Friday, July 13, 2012

History of Clinton, Iowa Regiments in the Civil War

by L. P. Allen.

Civil War Battle from an 1865 print in Harper's New Monthly Magazine
On the 15th of April, President Lincoln issued his call for 75,000 men, and, three days later, recruiting began in Clinton County in response to the call.

Capt. H. P. Cox prepared a muster-roll in Lyons, and Lieut. Thomas Snowden one in Clinton.

On Thursday evening, April 18 a war meeting was held in Lyons, which filled their largest hall to overflowing. It was presided over by Mayor Samuel. G. Magill, and, as expressed in the report of the Lyons Advocate, "The speech of the President was earnest, forcible, and running over with patriotism."

"The President took his seat amid deafening cheers of the assembled multitude each one of whom seemed to be brimful of patriotism, as was the case also with quite a number of ladies present. The portrait of Washington was brought into the room as the cheers for the Chairman subsided, but, as the calm and placid face was placed above the seats occupied by the officers, a perfect furor of applause greeted it.’’ Patriotic airs were sung, doubtless, with an expression and depth of feeling never before experienced by those present. Speeches were made and appropriate resolutions adopted, and many expressed their willingness to pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor" in the cause, if need be. On the next day, the proper muster-rolls were prepared, and seventeen men enrolled their names upon them at once.

On the 19th of April, a large and enthusiastic meeting was held in Clinton presided over by Mayor John C. Bucher, and Dennis Whitney, Secretary. The lines of party were for the time obliterated, and the unanimous voice that of patriotic sentiment. At the close of the meeting, nineteen men enrolled themselves as volunteers to serve for three months or during the war, and sums of money were pledged for the expenses of equipping and furnishing needed supplies.

These men formed the nucleus for the first company raised in the county, and a week later its ranks were filled. The company was at first called the Clinton County Guards. The outburst of enthusiasm had spread throughout the State. Five Companies hurried to the rendezvous at Davenport. As yet but little system or methodical action had developed. The storm had burst suddenly. No provision for equipping and placing troops in the field had been made by the State, and the executive officers for the moment were bewildered by the crisis with which they were confronted. In this emergency, the people sprang into the breach, and not only furnished the men but also the material of war. On the 27th of April, the City Council of Lyons appropriated $650 to purchase the material with which to equip the "Clinton County Guards." The women, to whom and to their loyal sisters throughout the whole land the nation is ever a debtor for their unselfish devotion, sacrifices ministrations and prayers from the hour when the first shock came until the hour when the memory of the last fallen patriot had been embalmed in the sorrow-stricken heart of mother, wife, sister or lover, to the number of about fifty assembled and, as expressed by the editor of the Advocate, "all with busy hands and devoted hearts were preparing garments for those who have volunteered to defend what these ladies love next to their Father in Heaven -the flag of their country. What hand can falter when the ladies of the land show such devotion to the cause? What heart will faint when encased in the uniform prepared by such hands, the scams of which may have been moistened by the tears of love - unbidden tears, that the necessity should exist for such a work." Two weeks later, a list of the names of eighty-seven ladies who had assisted in the work of preparing the uniforms of this company was published. This company soon went forward fully uniformed in gray, trimmed with red, and joined the Second Iowa Infantry as Company I June 5, 1861, with the following officers Captain, H.P. Cox; First Lieutenant, Noel B. Howard; Second Lieutenant Thomas Snowden. The day previous to their departure, they were presented with an elegant silk flag by the ladies of Lyons.

This company, the first of the many sent from Clinton County to defend the Union, was enlisted for three months; but, upon their arrival at Keokuk, it was announced that no more three-months’ enlistments were being accepted, and the term must be for three years unless sooner discharged. An eye-witness thus described the scene when this announcement was made: "Tuesday, at 9 A.M., we were suddenly called into line, and our Lieutenant read to us the articles of war and explained to us that we were to be sworn in for three years, unless sooner discharged. An opportunity was then given to anyone to leave the ranks who did not wish to take the oath on those conditions. No one left the ranks. We then broke ranks, and, being called together at 11 o’clock A.M., one of the number did not wish to go, stating that he could not be away from his family so long. We had pretty fairly discussed the three-year question before, and, although some seemed to think that some fair ones would be looking for them before then, all came to the conclusion that they must wait. Country first, and then home and those who make it, recognizing, without a country there is no home’". At 12 o’clock, they took their stand in line, the oath was administered and Clinton County had given its first company of brave men into the service of the United States. Out of this company, the first soldier fell Corporal Albert E. Winchell, who was killed by the accidental discharge of a comrades musket while the company were on scouting service in Missouri, June 27, 1861. After arduous service for the term of their enlistment, many of the members who survived returned home in the summer of 1864, and those who re-enlisted were consolidated into six companies, known as the Second Iowa Veteran Infantry, Lieut. Col. N.B. Howard, and, in November following, the veterans of the Third Iowa were merged with, them, with Col Howard in command.

