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Both Newton and Wilcox were at the protracted 1863 Court Martial of Col. Silas Baldwin of the 57th Illinois. Newton was a witness for the prosecution and Col John S Wilcox was a member of the Court, which convicted Baldwin.

A Newton letter confirms that Wilcox went to Chicago on orders from Halleck just prior to the battle at Pittsburg Landing. Newton sent a letter home with Wilcox, apparently. Wilcox had testified at the proceeding involving fraud over a rations contract that involved the 52nd's Col Wilson and his QM Charles Wells.. After letters lauding Wilson from Illinois politicians were received by the Federal Judge (Drummond) Wilson's indictment by a Federal Grand Jury was quashed in 1863. Wilcox was not convinced that Wilson was innocent and began an unsuccessful petition to get Judge Wilson taken off the Illinois Bench. Wilson was also involved is some shenanigans over the purchase of horses. Wilson was the father of Edmund Beecher Wilson, author of The Cell and a ground breaking biologist and geneticist.

BTW, John Wilcox's (14 years) older brother Silvanus had been Halleck's room mate at West Point but resigned over ill health. Silvanus returned to Elgin where he had been Wilson's law partner (briefly).  Silvanus ran into Halleck at the Planter's Hotel in St. Louis in late 1861. Halleck reportedly exclaimed: "Wilcox I thought you were dead."

Did Wilcox miss the fun at Shiloh because of all this? No wonder no one bothered to pile up some logs or entrench, they were too busy with internecine warfare to bother about the Rebs.


ps: I posted some of this a while back in this thread.

Rations_fraud_Wilson_Wells_Wilcox 26 Nov 1861 Chicago Tribune part 1 of 2 Entire page from LOC.pdf Wilson Wells Trial in Federal Court motion to quash indictment.pdf Wilcox_petition_to_remove_Wilson_from_the_Bench (1).pdf Isaac_Wilson_C_B__Wells_Case_nolle_prosequi_by_District_Attorney.pdf

Edited by Rbn3
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Thanks for posting these Newton letters. The experience of the 52nd Illinois on April 6 needs to be better understood. I think their retreat late in the afternoon is a key reason the Union lines collapsed when it did. The lack of discussion of the regiment in the battle's after action reports (at least among those published) is curious.

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Also, where exactly does the story of Stark being hit by a tree limb come from?



Barto to Sister, April 27, 1862, Alphonso Barto, folder 1; With Colonel Sweeny in command of the Brigade, and Lieutenant Colonel Wilcox gone to “Chicago on business,” Major Henry Stark became the acting regimental commander, and Barto--as senior captain--acting major and second in command. This is just the beginning of the disarray in regimental leadership that would result in both “the company captains act[ed] in concert” and no one being in command to write an after-action report; Philander to Editor, April 5, 1862, James Compton Biographical Folder C-33; Davis, 41.

The Barto letter should be in the Abraham Lincoln Library (they have a ton of stuff).  Where though does "Philander to Editor, April 5, 1862, James Compton Biographical Folder" come from?

Both should go a long way towards explaing what went wrong on in the 52nd Illinois, and why they fled when Cleburne's shot up brigade attacked in their vicinity.

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The 52nd suffered a "crisis of command" it seems because of a series of events. Sweeney was promoted, Wilcox was gone to Chicago (still not sure what the "business" was that caused Halleck to order him there, but maybe a court martial?) Stark more or less disappeared early. No field grade officer remained to write a report. 

"Charles D. Tewksbury draft memoir transcription, Fifty-Second Illinois Folder: 3, for his wounding “in the early part of the engagement by a falling limb” story. Philander to Editor, April 9, 1862, for account of “wound from a shell early in the day;” Historical Memoranda, 5, details “Stark commanding until 3:30 PM” when “Bowen assumed command in obedience to [Sweeny’s] orders,” and leaves it at that."


Stark Major Henry Theiste A CHANCE TO LEAVE MY CARCASS ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE 52 Illinois at Shiloh.pdf

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