Company C., 26 Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers, October 1862 to November 1863
Translated by: Clara M. Lamers and William M. Lamers, 1933
Edited by William M. Lamers and Robert Di Bartolomeo, 1963
The State Historical Society
has just received from Professor William M. Lamers, of Marquette University,
the typescript of a translation of Adam Muenzenberger's Civil War letters.
The translation was made partly by Professor Lamers and partly by his mother
Clara M. Lamers.
Adam Muenzenberger, a German of good education who lived in the town of Greenfield, Milwaukee County, enlisted in Company C. 26th Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers, in October, 1862. The 26th, it will be remembered, was the second "German Regiment" to be raised in Wisconsin during the Civil War, the first being the 9th Regiment. The active service of the 26th was performed mostly in Virginia up to the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, July, 1863, in which engagement Adam Muenzenberger was captured and taken to Richmond as a prisoner of war. There he died in November of the same year.
During Muenzenberger's absence from home, first a baby boy died, and later an older son, leaving but two of the four children in the family. But these sad experiences represent only a part of the trials of the good wife. Of these trials we hear little directly, for only two of Mrs. Muenzenberger's letters are to be found in the collection. Still, those of her husband reflect the innumerable worries and difficulties under which she labored, difficulties about securing the means of livelihood for her family, difficulties with neighbors who imposed upon an unprotected woman, and finally -- as reported in her last letter -- an act of God in the form of a stroke of lightning which partly destroyed the home and obliged her to call upon a generous friend in Milwaukee for aid. This last letter reveals that she and the two remaining children were about to go to the home of a sister in La Crosse to remain there for eight weeks.
Muenzenberger's letters justify to the existence of a of very interesting superstition which may have been widespread in the northern army during the Civil War. In numerous letters he speaks about prophecies concerning the termination of the war which prophecies he unusually discounts. But he says in one letter that he is very anxious to receive his wife's prophecy concerning those things. He has more faith in her than in other sooth sayers. And, over and over again, he asks, "What does your teacup say?"
We do not know what her teacup said. If by any chance it prophesied the dire truth, that war widow must have lived in the profoundest state of mental depression all through these long months which decided her husband's fate. These letters in short, while they reveal the hardships of the soldier, reveal still more strikingly the hardships of the family at home.
Excerpts of letters from Wm. M. Lamers, Marquette University, Milwaukee to Dr. Schafer, in State of Wisconsin Historical Society Correspondence Files.
Sept. 26, 1933
I am taking the liberty
of sending to you a carbon copy of the translation of the Civil War letters
of my great grandfather, Adam Muenzenberger, made by my mother and me ....
The letters cover a period of thirteen months. The writer of them, my great
grandfather, was born in Germany and was brought to America, while little
more than an infant, by his parents who settled in the town of Greenfield,
near the present outskirts of Milwaukee.
He was a shoemaker by trade, with an interest in book learning and had not been in the 26th Wisconsin Regiment for many months before he was made secretary to its Commander, Colonel Jacobs. As a result of this occupation, he apparently had plenty of time to sit around headquarters and write. The letters, almost without exception, are addressed to my great-grandmother, and deal partly with war experiences and partly with the homely realities of life. My great-grandfather was captured at the Battle of Gettysburg and died in Richmond in November, 1863."
Camp Sigel, September 30th, 1862.
I just found out from
Leopold [Drewes] that you would like to know when we expect to get our
banner. We will receive the flag next Thursday [Oct. 2]. If you would like
to come it would give me the greatest pleasure to have you with me here,
as I see you only as a guardian angel.
I found out that we leave next week.
Many regards from me: also kiss the children for me.
In hope that I will see you soon again I remain,
Washington, Arlington Heights
Duty bids me write you these few lines. Immediately after sending the first letter we received orders to march to Arlington Heights and to remain there until further orders. We are well and happy and do not know as yet when we march. We stay here for an indefinite time. We will be in Sigel's command as soon as he wants us. Answer this as soon as you receive this letter. My address is
Washington D. C.
Remember me to all who inquire for me. Dear Barbara, kiss the children for me. I remain.
God keep you!
Headquarters 26th Regiment Wisconsin
Volunteers, Colonel Jacobs, Co. C.
Fairfax Court House. Virginia,
October 14, 1862.
I find myself in good
health on the soil of Virginia. I beg of you not to worry about me. We
are living very well and the climate is tolerable. The days are quite warm
but the nights are cool.
