The population of Iowa in 1860 was 675,000 living in 124,000 households. Of this number 116,000 were men of military age. 76,534 would serve, 11% of our total population, 13,169 or one out of six would not return.
More than 700,000 Americans died during the Civil War, more than all other conflicts combined.
In the two days at Shiloh more Americans fell than in all previous wars combined.
At the Battle of Antietam, 12,401 Union men were killed, missing or wounded; double the casualties of D-Day, 82 years later. With a total of 23,000 casualties on both sides, it was the bloodiest single day of the Civil War.
At Cold Harbor, Virginia 7,000 Americans fell in 20 minutes.
On April 12, 1861, South Carolina, under the command of PGT Beauregard fired on Ft. Sumter, beginning the hostilities of the Civil War.
On April 15, 1861, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers from the various states to suppress the insurrection, for a period of three months, unless sooner discharged.
On April 16, 1861, a telegram was received at Davenport. It was from Simon Cameron, Secretary of War, and read:
"Call made on you by tonight's mail for one regiment of militia for immediate service."
The dispatch was addressed to the governor.
The Buchanan administration did very little to quell matters. He would leave that to the new administration. Secretary of War John B. Floyd is suspect in his decisions to sell 17,000 muskets to South Carolina, 115,000 to the southern states (he was obligated to arm the militias of the states); 117 pieces of artillery to Mississippi and Galveston, neither, had a garrison. Money for the Indian Trust Fund was diverted to the south. His son in law, Albert Sydney Johnston was made U. S. Quarter Master, who assisted him in the transfers of supplies, ammunition, fuel and food to the various military posts.
South Carolina had seceded on December 24, 1860, raising their Palmetto Flag over the capital in Columbia. They were followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4. Ft. Sumter was fired upon April 12. Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to put down the rebellion on April 15. Virginia seceded, followed by Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee. Eleven states in all. Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri remained neutral…all slave states.
On April 12, 1861, South Carolina, under the command of PGT Beauregard fired on Ft. Sumter.
On April 14, 1861, Ft. Sumter surrendered.
On April 15, 1861, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers from the various states to suppress the insurrection, for a period of three months, unless sooner discharged.
On April 16, 1861, a telegram was received at Davenport.
To His Excellency SAMUEL J. KIRKWOOD
Governor of Iowa:
Call made on you by tonight's mail for one regiment of militia for immediate service.
It will suffice if your quota of volunteers be at its rendezvous by the twentieth (20th) of May.
Secretary of War
The telegraph only went as far west as Davenport at the time. William Vandever, of Davenport, volunteered to carry the dispatch to Governor Kirkwood, and immediately started. He arrived at Iowa City, hired a team, and drove to the farm on which the governor lived, where he found Kirkwood working in the field.
PROCLAMATION OF THE GOVERNOR, APRIL 17, 1861
WHEREAS, The President of the United States has made a requisition upon the Executive of the State of Iowa for one regiment of Militia, to aid the Federal Government in enforcing its laws and suppressing rebellion;
Now, therefore, I, Samuel J. Kirkwood, Governor of the State of Iowa, do issue this Proclamation, and hereby call upon the Militia of this State immediately to form in the different counties, Volunteer companies with a view of entering the active Military service of the United States, for the purpose aforesaid. The regiment at present required will consist of ten companies of at least 78 men, each including one Captain and two Lieutenants to be elected by each company. Under the present requisition only one regiment can be accepted, and the companies accepted must hold themselves in readiness for duty by the 20th of May next at farthest. If a sufficient number of companies are tendered, their services may be required. If more companies are formed and reported, than can be received under the present call, their services will be required in the event of another requisition upon the State. The Nation is in peril. A fearful attempt is being made to overthrow the Constitution and dissever the Union. The aid of every loyal citizen is invoked to sustain the General Government. For the honor of our State, let the requirement of the President be cheerfully and promptly met.
SAMUEL J. KIRKWOOD
Iowa City, April 17, 1861
Within a few days not one but ten regiments were offered the governor. Having the Flag fired upon brought out a new sense of patriotism throughout the County, more than the secession of the states and the violation of the Constitution had.
