G.A.R. Post: Oliver Morton Post #10 Snohomish, WA
8th WISCONSIN VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
Organized: 9/6/61 Camp Randall, Madison, WI
Mustered In: 9/13/61
Mustered Out: 9/6/65 Demopolis, AL
Known as the “Eagle Regiment” this three year unit left Wisconsin for the state of Mississippi almost immediately following Federal muster. It was to remain in the War’s western theater throughout its years of existence, participating in actions at Greenville, Island No. 10, Farmington, Corinth, Luka, Henderson’s Hills, Pleasant Hill, Cloutierville, Bayour Lamourie, Atchafala River, Lake Chicot, AR, Jackson, MS Haynes’ Bluefit, Vicksburg, Richmond, AL, and Nashville, TN.
The general commanding at Farmington said, “The badger State may feel proud to have the honor of being represented by so gallant a regiment as the 8th Wisconsin.” Union Gen W.T. Sherman highly complimented the regiment for doing “its whole duty in the camp, on the march and in battle,” for “Peculiar courage and gallantry at Jackson and throughout the siege of Vicksburg,” and for other services.
Original strength of the 8th Wisconsin: 973. Total enrollment: 1,643. Losses by death: 255. Missing: 3. Desertion: 60. Transfer: 41. Discharge: 320. Numbers at final muster: 964.
Residence: Prairie du Chien, WI Age: 21.9 yrs.*
Enlisted/Enrolled: 9/11/61 Prairie du Chien, WI Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 9/17/61
Mustered Out: 9/5/65 Demopolis, AL
Highest Rank: Sgt.
*Note: Francis “Frank” H. Wagner’s obituary noted he was born in 12/20/1839. In the 1880 U.S. census, however, his age is listed as 37. This would give him a birth date circa 1843. As of this writing this discrepancy cannot be explained, but herein 1839 is used as his year of birth.
According to his obituary, Francis H. Wagner was born 12/20/39 to parents Joseph and Anna M. Wagner. The place of birth is unclear, as his military enlistment documents indicate France, while the 1880 US. Census and his obituary reflect Austria/Germany. No additional details are available regarding his birth family, childhood, formative or teenaged years.
Mr. Wagner reportedly came to the United States in 1855. By 1861 he was residing in Wisconsin. Available documents provide no details on his occupation prior to entering the U.S. Army, but he was probably a farmer as this was his listing in post war censuses. In September, 1861 Francis responded to his adopted country’s call to arms and joined Captain Greene’s company of the 8th Wisconsin Infantry. That company was subsequently designated with the letter “F.”
Upon Private Wagner’s enlistment in the military, it appears someone penned his middle initial in such a manner that, in the stylized handwriting of the period, the H looked like the letter X. This error was picked up by company scribes and maintained throughout his army tenure. Mr. Wagner’s period of military service was not without trials and tribulations. First, on 9/13/62, near Iuka, MS he was captured by Rebel forces. He was later exchanged and, following some time spent at Benton Barrack, MO, returned to duty with his company on 1/20/63. Secondly, one database notes that on 6/6/64 he was wounded near Lake Chicot, AR. As military records make no mention of the wounding, it was likely not very serious.
Aside from being captured and wounded, Francis’ military service was decidedly a positive experience as, by March or April of 1863 he had advanced to the rank of corporal. Further, on 11/1/64, after having reenlisted as a veteran volunteer at the beginning of the year, he was promoted to sergeant. Finally, after reenlisting as a veteran volunteer, one source notes him promoted to second lieutenant on 8/24/65, but being mustered out of Federal service before the rank became official.
Post war information on Mr. Wagner is extremely sketchy. It appears that he returned to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin where, on 9/27/65, he married Mary Jane “Cadda” Halce. (b. ca. 1850 Austria). The union produced six children: Lewis/Louis (b. ca. 1867), Mary (b. ca. 1869), Marcus (b.ca 1871), Peter (b/ca/ 1873), Dellia (b/ca/ 1875), and Frank (Jr. b. 1879).
By 1880 the Wagner’s were residing in the Chippewa County community of Bloomer, Wisconsin. Likely, “Cadda” and Frank Jr. died during the early 1880s and Francis/”Frank” remarried. (One of the Wagner girls may also have died along the way as only one is mentioned in Mr. Wagner’s obituary.) This premise is based on several factors. Firstly, post 1880 census information notes his wife’s name as Katherine (b. ca. 1846 Austria). Secondly, a number of years passed between the birth of Frank, Jr. and other Wagner children: William F. (b. 1886) and Frank C. (b. 1887. Thirdly, it is highly unlikely a second Wagner son would be named Frank if Frank Jr. was still living.
When and why the Wagner’s left Wisconsin for the west is not known, but likely it was to be near or reside with adult children. In this vein, the 1920 census noted Frank and Katherine residing in the Snohomish County, WA community of Machias on a dairy farm operated by bachelor son William.
Although over eighty years of age, Frank’s occupation was noted as “farm laborer.” Former Civil War Soldier Francis “Frank” H. Wagner died 6/15/1928 at his son’s home in Machias. At passing he had reached 88 years of age. As Katherine is not mentioned in his obituary, likely she had preceded him in death
Buried at Snohomish G.A.R.
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