The History of the 3rd Wisconsin Veteran Volunteer Infantry

William Fletcher Goodhue

 goodhue_01Private, Company C, 3rd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry

William Fletcher Goodhue was born at Chelsea, Mass., March 31, 1844. He attended school in Boston till 1856, when with his parents he came to Broadhead, Wisconsin. In 1859 he was rodman for Joseph T. Dodge, and then acquired under that great engineer, afterwards the chief engineer of the Northern Pacific, a habit of industry, accuracy and close observation that have been the characteristics of his life of varied accomplishments and achievements.

In 1861, he entered the office of the Broadhead Indepenent, to learn the trade of the printer. There he remained till the war broke out. He enlisted April 19th, 1861, in the Company then forming at Monroe, and was mustered in at Fond du Lac, June 29.

Being but 17 years of age and of small size, but active, he was soon selected as one of the regimental markers, to carry the guidons to indicate the point in battalion movements where a line was to be formed or a wheel executed. His form flying about on the drill ground, at motion from Colonel Ruger, soon became familiar to all the officers and men; and no enlisted man, it may be confidently affirmed, was so generally known and universally esteemed as the little marker.

He served with the regiment, constantly on duty, present in all its engagements till 1864. While at Wartree, Tenn., the Regimental Commanders had been ordered to send into the headquarters of the Army of the Cumberland, maps and sketches giving the topography of the teritory in which they were stationed. Goodhue accompanied the writer on several rides about Wartrace to note the topography. He afterwards made a map of the region about Wartrace which showed so much artistic skill that it attracted the attention of Major Poe, the Chief of Engineers of the Army of the Cumberland. Another map soon followed giving still more elaborate outline of another locality. The name W. F. Goodhue in the corner led to search and he was finally located in the Third Wisconsin, and by an order from the army headquarters ordered to report there without delay. Somewhat embarrassed and puzzled he obeyed the order, was here shown the maps he had made and asked if they were his work. He said they were, and the Major said, "My boy, we want you here." He was set to work on topographical drawing and On the March to the Sea, he was detailed to the delicate and exacting duty of keeping the topographical minutes of the March of his Division. He rode a horse, with a compass in the pommel of his saddle, counted the steps of the horse to ascertain distance covered by the march and made a ribbon map as he rode, that is, on a ribbon of paper he noted every turn in the road, the buildings, bridges, hills, swamps, on the line of march, and the other data necessary to make a complete map of the road traversed for the day. On going into camp at night he made from his ribbon notes a complete map of the day's march, showing distance, directions, turns, by-roads, bridges, fords, houses passed, woods traversed, swamps, hills, etc, which piece of work was laid on General Sherman's table in the morning. He performed the same arduous, exacting piece of work on the march from Savannah to Goldsboro, N.C., to the great satisfaction of Major Poe.

On the close of the war he entered Milton Academy and remained there till 1866, when he went to Kansas as rodman under John B. Vliet in the survey of the Leavenworth, Lawrence and Galveston railroad. While in this work he was studying engineering and became so proficient that in 1867 he was assistant engineer to General Adnah Anderson in the construction of the Kansas Pacific Railroad.

In 1871 and 1872 he made the survey of the Creek Purchase east of the Grand River, to be portioned off to the Delawares, Ottowas, Kickapoos and Shawnees.

The years 1873 and 1874 find him in Chicago as assistant editor of the Chicago Railway Review; and in 1875 and 1876, he was chief engineer of the Danville and Vincennes (now the Eastern Illinois) Railroad. From 1877 to 1881 he was chief engineer of the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad, and also of the Chicago and Western Indiana, building the last line from Dalton, Ill., to 12th Street, Chicago.

Like the majority of civil engineers he delighted in building bridges. He located the Delaware & Lac Labelle Railway, and surveyed Kewanee Point on Lake Superior; built bridges on the Gunpowder River in Maryland for the Baltimore & Ohio road and later was employed in the hydrographic survey of the Norfolk harbor and Tar and Pamlico rivers.

During the years 1886 and 1888 he was city engineer of Racine, Wisconsin, and in 1888 he opened an office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as consulting engineer, where he continued in business till the sickness that resulted in his death.

In 1895 he went to Arizona and there put in a system of water works for an English mining company, by tunnelling into the sides of the mountain and securing from the drip or seepage of water through the crevices of the rock an adequate supply for the mines and the village eight miles below.

He was for many years a member of the Western Society of Engineers. Whatever he did he threw his soul into it. He had the fine enthusiasm that achieves. Many a city and village today enjoy good sewerage system and water supply planned and superintended by him. Few men have accomplished more or left more varied monuments of their skill and industry.

He was the sould of this organization. It is no disparagement to any of us to say that he was the center, the vital spark that gave and kept the Society in organization and made its eleven reunions successful. He has conducted the correspondence, prepared the reports, taken time from his busy employments to write interesting papers. One of the busiest of men in one of the most exciting of professions, he gave time to conduct a large correspondence and keep the records of the Association. And when we met at reunions he was the same artless, enthusiastic boy we had known in the army and none of us could realize the vast achievements and varied experiences of his life as a civil engineer.

He was a great reader, and when sleepless from illness, and wretched in the discomfort of his malady, he would forget all in reading some book. How he accomplished so much with a stomach trouble that deprived him of nutrition and sapped his vital forces, is a marvel. He has written books that are standard in his profession, and he wrote in a graceful style, animated, lucid, and appreciative of the most delicate humor, beautiful in art or interesting in character. He could do many things and do them well.

It is impossible to express the sorrow that came to or hearts when we learned that on the 14th of October last he died at his home near Milwaukee, and was buried at Palmyra, Wisconsin, beside his kindred.

So, Comrade, gentle-hearted as brave, best known and loved of us all, faithfull in war, loyal in friendship, aspiring to high and noble aims, farewell! We shall miss you at or reunions. Oh, how keenly; and to all of us wherever dispersed, the world feels more lonesome when we know that our beloved Comrade is no more.

Edwin E. Bryant