On, May 6, the 1st Iowa Infantry Regiment was ordered into camp at Keokuk. The Government had call for one regiment from Iowa, but Governor Kirkwood was so besieged with offers of other companies that, without waiting for permission from the War Department, he accepted another thousand men. This was the 2nd Iowa Infantry Regiment. It assembled at Keokuk also.
The recession of 1857 had left the state near bankruptcy. Governor Kirkwood pledged his land and fortune to equip the 1st and 2nd Iowa Infantry. Samuel Merrill who ran a mercantile in MacGregor put up the money to purchase the woolen fabric to outfit the regiments. The 1st Iowa was uniformed in grey. At the beginning many northern regiments wore grey while many southern regiments wore blue. Samuel Merrill became Iowa’s 7th Governor in 1867 and served two terms. The ten companies, which were to become the 1st Iowa, were ordered into quarters by the Governor, April 24, 1861, and reached the designated rendezvous at Keokuk on different dates from May 1 to May 8, 1861. Here they were mustered into the service of the United States, May 14, 1861, one month after Ft. Sumter.
All-in-all, Iowa would send 44 regiments of Infantry, 4 batteries of Artillery and 9 cavalry regiments.
The state of Missouri refused to answer the President's call for troops. Missouri Congressman Francis Blair, on orders from Lincoln, organized the first of Missouri’s regiments. The states that were in in rebellion, felt all Government property, was now theirs. Though Missouri had remained in the Union, the elected government of Missouri was pro-confederacy. Governor Claiborne Jackson had been one of the Border Ruffians that led guerrilla raids into Kansas. He wanted the U.S. arsenal at St. Louis. This was the largest arsenal west of the Mississippi. St. Louis had a silent majority of northern supporters but the Mayor, police department and other officials were southerners. The rebel flag flew over St. Louis. Governor Jackson organized a Missouri State Guard of 2,000 men with intent of taking the arsenal. Congressman Blair telegraphed Lincoln and had Captain Nathaniel Lyon of the U.S. Army placed in charge of the arsenal. Lyon disbanded the State Guard and arrested many of their leaders. Fearing they would reform, he had 21,000 muskets from the arsenal secretly transported to Illinois. (Lyon had been in Kansas when Jackson was leading his raids.) A meeting was arranged in St. Louis on May 31, between Lyon, Jackson and Sterling Price, a Missourian who had been a Brigadier General in the Mexican War. The meeting did not go well, Lyon ended it by stating:
“Rather than concede to the state of Missouri….the right to dictate to my government in any matter however unimportant, I would see you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and every man, woman, and child in the state dead and buried. This means war."
Lyon went onto Jefferson City (capitol of Missouri), Boonville and Springfield in pursuit of Jackson.
The 1st Iowa Infantry left Keokuk on June 13, 1861, and was transported by boat down the Mississippi to Hannibal, Missouri, then by rail to Macon City, Missouri and marched across country to Boonville, Missouri, a distance of fifty-eight miles, in less than two and one-half days. They joined General Lyon's army at Boonville, on June 21. They remained until July 13 and on that day took up the line of march with the other troops composing General Lyon's command.
On August 10, 1861, Lyon’s army met Confederate Generals McCollough and Price at Wilson’s Creek, about 10 miles south of Springfield. Outnumbered 3:1, Lyon divided his forces. The 1st Iowa in the smaller division was to attack from the flank while the larger main force would attack head on. Though the ninety day enlistment of the 1st Iowa had expired, they wanted a fight. In the confusion of the battle, a regiment in grey appeared, the order was given “hold your fire” , thinking it was the 1st Iowa, in fact it was the 3rd Louisiana. While rallying the 2nd Kansas, General Lyon was shot through the heart and both lungs and died instantly. The day would end as a defeat for the Union, with casualties of 1,300 on each side. The losses for the 1st Iowa at Wilson's Creek were 13 killed, 141 wounded and 4 missing. Nicholas Bouquet, of Company D, was the first Iowan to receive the Medal of Honor. “Voluntarily left the line of battle and exposing himself to imminent danger from heavy enemy fire, assisted in capturing a riderless horse between the lines, and hitching him to a disabled gun, saved the gun from capture.”