Our trip was enjoyable from the beginning to the end. At every station we were received with the greatest enthusiasm. We were detained two days on Arlington Heights. Then we were ordered to General Sigel's command and the Nineteenth Regiment had to make room for us. Today, Wednesday October 15, General
Steinwehr inspected us and then we were ordered to make ready for a review by General Sigel. We were drawn up in line and then at last brave Sigel came. He paraded up and down and inspected us from head to foot. He admired the Germans from Wisconsin and said that it was only through the Germans that anything would be accomplished. He told the officers that only in the solder's life was there a unity in two parts, namely, one that commands and one that obeys. "I demand from you officers that you expect no more from the soldiers than you know they can do and that you care for them and teach them. You soldiers, obey your superiors in order that brotherly love shall always prevail."
The land here looks desolate. All the houses that are not in ruins are unoccupied. Too bad for this cleared land that lies here. It looks as packed as the roads do at home. Everything is trodden down, all the fences are burned, even fruit tree have been chopped down and burned. There is no beef to be found here other than that which belongs to the army for slaughter. We have fresh beef twice a week. Adam is well and he's just the same as he was at home. Everybody likes him because he is always satisfied. The whole regiment knew him. His mother needn't worry about him. He sends his regards to her and his sisters.
Dear wife, as happy as I would be to be in your midst, I am not sorry to be here. The soldier's life suits me well enough and I therefore urge you not to worry about me. And if the money which I send you does not reach, go to Christian Preusser. He told me you should come to him.
Write to me soon. God willing we will meet again. Many regards to all our friends and acquaintances. My greetings to you and to the children.
Kiss the children for me. Write soon. the address is:
Co. C. 26 Reg't Wisconsin Vol.
Fairfax Courthouse, Virginia.
Fairfax Court House, October 30, 1862.
I received your letter
last Sunday and see that you are all well except that you burned your hand
and that it pains you much. We are all very happy and wish very much to
be remembered. We have camped here for fourteen days but yesterday we broke
up and moved into tents on the south side of Fairfax. We are now
assigned to Carl Schurz's division. All the regiments under his command are busy today erecting their tents. We still have beautiful weather. They say that we will have our winter quarters in the place where we are now stationed. The drinking water here is wonderfully pure - all spring water. There is a great plenty of wood and as far as we have gone the district is not nearly as thickly settled as Wisconsin. The whole country hereabouts is covered with shrubbery and wood and no one can imagine how it looks. Therefore the poor war plan.
It is said that as far as the soldiers are concerned Carl Schurz is the best division commander as he takes the best care of them.
I heard that we will receive our pay within the next few days. As soon as we receive it I will wire you. But if it doesn't come go to Christian Preusser. He will attend to it as he promised me he would.
We have been visited here several times by men from Milwaukee. M. Shepard came first, then Joseph Philipps who works for Dr. Silberg, and several others who are traveling around electioneering. We were allowed to vote. I see that they are going to send a band of music to our regiment from Milwaukee.
Colonel Jacobs is the best man that would be found for his soldiers. We have him to thank for everything good that happens here. If it weren't for him the captains would not treat us nearly so well. This is all the news I have to write you at this time.
Dear Barbara, please send me 25 or 30 cents for nine three cent post stamps in order that I can send you more letters. We cannot get them here. Here the price for them is already ten cents.
I have been put on scouting service. Please remember me to all our society members and acquaintances, especially Adam Muehl and family, and grandma, Aloys Roller and family, and mother-in-law, Herman Stiefvater and wife and family. Greetings to you and to the children, to your mother, sisters, and brothers, and acquaintances.
Kiss the children for me. Answer soon. I just received your second letter and it pleased me very munch to receive your handwriting again. I hear that we will be paid in the next few days.
Gainsville, November 12, 1862.
Having no duties to perform
today - I was on sentry duty yesterday while our company was on picket
duty - I felt that I should write to you. Adam and I are well and happy
and we hope that these lines may find you the same.
The day after my last letter we marched with the Hills of Bull Run on the one side and the fields on the other and occupied the main street of the town where two days before the enemy's pickets had been posted. They had been driven in by our cavalry under General Stahl. We left our camp at eight o'clock in the morning and arrived in full equipment at one P. M. We were given immediate orders to set up our tents. One had barely finished with this when the younger soldiers of the regiment went out foraging and brought in pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese in large numbers. We roasted and cooked them.
We are staying at a place called New Baltimore. The other day thirty thousand men of General McClellans's command passed on with orders to march double time toward the enemy. A couple of days ago we were ordered to break camp and to march east towards Gainsville which is a railroad station from which we draw supplies. Ten days ago this town was still in the hands of the rebels. It lies between Centerville and Manassas Junction and was destroyed by them before their retreat. The rebels are in constant flight and are being followed by our companies, particularly by General Stahl's brigade. We are still held in reserve. We have seen no rebels but here and there the wives and children who have been left behind stare at us - sometimes sadly, sometimes hatefully.
Occasionally we come across a farmer who says that he has rented his farm and would gladly go north if he could only secure his possession safely. These men are sent north immediately. No horse or cow is safe from the old regiment. The soldiers take everything along on the plea that they wish to pay the rebels for the treatment at the last battle of Bull Run.
