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Camp Randall, Madison, Wis. May 19, 1861 My Dear Jennie, Your kind and affectionate letter reached me in due time. I looked quite anxious for it several days before it reached me and I was beginning to doubt whether you received mine or not. But when yours reached me all doubts were dispelled. I was very glad you came into the grove that morning. I wished to see you and Lizzie , bless the girl, there was nothing that overcame me more that morning than our shaking hands at the depot, by a rigid effort I had up to that time powered my equilibrium, then I confess tears came into my eyes and I could not suppose then, but that event has lapsed and I hope never to be another such. I would prefer to bid my intimate friends and associates farewell privately than take my leave. Well Jennie, you seem to oppose my three years enlistment. I am sorry I am unable to comply with your wishes. If any consideration in the world would influence me to return, would be the friends and associates I have left behind, having mingled considerably in society. I of course miss my associates very much and sometimes when alone thinking of you I wish for wings to pay you a flying visit. Yes, I have enlisted for three years, but you must not judge from that that we shall not see each other during that time. That is barely possible and not by any means probable. If we remain here any great length of time I may visit you before I leave the state However that is somewhat uncertain. Captain Bouck is now home recruiting. If you see him you can form something of an idea how we all look. Although the Captain has the advantage of us as he is styled the Black Hawk of the camp. Some 23 of our boys refused to go for three years. Some few of them I suppose have good reasons and some of them have not. But we commend to the care, the tender care, of the ladies and hope to find them all in good health when we return. I will need my ____ when I get my uniform in full. I get the "Northwestern" and the "Courier" that comes to some of the boys. John S. he's around and with us again. This morning two or three of the boys are ____ from the storm last night, which was the hardest night we have had in camp. It commenced raining at 11 PM and continued hard till daylight. The barracks leaked very bad. We had the roof fixed very well, but the Madison people tore off the boards we put on and tried to plaster the roof and now its worse than ever. Fair days, the ladies come down to see us drill. I've not seen many fair ones yet. Today, Sunday, the boys are all writing letters. Sprague sit near me with a board on his lap writing. He says, and showed me, a paragraph in a letter he received from _____ that the report was that he and my friend Hettie were engaged to be married. That Hettie carried the idea to some ladies in conversation. He now is writing to contradict it. Potter is in the next room singing, "O Boys carry me long, Carry me till I die". My business today is "superintending" the boys, that they get their bunks and blankets dry, so as they can have dry berths tonight. The Colonel was around this morning, mad and swearing that things should be put in shape. I think [the letter ends at the bottom of the page and the next sheet is missing]. [Lizzie is possibly Jennie Reardon Hancock's sister, Elizabeth Reardon. Elizabeth was born in Ireland about 1844 and is listed as age sixteen in the 1860 US Census. Gabriel Bouck was an Oshkosh attorney. He raised Company E, 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry in April 21, 1861 in Oshkosh. He resigned on April 29, 1862 to accept a commission as Colonel of the 18th Wisconsin Infantry. He resigned on January 4, 1864 John J. Sprague enlisted from Oshkosh in Company E on April 21 with the rank of sergeant. He was discharged for disability on August 19, 1861. John Sprague was married in Winnebago County on October 11, 1864 to Hettie Maria Jenkins. Erwin W. Potter enlisted in Company E from Oshkosh on April 21, 1861 as a corporal. While stationed at Chain Bridge, the regiment was visited by General McClellan, Secretary Cameron, and Governor and Mrs. Curtin of Pennsylvania. Erwin was acquainted with Mrs. Curtin and, as her carriage stopped, he made his way through the crowd and approached her. He requested her assistance in receiving a commission in the Regular Army. As a favor to her, General McClellan made arrangements and, on September 16, 1861, Erwin was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant in the in the 15th United States Infantry. S. Park Coon of Milwaukee was made colonel of the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry on April 24, 1861. He resigned on July 31. In the memoirs of William T. Sherman, the general wrote that, "The actual colonel was S. P. Coon, a good-hearted gentleman, who knew no more of the military art than a child; whereas his lieutenant-colonel, Peck, had been to West Point, and knew the drill. Preferring that the latter should remain in command of the regiment, I put Colonel Coon on my personal staff, which reconciled the difficulty.]
Letter from John Hancock to Jennie Reardon -THE CIVIL WAR -Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
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