THE HISTORY OF CLARK COUNTY
Chapter VII, 15 July 1909 -- Thorp Courier, Clark County, Wisconsin
THE EARLY SIXITES--THE BOYS IN BLUE FROM CLARK COUNTY.
"Who dares? -- this was the patriots cry,
* * * * * *
Come out with me, in Freedoms name,
For her to live, for her to die."
A hundred hands flung up reply,
A hundred voices answered "I!"
Thomas Buchanan Reed
When President Lincoln in 1861 called upon the loyal north for volunteers to aid the government of the United States in suppressing the rebellion in the southern states; the county of Clark responded nobly.
It then had within its borders about one hundred and twenty families, and a population all told of approximately eight hundred.
There are no records attainable relative to any enlistments for three months service, if there was any; but the county furnished to one company, of the Fourteenth Wis. Vol. Infantry about thirty men. There were all enlisted and enrolled in Co. I of that regiment for three years and when they left the state to take the field the company was in command of Capt. Calvin R. Johnson of Black River Falls, an able lawyer and a good soldier. His son Frank Johnson is now the judge of the county court of Jackson County.
The 14th regiment it is said, was one of the best the Wisconsin put in the field.
They left the state early in March 1862, and in less then thirty days, were engaged in the battle of Shiloh, where they lost early one hundred men in killed, wounded and missing.
Shiloh, then, was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. In October of the same year the regiment lost ninety-five men in killed, wounded and missing at the battle of Corinth.
They were with Grant at Vicksburg in 1863, and in a charge before that city, in May of that year they sustained the loss of 107 men. On the surrender of Vicksburg the regiment was given the post of honor and led the advance of the troops on their entry into the surrendered city.
The Fourteenth also saw service on the Red River expedition, and a portion of it was with General Sherman in his Atlanta campaign. Early in 1865 they were sent to New Orleans, and shortly after were engaged with the enemy at Spanish Fort, until its surrender, and were in various skirmished along the cost of the Gulf of Mexico. They were not mustered out until Oct. 9, 1865, about six months after the surrender of Lee to Grant at Appomattox Court House.
General Sherman in his Memoirs, referring to regiments from Wisconsin states that her regiments were kept filled with recruits, whereas other states generally filled their quota by new regiments, and the result was that he estimated a Wisconsin regiment equal to an ordinary brigade.
The following is a list of the members of Company I 14th Wis. Vol. Inf. Who resided in Clark county at the time of their enlistment:
Charles G. Bacon was wounded at the battle of Shiloh and died as a result of his wounds. He was a son of Orson Bacon, one of the early settlers in the town of Pine Valley. The entire farm of the elder Bacon is now comprised within the boundaries of the city of Neillsville, and is quite extensively built up with handsome residences.
The Grand Army Post at Neillsville is named in honor of and memory of young Bacon.
The following is a list of the Clark County Members of Company I who were either killed, died of wounds, or lost their lives by disease in the south in their line of duty:
"On fames eternal camping grounds"
Their silent tents are spread
And glory guards, with measured sound
The bivouac of the dead."
Louis Lynch was a son of James Lynch who was early located at Neillsville, and lived upon the block where the Congregational Church is now situated.
John O’Neill was the son of James O’Neill, the founder of Neillsville.
Henry Ross was a brother of Robert Ross, the lumberman, who for years resided at what is known as Ross’ Eddy, about a mile from Neillsville.
Young Schlinsog was a son of Carl Schlinsog, and a brother to William Schlinsog, now a prominent farmer citizen of the town of Grant.
Since the close of the war, many members have died, and at the present time there remain living only ten of the original number.
Those now living are James Ferguson, who resides in the state of Washington, and who is engaged in the hardware business at Menatchee.
Ferdinand C. Wage makes his home in the city of Neillsville. He is the son of John D. Wage, one of the earliest settlers of eastern Clark county.
George R. King, whose home is at Humbird in this county, is a son of George W. King, a prominent man in early days, who held the offices of member of assembly, district attorney, sheriff, and clerk of county board of supervisors, of the county.
Thomas R. Vine, is one of the survivors, and his home is in the town of Warner, his post-office address being Greenwood.