Meanwhile, W.E. Leffingwell and others were engaged in raising a company of cavalry, which was then known as the "Hawk-Eye Rangers." This company furnished their own horses and accouterments. Many of the horses were sold by the farmers to the young men who had more courage than currency, upon securities that would give a bank discount clerk ‘‘awful pause." The ranks of this company were soon filled to one hundred strong, and on the 25th of July, left for the rendezvous at Burlington. As indicated above, this company was raised and equipped without State or Government aid and was the first fully equipped company of cavalry raised in Iowa. It became Company B, First Iowa Cavalry, and was officered as follows: Captain, W.E. Leffingwell; First Lieutenant, S.S. Burdette; Second Lieutenant, William H. DeFreest.

A number of men of men from this county were also July 24, 1861, the company was presented with a beautiful flag of blue silk, and bordered with golden stars, the name of the company being displayed upon the one side while the reverse bore the name emblematically represented a hawk and an eye. In the talons of the bird was the motto— "We will meet you on the border." Their departure is described as follows: "At an early hour on Thursday morning, the bugle sounded the "assembly," and in a very short time the barracks were astir with the preparation for departure." There was but one attempt at cheering that we heard, the feelings of the people being entirely too much wrought up to indulge in a hearty cheer. With the disastrous results of the last few days in full recollection—all felt that going forth to war was no trifling matter." This was on July 25, only four days after the disastrous battle of Bull Run. The company marched overland to Burlington and became Company B, First Iowa Cavalry. in Company A, Twenty-fourth infantry, which was raised in Linn, Scott, Cedar, Jackson and Jones Counties. The officers of Company A were: Captain, S.H. Henderson, Sabula; First Lieutenant, Charles Davis, Deep Creek; Second Lieutenant, George W. Davis, Deep Creek. This company was mustered in September 18, 1862.

From this brief record, we find that ten companies wholly or in part composed of Clinton County men had taken the field within about eighteen months from the first call for troops. The returns made by the enrolling officers September 13, 1862, give the total number of men between the military ages in the county as 4,741, with 720 exempt for cause, leaving the total military list liable to service in the county, 4,021; and the report further states that already 1,459 volunteers had taken the field, or nearly one-third of the able-bodied men who were in the county when the enlistment began. Every township, city, and hamlet had contributed to this army of patriotic defenders of their country.

Still the cry came for more men, and, though prolonged and disheartening campaigns had decimated and thrice decimated the ranks of those who had early rushed into the struggle, and the conflict grew vaster and the peril more deadly, the hearts of the people did not falter, and hundreds of brave men stood ready to refill the shattered ranks and take the places of their fallen friends and townsmen.

In 1862, it was determined to raise a full regiment in the county, to be known as the Clinton County Regiment. With already depleted numbers, it seemed as if this was a sacrifice beyond the ability of the people to bear. To do this was to call for the service of every third able-bodied man within the limits of the county. However, recruiting began at once, and on the 30th of September, 1862, the Twenty-Sixth Iowa Infantry was mustered into the service with full ranks. The roster of the field and staff officers was as follows: Colonel Milo Smith, Clinton; Lieutenant Colonel, Samuel G. Magill, Lyons; Major, Samuel Clark, DeWitt; Surgeon, A.F. Hudson, Lyons; Assistant Surgeon, William McQuigg, Lyons; Additional Assistant Surgeon, George F. Wetherell, Lyons; Chaplain, Rev. John McLeish, Clinton; Quartermaster, Joseph H. Flint, Lyons.

Company A was composed largely of men from the northeastern townships of the county and the adjoining vicinity in Jackson County, and was recruited by and mustered into service under the command of the following officers: Captain Sherman R. Williams, Lyons; First Lieutenant, Asa Franklin, Lyons; Second Lieutenant, A. D. Gaston, Lyons.

Company B was nearly all of it from Jackson County, having been recruited by and was mustered in by the following officers; Captain, James W. Eckles, Maquoketa; First Lieutenant, Alva Wilson, Maquoketa; Second Lieutenant, Thomas B. Harrison, Maquoketa.

Company C was largely from the City of Clinton. Its officers were: Captain, George W. Johnson, Clinton; First Lieutenant, Peter L. Hyde, Clinton; Second Lieutenant, James McDill.

