ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin





Civil War Years

1861 - 1865

The War Between the States










Militia organized



Watertown Rifle Co formed

Watertown Artillery formed













President Lincoln assassinated


07 13    RECEPTION OF COMPANY B, commanded by D. S. Gibbs 


BIOGRAPHIES, local veterans






NYT = New York Times                   WD = Watertown Democrat                   WR = Watertown Republican


Many from Wisconsin Served in War


Although Wisconsin was not the site of any Civil War battles,

it did provide materials, supplies and

more than 90,000 troops for the Union Army.


At that time, in the 1860s, the state's population was about 775,000;

therefore about 12 percent of the population served in the Union Army.


America’s divisive Civil War (1861-1865) broke out in 1861, disrupting many lives of families of our community as young members enlisted in the battle to preserve the Union and a set of ideals.


A divided nation, with brother killing brother, frequently called upon the powers that be for an end to the strife and discord.


Many fell victim to the savagery of war.  Some men from Watertown were buried in distant states while the remains of others were returned to home and family for burial.  The grave sites of the fallen soldiers and veterans of the Civil and other wars and armed conflicts are among those lovingly decorated prior to each Memorial Day observance.


The Civil War was “a war for Union that also killed slavery.” Emancipation was an outcome (an “astounding” outcome, Lincoln remarked in his second Inaugural Address) but it always “took a back seat” to the paramount goal of saving the Union.   The Union War, Gary W. Gallagher, Illustrated. 215 pp. Harvard University Press. 2011.




During the summer of 1846, under the provisions of the territorial law, the voters of the Wisconsin Territory assembled at the county seats and organized military regiments by electing field officers of regiments.  Meanwhile the militia of the Territory were being organized into divisions and brigades.  There were three divisions (First, Second and Third) of two brigades each.   Source


First Division

   First Brigade

   Second Brigade

Second Division

   First Brigade

   Second Brigade

Third Division

   First Brigade  /  comprised of Walworth, Jefferson, Dodge and Columbia Counties.

   Second Brigade


Cross Reference:  Organization of the Armies in the Civil War


1848   Wisconsin Statehood


1853   Watertown Rifles

Watertown's first active unit was formed in May of 1853 as the Watertown Rifle Company.  The name was at some point shortened to Watertown Rifles.  The original leaders of the Watertown Rifle Company included CPT Henry Boegel, 1LT Gotlieb Baumann, 2LT C. W. Schultz and 1SG John Reichert.  The Company's motto was "In time of peace, prepare for war."   Source


Watertown Artillery

In 1853, a second unit was organized in Watertown, the Watertown Artillery.  The original leaders of the Watertown Artillery included CPT Benjamin Campbell, 1LT John Williams and 2LT Henry Mulberger.  Source


1859   Governor's Artillery

In 1859 the Watertown Artillery changed their name to Governor's Artillery and they elected new officers; CPT Henry Mulberger, 1LT Jacob Hoeffner and 2LT Charles Riedinger.  Source


1860   Western Star Hotel Fire

02 17     About half past 3 o’clock this morning the large hotel in the 4th Ward of this city belonging to Gottlieb Baumann was discovered to be on fire.  The Watertown Rifle Company, who kept their arms in this building, lost all their accoutrements.


12 17    Organization of companies of Wisconsin militia, report on.  The Militia of Wisconsin was comprised of 50 companies of volunteers with a combined strength of 1,993 men.  Watertown still had two companies at that time; the Watertown Rifles, commanded by CPT Gotlieb Bauman, with a strength of 42 men and the Governor's Artillery, commanded by CPT Mulberger, with a strength of 35 men.   Source


Cross Reference:  Watertown Rifles became Company A, Third Infantry.


1860   Lincoln Elected

12 27    Next Monday, the 4th of March, is the day set apart by the Constitution for the inauguration of the President [Lincoln] of the United States


It must be admitted that since his election to the Presidency, Abraham Lincoln has displayed in an eminent degree, whatever wisdom there is in silence as to his purposes when he assumes the direction of national affairs.  Perhaps, under the circumstances, close observation and no disclosure of policy until the time when he could act was the best  course for him to pursue.


