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Wisconsin in the Civil War

A Captain who Survived Consecutive Battles Reflects on War's Realities

Captain George H. Otis of Company I, 2nd Wisconsin Infantry, fought in five battles in less than a month. After the Battle of Antietam, he shares his feelings about the war with his father in Mineral Point.

Dear Father:

The first opportunity offering, I avail to write you a long letter of our doings in Maryland. I doubt not but what the telegraph has informed you of our brilliant victories of Sunday and Wednesday last…

Maryland and Pennsylvania are safe enough. In the fights of Maryland we must have captured at least 12,000 of their army. Our late battle field is an awful spectacle — only our own troops have been buried. The Wisconsin boys were nicely interred and a fence built around their graves — the place marked &c. If you should pass over that field, you would never go over another. The dead so disfigured — swollen and black as ebony. It would seem out of the question for human beings to be treated so, but be it said — war has its evils…

Strange to say, I have passed through all these battles without getting a scratch. I am comparatively alone with twelve or fourteen men, and I assure you I feel lonesome —and at times moan, pine, for old Wisconsin. I have seen so much, passed through such terrible fields of strife, that my heart is sickened against war. I would gladly grasp the old "stick" and pick the types "as of yore."* But I came here to perform a part, and that part whatever it may be, I shall cheerfully perform to the end.

* a reference to setting type in a print shop

Source: E.B. Quiner Scrapbooks: "Correspondence of the Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865," Volume 2, page 308.

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Action at Antietam.
Action at Antietam.

WHI 69490
Dead at Antietam.
Dead at Antietam, WHI 69999.

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