Michigan in the Civil War

Wheeler, Cyrus B.

Seven letters written to his parents while he was serving in Company B, 19th Infantry (1862-1864). His regiment was on the march several times. On the march from Franklin in the rain and mud, the going was slow because they had to guard the train. They left lots of belongings along the road or destroyed them--boxes of hardtack, barrels of peas, bushels of corn. Others before them had left corn, pork, salt, barrel of syrup, barrel of flour, hardtack, kegs of horse shoes and nails, bale of rope, blankets, overcoats and pants, broken wagons-all mixed in the mud. One hundred fifty rebels came into camp asking to join the Union Army. They were put in the 5th Tennessee Regiment. Deserters from Bragg's army came in every day. An Indiana infantry unit came along with 485 rebels that General Granger had taken at Shelbyville. Bushwhackers were getting scarce.

He commented on the officers; the village of Nicholasville and President Lincoln; on the draft; and on picket duty in the rain and dark. He told about the teamsters confiscating food along the way, and of men from other regiments who had taken hens, hogs, beef cattle and sheep. General Granger had issued orders against such pilfering and had had two men whipped. The wheat crop was light and was used by the cavalry as forage.

While at work on fortifications, the rebels attacked the men guarding a bridge. After an hour's fight the company surrendered; their guns were broken and thrown in the river; their tents, their knapsacks and the bridge were burned. The men were taken towards Shelbyville, then released. There was an account of skirmishes by other units with the rebels in command of General Wheeler.

He remarked that a year ago (March 1863) he "was lying on the soft floor of Libby prison" and he assured his mother that when he was sick, he was cared for by a very nice woman in a private home. A letter from L. B. Willard, Michigan military agent at Nashville, to Cyrus' father, tells of the amputation of Cyrus' right arm, of his fight to live, but that he was near death. His money and belongings were being sent home. Cyrus had been wounded in action at Golgotha, Ga., June 22, and died August 3, 1864 at Nashville where he was buried in the National Cemetery.

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