Ozaukee County, Wisconsin
Civil War History

Ozaukee County's War History
by Daniel E. McGinley 

Source: extracted from THE PORT WASHINGTON STAR -- submitted by Mary Saggio

Source: extracted from THE PORT WASHINGTON STAR (6 May 1896) submitted by Mary Saggio

Hon. D. E. McGinley has contracted to write for THE PORT WASHINGTON STAR a series of articles relating to the War History of Ozaukee County, 1861-65, beginning with Ozaukee County's War Record, which will run through five issues of THE STAR; to be followed by brief historical sketches of the Ozaukee Rifles or Co. K 16th Wisconsin, Capt. Peter Spehn's Co. I, 9th Wisconsin, Co. H, 24th Wisconsin and of squads of boys from Ozaukee in several other Wisconsin companies and regiments; and to close with Personal Sketches of a number of gallant Ozaukeeans, living and dead, who made proud records while fighting for the old flag.

It is expected that these articles will run through twenty or more issues of THE STAR, and will be replete with facts of local and general interest. They will be as historically correct as it will be possible to make them; will contain much local history heretofore unwritten, and will be very interesting to old and young alike. Those who lived in war time will be much pleased; students of history will find valuable information in them, and they will be instructive and entertaining informational for all.

The opening chapters will be printed in THE STAR on May 16th, 1896.

You will want to read these articles. Send FIFTY CENTS to the publisher of THE STAR and get the paper for six months.

Address all letters to A. D. Bolens, Port Washington, Wis.


The First Year of War
Source: extracted from THE PORT WASHINGTON STAR (May 13, 1896) submitted by Mary Saggio

On the 14th of April, 1861, a dark, gloomy, rainy day, typical of the war clouds which then darkened the political sky, a crowd of men and boys hung around a certain village post office in Ozaukee county, awaiting the arrival of the belated daily mail. At that time there was neither a railroad or a telegraph line in the county; and the great lumbering stage, which daily passed through on its way to and from Milwaukee, carried the mails, express matter and passengers. At that season of the year, when the roads were deep with mud and sometimes almost impassable, the stage was often behind time, as was the case on that memorable evening.

For days, weeks and months the mails had been burdened with bad news. They had brought us tidings of the war talk, and the preparations for war, in which the slaveholders were indulging; and from the day the immortal Lincoln had been inaugurated president, the coming of the stage with its daily budget of news had been anxiously watched for by those who had the welfare of our country at heart. On this evening the waiting crowd was as usual busily engaged in discussing the crisis in our national affairs, and as was usually the case in gatherings of that kind in this county, those who believed in "state rights" - the right of a state to secede from the Union and set up a government of its own, or join another government, whenever it saw fit to do so, - were largely in the majority, and in the course of the discussion the "Black Abolitionist President," as they were pleased to dub Pres. Lincoln, was denounced in language more forcible than elegant.

At length the mud-covered stage, drawn by foaming horses and rolling on its great springs like a ship in a storm, clattered up to the door. "What news tonight, driver?" "News enough," gruffly answered that individual, as he reached down into the boot of the stage for the mail-bag, "The Southerners have bombarded and captured Ft. Sumpter!" For a moment there was a death-like silence, and then the "state rights" men gave expression to their delight, while intelligent, thoughtful men turned away with sad hearts, for they knew that this outrage on the old flag - this open, armed rebellion against our Federal government, meant war - civil war - war between neighbors - war between brothers - war in its most horrible form.

In Ozaukee county, as elsewhere in the loyal states, the news of the fall of Ft. Sumpter sent a thrill of indignation through every loyal heart; while on the other hand the "state rights" people, or "Southern sympathizers," were jubilant. The action of our Federal government was awaited with feverish anxiety, and when the stage brought us President Lincoln's call for 75,000 volunteers to put down the rebellion, the excitement was intense. The "Sympathizers" were wrathy, loud-mouthed and foul-mouthed; and openly preached treason, advocating "state rights," and reviling Lincoln in the vilest terms. The people proceeded to array themselves on either side, and it soon became apparent that the Union party was outnumbered in Ozaukee county.

But in spite of that fact, - in spite of treasonable speech and intimidation at home, - scores of Ozaukee's loyal sons were ready to answer the first call for volunteers; and what the patriots of the county lacked in numbers they made up in enthusiasm, which was only increased and intensified by abuse and persecution from their disloyal neighbors. Wisconsin's quota of the 75,000 volunteers was one regiment of 1,000 men, and although many times that number were ready to go, no more would be accepted by the general government. In the ranks of that first regiment, Ozaukee county sent its full quota; and when later more volunteers were called for, patriots from Ozaukee marched to the front in ranks of the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th regiments of volunteer infantry.

Time passed, bringing with it the disasters to the Union arms in Virginia and Missouri, and all began to see that the war was not going to be the holiday affair predicted by many; and the volunteers who answered the second and third calls knew full well that they were entering upon a long, sanguinary conflict, and that there were great odds against their ever returning home unimpaired in health and whole in limb. Every week, every day the situation became more serious, and the anxiety of the mothers, wives, and sweethearts of the boys at the front increased until it became agonizing. Day after day, the stage rolled up to the door of each post office with news that was almost disheartening, but which only increased the patriotic fervor and hurried new recruits to the seat of war.

Peter Spehn, then as now a worthy citizen of Grafton, refused a reelection as register of deeds in which capacity he was then serving the county, and raised Co. "I" of the 9th Wis. infantry, the first German regiment recruited in this state. Part of the company was recruited in this county and made a good record, a number of them dying for their adopted country. In the ranks of the 12th, 13th and 14th regiments marched brave boys from Ozaukee who were a credit to it. When the 2nd Wis. Battery was organized a score or more Ozaukee boys were on its rolls and did good service for three years. Charles Beger, of Port Washington, who enlisted as a private in this battery, came home its captain in 1865. A number of Ozaukee boys enlisted in the 7th and 9th batteries and served their country faithfully.

