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(madison icon)1902

Camp Randall artillery

Yours of recent date just received. I am glad you are knocking the split rail endways. Now we will have a good fence and no mistake.

We must not put any hollow logs in for a foundation like the one you told of in Ohio, where one end came on the outside and the other on the inside of the field. I never think of that story of the old sow trying to get into the field after the farmer had turned both ends on the outside, without a good laugh. It seems you have heard that small pox is prevalent here. Don't be scared. There was but three or four cases and they were in the 30th Regt. Deaths are frequent enough but from other causes. We are losing a man a day on an average. The boys are buried on a hill just above the camp, and the roll of the muffled drum and the blank discharge of a dozen muskets is the solemn reminder that another soldier has gone to his last bivouac. Father, I begin to hate war and I have seen nothing of it either. There is so much contention among the boys so much that we hear from the Potomac, about treachery, of McClellan and a never ending dispute about the freedom of the slaves. Just now too we are having a fearful rumpus about the rations. The boys are on the point of revolting against the government, the contractors or the state for the sour bread and stinking meat rationed out to us. The sickness of our Regt. is laid to bad food. Stuff they call coffee is made of various seeds.

It seems an outrage to get such treatment in the Capital of our State. Curse upon curse is heaped upon the contractors. We have appealed to the members of the Legislature but they can't help us. After we had drawn our rations of sour bread the other day some three hundred of the boys marched down and stormed the commissary with the sour loaves as ammunition. The next day we got better bread but it did not last long. We hear that it is made out of musty crackers and soap. I don't know I'm sure. I got a letter just this minute and dear, I am so glad. I can see you all gathered about the kitchen stove. Mother has just filled the tea kettle for morning, and father is filling the oven with kindling too wet for starting the fire in the morning and I can see myself cuddled up under the blankets just as mother used to leave me after saying good night under the open shakes with the snow drifting in upon me. I don't believe I am homesick, but if I could not recall in memory these pleasant days of my boyhood I am not quite sure but I should be. Tell mother I am just childish enough to recall that little trundle bed prayer and to repeat it in a whisper every night. I do it because it brings me closer to her but how I cannot tell.

We are going south pretty soon, we hear it rumored every day.

I got a letter yesterday from Fred Rosman. He recalled the times we hoed corn together in 1857. Fred and I layed great plans about killing chickens and sending them to Fountain City and selling to the steam boats.

What funny folks boys are anyway. We talked about a lot of things. Most of our schemes have come to naught. O the pity, that the world don't pan out as they expected. Dora said in her last letter that you were not so well. Your letter makes no mention of illness. I hope you are all right.

Your son,

Fountain City, Wisconsin

Cooke, Chauncey H. "Letters of a Badger Boy in Blue: Life at Old Camp Randall." Wisconsin Magazine of History 4 (1920-21) 208-217.
From the collection of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin: F 576 W7