We hear that our wives have received no assistance from the government and a lot of other idle talk. Please write and tell me how everything is at home. Whether Walsh paid the constable's expenses, and what is happening. You write me that you have heard it prophesied that we can be home by spring. Let me know whether we can believe this or not. Please tell me who the prophet was and where he gets his prophecies and whether we can believe them or not. Please tell me what the teacup gives as truth. I'd rather believe that than any other thing.
We haven't received any pay as yet and haven't heard when we will be paid. If you haven't sent me any post stamps as yet, send me some - but all new ones - and I will write you one of, even two letters every week. Stamps cannot be obtained here. Write me also whether you received the power of attorney and let me know how many letters Adam wrote to Christina and especially how that last trouble with Wallace turned out on account of that window peeking. Please greet all my acquaintances, relatives and friends, especially your mother, your sisters and brothers, my brother-in-law, sister and brother, my father and grandmother, my godfather and family, and Loehr and his family in Milwaukee. Many thousand greetings to you and your children.
Your faithful husband,
We just received the news that we march tomorrow. Wither we don't know. Kiss the children for me. I hope for a speedy return. Answer soon.
Gainsville, November 16, 1862.
Precious Barbara, My Dear Wife:
As soon as I received
your long expected letter, I felt the urge to sit down and answer it immediately.
I don't know what to think of the fact that you didn't receive an answer
for so long. Your letters arrived as we lay in our tents and you can't
imagine how happy their arrival made me. News again from my dear ones!
I had been very much depressed because I had heard that you were seriously
ill. Fritz had received a letter from his parents in which they mentioned
your illness. Now as I hear your sweet voice again in your letter, I find
peace again - but this only through prayer.
I do everything as I promised you - everything with which so long as we are together I could please you. I am very happy to hear that our children are so diligent in study and especially in penmanship, which as you know was always my greatest pleasure.
Since the 30th of October I have written you two letters besides this one. I take pleasure from that fact that the Walters and Hirsch (Francis Louis, his wife Amalia, his brother Carl August, and his wife Rosina) families were so helpful to you in your sickness. I am indeed very grateful to them. I thank your mother as well and all those who stood by you during your distress because it shows that I and my family still have good friends and brothers.
My clothing is still in good shape. I wash my blue shirts and my underwear every week in spite of a lack of women to do it. Only the soles of my boots are worn through. My shoes and the new grey shirts which I received from the government are like new.
We have received no money as yet nor do I know when we will receive any but as soon as we are paid I will write and send you some. Report has it that we will march again tomorrow or the day after. They say that we will go back to Fredericksburg, Maryland.
I was just invited to a sausage lunch by Jacob Michel, Louis Manz, and Nicholas Frederich. We live as well here as we can. The food is good and the crackers taste - or rather must taste - good to us. We have fresh meat almost every day.
Don't give up hope, old lady, trust in the Lord. In the wish that these lines find you in the best of health as they leave me I salute you all heartily. Send my best wishes to all that ask for me and to all the relatives.
Your Ever Loving,
Answer soon. Farewell. Kiss the children for me. I am sending you 39c for stamps. Now you can send me many letters. It must be nice to hear little Adam talk. You can't imagine the pleasure I get from looking at your picture.
Centerville, November 19, 1862.
The day before yesterday,
on our retreat from Gainsville, we arrived here in Centerville and we have
pitched our camp in the fortifications. Centerville is - or rather was
at the beginning of the war - a charming little village with fine mills
and a fairly large church, but now it is an abandoned nest. The mill has
been destroyed by fire and the church has been converted into a hospital
and quartermaster's station. The people have moved out of the place and
the houses are occupied by officers, soldiers, and negroes.
We are expected to camp here for an indefinite period. Where we go then we don't know. Our Army is falling back - why, no one knows. Rumor has it that Jackson threatens Maryland again. If such be the case he will be enticed into Maryland and his retreat will then be cut off. They say likewise that two divisions will be put aboard ship and sent to Charleston. They want to attack the Southerners in the interior. The 26th Wisconsin, 119th New York, and the 75th Pennsylvania form our brigade. Our regiment is the strongest.
We had two deserters. Captain Landa, Lieutenant Zarnow of Company D, Lieutenant Waller of Company G, and several returned home. Many of these gentlemen were forced by Colonel Jacobs to ask for their discharges. Colonel Jacobs is sick. He worried too much about his officers.
Rumors of all kinds concerning peace and a return to Milwaukee are floating around. I don't think you can find a single soldier in the entire army who wouldn't rather go home today than tomorrow. Everyone sees this big humbug with wide - open eyes.
