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Wisconsin in the Civil War

A Captain Shows Kindness to His Adversary

Soldiers from the North and South rarely met outside of combat. In his diary, Captain William Moore, 10th Wisconsin Infantry, recounts an unexpected conversation with a Confederate volunteer. On March 13, 1862, Moore met a man outside Nashville, Kentucky, who had recently deserted the Confederate Army. He was on his way home to care for his family. Moore describes how he tried to break down the man's stereotype of Northern soldiers as the two men talked.

Here we fell in with a Secesh soldier who had deserted at the battle of Fort Donalson, and got home to his family. He gave me his history and the particulars of the Donalson fight. He expressed himself entirely satisfied with the Rebel Service. He was a man of family, and had been in the service of the Confederacy for about eight months without receiving any compensation for his services. His family were poor and almost starving.

When I first began talking with him he expressed considerable anxiety about his safety, but I assured him that he should not be molested or separated from his family, if I could prevent it. But on the contrary I would showe him that he had been grossly misinformed in regard to the character of the northern people. He had been led to believe that we would rob and plunder every house, and insult their wives and daughters.

After talking to him for some time, I presented him with two lbs of pork and two lbs flour for the use of his family. And I was amply repaid for the charitable act, in the joy it seemed to give to himself and friends. He acted like a "caged bird set free," and "went his way rejoicing." Everybody around seemed to feel a pleasure in seeing him treated thus by a Federal officer, of whom they had expected harsher treatment.

Source: Moore, William P. "Civil War Diary, 1861-1862," pages 40-41.

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Man in military uniform, identified as probably Captain William Moore.
Man in military uniform, identified as probably Captain William Moore.

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Fighting at Fort Donelson.
Fighting at Fort Donelson.

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