley on April 25 and waited for orders to proceed. {26} As Waldo himself described the episode, we were "to await the coming of grass, that we might then proceed on our way, rejoicing." {27} As Waldo waited, train after train came into Fort Riley loaded with men and equipment. The fort was like a beehive, he reported:

Every body and every thing, in this part of the country is now all bustle and commotion, in their preparation for the great overland expedition to New Mexico; clothing and provisions, for our army, has been sent here, together with about three thousand mules, and nearly that number of beef cattle and large trains are daily arriving. {28}

Finally orders came but instead of proceeding the orders were to the rear march. "Our New Mexico expedition having been nipped in the bud," {29} the regiment began moving back to Fort Leavenworth on May 20, and arrived on May 27.

No sooner had the dust settled when again the regiment received orders to move. On May 29 the regiment boarded transports and sailed down the Missouri to the "land of Cotton." {30} The regiment arrived at Columbus, Kentucky, on June 3 and they went into camp upon "the bluff back of the fort." {31} At Columbus the regiment merely waited for further orders to move on.

While waiting Waldo occupied himself with one of his favorite occupations, investigating the area. On one of his tramps through the fort and city, Waldo gave an excellent account of how well the Confederates had dug in and fortified the city.

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Infernal machines of every manner of kind, were to be seen in every direction, the most destructive of which were the torpedoes. It certainly must have been one of the very strongest places which the rebels had, and nothing but starvation could have driven them from their position. {32}

The following day Waldo took another walk and was astonished at the sights of work done by the Confederates. "The country for three or four miles adjacent to the city, is completely covered with some kind of entrenchments and the earth is full of torpedoes, and other like missles of destruction." {33}

A battle had taken place across the river at Belmont and Waldo and a few friends desired to investigate it. But Brigadier General Isaac F. Quinby refused to let the men cross.

He gave as a reason, that bad characters resided on the opposite shore, and in order to break up their evil abodes, he was compelled to prohibit everyone from crossing the river. We were soon convinced that the General was in the right, for no sooner had he told us, than he pointed to the opposite shore, and there, sure enough, could be seen women in a perfectly nude state, running around upon the beach, for the purpose of enticing soldiers across to visit them. {34}

The Twelfth Regiment left Fort Leavenworth on orders to proceed to reinforce the Army of the Tennessee near Corinth. But when the regiment arrived at Columbus, the battle had transpired. Hence, their orders were changed. In their retreat from Columbus, the Confederates destroyed the railroad. The regiment was therefore put to work repairing the railroad and rebuilding bridges. At the same time they sent out scouting parties after Confederate guerrillas. {35}

The regiment proceeded to Humboldt, Tennessee, on June 9. From there they went on expedition to Bolivar. {36} Upon leaving

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Bolivar, they took a line march for the Tallahatchie River to reinforce Brigadier General Steven A. Hurlbut. At the Tallahatchie River General Hurlbut had met the Confederate forces (under the command of Major General Earl Van Dorn) who were retreating after having lost in the battle of Corinth. {37} But the regiment arrived just as the skirmish ended. Waldo wrote, "We arrived upon the battle ground just in time to witness the burial of the dead, and the shrieks and groans of the wounded and dying." {38}

The regiment then returned to Bolivar to protect the railroad. Here they became attached to the Third Brigade, Fourth Division (under the command of Brigadier General Jacob G. Lauman), Thirteenth Army Corps (under the command of Major General James B. McPherson). {39} The regiment remained at Bolivar until General Grant began his southward movement to capture Vicksburg.

Before the regiment arrived at Columbus, Waldo became first sergeant of his company. {40} His duties were that of making out the morning reports, holding guard mount, assigning men to picket, taking men on sick call, and handing out rations. Once the company was assigned to its various duties, Waldo would read, write, sleep, and play cards to keep himself busy. {41}

In November Grant began moving south and Waldo's regiment was included in this movement. "About seven o'clock, [November 4, 1862] the army began to move, and about 3 p.m., halted for the night near the village of La Grange, Tenn." {42} The regiment remained at La Grange until November 28. During their stay at La Grange, the regiment went on a scouting mission down to Coldwater. On November

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8 they were met with enemy fire. "We immediately formed into line of battle to support our battery, and then sent out skirmishers who fought till dark, without losing a man, and capturing, and killing some two hundred secesh." {43}

