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Wisconsin in the Civil War

Beloit Sends its First Troops to the Front

When war broke out in mid-April 1861, President Lincoln called for the states to recruit 75,000 soldiers. Wisconsin was instructed to supply a single regiment. In just three days, enough men had volunteered to fill three regiments. This article from Beloit's newspaper describes how family, lovers, and friends celebrated the departure of Captain William M. Clark and the men of Company F, 1st Wisconsin Infantry on May 21, 1861.

Never did this city witness such a spectacle as was represented last Friday upon the departure of the Beloit City Guards, for their rendezvous at Milwaukee. The entire population of the city, and many persons from the adjacent country, assembled to witness the embarkation of the first company from Rock County. The streets were thronged with people, and every available position in the vicinity of the depot was occupied by spectators, long before the departure had arrived. It was found necessary to stretch a rope from the depot to State Street, in order to keep open a space between the crowd and the cars for the occupation of the troops. The rooms and platform of the depot were occupied by the relatives of the soldiers that were to leave....

The time for the departure of the train having arrived, the Company was ordered aboard, and hasty words of parting were exchanged between husbands and wives, mothers and sons, sisters and brothers. The scene at this moment was most touching and solemn. Stout hearts melted, and eyes "unused to weep" were suffused with tears. Never before had the dire exigencies of war been brought home to the people of this city in such sad earnest, and a deeper desire was begotten in every heart to strike down the traitors who had brought this evil upon the land.

As the train moved off three mighty cheers were given for the departing troops, and the multitude dispersed.

Source: E.B. Quiner Scrapbooks: "Correspondence of the Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865," Volume 1, Page 1a (from Beloit Courier Journal, May 21, 1861).

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Patriotic handbill from Beloit.
Patriotic handbill from Beloit.

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Railroad bridge over the Rock River near Watertown in 1860.
Railroad bridge over the Rock River near Watertown in 1860.

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