Company D was raised in Dewitt, Washington, and Waterford, and its ranks were many Irish patriots who took arms in defense of their adopted Country. Its officers were; Captain, Nathaniel A. Merrell, De Witt; First Lieutenant, James H. Runyon, De Witt; Second Lieutenant, James F. Gilmore, De Witt.

Company E was a German Company, largely made up of citizens of Lyons, Elk River, and Deep Creek. It was mustered in under the command of Captain, John Lubbers, Lyons; First Lieutenant, Edward Svendsen, Elk River; Lieutenant, Preban Hansen, Deep Creek.

Company F was raised in De Witt, Olive and Orange Townships principally. Its officers were: Captain Joel B. Bishop, De Witt; First Lieutenant, William R. Ward, De Witt; Second Lieutenant, Silas Freeman, De Witt.

Company G was an Irish Company and was recruited in and about Lyons, and from around the mouth of the Maquoketa. Its officers were: Captain James H. Heavey, Lyons; First Lieutenant, John Quinn, Lyons; Second Lieutenant, Philip MacCahill, Lyons.

Company H was recruited in the vicinity of De Witt. Its officers were: Captain C.M. Nye, De Witt; First Lieutenant, James S. Patterson, De Witt; Second Lieutenant, John Barrett, De Witt.

Company I was raised from Wheatland and the townships of Spring Rock, Liberty, Berlin and a few men from the border of Cedar County. Its officers were: Captain Edwin A.Wemple, Wheatland; First Lieutenant, John L. Steele, Wheatland; Second Lieutenant, Edward W. Bennett, Wheatland.

Company K was raised in Lyons, Deep Creek, Elk River, Washington, and Waterford Townships principally. Its officers were: Captain, Nelson C. Roe, Lyons; First Lieutenant, Nathan D. Hubbard, Deep Creek; Second Lieutenant, Lucian Pomeroy, Lyons. The Twenty-sixth Regiment was mustered out June 6, 1865.

The last Company raised in the county was Company A, Sixth Iowa Cavalry, which was mustered in January 31, 1863. Its officers were: Captain John Galligan, Clinton; First Lieutenant, John M. Gates, De Witt; Second Lieutenant, Simon J. Toll, Lyons.

Taking into account the fact that many scattering men had enlisted in other organizations and in batteries and in naval service, it may be presumed that up to this date, Clinton County had furnished over 2,500 volunteers. But notwithstanding this great number of men, who had voluntarily gone into the service, the requirements of the General Government were not satisfied, and in September 1864, the draft, which the people had made so great sacrifices to avoid, was made, and about 200 men were drawn for service from Clinton County.

Meanwhile, the women were equally as earnest and enthusiastic as their husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers. "Soldiers Aid and Relief Societies were organized in the towns and townships of the county, and systematic work inaugurated and carried forward for providing the volunteers in field and in hospital with the necessaries and luxuries they so much needed. Clothing, bed-clothing, cots, slippers, books, papers, delicacies were forwarded in unlimited quantities. It will never be possible to fully estimate the mighty impulse given to the cause, or the encouragement afforded to the soldiers during the hardships of the campaign, or the privations and dispiriting surroundings and suffering in the hospitals, by the women of the North, by their indefatigable labors.

The Board of Supervisors took action at a special session held July 5th, 1861 and voted $5,000 to equip and uniform the "Hawk-Eye Rangers", which vote only had two dissenting voices. This money was expended by special committee of their number, viz.: James Van Deventer, George Griswold, and John F. Homer, who so faithfully executed their trust as to receive a vote of thanks from the associate members. On September 30, 1861, the following resolution was unanimously passed:

"That each Supervisor be and is hereby appointed a committee to provide relief in his township to the destitute family of any volunteer who is now or may be engaged in the military service of the State or the United States."

This was continued throughout the war, being broadened in its scope at the September session, 1862, to include the needy families of those who had died in the service as well as those serving.

On the 11th of August, 1862, the Supervisors, or a majority of them, informally pledged a bounty of $75 to each volunteer who had entered the service prior to that time; and, at the September session, the matter being brought up for official action, it was found that this could not be legally done. The board immediately prepared a memorial to the Legislature, then in session at Des Moines, praying for proper legislation to permit the granting of such bounty and dispatched one of their number to urge its immediate passage, and, at the October term, the provisions of the resolutions were extended to include the soldiers of the Twenty-sixth Regiment, which had just taken the field, and passed. About $75,000 were disbursed under this resolution.

Taken from -  History of Clinton County, Iowa.  By L. P. Allen.  1879

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