Edwin Squires In The Civil War

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Edwin R. Squires was born 15 Dec. 1838 in Caldwell, Warren County, New York, the oldest son of Levi Squires and Sabrina Scofield.  The Squires family moved to Porter, Rock County Wisconsin in 1845 and Levi Squires is noted as an early settler in Rock County Wisconsin history.

To advise my cousins of where they fit in this ancestral heritage. Edwin Squires and Mary Salina Kenyon married 15 December 1858 and had six children. Oldest was Frances Charlotte who was married and remained in Wisconsin when the family moved to Colorado in 1887. Next was Mary Ivadine or “Aunt Ivy” who never married; Harvey Leon; Clarence Delano; Jessie Eugene “Uncle Jesse” who also never married.  The youngest child was Grace Irene Squires who married Robert Sidney Foreman. The Foreman’s had four children – Bernard, Mary Francis, Margaret and Robert James. Mary Francis married Bernard Hancock and they had seven children, Grace Evelyn, Pearl, Charlotte and Charlene (twins), Dorothy, Shirley and Robert. My cousins should know the rest of this part of the story.

These past few days have been recognized as the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. A major battle, more than 50,000 soldiers killed. A turning point in history for the Union and for the Confederate armies. July 4th is also the 150th anniversary of the end of the siege of Vicksburg. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you how Edwin Squires got to Vicksburg.

Edwin Squires was sworn in to  the Union Army on August 15, 1862, in Janesville, Wisconsin.  On the 20th of August they elected the company officers which included Edwin Squires as Third Sergeant. On the 1st of September they were transported to Camp Utley, Racine, Wisconsin on the shore of Lake Michigan, where they were joined by other companies and organized into a regiment of 1,000 men, consisting of 10 companies, and receiving the letter, E Co., 33rd Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers.

They remained at Camp Utley for one month, training in drills and camp duty. On the 2nd of October, 1862, they received orders to pack knapsacks and be ready to march to the depot to board freight cars bound for Cairo, Illinois and then by steamer transport on the White Cloud down the Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee.

With the help of the book Memorandum and Anecdotes of the Civil War 1862 to 1865,  written by Arthur J. Robinson who served in Company E, 33rd Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry I want to give you a snapshot of the experience of these young boys who enlisted to preserve our nation as one.

“On the 20th of November, 1862, we received orders to strike camp and be ready to march by 7 A.M. We were issued ten days’ rations and sixty rounds of cartridges, which meant there was something doing. We were all ready and waiting orders. The boys had loaded themselves down with goods from home and nearly all had supplied themselves with heavy boots and were wearing them instead of the army shoe. Sergeant Cook had been in the regular army and had experience in marching. When he saw the boys were discarding the army shoe, he said with his Irish wit: “Me boys, let me give ye a bit of advice. Throw away thim boots and put on thim army stogies and ye’ll be thankin’ the old man before the day is done.”

We were delayed until 10 A.M., when the order came to march. There were two brigades and a four-gun battery of 12-pound Howitzers, 1st mountain battery, M, and a battalion of cavalry in the command. We marched out on the Hernando road, camping the first night about 20 miles out from Memphis in a cornfield. It was raining when we went into camp and dark. There was a ten-rail fence around the field, and in a very few minutes we had large fires of pine rails throughout the camp.

The boys were busy making coffee in a cup held over the blaze; also frying their bacon on bayonet or ramrod. We had not been in camp but a short time when I was detailed for picket duty and with a squad of 100 from our regiment was marched out a mile south of camp. But quite different were the arrangements to those we had formerly gone through. The sentry was placed stationary every sixty steps and our orders were to watch closely in our front and to call “Halt!” to the least sound, and at second command to shoot, taking no chances from the front of our line. It seemed that we were in close proximity to the enemy by the precautions taken.

My dear readers, you may imagine the thoughts of a boy in his seventeenth year, standing a lonely sentry on a bleak, wet night, with the enemy within a rifle shot of his post, and in fact a skirmish line in the early morning, when we exchanged shots, and the bark chipped from the tree at my ear, which was my only shelter. This was my experience the second day after our leaving Memphis, and the morning of the 21st of November we were in pursuit of a detachment of Forest’s army and drove them into their breast works at Coldwater, where we had the river between us and they in a fortified camp. We had proved our mettle in the fight at Coldwater and won the cheers of our old battle-scarred comrades of our brigade. But we had lost five noble officers. Our first Lieutenant, Henry Swift, was killed in the first volley. Captain Lindsley, of Company H, and three of Company A were also killed, and there were 17 wounded in the regiment.

Chapter 5 of Arthur Robinson’s book which I will post in a few days takes Company E on to Holly Springs where the boys of Company E will see firsthand the inhumanity of war.

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