In the fall of 1861 the war fever took a firm hold in Ozaukee county. War meetings were held and recruiting received a fresh impetus. In addition to several officers who picked up volunteers in this county for other regiments, G.C. Williams, a Port Washington attorney, secured a recruiting commission, and in the months of September and October succeeded in raising the Ozaukee Rifles, the only full company recruited in this county, and which became the original company "K" of the 16th Wis. infantry. This was a fine company of men of which I will try to give a brief history in future issues of THE STAR.

Thus we find that by the close of 1861, Ozaukee had furnished at least 300 volunteers for the Union army, and was doing her duty admirably. During the winter, recruiting continued and Ozaukee boys volunteered to serve their country in the ranks of the 17th and 19th Wis. infantry regiments, and over two score of gallant Ozaukeeans rode away in the ranks of the 1st, 2d, 3rd Wis. cavalry regiments, in the latter of which John C. Schroeling, our present county clerk, was a major.

On Easter Sunday morning, April 6, 1862, the Ozaukee Rifles, with the balance of their regiment, the 16th Wis., were among the first to exchange vollies with the rebels on the famous field of Shiloh, the first great battle of the war, and one of the most determinedly fought, most sanguinary and most decisive of the whole conflict. Rumors that a great battle was in progress near Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., in which the 16th regiment was heavily engaged, reached this county on the evening of April 7th. Next day the news was confirmed, and for several days the post offices in different parts of the county were besieged by crowds of the relatives and friends of the members of the Ozaukee Rifles, and when the list of killed and wounded was received the scenes were often heartrending. The Ozaukee Rifles had borne a noble part in winning the first great victory of the war, but the victory was won at a great sacrifice, the loss of the company being eleven killed or mortally wounded, and fifteen wounded. This large list of killed and wounded tells the story of how gallantly our Ozaukee boys fought on that fated field; but it also tells of a number of homes made desolate, of numerous loved ones bereaved; and those who died at Shiloh are still mourned for in many an Ozaukee county home.

Recruiting was lively during the summer of 1862. A number of Ozaukee boys enlisted in the 21st and 23rd Wisconsin regiments; and when the "Milwaukee regiment," as the 24th Wisconsin was called, was organized, fully one-half of Company "H" were boys from this county. The boys of Co. "H" were gallant fellows and made a proud record. In the second German regiment, the 26th Wisconsin were enrolled some forty of our German boys, who from Chancellorsville to Bentonville fought like heroes for the Union, many of them offering up their lives that freedom might reign in the land of their adoption.

In May and June came the disastrous defeats of McClellan's army on the Virginian Peninsula. These disasters were heavy blows to the Union cause, and as they depressed the spirits of the loyal they correspondingly elated the "Sympathizers." But the loyal people though cast down were not disheartened. A Fourth-of-July orator, speaking at a picnic at Port Washington that year, gave utterance to the following prophetic words, which aptly illustrate the thoughts of patriots in those memorable, trying days: "Though McClellan may have met with serious reverses; though we may meet defeat and disaster on many a future field; though the war may continue for many long years more, the right will triumph in the end; and the old flag will float over freemen from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from Lake Superior to the Gulf of Mexico."

Would that I could describe the soul-stirring scenes and events of those war days so that the reader could catch some of the inspiration and enthusiasm that then strengthened loyal arms and hearts. But my command of the language is inadequate to picture the exciting, patriotic and pathetic scenes that trooped by in crowded and almost endless procession: - The call for volunteers - the war meetings - the martial music in the streets - the company drills - the departure for the seat of war - the enthusiasm of the boys in blue - the proud but sad faces in the groups of friends - the goodbyes - the last wave of hat or handkerchief - the last glimpse at the turn in the road - the shrill strains of "The Girl I Left Behind Me" fading away in the distance - the sobbing mothers, wives, sisters and sweethearts who hoped for the best but feared the worst!

Then the precious letters from the boys at the front - the rumors of battle - the terrible suspense - the prayers - the anxious, tear stained faces at the postoffice - the long lists of killed, wounded and missing - the weeping relatives - the vacant chairs - desolation!

Yes, those were sad days, those were pathetic scenes; but running through all, and mingling with sadness and pathos, there was a consoling, brightening, elevating flood of heroism - of self-sacrificing devotion - of unselfish, patriotic energy, to the surface of which - out into the sunshine of life, floated so many of the noble, pure and grand virtues of the human mind and body that make men admirable - superb!

The Draft Riot
Source: extracted from THE PORT WASHINGTON STAR (May 23, 1896) submitted by Mary Saggio

We now come to the one dark chapter in the war record of Ozaukee county, the one of which every good citizen is heartily ashamed, it being the chapter which tells the story of the notorious draft riot of 1862. Thousands of the “state rights” people had, since the beginning of the war, been fostering disloyalty by constantly reading and believing certain newspapers which were in sympathy with the slaveholders and bitterly opposed to the government at Washington. One of these papers, which weekly found its way into hundreds of the homes of our German population, was noted for its scurrilous personal attacks on President Lincoln, and it is said openly advocated an utter disregard for the laws made at Washington. The situation in this county gradually grew worse. The brave boys who were leaving comfortable homes to endure the privations of a soldier's life, and to risk life and limb for the preservation of their country were openly insulted and called "Lincoln Hirelings," "Nigger Lovers," and names even worse, while the ladies of their families were not safe from insult on the street or in any public place.

Finally the crisis came. In the fall of 1862 many of the counties in the state being behind in filling their quotas of volunteers, and the general government being much in need of the men, a draft was ordered in such counties. Ozaukee lacked between 700 and 800 of filling her quota, the drafting of which number, at one time, was a heavy pull on so small a county. Several hundred of her loyal sons had already entered the Union army voluntarily, but for various reasons they were not all credited to the county; and although plenty of young single men were left to fill the quota they did not choose to do so, and the draft came.