“Since the newspapers have made our recent visit to Springfield the occasion of remark, it may not be improper to say that an interview with Mr. Lincoln confirmed and strengthened our confidence in his fitness for the high position he is to occupy.  Of his eminent qualifications for the great trust reposed in him, of his enlightened appreciation of the difficulties and dangers that surround us, of his desire that the Free States, if in anything delinquent, should fulfill their constitutional duties, of his determination to require from all the states an enforcement of the laws and obedience to the Constitution, and finally, of his earnest and inflexible devotion to the principles and sympathies of Republicans.” – Albany Evening Journal article, WD


1861   Lincoln Inaugurated

03 05     WASHINGTON, Tuesday, March 5, 1861. The entire absence of any attempt to interrupt the Inauguration of Mr. Lincoln affords the sympathizers with secession the opportunity of ridiculing the warlike preparations which were made, and the great precautions which were taken; but it seems not to strike the minds of these witlings, that whatever piquancy there is in their jibes derives its force from the admitted cowardice or falsehood of the braggarts who threatened to take the Capitol by storm, expel the regular Government, and establish on its ruins the seat of a slaveholding empire.  If it be admitted that the leaders of secession in Virginia and other Southern States are so far beneath public contempt that their threats of forcible resistance to "Black Republican rule," their pompous military organizations, and their secret plots for the assassination of Mr. Lincoln were the idle ravings of fools and madmen, or the harmless gasconade of impotent and mendacious demagogues, then we may join in the laugh against Gen. Scott and those who cooperated with him in the preparations for defense.  NYT


03 28     WASHINGTON, Tuesday, March 5, 1861. The entire absence of any attempt to interrupt the Inauguration of Mr. Lincoln affords the sympathizers with secession the opportunity of ridiculing the warlike preparations which were made, and the great precautions which were taken; but it seems not to strike the minds of these witlings, that whatever piquancy there is in their jibes derives its force from the admitted cowardice or falsehood of the braggarts who threatened to take the Capitol by storm, expel the regular Government, and establish on its ruins the seat of a slaveholding empire.  If it be admitted that the leaders of secession in Virginia and other Southern States are so far beneath public contempt that their threats of forcible resistance to "Black Republican rule," their pompous military organizations, and their secret plots for the assassination of Mr. Lincoln were the idle ravings of fools and madmen, or the harmless gasconade of impotent and mendacious demagogues, then we may join in the laugh against Gen. Scott and those who cooperated with him in the preparations for defense.  NYT


FORT SUMPTER, Wednesday, March 28. Defensive preparations are still going on at Fort Sumpter.  Up to today, no orders for the evacuation have been received, and although two messengers from the Administration have arrived within the last few days, the object of their visit has not transpired, it being strictly of a confidential nature.  The prohibition of all intercourse with Charleston is still rigidly maintained, and a proposition to cut off the supplies of fresh provisions, and the mails from Major Anderson, was today discussed in the Convention.  Major Anderson awaits the orders of his Government, and by these alone will he be guided.  The fuel and provisions at the fort are nearly exhausted.  If there is one man in the country, who, by his individual prudence, resolution and courage, has averted civil war, which in this harbor might have at any moment been inaugurated, and yet maintained intact the honor of his country's flag while surrounded by thousands of her foes, that man is Major Anderson.





It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, and to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in Holy Scripture, and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. And, in so much as we know that by His divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisement in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?  We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.  But we have forgotten God.  We have forgotten the gracious hand which has preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.  Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.  It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.    Lincoln speech of 07 31 1846.



When the mighty conflict raged within the Union and the fortunes of the country were evenly balanced between restoration and dismemberment, local business was suspended, recruiting stations opened, appeals made, meetings held night and day, eloquent speeches delivered, odes sung by the ladies from the balconies, and all engaged in the work of furnishing men for the armies in the field of strife, in answer to the President’s call.


As war raged President Lincoln set the precedent for America’s national day of Thanksgiving by issuing a proclamation appointing the last Thursday of September 1861 as a day of national fasting (as opposed to feasting), humiliation and prayer.  He earnestly appealed to “all the people, and especially to all ministers and teachers of religion of all denominations, and to all heads of families, to observe and keep that day according to their several creeds and modes of worship in all humility and with all religious solemnity, to the end that the united prayer of the nation may ascend to the Throne of Grace, and bring down plentiful blessings upon our own country.”


The proclamation of the much-revered President invoked God to “commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”


Lincoln’s relationship with God is a subject highly debated by historians.  Some say Lincoln was an unbeliever, or at least a skeptic, of Christianity.  Others say he was a “deeply religious” man who daily sought God’s guidance.


