|Fox Lake's Civil War News & Letters
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|Author:||Bill Skillman [ Sun Sep 20, 2009 10:00 am ]|
|Post subject:||Fox Lake's Civil War News & Letters|
A few years ago Jim Boullion, of the Wisconsin Squad, highly recommended the book: Fox Lake's Civil War News & Letters. It is edited by Julie Fleming and published by a grant from the Wisconsin Power and Light Company Foundation, Inc (with help from the Fox Lake Public Library). I don't know if it is still in print but it contains a number of letters by members of the USSS; as well as other contributions by members of the Wisconsin 2nd, 6th and 7th Infantry (Gibbon's Western Brigade-aka the 'New Iron Brigade'), the 23rd WI and others. The book is over 500 pages of text and the index is 50 pages more; featuring the names of the letter's authors and other valuable information. Most of the USSS correspondence in this book is from 'Charlie of Nimrod' or 'Charlie the Nimrod'; who was none other than Charles Augustus Stevens, who served with the Wisconsin Company 'G', First USSS. Most of Steven's letters to the editor were reprinted from the Fox Lake Gazette.
C.A. Stevens eventually became publisher of his own newspaper: the Shakopee Courier of Shakopee, MN-about twenty miles southwest from St. Paul on the south bank of the Minnesota River. By the late 1880's there was increasing interest by the old veterans attending USSS reunions and revisiting battlefields to publish a regimental history. Brevet Maj. Gen. Hiram Berdan had returned from Europe and announced his intention of write the regimental history himself; this was published in many newspapers around the country. Meanwhile, Stevens had just published a small booklet recounting the actions of the 1st USSS at Gettysburg (Skirmishing and Sharpshooting at the Battle of Gettysburg) for limited publication; but was popularly recieved by members of his old regiment.
While I don't know the final details, a committee of former USSS veterans elected C.A. Stevens to serve as editor and writer of what was to become Berdans United States Sharpshooters in the Army of the Potomac. The natty photo of Stevens in the back of the regimental history is the same as appeared in the last edition of the Shakopee Courier; Stevens announcing his retirement and the closing down of the newspaper. You can review all of the Shakopee Courier editions at the Minnesota Archieves in St. Paul.
The little community of Fox Lake still exists. I had the opportunity to visit the small community a few years ago while driving my family to Wisconsin Dells (a popular Midwest tourism and fun park destination). There are a number of the old vets buried in the cemetery there.
I don't know if this book is still available, but you could contact the Fox Lake Public Library to see if copies are still for sale. I have thoroughly enjoyed my copy; it is festooned with dozens of scraps of paper indicating valuable USSS comments by Steven's and his comrades.
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