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The following two letters were written by 17 year old Private M. E. Wescott to his mother in Farmington, Wisconsin. Ebenezer and his school friend, Samuel McClements, decided one day to wag school, run away and join a Wisconsin regiment (and must have lied about their ages to enlist without parental permission.) Briefly at Camp Randall, the two lads were soon underway with their regiment, bound for St. Louis. But, while the rest of the regiment went into camp at Benton Barracks, Company E boarded the steamer Imperial, departed St. Louis end of March, and arrived at Pittsburg Landing about four days later.

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References:  https://archive.org/details/civilwarletters100wesc/page/n2   Civil War Letters by M. Ebenezer Wescott 

https://archive.org/details/rosterofwisconsi02wisco/page/64  Roster of Wisconsin Regiments

https://digital.shsmo.org/digital/collection/dmr/id/15002/rec/3165  Daily Missouri Republican of 29 MAR 1862 reporting departure of steamer Imperial

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The following link provides depictions of the Battle Flags of the 17th Wisconsin Infantry:

http://www.wisconsinbattleflags.com/units-flags/17th-wisconsin.php  "Forward: Wisconsin's Civil War Battle Flags."

It is recorded that the 17th Wisconsin (also known as Wisconsin Irish Brigade) went into battle displaying three flags: a blue Wisconsin-focus Regimental flag, a National Flag (similar to the one depicted on the above site, showing 17th Wisconsin Veteran Volunteer Infantry) and a green flag (similar to the Company B flag) thus:

http://www.loeser.us/flags/civil-irish.html  [at Historical Flag site, scroll down to 17th Wisconsin Infantry.]

Which of the above flags were present at Battle of Shiloh? 

None of the above (because the Regimental flags remained with the color company; or with "the largest portion of the regiment" ...which was in transit from Wisconsin to St. Louis.) It is likely that Company E (and perhaps Company H) brought their Company Flags to Pittsburg Landing; and these probably resembled the Company B flag.

[The following tune provided by Pomerodia on YouTube]:

 

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17th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, aka "The Wisconsin Irish Brigade"

The 17th Wisconsin, consisting of a majority of men with Irish Last names, began forming at the end of 1861. (One man who intended to join the regiment as Quartermaster with rank of Second Lieutenant was Thomas Reynolds; but there were prolonged delays, and an opportunity presented that caused Reynolds to transfer to the 16th Wisconsin and be rewarded with rank of Major.) On 15 March 1862 the 17th Regiment was mustered into service at Camp Randall… but immediately, there was a problem: the newly mustered soldiers believed they were entitled to pay for enlisting; and they refused to leave Camp Randall until that pay was received. Colonel Doran talked to his men; and then Governor Harvey talked to the men; and over the course of three days, convinced them that the money owing would be paid in St. Louis. Whiskey flowed freely, and it appears the 17th Wisconsin made its way to St. Louis in dribs and drabs: about 400 in the first group, then 150 in the second group, and the final “mutineers” (upon learning that Mulligan’s Regiment was on its way from Chicago “to deal with them”) gave up their struggle and boarded the cars for St. Louis. During the delayed departure, a barracks burned on March 19th, killing one private outright (and another soldier died of his injuries shortly afterwards.) It appears the first elements of the 17th Wisconsin began arriving at St. Louis on March 25th 1862.

The men of Company E were on hand March 26th and were assigned detached duty from the straggling 17th Wisconsin on board the steamer, Imperial. The relatively new paddle steamer appears to have arrived at St. Louis on March 25 or 26, but Imperial did not leave until March 28th. And this “lingering about St. Louis” tends to indicate “special cargo” (either provisions, ammunition, beef cattle or mules or wagons.) The men of Company E (and possibly Company H, as well) stopped at Cairo; was manifested to stop at Paducah; and arrived at Pittsburg Landing before April 3rd. If the cargo was mules or beef cattle, those may have been unloaded at the holding pen at Metal Landing, just south of Fort Henry. Any other cargo was likely transported to Pittsburg Landing (and the men of the 17th Wisconsin, Company E (and possibly Company H) unloaded that cargo there. The Imperial departed, and is reported as having arrived at St. Louis by April 8th (only to depart again on April 9th for service back at Pittsburg Landing as Hospital Boat.)

The men on detached service from the 17th Wisconsin are recorded as joining the Second Division (McArthur’s Brigade) and were likely present during the Battle of Shiloh. But there is no evidence of “how active” were the contributions provided by Companies E or H in the fight of April 6 or 7. First problem: there are no casualties recorded. Only Private Ebenezer Wescott’s letters indicate limited participation by “some men” of the 17th Wisconsin (possibly in conjunction with McArthur’s force, or perhaps attached to the 16th Wisconsin in vicinity of the Hornet’s Nest); and if so engaged, that 17th Wisconsin contribution was led by First Lieutenant James McDermott Roe. The Captain of Company E (John McGowan) disappeared during the Battle of Shiloh… as did a number of men of the Companies E and H (two from Co. E and five from Co. H are recorded as deserters at this time.) Captain McGowan eventually turned up, but he subsequently resigned his commission in July 1862, changed his name to McGourin, and lived quietly in Washington State until his death in 1900.

Meanwhile, Colonel Doran and the bulk of his 17th Wisconsin arrived at St. Louis and went into camp at Benton Barracks until about 10 April 1862. Transported to Pittsburg Landing by middle of April, the Regiment joined the Sixth Division (BGen McKean) and Colonel Doran took command of the 1st Brigade (Peabody’s Brigade.) Attached to the 1st Brigade were the 16th Wisconsin, 17th Wisconsin, 21st Missouri and 25th Missouri.  LtCol Adam Malloy took command of the 17th Wisconsin in Colonel Doran’s absence. And the Wisconsin Irish Brigade joined the Siege of Corinth.

References:   http://genealogytrails.com/wis/military/cw/17thWIInfReg.html  17th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry rosters and casualty records

http://content.wisconsinhistory.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/quiner/id/18036/show/17678/rec/75  Quiner's Scrapbooks (pages 25 - 35)

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/50481045/john-mcgourin  Captain John "McGowan" McGourin at find-a-grave

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/43664851/james-mcdermott-roe  Then- Lieutenant James McDermott Roe of Company E 17th Wisconsin who is credited by M. Ebenezer Wescott with "leading Company E at Battle of Shiloh." Roe was promoted to Captain, and was wounded at Vicksburg. When his term of service with the 17th Wisconsin expired, he joined the newly-organized 189th Ohio Infantry as Lieutenant Colonel.

 

 

 

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