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July 2011 Odd Wisconsin

Battle of the Crater

July 30th marks the anniversary of one of the Civil War's most dramatic battles. Wisconsin troops, including our only unit of Black soldiers and a number of Menominee warriors, played a prominent role. In the summer of 1864, Union forces surrounded Petersburg, Virginia. A stalemate followed in which about 100,000 entrenched troops faced off against one another. At strategic points...
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Posted in Strange Deaths on July 28, 2011

Assembly Speaker Held Up a Train

As the Civil War approached, our state government had no funds with which to organize, equip, and pay troops. Watching one southern state after another secede during the spring of 1861, legislative leaders crafted a bill authorizing the governor to raise the money, should the need eventually arise. Although both houses were Republican, there was also strong opposition to the...
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Posted in Curiosities on July 20, 2011

Jefferson Davis Takes a Licking

"It is probably known to but very few of the present citizens of our state that Wisconsin has the high distinction of having given Mr. Jefferson Davis…his first public whipping." So begins the story recounted in the Milwaukee Sentinel, as heard from the man who gave Mr. Davis that first licking, a Mr. Stewart. At the time of the...
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Posted in Curiosities on July 14, 2011

Smelling the Colors

Willetta Huggins was a remarkable young woman. At the age of 14 she lost both her sight and her hearing, but after only two years of work she was able to distinguish an amazing amount using her remaining senses. For example, she learned how to design and make her own clothing by touch. She even learned to 'hear' people speaking...
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Posted in Bizarre Events on July 7, 2011

First Civil War Fatality Predicted His Own Death

Last Saturday, July 2nd, marked the 150th anniversary of the first combat death of a Wisconsin soldier in the Civil War. Just a week after the war broke out in April 1861, militia units from Madison, Milwaukee, Beloit, Fond du Lac, Kenosha and Horicon were organized into the 1st Wisconsin Infantry. They trained at Camp Scott in Milwaukee and six...
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Posted in Strange Deaths on July 4, 2011

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