November 29, the regiment began moving again. Waldo described their arrival at Holly Springs as follows: "about dark, we passed through the city of Holly Springs, which I consider to be one of the prettiest places that I have seen in the south." {44} On December 11 the regiment went into camp at Yacona {45} on the Mississippi Railroad. While there Major General Earl Van Dorn's Confederates slipped behind the lines to Holly Springs where his men destroyed the town, supplies, and miles of rail. Holly Springs had been Grant's center of supplies and communications. The destruction of the depot resulted in Grant's whole army being cut off from the North and, therefore, they had to retreat. The idea of getting to Vicksburg was temporarily called off. {46}

Waldo's Third Brigade was sent to Lumpkin's Mills near Waterford Station and arrived there on December 25. {47} Here the brigade was reduced to one-quarter rations. To try to provide food the men ran the mill to grind wheat and corn into flour. Some meat to balance their diet was also supplied by foraging in the countryside. Later Waldo recalled this experience: "One year ago this day,[he stated] we were suffering for want of proper food, having to subsist upon quarter rations of government food, together with a little now, and then, picked up in the country when out foraging." {48} At Waterford Station the main duties of the division had been guarding the railroad.

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When Grant received command of the Mississippi operations in January of 1863, the Fourth Division (commanded by Brigadier General Lauman) remained part of the Sixteenth Corps {49} under the command of Major General Stephen A. Hurlbut. General Hurlbut's Corps was to remain behind and hold the lines east of Memphis. {50} Waldo's regiment remained part of the Third Brigade which was part of the Fourth Division.

On January 5 the division began moving north. General Lauman and his men moved through Holly Springs, Mississippi, north into Tennessee. Once in Tennessee the division took up guard duty and railroad repair between Moscow and Memphis on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. Apparently this section had been badly damaged by the Confederates and the division was to restore transportation and communications between Moscow and Memphis. The division continually moved west and arrived at Memphis February 14 {51} where it remained until May.

While guarding the railroad, the division was under constant attack by the Confederate guerrillas who would attack and attempt to destroy railroad operations and quickly move out. Not only did the guerrillas constantly harass Waldo's fellow soldiers, but also the weather added to their discomfort. Waldo once reported that: "it is all the same, day in and day out; rain one day and snow the next. So it is mud, mud, mud, all over the country." {52}

When the division moved to Memphis, Waldo's brigade remained on the outskirts of the city. Even here the weather continued to torment them. One day after experiencing particularly depressing

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weather, Waldo wrote, "it has been one of the most dreary and lonesome days that we have ever witnessed in the south, and I heartily wished that I might but spend a few of these lonely hours with my dear friends at home, and note the contrast." {53} It appeared as though Waldo longed to go home.

Waldo's desire to visit home was shortly fulfilled. However, the trip was not under pleasant circumstances for his brother died and he escorted the body home to Wisconsin for burial. Charles's brother was George H. Waldo, a Corporal in Company H of the Thirty-Third Wisconsin Infantry Regiment. {54} George had become ill rather suddenly and died in the Memphis hospital of chronic diarrhea on April 3. Charles immediately bought his brother a metallic coffin and tried to obtain a leave. {55} But for some reason or other, leaves were hard to get and Charles was delayed.

After waiting eight days, Charles received his leave and departed for Wisconsin with his brother's remains. {56} He arrived in Kenosha on April 14 and brother George was buried on the fifteenth. While in Kenosha, Charles visited his brothers, sisters, friends, and fellow classmates for several days. {57} Then he left for West Bend and "visited the old folks." {58} He returned to Kenosha which he called "the city of my childhood days" {59} and spent his last day of leave. Charles returned to Memphis on May 2. {60} He had much respect and admiration for his brother for later Charles recorded: "He[George] had been a soldier for his government, but a short time, but a soldier of the Lord many years, and died, a true, and noble Christian." {6l}

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While on leave Waldo had missed the Coldwater expedition. This expedition was an attempt by the Union forces to divert the attention of the Confederates while Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson made his celebrated raid through the whole state of Mississippi. Colonel Bryant's brigade did encounter a large Confederate force at Coldwater. In the skirmish Waldo's company had not lost a single man. {62}

