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Dodge County Biography:
William W. Caine


William Caine, a resident and farm hand in Chester Township during the 1850s and 1860s, was representative of the Republican activism characterizing the county and much of central Wisconsin in the years leading up to the Civil War. During the mid-1850's, the anti-slavery movement in the north called on men of conscience to move to Kansas and preserve it as a free-soil state:

Emigrant aid societies were feverishly at work recruiting colonists who would go out and fill up Kansas with "free men"--men who hated slavery, who would "drive the hideous thing from the broad and beautiful plains where they go to raise their free homes." (Stephen B. Oates, To Purge This Land with Blood, U of Mass Press, 1984, p. 82)

Caine, a young man, responded to the Kansas call, pre-empting one hundred and sixty acres in Anderson County, Kansas, in 1855. When Missouri border ruffians with southern sympathies drove Caine from his new home the same year, he joined a company of the Fifth Regiment of Kansas Volunteers, under the command of Captain John Brown, and became one of the original twenty men in Brown's  infamous abolitionist crusade in Kansas. Caine served as a scout in Brown's unit, and with it participated in the battle of Osawatomie on August 30, 1856.

Caine returned to Dodge County after his service in Kansas and there, in 1862, enlisted in Company D of the Third Wisconsin Infantry on August 29, 1862, at Waupun. As a member of the 3rd Wisconsin, Caine participated in battles at Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, as well as in the draft riots in New York City. With the 3rd, he particpated in Sherman's Atlanta campaign and suffered a partial loss of hearing when a shell burst near him. He was discharged on August 26, 1865, and again returned to Dodge County.

In October, 1865, Caine and his family settled on a farm in Winona County, Minnesota, where he remained the rest of his life. He remained an active Republican and was elected to a number of public offices in Wiscoy Township. He was also an active member of the Grand Army of the Republic and a regular participant in the reunions of the Third Wisconsin. William Caine died on March 11, 1913, and is buried in Woodland Cemetery in Winona.

From Biographical Album of Winona County, Minnesota

John Brown's Account of the Battle of Osawatomie, Kansas

Account of the New York City Draft Riots

Accounts from the Proceedings of the Third Wisconsin Infantry Organization

The information for this biography and all of the supporting documentation has been provided through the generosity of Kevin Dier-Zimmel, a Dodge County historian specializing in the Civil War era.



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From the Biographical Album of Winona County, Minnesota

   William W. Caine, who resides on section 14, Wiscoy Township [Minnesota], to some extent passed an eventful life. He has lived a pioneer, and during the Civil War was numbered among the boys in the blue who defended the Union against the rebellion of the south. He comes from the old Bay State, his birth having occurred in Boston, Mass., on the 22nd of August 1837. His father, Thomas Caine, was a native of the Isle of Man, and the family of English origin. He married Miss Mary Callister, and to them were born seven children, Thomas, who was a carpenter, resides in Hingham, Mass. Mary died died January 17, 1868. John enlisted in the regular army, 1859, became a member of the Seventh United States Infantry, and was one of the heroes who fell at the hard-fought Gettysburg, on the 3rd of July 1863. His remains were interred on the battlefield. Abigal is the wife of John Jefferies, an iron molder of Hingham, Mass. Robert enlisted as a private of Company "D," Third Wisconsin Infantry, April 25, 1861, and was wounded by a minnie-ball at the battle of Chancellorsville, but continued in the service until after the close of the War. He now resides in Dodge County, Wisconsin.
   William W. Caine began his education in the public schools of Boston, and when twelve years of age went board a ship, where he remained two years. In 1852 we find him in the Mississippi Valley, the journey westward having been made by way of lakes and rail. He became a resident of Chester, Dodge County, Wisconsin, and began working as a farm hand by the month, thus serving until 1855, when with ox-teams he made a overland trip to Kansas, settling in Anderson County. There he pre-empted one hundred and sixty acres of land, but was driven off by border ruffians. During his stay there he served as a scout, and once was shot with a double barreled gun, the charge being embedded in his foot.
   Returning to Dodge County, Mr. Caine then continued to work as a farm hand, until feeling that his country needed his services, he responded to the President’s call for Volunteers to serve three years.
   He joined Company D, Third Wisconsin Infantry, August 29, 1862, and was mustered into service at Waupun, Wisconsin. The first engagement in which he participated at was Antietam, after which he took part in the battles of Chancellorsville, Beverly Ford and Gettysburg. He then went to New York City with the regiment in order to quell the riots there, and remained in the city about a month.
   Mr. Caine also participated in the engagements at Buzzard’s Roost, Resaca, Dallas, Pine Mountain, Kenesaw Mountain and the Atlanta Campaign, then went with Sherman on the March to the sea and through the carolinas. The last engagement was at Bentonville, North Carolina. At the battle of Resaca a shell burst near his head and has caused a partial loss of his hearing. He was wounded by a piece of shell at the battle of Dallas, GA.m he was promoted to the rank of Corporal, and at Louisiville, KY., he was mustered out, while at Madison, Wisconsin, on the 26th of August 1865, he received an honorable discharge.
   Mr. Caine, when his country no longer need his services, returned to his home in Dodge County, Wisconsin, and there engaged in farming until October of 1865, when he came to Winona County, and settled upon the farm which has since been his home. It comprises eighty acres of good land on section 14, Wiscoy Township, and he carries on general farming with good success, his place being under a high state of cultivation and well improved. On the 2nd of September, 1860 Mr. Caine wedded Miss Mary Cowell. They have five children namely: Mary E., wife of Thomas O’Brian, a farmer, residing in Wilson Township; Delbert, an agriculturist living in Wiscoy Township; Elsie, wife of Fred Harvey, a farmer of Wiscoy Township; and Alice and Annie at home. Mr. Caine has always been a supporter of the Republican party, and is now serving as Assessor of his township, a position he has filled for twelve years. He is also a school clerk. Socially is connected with the Grand Army of the Republic and with the Odd Fellow’s Lodge. His life has been well and worhily spent, and all who know him hold him in high regard.