The leaders of the opposition charged that Ozaukee county's quota was much larger than it would have been had there been an honest apportionment; but while the charge added to the dissatisfaction of the ignorant classes, it was never substantiated. And the appointment of W.A. Pors, an attorney of Port Washington, as draft commissioner, and of Dr. Theo. Hartwig, of Cedarburg, as examining surgeon, gave umbrage to the "state rights" party. Thus the storm kept gathering, the deluded people being led to believe that the law providing for drafting soldiers was unconstitutional, and that if they offered a determined resistance the government would not dare to attempt to enforce it. Many other arguments were used to fan the flame, and when on the 10th of November, Commissioners Pors entered the court house at Port Washington to begin the draft, hundreds of men and women were in waiting wild with the delusion that they were being grievously wronged, and determined to stop the draft there and then. But, to the eternal disgrace of our county, especially of its sheriff and other peace officers, as well as of the rioters, they adopted ways and means that would bring the blush of shame to the cheek of a savage.

The crowd poured into the court room and when Pors was about to commence the drawing of names a rush was made, Pors was knocked down, beaten and dragged down the two flights of stairs by the hair. When they reached the street Probate Judge S.A. White interfered and tried to save Pors, and in the melee which ensued Judge White received severe injuries, among which was a broken leg, but Pors managed to break away and ran down the street pursued by the frantic mob. He finally reached the post office, where he was hidden for a short time, and then escaping by the back door he procured a team and drove by the lake shore route to Milwaukee, whence he telegraphed to Governor Salomon.

In the meantime the mob had made kindling wood of the drafting apparatus and the furniture of the court room, had destroyed the Commissioner's draft rolls, and had then proceeded to maltreat every Union man whom they could lay their hands on. Some of the rioters wanted to burn the public buildings and the residences of all known Union men, but better counsel prevailed. The mob then went to Mr. Pors’ residence and wrecked the building and premises as badly as they could wreck them without fire. The residence was completely gutted, the doors and windows smashed beyond repair, the chimneys torn down, the furniture, clothing and everything else in the house was destroyed or carried away, and even the barn and fences were wrecked. The mob treated in like manner the residences of Dr. H. W. Stillman, H. H. Hunt, J. C. Loomis and A. M Blair. It then made the rounds of the saloons, hotels and groceries, helping itself to food and drink until it grew hilarious. It then procured a flag, tacked on the words "No Draft" in large letters, and paraded up and down the principal streets all the afternoon and far into the night, stopping every little while for refreshments, making the village ring with the most demoniac yells, and treating the frightened inhabitants to a genuine reign of terror.

The next morning part of the mob had sobered up, and learning that soldiers were coming from Milwaukee, some of the cunning ones slipped away and went home. Those who remained were reinforced by new additions to their number from different parts of the county. The old Fourth-of-July cannon was heavily loaded and hauled out on the pier, where it was left in charge of a squad which was instructed to fire into and sink any steamer that might attempt to land troops there. Then the mob went back to the streets and kept up their parading, drinking and carousing until late that night.

During that day, acting under the orders of Gov. Salomon, Provost Marshal McIndoe, a one-armed veteran, with eight companies of the 28th Wis. infantry, boarded the steamer "Sea Bird" at Milwaukee, and steaming up the shore that evening landed part of the troops at Port Ulao, from whence they marched to Port Washington, reaching that place at midnight and capturing the cannon and rioters on the pier without the slightest resistance.

The next day, Nov. 12, martial law as proclaimed in Ozaukee county, and the Provost Marshal established his drum-head court in the court room of the court house. Squads of soldiers were sent to the different parts of the county, and all of the rioters that could be found, with many of their advisors and abettors, were arrested and brought to the drum-head court. One hundred and twenty were found guilty and sent to Milwaukee and thence to Camp Randall, Madison, where they spent the winter in the "bull pen." They were in time given their liberty, and after the close of the war sued Gov. Salomon for false imprisonment, but nothing came of the suit except fat fees for the lawyers. The county had to pay for all the property destroyed by the mob, the value of which, with various costs amounted to many thousands of dollars.

Chapter III
Source: extracted from THE PORT WASHINGTON STAR (May 30, 1896)
submitted by Mary Saggio

The draft riot, the first in the country, although bringing disgrace upon the participants and upon the fair name of the county, was a blessing in disguise, for the promptness with which the incipient rebellion was crushed and the draft finished under the iron hand of the military power of the government, opened the eyes of thousands of the deluded people, completely demoralized their leaders, and had a very salutary effect. Thereafter there was no talk of resisting the orders of Uncle Sam, of whom they ever after had a wholesome dread; if not respect; and they were more guarded in giving voice to disloyal opinions, and in their abuse of their loyal neighbors. It was about this time that the appropriate name of "Copperheads" was given to the Northern men who, in an underhand, sneaking way, did their best to assist the rebels and to dismember the Union.

Immediately after the rioters were disposed of, the draft was completed; and one cold November day over 700 drafted men reported at Port Washington and were sent on the steamer "Sea Bird" to Milwaukee, where they were quartered in Camp Washbourne. These men were drafted for a term of nine months, but very few of them served that time. Probably 80 or 100 of them enlisted for three years and joined Wisconsin regiments then at the front, while 150 were assigned to the 34th Wisconsin, a regiment made up entirely of drafted men. A few furnished substitutes and the remainder of the 700 deserted, very few of whom were ever arrested. The 34th was sent to Columbus, Ky., where it performed garrison duty, and at the end of its term of service was mustered out. The 28th regiment remained at Port Washington until the drafted men had been sent to Milwaukee, and everything had been quieted down, when it returned to its camp near Milwaukee, and on December 20th left the state for the front.

In the first week of September, 1862, occurred the great Indian scare, but as that part of the county's war record was given in a paper published in THE STAR in 1895, I will pass it by.

The year 1863 was ushered in by President Lincoln's famous Emancipation Proclamation, a document which was not given a warm reception in Ozaukee county, but which will live in history for centuries to come. In May came the disaster to the Union army at Chancelorsville, Va., but on the National's natal day came the glorious victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, which set the whole North rejoicing. Recruiting in Ozaukee County came to a standstill after these victories, as in fact it did throughout the state, people thinking that the war was nearly ended, and for a few weeks no volunteers would be accepted except for the regular army. But in September came the terrible battle of Chicamauga, a Union defeat which told the North plainer than words that the war had not ended. In this battle, and in the battle of Mission Ridge, the Ozaukee boys in the 24th Wisconsin and other regiments fought heroically.

