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Wisconsin in the Civil War

Soldiers of Many Nationalities Join in Lively Debate During Hospital Stay

In a hospital outside Washington, D.C., a recuperating soldier from the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry meets other patients from many countries — all fighting for the Union cause.

The present occupants are men from every state in the North, and from almost every nation of the earth. In the 1st ward, where I tent, we have a great variety. The ward comprises two rooms — a double parlor in by-gone days and the best finished rooms in the house, and is arranged for the accommodation of 16 persons, 14 patients and two attendants. In the first room there is a German from Wurttemberg, another, an old man of 68 years, from Baden, a Frenchman, a Dutchman, two New Yorkers, a Vermonter, and a Sucker [from Illinois]. In this room are two attendants, one a Michigander, and the other a native of Norway, but for a long time a resident of Massachusetts, a native of Wisconsin, another American but so sick that I have not tried to learn his native state, a Hibernian [Irishman], a Han [?], a Prussian, and myself — a Blue Nose [maritime Canadian].

Of course we have some long debates with regard to the knowledge, skill, and enterprise displayed by different nations in war and in peace, for, though Irish, French and German alike think that America is a good country, they each claim for their country the honor of making America what it is.

The Hibernian had had some very exalted opinions of his country and countrymen when he first came here, claiming — as Irishmen do — that the Irish are the men that are doing the fighting in the present war, that the brave 69th did all the fighting that was done at Bull Run, and the like; but he was very soon obliged to give up those opinions as erroneous or at least to desist from expressing them in public for the Badger boy took him in hand, and although Pat, like countrymen in general, is witty and very tonguey, he found he was no match for the Westerner and for that reason dried up.

He has not said a word in praise of his country, his regiment nor Irish Generals, not even the great Duke of Wellington, for the last three days. The other nationalities meet with but little better success, but not being used to victory they do not take defeat so much to heart, "and though vanquished they will argue still."

Source: E.B. Quiner Scrapbooks: "Correspondence of the Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865," Volume 2, page 254.

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General Thomas Meagher, commander of the Irish brigade.
General Thomas Meagher, commander of the Irish brigade.

WHI 73217
Civil War nurse.
Civil War nurse Harriet Douglas Whetten.

WHI 1882
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