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John Brown's Account of the Battle of Osawatomie, Kansas

   Early in the morning of the 30th of August, the enemy’s scouts approached to within one mile and a half of the western boundary of the town of Osawatomie. At this place my son Frederick K. (who was not attached to my force) had lodged, with some four other young men from Lawrence, and a young man named Garrison, from Middle Creek.
   The socuts, led by a pro-slavery preacher named White, shot my son dead in the road, whilst he-----as I have since ascertained—supposed them to be friendly. At the same time they buthchered Mr. Garrison, and badly mangled one of he young men from Lawrence, who came with my son, leaving him for dead. "This was not far from sunrise. I had stopped during the night about two and one half miles from them, and nearly one mile from Osawatomie. I had no organized force, but some twelve to fifteen new recruits, who were ordered to leave their preparations for breakfast as soon as this news was brought to me.
   As I had no means of learning correctly the force of the enemy, I placed twelve recruits in a log house, hoping we might be able to defend the town. I then gathered some fifteen more men together, whom we armed with guns; and we started in the direction of the enemy. After going a few rods, we could see them approaching the town in line of battle, about on half a mile off, upon a hill west of the village. I then gave up all idea of doing more than to annoy, from the timber near the town, into which we were all retreated and which was filled with thick growth of underbrush, but had no time to recall the twelve men in thew log house, and so lost their assistance in the fight.
   At the point above named, I met with Captain Cline, a very active young man, who had with him some twelve or fifteen mounted men, and persuaded him to go with into the timber, on the southern shore of osage, or Marias-des-Cygnes, a little to the northwest from the village. Here the men numbering not more than thirty in all, were directed to scatter and secrete themselves as well as they could, and wait the approach of enemy. This was done in full view of them, (who must have seen the whole movement,) and had to be done in the utmost haste. I believe Captain Cline and some of his men were not even dismounted in the fight, but cannot assert positively. When the left wing of the enemy had approached to within common rifle shot, we recommended firing; and very soon threw the northern branch of the enemy’s line into disorder. This continued some fifteen or twenty minutes, which gave us an uncommon opportunity to annoy them. Captain Cline and his men soon got out of ammunition, and retired across the river.
   After the enemy rallied, we kept up our fire; until, by the leaving one and another, we had but six or seven left. We then retired across the river.
   We had one man killed—a Mr. Powers, from Captain Kline’s Company—in the fight. One of my men---a Mr. Partridge was shot crossing the river. Two or three of the party, who took part in the fight, are yet missing, and may be lost or taken prisoners. Two were wounded, viz., Dr. Updegraff and Mr. Collis.
   I cannot speak in too high terms of them, and of many others I have not now time to mention.


