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(madison icon)1902

Camp Randall 1862
MADISON, WISCONSIN, Jan. 6th, 1863.      

DEAR SISTER: I am sure you would smile if you could get a view of Co. G. as I can see them from where I sit. You would say, "What a writing school." I can count more than 40 of the boys writing letters to their mothers or their girls. Mostly to their girls. Its easy to tell, if a fellow is writing to his mother he don't squirm and cover his paper when some guy looks over his shoulder. There is a lot of such teasing. The only way is to get away up in the top bunks out of reach and hold their portfolios on their laps for a desk. I came off guard this morning after the coldest night of the winter. My beat was long side the railroad track on a high bank where the wind cut me from all sides. I set my gun down and run back and forth to keep from freezing my toes. The snow sifted in the path and kept it soft and mealy. The Legislature had some extra work at the capitol last night. I could see the light at the top of the dome until after midnight.

old capitol

No pay yet though they keep promising it. Went to the Episcopal church last Sunday. Say, don't they put on style though? I compared them in my mind to our little bunch in that two by four schoolhouse in Gilmanton. The preacher came out in a black dress and talked about things I couldn't understand, but the music was nice when I came away. If I was any better in heart, it was because of the music and not for anything the preacher said. A lot of the boys celebrated Christmas and New Year to their sorrow. Some of them were put in jail up town and two of them are there yet. Nearly every other house between here and the Capitol sells beer and by the time the lovers of grog get into town they are full to running over with "When Johnny comes marching home." There was close to a mutiny of the two regiments here the other day because so many of the boys had been arrested and jailed in the city. The 30th. regiment and several companies of the 25th came out without officers, formed in ranks swearing they would go up and storm the city of Madison, if necessary, and release their comrades in jail. Feeling ran so high that I took my place in the ranks without much heart in it to tell the truth. I was glad when our officers came around and explained that we were mutineers and in violation of the rules of war and that we should disband.

I had no pity in my heart for the fellows in jail and I was glad for an excuse to sneak back to headquarters. We have some good fellows in our company who are devils when they are in drink. And we have about four who are devils drunk or sober. While I am writing these, the boys are singing Dixie in a great chorus. This awful weather makes us hanker for the warmer south and, since there is no hope of home. All seems quiet on the Potomac.


I see by the papers that the churches are urged to pray for the end of the war. They have had several spells at this and the battles have been harder and the slaughter greater. The churches south have been doing the same thing. It would seem that God ought to pity the slave and help our side, but will he? I know what father would say. He would quote Napoleon, who said, "Put your trust in well drilled troops and keep your powder dry." I remember the last time I heard him say this, when Elder Morse was visiting us and they were talking about the wickedness of slavery about which they both agreed. Father disputed the Elder's opinion that God presided over the movements and affairs of earth. He cited slavery and the wicked wars of the earth and the crimes of the liquor traffic as being inconsistent with the character of a just God. Elder Morse agreed with father this far, that they were not in harmony with the Divine plan, but were tolerated for some reason not given to man to know.

King's son in camp

Have father tell Elder Morse, I thank him for his kind words, His son Henry is about and able to eat his rations every day. I hope you wont sell your land as you talk of doing. I got a letter from G------ the other day and answered it. He thinks McClellan is a traitor. Lots of us think the same. Our Captain is a wise man and he says McClellan has been waiting and waiting when he should have been marching and fighting. I am awful sorry that Freemont was set down on by Lincoln. I am with Freemont as many of the boys are. I have no heart in this war if the slaves cannot go free. Freemont wanted to set them free as fast as we came to them. I am disappointed in Lincoln. I remember a talk father had with Uncle Ed. Cartwright, who was blaming the war on the Abolitionists. It made father mad and he talked back pretty hot. He said I have a boy who wants to go to the war and I would give his life as cheerfully as Abraham offered his son if necessary that the slaves might be freed. Father meant all right though it seemed hard, but I love him all the more for it, although I suppose I am the boy he meant for the sacrifice. We are all anxious to go south, though none of us that I know are anxious to get shot for any cause. Direct as before to Camp Randall. Love to all, mother, father and brothers.

Your brother,