Julian Wisner Hinkley.

A narrative of service with the Third Wisconsin infantry (Volume 2) online

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From a photograph taken in July, 1864]

Wisconsin History Commission: Original Papers, No. 7




Captain of Company E, and Sometime Acting Major of Said Regiment

Wisconsin History Commission
September, 1912

Twenty-Five Hundred Copies Printed

Copyright, 1912
The Wisconsin History Commission
(in behalf of the State of Wisconsin)

Opinions or errors of fact on the part of the respective authors of
the Commission's publications (whether Reprints or Original
Narratives) have not been modified or corrected by the Commission.
For all statements, of whatever character, the Author alone is

Democrat Printing Co., State Printer






Enlistment and training 1

Departure for the front 7

Service in Maryland 9

On the trail of Stonewall Jackson 15

The tables turned 22

At Cedar Mountain 32

The Army retreats northward 38

Moving toward the enemy 47

Battle of South Mountain 49

Battle of Antietam 51

In winter quarters 63

Chancellorsville 66

A cavalry expedition 78

Gettysburg 80

On draft riot duty 92

With the Army of the Cumberland 97

The Third veteranizes 102

Reorganizing Lincoln County 106

Opening of the Atlanta campaign 116

Wounded and in hospital 124

The siege of Atlanta 129

The march to the sea 146

In front of Savannah 153

In Savannah 163

Marching northward 166

Peace 173

Homeward 176



Portrait of the Author _Frontispiece_


(Organized under the provisions of Chapter 298,
Laws of 1905, as amended by Chapter 378,
Laws of 1907, Chapter 445, Laws of 1909,
and Chapter 628, Laws of 1911)

_Governor of Wisconsin_

_Representing Department of Wisconsin, Grand
Army of the Republic_

_Superintendent of the State Historical Society of

_Professor of American History in the University of

_Secretary of the Wisconsin Library Commission_

* * * * *

_Secretary and Editor_, COMMISSIONER THWAITES
_Committee on Publications_, COMMISSIONERS THWAITES


The author of this volume was born at Vernon, Connecticut, on March 12,
1838, of a long line of New England ancestry; he was sixth in order of
descent from Governor Thomas Hinkley of Plymouth Colony. Coming to
Wisconsin in his eleventh year, Julian grew to young manhood on his
father's farm at Waupun and in Portage County. In 1858, our author left
the farm and started life for himself - teaching school in winter, and
working as a carpenter each summer.

On April 19, 1861, Mr. Hinkley enlisted in the Waupun Light Guard for
three months. But the services of the organization were not accepted for
that short term by the State military authorities, so on May 8 they were
proffered and accepted for the war, and the organization became Company
E of the Third Wisconsin Infantry. Hinkley was at the organization
appointed First-Sergeant; but on February 6, 1862, he was commissioned
Second-Lieutenant of his company, became First-Lieutenant on November 1
following, and on May 4, 1863, took command of the Company as Captain.
He continued to serve the Third Wisconsin until its final discharge and
payment in Madison on August 26, 1865, but during the last few months of
this period was the acting Major of the Regiment. Since the war, Major
Hinkley has been largely engaged in erecting public buildings, and has a
wide acquaintance throughout Northeast Wisconsin.

The Commission is much pleased at this opportunity to publish Major
Hinkley's _Narrative_. The book has only in part been written from
memory. It has been made up from several excellent sources: (1) A
manuscript diary kept from day to day, or week to week, by Mr. Hinkley
during the years of his service; (2) several contemporary letters
written by him, either to the local press of his section of the State,
or to relatives and friends at home; and lastly (3), a manuscript
narrative written by the author several years after the war, for the
edification of his children. The work of amalgamating these diverse
materials has fallen to the lot of the editorial department of the
Commission; the result, however, has been passed upon in detail by
Major Hinkley, and in its present continuous form accepted by him as his
final narrative. This method of compilation has secured a manuscript
possessing a contemporaneous flavor and accuracy, not usual with
reminiscences. The Commissioners feel that the book is an interesting
and valuable contribution to the literature of the war, being the
view-point of a company commander in one of the most active of Wisconsin
regiments, throughout the entire period of the struggle.

R. G. T.


September, 1912


_Enlistment and Training_

The presidential election of 1860 found me just become of age. I
exercised my newly-acquired rights of citizenship, in the then little
village of Waupun, Wisconsin, by participating in the hurrahing and
torchlight processions that in those days characterized a political
campaign. I was a carpenter by trade, but immediately after the election
went to teach a country school in the backwoods town of Buena Vista, in
Portage County. Daily papers in that sparsely settled community were of
course an unknown luxury, and it was only through the weeklies that we
heard of the gathering storm in the Nation. From them we learned how
State after State in the South were holding conventions, that they were
passing ordinances of secession, and that the delegates were gathering
at Montgomery, Alabama, to organize the Confederate States of America.

