Case Brown Wickham

Case Brown Wickham was born on September 25, 1833, in (probably Crawford County) Ohio, the son of James (1803-1881) and Laura (Argell, 1808-1847).

James and Laura were married in Barry, Orleans County, New York, in 1828. After they were married Case’s parents settled in Crawford County, Ohio, probably in the vicinity of Lykins, where they lived for many years. Laura died in Crawford County, Ohio, in 1847 and James eventually remarried New Hampshire native Susan Richmond (1815-1851).

James moved his family from Ohio sometime between 1843 and 1850 when they were living on a farm in Unadilla, Livingston County where Case was attending school with his siblings (Susan died in Unadilla in 1851). James settled his family in Dewitt but around 1858 he moved to Venice, Shiawassee County. It appears that Case may have remained in Clinton County. By 1860 Case was a farm laborer living with Nathaniel Wyans, a wealthy farmer in Dewitt, Clinton County.

Case was 27 years old and possibly still living in Dewitt when he enlisted as Eighth Corporal in Company G on May 10, 1861. (He was possibly related to Josiah Wickham of Company D). By the first of August of 1861 Case was sick in a hospital with fever. By early September he was still suffering from fever and in the hospital, either in Annapolis, Maryland, or, according to Frank Siverd of Company G, in Columbian College hospital in Washington, DC.

Case eventually recovered his health, returned to the Regiment. On October 26, 1861 he was with the regiment in its camp near Alexandria, Virginia, when wrote to his sister Amanda back home in Michigan. “Dear sister,” he began,

I received your letter of the 18th yesterday and was very glad to heart from you and to hear that you was well. Dyar [his brother Nathaniel D.] received a letter from [another sister] Amelia 2 or 3 days ago. She said they had been having a hard time of it. I wrote to Father and told him if he wanted some money to write and let me know and I would send him some the next pay day which will be in the course of two weeks. You wanted to know why I did not send my likeness. The reason is that I could not get a pass to Washington to get it taken, but now we have moved down the river from Washington below Alexandria 2 miles to Fort Lyon and we expect our pay in a few days and then Dyar and I will have our likenesses taken together and send them to you. You said that when you had your likeness taken that (Frankie) was going to sit with you. You must have her do so by all means for I would like to see the features of a girl that my Dear Sister thinks so much of. I am agoing to have Dyar’s and my likeness taken together to send to Phebe and then I hope that I shall her from her. . . . I stated that we had moved down the river. Alexandria is 8 miles from Washington and we are two miles from Alexandria but Washington is right in plain sight of here. The 5th regiment is encamped right across the road from our camp, and I see Dyar almost every day. He was here yesterday when I received your letter.
Afternoon

I had to quit my writing this forenoon to go on drill. We are here to work on Fort Lyon. It is a very large fort; it covers about 14 acres of ground and is to mount 120 guns. It will take about three months to finish it the engineers say.

There was a battle up the river last Monday and our forces got pretty badly whipped. The fifteenth Massachusetts took 800 men into the field with them and when they got back into camp there was only 400 men left. The enemy drove them into the river and a great many got drowned and a large number got shot while in the water.

There is a great deal of blame attached to the officers for crossing the river and attacking the enemy when they knew that there was about 12 or 15,000 men stationed there and they only took about 2500 troops to attack them.

Gen. McClellan went up there the next day and stayed until night before last. Our pickets bring [in] a secession prisoner almost every day. Our company was out the other day about 12 miles and we brought in two prisoners, a man and a woman – but I must quit writing.

Colonel McConnell of our regiment has resigned and gone home; good for him.

By early December the Third Michigan had settled into quarters in Fort Lyon, near Alexandria. Case wrote to Amanda on December 3.

I seat myself today to answer your kind Epistle, which came to hand on Sunday all safe and sound. Your likeness is just as natural as can be. Oh! How I wish I could see you. I would make those cheeks of yours look redder than when they do now. You would soon wish that tormented fellow was back in Virginia again standing guard or on picket out in the cold and see if he could learn better manners. But you must expect if you ever see me again, to set a rough harum scarum . . . of a fellow ready to go into anything or do anything that presents itself. I shan’t know how to behave myself when I go into company.

I had to stop my writing and go on battalion drill and it was colder than the devil and now the drum has beat for dress parade.