The man who stays well here is fortunate. Our doctors are absolutely worthless. During the retreat over the battlefields of Bull Run, one noticed to the disgrace of the Northerners that everything had been done with great carelessness. Where our fallen comrades had been buried in many instances, hands and feet and sometimes whole heads were exposed. The Southerners are buried decently. In several instances more than a hundred are placed in one grave - but they are at least covered and on the one side a board is erected as a marker. We noticed one board inscribed with the names of 130 men of the First Mississippi Regiment.
This must be all for today. If we leave here in a short time, I will write you. Greet all of mine and our friends and in the hopes of a speedy return I greet you and the children, your mother and family, my sister and brother-in-law, Rollers and family, my godfather and family, and I remain,
Your loving husband
Kiss the children for me. Answer soon.
Centerville, November 25, 1862.
Troubled with lonesomeness
and with my thoughts forever with the loved ones at home I take my pen
in hand to write you a short letter. We are, God be praised, in the best
of health and hope that this letter finds you the same. We enjoy happy
times here in the encampment at Centerville. We take long walks and pass
our time in the easiest fashion. From time to time we have to take picket
duty or night watches. Several rebels are captured every day. They are
taken as spies. Seeman is provost marshal and sends the captives to Washington
where they must stay until they are exchanged.
We have target practice today, twenty men being selected from each company. Adam is with the twenty men today but not I and on that account I have a chance to write a letter and to give the children a little pleasure.
Today several of the officers of our regiment were shipped back to Milwaukee for good, some for being incapable and others for being opposed to commander Jacobs. The commander is still down with the chills and fever. This week as corporal I had the watch before his room. In the morning he treated us with a bottle of brandy. He is in all respects the best officer in the regiment. He is not naughty like Lehman and Major Horwitz. General Schurz is a good man to his division. All of his men have great respect for him. He cares for them like a father. Every two days we get good wheat bread; the other days we have crackers. We likewise have fresh beef every two days. On the other days we have salt pork and bean soup.
We have received no money as yet and don't know when we will receive any but as soon as I do get some I will write to you. The weather here is about the same as it is in October at home. It freezes just a little at night and there is a light frost. We are camped here in our cotton tents, quite well satisfied and filled with the hope that the war will be over in spring. Report has it that there has been drafting in Wisconsin and great resultant scandal. We have had a great laugh at the simpletons who laughed at us because we volunteered. Please let me know who was drafted if you can find out so that I can laugh at their lot the way they laughed at mine.
I find happiness in the thought of a loving wife and children who still remember their father in the north and the more I think of you the more I count on seeing you soon again if God wills. Therefore be comforted. As I have found out here a protecting hand is over us. I send my greetings to all my friends and acquaintances, all my society brothers, to all who ask for me, to my sister and brother-in-law, your mother and family, to Adam Muehl and grandma and family, and to George Michel and his wife. Many greetings to you and to the children, and I remain, true soul.
Your loving husband
Farewell. A speedy return. Answer soon.
Centerville, November 27, 1862.
Best Beloved Barbara:
As it is the custom to
greet a good friend on his namesday I consider it my duty to send you,
my dear one, congratulations on your namesday, and to wish you many more
happy returns of the day with your children. But my greatest wish is that
I could be united with you and the children soon again.
I am quite well satisfied here. Our food and surroundings are good, and we expect to spend the winter here in Centerville. According to the latest report we are to work a fortifications this winter. The fortification is to be rebuilt into a very strong fort, and so, God willing, we will spend the entire winter here.
We were on picket duty again last night. We did picket duty before a house where we get a quart of milk every morning and evening. I was the corporal of the watch. We didn't know what to do to pass the time without getting into mischief. We are in good health, and have plenty to eat, and an over abundance of good, healthy appetite. But Babbette, you can't imagine the poverty among the people here, especially among the farmers. At every retreat the Rebels make they plunder everything that isn't fastened down. If the Northern Army [?] retreats they do the same. They (the natives) think the North has some very tough soldiers, but they always have a word of praise for the 26ers, they are always sent back for guard.
We set up our big tents again today.
We didn't receive any money here as yet. Please be so kind and write me soon. I don't know whom to blame for not receiving an answer. I write to you so often and always get an answer every fourteen days. So far I have written you five or six letters and have not had an answer. I don't demand an answer from you for every letter I write, but I would like an answer at least once a week from my beloved one. There is nothing more consoling to a father far away from home than to hear good news and often from his folks. Write me if you received the power of attorney and my commission as corporal.
I beg of you, write me soon and often. Write me and let me know who has been drafted.
Again I wish you love and happiness for your namesday and by next spring your old man will be home in your arms again.
Best regards from your brother. He got another letter from his sweetheart [Christina Schmidt]. It was heartbreaking.
Thank God we are well here and hope this finds you in good health as it leaves us.