On the battlefield of Wilson’s Creek was a farm belonging to John Ray, which is the only structure remaining from the battle. The house had been chosen by the rebels to become a field hospital and was spared. As the battle raged outside, John’s wife and family along with their female slave and her children hid in the cellar beneath the kitchen. The house was spared but all of the out buildings and the corn crop were destroyed. They would also find that all of their livestock had been taken. When the family surfaced from the cellar they found the house and yard filled with wounded, dead and dying. That afternoon the body of General Lyon was brought to the house and laid out on the bed used by the boys in the Ray family. He had been identified by his surgeon, Colonel S. H. Melcher, who had learned that the General’s body was in the possession of General Price. His body was then taken to Springfield by confederate escort where a black walnut coffin was made and the General was there placed. Mrs. Mary Phelps, wife of Congressman John Phelps and an acquaintance of the surgeon, took the body by wagon to her farm where she had it placed in a building used as an ice house. Curious spectators and rebel soldiers came to see the body, some even commented on taking his head for a souvenir. Mrs. Phelps called upon Sterling Price to control matters. He had his men bury him in her flower garden. Two weeks later, members of the Lyon family arrived in Missouri and transported his body by wagon to Rolla, where it was taken by train to Connecticut.
The two daughters of the Ray Family, would both die within the year due to their water supply being contaminated from the dead and wounded.
Sterling Price marched to Lexington, Missouri with a force of 18,000 men, took the town and gained control of Missouri north to the Missouri River. On July 28, a Missouri Constitutional Convention was held and appointed a provisional government naming former Chief Justice Hamilton Gamble as governor. Governor Jackson and his cabinet met in Neosho, Missouri in October and voted to secede from the union. They then moved to Texas and ran the Confederate State of Missouri from there. Jackson died the next year.
Guerrilla warfare spread throughout Missouri between the union jayhawkers and the southern bushwhackers. Names such as Quantrill’s Raiders, Bloody Bill Anderson and Jesse James still live today. Farmers were murdered, their bodies left along the road as a reminder to those who passed by. Houses were burned to the ground. When they encountered soldiers, they would empty their weapons upon them, remove their heads and dismember the bodies. The 5th Iowa Infantry was one of the regiments sent to Missouri to deal with these marauders. It became an eye for an eye, one rebel leader was found in his cabin. When the opportunity came, his skull was smashed with a log from the fireplace and his head cut off with a pocket knife. They were greatly relieved when they were ordered back to St. Louis, didn’t to be involved in this type of warfare.
Governor Kirkwood had all the roads leading from Missouri to Des Moines patrolled by the militia. Union men in the northern counties of Missouri were often driven from their homes and sought refuge in Iowa with their families. In counties where the Union men were in the majority, they retaliated by driving out the Rebels. This condition was stirring up unrest in Iowa. A military district was formed known as the “Western Division of Iowa,” troops were raised for service in S.W. Iowa and the adjoining counties of Missouri. A regiment was called upon to go to the rescue of Union men of Nodaway County, Missouri. 250 men marched 33 miles, quelled the disturbance and took 60 prisoners. Two other expeditions were made into Missouri during the summer. On one of these they joined by the Missouri militia, a force of 3,000 men, marched as far as Saint Joseph. There they found a large body of armed Rebels engaged in plundering the stores and dwellings of Union men, having robbed them of more than $40,000. The Rebels were driven out of the city and a portion of the property recovered. 1,500 citizens of Iowa had left their harvest fields and families and went into Missouri to the relief of Union men. They were armed with such weapons as they chanced to possess and their movements directed by officers hastily chosen. They were warmly welcomed by the loyal citizens, provided with food and shelter and remained until danger passed. Owing to constant alarms in the border counties, a vast amount of grain was left in the fields un-harvested. The governor ordered that there be four battalions in the Southern Border Brigade--the First Battalion would be from the counties of Lee and Van Buren; the Second Battalion would be from counties of Wapello, Davis and Appanoose, the Third from Wayne, Decatur, and Ringgold and the Fourth from Taylor, Page and Freemont.