Waldo was soon to see action, however, for on May 11 the Fourth Division still under General Lauman) began moving down river towards Vicksburg. {63} Waldo's Third Brigade was the first to leave. Waldo was quite excited and sure of himself for he wrote: "You may soon expect to hear of the fall or evacuation of Vicksburg, for nowhere does the 12th Wisconsin go, but where victory and success awaits us." {64} The brigade boarded transports and landed on the Louisiana shore about six miles above Vicksburg. Here they began a line march for the river below. Waldo described this march: "Our way was through a large and gloomy swamp, on a corduroy road made by our forces for this purpose." {65} After about a three-mile march, the regiment struck the river nearly opposite of Warrenton. It then moved farther down river to within a mile of New Carthage where it halted to await embarkment across the river to Grand Gulf. {66}

On May 18 the brigade landed at Grand Gulf. Here Waldo reported that there was nothing left of the town; it had been bombarded and sacked with only few houses remaining. The largest portion of the population was Negro. A Negro regiment was there and the married Negroes had their families quartered close by. Waldo

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explained the homes and life of these Negroes:

They live in brush or mud houses, in the hollows back from the river, and are foddered by our government in about the same manner that our mules, horses or cattle are fed, and added wonderfully to the beauty and tranquility of the place. {67}

Charles reported that for the past few weeks the Union Army had been sending foraging trains into the rural areas to recruit Negroes to move to the North: "At least ten thousand have been sent off during the last week, and if our forces remain here a week or two longer, not a [Black slang] could be found within a hundred miles of the Gulf." {68}

On the eleventh of June Waldo's brigade struck out to rejoin the rest of the division which formed the extreme left of Grant's Army at Vicksburg. His regiment went into camp in a deep ravine about a mile back from the rebel works. {69} Waldo's company was quickly initiated to fire. Late the first afternoon the company was ordered on picket and, Waldo wrote, they "were saluted by a shell from the rebel lines." {70} They were also showered by rebel bullets but no one was hurt. {71}

Waldo continued to perform his usual duties which consisted of little more than issuing rations and assigning men to picket duty. So when not working, Charles visited the other regiments and spent much time on the bluffs observing the events of the siege. Through Waldo's observation one can see why it was almost impossible to overrun Vicksburg:

Our line is about seventeen miles in length, and is a complete net-work of rifle pits, bations, forts and ditches. In this way we advance slowly, but charges are seldom made, for the reason that about two miles

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intervenes between our forces and the city, and in that space there are, in all probability, more than fifty gullies--depths that appear to have been mostly washed out by rains. These are often fifty feet deep, perpendiculars and perhaps as many wide. {72}

These natural barriers made it very difficult to form a line and charge or move up large artillery within range of the city. The position of the Confederates in the city itself added to the difficulty of capture. Whenever the company tired to advance, they were met with shell and shot. The Union soldier, therefore, had to wait until evening to make his advance to a new position only to find himself exposed to Confederate fire the following morning. {73} In an effort to remedy the situation, Waldo received orders to take ten men and build a fort which would fortify a large siege gun. The following evening the company built a ditch to the fort so that the men would not be fired upon when entering and leaving the fort during the day. {74}

When Waldo was not observing the siege or performing company functions, he would read, write, and play cards. One day while concentrating on a game of cards, the table was disrupted by a shell which "came howling over the hill, in a direct line for our camp and stuck in the bluff a few feet back of our tent, but fortunately it did not burst and no one was hurt. {75}

The luck of the company remained and few men were wounded. However, illness began to infiltrate the company and many of the men became sick with chills and fever. {76} Waldo himself had a shake of "ague" and became very ill. {77} He suffered from a severe headache and fever and for the next week or so was unable to eat much or perform his duties.

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During his illness Charles was too sick to write entries in his diary. Later, to fill the space left in his diary, Waldo began writing what he called beautiful poetry which he dedicated to "John Morgan and his Men" and to his brother George. The John Morgan to which Charles dedicated his poem was Brigadier General John H. Morgan, who had on several occasions led his Confederate cavalry on successful raids against the Union. In his poem Waldo expressed that the Northern soldiers trembled when they heard Morgan's name. But, on the other hand, the hearts of the South were with Morgan, and in the closing lines of the poem Waldo wrote: "When, lifting high each sword of flame, They called on every sacred name, And swore, beside those dashing waves, They never, never would be slaves! They fought, fair Liberty, for thee: They fell--to die is to be free!" {78} In the poem which Charles dedicated in memory of his brother George, Waldo wrote that while his brother slept in peace a great storm was still raging. This storm was the Southern secession which had caused the death of George. In the closing lines Charles wrote that:

This gathering storm shall quickly burst, And spread its terrors far, And at its front they'll be the first, And with it go the war. O! the mountain peak shall safe remain--Tis the vale shall be despoiled, And the tame-hamlets of the plain, With ruin shall run wild, But Liberty shall breathe our air, Upon the mountain head, And freedom's breezes wander here, Here all their fragrance shed.

