On May 7, 1862, General George B. McClellan reviewed and spoke to the men of the 5th Wisconsin, who two days before had helped win the Battle of Williamsburg. Since the 2d Wisconsin fought at First Manassas, this was the most prominent Badger action in Virginia, and would not be passed until August 1862.
McClellan’s words registered as significant enough to the men to be reproduced in full in E.B. Quiner’s Wisconsin in the War for the Union:
My lads, I have come to thank you for the bravery and discipline which you displayed the other day. On that day, you won laurels of which you may well be proud – not only you, but the army, the State, and the country to which you belong. Through you we won the day, and ‘Williamsburg’ shall be inscribed upon your banner. I cannot thank you too much, and I am sure the reputation your gallantry has already achieved, will always be maintained.”
These are stirring words. But consider what it says about what General McClellan prioritizes as a leader and the culture of the Army of the Potomac. The fact that McClellan had a parade to give a speech, in the midst of an active campaign toward Richmond, is significant. I have blogged before about the Army of the Potomac’s culture, and in events like this you can see it being expressed.