Early in 1862, the Union Army of the Southwest was under the command of Brigadier General Samuel Curtis. Curtis had been Mayor of Keokuk, elected congressman from Iowa’s 1st district, resigned and became the commanding officer of the 2nd Iowa Infantry. He was promoted to General in December and moved his headquarters to Rolla, Missouri. We were once again in pursuit of Rebel Generals Price and McCollough, this time both were under the command of Major General Earl Van Dorn, of Mississippi. He too was a veteran of the Mexican War. Curtis had a force of 10,500 men and 50 pieces of artillery, including the 4th Iowa Infantry, 1st Iowa Artillery, 9th Iowa Infantry, 3rd Iowa Artillery and the 3rd Iowa Cavalry.
Colonel William Vandever (who delivered the telegram) commanded the 2nd Brigade. Colonel Grenville Dodge (who built the Union Pacific Railroad) commanded the 1st Brigade. Curtis had pushed Price south into Arkansas, into the Boston Mountains. Vandever’s Brigade was sent out as scouts when word was received that the enemy now had a force of 16,000 and was approaching. Curtis’s army formed along Sugar Creek and waited. Van Dorn brought up his army, decided to surround and out flank the Union to the west and north. During the night, Curtis rotated his entire army, from facing south to facing north and advanced about 7 miles. The next day, Van Dorn discovered he was among the enemy and that Curtis was now between him and his supplies. General McCullough was killed on the first day. His death was never reported and one third of the rebels stood and listened to the fighting all day awaiting orders to move. After two days battle, the rebels ran out of ammunition and were unable to make it to their wagons for replenishments. The Union won this battle and finally secured that Missouri would remain in the Union. The following Iowans received the Medal of Honor for their actions at Pea Ridge:
Francis Herron for leading his troops and rallying them to repeated acts of daring. He was disabled when his horse was shot from under him and taken prisoner by the Confederates.
Eugene Carr for directing the deployment of his command and held his ground, under a brisk fire of shot and shell in which he was several times wounded.
Albert Powers under a heavy fire and at great personal risk went to the aid of a dismounted comrade who was surrounded by the enemy, took him up on his own horse, and carried him to a place of safety.
Why was it so important to keep Missouri in the Union and the other three states remain neutral. We could have lost the war and the country would be divided. The manpower, manufacturing and wealth of these four states would have given the South the edge they needed. Kentucky alone would have added 500 miles of war front to defend against. Had Missouri seceded it would have opened up a second front in the war. Iowa, Illinois and Kansas would have been directly threatened. The Confederacy would have sent more men and weapons to Missouri to divide the Union forces even further. Arkansas would have been strengthened and Kentucky may have been persuaded to join them.
To defeat the south, the Anaconda Plan had been adopted early on. We would blockade their ocean ports and control the Mississippi River and her tributaries. The Ohio River was the second most vital river at the time. It runs from Wheeling, Virginia to Cairo, Illinois. The Ohio makes up the northern border of Kentucky, and as such, the southern borders of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Near her confluence with the Mississippi at Cairo are two more vital rivers, the Tennessee and the Cumberland. The Tennessee runs 652 miles, south to Huntsville, Alabama, east to Chattanooga, Tennessee, northeast to Knoxville, Tennessee and into Virginia. The Cumberland runs to Nashville, capitol of Tennessee. Both rivers run north through Kentucky, for a distance of 50 miles. Just across the Kentucky border into Tennessee the Confederates had built two forts to defend the rivers. Fort Henry on the Tennessee and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland, they were about 12 miles apart.