More calls came for troops, and the 35th Wisconsin infantry was organized. On its rolls, distributed though several companies, we find the names of 53 boys from Ozaukee, many of whom had served terms in the army earlier in the war. When in March, 1864, Gen. Grant assumed command of all the armies of the Union, and Gen. Sherman succeeded him in the command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, great efforts were made to refill the broken ranks for a final struggle, and Ozaukee sent volunteers and drafted men to the front by the score, many being assigned to new regiments, the 36th, 37th and 38th Wisconsin, and many others were sent to the old regiments. The three regiments last named were soon rushed into heavy fighting in Virginia, and a number of our Ozaukee boys were killed and wounded before they had been many weeks from home.

Between 40 and 50 of our Ozaukee boys joined the 1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery and when the hundred-day regiments, the 39th, 40th and 41st Wisconsin, were organized, a goodly number of Ozaukeeans were in their ranks. The 44th and 45th Wisconsin regiments numbered nearly fifty recruits from Ozaukee on their rolls.

But in the meantime calls for more men came so thick and fast that in order to avoid being drafted many of our citizens fled for parts unknown, a number sojourning in Canada until the end of hostilities. Those who remained at home adopted various ways and means to fill the quotas. In some towns a direct tax was levied on all taxable property to offer bounties large enough to get the required number of men, but as this method was a great injustice to taxpayers already in the service, or who had sent all their sons to the front, it was defeated in some towns. Clubs were organized, each member paying a large membership fee, and when any one was drafted from the club, a sufficient amount would be taken from its treasury to buy a substitute. But the members of some clubs were drafted in such rapid succession that the treasury was soon empty, and the members had to face the music or disappear from the view of their neighbors. A great many of our citizens traveled considerably in those days, making pleasure (?) trips to the backwoods, or to Canada, or to Europe, and in the last year of the war the female sex largely predominated in Ozaukee.

The Last Years of War
Source: extracted from THE PORT WASHINGTON STAR (June 6, 1896) submitted by Mary Saggio

When on May 5th, 1864, the great armies of boys in blue in Virginia and Georgia moved forward under their immortal leaders, a large number of Ozaukee boys marched in their columns. In the army of the Potomac were the 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 37th Wisconsin infantry regiments, and a company of Badger boys known as Co. "G," of "Berdan's Sharpshooters." Later in the campaign the 37th and 38th Wisconsin regiments joined that army. In Sherman’s Georgia army were the 3rd, 10th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 21st, 22nd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 31st and 32nd regiments of Wisconsin infantry, the 1st Wisconsin cavalry and the 5th, 10th and 12th Wisconsin batteries of light artillery.

The three regiments taking part in these campaigns that had the largest number of Ozaukee boys enrolled were the 16th, 24th, and 26th, and in them the people of the county naturally took the greatest interest. All these regiments lost heavily in killed and wounded during the Atlanta campaign, May 5 to Sept. 2. The battles followed each other in such rapid succession, and the skirmishing was so steady between them, that friends at home were kept in a constant worry, fearful every day that the next would bring bad news from their boys. And every few days the lists of killed and wounded sent home bore the names of Ozaukee boys. They fell on the battle-fields of Resaca, Pleasant Hill, Kenesaw, Peach Tree Creek and Atlanta, and in the numerous skirmishes, leaving more vacant chairs at home, and adding to the already large army of cripples.

When in November, Sherman severed his communications with the North, and started, none knew whither, but on what eventually proved to be the now famous march to the sea, he took with him all the Wisconsin organizations that he had had in the Atlanta campaign with the exception of the 14th, 15th and 24th infantry and the cavalry regiment. Of course when friends at home received letters from the boys in that army saying that they were to march for some part or parts to them unknown, and when they later read in the newspapers that Sherman and his army had disappeared into the heart of rebeldom, the anxiety at home was intense. The post offices were daily besieged, and all reports relating to Sherman’s army, although coming through the enemy's lines, were eagerly read. Those reports were far from assuring, for the rebels gave out that Sherman had been defeated in battle, and that his army was literally starving as it fled toward the sea coast. It was a great gratifying relief when a month later, the news was flashed over the North that Sherman had reached Savannah with his army in prime condition; and thousands of letters from the boys themselves reached northern homes in time to gladden the hearts of their friends on that memorable Christmas of 1864, in which was told the proud, glad story of how . . .

"We made a thoroughfare for Freedom and her train
Sixty miles in latitude - three hundred to the main;
Treason fled before us for resistance was in vain
While we were marching through Georgia."

In Virginia, Ozaukee boys fell in the dark recesses of the Wilderness, in the desperate struggle at Spottsylvania, amid the awful carnage at Cold Harbor, and in the trenches at Petersburg, leaving more homes desolate. When the fiery Sheridan made his famous ride from Winchester, a number of Ozaukee boys were among the heroes who rallied around him, turned a woeful defeat into a glorious victory, and sent the rebel army “whirling up the Shenandoah valley.” Boys from this county participated in the thickest of the fight at Franklin, Tenn., one of the most sanguinary and desperate struggles of the war and assisted Gen. Thomas in destroying Hood's army at Nashville. In the unfortunate Red River Expedition, Ozaukeeans bore heroic parts; and in the fighting around Mobile, Ala., our county was nobly represented.

But the end was near and came with more suddenness than most people expected, for the grand campaigns and heroic fighting of the Union armies during the last year had knocked nearly all of the supports from under the so-called Confederacy, and it needed but two or three well directed blows to send that temple of slavery crashing into ruins. And under the direction Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and their lieutenants, the necessary blows were struck with precision and vim.

Herculean efforts were made to prepare strong armies for the final campaigns, volunteers and drafted men were hurried to the front, and in a short time Wisconsin raised and organized seven more infantry regiments and two batteries of artillery. Ozaukee county furnished a large number of men for the 50th, 51st and 52nd regiments besides sending scores to the old regiments at the front.