In the North, few people seemed as yet to realize that a great war was
impending. The Southern newspapers boastfully asserted that secession
might be accomplished in peace, for the Northerners were a nation of
shopkeepers and mechanics, who would never fight to prevent it. And
these statements, reprinted in the Northern papers, were far from
soothing, for there is nothing that so quickly arouses the combativeness
of men, and especially of young men, as the intimation that they are
cowards. Thus were the younger and more hot-headed men on both sides
being stirred to warlike feeling by newspaper writers, until such
hostile sentiment was aroused that war was inevitable.

Immediately after the secession of South Carolina, I had expressed my
intention, in conversation with my friends, that should war follow, I
would have a hand in it. This determination grew as events drifted on
from bad to worse. I cannot say that I was very strongly animated by a
love for the Union in the abstract, or that I considered the abolition
of slavery worth fighting for; but I felt that the dismemberment of the
Union by armed force, submitted to without a struggle, would be a
disgrace to the whole North.

The events of the following winter and spring are a part of the history
of the Nation. Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861. On
April 12, Fort Sumter was fired upon, and surrendered on the 14th. On
April 15 Lincoln issued his call for troops, and the war had burst upon
the Nation in all its fury.

Waupun for a number of years maintained an independent military company,
called the Waupun Light Guard. This organization had in its possession
forty stand of arms belonging to the State, and uniforms for about
twenty of its members. On the morning of April 19, I had gone down to
the main street of the village to buy a paper. While discussing with
Captain Clark of the military company, the events of the day, an agent
of the State, who had just arrived on the morning train, approached us.
He read to the Captain a notice that his company must at once be filled
up to the regulation standard and reported for active duty, or surrender
its arms, to be used by other companies going into service.

I had not heretofore belonged to this company, but at once told the
Captain that I would enlist, and aid him to fill his command to the
required standard. A meeting was called for that night, and with the
assistance of the patriotic people of the village and surrounding
country, the company was filled up by nine o'clock of the next morning.
A telegram was immediately sent to Madison, tendering service for the
ninety-day call. We had acted promptly and swiftly, yet not quite
swiftly enough. Twenty-three other companies had filed notice before us,
and the quota of Wisconsin was full.

Enthusiasm among the men ran high, however, and when on May 8 it was
learned that no more ninety-day men could be accepted, it was determined
by vote to tender service for the entire war, however long that might
be. Those whose business was such that they could not leave home for
longer than ninety days retired, but their places were quickly taken by
others who were anxious to go. We were now accepted, and assigned to the
Third Wisconsin Volunteers and ordered to rendevouz at Fond du Lac as
soon as camp equipage could be furnished.

The former officers of the company were retained, with the consent of
the newly-enlisted men, and additional non-commissioned officers were
elected. Among the latter I was chosen First Sergeant, which position I
held until promoted to a Second-Lieutenancy.

We boarded at the best hotels in the village, until ordered into camp.
We were drilled several hours each day, and prepared for the work in
store for us by the study of tactics and army regulations. At length,
after what seemed to us in our impatience an interminable delay, we went
into camp at Fond du Lac on June 15, and for the first time lived in
tents. We now had daily company and battalion drill, together with
officers' school in tactics and sword exercise. Colonel Thomas H. Ruger,
our commander, was a West Point graduate, and under his efficient
direction we became, before we had been very long in the service, as
thoroughly drilled and disciplined as any regiment of regulars. Indeed
we all felt sure, while we were still at Fond du Lac, that we were
already veterans.

On June 28 appeared Captain McIntyre of the regular army to inspect us
and muster us into the service of the United States. And here occurred a
difficulty which illustrates how confidently the people of the North
expected that the war would be of only short duration. Many of the best
men in the company, who had been entirely willing to enlist "for the
war," objected to being mustered in for a three-years' term of service
as required by the instructions of the Federal Government. It was only
after considerable persuasion that they were all finally induced to do
so. Probably not one of them had the slightest idea that he would serve
for three years, and then enlist again for another three years, before
the great struggle would be ended.

On the day after mustering in, uniforms were issued to us, consisting of
light-grey trousers, mixed-grey blouse, and light-coloured hat. At
first, they looked bright and fine, but they were of such poor quality,
especially the trousers, that within ten days it was necessary to
furnish the entire regiment with common blue workingmen's overalls, in
order that we might with decency be seen upon the streets. Some
money-loving patriot contractor had gathered in his reward from the
State of Wisconsin by providing us with shoddy clothes; and in the end
it came out of the pay of the Regiment.