Joseph Ives, is at present living at the Soldiers’ Home in the state of Oregon, near the city of Portland.
John R. Sturdevant is living in the city of Neillsville. He is known more familiarly as Rufe Sturdevant. Since the war he has held the offices of district attorney and county Judge and at present is one of the court commissioners of the circuit court for Clark County.
Edward Houghton is now a resident of Tacoma Washington. He was the county treasurer of Clark county for two years. In the war times his home was a Houghtonberg, in the southwestern part of the county, now is the town of Mentor.
The hamlet took its name from the family of which he was member.
Robert F. Sturdevant, whose home is at Olympia in the state of Washington was after the war register of deeds and also district of Clark County.
After becoming a resident of Washington, he has held in that state the offices of state’s attorney and also served a term as district judge, a court corresponding to our circuit court in Wisconsin.
Both the Sturdevants, Robert F. and J. R. are sons of James W. Sturdevant one of the old settlers, who was a resident here at the time of the organization of the county.
Wilson S. Covill, is engaged in the hotel business at Olympia, Washington. He married at Neillsville, Isabella J. O’Neill the eldest daughter of James O’Neill, our first settler. She was the first white child born in Clark County.
Among whose who died after returning from the war, and who had held official position in Clark county were William R. Hutchinson and Edward H. Markey.
Mr. Hutchinson died at Neillsville on the 4th day of October, 1876, in the thirty-ninth year of his age. He held the office of county treasurer at the time of his death, and had held the office of register of deeds for several years. For some years he was in partnership with Judge Dewhurst in the real estate business, under the firm name of Dew Hurst & Hutchinson.
Edward H. Markey died at Neillsville on the 15th day of September, 1894, and for some years was clerk of the circuit court. Mr. Markey in the early days drove stage and carried the mail twice a week from Black River Falls to Neillsville and Weston Rapids.
While he was not a county official, Andrew J. Manley in 1866, was a candidate for county treasurer but was defeated at the polls by E. H. McIntosh. Mr. Manley died a number of years ago in Minnesota.
Charles F. Bone, who died a few years ago at Rice Lake in Barron county was a step-son of Samuel Ferguson, one of the very earliest of the settlers. He was a printer by trade, and set type upon The Clark County Advocate, Clark County Republican, and Clark County Journal. As a boy he was slim in stature, but was always jolly and good natured. He left Neillsville and removed to Barron county where he established the Rice Lake Chronotype, and continued in the newspaper business until the time of his death. In his later years he became excessively stout, and was a fair rival in that respect, with his brother editor the late Col. Geo. C. Ginty to Chippewa Falls. Mr. Bone’s son still publishes a newspaper at Rice Lake.
It is interesting to state that the whole membership of Company "I" was made up substantially of residents of Clark and Jackson counties.
It was a Black River Company, and a number of surviving members now reside in Jackson County.
On the 9th day of October, 1866, the Clark county survivors held their first reunion at the Hubbard House, at Neillsville, it being the first anniversary of their muster out from the United States service.
Many now living will recall these parades, with Major Geo. W. Hubbel, Capt. Geo. Austin and Capt. Tom La Flesh mounted on their prancing steeds and riding at the head of the column.
Two of those named have had "taps" sounded for them. Major Hubbel and Capt. La Flesh both died a few years ago, the former in Wisconsin, the later in California.
Capt. Austin is still with us, erect as a flag staff and hale and hearty, although he years ago, passed the three score and ten years, allotted to us by the Psalmist.
On one occasion "old Abe," the famous war eagle of the 8th Wisconsin was brought to Neillsville to take part in the re-union. He was considered somewhat of a precious bird, for he had Asst. Q. M. General McDonald and Capt. J. W. Tolford, both of Madison, as the escort for him, and for his care and perch. The distinction of carrying "old Abe: seated on his perch was eagerly sought by many of the boys, the honor was awarded to the late John F. King, who with a special guard, took the post of the honor.
At another re-union the boys borrowed from the state authorities at Madison a canon that was captured by the 14th regiment at the battle of Shiloh. It was part of a rebel battery, and this particular piece was spiked by Lieut. George Staley of Co. D.