Ozaukee boys who had marched to the sea with Sherman manfully shouldered their rifles and went with that leader when he turned north from Savannah, and amid the storms and floods of midwinter made the most marvelous march of modern time through the swamps and quicksands of the Carolinas, destroying the railroads - the arteries of the Confederacy, defeating Joe Johnson at Averysboro and Bentonville, and forcing his surrender near Raleigh.

Boys from Ozaukee fought nobly with Grant and Sheridan at Five Forks, stormed Petersburg's fortifications, were in the last wild charge at Sailor's Creek, and witnessed the surrender at Appomatox.

Thus we have seen that Ozaukee's soldier boys fought in nearly all of the great battles of the war. They were with McDowell, McClellan, Burnside, Hooker, Meade and Sheridan in the east; with Grant, Sherman, Buell, Rosencrans, Banks, Curtis and Thomas in the west, and with Foote, Porter and Farragut in the navy.

On the rolls of Wisconsin companies and regiments are the names of nearly 1,000 soldiers credited to Ozaukee county. On those rolls of hundreds of names that are not credited to any county, of whom probably 150 to 200 hailed from Ozaukee. Estimating the number that enlisted from this county in organizations from other states, in the regulars and in the navy, at 300 - a fair estimate I think - we find that nearly 1500 Ozaukee boys fought for Old Glory during the Civil war. When we consider that fully one-half of the male portion of the population was opposed to the government and refused to volunteer, the showing made was a very creditable one for the loyal half.

Politics & Pathos
Source: extracted from THE PORT WASHINGTON STAR (June 13, 1896) submitted by Mary Saggio

Some readers may make the accusation that these articles give the war record of Ozaukee county as seen from a partisan standpoint. I acknowledge that I try to be a partisan. Every good citizen of this republic is a partisan in the popular sense of the term, and although I may make a failure in that line I endeavor to be a good citizen. In writing these short newspaper articles, in which there is space for but a very brief outline of Ozaukee's war history, I try to be as impartial as possible. In noting the doings of those of its citizens who favored the secession of the slave states and the formation of a southern confederacy; who continually opposed the Federal government and the war for the suppression of the rebellion; and who gave the enemy all the assistance and encouragement they dared to, by discouraging the raising and equipping of the Union armies, by opposing the levying of war taxes, by reviling, persecuting and intimidating Union men and their friends, I have been very lenient, in some cases too much so perhaps. There are many facts regarding the deplorable record of such persons which, for the truth of history, ought perhaps to be recorded, but which for the sake of their children are withheld.

When we look at the vote polled in Ozaukee county in the presidential election of 1860 we are led to marvel much at the political inconsistency of a large number of its citizens at the commencement of war. At that election, the records tell us, this county cast 1823 votes for Stephen A. Douglas, candidate of the northern branch of the Democratic party, 627 for Abraham Lincoln, candidate of the Republican party, and only eight for John C. Breckinridge, candidate of the southern or slaveholders’ branch of the Democratic party, a faction which favored the unrestricted extension of slavery. But no sooner had the crisis come, Fort Sumter had been bombarded, and Stephen A. Douglas, the popular leader of such a large majority of our voters, had denounced treason, declared secession to be "criminal," and had taken a firm stand for the preservation of the Union by openly endorsing the "coercing" or war measures of our government, than a great change came over at least three-fourths of his followers in Ozaukee. They immediately deserted his standard, went over bodily to the Breckinridge faction, and thereafter loudly and persistently advocated the doctrine of "state rights" as laid down by the slaveholders. They must have been simply the tools of demagogues. Had they, like hundreds of their neighbors, remained true to their great leader, and had followed his good example by endorsing and supporting the war for the preservation of the Union, how much better it would have been for themselves, their children and all concerned. Probably one-fourth of those who had voted for Douglas in this county became strong Unionists or "War Democrats" when Sumter was fired upon, and a number of them were among the very first to volunteer in defense of the old flag. Scores of Ozaukee's War Democrats died for Union and Freedom during that war, leaving memories that will be revered by lovers of liberty for ages to come; and it was no fault of theirs or of ours that their neighbors went astray.

No historical sketch of Ozaukee's part in the civil war, be it ever so brief, is complete which does not make mention of the grand record made by its loyal women. But when I endeavor to write of the noble part taken by them - of their trials and sufferings in that great strife for the life of our Nation, my pen fails me - is utterly unequal to the task of writing anything that will do them justice. The history of the work done by them, of their heartaches, their sufferings and sorrows has never been written nor never will be, but nevertheless there were hundreds of heroines among the mothers, wives, sisters and sweethearts of the boys in blue from Ozaukee, whose records would be grand additions to our war literature. They bore a very important part in the work of those trying days, but their tasks were performed so modestly and quietly, and their sorrows and sufferings were borne with such patient gratitude, that the world will never know nor imagine a hundredth part of it. The services of Ozaukee county's soldiers and sailors are recorded in the records of the state and of the Nation, and in the annals of fame, but the services of its loyal daughters, performed in the privacy and seclusion of their humble homes, although none the less efficient and worthy, are recorded only in the memory of the few survivors and in the records of the Most High.

Obliged to give up their loved ones to their country, to experience all the hardships, anxieties, torturing suspense and agonizing desolation to which their sisters in the more loyal sections of the land were subjected, the loyal women of Ozaukee were forced also to listen to the unjust and heartless criticisms of disloyal neighbors, and often to the defamation of their heroic dead. What wonder then that many of them found early graves, and that the survivors have such vivid recollections of those war days? Truly the lot of the women who "waited, watched and prayed" during the war in Ozaukee county was a most trying one.

Soon after the beginning of hostilities sad faces and emblems of mourning began to appear among them, and as the war continued became more plentiful until there were very few that did not exhibit some sign of bereavement. But they were not idle. They prepared and sent to the boys at the front and in hospitals many necessary helps in the shape of clothing, medicines, vegetables, fruit, etc., and often took the absent soldier's place in office and shop, and on the farm, all the while suffering untold anxieties and sorrows.

