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Wisconsin in the Civil War

Wisconsin Prisoners Taunt Their Captors

At the first Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, many men from the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry, including its surgeon, were taken prisoner and confined at Richmond, Virginia. One member shares some stories they told after being released the following January.

When they first arrived they were exhibited to the surprised crowd, and the question was, "What you doing down here for?" [and] "Where you wounded at?" The curious way of asking it always made the boys smile, and no little chafing was the result. The reply was just as the Second boys would be supposed to give it. "Oh, nothing but a ten pound rifle cannon ball through the head," or, "a twenty-four pound shot through the heart," etc. This would be believed for a time, but at length it came to be a common expression, "Them d— Yankees are the d—est liars in the world." …

While the boys were suffering from persecutions most, when the citizens would halt before their windows and shout derisively at them, they organized a glee club, and the old prison walls would shake with strains of "Hail Columbia," "The Star Spangled Banner," and "John Brown's Soul is a Marching On." The chivalry [i.e., Southerners], crazed with rage, would fairly dance under the windows, and the boys highly delighted would keep on. Occasionally they were asked, "Why in ---- don't you sing Dixie?" so they wrote a Dixie to suit themselves, which served to enrage secesh still more.…

Another of the boys is [Private Olie G.] Everson, of K. He was wounded in the head, the ball going in in front and lodging in the brain. While he was in the Richmond hospital Dr. Lewis was examining the wound when a rebel surgeon came along and watching him a moment asked very innocently, how he was going to extract the ball. "Oh!" replied the Dr. very wisely, "I shall take out the brain, run it through an old fashioned cullender, strain it, then put it back." The Dr. and secesh were never friends after that, but still Everson is doing well.

Source: E.B. Quiner Scrapbooks: "Correspondence of the Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865," Volume 2, page 214.

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First Battle of Bull Run.
First Battle of Bull Run, WHI 69980.

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Map of the First Battle of Bull Run, July 19, 1861.
First Battle of Bull Run map, July 19, 1861.

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