Dress parade is over and we have eaten our supper and now I seat myself by the light of the candle to finish my letter this being the third time I have seated myself today to write this letter.

When I wrote to you some time ago I wrote that there was some chance for us to to go on next fleet [?] down south but we got fooled out of it and now I guess we shall go into Winter Quarters pretty soon either on Eagle Hill or down to Alexandria. We do not know for certain which place we shall go to yet.

Congress convened yesterday in Washington but the President did not deliver his message until today at 12:00 o’clock. We shall get it in the morning paper tomorrow.

Oh! You had ought to be here and see the . . . old men and women, young men, young women, boys and girls, darkies and wenches, Dutchmen, Frenchmen, Irishmen, Jews, Yankees and every body else you can think of (yes indeed).

I wrote an answer last Sunday to that big family letter that I received from Dewitt the day that I received one from you. Banty [?] has got the cat in his arms and he is raising perfect h____ trying to bother us.

J. E. & G. W. & W. H. Davis and O. C. Ingersoll send their respects to you in return for yours. They stay in the same tent with me. They are pretty good boys and we have some tall times once in a while. I had to show your likeness to all of the boys in the company. They said they did not see how I could have so good-looking sister when I was so devilish homely. I tell them that all of our folks are good looking but me.

Tell Mr. Jennings that I thank him for his letter and will answer it when I get time. They are playing on a violin, banjo, tambourine and castanets in Co. B just about 20 feet from me where I am writing. They are plating an almighty good dancing tune and my pen keeps time to it and so I cannot tell half of the time what I am writing.

I wrote a letter to father today and sent him eight dollars in money. We did calculate to send him about 20 dollars but we had to buy us some boots and shorts and a number of other things to make ourselves comfortable this winter and we have got to get our likenesses taken just as soon as I can get to town. Dyar is going down tomorrow. I do not know when I shall go down again. They won’t let only one go a day from a company now.

My respects to all and my love to you. Be sure and write every week.

Later in December the Regiment went into its permanent winter quarters at “Camp Michigan.” On Saturday evening, December 21, Case wrote home to his father, brother and sister.

I seat myself this evening to answer your kind letter which I received this evening, and was very glad indeed to hear from you, but was sorry to hear that Lew was not getting better. And was very much disappointed in not receiving an answer from that draft which Dyar sent to you some time since. I put a draft of $8.00 in a letter and sent [it] to Father. Dyar wanted him to pay Uncle Harry $2 dollars out of it, and use the rest himself but I suppose it has slipped into somebody else’s pocket. I received a letter from Amanda this afternoon, she said that she had received a letter from me containing Dyar’s & my likenesses, which I sent at about the same time I sent that money. Amanda says our likenesses look as natural as life, she seemed very much pleased with them. I got a letter from Wesley last Wednesday; he said that they had a good deal of fun, but he does not seem to like their field officers. He says that they are the damndest set of fools that he ever saw, but he has not been through the mill yet, but he must wait until he has been in the service as long as I have and he will learn a great deal by that time, that he never knew before, at least that has been my experience. I wrote an answer to his letter yesterday. I told Wesley that he might send that letter to Phebe if he was a mind to and if she would write a letter to me and let me know whether she wanted our likenesses or not, and if she did to say so, we would have them taken and send them to her. But I do not know as she will write to me; she never has. There has been considerable excitement here for a week or two, the rebels have been crowding up on our pickets, they killed 4 of the New York 38th boys on one post about 4 1/2 miles from here night before last and they came up to one of the posts where some of the 2nd Michigan boys were a night or two before they (killed those NY boys) and fired on the boys. They shot two balls through one of the boys overcoat, blouse and shirt and never touched his hide. They returned the fire and then run; the rebels got their knapsacks and blankets and then went back. I shall go out on picket on Monday [December 23] and I hope they will have the kindness to come and pay us a visit while we are there, as I have not had the honor of seeing much of them since the Bull Run affair.

Oh I forgot Russell Braly was up to see me two weeks ago tomorrow. He was sutler in the 4th Regt. Mich. Infantry but he sold out that week before he came up to see Dyar & me, he calculated to start for Michigan last Monday he said that he should be gone about two weeks. He is coming back and going into business in Washington. He says he enlisted to go through the war some way and he says that he is going to do it some way. He sold out his mill there to Hudson on Monday and came away with the regiment Friday.

