The Last Soldier Project: Kenosha County, Wis.|
Charles A. Leonard
Charles A. Leonard’s autobiographical sketch from Ke-Nash-A Club News, Vol. IX, No. 5 - May 1930, reprinted from the May 1927 issue.
"I was born in Onondaga county, New York, August 31, 1838, came to Wisconsin in 1839, was educated in the rural schools of Bristol township and the Kenosha High School, enlisted at South Bristol, April 17, 1861, was a member of Company G, Park City Grays, First Wisconsin Infantry being the first company to offer its services to the Government of Wisconsin and this within 48 hours after the fall of Fort Sumter and in advance of Lincoln’s first call for 75,000 troops. We were mustered in at Milwaukee, being first sworn into service of the United States in the old Court House in Kenosha. Our regiment was under command of Colonel Starkweather; our Captain, Donald C. McVean, was from the Telegraph-Courier printing office. Among others of this company were Myron A. Baker, Phillip Harman, Chas. H. Blood, Michael D. Ernest, Austin P. Wattles and scores of other names familiar to old residents of Kenosha County. We shipped over the Pennsylvania to Hagerstown, Md. On arriving at Harrisburg, while passing through Pennsylvania, President Lincoln and Governor Curtin came out to meet our train and we all shook hands with them. From Hagerstown, Maryland we went to Williamsport on the east bank of the Potomac River.
"As the Park City Grays were a part of the State Militia, we were among the first few soldiers in uniform and equipped with guns and ammunition ready for battle. We formed a part of the troops protecting Washington under General Scott. (By the way, I am the only survivor of the Park City Grays.) I was a member of the first Regiment of General Negley’s Brigade, General Patterson’s Division.
"On July 2, 1861, we crossed the Potomac river into Virginia under protection of General Doubleday’s artillery. In a skirmish the first night I was slightly wounded. We camped on the battlefield and soon were engaged against General Jackson to keep him from forming a junction with the other side. This was before the first battle of Bull run. I was engaged in the battles of Falling Waters, Monocacy, Point of Rocks, Bunker Hill and First Bull Run. Falling Waters is about half way between Williamsport, Md. And Martinsburg, Va., being on a direct line from Hagerstown, Md. to Winchester, Va. The next place beyond Martinsburg is Bunker Hill and then comes Winchester. The battle of Falling Waters took place on July 2m 1861 and the enemy was forced back, retiring to Bunker Hill. We advanced and occupied Martinsburg.
"On July 3rd, the First Wisconsin and eleventh Pennsylvania Regiments were ordered to march back toi Williamsport to convoy over the baggage train of supplies. WE started about 8 a.m., double quick, “Hot” no name for the day. We arrived at our destination in the evening—foot sore and weary—bridges gone, waded the creeks waist high; then when you would step out on those burning hot roads, it would al ost seem as if some unseen agency was at work beneath as well as on the right and left, for our destruction. We made our beds of leaves and evergreens and slept on the banks of the old Potomac for the preservation of the Union. The next day (July 4, 1861) we convoyed the supply train to Martinsburg. After this there was fighting at Monocacy, Point of Rocks, Bunker’s Hill and other places until July 21, 1861, occurred the first battle of Bull run, we were ordered to Balls Bluff, a most important position on the Potomac near Leesburg, Va., where we were stationed and on duty for some time.
"Although enlisted for three months, it was nearly six months before I got my discharge in Milwaukee.
"Under Lincoln’s second call, my brother Elijah D. Jr., and I were drafted, but the Government needed money as well as men so each of us furnished a substitute and paid $300.00."
Charles A. Leonard died in 1942 at the age of 103.
Researched and submitted by PC-in-C Steve Michaels
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Department of Wisconsin