It is true that Lincoln never did join a church; although he attended church services regularly while President.  The reason he gave for never joining a church was that he could never be satisfied with all the dogmas and creeds that the denominational churches required.


One of Lincoln’s earliest statements on the subject of his faith came in 1846:  “That I am not a member of any Christian church is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular . . . I do not think I could myself be brought to support a man for office whom I knew to be an open enemy of, or scoffer at, religion.”   Many of President Lincoln’s presidential speeches are superb examples of a man seeking God.    Watertown Democrat, 08 29 1861


1861, cont.

04 18     President Lincoln’s Proclamation

Whereas, The laws of the United States have been and now are opposed in several states by combinations too powerful to be suppressed in any ordinary way, I therefore call forth the militia of the Union, to the aggregate number of 75,000, to suppress said combination and execute the laws.  I appeal to all loyal citizens to facilitate and aid this effort to sustain the laws and integrity of the National Union, and perpetuity of popular government, and redress the wrongs long enough endured.  The first service assigned the forces will probably be to repossess the forts and property which have been seized from the Union . . . I hereby convene both Houses of Congress for the Fourth of July next, to determine upon measures of public safety, which the interests of the country demand. – Abraham Lincoln, President.   WD


04 18     The War News Engrosses

The war news engrosses the anxious attention of our citizens.  The topic of all conversation is the surrender of Fort Sumter and the next movements that will be made by the contending authorities.  Everybody, of course, feels a deep interest in passing events and looks forward to the future with mingled hope and fear.   WD


04 18     Troops Pass Through City

A company of United States troops from Minnesota passed through this city last Tuesday, over the Chicago and North Western Railroad.  Their destination is probably Washington, where their presence and services are wanted.  Their number is estimated from 100 to 150.  WD


05 30     NEW TESTAMENT FOR EACH VOLUNTEER, of Watertown Rifle Co.




The Reception of Company B, 29th Wisconsin Regiment, Thursday Evening, July 13th, 1865.  Watertown Democrat, 07 20 1865


Ample preparations having been made for a Reception Festival to be given to Company B, commanded by Capt. D. S. Gibbs and such other members of the 29th Wisconsin Regiment as might be in the city and its vicinity, the affair came off last Thursday evening, the 13th.  It was a brilliant success in most all respects and it is gratifying to be able to state that those for whom it was more particularly intended were highly pleased and delighted with the entertainment to which they were invited.


About three years ago Company B of the 29th Regiment, known as the Watertown Company, was raised in this city.  On the evening before its departure for the theater of war, the 19th of September, 1862, then commanded by Capt. T. R. Mott, our citizens provided a magnificent supper for its members, at which, we believe, everyone was present.  On its return here on the 7th, measures were immediately taken to welcome back the company, now under command of Capt. D. S. Gibbs, with a similar public festival.


All classes of citizens cheerfully joined in completely carrying out this suggestion.  The ovation took place at Cole’s Hall last Thursday evening, attended by an assemblage as large as was ever collected here on a similar occasion.  The ladies displayed great zeal and activity in this social enterprise and to their effort must be largely attributed the happy fortune which attended the design and execution of the whole plan.  They all felt that too much could not be done for those who had promptly answered the call of their country, risked so much, patiently endured every privation and fought so bravely for the preservation of the Union.


Early in the evening the crowd began to assemble and soon the large hall was filled to overflowing.  Capt. Gibbs called the members of this company together, formed them into line, marched them through the streets, and then entered the hall and arranged them in a semi-circle, in front of the platform, over which was suspended the American flag, above which were the words “Welcome Home.”  Mr. Robert Tompkins, formerly Sergeant Major of the regiment, was chosen to act as president of the day and he performed his part in an admirable manner.  Everything being in readiness, he introduced the speaker of the evening, when was delivered the following.





Soldiers of the Union Army:


After a mighty struggle of four years, the rebellion is crushed, the war ended, the Union saved, and you who went out from our midst in an hour of anxious doubt and intense solicitude –having discharged all your new and perilous duties in the camp, in the field, and in the shock of battle – have returned to your families with nothing but the memory of fallen companions to mingle sorrow with your rejoicing, as you recall the trials and triumphs of the past.


