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Wisconsin in the Civil War

Sickness and Suffering Take Their Toll

On June 10, 1862, an unidentified soldier in the 14th Wisconsin Infantry denounces the politicians who started the war after he witnessed the scale of suffering in Tennessee.

I am melancholy to-day and have been so for several days — ever since Charley died I have felt as though I had not a friend left. Charley was my friend, and a braver or a better boy never shouldered a gun or slung a knapsack; always ready to do his duty, kind, and pleasant to all — ever ready for fun when fun was the order of the hour; he had won the respect of his officers and the love of his comrades;

As our chaplain said at his grave: "It does seem as though our truest and best boys were taken from us first." Charley's parents, God help them in the hour of their sorest trial! Tears come unbidden to my eyes while thinking of the sorrow his death will cause in the far off home of their's….

The amount of sickness and suffering that a person sees, and perchance has to endure, is awful; nearly twelve thousand sick men have been sent off from this place alone since the 15th of April, just think of it — twelve thousand, almost enough to populate a city. Our regiment is almost decimated, hardly enough well ones to take care of the sick, and still we stay here dying by inches — a sacrifice to the accursed demon of war.

I sometimes wish that a few thousand of our northern and southern demagogues were obligated to decide this war at the sword's point and to the death of every one of them.

Source: E.B. Quiner Scrapbooks: "Correspondence of the Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865," Volume 5, page 155.

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Surgeon examines a patient at the front in Tennessee.
Surgeon examines a patient at the front in Tennessee.

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Pencil drawing of a Tennessee camp hospital in 1862.
Pencil drawing of a Tennessee camp hospital in 1862.

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