On June 28 Charles felt better and was able to move around a little. That same day the doctor came around, but was out of the medicine to help him. It would, therefore, appear that Waldo was not the only soldier that had suffered from ague while at Vicksburg. {80}

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Although many of the men in Company D were suffering from illness, the siege of Vicksburg continued. The Union soldiers began to realize that something soon would have to break. There were reports of the effectiveness of the siege by those Confederate soldiers who were captured or had deserted. Just before the surrender of the town, Waldo wrote there were reports that "for the last two or three days they have subsisted entirely upon mule meat, and pea bread, and if such fodder won't make a man knock under, I am at a loss to know what would." {81} For the last few days before the surrender, the Union soldiers were put in a state of readiness for fear that the Confederates would try to make a break for it. {82} Men not on picket or other duties were told to stack arms and wait. To kill time the men played cards, wrote, read, and visited one another. {83} Towards the end of the siege Waldo reported that the men were paid in Greenbacks. For the rest of the day men could be seen in every corner playing poker. {84}

The siege continued and at 11:00 A.M. July 3 the Confederates sent out a flag of truce and firing on both sides ceased. The Confederates and the Union men mixed freely and had a jolly time for several hours. {85} At 3:30 A.M. July 4 orders came to stack arms and remain with accouterments for further orders. Every man was to remain in camp.

About ten, o'clock, at a given signal, the whole rebel force, within Vicksburg, marched outside their lines, IN with arms and banners flying, to within a few paces of our forces, and there stacked their arms and colors, and surrendered themselves as prisoners of war. {86} 

It was a happy event for both sides with cheering and the booming

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of cannon. During the rest of the day both sides mingled freely and had a good time. That night Company D was one of the companies that guarded the Confederates. {87}

After the surrender of Vicksburg, Waldo's stay there was quickly terminated. On July 5 the Twelfth Regiment formed a line march to Jackson with Major General William T. Sherman's forces. {88} On the road to Jackson Waldo became very ill and stated at Champion's Hill to recuperate. He rejoined his company the day after the Confederate Army evacuated the city of Jackson, Mississippi. {89} When the regiment marched to Jackson, they were on light marching orders. So they had to return to Vicksburg to pick up their tents and other equipment. {90} On their return Waldo was still very weak and rode horse and buggy all the way back. The regiment arrived back at Vicksburg on July 23. Soon after their arrival it began to rain. The men immediately stripped off their clothes "and ran around 'stark naked ' in the rain, and had a good wash. {91}

The Twelfth Regiment was assigned under the Third Brigade, Fourth Division, Seventeenth Army Corps at Vicksburg. {92} On August 15 the division sailed to occupy the city of Natchez, Mississippi. The Third Brigade landed at Natchez on the sixteenth, at which time they marched through the city and went into camp in tents two miles from the river. {93} Waldo felt that the city had known very little of the effects of the war because it was no Confederate stronghold and no battles were fought there. The people were also Union people who were very friendly. Since the city was stationed on the Mississippi River, Waldo wrote that it "could be made one

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of the strongest positions on the whole river, and our army is going to take advantage of it and are at work fortifying it." {94} Waldo liked the town considerably. To him it was beautiful Natchez, the city on the hill. {95} The very first day there Waldo took a walk and recorded that "it was by far, the handsomest city I have seen in the 'Sunny South' and I hope we will remain here as long as we are soldiers." {96}

At Natchez the men were immediately put to work setting up cesspools and cleaning up camp. {97} The company commenced the usual duties of any company in reserve -- inspection, marching, drill, guard mount, etcetera. Waldo settled into the routine of camp life. He stood guard mount the first time after leaving Memphis on August 22. {98} However, Waldo was still a little under the weather and could not fully perform his duties. To help him in his recovery of diarrhea, which he had had for several weeks, he "tried two bottles of Capt. Howells-Hutchings diarrhea exterminator with no effect." {99} This illness prevented Charles from eating much.

