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Dispatches from the Front:  March 1862

By Bruce Weaver II

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Click for larger image in a new windowThe Regimental returns reported that after arriving in St. Louis aboard the steamer City of Alton the 15th Wisconsin Infantry transferred to another steamboat—the Continental. Its next port of call was Bird’s Point, opposite Cairo, Illinois, reached on March 6, 1862.

"On the 14th of March, part of the regiment, minus 12 officers and 284 enlisted men (some were sick), boarded “...the steamboat
Silver…
Click for larger image in a new window…Wave for Island No. 10 where it has since been stationed on different transports.

On the 30 of March, the below named companies took part in General Buford’s expedition against Union City, Tenn. Without sustaining any loss of life and returned to its former station on the 31st..."

See image below of mortar fire bombardment directed to Island No. 10.
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So new was the war experience that incidental detail of how many men in each company participated was duly noted in the March Field return. A recurring number in subsequent dispatches from the front was the meticulous logging of how many miles the regiment marched. The 15th Wisconsin Infantry trooped 32 miles round trip in that overnighter expedition to Union City.



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Bird’s Point, Missouri, was a former slave plantation across the Mississippi River from the fortified military compound of Cairo, Illinois. This was how Bird’s Point was depicted in Harper’s Weekly, June 1861.

 

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Their smokestacks decapitated by low hanging tree limbs and thick foliage in Steele’s Bayou north of Vicksburg, MS, Steamers Eagle and Silver Wave made the cover of Harper’s Weekly for its April 11, 1863 issue.

As noted in the March 1862 Field Return, the 15th Wisconsin Regiment traveled the Mississippi River on the Silver Wave, which, with the Eagle, were both in a class of smaller troop transports.

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During this dramatic scene recording the shelling of Vicksburg, MS, the steamer Silver Wave can be seen at the far right.

Engraving scanned from Harper’s Weekly (May 16, 1863)

 

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As noted in the Dispatch from the Front for March, 1862, members of the Norwegian regiment—first on the Silver Wave--became part of the flotilla that bombarded Island Number 10 three days prior to the action recorded in this image from Harper’s Weekly (April 5, 1862). Here the 15th Wisconsin Infantry witnessed its first demonstration of the era’s shock and awe.

 

 

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