In February 1862, General Grant with a force of 25,000 men and the aid of several navy gunboats under the command of Flag Officer Foote, marched into Tennessee to take Forts Henry and Donelson. It was a slow process due to the cold, muddy, rainy and snowy conditions. The men had thrown off their great coats during the days march, and froze at night. Ft. Henry, on the Tennessee was built low and the river was high due to the rains. They abandoned it except for a small detachment who manned the guns and fired at the gunboats for several hours. Next came Ft. Donelson, on the Cumberland. Ft. Donelson was under the command of General John B. Floyd (former Secretary of War). Floyd was hoping for reinforcements from Albert Sydney Johnston who’s force was divided in Kentucky at Bowling Green and Columbus. Floyd’s force of 16,000 was unable to defend the fort and were also unable to escape. Johnston was unable to send reinforcements. Floyd knew he was wanted in the north as a traitor, turned over command to General Buckner. Floyd and his staff boarded small steamers and sailed for Nashville. Buckner, who had spent three years with Grant at West Point and loaned him money to get home after he resigned from the army, wrote to Grant asking for terms of surrender. Grant’s reply was immediate and unconditional. Buckner accepted though he felt this was ungenerous and unchivalrous. With the Tennessee and the Cumberland in control of the Union, the state of Kentucky was guaranteed for the Union. Simon Buckner would become governor of Kentucky and serve as pallbearer at Grant’s funeral. Iowa regiments at Donelson included the 2nd, 7th, 12th and 14th.
Voltaire Twombly of the 2nd Iowa received the Medal of Honor for his action at Ft. Donelson. “Took the colors after three of the color guard had fallen, and although most instantly knocked down by a spent ball, immediately arose and bore the colors to the end of the engagement.” (Twombly later recalled that five members of the color guard had fallen).
After the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson and the fall of Nashville on the 25th, Grant’s objective was Corinth, Mississippi, a major railroad center for the south. He assembled his command further down the Tennessee River at Pittsburg Landing. On the morning of April 6, 1862, Grant had a strength of 44,000 men encamped for training, in preparation to attack Corinth. Albert Sydney Johnston and PGT Beauregard (who ordered the firing at Ft. Sumter) attacked the Union army with a force of 45,000 men. General Johnston was shot in the leg that afternoon. Not realizing the seriousness of his wound, bled to death because of it. They found a tourniquet in his pocket. The day went bad for the Union. On the 7th, the Union rallied and drove back the Rebels, reinforced with an additional 20,000 men from Buell’s Army of the Ohio. This would be better known as the Battle of Shiloh. The casualties for both sides were 27,000 killed, wounded and missing, more than all previous battles and wars fought by the United States previous. Iowa Infantry Regiments at Shiloh were the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th.
The Confederates retreated to Corinth, From April 29 to May 30 the Union, under the command of General Halleck, laid siege to Corinth. The confederates evacuated on the night of May 29 and 30 to Tupelo, Mississippi. The Union was surprised to find it unoccupied. As for Corinth, a muddy sloppy spring had turned into a hot, dry summer, temperatures in the 100s. Having been occupied by 200,000 men for three months had turned the streets to 6 inches of dust. Behind they left the water and soil polluted. Streams dried up, water in wells below 20 feet, flies and mosquitoes everywhere.
In the meantime, the western Confederacy was looking for a hero; Sterling Price arrived in celebration at Memphis. Van Dorn took his men and tried to retake New Orleans, he returned. Bragg wanted to recaptured Nashville and march into Kentucky, in hopes that she would leave the Union. The war, out east was going poorly for the Union, under the proclamation of President Lincoln dated July 2, 1862. 300,000 more volunteers to be handled by the Governors. Iowa’s quota was 5 regiments. By July 17th this call for new recruits grew into the Federal Militia Act of 1862 or the draft. New York City had to call on the Marines to put down riots, resistance to the draft in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin Iowa’s answer was 16,000 volunteers, the 24th through 40th by November.
Then came September. The Union had Generals Grant, Rosecrans, Ord and Buell in western Tennessee. They were trying to guess where the Rebels were and their next move. From Corinth, the best river landing was at Eastport, 35 miles to the east. Rosecrans took his army to Iuka, 22 miles east of Corinth. From there he hoped to keep Price from joining with Bragg.
The cavalry is the eyes and ears of any army. Both sides were searching for the other and trying to determine their next move. Each side ran into skirmishers of the enemy, but still didn’t know where the main body was. Grant became convinced that Corinth was the target, and Rosecrans left Iuka on September 12th, traveling west. Price’s cavalry entered Iuka from the south that afternoon and found it abandoned. Price’s Army moved in on the 13th. Halleck determined that Price was on his own and ordered Grant to attack. Ord would come in from the northwest and Rosecrans from the southwest. Van Dorn had convinced President Davis that Corinth was of more importance than Kentucky and was placed in command over Bragg. He then ordered Price to leave Iuka and join him at Holly Springs to march onto Corinth.