The state has had possession of since the close of the war, and it is at present in the capital park at Madison. On this occasion a sham battle was had about a quarter of mile southeast from the Neillsville high school; Louis Sontag and James Delane were in charge of the piece; by some carelessness on the part of one or both of them, a premature discharge was had, and Delane lost one of his arms.
During the war the county was liberal in its treatment of the soldiers and their families. At one meeting in 1863, the board determined that $10 per month be paid to the families of all persons who might thereafter enlist and be accepted as volunteer soldiers, to be paid quarterly in advance, on the order of the chairman and the clerk of the board.
Also $100 bounty money to each and every person without a family who should enlist. All monies then in the county treasurer’s hands, derived from the sale tax sale certificates, and all monies that should thereafter be derived from the sale of tax sale certificates, was set apart and appropriated to pay such bounties and to pay such aid to the families of volunteers. Subsequently the board passed an ordinances, that all widows of volunteers from Cark county, should receive ten dollars per month from the date of enlistment of their husbands, until the expiration of the time from which such enlistment was made, and until the end of war.
Regarding the battle of Shiloh, at least as it looked to a young farmer boy, who was a soldier in the 14th Wisconsin, a letter written to his parents less than week after the battle, is herewith appended:
Pittsburg Landing, April 12, 1862.
My Dear Parents: --"Of course you have heard of the battle of Pittsburg long before this, but I will give you a description of the battle as it was seen by the Fourteenth. On Sunday morning we heard the constant roar of artillery up the river several miles. We listened to it with all patience we could under the circumstances. There was s division of Buell’s army encamped near us, which received orders early in the morning to march up the river. * * * * As they passed by our encampment the most of our regiment were out, and the grumbling because they could not go with them. Then there was a messenger rode up with orders for us to march immediately, and take nothing with us except what we wanted for the battled field. We were all busy, the guard and fatigue men were sent for ammunition, and we each had forty rounds.
We filled our haversacks and canteens and slung them on with our oilcloth blankets over our shoulders.
We then fell in, and formed a line of battle. We turned out the largest regiment we had for a long time. We were marched down to the levee, and on board a transport , and we steamed up the river. On arriving at Pittsburg Landing we were marched ashore and up the bank onto the top of the hill where we halted and loaded our pieces. We then marched up the main road a short distance and halted, and received more cartridges.
About this time it began to rain, yes it literally poured down. We remained in column, until morning, when we were marched further west, and formed into a brigade. We then marched out about a mile and formed a line of battled. Our march out was the most trying time to most of us, as we passed the dead, dying and wounded, we soon put in some double quick, which drove all those feelings away.
Our regiment was on the right of brigade.
After we had formed our line that fire commenced on our left, then in a few moments it died away and commenced on our extreme right, and then their and our artillery began to play pretty brisk, when our skirmishers were driven in by their infantry, the racket of musketry was heard along the whole line, but immediately upon our fire, they gave way and retreated four about a mile. We followed them up closely with a constant hail of balls from our musketry.
But then it was their turn to drive us, and we retired to nearly where we started from, where we made a stand and on this charge our brave and gallant Captain fell at the head of his company urging his men. He died in a good cause and in the performance of his duty.
The rain began to fall about dark, and part stood up all night.
There were ten wounded in our company, two of them lose a leg, and one of them will likely die. The whole number killed in the battle is immense. You can scarcely get, two men to agree on the number. Every house in Savannah is filled with wounded. There are also thousands of wounded soldiers in tents both at Savannah and this place.
Col. Wood conducted himself with the utmost credit to himself as a man and an officer.
Lieut. Col. Messmore distinguished himself also, for the time he was on the field, he was injured by a bursting shell, and compelled to leave the field which he did with great reluctance.
But if the foregoing men deserve praise, our Major (Hancock) deserve a "Benjamin’s Mess."
Our anticipations were very high is relation to our Major, but he far surpassed all our anticipations.
The Major-Hancock above referred to in the letter of the soldier, was John Hancock, who years after the war, resided at City Point in Jackson county not far from the Clark County line.
He had business relations at Neillsville, and throughout the county was well known to most of our people during the last few years of his life.
Hancock was a natural born fighter. He had been in the eastern army before being attached to the Fourteenth and participated in the 1st battle of Bull Run. He afterward became Colonel of the 14th Wisconsin.
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