Dyar is well and hearty as a buck but I must stop writing for the drums are beating for tattoo and I must go to roll call so good bye. CB Wickham. [to] J Wickham ES Tyler

The very next day, Sunday, December 22, Case wrote to Amanda:

I seat myself on this Sabbath day to answer your long-looked-for letter which came to hand yesterday and I was very glad to find out among your many correspondents that you have not forgotten your unworthy brother. I also received a letter from Amelia. She said that they were all well except Lew. He does not appear to get along very well. He has been unwell a good while. When she wrote they had not received that money that we sent home. At least she did not say anything about it. I am afraid that it is lost. If it is we will not grumble. I received a letter from Wesley last Wednesday and answered it on Friday. He wrote that he was well but that he had not been home for two months, although he is within 20 [?] miles of home. He said that John was there to see him the week before he wrote to me. Dyar has got well again and is getting as tough as a bear and as for myself they can’t kill me with a meat ax, and the seccesh bullet is not molded yet that is to kill me. And there is not a rebel in the Southern Army that can take true enough aim to hit me. But enough of this blowing. The rebels did come up to our picket lines the other night and killed 4 of the New York 38th boys and the night before that they came up to where the 2nd Michigan boys were on picket and fired upon them and shot two balls through his [a member of the 4th] overcoat and blouse & short and never touched his skin. The 2nd boys returned the fire and then run. The rebels got their knapsacks and blankets and then sent back. I am going out tomorrow or next day and try my luck. We go out and stay three days and then are relieved by another brigade. We have some very good times out on picket. That is pretty exciting times. We have to keep a pretty good look out and not be caught napping. You will need not be surprised if you hear of a desperate battle here on the Potomac within a short time, and if you do hear of one, you will also hear of a splendid victory. Kit complains that she does not hear anything from you. She says she has not heard from you in a great while. She is teaching school in Alexander district ___. Celia Scott is teaching down south by the old Frenchman’s.

Write soon and if any of the girls are there with you just get them to help you if you cannot think of enough without [help]. If I get time sometime maybe I will write a composition.

Less than a week later, on December 28, Case wrote to his father, brother and sister back in Michigan.

I seat myself this evening to answer your kind letter which I received this evening and was very glad indeed to hear from your, but was sorry to hear that Lew [?] was not getting better and was very much disappointed in not receiving an answer from that draft which Dyar sent to you sometime since. I put a draft of $8 dollars in a letter and sent to Father. Dyar wanted him to pay Uncle Harry $2 dollars out of it and use the rest himself but I suppose that it has slipped into somebody’s pocket.

I received a letter from [his sister] Amanda this afternoon. She said that she had received a letter from me containing Dyar’s & my likenesses, which I sent about the same time that I sent that money. Amanda says that our likeness look just as natural as life. She seemed very much pleased with them. I got a letter from [his brother] Wesley last Wednesday. He said that they had a good deal of fun but he does not seem to like their field officers. He says that they are the damndest set of fools that he ever saw but he has not been through the mill yet, but he must wait until he has been in the service as long as I have and he will learn a great deal by that time that he never knew before, at least that has been my experience. I wrote an answer to his letter yesterday . . . I told Wesley that he might send that letter to Phebe if he was a mind to, and if she would write a letter to me and let me know whether she wanted our likenesses or now, and if she did to say so. We would have them taken and send them to here. But I do not know as she will write to me. She never has.

There has been considerable excitement here for a week or two; the rebels have been crowding up on our pickets. They killed 4 of the New York 38th boys on one post about 4 1/2 miles form here night before last, and they came up to one of the posts where some of the 2nd Michigan boys were a night or two before they killed those NY boys and fired on the [Michigan] boys. They shot two balls through of the boys overcoats, blouse and short and never touched his hide. They returned the fire and then run; the rebels got their knapsacks and blankets and then went back. I shall go out on picket on Monday and I hope they will have the kindness to come and pay us a visit while we are there, as I have not had the honor of seeing much of them since the Bull Run affair.