Picture to yourself if you can, dear reader, the feelings of a young wife when she parts from her husband, her only earthly protector, and sends him forth to his country's aid. Picture if you can the agony of that wife when, a few weeks later, she is informed that a battle is in progress in which her husband is exposed to the bullets and bayonets and sabres of the foe, and after pacing the floor all the long night learns on the morrow that he is among the "missing" and thus has the torture prolonged indefinitely, for weeks, months and years perhaps, only to learn at last that he starved to death in a southern prison-pen and was consigned to a nameless grave! Picture if you can, the mother who greets her only son, who, but a few short months ago had marched away from her and home perfect in form and health and fully of patriotic enthusiasm, but is now borne back to her on a stretcher, maimed and shattered in limb and health, a certain cripple or invalid, or both, for life! Picture if you can, the poor devoted mother as the lifeless form of her boy, her pride, her joy, is borne into his boyhood's home wrapped in the starry flag he loved so well and died to save! And, oh! picture if you can the utter desolation of a mother as she reads the message which informs her that the last of her sons, her bright-eyed, happy faced, darling youngest born has fallen with his face to the foe, and has died as his brothers died before him, heroically fighting for liberty, and she realizes that she is alone in the world! But you cannot picture, you cannot conceive the agonizing struggle that had torn that fond mother's heart but a short time before, when that boy, the last of her sons, had asked her consent to go to the front and help to fill the broken ranks from which his brothers had fallen, and she had hesitated between love and duty and had at last decided that as much as she needed her boy, her country needed him more.

Yes, try to form such pictures in your imagination, and if successful you may gain a slight conception of the heroic sufferings, the taintless patriotism, the pure, self-sacrificing love of country of the noble, devoted women who "waited, watched and prayed" while their sons, brothers, husbands and sweethearts "rolled the stone from the sepulchre of progress, kept our country on the map of the world and our flag in the heavens."

In the next chapter a brief history of the "Ozaukee Rifles," Company "K" of the Sixteen Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, will be commenced, and will run through several issues of THE STAR. As this company was made up almost entirely of Ozaukee county boys, saw a great deal of service, being mustered in in the fall of ë61 and mustered out July 12, 1865, and made a proud record, its history ought to interest all of the old and many of the new residents of the county.

The Ozaukee Rifles (Chapter 1)
Source: extracted from THE PORT WASHINGTON STAR (June 20, 1896) submitted by Mary Saggio

"From their peaceful homes in the far Northwest
They hastened long ago,
To rescue the Union's starry flag
From the clutch of the traitor foe;
And the tramp of their marching column
A hopeful promise gave,
Ere Sumter's echoes ceased to ring
O'er Michigan's startled wave."
In September, 1861, Geo. C. Williams, a lawyer of Port Washington, secured a commission and commenced recruiting the "Ozaukee Rifles," which subsequently became Company "K," of the Sixteenth Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. With but a very few exceptions the members of the "Rifles" were splendid specimens of the American soldier, were brimming over with patriotism, and entered the service with the determination to sacrifice, if need be, their fortunes, health, limbs and lives for their country. If the history of this company was properly written it would be very interesting as it saw a great deal of hard service, lost heavily in battle and by disease, and was very unfortunate in other ways, but nevertheless made a record of which its surviving members are justly proud.

At the time the "Rifles" came into existence the war had become a much graver reality than most people had supposed it would when Ft. Sumter's guns bade defiance to rebellion, and the boys who enlisted then knew full well that their work at the front would be anything but a holiday parade, as some of the earlier volunteers had expected theirs would be. The Union defeats at Bull Run and Wilson's Creek had shown the Federal government that its small army was totally unable to cope with the gigantic rebellion, and had told the North and the world that the slaveholders were in earnest, and that the war would be a long, bloody and costly one.

An intense excitement or patriotic fervor was pervading our state at this time, the shrill music of the fife and the roll of the drum were resounding along the streets of the cities, on the village greens, and through the country lanes; and although they were aware that the chances were greatly against their safe return, thousands of young men and boys were hurrying to the front in response to the calls for volunteers to serve "three years or during the war." Previous to this time, Ozaukee boys had left the county, singly and in small squads, to enlist in organizations from other counties, but now when a movement was on foot to raise a whole company within the county, local pride was touched and the boys flocked so quickly around the standard of the " Ozaukee Rifles" that it was nearly full at the end of four weeks. The first members of the "Rifles" were sworn in on September 19, and enough had been enrolled by October 15, to warrant the acceptance of the company by the Governor.

The headquarters of the Rifles were in the old Arcade Hall, Port Washington, and the members were quartered in different hotels and boarding houses. Enough of musicians were soon enrolled to form a fife and drum corps, but the inspiring music of which they boys marched proudly and enthusiastically, their enthusiasm being very catching, as many a recruit could aver. Here is an example. James Wilson, a young, married Irishman, then living in the town of Scott, came to Port Washington on business. On his way home he me the "Rifles" marching into town after an afternoon's drill, and was so captivated by the martial music, flaunting colors and the fine appearance of the company, that he fell in love with it on the spot, and hurrying home he told his wife that he must go to the war in that company. Next day he became one of the Rifles, and gave his life for his adopted country, at the front May 23, 1862.

The vacant lots which then abounded in the outskirts of the town made very good drill and parade grounds, where the company spent many long hours learning the rudiments of the drill, so essential in the education of the soldier. Sometimes they took long marches out into the country for the two-fold purpose of becoming accustomed to marching and of gathering in recruits.

In the second week of October the company elected its officers. The commissioned officers chosen were:

Geo. C. Williams, of Port Washington, Captain.
Rich. P. Derrickson, of Grafton, 1st Lieutenant.
David F. Vail, of Port Washington, 2nd Lieutenant.

The sergeants: John L. Derrickson, of Grafton; Edward D. Bradford, of Fredonia; John Gough, of Saukville; Lorenzo D. Osgood, Milo M. Whedon, of Port Washington.