We have assembled this evening to give you a public reception, to extend to you a cordial and hearty welcome home again, to express our gratitude for the sacrifices you have made, to show our appreciation of the devotion you have displayed, and if we could we would add another green leaf to the unfading laurel that adorns the brave and faithful soldier’s brow. 


In this grateful and pleasing act, the patriotic and intelligent ladies of this city, who have ever been regardful of your wants and every ready to relieve them, have willingly united with us in a demonstration designed to indicate to some extent our deep sense of obligation to you, and to manifest the admiration we cherish for deeds like yours and for services so priceless and far beyond all our means to adequately reward.


Scarcely three summers ago, when most of you stood in this hall with others who will be seen no more – on the eve of your departure to resist and drive back the angry waves of insurrection then raging all over the South, thick clouds hung around the present and threw their gloomy darkness over the future.  Before the close of the full term of your enlistment, you who have survived stand here again, and now, thanks to your unfailing valor and that of your comrades, under the providence of God, a marvelous and wonderful change has been wrought.  Both the present and the future are so bright with promise that hardly a shadow rests on the cheering and animating prospects that spread out before us all, inviting alike the people and the North and of the South to build up where they have torn down, to make fruitful the wide regions that have been desolated, to cultivate, improve and embellish the waste places of the land, to restore what has been destroyed – always excepting the wrong and curse of slavery – that immeasurable iniquity, let us trust, has perished and is gone forever.


During your absence – and what a stirring and “crowded life” of thought, action, agitation and bereavement we have lived during the eventful interval – both the people and the army have accomplished a great and beneficent work – both have been firmly traveling the rugged pathway that leads to universal freedom and impartial justice.


You have made possible the realization of the fond vision of a perfect Republic – widespread and well-governed – in which all classes and conditions shall be equal and responsible before the law, as they are equal and responsible before the bar of Him who is no respecter of persons.  You have aided in completing what our Revolutionary statesmen so well began, and given additional beauty, symmetry and strength to the political institutions whose broad and solid foundations were laid at the commencement of our contest with Great Britain, over three-quarters of a century ago, which had for its aim and end the establishment of a Government of the people, by the people and for the people. 


For the first time, on the 4th of July, 1865, we have been able to read the Declaration of Independence without the reservation of the inconsistency that the words of flame in which Jefferson wrote that immortal document were not meant for all mankind, but only for a superior race.


The formidable Rebellion which has just been overwhelmed and extinguished by the emulous and invincible armies of the East and the West did not


“Arise in the sunshine and the smile of heaven,

But wrapped in whirlwinds and begirt with woes,”


It began its disastrous career and moved on to its final catastrophe, until it fell with a crash that not only buried its guilty and perjured authors beneath its ruins, but filled all with astonishment at the suddenness with which so vast a conspiracy had dissolved and disappeared.  You have been in the midst of its fiercest storms – with firm hearts and armed hands, you have mingled in the fearful and bloody strife, and as you advanced forward in your terrible tasks, with unwavering fidelity and unyielding resolution to conquer, making every blow tell and sometimes turning even defeat to advantage, we who watched from a distance the constantly varying and shifting fortunes of the momentous life and death conflict in which you were engaged, felt our bosoms swell with the liveliest emotions of pride and hope, as we saw your steady onward progress in the sacred cause, while victory after victory emblazoned your standard as it waved over your heads in the wildest tempest of the fight, and beheld inscribed on the banner of the 29th Wisconsin Regiment, under Col. Charles R. Gill, Col. William A. Greene, and Lieut. Col. Bradford Hancock, in rapid succession, the memorable names of Port Gibson, Champion Hill, Vicksburg, Jackson, Sabine Cross Roads and Mobile, and our exultation was not lessened when we learned that where all had done well, the Company from Watertown, under Capt. Thomas R. Mott and Capt. Darius S. Gibbs, was entitled to a full share of the honor so gallantly won and gracefully worn.


When we bade you a sad farewell we did not know how long we should have a Government to guard us, or a name worth claiming.  We did not know into how many broken and dismembered fragments this fair sisterhood of States might be scattered, before we should hail with gladness your reappearance, for it then seemed as if pillar after pillar of our fabric of empire was parting asunder and falling away, to be replaced no more.  We feel now that the whole unbounded continent of ours, and as state after state is added to the Union, star after star will spangle thicker the bright constellation that already lights up our free country’s glorious flag.  These are some of the grand results of your achievements – dearly purchased indeed, but of value high above all their cost of life and treasure.