On the 19th of September, Price was making preparations to leave by the southwestern Jacinto Road to avoid Ord, thinking Rosecrans was still in Corinth.
Rosecrans’s Army approached from the Jacinto Road, the 5th Iowa Infantry was in the lead.
At 1:30 they discovered Rebel Cavalry at the Moore House, the 5th Iowa skirmished with them until 2:00. From 2:00 to 3:00 the Iowans fought through timber making only 1 mile, when they came into a poorly plowed field. They were relieved by the 26th Missouri and marched on until 4:30.
At 2:30, Price was notified that Rosecrans was approaching. Hebert’s Missouri Brigade double quick 1 mile to meet the Federals, Clark’s Missouri Battery tried to deploy on a hill but were driven back. The 3rd Texas Dismounted Cavalry was brought in for support. They were ordered to make a sweep of the area. It was now about 4:30.
The Federals formed on the brow of a densely wooded hill. Falling abruptly to the right and left, with thick underbrush and timber. Forming across the road they were placed regiment to regiment in flanks. The 5th Iowa was at the top of the ridge, timber on their left and the slope on their right. The 11th Ohio Artillery was to their left, 48th Ohio to their left, they had never been in battle. 4th Minnesota Infantry, far to the left in an open field. Their left wing couldn’t hear the orders; they formed to the front, then to the rear. The 4th’s Commissary Sergeant became confused and rode into the ranks of the 3rd Texas. One Texan, surprised to hear a man on horse with the crashing of musketry called out “Where are you going” “I’m Just looking the situation over”…”Don’t go too far in that direction”. They never looked up to see he was wearing blue.
The 16th Iowa Infantry was placed behind the 11th Ohio Artillery and the 48th Indiana Infantry, 28th Missouri Infantry behind the 5th Iowa, and 10th Missouri behind the 28th Missouri Infantry, 80th Ohio Infantry and 17th Iowa Infantry were to the rear and left of the 16th Iowa. This had taken 30 minutes, for some reason the Confederates had not advanced.
At 5:15, 8,000 combatants met on a half mile wide field of battle. The Rebel Yell was given. The 3rd Texas came over the ridge into a hail of canister from the 11th Ohio Artillery. The Texas Legion, a battle hardened regiment knew the cannons had to be silenced and advanced on the 11th. The smoke hung in the air about head high. Under constant cannon fire, the Texas Legion moved farther left into the 48th Indiana. The 48th broke and ran, regrouped once and the broke again. Right into the 16th Iowa. The 16th Iowa fired, killing more Indianans than the enemy had. The 16th then advanced to support the Ohio Battery. In 10 minutes, the 16th suffered 76 casualties and then fell back. It was now sunset.
The 3rd Texas and the Texas Legion made one more attempt on the left section of the 11th Ohio. They were met by more canister. To the right of the 11th Ohio, the 5th Iowa and 3rd Louisiana were heavily engaged at a distance of 50 feet or less. Fearing the 5th would break, they were ordered to fix bayonets and charge, pushing the Louisianans down the hill. The 3rd then pushed them back up. Once more the 5th Iowa made a bayonet charge. This time successfully. During the second charge several rebels came out of the smoke and reached for the Iowans flag, they were shot dead. Another broke through Company B and was bayoneted. The 1st Texas then joined the fray and fired on the 5th. They had already lost 100 men. The 26th Missouri advanced to cover the 5th left wing. The entire field was engulfed. The 26th Missouri went in with 162 men and was soon reduced to 65. The 5th Iowa was forced to withdraw. In seventy five minutes of fighting the 5th Iowa lost 217 men. The 11th Ohio was on its own and fought to the last man. Forty six of their fifty four cannoneers were casualties. Only three of their eighty horses escaped. Those that were taken prisoner were swinging their sponges wildly at the enemy. After darkness fell, the 4th Minnesota was moved to the front. By now all firing had ceased. The regiment drifted and fell off line. Those on the left wing were among the 39th Ohio and 17th Iowa. Hearing unfamiliar officers giving command some panicked and fired. The 80th Ohio, 39th Ohio and 17th Iowa opened fire. All four regiments suffered casualties. At the battle of Corinth were the following Iowa Infantry units: 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th.
