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Wisconsin in the Civil War

Wisconsin's First Lady Learns of Her Husband's Sudden and Tragic Death

On April 21, 1862, Cordelia Harvey hears about the sudden death of her husband, Governor Louis Harvey. He drowned while on a trip inspecting hospital conditions in Tennessee after the Battle of Shiloh.

Gov. Harvey leaves no family except his wife. To her the terrible news this morning came with a suddenness that almost deprived her of reason. She was at the Capitol when the dispatch was received by Adjutant-General Gaylord, obtaining subscriptions to aid a destitute family in the city. An attempt was made to get her to her boarding place before the contents of the dispatch were made known. She at once saw by the countenances of those whom she met that some bad tidings had been received. Adjutant-General Gaylord and Mr. Sawyer, her brother-in-law, attempted to accompany her home, and told her that a rumor had been received that gave him some anxiety in regard to the Governor.

As Gen. Gaylord was attempting to conceal the full extent of the calamity, she stopped while they were walking through the Park and said: "Tell me if he is dead!" While he evaded a direct reply, she read the fatal news in the expression of his face and dropped senseless upon the walk. She was soon revived sufficiently to be conveyed, but remained in a state nearly approaching distraction.

Source: E.B. Quiner Scrapbooks: "Correspondence of the Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865," Volume 5, page 237.

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Cordelia Harvey.
Cordelia Harvey.

WHI 10805
Governor Louis Harvey.Adjutant-General Gaylord.
Governor Louis Harvey and Adjutant-General Gaylord.

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