Farewell, true soul. Farewell.
Blue Mountain, November 29, 1862.
I received your letter
and am greatly pleased to hear of your recovery. I am well and our trip
agreed with me nicely. We are still marching inland toward Richmond as
reserves. After we had camped to the south of Fairfax Courthouse for several
days we received orders to get ready to march. On November 1 we left our
former camp and at noon we arrived at Centerville where we camped again.
Centerville is eight miles from Fairfax. From Centerville we left and passed
through Bull Run. On the outskirts of Bull Run we camped two nights. There
we caught two spies. Early the next morning we marched through the Bull
Run Hills and came to Haymarket where the inhabitants still remain. They
looked at us insolently but our men sang in a loud voice, "In the South,
in the South, where the German guns explode and the rebels fall."
We marched on. I should say here that the rebels were chased by our cavalry before this. Toward four o'clock we arrived in - or rather - at the Bull Run Hills where three hundred men of our company were put on picket or outpost duty. We fixed bayonets and in this way we entered the hills and took up our posts.
There we stayed until this noon. When we were doing picket duty our other companies which had stayed in camp collected about a hundred sheep, pigs, chickens, and geese and killed them and dressed them. Besides that they took potatoes and cabbage. Then they burned down the houses. The New York regiment is entirely German. Wherever you meet soldiers they're German. And they've all sworn vengeance on the South.
Today is election day. All companies have voted except ours. Our officers are all Republicans and our soldiers are all Democrats and so they've cheated us - or rather the candidates. This evening the wife of Captain Pelosi arrived here. She said that there was rumor that our regiment had already been in a battle. We haven't as yet but it may come soon as we have been listening to the thunder of cannon for the last two days. McClellan and Burnside are at present engaged with the enemy and if it is necessary, we will follow.
Please don't forget the postage stamps or else I can't send you any letters. We haven't received any money as yet. The weather here is fine and warm.
I must close my letter as I have no more room to write. Address your letters the same as before.
My greetings to all our relatives and friends, to my brother-in-law, sisters and brothers. And in the hope of a happy return, I greet you and the children, your mother, sisters, and brothers,
Adam sends his love to his mother, sisters, and brothers. Please kiss the children for me and please answer soon.
Centerville, December 7, 1862.
I received your letter
of November 26 and I see that everybody - and especially you - is well.
As for me I am still healthy and satisfied. When your letter arrived I
was doing outpost duty. Just as the assignments for outpost duty were posted.
It began to snow and it continued to fall until eight o'clock in the evening.
During all this time we stood in the snow around a fire. The officers and
the non-commissioned officers don't have to suffer as much as the privates
who do picket duty. Every two hours pickets are changed. At nine P.M. the
weather cleared and the wind whistled so coldly that we thought we would
When we came off duty I read your letter, dearest, and I was much pleased to learn that Harmeyer's hired man had been drafted. You're still the same. I was encouraged by the fact that you confronted me about the draft. I'm perfectly satisfied that things are as they are and, if God will, the war will soon be over and we will have the opportunity, volunteers as well as drafted men, to talk to one another.
We do nothing now but picket and will be kept on this duty until New Year At that time our Regiment will be released. That will be a happy day as these duties are very hard - twenty-four hours without shelter. It is terribly cold here now. There are traces of snow and the wind is biting. We build little fireplaces in our tents and they feel good - as long as we can remain by them. But what can we do. Duties must be performed.
Our colonel, Jacobs, hasn't taken command as yet. Everybody rejoices at his return because our first lieutenant, Lehman, is a beast and is drunk most of the time. Then he doesn't know how to mistreat the men.
Our company is still the strongest in the Regiment and we will have two promotions very soon. Perhaps two of our corporals will be made sergeants. Who will be the lucky ones, no one knows.
Please be so kind as to write me immediately. Write to me every Sunday if you possibly can. You can't give me any greater pleasure than to write me a letter with your beloved hands. I was afraid that I wouldn't receive any more. Tell me if Harbacher is still with you and how the weather is at home. Write me also whether you received the corporal's commission and what your names day wish is. When you see Walsh tell him that I had written you in regard to the money. I had an entirely different opinion of him as he promised to give me the money at Camp Sigel.
Send my best wishes to all my society brothers and acquaintances, to my brother-in-law and sister, to your mother and family, to Grandmother Muehl, Rollers, and families, and to John Mirgeler and his wife. I wish them much happiness in their marriage. Also greet Montag, Weiler, and Hirsch and their families, Konrad and Krempel and their families, and then I send many hearty greetings to you, dearest, and to the children, and in the hopes of a speedy return, I remain,
Your loving husband,
Kiss the children for me.
All your friends send greetings, I can't name them all.
Greenfield, December 8, 1862.
