|GREEN LAKE COUNTY
TOWN OF MACKFORD
TOWN OF MANCHESTER
TOWN OF MARQUETTE
TOWN OF GREEN LAKE
LOOKING FOR OSGOOD
It was an age of developing, but still limited, communications. Faced with the task of coordinating nearly three million men in uniform and responding to more than 350,000 deaths, the federal government tried heroically to maintain the records of the men who served during the American Civil War. Heroic as the effort was, it was less than perfect, and some soldiers fell through the cracks. One of these was a Markesan enlistee, Osgood D. Learned, a private in Company D of the famed Eighth Wisconsin Regiment.
The twenty-two-year-old Learned was one of eight Markesan area men who enlisted in Company D during the summer of 1861, just months after the war's outbreak. The Eighth Wisconsin mustered in on September 13, 1861, at Camp Randall in Madison and left the state for St. Louis a month later on October 12. Arriving on October 13, the regiment created a sensation with their mascot, the live American eagle soon to be known as Old Abe.
Within days of reaching Missouri, the regiment was in action. On October 21, they fought at the battle of Frederickstown, Missouri. The regiment was ordered to Cairo in January, 1862, and on March 20 saw action at Point Pleasant, Missouri. From March 20 to March 24, they were engaged at New Madrid and Island Number 10 in Tennessee. From May 9 to May 30, they fought at the battle of Farmington, Mississippi.
While the Eighth went on to participate in the siege of Corinth in the fall of 1862 and joined Grant's Vicksburg campaign in 1863, it was at Farmington that Learned was wounded on May 9 and where he died 3 weeks later.
It is there that the information system began to break down. The Wisconsin Adjutant General's "Blue Book" indicates some disagreement about the date of Learned's death, one source identifying May 28, the other June 1 (see the "Blue Book" sidebar). Furthermore, the Department of Veteran's Affairs records indicated that Learned was buried near the battlefield, but according to his great nephew, Harold Learned, the family was never certain about the burial location. During the 1930s, Harold Learned's father, Art, searched the national cemeteries in Mississippi and Tennessee to locate his uncle's grave, without success. The family knew that there was a stone for Osgood Learned in the Lake Maria cemetery near Markesan, but based on the assurances of the Veteran's Department they believed the marker was only a memorial. The Markesan area American Legion Post also believed that to be the case, and the grave never received the traditional Grand Army of the Republic flag holder.
Early in 1999, however, a document surfaced that challenged the official record. The Davison family living on the old Learned farm in Mackford Township discovered an obituary for their great-grandfather, Amasa Davison, which indicated that Davison and Edward Ames had traveled south in 1862 and brought Learned's remains home to Mackford. When the Davisons shared the obituary with Leona Weber, a Markesan area historian, she recognized the name from a recent request from Learned's descendants for information. Armed with the obituary, Weber was able to confirm that Osgood Learned was buried in the Markesan area after all.
It was not unusual for families of Civil War soldiers to claim the bodies of their sons and brothers. With respect to Osgood Learned, though, the question is who were Ames and Davison, and why did they risk the trip to Mississippi on behalf of the Learneds?
The 1860 federal census indicates that the Nahum and Catherine Learned family and eight of their children, including Osgood, were living in the town of Mackford. Living only two farms away were Edward and Elizabeth Ames and their daughter, Rhoda. Ames, a 26-year-old farmer, was therefore a neighbor of the Learned family. Also close by was the George Ames family, and one member of his household, identified as a "servant," was 15-year-old Alma Learned. It seems reasonable to assume from these records that there was some closeness between the families.
Amasa Davidson, on the other hand, is identified in the census as a 34-year-old farmer living not in Green Lake County, but rather in the town of Trenton in Dodge County. While that would seem to complicate the question of a relationship with the Learneds, one of Davison's neighbors in 1860 was an R. Learned, at age 58 only 8 years older than Osgood Learned's father, Nahum, and like him born in New Hampshire. It is also of interest to note that while the "Blue Book" records of the Adjutant General of Wisconsin credit Learned to Markesan, his home is ambiguously identified as Trenton in Green Lake County, suggesting the possibility that the Mackford Learneds had at one time a tie to Trenton. Again, there is a strong suggestion of a closeness between the Learneds and the Davisons, and as Davison's obituary indicates:
Whatever Amasa Davison's actual relationship to the Learned family, he earned his reputation as a "neighborly" neighbor in part through his service to the Learneds.
Federal records did not keep up with Osgood Learned's remains and never reflected his removal to the Lake Maria cemetery. Only through the chance discovery of an old obituary has the long standing family question of Learned's final resting place been resolved. After 137 years, Osgood Learned was finally honored on Memorial Day, 1999, with a ceremony that included the placement of a GAR marker, a hymn, and a military salute.
The Memorial Day ceremony honoring Learned also included the following remembrance for Leona Weber, who was responsible for solving the puzzle:Leona Weber, a long time Markesan resident, retired teacher and student of history was instrumental in finding and organizing the following information about Osgood Learned. Her vision was to see Osgood recognized and honored. Today her dream is reality. She was looking forward to being here this day to honor Osgood and although she isnt here physically, she is spiritually with us. As we this day honor Osgood we cannot fail to recognize Mrs. Weber as the catalyst in Markesan to accomplishing goals and keeping our story alive.