The corporals: Ephriam Cooper, of Grafton; Louis C. DeCoudres, Sam'l Gunther and Thomas E. Wildman, of Port Washington; John Goggin and John P. McGinley, of Saukville; Geo. W. Hedding and Orlando J. Valentine, of Fredonia.

The privates enrolled previous to the departure of the company for the state camp were: John Bristol, Jerome Case, John and Wm. Clark, John Cody, Robt. A. and Wm. W. Coleman, Anth. Collins, Wm. and Geo. D. Cooper, A.J. Cowen, Stewart Daniels, Wallace W. Davis, Chr. Benson, Allen Godfrey, F.C. Kerner, Nils Livson, Thos. Manning, John Murphy, Lars Nelson, Ole Oleson and James Wilson No. 1, of Grafton.

Nic. Colling, Edmund Gee, John Hennessey, G. Janish, Jos. Johann, R.C. Kann, Dennis Mangin, Corn. Murphy, Wm. E. Pierce, Wm. Richards, Tax. W. Shaw, Ogden Tomlinson, Wm. A. and Stoel H. Tousley, James Toole, Pat. Walsh No. 1, L. W. White and Samuel H. Wildman, of Port Washington.

Pat. Carroll, Chas. W. and Lyman W. Chapman, Rich. Goggin, Robt. B. Ingersoll, Pat. Keogh, Thos. Murphy, James O'Hare, Samuel Orcutt, Wm. H. Pawlett, D.B. Raynor, James Reeves, Chas. and Henry Thomas and Pat. Walsh No. 2, of Saukville.

Peter Beckus, Chas. W. Brott, Augustus Hyde, Rich. Kershaw, Edward M. O'Neill, Jacob Smith and Benj. Walker of Fredonia.

James Wilson No. 2, of Scott; Rich. J. Powers of Milwaukee; Jonathan W. Pulford of Plymouth; and Chas. H. Townsend of Mequon.

The privates enrolled after the company reached the camp were: Chas. A. Ayres, Isaac G. Kendall and E.D. King, of Grafton; E.B. Brewster, David Porter, Henry C. Ramsey, Selby Trumbull and Thomas Wildman, Sr., of Port Washington; Charles Gatfield of Fredonia; Wm. Goggin, of Saukville; John Beard, Mansel Barnes, Hiram Franklin, Steph. Golather, James H. Rooney, John Turner and Louis Wert, of Dane county; A.B. Hunt, of Beloit; John R. Burge, of Farmington; Philander Watkins, of Saxeville; and O.B. Underhill and John J. Vincent, whose residence was not given.

There were 104 in all, 66 of whom were born in the United States, 11 in Germany, 9 in Ireland, 8 in the British Dominions, 4 in Norway, two in England, one in Scotland and the nativity of three is unknown. Their ages ranged from 15 to 55, and averaged 26 years. The married members numbered 32, 16 of whom were killed or died in the service, while others died after the war of diseases contracted in the army.

The loyal ladies of Port Washington and vicinity took a deep interest in the "Rifles," and did a great deal for the pleasure and comfort of its members. They made handsome rosettes of red, white and blue silk ribbon, which became the bade of the company, a rosette being constantly worn on the breast of each member until they received their uniforms in Camp Randall. The ladies also made "housewives" and other camp necessaries for the members, and collected money enough to purchase a beautiful silk flag, which they had suitably inscribed, and which was presented to the Rifles one October evening. Mrs. A.M. Blair, wife of a Port Washington attorney, in an appropriate address presented the flag in the name of the ladies, and Capt. Williams accepted it for the company, in a short speech which bristled with patriotic utterances and great promises.

On the 22nd of November, 1861, the Ozaukee Rifles left the county under orders to report at Camp Randall, Madison, Wis. The company was conveyed to Milwaukee by the ill-fated steamer Sea-Bird and thence by rail to its destination. One member deserted at Port Washington and one in Milwaukee, but neither of their names appears in the foregoing roster of the company.

The Ozaukee Rifles (Chapter 2)
Source: extracted from THE PORT WASHINGTON STAR (July 4, 1896) submitted by Mary Saggio

Upon the arrival of the Ozaukee Rifles at Camp Randall it was assigned to the 16th regiment of volunteer infantry, as Company "K," and on Nov. 26, 1861, was mustered into the service of the United States "for three years or during the war." The other companies of the Sixteenth hailed from the counties of Adams, Chippewa, Dodge, Dane, Green Lake, Lafayette, Waukesha and Waushara. It was a superb regiment of robust, hardy young men from the farms, lumber regions and workshops of Wisconsin, and was destined to make a grand record and to take a place well to the front among the many heroic fighting regiments of the Union army.

For about a month after reaching the camp the Rifles were quartered in temporary board barracks, and were then given "Sibley" tents, which were conical in form, about eighteen feet in diameter at the base, and each would accommodate about eighteen men. Uniforms of Union blue were soon issued to the members of the regiment, and when about the holidays Belgian rifles, guns that kicked like mules, were issued to them, the boys began to feel that they were real soldiers. On February 28, 1862, the first cartridges were issued and the boys had some target practice, Sergt. Ed. Bradford of the Rifles proving himself to be one of the best shots in the regiment.

During and after the holidays members of the Rifles were granted short furloughs to visit their homes, which many of them did for the last time. It was while part of them were enjoying the visit at home that the first death occurred in the company. Two of its members, Christian Evenson and Nils Livson, both of whom were from the town of Grafton, imbibed too freely one day and the result was a drunken quarrel that ended in the fatal stabbing of Evenson by Livson. The wounded man lived but a few hours, and the occurrence was deeply regretted by all members of the company. Through carelessness on the part of the colonel commanding the regiment, Livson was never tried for the crime by the military authorities, but was discharged on account of some disability August 26, 1862, and upon his return to his county he was arrested, tried in the circuit court, convicted of manslaughter and served a sentence of two years in the state prison.