My wholehearted thanks for your loving congratulations on my names
day. My greatest wish is to have you return to me. Beloved, you write that
I write so little. Here after I will send you a letter every Sunday. You
don't know how much work I have - especially with the wood because since
your absence I have cut every piece myself. You can't get anyone to chop.
And you know what kind of wood chopper I am. God be praised though, it
goes better now. And then you know I sew for other people. Money is scarce.
Dear Adam, it pleases me much that you have good food and are well and happy. I received your power of attorney and also the patent. Please tell Korbmacher that a little son arrived at his home and that he should write to his wife as soon as possible.
His family is well and is anxiously awaiting a letter. Write the address for him the same as yours. Jacobs has been slandered in Milwaukee on the grounds of misusing a solder. I saw Deuster at the Seeboth office. He asked me how you were getting along and I told him that you considered Jacobs a wonderful man and praised him highly. This didn't seem to please him very much. Dear Adam, Jungbluth and his family send their regards and always inquire about you. Write me what happened to John Kraemer as his parents are not very well. I close my letter now in good health. Your wife and children send greetings.
Many greetings from mother,
sisters, and brothers, brother-in-law and sister, Rollers, Hommel and family,
and best regards from your society brothers.
Farewell, and the good God be your protector. I want to save paper so that you can use the other side for an answer. Farewell, dear Adam, in God's name, Greet my brother heartily.
Centerville, December 9, 1862.
Dearest Wife Barbara:
Your letter of December
3rd found me in the best health and I learn from it that you are the same.
You do not know how surprised I was to learn from your letter that the
26th Wisconsin and the 119th New York ran away at Gainesville and had left
their blankets and guns behind them. It is laughable and at the same time
annoying to have anything of that kind said or written about a regiment
such as ours.
It is laughable to this extent. Up to this time our regiment had not had the honor to even meet a Southern soldier with the exception of those whom our pickets took prisoner. Our regiment is still very cheerful and we just received the news that by morning we would break camp and take the field against Jackson's army. Everyone is cheering and waiting the chance to send Jackson home.
It is annoying because we hear that these rumors are given out in part by the Milwaukee Sentinel and in part by the Milwaukee Seebote. Of course you can't blame the Sentinel in this matter. It hasn't forgotten the slur our first lieutenant, Lehman, gave it. It certainly would be aggravation to get a good dig from a Dutchman and not to be able to return it. You know, we are no Yankees.
One can forgive the Seebote because the editor simply doesn't understand the affair and I know the old men. He screams when the other one shouts and be is angry besides because his Napoleon, McClellan, was relieved of duty.
Beloved, believe me - and I wouldn't lie, we marched back in the same order and with the same order and with the same packs that we had when we left here. In the same way that you saw us march from Camp Sigel, we marched from Gainsville to Centerville with our stomachs empty. The whole company grumbled because our equipment wasn't hauled there in spite of the fact that we knew two days ahead of time that we were going to Centerville. I firmly believe, though, that our regiment would let itself be shot to pieces before it would retreat. Let me repeat once more, then, that as yet we haven't seen the enemy and that the whole tale is an ugly slander against us.
John Kraemer is sick now, but not dangerously so. He sends his regards to his parents.
Tomorrow we march ahead to look for the enemy and it is possible that before you receive this letter the 26th regiment either have withdrawn or fought Jackson.
The news about little Adam and the other children gives me much pleasure. Let everyone read this letter as proof that these rumors are silly and false.
Many greetings to all our friends, relatives and acquaintances, to grand mother, to godfather and his family, your mother and family; also to the Hirschs, Weilers and to their families. My greetings to Dr. Krak and his family. I remain, loving until death,
Greetings to the Roller family. Kiss the children for me.
Fredericksburg, December 16, 1862.
At last we have arrived
at Fredericksburg where Burnside has been bivouacked for five days and
I take my pen in hand to write a few lines to you. Immediately after I
had written to you the other morning we were ordered to move. We marched
from Centerville to Fairfax Station where we pitched camp for the night.
On the next day we continued the trip. All that day we struggled through
the mud. The ground is frozen in the morning.
It thaws about nine o'clock and becomes soft and dirty. The second day we came into Wolf's Run where we camped over night. The third day we moved on again. The weather is warm and clear-about the way it is at home in October. We marched to within a mile this side of Dumfrie, a little village. Here we rested a whole day. That night I spent on picket duty again.
The weather is beautiful. The next day we pulled stakes and continued to Stafford Court House where we remained for the night. The following day we continued through a village called Stafford which was about the most beautiful I have seen on our whole march. Thence we proceeded to a railroad station called Brooks Station. Here we were given hardtack. We had been without it for two days. Each man received five crackers and every two men were given two tablespoons of coffee. Our wagons couldn't follow us on the march. At Brooks Station each man received twenty crackers and six tablespoons of coffee. Now we are in good condition as far as eating is concerned.