Oh: I like to forget. Russel Braly was up to see me two weeks ago tomorrow. He was sutler in the 4th Regt. Mich Infantry but he sold out that week before he came up to see Dyar and me, He calculated to start for Michigan last Monday. He said that he should be gone about two weeks. He is coming back and going into business in Washington. He says that he enlisted to go through the war some way and he says that he is going to do it someway. He sold out his mill in Hudson on Monday and come away with the regiment on Friday.

Dyar is well and healthy as a buck. But I must stop this writing for the drums are beating for tattoo and I must go to roll call. So good-bye. C. B. Wickham.

On the “Sabbath morn,” January 5, 1862, Case wrote to Amanda, from Fairfax County, Virginia.

I take my pen in hand this morning to answer your letter which I received night before last. I received one from Kit the same night. She says that she saw me up to Master Winans the other day and she thought that I was agoing to shoot her but I did not do it. She said that I looked just as natural as life. I wrote to her that I wanted her likeness and she said that if I would send her mine that I should certainly have hers. I wrote to her that you thought she had forgotten her but she says she has not, that she wrote you the last letter but she was agoing to write you another right away. {I can’t write today) My hand trembles so that I can’t follow the lines. Dyar is here reading your letter. He has not received one from you yet. He says ______ about that money that we sent home. We shall get our pay again in a few days. We had pretty good times here New year’s. We did not have to drill nor go on fatigue but could not leave camp for we expected to be called to arms. We expected the rebels to make an attack on our pickets. They shot one of the Lieutenants of the fifth [Michigan] regt – Dennison by name. He lived near Corunna. One ball hit him in the mouth and come out near his ear and went through his coat collar. One of the cavalrymen got hit in the thigh. The cavalrymen and the 5th scouts were in a deep ravine and the riders were covered with thick pines and the rebels were in ambush there in the pines. They were so close to our men that when they fired that they set one of the cavalrymen’s coats on fire. Our men jumped from their horses and charged on them. They chased them out of the woods. They did not know how many they killed but the next day the reb field officer of the day was up there and he says that there was six new graves there at Pohick Church.

Sunday evening. I will try and finish this mess of scribbling now. I was so nervous and uneasy today that I could not write. The pickets brought in nine rebel deserters today from the secession army. They tell a pretty hard story. They say that they do not get enough to eat, and they are so poorly clothed that they almost freeze. They have not got blankets enough to keep them warm and their clothes are almost worn out.

The expectations here in Camp now are that we shall make a forward movement pretty soon to cooperate with Gen. Burnside’s expedition. I think we shall attack Occoquan where they have got between 40,000 & 50,000 troops stationed. If we attack and sent them from here it will clear the Potomac from the rebel blockade and the rebels will either have to retreat back to Richmond or run the risk of being outflanked or surrounded by the federal army. At any rate I think there will be some fun pretty soon.

Those deserters say that the soldiers in the secession army quarrel about going out on picket, each one wants the other to go. But it is different here. Every man wants to go on picket and the only way to get along is to detail such a number every time to go.

But I must stop writing. I want you to be punctual about writing for I am not the only one that looks forward with pleasure to the day when we expect a letter from you. Billy Davis asks me every Thursday if I have got a letter from Amanda and if I have not he is just as much disappointed as I be. He says that he never saw you but he knows that you are a brick.

Case was killed in action on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia.

On June 3, 1862, Homer Thayer of Company G wrote that during the action at Fair Oaks out of the company “Sergt. Chas. T. Foster, the Color Sergt. of the Regiment was the first to fall. He was bravely holding the colors, and by his coolness and courage, doing much to encourage the boys to press on. Orderly E. F. [Frank] Siverd was soon after wounded, but still did his duty and urged his comrades on. Soon after this Corporals Case B. Wickham, John Blanchard and Nathaniel T. Atkinson, and privates Samuel Dowell and Charles T. Gaskill received fatal shots. Atkinson and Dowell were brought from the field before they died. All have been buried, and their resting places marked with aboard giving the name, company and Regiment.”

Case was presumably reinterred among the unknown soldiers buried in Seven Pines National Cemetery.

In 1870 his father was the postmaster in Oneida, Eaton County. By 1872 he was living in Vernon, Shiawassee County when he applied for a dependent father’s pension (no. 199886), but the certificate was never granted.