Lt. Col William B Britton
William B Britton name: Britton, William B
aka:   
Rank: Lt. Col 
Branch: Union 
Regiment: 8th Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry
Cemetery: Oakhill Cemetery, Janesville, Rock, Wisconsin 
Sec-plot: 25-2-4 
Service: 6/1/1861 - 9/5/1865
Birth: 1/8/1829 New Jersey
Death: 12/13/1910
Notes: Wounded at the battle of Nashville.

Promotion to Major 12/20/1862, Ltr.Col 1864. His house at 337 N Washington St is still standing. It is in the National Register. 
 
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William B Britton

Prior to the war, W.B. Britton worked for the fire department in Janesville. During the war he sent many letters to the Gazette. By today's standards, many of those letters would be considered as "bragging", however that was standard during the civil war. General James Bintliff, a newspaper man from Monroe, often sent similar letters to the Monroe paper.

Today many would find some of the language offensive, but again, that was the language of the times. Some of his actions however were conduct unbecoming an officer. Like many men who served in wars before and after, the mental toll of war becomes apparent. One stops seeing the enemy as a human being and after the loss of friends, they seek revenge.

Talking of a dead Rebel soldier from Missouri he wrote "I send you a bullet that I took from a dead secesh with my own hands." A "secesh" was a derogatory name for rebels. The Col. stated that the dead rebel was hanging upside down on a fence at the time he removed it. Today, this would be considered, at minimum, conduct unbecoming an officer. The Gazette had a "Secesh Musuem" in its front window and they did add the bullet to their collection.

The language of the day would now be considered offensive by almost everyone but one has to place themselves back a century and a half and remember what was then considered acceptable.

In another letter the Col, a Captain at the time, cleared up a mystery about another soldier who is buried at Oakhill. In a letter to the Gazette, the Col. stated "I got me a $1000 nigger, the smartest and blackest nigger there is in the state, and it suits him to death to be a soldier." He was probably talking about Enoch Taylor who was assigned to Co F of the 49th Colored Infantry. On his pension records, Enoch stated he was attached to the Wisconsin 8th. Trying to prove a black soldier was assigned to an all white unit during the civil war, is almost impossible to do. Even though the language seems terribly improper by today's standards, it does show that at least one of the two black soldiers buried at Oakhill, actually did serve in what was thought to be an all white Regiment.

Enoch was possibly a fugitive salve at the time. His owner, Enoch Taylor of Lawrence Mississippi died a few years prior to the war and his widow Sarah then owned Enoch the slave. It appears that Enoch, along with 38 other slaves were inherited by the Taylorís shortly before Enoch (the owner) died. Pvt. Enoch Taylor, the now free man, and his family moved to Janesville after the war. His son Grant worked as a porter at one of the hotels. Enoch and most of his family are also buried at Oakhill Cemetery.

Janesville Gazette
28 Dec 1865

Col. Britton of the 8th Regiment, has returned to his home in this city, and has donned the citizen dress. He has been four years and four months in the service, and the Regiment has camped in 11 states, marched 15,000 miles, 4,000 which was on foot. It has been in nineteen general engagements, and twenty-one skirmishes, some of which assumed the proportions of battle. No regiment has made a better record, or done more service than the gallant Eighth.


  8th Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry1

Undated article from the WSHS
The first to muster into service was the ''Janesville Guard'', Capt. W.B. Britton, who were assigned to Co. G Sept 4
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JFDS, p. 162 (1861)

On August 12, 1861, Company G (Janesville Fire Zouaves), Eighth Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, Capt. W. B. Britton, left Janesville for Camp Randall. Several members of this company were recruited from the Janesville Fire Department, including Britton, C. P. King, Richard D. Beamish, and William H. Sargent. The company was mustered into service on September 5th for the Civil War and left for the south on October 12th
____

Organized at Madison, Wis., and mustered in September 13, 1861. Left State for St. Louis, Mo., October 12; thence moved to Pilot Knob, Mo., October 14. Expedition to Fredericktown October 17-21. Action at Fredericktown October 21. Expedition against Thompson's Forces November 2-15. Moved to Sulphur Springs November 25, and duty there till January 17, 1862. MOrganized at Madison, Wis., and mustered in September 13, 1861. Left State for St. Louis, Mo., October 12; thence moved to Pilot Knob, Mo., October 14. Expedition to Fredericktown October 17-21. Action at Fredericktown October 21. Expedition against Thompson's Forces November 2-15. Moved to Sulphur Springs November 25, and duty there till January 17, 1862. Moved to Cairo, Ill., January 17, and duty there till March 4. (Co. "K" detached at Mound City till April. Rejoined Regiment April 14, 1862.) Attached to 3rd Brigade, District of Cairo, Ill., January to March, 1862. 1st Brigade, 5th Division, Army of Mississippi, to April, 1862. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, Army of the Mississippi, to April, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Army of the Mississippi, to November, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 8th Division, Left Wing 13th Army Corps (Old), Dept. of the Tennessee, to December, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 8th Division, 16th Army Corps, to April, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 15th Army Corps, to December, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 16th Army Corps, to December, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division Detachment, Army of the Tennessee, Dept. of the Cumberland, to February, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 16th Army Corps (New), Military Division West Mississippi, to September, 1865.