“Let the bells ring out the tidings,

Let the joyful cannon roar,

Truth and Right have won the battle,

Peace and Union reign once more.”


This is a day we have all longed and desired to see.  Your task is finished, your toils are over, and now, with a union of hearts, a union of hands, and the Union of States forever, we welcome home “Our Boys in Blue,” who carried the banner of the undivided Republic from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, from the Ohio to the Gulf, beating back the advancing columns of the vanquished Confederacy, determined not to give up the contest for supremacy until every traitorous ensign had been trampled in the dust, or folded up, hid away from human sight.  You have returned, but not until the last campaign had terminated, the last expedition had closed, that last march had been made, the last rebel army had disbanded, the last enemy had surrendered, the last gun had been fired, the last musket stacked, and the last hostile footstep had ceased to tread the soil between the Atlantic and Pacific.  You have returned, but not until the expiring tumult and thunder of the Rebellion had died away and the undimmed stars of the regenerated and restored Republic were again serenely shining in the clear sky above you, in all their original brightness, every wanderer brought back and all singing the new song of FREEDOM. 


Thrice welcome home are the defenders of the Union.  Unto you be the choicest blessings of peace and prosperity, under the mild and free Government you have preserved and consolidated, for you have deserved all and more than it can bestow.


Capt. D. S. Gibbs relied to the above address in a few happy remarks, thanking the people of Watertown for the uniform kindness, warm and constant interest they had always shown not only for the health and welfare of the company from Watertown, but also for the prosperity and success of the whole regiment.  He said that on many occasions the hearts of the soldiers had been made glad by the reception of articles sent to them when most needed, and these evidences of remembrance and regard were duly appreciated and all felt that they were not forgotten by friends and relatives at home, and this conviction had the best influence on the soldiers in the midst of severe duties and frequent privations.


At the conclusion of the formal address of welcome, loud calls were made for the former commander of the 29th Regiment, Col. Charles R. Gill, when that gentleman came forward and made a speech in which he reviewed the history of the regiment from the time it left the state to the day of its return.  He gave an interesting statement of its marches, privations, bravery in battle and achievements, showing that it had shrunk from no duty or danger, and how it had won for itself the high and honorable name and fame with which it had left the military service of the United States.  His remarks were received with repeated demonstrations of enthusiasm, and three hearty cheers followed his retirement from the stand.


Hon. Hiram Barber, Jr., was next called for, and he came forward and delivered an appropriate and eloquent address in which he spoke of the character and value of what had been done and accomplished by the armies of the Union, and the share taken by those present in the great events which had occurred during the war.  His remarks drew frequent cheers from the listening audience.


These exercises being over, the President extended an invitation to the returned soldiers, with their wives, sisters and sweet hearts, to repair to the rooms below and partake of the supper prepared for them by their fair  country women, which was promptly accepted by the brave volunteers, and we venture to say that few of them have rarely set down to a table arranged with more skill and taste, or more profusely loaded with the best of everything that care or money could procure at this season of the year, all enhanced by the politeness and attention of the gay and smiling throng who stood ready to meet and answer all their calls. 


Severe and constant as were the demands made on the ladies, they went through their part with cheerfulness and vivacity, neglecting none and courteous to all.  Some idea of the extent of their efforts on this occasion may be formed from the fact that they entertained over five hundred guests during the evening, and it was far past midnight before they were relieved from their arduous labors.  They won the thanks and admiration of the heroes from the war, who were the special objects of regard and compliment, and we have no doubt, are fully satisfied with such a reward.


After supper the band began to play for those who wished to join the festival dance and in this lively amusement, the hours of evening flew swiftly by, all seeming to enjoy themselves finely, until they choose to withdraw themselves from the pleasures and congratulations of the delightful scenes around them.


With one exception – applicable to ourselves – the whole affair was a brilliant and complete success, highly creditable to all connected with it in every respect.  When the Watertown Company went away we gave them our blessings.  Now that those the chances of war have spared have come back, we have received them with gratitude for what they have done for us.  We have performed the last act of a thrilling drama, by crowning the victors with our thanks and approbation.  We can do no more, after commending them and theirs to the generosity and care of our common country.









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History of Watertown, Wisconsin