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(madison icon)1902

Letters of a Badger Boy in Blue:
Life at Old Camp Randall1

by Chauncey H. Cooke
from the Wisconsin Magazine of History   1920

CO. G. 25TH WIS. VOL. INFT.      
Dec. 16, 1862.                  

Winona Minnesota Levee 1862

DEAR PARENTS: After just one week of varying incident from the time of leaving my old dear home I am seated to write to you. We did not find our regiment at Winona as we expected, they had gone to La Crosse. There were 27 of us in the crowd so we hired three liveries and drove all night and reached La Crosse at 6 o'clock in the morning. We nearly swamped in the Black river crossing McGilvery's ferry the ice was running so, but we got over all right. We stayed in La Crosse one night and came on to Madison the next night. The people of La Crosse were good to us, they gave us a fine dinner in the biggest hall in town but mother it did not taste half as good as the last one you gave me of bear meat and venison and hot biscuit and honey. It may be I did not do right when I sneaked out of the house and got Billy and rode away without saying good bye, but I couldn't help it. I knew it hurt you to say good-bye and that's why I did it.

Black River, La Crosse

La Crosse Wisconsin

Well, we are in Madison, the Capital of the state. How long we are to stay nobody knows. They say we need drilling and must get more disciplined before we go to the front. Well I hope we won't stay here long. These barracks are awful cold, and my bunk is on the top tier, next to the shingles--too hot in the evening--cold in the morning. I am wearing father's moccasins yet. I didn't get time to buy me boots in La Crosse or Winona.

Tell father to use my money and buy him some more. We are to be paid soon and I will send you some money. You need not lay it up as you did before but use it, and don't think of me, I am all right. I never want to see father wear patches again. I don't believe this war is for long. I expect to be home next year to help with the work. Maybe not, but we'll see.

I forgot to tell you that we came in the cars to Madison from La Crosse. It was a new experience to me, I was wide awake the whole way. I was afraid we were off the track every time we crossed a switch or came to a river. At the towns, girls swarmed on the platforms to ask the boys for their pictures and to kiss the best looking ones. A young Frenchman, we called him the pony of the regiment because he was so small and quick, got the most kisses. He was so short the boys held him by the legs so he could reach down out the windows to kiss the girls. Many times some old fellow held the girls up so she could be reached. It was fun anyway.

I never think but I am all right, except when I try to double quick for a half hour or so. My wind gives out. Lieutenant Parr says, "Your measles stay with you yet." "Warm weather," he says, "will fix you all right." Love to all.

Your son,

1 The first installment of these war time letters, together with a brief historical introduction concerning them and their author, was printed in the September, 1920 issue of this magazine.