SERVICE.-Operations against New Madrid, Mo., March 6-14, 1862. Siege and capture of Island No. 10 , Mississippi River, March 15-April 8. Expedition to Fort Pillow, Tenn., April 13-17. Moved to Hamburg Landing, Tenn., April 13-22. Advance on and siege of Corinth, Miss., April 29-May 30. Reconnoissance toward Corinth May 8. Action at Farmington May 9. Occupation of Corinth and pursuit to Booneville May 30-June 12. Expedition to Rienzi June 30-July 1. At Camp Clear Creek till August. March to Tuscumbia, Ala., March 18-22. March to Iuka September 8-12. Actions near Iuka September 13-14. Battle of Iuka , September 19. Battle of Corinth, Miss., October 3-4. Pursuit to Ripley October 5-12. Duty at Corinth till November 2. Moved to Grand Junction November 2. Grant's Central Mississippi Campaign. Operations on the Mississippi Central Railroad November 2, 1862, to January 10, 1863. Duty at LaGrange and Germantown, Tenn., January to March, 1863. Moved to Memphis, Tenn., March 14; thence to Young's Point, La., March 29. At Ducksport till May. Movement to join army in rear of Vicksburg, Miss., via Richmond and Grand Gulf May 2-14. Mississippi Springs May 13. Jackson , May 14. Siege of Vicksburg , Miss., May 18-July 4. Assaults on Vicksburg May 19 and 22. Expedition to Mechanicsburg and Satartia June 2-8. Mechanicsburg, Satartia, June 4. Expedition to Richmond June 14-16. Richmond June 15. Advance on Jackson, Miss., July 4-10. Siege of Jackson July 10-17. Camp at Bear Creek till September 26. Expedition to Canton October 14-20. Bogue Chitto Creek October 17. At Big Black River Bridge till November 7. Moved to Memphis, Tenn., November 7-13. Duty there, at LaGrange and at Salisbury till January 27, 1864. Expedition to Pocahontas December 2-4, 1863. Moved to Vicksburg, Miss., January 27-February 3. Meridian Campaign February 3-March 2. Red River Campaign March 10-May 22. Fort De Russy March 14. Occupation of Alexandria March 16. Henderson's Hill March 21. Battle of Pleasant Hill , April 9. About Cloutiersville April 22-24. At Alexandria April 26-May 13. Retreat to Morganza May 13-20. Mansura , May 16. Yellow Bayou , May 18. Moved to Vicksburg, Miss., May 20-22; thence moved to Memphis, Tenn. Old River Lake or Lake Chicot, Ark., June 6. Smith's Expedition to Tupelo, Miss., July 5-21. Camargo's Cross Roads, near Harrisburg, July 13. Tupelo , July 14-15. Smith's Expedition to Oxford, Miss., August 1-30. Abbeville August 23 and 25. Expedition up White River to Brownsville, Ark., September 1-10. Pursuit of Price through Arkansas and Missouri September 17-November 16. Moved to Nashville, Tenn., November 23-December 1. Battle of Nashville , December 15-16. Pursuit of Hood to the Tennessee River December 17-28. Moved to Clifton, Tenn., thence to Eastport, Miss., and duty there till February, 1865. Moved to New Orleans, La., February 6-19. Campaign against Mobile and it. Defences March 17-April 12. Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely March 26-April 8. Assault and capture Fort Blakely , April 9. Occupation of Mobile April 12. March to Montgomery April 13-25. Duty at Montgomery and Uniontown till September. Mustered out at Demopolis, Ala., September 5, 1865.

Regiment lost during service 6 Officers and 53 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 219 Enlisted men by disease. Total 280.

1 Source: National Park Service, Soldiers and Sailors System; "A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion" by Frederick H. Dyer,Cosmas; An Army for Empire : The United States Army in the Spanish American War by A. Graham, (Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing Co., 1993).

 
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