We have pitched camp a mile and a half from Fredericksburg which General Burnside occupied several days ago. His troops are now camping in the village. The rebels in their forest are only four miles away. For five days now that battle has been going on and no one knows yet if it is over. We have heard that ten thousand of our men have been killed or captured. Our people marched everything in the town with much enthusiasm. We are hourly awaiting a renewal of the battle inasmuch as the rebels don't want to withdraw. This evening we received orders to retreat-where to no one knows but the generals. Hourly new troops are arriving on our side.
Stafford Court House, December 17, 1862.
This morning we broke
camp very early and marched back to Stafford Court House where we arrived
in a snow storm. We pitched our tents immediately. By the time they were
up the snow had stopped falling. How happy I was when our quartermaster
brought our mail and I received a letter from my precious wife. I immediately
thought, I must finish this letter which I had started at Fredericksburg.
God be praised, I still am in the best of health as are Adam, Leopold,
John Kraemer, Stubanus the basket maker, and I hope that this letter finds
you the same.
We have plenty to eat again but we don't know what's going to happen to us and where will be sent to next. They say that Sigel's corps is to go to Richmond by water with the fleet. General Banks is before Richmond and Sigel is to support him. Tonight it is rumored that General Banks took Richmond but whether the report is true we don't know. We hope that it is.
Enough of that, Adam is very dissatisfied because he hasn't received a letter. He did get one from Mary from La Crosse. She wrote that they had built a barn for two animals and for two tons of hay, that they had drilled a well, and that my father wanted to come to you by Christmas time.
Jacob Michel has been promoted to sergeant and I am third instead of fifth corporal. There have been many promotions. Lieutenant Pizzala has been made a captain. Send my regards to George Michel and tell him that Jacob is now a sergeant and that Nick Fredrich is in the hospital. He is at Fairfax Station.
Dearest, I pity you because you have to cut the wood and do all the hard work. But be satisfied, true soul. This hard lot is merely a test for us. If God wills I can return and we will have wonderful-in fact the most wonderful days of our life together.
Now don't give up. God still lives and I trust that he will let me return in the best of health and will reunite us.
Many greetings to all who inquire for me, to Jungbluths, Michels, Rollers, Muehls, Jungs, Montags, Stubers, to Herman and Bina, your mother and her family, to Weilers, Hommels, Kraks, Hirschs - to all, in fact, that ask for me. Also to Loehrs and family and tell them that Deany Steinly was made a corporal. His parents live at Loehrs.
And I send you best wishes from my whole heart and I wish you a merry Christmas and a very happy New Year in the best of health and before our wedding anniversary in the embrace of
Your loving husband,
Kiss the children for me, precious soul. Farewell. We will meet again. Answer immediately.
This little letter is for you and if anyone wants to read it don't give it to them.
Dearly beloved Barbara:
Precious heart, as happy
as I would be to be with you and with our children and in the circle of
our families, I must write you how I am and how I like my lot. I am well
satisfied, I like the life, and I do not think that there is anyone in
the regiment who is as contented as I am. I haven't found a doctor necessary
as yet and I don't think that there is another corporal in the regiment
with duties as light as mine. Since we have been in camp I have been on
guard only twenty-four hours and of that there was only a half-night.
There is no corporal in the company so well liked as I am both by men and officers. The reason is that when they are off duty I let the men do as they wish-but if I am on duty with them they obey orders promptly.
I heard yesterday that Schurz's division is at Arlington Heights near Washington. We hope that is true.
Dear Heart, please send my greetings to your mother, sisters and brothers, to Herman and Bina, to the Muehls and their family and grandmother, to Wallace, Weiler, Hirsch, Krak, Montags, Konrad, Krempel, Jungbluth, Jungs, Roller, Michel, Loehrs, and in fact to everybody that inquire for me. And especially do I send my greetings to you, beloved, and to our little ones. And I ask you to kiss them and to tell them to study hard. Greeting you and the children many times I am,
Your Loving Husband,
Farewell, I hope we shall be together in eternity... I thought I had a half sheet but it turned out to be a whole one. Farewell, true soul, we shall see each other soon. Kiss the children for me and write me in your next letter whether you received the letter with the dollar and my picture. I hope that I will be home by summer time.
I greet you heartily, precious soul.
Your Loving Husband,
Stafford Court House, December 21, 1862.
I have received your letter
of December 11th and your best wishes for my names day. I see from it that
you and the children are well. As for me I am likewise well and happy and
I greet you many, many times.
Precious, you can't imagine how pleased I am every time I receive a letter from you. I get added pleasure from the knowledge that you are all well and happy. A letter from you always brings healing medicine to my heart which beats only for you, my loved ones.
