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Quiner, Edwin Bryant (1816-1868) | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Quiner, Edwin Bryant (1816-1868)

Wisconsin Civil War Historian and Author

Quiner, Edwin Bryant (1816-1868) | Wisconsin Historical Society
b. New Haven, Connecticut, April 1816
d. Baraboo, Wisconsin, February 28, 1868

E.B. Quiner wrote the most frequently cited book about Wisconsin's role in the Civil War, "Military History of Wisconsin: A Record of the Civil and Military Patriotism of the State in the War for the Union." (Chicago, 1866).

EnlargeStudio Portrait of E.B. Quiner, WHI 79108.

Studio Portrait of E.B. Quiner

View the original source document: WHI 79108

Newspaper Career

After learning the printing business as a young man, Quiner moved from Connecticut to Ohio where he graduated from Granville College in 1834. In 1839 he moved to Milwaukee and worked briefly at the Milwaukee Sentinel. In 1850 he moved to Watertown to publish his own newspaper, the Watertown Democratic State Register (1850-1853).

Originally a Democrat, in 1853 Quiner made his Watertown newspaper independent in politics. Later in the 1850s he published several short-lived campaign newspapers supporting the Republican Party. In 1858 Quiner moved to Madison, where he worked as a clerk in the state legislature.

Gathering Civil War Letters

From 1860-1862, Quiner served as a private secretary to the governor. "During the time", the press wrote afterwards, "Mr. Quiner subscribed for every paper published in the state and from these papers his daughters clipped the letters written by the soldiers to their families… Two of Mr. Quiner's daughters also went as nurses to the soldiers at Memphis, Tenn., giving their services free, and Mr. Quiner paying their entire expenses."

Quiner and his daughters pasted the letters from newspapers into 10 scrapbooks, totaling nearly 4,000 pages. They contain more than 10,000 letters written by Wisconsin Civil War soldiers from the front. They were given to the Wisconsin Historical Society in 1913.

Final Years - Writing His Book

Quiner began writing his book using the soldiers' letters he had collected during the war and government files that Wisconsin Adjutant General Augustus Gaylord allowed him access to. When he finished, the book was over a thousand pages. Most of the book is dedicated to individual chapters on Wisconsin's volunteer regiments. The remainder contains activities of the state government, a brief narrative of the war, and biographies of people. Quiner became seriously ill while working on the book, but managed to complete it in the spring of 1866. After it was published, he moved to Baraboo, Wisconsin, where he died following a lingering illness at age 51.

Links to Learn More

[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography]