William B. Wilcoxson papers  1862-1865
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Wilcoxson, William B.

Rank : Private

Regiment : 2nd Connecticut Light Artillery Battery (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 September 10-1865 August 9

William B. Wilcoxson was a young man from Stratford, Conn., who enlisted as a private in the 2nd Connecticut Light Artillery Battery in September, 1862. This unit saw little action during its assignments at Washington, D.C., and Wolf Run Shoals, Va., however in July, 1863, they were rushed to the battlefield at Gettysburg as reinforcements. Under General Stannard's command, the 2nd Battery was sent to the middle of the lines along Cemetery Ridge, and took part in a fierce artillery exchange throughout the third day of the battle. Though, remarkably, his battery suffered only three casualties during the battle, Wilcoxson's baptism by fire left a strong impression on him. Speaking of a friend at home who was thinking of enlisting, he wrote "I think [Mr. Newton] would find it mutch plesanter a Mowing grass and geting in to a Bumble Bees nest than he would on the Battle Field the Singing of a Bumble Bee is mutch Plesanter than the Singin of Minnie Rifle Balls & Cannons Balls and if one gets Stung with one of them it is more apt to hurt him ... I cannot Say that I did enjoy the Forth very mutch on the Battle Field of Gettysburg" (1863 July 26).

After Gettysburg, the battery moved to Frederick City, Md., before being reassigned to Washington. During these movements, Wilcoxson fell out from fatigue and the effects of chronic diarrhea and sunstroke, and was sent to the U.S. General Hospital at Annapolis, where he remained from mid-July until December. During his stay, Wilcoxson was well enough to act as an orderly on occasion, though he eventually quit, stating that he disliked the work and thought that it was "not Healthy to be around Sick people all the time." He nevertheless considered the hospital to be unusually clean and well run, and was impressed with the quality and kindness of the doctors and nurses. The hospital was situated near the camp for prisoners of war paroled from Richmond, and as a result, Wilcoxson frequently witnessed the spectacle of cadaverous soldiers disembarking from parole boats: "[T]hey were the hardest looking set of men that I ever see they were nothing but living skeletons they were Starved to deth by the Rebs a good many of them were to weak to walk and had to be carred on Streatchers...it was enough to makes ones Blood run coald to see the poor fellows as they come of from the Boat. I think that the curse of the Almighty will be on the Rebs for treating our men in the way that they do it seems to be a part of there plan to Starve our men to Death" (1863 November 8).

The 2nd Connecticut Artillery was ordered to Louisiana early in 1864, and, though Wilcoxson was well enough to accompany his regiment south, he was hospitalized again in April, spending at least two months at the Marine Hospital in New Orleans, and a third time, from January to May, 1865, at the St. Louis Hospital, New Orleans. Wilcoxson was present, in the hospital, when Richmond and Mobile fell and when Lincoln was assassinated, witnessing the varied reactions of the citizens of New Orleans to the news. He mustered out with the Battery in August, 1865.