When the severe cold of the winter set in the boys found that the "Sibley" tents were anything but comfortable quarters. To keep the men from freezing a contrivance known as the "California Stove" was put into each tent. It consisted of a trench in the earthen floor of the tent in which the fire of wood was kept burning, and which covered with sheet iron and earth led out under the edge of the tent to an upright stovepipe that carried off the smoke. While this "stove" kept the men from freezing it helped to give them severe colds, which often resulted in pneumonia or some kindred disease. When the fire was hot it thawed the frozen ground floor of the tent, turning it into mud and raising a steam that filled the tent, enveloped the occupants, and soon turned to a heavy white frost that clung to everybody and everything in the tent. The atmosphere of the tent was thus kept in a very damp, unhealthy condition. Straw was spread over the damp floor and with a covering of but a single blanket to each, the boys steamed and froze by turns while they tried to sleep. Many a fine fellow here contracted a disease that later resulted in his death and in a short time there was a great deal of sickness and numerous deaths in the regiment.

Among the members of the Rifles were Thomas Wildman and his two stalwart sons, Thomas E. and Samuel H., all natives of the Emerald Isle and later farmers near Port Washington, intelligent, patriotic men who were held in high esteem by their comrades. The youngest, Samuel H., who had just reached his majority, was the first member of the company to succumb to the rigors of the winter and the effects of the nightly vapor baths, dying January 15, 1862; and was followed a few days later by the father. The early deaths of these two patriots in the service of their adopted country were sincerely lamented by their surviving comrades.

Two more members of the Rifles died during the month of March, Edmund Gee of Port Washington, on the 2nd, and Isaac G. Kendall of Port Ulao on the 19th. Gee was a married man and gave his occupation as trapper . Kendall was a young single fisherman.

About the time the regiment received its arms a vote was taken to see how many were willing to leave the state for the front without drawing any pay before they started. As a very large percentage of the men were married and had families depending more or less upon their earnings for support, the question of leaving without receiving any money to send home was a very serious one, but with commendable patriotism the regiment voted, by an overwhelming majority, in favor of going to the front immediately and without pay if necessary. They were not called upon to go until nearly the middle of March, but it would have been much better for them and would have saved many valuable lives, had they spent the winter in the South and not have been kept suffering in Camp Randall all winter, only to be hurried to a warmer climate just as the warm season was approaching.

All through that long, cold winter the regiment had had its daily drills, parades, guard mountings, etc., and when it left the state it was a well-drilled body of men. Their good drill and discipline stood by them to their advantage when in April they met the enemy in that terrible struggle on the field of Shiloh. Besides the Sixteenth, there were in Camp Randall that winter the Twelfth, Fifteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth regiments of infantry. Why all of those men were kept freezing and contracting disease that winter in Camp Randall, when most of them might have been at the seat of war, doing duty in a warmer climate, is a puzzle to the student of history, but there were many inexplicable doings in those eventful days. Whatever was the reason, or whoever was to blame, it was a mistake that cost the lives of many noble men and the health of scores of others.

At length marching orders came and having been paid and equipped the Sixteenth left the state over 1000 strong. The principal regimental officers were Colonel Benjamin Allen, Lieut. Col. Cassius Fairchild, the eldest of the now famous Fairchild family of Madison, Major Thomas Reynolds and Adjutant Geo. M. Sabin. Three or four of the Rifles were left sick in the hospital at Camp Randall, one of whom, Isaac G. Kendall, as already stated died a few days later. While boarding the train at Madison, Sergt. John Gough of the Rifles, slipped on the icy car steps and injured one of his knees so badly that he was obliged to use crutches until the battle of Shiloh, and the injured limb continues to trouble him up to this day.

Amid the cheers and tearful goodbys of the crowds of friends that had come to see it off, the train bearing the Sixteenth steamed out of the station, and after an uneventful run reached Chicago that evening. Changing cars the regiment continued its journey and reached what is now East St. Louis on the morning of the 14th. On the 15th, it boarded the steamer "Planet," and crossing the river took on freight at the St. Louis docks until noon on the 16th, when it steamed down the Mississippi leaving some of the boys sick in the St. Louis hospitals, among whom were Pat. Carroll and Ole Oleson of the Rifles, who never rejoined the regiment, they being discharged on account of disabilities April 1, 1862.

The regiment had been ordered to report to Gen. Grant at Savannah, Tenn., and stopping but a few hours in Cairo, Ill, on the 17th, it started up the Ohio reaching Paducah, Ky., on the 18th, where it lay all day. Continuing the journey that night it turned up the Tennessee river, convoyed by the gunboat "Lexington" and on the morning of the 19th reached Ft. Henry, where the boys landed and saw some of the real effects of war for the first time. Some of the boys picked up mementos of the fight to send home, one of them sending a piece of an exploded canon. A few months later they did not think such relics of much value. Again boarding the steamer the regiment kept on up the narrow winding stream and reaching Savannah on the 20th found that Grant's army had moved up to Pittsburg Landing, where the Sixteenth landed on the 21st and pitched its tents a short distance from the river. On the 24th the regiment was assigned to the First brigade, Sixth division, Gen. Prentiss commanding, and moved out to the camp of the division one mile from the river, where the regiment had daily drills and dress parades in a cotton field. On Sunday, March 30, the division moved its camp to a position over three miles from the landing, where it opened the great battle on the following Sunday morning. The great change in climate and water had a bad effect upon many of the boys, and the sick list was soon a very large one.

Ozaukee Rifles - Chapters 3 - 8
Ozaukee Rifles - Chapters 9 - 14
Ozaukee Rifles - Chapters 15 - 20
Ozaukee Rifles - Chapters 21 - 26
Heroes of '61 (chapters 1 - 4)
Co. H, 24th Wisconsin (Chapters 1 - 4)
Co. H, 24th Wisconsin (Chapters 5 - 8)
Co. H, 24th Wisconsin (Chapters 9 - 13)
Co. I, 9th Wisconsin (Chapters 1 - 3)
Co. H, 24th Wisconsin (Personal Sketches)
Co. H, 26th Wisconsin
26th Wisconsin (Chapters 1 - 5)
26th Wisconsin (Chapters 6 - 11)
26th Wisconsin (Chapters 12 - 16)
Personal Sketches
Life in the Trenches
Back to Military Index


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