5th Regiment of Wisconsin Infantry

Descendants Association

Soldier's Notes


Private Henry Deuster, Company C - The Deuster family was from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin which is a near western suburb of Milwaukee. The Deusters were the maternal ancestors of my grand- father Clarence Dillmann. Henry Deuster and my great- great grandfather, PJ Deuster, were cousins. Henry enlisted in the 5th Wisconsin right after the attack on Fort Sumter and served until the end of the war. He took part in the Peninsula Campaign; and arrived at Gettysburg on July 2nd with the 6th Corps where they went into reserve in order to bolster the Union left-center. The 5th was stationed on Big Round Top on July 3rd and would have had a birds-eye view of both Pickett's Charge and Farnsworth's failed cavalry charge in the late afternoon of July 3rd down Plum Run Valley which was intended to turn the far Confederate right of Hood's Division.

Henry Deuster then took part in the attack at Rappahannock Station on November 7, 1863. Interestingly, the attack at Rappahannock Station was later used as a model for Upton's Charge at Spotsylvania. Henry was wounded at Rappahannock Station, and 6 months later was again wounded at the Wilderness on May 5, 1864 and 5 days later while taking part in Upton's Charge, where the 5th was one of 12 regiments that spearheaded the assault on the Angle. If the assault had been properly supported, the Confederate position would have probably been shattered and the sledgehammer attack by Hancock's Corps on the Angle on May 12th would not have been necessary and that slaughter averted.

Henry must have been seriously wounded at the Wilderness/ Spotsylvania, for he spent many months thereafter in a hospital in Harrisburg, PA. He was not present at the Breakthrough at Petersburg on April 2, 1865, but interestingly my great-great grandfather, P.J. Deuster, was as a member of the 37th Wisconsin in Parke's Ninth

Corps attack on the far eastern side of Petersburg. Much desperate fighting on that side of the assault, with continued counterattacks by Gordon that nearly drove the Ninth Corps out of the captured fortifications. Truly a fascinating period in our country's history.

I often wonder what it would have been like to sit up on Big Round Top and watch Pickett's Charge unfold in the valley between Seminary and Cemetery Ridges. Or to experience the smoke, fire, and combat of the Wilderness;  the exhilaration of temporarily breaking the Confederate position at the Angle during Upton's Charge; or to tenaciously hold on to the trenches at Petersburg during repeated Confederate counterattacks. The more that I read about Civil War combat, though, the more that I believe that it was experiencing a whirlwind of terror. Both Deusters were small men (5’ 5” or 5’ 6”) and must have been truly overwhelmed by what was going on around them. Mentally they would have been profoundly changed men after the War. Ed Sweeney, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Private Conrad Goeller served in Companies C and D of the 5th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment during almost the entire war. He was wounded in the left thigh at the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6, 1864 in Saunders field and was taken to Chandler Tavern, which became a field hospital. He was mustered out in June of 1865 and is buried at the veterans home in Milwaukee

On 10 May 1861, Willard B. Ward, age of 22 years, enlisted at Waukasha, Wisconsin.  He was mustered into Company F as a private soldier on 12 July 1861 at Madison, Wisconsin.  Private Ward was stationed in April and May 1862 near Lee’s Mill, Virginia and at Yorktown and Williamsburg. After doing picket duty in swamp water to the level of his ankles, he noted open sores, which were pruritic, and varicose veins with swelling in both legs beginning about 15 May 1862. He experienced generalized weakness to such a degree that other soldiers carried his knapsack for him. Additionally, he developed diarrhea and scurvy from a diet of hardtack and pork-belly during this period. As the regimental hospital was full, he remained in his tent.  He is listed as having been wounded slightly at the battle of Williamsburg.  At the battle of Rappahanock Station on 7 November 1863, he was wounded a second time by a shell fragment striking him in the area of the two lowest ribs on the left side.  This was listed as a “contusion” of the left side and Ward was hospitalized for seven months at Finley Hospital, Washington D.C.  He was discharged in late July of 1864.

Corporal Jacob Cochems, Company A, died at the Battle of Williamsburg.

Private William McClure of Fairplay, Wisconsin enlisted as a private in Company E on 27 June 1861. He received a disability discharge on 17 November 1862 and became a member of GAR Post #25 Farragut in Lincoln Nebraska.

Private Frederick Breitnader, Company K, was wounded at Fredericksburg, Virginia on May 3, 1863.

Corporal John J. Cosat, Company I, enlisted 14 July 1864 at Broadhead, Wisconsin and mustered out in July of 1865 at Washington D.C. He was one of six- man squad that captured Gen. Richard Ewell at Sailor's Creek, Virginia on 5 April 1865.

Private John O. Anderson, Company I, enlisted in the Union Army on February 12, 1862 at Lancaster, Wisconsin. By order of General King, he was immediately assigned to Company G of the 7th Wisconsin, training and then fighting with them until December 22, 1862 when he was reassigned back to Company I of the 5th Wisconsin. In his service with both regiments he was wounded several times and was made a prisoner of war at Second Bull Run while with the 7th Wisconsin (paroled after approximately one month). From January of 1863, he fought in every battle of the 5th Wisconsin including the celebrated charge at Marye’s Heights as part of the Light Division when he was wounded in the breast by a spent ball. On May 12, 1864, at the Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania, during the Sixth Corps charge, he sustained a gunshot wound to his left hand resulting in the loss of one of his fingers. He could have left the army, but instead reenlisted in the summer of 1864 and was assigned as a Veteran Volunteer in Company B of the 5th Wisconsin Veteran Volunteers (reorganized). He finished out the war as a mounted courier for Sixth Corps Headquarters and was discharged on May 17, 1865 at Wilsons Station, Virginia. Post war, he settled in Dunnell, Minnesota where he joined the South West Minnesota Grand Army of the Republic. He passed away on December 12, 1932.

Privates Samuel and Andrew Peterson, Company B, were immigrant Norwegians. The brothers enlisted in 1861 and both were honorably discharged when the regiment was disbanded.



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