For the rest of the company, however, there was food of abundance. That the army could not supply, the peddlers did. These peddlers sold just about any conceivable thing you could think of. Waldo reported on one occasion that "the beautiful pear girls are around again as usual, dealing out their little luxuries to all who wish to buy." {100} The peddlers did create problems, however. They often charged extremely high prices, and they had free access to the camp. If the men did not want to pay the high prices asked, they simply took the goods away from the

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peddler. To try to stop this foul play on both sides, the company officers put price restrictions on the goods sold and this helped the situation somewhat. {101}

A well-fed soldier is a happy soldier and happy they were. Natchez was a quiet place away from the seat of the war. The men had become so removed from action that they were confident that the war would be soon over and that they would be home for Christmas. {102} Waldo too felt that the war would soon be over because "the South is nearly exhausted, bankrupt, starved, and naked. While at the north, one would hardly tell that a bloody war was raging for business of all kinds, appear to thrive fully as well as it did before the war began." {103}

But as the months rolled by and winter approached, the men began to concern themselves about shelter. The regiment had been living in tents. To remedy this situation some of the companies in the regiment began building their own "shebangs." But not Company D. They had heard that they were to have permanent barracks by winter. Therefore, Waldo wrote, "we do not deem it safe to go to any extra labor, unless confident of its being of something [of] benefit to us." {104} Finally orders arrived for the company to begin building their own barracks of lumber and brick. {105} The new winter quarters were finished and the company had moved in by the fifteenth of November. It looked as though they were to remain there for a while. By this time the regiment had been at Natchez for four months, the longest stay in any one place. {106}

However, five days after moving into their new barracks,

Waldo's stay at Natchez was terminated for on November 20 the

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regiment departed via transport for Vicksburg. At Vicksburg the regiment received their back pay and settled up their clothing accounts. {107} From Vicksburg the regiment went into camp at Hebron which is about eight miles northeast of Vicksburg. So it was back to tent city again. The soldiers in Waldo's company were unhappy with this move. For one thing, once in permanent quarters few wanted to move. Another reason for their dismay, Waldo wrote, was that Natchez was "filled with beautiful women, and to many of them our boys had become sincerely attached, making it very hard indeed for them to part." {108}

Just about the time the company was settled at Hebron, they again received orders to pack up and return to Vicksburg. On December 5 the company boarded ship from Vicksburg and set sail. {109} The men had no idea where they were going. Some speculated that they were to continually stay on transports and scout the river. Down the Mississippi they went to Natchez. Here the men quickly realized the meaning of their expedition "which was to give suckor [sic] and to aid the small garrison stationed here, against a large and threatening foe, that was marching upon the city, from the vicinity of Jackson." {110} After dark the brigade disengaged the boats and immediately fortified the city. Once dug in, the brigade awaited the impending attack at dawn. Morning came but no attack, for the Confederates had fled. The Union forces began to pursue them and chased the Confederates for several days but could not catch them. {111} Waldo wrote that finally after not being able to confront the Confederates "we turned our faces homeward, satisfied that they made their escape." {112}

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The regiment returned to Natchez on December 8. Their tents had not yet arrived from Vicksburg so the men had to find their own quarters. {113} A few days later the rest of the brigade arrived from Vicksburg with the needed camp equipment. Wedge tents were supplied which were made to hold six men. So again the tents were pitched on the outskirts of town. {114}

The regiment stayed at Natchez for the remainder of the year. But they were by no means idle, for they were kept busy keeping the place clean and again building cesspools. {115} They also kept themselves busy building fortifications and doing picket. There were rumors that Confederate forces were nearby. So for defensive purposes, the company was engaged in constant scouting expeditions and forced marches but with no confrontation of the enemy. {116}

As 1863 came to an end, the men of the regiment began to realize that the war would not be soon over and that they would not be home for Christmas. To continue their service to their country, the men began to re-enlist into the Veterans Volunteers. {117} But Waldo refused to re-enlist because he had been called a "copperhead." This name-calling had begun in the November election of 1863.