_Departure for the Front_

The preparations for departure were soon completed, and on July 12,
1861, we shouldered our knapsacks, strapped on our haversacks,
containing several days' rations, and boarded the railroad cars for the
seat of war in Virginia. The train of twenty-four coaches pulled out of
the station amid the cheers and farewells of our many friends, who had
gathered to see us off. All were in the best of spirits. It seemed to us
as though we were setting out on a grand pleasure excursion. No thought
of death or disaster appeared to cross the mind of anyone. And yet how
many were saying farewell, never to return!

Our route took us through Chicago, Toledo, Cleveland, and Erie.
Everywhere we were feasted and toasted by the enthusiastic people along
the line. At Buffalo the entire population seemed to have turned out to
welcome the wild woodsmen of the Northwest. The local military companies
of that city escorted us through the principal streets; speeches were
made by the mayor and prominent citizens. We were very soon convinced
that we were, indeed, heroes in embryo. At Williamsport, Pennsylvania,
we were given a reception surpassing anything that had gone before; even
now, more than fifty years after, its pleasant recollections still
linger in my mind. Tables were set along the sidewalk in the shade of
magnificent trees, and these tables were literally loaded with all the
good things that could tempt an epicure. There were, besides, fair
ladies without number to welcome us, and wait upon our needs.

On July 16 we reached Hagerstown, Maryland, where we went into camp, and
where on the next day we were equipped with a complete outfit of
muskets, ammunition, and camp utensils. The degree of preparation of the
Federal Government for war at this time, may be judged from the fact
that the muskets issued to us were old-time smooth-bore Springfields,
that had been rifled for a minie-ball; they were so light, that their
barrels would spring after the rapid firing of a dozen shots.

_Service in Maryland_

On the morning of July 17 we broke camp and started for Harpers Ferry,
thirty miles distant. Now for the first time I began to realize what it
was to be a soldier. I carried a knapsack laden with the various things
that kind friends at home had thought necessary for a soldier's comfort,
a haversack containing two days' rations, a musket with accoutrements,
and forty rounds of ammunition, altogether weighing not less than fifty
pounds. The weather was extremely hot and the roads very muddy, so that
by the time we had gone fifteen miles I was entirely ready to go into

Our camp was pitched on the side of a hill. Our mess, in order to find
as level a sleeping place as possible, pitched the tent in a low place,
and in our ignorance of camp life we neglected to dig a ditch around it.
A sudden shower came up soon after we had gone to sleep, and in a short
time we found ourselves lying in a pool of water. And as if this were
not misfortune enough, our tent pins, loosened by the soaking of the
ground, suddenly pulled out, and down came our canvas shelter.
Subsequent experience enabled me to sleep in wet blankets, or in no
blankets at all, just as well as in the best bed; but at this time it
was impossible. So gathering a rubber blanket around my shoulders, I
found a large stone, and remained upon it for the rest of the night. In
the morning we continued the march toward Harpers Ferry. Our camp for
the next night was pitched on a bit of comparatively level ground on the
east side of Maryland Heights, overlooking the little village of Sandy
Hook, and about a mile distant from Harpers Ferry. A more thoroughly
used-up lot of men than ours that night, it would be hard to find.

My first military duty was to guard the ford at Harpers Ferry and the
bridges across the canal. The region was historic ground, and I took
this opportunity to visit the old arsenal, then in ruins, and the old
engine-house where John Brown had battled so bravely for his life. I
made it a point also to visit Jefferson's Rock, the view from which
Jefferson, in his _Notes on Virginia_, says is worth a voyage across the
Atlantic to see.

On September 15, while encamped in the vicinity of Darnestown, we were
ordered, late in the day, to break camp and take the road toward the
west. Our destination was not disclosed to us, and there was a great
deal of speculation among the men as to the object of this secret and
hurried march. The next day we found out from citizens along the road
that we were on the way to Frederick City, the capital of Maryland. We
arrived there late on the afternoon of the 16th, and received an
enthusiastic welcome from the citizens of that loyal town. Early the
next morning, guards were stationed on all roads leading out of town,
and detachments of men, accompanied by detectives, proceeded to arrest
the members of the Maryland Legislature, who had assembled there for the
purpose of passing an ordinance of secession. It was thus that Maryland
was saved to the Union by the promptness of General McClellan. Her
secessionist legislators found themselves, shortly after, assembled at
Fort McHenry, with leisure to meditate upon their schemes.

The Regiment remained in camp at Frederick City until late in October.
The usual monotony of camp life, with its drills, dress parades, and
guard mountings, was broken only by the arrival of the paymaster with
crisp new greenbacks of the first issue, and by the appearance of new
blue uniforms in exchange for our tattered array. To the old grey we
bade adieu without a sigh of regret, and proudly donned the blue of
United States soldiers.

