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Wisconsin in the Civil War

Father and Sons Become Enemies

In the fall of 1861, blacksmith William Moore of Black River Falls was chosen captain of Company G, 10th Wisconsin Infantry. It left for Louisville, Kentucky, on October 8. Near Leesville, Kentucky, Moore learned about the sad realities of a divided Southern family. On December 18, 1861, he writes in his diary about a Kentucky father and his sons who chose to fight on opposite sides of the war.

Here I learned from a citizen the history of a family who present a sad picture of the deplorable effects of civil war. The Father and two sons, each feeling a desire to do something for their country according to their individual notions of right, enlisted; the two sons in the Union army, and the Father in the Rebel army. The two sons expostulated with the Father, but to no purpose, when one of the sons addressed his father in the following language.

"Father, if we meet in battle and you get your gun to your face to shoot, and find that you got sight on one [of us], don't take it down untill you have pulled the trigger. For as I live, I shall know no man as a friend who is an enemy to my country, and the cause I am fighting for."

Shaking hands they parted, to meet perhaps in the deadly conflict. Such are the deplorable consequences of one Brother going to war with another.

Source: Moore, William P. "Civil War Diary, 1861-1862," pages 13-14.

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Confederate recruiting poster from Kentucky.
Confederate recruiting poster from Kentucky.

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