Early in 1862, the "Marching 12th" Wisconsin Infantry heads west into the freezing cold of Kansas.
We left Leavenworth Feb. 7th, one of the coldest days of the season that Kansas has seen for many a year. The roads were a perfect glare of ice, so that it was almost impossible to walk, and water froze in our canteens. We marched from 9 until 4 o'clock, making a distance of sixteen miles, without a moments halt. We camped upon the farm of Jonnycake, chief of the Delawares. He has a fine house and good horses, but was not disposed to accommodate even a few sick men. A little earnest talk brought him to his senses and he concluded to give up, and be a Union Indian.
The worst features of our first night's camp were a snow-storm, and the fact that our baggage wagons were eight miles behind. We built a rousing fire of the old chief's rail fences, and managed to keep from freezing until midnight when the baggage came, and rolling up in our blankets, slept comfortable, through the snow storm until morning.
That night was the first camping experience of many a soldier, and as we lay peering through the snow flakes, at the cold moon, there was many an earnest thought of home, and many a youth, who knew nothing but the history of war, now thought of its "stern reality" and knew for the first time that he was really making a sacrifice to serve his country.
Source: E.B. Quiner Scrapbooks: "Correspondence of the Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865," Volume 5, page 84.
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