One interesting incident occurred during our stay here, which gave us a
subject for discussion for several days. News had been brought to us of
a large quantity of wheat, stored in a mill in Harpers Ferry, which was
about to be ground into flour for the use of the Confederate army. An
expedition to capture it was soon organized under command of Colonel
John W. Geary of the Twenty-Eighth Pennsylvania. It was composed of a
detachment of two hundred men from our regiment under command of Captain
Bertram, with similar detachments from the Twelfth Massachusetts and
Twenty-Eighth Pennsylvania, besides a section of artillery. The
expedition was successful; the wheat was safely removed to the north
side of the river, and the command was ready to return, when a large
force of the enemy appeared, seemingly disposed for a fight. Our men
were quite willing to accommodate them, and moved up the hill toward
Bolivar Heights, where the enemy was already strongly posted with
artillery. Skirmishing immediately commenced. But this soon proved too
slow for our impatient men; they charged the Confederate position, and
soon had the satisfaction of seeing the last of the Southerners
disappear in the direction of Charlestown, leaving their artillery in
our hands.

In this engagement the heaviest fighting fell to the detachment of the
Third Wisconsin; the piece of artillery was brought off by them as a
trophy. This command also sustained all of the loss, having had six men
killed and four wounded. The dead were brought back and buried with
military honors in the cemetery at Frederick City. The fight had in a
large measure been unnecessary, for the entire object of the expedition
had been accomplished before the enemy appeared in force; yet the moral
effect on the men was good, since it increased their self-confidence.

On November 1 we rejoined the Division of General Banks, near
Darnestown, where we remained until the beginning of the next month. The
whole Division then moved to the vicinity of Frederick City, our
Regiment being detailed in the city as provost guard. We built our
barracks in the old barrack yard, and settled down for the winter to the
regular routine of guard duty. Two companies were detailed each day - one
for the guard-house, the other to patrol the city and preserve order.
The snow, rain, and mud kept the ground in such condition that drilling
was impossible; thus we had little to do but kill time with chess,
checkers, cards, and dominoes. The winter wore slowly away in this
uneventful manner. In January news was received of the victory of
General Thomas at Somerset, Kentucky; also the capture of Roanoke
Island, by General Burnside, and immediately after this, in February,
the great victories of General Grant at Forts Henry and Donelson. The
enthusiasm of the command over these successes knew no bounds, and our
impatience to be on the move could scarcely be restrained.

_On the trail of Stonewall Jackson_

At length the long-wished-for came. On the morning of February 25, 1862,
we bade adieu to the barracks that had sheltered us so long, and
boarding the cars moved to Sandy Hook, where we went into camp on the
ground that we had left six months before. During the night there
arrived a train of cars with a pontoon bridge, in charge of a detachment
of United States engineers; and General McClellan came from Washington
by special train, personally to supervise the movement. Our Regiment
being largely composed of lumbermen and raftsmen from northern
Wisconsin, who were accustomed to running rafts on the rivers of our
State, readily made up a detail of a hundred experienced fellows to
assist the engineers in laying the bridge. By noon it was constructed,
1300 feet long, in a swift current and our Regiment, the advance of the
army, was on its way into Dixie.

We moved rapidly on to Bolivar Heights without seeing anything of the
enemy, and halted there for the night, happy in the thought that at
last we were doing something. On February 28 a strong reconnoitering
party of infantry, artillery, and cavalry, moved forward, and without
opposition occupied Charlestown. It was a village of national reputation
at that time, for there John Brown was tried and hung. It was one of the
hottest secessionist spots in the State, any Union sentiment that might
have existed, being carefully concealed. We remained there for several
days quartered in the various churches and public buildings, while I
improved the opportunity to visit the many points of interest. On March
2 came my commission as Second Lieutenant of Company D.

On March 11 we once more moved forward in the direction of Winchester,
the advance guard skirmishing with the enemy occasionally, but meeting
no serious resistance. The next morning we turned out at four o'clock,
and advancing through fields and woods for about an hour, came at length
in sight of the entrenchments of Winchester, about a mile to the front.
Our right and left companies were thrown forward as skirmishers, in
preparation for a fight, but met with no resistance, and were soon
clambering over the parapet of the deserted fort. They pushed on into
the town, the remainder of the Regiment following closely after, and
received from the mayor the formal surrender of the municipality. It was
the first surrender of this interesting city, which is said to have been

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Online LibraryJulian Wisner HinkleyA narrative of service with the Third Wisconsin infantry (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 10)