Waldo was a Democrat. His paper had also long been outspoken in its Democratic beliefs. {118} The paper had, therefore, supported H.L. Palmer who ran for Governor under the Democratic ticket. {119} In the fall election Palmer had beaten his opponent Lewis by a three-to-one margin in Washington County and by almost that same margin in West Bend.{120} Company D had voted in that election and Palmer received a few votes. Because Palmer received these votes

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in the company, Waldo was called a "copperhead" and accused of trying to influence others' votes. Despite Waldo's denials, apparently the men had continued to denounce Charles for his Democratic ideals; when others began to re-enlist in the Veterans Volunteers he would not. As he explained his reasons in his diary:

To me it hath no charms, for I an. sacrificing much more than I am able to bear. I am already denounced as a copperhead," --an enemy to my country's cause, and unworthy of the position I hold, or the trust of the people. If such be the fact, I certainly do not think it my duty to re-enlist...a copperhead I most assuredly be, but it has the heart and feeling of the true American metal. {121}

But Waldo did serve his country for three years and served it well. His rank is an indication of this service, for he held the rank of first sergeant in his company. He answered the call of his country by enlisting in the home guards at West Bend and remained with this company for the duration of his enlistment. Even though serving his country took Waldo away from his newspaper, he continually corresponded with it and kept the people of West Bend informed of her soldiers who had become Company D of the Twelfth Wisconsin Infantry Regiment.

The regiment left Camp Randall in January, 1862, and in less than two years traveled over four thousand miles. They had been in two theaters of war, had visited nine different states, and had seen numerous towns and cities.

When the regiment was not traveling, it spent most of its time in the rear performing guard duty and rebuilding railroads. Even at the end of 1863 the regiment had been left behind to guard the

[Pg. 23]

Mississippi River at Natchez, Mississippi. Waldo did not mind guard duty. He had realized that someone had to do it and was glad to serve his country regardless of what kind of duty he had to perform. {122}

Waldo's company had never been in actual battle; it had assisted in only a few slight skirmishes. After two years the company had lost only twenty-eight men through transit, discharge, and death. Yet not a single man had died as a result of wounds incurred in battle. {123}

Besides the hardships the company had to bear, Charles had some of his own. He suffered several times from diarrhea and ague. He also had lost his beloved brother. To add to his woes Charles had been called a "copperhead" by his fellow soldiers. This name-calling must have hurt Waldo's pride very much for because of it he had refused to re-enlist.

Thus he was discharged from military service on September 17, 1864. {124} He returned to West Bend where he renewed his work for the Post. He continued to edit the West Bend Post until April 28, 1866 {125} at which time he sold his interests in the paper. The remainder of his life remains a mystery for this writer could find no more trace of Charles.

Through his pen Charles D. Waldo was able to communicate to the present world. Although his writings cover but a few years, he left us a vivid picture of those years. He had sacrificed much to fight for what he believed in. If dedication and obedience such as Waldo displayed are needed in order to keep a country

[Pg. 24]

united in time of war, then these outstanding traits of Charles D. Waldo can be examples for present and future Americans to follow.



1. Diary of Charles D. Waldo, entry for April 28), 1863. Charles D. Waldo papers, Area Research Center, Wisconsin State University at River Falls. (Hereafter cited as Diary, and date of entry.)

2. West Bend Post, January 14, 1861.

3. Donald B. Oelherts, Guide to Wisconsin Newspapers 1833-1957 (Madison, 1958), p.268.

4. Diary, November 5, 1863.

5. West Bend Post, September 21, 1861.

6. Ibid., November 2. 1861.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid., November 9, 1861.

9. Ibid.

10. Diary, January 1, 1862.

11.-E.B. Quiner, The Military History of Wisconsin ... A Record of the Civil and Military Patriotism of the State, in the War of the Union... (Chicago, 1866), p. 574. (Hereafter cited as Quiner, and page number.)

12. Diary, January 16, 1862.

13. Ibid., January 19, 1862.

14. Ibid., January 22, 1862.

15. Ibid., January 23, 1862.

16. West Bend Post, February 8, 1362.

17. Ibid.

18. Diary, January 19, 1862.

19. Ibid., January 27, 1862.

20. Ibid., February 6, 1862.

21. Ibid., January 24, 1862.

22. Ibid., January 30, 1862.

23. West Bend Post, March 81, 1862.

24. Quiner, p.387.

25. Ibid., p. 575.

26. Diary, April 25, 1862.

27. Ibid., December 31, 1863.

23. West Bend Post, Cray 31, 1862.

29. Diary, May 20, 1862.

30. Ibid., May 29, 1862.

31. Ibid., June 3. 1862.

32. Ibid., June 4, 1862.

33. West Bend Post, June 28, 1862.

34. Diary, June 7, 1862.

35. Quiner, p. 575.

36. Diary, October 4, 1862.

37. Ibid., December 31, 1863.

38. West Bend Post, November 8. 1862.

39. The War of Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, D.C., 1880), Series I, Volume XVII, Part II, p. 515. (Hereafter cited as O.R. with Series, Volume, Part, and page number.)