I am highly pleased to hear that Ernest and Mary like to study. Tell them to keep on so that when I return I may be very proud of them. They can please me better in no other way. Should I return I will surely bring them a beautiful gift if they study hard. How is Henry and little Adam?
I am likewise pleased to hear that my Godfather, Adam Muehl, is of so much assistance to you. I thank him heartily for it. I am not sorry I enlisted but I do wish that those who talked war constantly would have to perform an American soldier's duty for eight days. Then there would be peace in a short time.
The newspapers say that the army is well satisfied with the conduct of the war. That is nothing but a lie. There isn't a regiment that isn't looking for peace saying that war is nothing but moneymaking and humbug. This war doesn't concern the Union but the almighty purses of the officers and contractors, speculators and dealers. For these the war hasn't lasted nearly long enough. As long as Uncle Sam pays the war will last. The New York troops are the most dissatisfied.
The weather is now pretty cold. We have only wood to use for fire to warm ourselves. Nothing would warm me more though than a letter from you and a greeting from your faithful heart. We have received no wages and will not receive any for a while. The story that Heinz from Company G writes that he received his month's salary is nothing but a lie. Not a man of the 26th regiment has received his pay. It must be that Heinz is a ----- and got his pay that way because anyone who knows him knows that he has a pretty big mouth. The man who talks a lot can't always tell the entire truth. On that account, dearest, don't believe all the rumors. I know that when payday comes the entire brigade will receive their pay and only one regiment, much less one man. Men like him only make heavy hearts for other families. Some wives think that their husbands have received their pay and wasted it. Others again feel that they have lost it.
Adam at present isn't quite well but he hasn't gone to the hospital. He has caught a slight cold. He and Holz were out hunting yesterday and killed a cow. They brought it to camp in five pieces. We have plenty of fresh beef now but there isn't enough hardtack. A strong person goes hungry. I always manage to have some left from one meal to the next. Adam is often without it. Leopold, Adam, Asmuth Holz, Andreas Springling from Milwaukee and I are sleeping partners. Andreas Sprengling is from Weinholdsheim and lives - or his wife does - at or near Loehrs. There are entire companies of Darmstaedter with us.
I wish you and all who ask about me a happy new year, good health, and speedy return. Greet all our neighbors. Many regards to Adam Muehl and his families, to Roller and his family, to Jungbluth, Stuber, Weiler, Hirsch, Hommel, Krak, Montag, and especially to Herman Stiefvater and to my sisters and your mother and the family. Adam sends best regards to his mother, and to his sisters and brothers.
Many greetings to your true, true heart and to our children from
Your Loving Husband
Stafford Court House, December 28, 1862.
I received your last letter
of December 21st just after I had written to you on the 27th. By it I see
that you and the children are well and happy. I am likewise in good health
and I greet you and the children heartily.
I am happy that you thought of making me a little Christmas present. More, I have nothing but thanks for you. But I ask you not to get any more ideas like that in the future. Presents might reach me but the freight on them is more than they are worth. I want to thank you again though for your goodness of heart. That is all I can do for you at this time but I will never forget it of you.
You write me that Patrick Walsh hasn't paid you as yet. Wait a short time and then ask him again and if he doesn't send you any money then I will send him a letter through the general. I am very sorry that such things happened to Mrs. Wallace. I am happy that you followed my advice and stayed away until she came to her senses.
The next time you write you can send me a few stamps again and please send me a few newspapers. You can include some zinc nails, a few pegs, an awl, some hempen thread, brushes, and shoemakers glue. You don't have to send it this week but send the awls and zinc nails as soon as possible. Not too many at once, though, only enough to sew my boots as they have been worn out for quite a while. I have received my second pair of shoes. There are many who have received their second trousers and shirts. For these naturally they have to pay. My clothes are still in good condition. All I have drawn is two pair of stockings, one pair of shoes, and one pair of gloves.
You can see from this that I own gloves and that I am well supplied with clothes. The weather, too, is very mild. We have had two deaths since we went into camp here. One of them was the son of Mr. Jaeger who lives near the Muehls. The other belonged to Company G. I don't know his name. They buried the first in the cemetery in Centerville, the other here on a high hill on the other side of camp. His comrades made a fine marker and a garden for him.
Our first lieutenant becomes more bestial day by day. No soldier has any respect left for him. They sneer at his commands. Sometimes he hasn't nerve enough to come into camp until after midnight. The regiment likes our commander more every day. They say that he is a very good man and a very successful officer. Everyone has the greatest respect for him.
Adam is on the way to recovery and asks me to send greetings to his mother and family.
I must close my letter now as I have to make out muster roles. I still think thankfully about your good intentions regarding your Christmas present. Still advising you to be firm and trustful in the hopes of my speedy return I send you my greetings.
Your loving husband,