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Wisconsin in the Civil War

Wisconsin Welcomes Its First Troops Home

Most observers believed that the war would be very short when President Lincoln called for volunteers in April 1861. At that time, regiments were required to enlist only for 90 days. On August 17, 1861, the 1st Wisconsin Infantry is welcomed home to Milwaukee after serving three months guarding Washington, D.C.

It is estimated that there were at least 15,000 people at the depot to welcome them back again to their friends. At a little past one o'clock, as the train appeared in sight, the Artillery Company of Capt. Herzberg fired a salute of thirty-for guns.

As soon as the soldiers were out of the cars, and once fairly in Milwaukee, the multitude charged them, and then commenced a tumultuous scene of congratulating. Mothers and sisters were there, and the metamorphose that had taken place in the appearance of many of them, from light complexioned and trim youth to weather browned and sinewy soldiers with odd moustaches and dusty whiskers, and many of them with Mexican Sombreros that had been made by ebony fingers in the land of contraband — all made up such strange ensemble that mothers even hesitated before kissing their own sons.

But despite the darkened skins, the faded uniforms and weary limbs, the boys looked healthy and cheerful, and responded to the congratulations of their friends with vigor.

As they passed along the streets, the wildest enthusiasm filled the entire city. Cheer after cheer greeted them as they passed along. House tops and every place where there was any probability of catching the first sight of the gallant fellows, was filled long before they started from the depot.

Source: E.B. Quiner Scrapbooks: "Correspondence of the Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865," Volume 1, pages 49-50.

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Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Locomotive No. 40 in 1869.
Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Locomotive No. 40 in 1869.

WHI 62850
Milwaukee Depot, ca. 1867.
Milwaukee Depot in 1867.

WHI 24900
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