Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Last weekend I visited the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison, Wisconsin. It is a free museum with excellent exhibits, a manageable floor plan, and it is located on the beautiful capitol square. Here are links to my individual posts on the museum:

Part One: The Civil War

Part Two: The Spanish-American War

Part Three: The Mexican Border War and World War One

Part Four: World War Two


Battle of Gaine’s Mill, Virginia, 27 June 1862, Fr. d’Orleans

This engagement saw the largest Confederate attack in the war. However, the charges were not coordinated well, resulting in heavy casualties. With the arrival of “Stonewall” Jackson, the Confederates finally executed a full assault.

Letter to Julia Smith from Benjamin Fish written during the early months of the Civil War.

“Turner Hall. July 4th, 1861.  My Darling, We are all under arms today, ready at a moments call, we are expecting an outbreak hourly. there was slight disturbance last night but nothing serious. We flung to the breeze this morning at 4 o’clock a beautiful star spangled banner fifteen feet in length. which was greeted with cheer after cheer. today flags are flying in every direction. but I am sorry to say that the traitors are still at work in our midst. The second regiment of Zureans are just coming down + I shall have to cut this knot off here. they are to be quartered with us today in about five minutes we shall be in a perfect uproar - my love to all a kiss for my darling - Affectionately your own, BP Fish”

  • Courtesy of the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library
July 1

In 1863, at a sleepy little town called Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, soldiers of the United States Army began a battle against the soldiers of the treasonous Confederacy.  Over the next three days, it would turn into the largest single battle ever fought in North America.  Over 170,000 soldiers would struggle there, and the rebel armies would be turned back from their last invasion of Union territory.  It was the beginning of the end for the treachery of the slave states, and thank the god of battles for that. 

The Union general in charge, George Meade, was on his fourth day commanding the Army of the Potomac.  So you could say there was a pretty steep learning curve for him. 

When the last shot had been fired, over 50,000 men from both armies were dead, wounded, or missing.  The entire time, there was one civilian casualty.  One!  A poor woman named Ginnie Wade was hit by a stray bullet while she was baking bread.  I defy you to find any other battle in modern times where so many soldiers clashed with so little collateral damage. 

You can and should read all about what happened around that little town; how the heroes of the Iron Brigade, the 1st Minnesota, and the 20th Maine accomplished superhuman feats of arms and saved the Union.  Even that fuckhead George Armstrong Custer acquitted himself very well. 

There would be almost two more years of bloody struggle, but the slavers’ insurrection would finally be put down.  After Gettysburg, it was simply a matter of time.

What are some Historical Military/Civilian Impressions you'd like to put together in the future?

I’d really enjoy finished both an all original Late-WWII generic ‘April ‘45’ U.S. Infantryman.

The next is a cross between a World War I U.S. Army Sanitary Corps soldier or a U.S. Civil War '14th Connecticut Regiment Volunteers’.

I’d also really like to do a Spanish Colonial Soldier in 18th Century New York and actually physically make my own uniform…


So many ideas, so little wallet.

July 4

In 1863, on the 87th American Independence Day, the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi fell to the heroes of the United States Army.  Vicksburg was part of the treasonous Confederacy, of course, and it was the last holdout preventing unimpeded Union cargo and naval traffic on the Mississippi River.

The commanders of the Vicksburg campaign would soon become famous throughout the land–Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman.  Upon hearing of their success, President Lincoln remarked that “the Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea,” because apparently there was a time when being a complete dolt was not a desirable trait in US Presidents.

Historian James McPherson called Grant’s Vicksburg campaign “the most brilliant and innovative campaign of the Civil War.”  The US Army, going one further, noted in the 1986 Field Manual 100-5 that this was “the most brilliant campaign ever fought on American soil.”

Local legend (I cannot vouch for the veracity of this) states that the city of Vicksburg did not celebrate US Independence Day until about 80 years later.  And the fact that such a story even exists tells you something about the sorry-ass, recalcitrant, whiny-ass-titty-babies who crow about the glory of the Lost Cause and wave their stupid traitor flags.  

USS Atlanta.

Built in Glasgow in 1861 as a merchantman named Fingal, she was bought by the Confederacy and after running the Union blockade was outfitted as an ironclad. Subsequently in 1863 the Atlanta was captured by the Union and re-armed as the USS Atlanta.

Our town (in rural Ohio, USA) is very tiny, but we have a lot of legends. One that has always amused me is the story that if you drive down a certain road at midnight, two people will fly at your car windshield and chase you, levitating. Sometimes you can apparently hear screaming or talking in the woods on either side. It was never clear to me if they were supposed to be ghosts or not, and if so, who they were the ghosts of. I’ve done the “dare” for this one, and the road IS really creepy, but nothing happened.

There’s another story about our local university that I actually researched, hoping I could use it for my history capstone project. The university dates back to the 1850s, and supposedly one of the buildings on campus was used as a Civil War hospital, or as a convalescent home for Civil War veterans. The ghost of an officer is said to wander the upper floors at night, one room in particular. I know several people who have had strange experiences there, hearing boot steps, voices, and slamming doors. A former security guard told me something followed her through the building one night, opening the doors she had just closed.

Whoever the ghost is, though, (if they exist,) they aren’t a Civil War officer. The university has excellent records I was able to dig through, and I could find no connection whatsoever between the campus and the War. In fact, if I read the records correctly, the “haunted room” didn’t even exist at that time. There wasn’t even enough information for me to use for my project.

One last thing: we had a local legend called “Hell House”, which was a home that a man built for his family, who died in a train accident before it could be finished. The man supposedly hanged himself on the tree out front, and you could still see his ghost swinging from it on certain nights. This story was apparently well known enough to make it into a nationally published book on Ohio oddities, but the tree from the story was cut down a few years ago, and the house has been completely restored to a non-spooky state.