7th Wisconsin Volunteers, Company D
"Stoughton Light Guard"
Stoughton has a strong history of military service beginning with the participation of Stoughton residents in the Civil War. In 1861 when President Lincoln issued the call for Union volunteers, men from Stoughton and the surrounding area came to Stoughton to enlist in the army. Muster rolls list men from Dunkirk, Rutland, Dunn and Stoughton.
By early September 1861, Company D of the 7th Wisconsin Volunteers, known as the Stoughton Light Guard was "present in force" for training at Camp Randall in Madison. After less than three weeks of training, they left by train for Washington D.C. making a brief stop in Stoughton to say farewell to loved ones.
The 7th Wisconsin Volunteers were combined with the 2nd and 6th Wisconsin, the 19th Indiana and the 24th Michigan to from a brigade that would become famous as the "Iron Brigade". This brigade saw their first battle action in August 1862 at the battle of Gainsville, VA (Brawner's Farm) where they earned their recognition as fierce fighters and their new name.
This excerpt from a letter by John Hunt, a farmer from Rutland, Wisconsin was written to his wife three days after the Battle of Gainesville. He was a member of Company D, 7th Wisconsin and later was captured held prisoner at the notorious Libby Prison, contracted Typhoid Fever and died about October 18, 1863. *For more information on John Hunt see below.
August 31, 1862
I now write a line to tell you that I am among the living yet and well as ever, only some tired out. We have fought that is our Brigade, the hardest Battle of its Duration, I think of the whole war. Our Co. lost half of its men in killed and wounded and missing but thank God I am among the spared. Emery is killed I think. Marble Hanes and Elizah Marsh, wounded. 6 on my right and 5 on my left were cut down, but we never flinched but stood like a stone wall for an hour and a half, till the Rebels charged on us, and my God how they fell; they were obliged to run and we gained the day.
The Stoughton Light Guard went on to fight in some of the most famous battles of the Civil War; Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Appamattox suffering proportionally more casualties than any other brigade in the Civil War.
A "Black Hat" of the Wis. 7th, Company D from our collection
Click here for a listing of members of the Stoughton Light Guard
Click here for excerpts from Flags of the Iron Brigade by Howard Michael Madaus
* John Hunt was born in Hilgay, England on November 10, 1836 and came to America in the Spring of 1839 finally settling in Rutland, Wisconsin on August 12, 1846. He married Mary Carrison, also of England in 1859. Their only child, James William Hunt, was born on December 17, 1860. John Hunt enlisted in the U.S. Army early in 1861 and was trained at Camp Randall, Madison, WI until September 21, 1861 when he and others were sent by train to Washington D.C. where they joined the Army of the Potomac. John Hunt wrote many letters home to his wife but sadly, died of typhoid fever in a prisoner of war camp. He is buried at Riverside Cemetery in Stoughton, WI. The Stoughton Historical Museum has transcripts of John Hunt's letters on display in the Civil War section of the museum thanks to the generosity of George and Kathy Thode.