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Colonel Spiegel’s Address to the 120th Reg.

I have to day been informed that some soldiers of this Regiment have, at different times, expressed sentiments disloyal and unbecoming a soldier of the Union Army, when about the Sutler shop of the Ninety-sixth Indiana; saying that if the Regiment should ever have to go into another engagement, not half of the men would fire a gun for this d—d abolition war, &c. When I heard it I thought it almost impossible, that any soldier of the gallant 120th Regiment, which so nobly stood up at the battles of Vicksburg and Post Arkansas, to defend the old flag, where every heart swelled with pride; when they saw the stars and stripes first planted by the 120th, wave so proudly, succeeding the traitorous rag on the stubborn ramparts of Post Arkansas, could make use of language disgraceful to the Regiment, disloyal to the country, and productive of evil only to the good cause, for which we are enlisted. If there is one man in the Regiment who would refuse to shoot at a rebel, in an engagement, let him step three paces to the front in order that he can be marked as a coward and receive the reward of a traitor. Such talk: will only strengthen the rebels, disgrace the Regiment, and further defer that, for which we are all longing, an honorable Peace. If any of us differ with the acts and doings of parties at home, and policy of the administration, let us hope that those at home, who have nothing to do, will see to that. What ever is wrong will in time, by the American people, be righted. Ours is the proud position of maintaining the worldwide and noble reputation of the American Volunteer Soldier, who stands classed with the most intelligent and brave in the known world—our’s is the patriotic position of restoring the grand and sublime American Union—tranquility, peace and happiness to our bleeding country—knowing and appreciating our position none but the most loyal and high-minded thoughts and expressions can emanate from our hearts and lips.—Men! for God’s, your country’s, your friends at home, your own and my sake, do not, either by thoughts, expressions, or willful actions, disgrace yourselves. Stand by the Government right or wrong. You may now do an unsoldier-like act, which, by excited men at home may be approved, but rest assured it will ere long come sweeping like an avalanche, your own good name and leave you in shame and disgust over your own acts of violating your soldier’s oath. While you are in the service, be soldiers in every sense of the word, so that when in private life, you can ever be respected and honorable citizens.

Delivered on Dress Parade, Monday, Feb. 22, 1863.*

* Published in the Wooster Republican, Mar. 7, 1863. Some other commanders reacted similarly to the grumbling against the conduct of the war and the new antislavery policy. In a regiment near Spiegel’s, the colonel threatened to manacle and to shave the head of any soldier whom he heard condemning the Lincoln administration or the Emancipation Proclamation. Wooster Democrat, Mar. 26, 1863.