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Account of the New York City Draft Riots

Notes about the 1863 New York City draft riots from Glimpses of the Nation’s Struggle, 4th series; Papers read before the Minnesota Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, 1892-1897,   "Some Experiences of a Veteran in the Rear, by Captain Julian W. Hinkley, 3rd Wisconsin Company "E", Read November 14, 1893" (pages 114-116):

   [The Third Wisconsin was sent to enforce the draft in New York along with the Fifth Wisconsin.] On the night of August 22 we disembarked at Canal Street, and quietly marched up Broadway to City Hall Park where some rude barracks for a part of the men, but all of the officers wrapped in their rubber blankets, as the Scotch landlady in Rob Roy says, "Like good swords in a scabbard," slept on the ground on the present site of the city post office. We must have slept late the next morning. When we awoke there was a dense crowd surrounding the park, the windows of the Astor House on one side and Lovejoy’s Hotel on the other, were crowded with people all looked on in open-eyed astonishment as we made our toilets in the usual camp fashion. There was dress parades every evening and great crowds would assemble to see the regiment go through the manual of arms in which they were exceptionally proficient, and applause of the crowd was always hearty. The uniforms were a little seedy and soiled, but the guns and bayonets were as bright as new dollars, and the bronzed veterans who carried them knew well how to use them. I was on duty most of the time in the provost-marshal’s office of the down town district, where rioting had been most desperate. There were no troubles while we were there, except such as our men made themselves at the instigation of the police who in a short time after our arrival had fraternized with the soldiers in a manner that must have been surprising to the citizens generally if they knew it.
   We had plenty of bold fellows who wanted no better amusement than to raid a saloon that been headquarters of the rioters. These were pointed out to them by the police and a small crowd would get out of camp at night and in one of these places, on some pretext, get up a row of bartenders and bummers out of doors and smash everything breakable about the place. Everyone in the regiment could find a way to enjoy himself and a policeman to help him, and would have been contended to stay longer, but September 5th [1863] brought the unwelcome order to be ready to move at a moment’s notice.


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Accounts from the Proceedings of the Third Wisconsin Infantry Organization

In 1907 William W. Caine was at attendance at the Seventeenth 3rd Wisconsin Reunion. Held in Waupun, Dodge County, Wisconsin, September 17-18, 1907. The Waupun Leader published on Wednesday, September 18, 1907, indicates that more than 32 of the regiment's veterans had registered by at the headquarters, and Caine's name was one of those published on the list of attendance. The following is from the back pages of notes from the Proceedings of the 17th Third Wisconsin Annual Association Meeting:

Comrade W. Caine, of "D" Company present at the meeting enjoys the wonderful distinction of being the only survivor of Captain John Brown’s Military Company of Osawatomie, Kansas in 1855.

The following is taken from page 12 of  the Proceedings of the 20th Third Wisconsin Annual Association Meeting mailed to members. The meeting was held at Lancaster, Wisconsin, September 20-21, 1910:

Letter from Caine to Secretary Captain Julian Hinkley. "I do not feel able to attend this year. I have just got back from Kansas, where I attended the dedication of the old battlefield of Osawatomie. Where we fought August 30th, 1856.There were five survivors there. Two were genuine, three were frauds. I had plenty of honor shown me, but do not want to be in such a place again. Your old comrade, William W. Caine, Company D (Wiitoka, MN)

The following letter from Edwin Damonde, a resident of Gypsum, Kansas, and a veteran of the Third Wisconsin, also is taken from the Proceedings of the 20th Third Wisconsin Annual Association Meeting:

It will be impossible for me to be with you this year. I saw William Caine of Company D at Osawatomie last month. He was in John Brown’s company in 1856. Give my best to the "old guard" that may be at the reunion, and hope all will have a good time." Yours with Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty, Edwin H. Damonde.

The Proceedings of the 23rd Third Wisconsin Annual Association Meeting, 1913, printed the following:

Died during the past year William W. Caine of Company "D"  March 11, 1913 (Interred in the Woodland Cemetery, Winona ,MN)



Last Updated 2/18/2000 If you have information to share, please contact Bob Schuster at or at 6020 Kristi Circle, Monona, WI 53716 (608-221-1421).