Our next objective was Vicksburg, after several attempts over a six month period, we laid siege to the city and forced its surrender on July 4, 1863. They didn’t celebrate Independence Day until 1942. Iowa had 14 regiments at Vicksburg. Three more Iowans were awarded the Medal of Honor for their action at Vicksburg. The Mississippi River was now controlled by the North. Samuel Merrill (who bought the cloth for the 1st Iowa) was the Colonel of the 21st Iowa. He was seriously wounded at the Battle of Black River, 24 miles south of Vicksburg in May, 1863. He resigned as a result of his wounds and returned to Iowa. He became Iowa’s 7th governor in 1868.
Several Iowa regiments were kept in Missouri and Arkansas, others were sent into Texas and Louisiana. The majority of the Iowans and the army moved east towards Atlanta. Now under the command of William Techumseh Sherman in 1864 and ’65, Iowa fought at Kennesaw Mountain, Alatoona Pass, Atlanta, Savannah, Franklin, Nashville, through Georgia into South Carolina. Sherman liked the Midwesterner because they knew how to forage for food and took long strides when they marched. The Iowa infantry regiments at Chattanooga were 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th, 10th, 17th, 25th, 25th, 30th, and the 31st and the 1st Iowa Artillery. Sherman’s "March to the Sea" included Iowa troops from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 25th, 26th, 30th, 32nd, and the 39th Infantry regiments, the 5th and 8th cavalry and the 1st Artillery. At Franklin and Nashville in November and December, 1864, were the Iowa 12th, 27th, 32nd and 35th, and the 2nd Iowa Artillery, the 2nd, 5th and 8th Iowa Cavalry. Iowans also fought at Memphis, Mobile Bay, Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely. These were all victories for the Union.
On February 16, 1865, it was agreed that the rebel forces would withdraw and surrender Columbia, South Carolina to General Sherman’s army. South Carolina was the first state in rebellion to fire upon Union forces, and Columbia is where the first Articles of Secession were signed
On the morning of the 17th, General Sherman determined that Crocker’s Iowa Brigade would have the honor of being first into the city and first to raise the United States Flag over the South Carolina state house. At 9 a.m. twenty-four men, including three officers, rowed across the river in “an old rickety, leaky, flat ferry boat” into Columbia. Stragglers of the rebel army were still present and firing rounds in the city. This small band of men met with the Mayor at 10 a.m., who stated that “in all sincerity, the city is surrendering”. A Colonel, a Major and a Color Bearer, forced their way into the statehouse, forcing doors open. They were soon met by the hurried janitor, with keys in hand, who led them to the roof. It was there that the National Colors were planted atop the South Carolina Capitol by Color Bearer Jacob Binkerd, Company B, 13th Iowa. For the first time since before the war commenced the National Flag flew from the Carolina state house. After a time and considering that all was secure, Binkerd fastened the Standard to the railing and wandered down into the chambers of the House of Representatives to look for souvenirs. When he returned to the roof, he found the flag gone. There in its place waved the flag of the 30th Iowa Infantry. Asking as to the where-abouts of the flag they said “there was no flag here when we arrived”. Two weeks later the 30th Iowa returned the missing flag to the 13th. Corporal Binkerd is buried a mile and a half north of Colfax.
General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered his army of 89, 270 men to Sherman on April 26, 1865, near Durham, North Carolina, ending the fighting in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. General Richard Taylor surrendered his armies of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana on May 4. General Stand Watie surrendered in what is now Choctaw County, Oklahoma on June 23.
On May 23 and 24, the Grand Review of the Armies was held in Washington City. The Army of the Potomac marched on the 23rd and Sherman’s Army of the Tennessee marched on the 24th. It is said the crowds cheered the loudest on the second day.