40. Diary, May 6, 1862.

41. Ibid., June 3, 1862 - November 27, 1862.

42. Ibid., November 4, 1862.

43. Ibid., November 8, 1862.

44. Ibid., November 29, 1862.

45. Ibid., December 11, 1862.

46. Quiner, pp. 386-387.

47. Diary, December 25, 1862.

48. Ibid., December 31, 1863.

49. West Bend Post, March 28, 1863.

50. Rossiter Johnson, War of Secession 1861-1865 (Boston and New York, 1889), p. 278.

51. West Bend Post, March 28, l863.

52. Ibid., March 7, 1863.

53. Diary, March 29, 1863.

54. Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865 (Madison, 1886), Volume 11, p. 520.

55. Diary, April 3, 1863.

56. Ibid., April 11, 1863.

57. Ibid.11 April 14-18, 1863.

58. Ibid., April 20, 1863.

59. Ibid., April 28, 1863.

60. Ibid., May 2, 1863.

61. Ibid., December 31, 1863.

62. Quiner, p.576.

63. Ibid., p.577.

64. West Bend Post, May 23, 1863.

65. Ibid.

66. Ibid.

67. Ibid., June 13, 1863.

68. Ibid. , June 27, 1863.

69. Ibid.

70. Diary, June 11, 1863.

71. Ibid.

72. West Bend Post, June 27, 1863.

73. Diary, June 19, 1863.

74. Ibid., June 20, 1863.

75. Ibid., June 17, 1863.

76. Ibid., June 13, 1863.

77. Ibid., June 21, 1863.

78. Ibid., June 23-24, 1863.

79. Ibid., June 25-27, 1863.

80. Ibid., June 28, 1863.

81. West Bend Post, July 18, 1863.

82. Diary, July 2, 1863.

83. Ibid., June 29, 1863.

84. Ibid., July 1, 1863.

85. Ibid., July 3, 1863.

86. Ibid., July 4, 1863.

87. Ibid.

88. Quiner, p. 577.

89. West Bend Post, August 15, 1863.

90. Ibid., July 18, 1863.

91. Diary, July 23, 1863.

92. O.R., Series I. Volume XXVI, Part 1, pp. 276-277.

93. West Bend Post, September 19, 1863.

94. Ibid.

95. Diary, December 31, 1863.

96. Ibid., August 15, 1863.

97. Ibid., August 17, 1863.

98. Ibid.,, August 22, 1863.

99. Ibid., August 23, 1863.

100. Ibid., September 16, 1863.

101. Ibid., August 22, 1863.

102. Ibid., August 26, 1863.

103. Ibid., December 31, 1863.

104. Ibid., October 21, 1863.

105. Ibid., October 26, 1863.

106. West Bend Post, December 5. 1863.

107. Diary, November 24, 1863.

108. West Bend Post, December 5. 1863.

109. Diary, December 5, 1863.

110. West Bend Post, January 2, 1864.

111. Ibid.

112. Diary, December 7, 1863.

113. West Bend Post, January 2, 1864.

114. Ibid., January 23, 1864.

115. Diary, December 29, 1863.

116. Ibid., December 31, 1863.

117. West Bend Post, January 30, 1864.

118. Ibid., January 14, 1861.

119. Ibid., August 8, 1863.

120. Ibid., November 141, 1863.

121. Diary, December 30, 1863.

122. Ibid., December 31, 1863.

123. Ibid.

124. Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, Volume I, p.716.

125. West Bend Post, April 28, 1866.



Primary Materials


Waldo, Charles D., Diary, Area Research Center, Wisconsin State University at River Falls, Wisconsin.


Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers. War of the Rebellion, 1861-186 Compile by the authority of the Legislature under the direction of Jeremiah H. Rush, Governor and Chandler P. Chapman, Adjutant General. (Madison: Wisconsin Democrat Printing Co., 1866).

The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 130 Volumes (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880).

NEWSPAPERS: (Micro-film)

West Bend Post, West Bend, Wisconsin (January 1861-April 1866). Secondary Materials


Johnson, Rossiter, War of Secession 1861-1865 (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1889).

Oehlerts, Donald E., Guide to Wisconsin Newspapers 1833-1957 (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1950).

Quiner, E.B., The Military History of Wisconsin ... A Record of the Civil and Military Patriotism of the State, in the War of the Union... (Chicago: Clark and Company, 1866).