1862 – Seeking Iowa Civil War Promotions.

In April of 1861, most Iowans were going about the business of building a young state. Farms and towns were being established while railroads – which had connected most settled areas in the eastern part of Iowa – were gradually extending westward. But, on April 12, 1861, the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter changed everything. Personal concerns were put aside, and the entire nation now became involved in a great Civil War.

In truth, the State of Iowa played a significant role in the North’s ultimate victory over the South, providing food, supplies, troops and officers for the war effort. Between 1861 and 1865, Iowa – with a total population of 674,913 in 1860 – provided 76,534 men to fight with the Union Army – making up forty-eight infantry regiments, nine cavalry regiments, four artillery regiments, and one regiment of black infantry – the 1st Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment. In fact, Iowa contributed more troops per capita to the Union Army than any other state, and during that war, 13,001 Iowa soldiers – 17% – died. 1/3rd of those perished because of war wounds, while 2/3rd died because of disease. And, oh yes, another 8,500 Iowa men – 11% – came home severely wounded.

Samuel J. Kirkwood (above left), who ended up being called Iowa’s Civil War Governor, was newly-elected to the office (1859), and when the war started, he immediately went to work – leading efforts to raise and equip volunteer troops for Federal service. Kirkwood’s two political comrades in Washington D.C. – U.S. Senators James B. Harlan and James W. Grimes (above middle & left) – were both firm believers in Abraham Lincoln’s mission for America, and were strongly opposed to slavery. This strong team of Wide-Awake Republicans – all elected/appointed to their offices in the mid-to late 1850’s – had replaced a team of “old-school’ Democrats who held political views that ran contrary to Iowa’s “free-state” status – supporting the South’s acceptance of slavery in our American culture. Read more here.

In another post we introduced you to four Civil War soldiers from Iowa City. Here, we’d like to introduce you to four more brave soldiers from Iowa, and do so by sharing two unique letters written in the summer of 1862 – both whose contents display the type of letters received on a regular basis by state leaders like Kirkwood, Harlan, and Grimes.

Our first letter was written on June 23rd, 1862 in St. Louis by Colonel Marcellus M. Crocker (below left) and signed by Colonel James M. Tuttle (below right) and concerns the promotion of First Lieutenant James B. Weaver (below middle). Allow me to give you a bit of information about these three Iowans who first came together as they served in the 2nd Iowa Volunteer Infantry – joining the war effort in May 1861

Colonel Marcellus M. CrockerField & Staff – Company D with 2nd Iowa Volunteer Infantry (above left). Born in Indiana (1830), Crocker became a lawyer and practiced law in Des Moines/Polk County. Crocker, at age 31, was mustered in as Captain on May 27, 1861. Promoted to Major four days later – on May 31, 1861, and to Lieutenant Colonel on Sept. 6, 1861, Crocker was reassigned and promoted to Colonel on November 2, 1861 and moved to Field & Staff – 13th Iowa Volunteer Infantry.

Colonel James M. TuttleField & Staff – Company F with 2nd Iowa Volunteer Infantry (above right). Born in Ohio (1823), Tuttle moved first to Farmington, Iowa in 1846 and then to Keosauqua/Van Buren County. Tuttle was age 38 when mustered in, like M.M. Crocker, as Captain on May 27, 1861. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel four days later – on May 31, 1861, and to Colonel on Sept. 6, 1861, Tuttle was slightly wounded in the wrist – with injuries to his back – when a log was shot out from under his feet by a cannon ball at the Battle of Fort Donelson, Tenn. On June 22, 1862 – one day before our letter was written – Tuttle was appointed Brigadier General.

First Lieutenant James B. WeaverField & Staff – Company G with 2nd Iowa Volunteer Infantry (above middle). Born in Ohio (1833), Weaver – the youngest of our three soldiers – moved to Davis County, Iowa in 1842, relocating to Bloomfield in 1848. Weaver was age 27 when mustered in as First Lieutenant on May 28, 1861, and like Tuttle, he was wounded slightly at the Battle of Fort Donelson on Feb. 15, 1862.
Here’s a United States of America flag made by women from Bloomfield, Iowa. It was carried by the 2nd Iowa Infantry throughout the American Civil War and is now on display at the State Historical Museum of Iowa.

All three men – Crocker, Tuttle & Weaver – were involved with the major Civil War Battle of Shiloh at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee on April 6-7, 1862. So now, let’s look at our letter…

(JP-074a) St Louis, Mo. – June 23rd 1862
Dear Governor. The friends of 1st Lieut J.B. Weaver of Co. G of the 2nd Regiment of Iowa Vols, are very desirous that he receive promotion, and that, if possible, he may be appointed Major of the new Iowa Regiment (the 18th) now forming.

These three Iowans had been serving together in the 2nd Regiment of the Iowa Volunteer Infantry since May, 1861. Shortly after being mustered in, the 2nd Iowa Infantry began marching to St. Joseph, Missouri, where they took military control of and guarded northern Missouri railroads. From there, the 2nd Iowa embarked on the journey across Missouri and into Kentucky, for more guarding duty through October 1861. The 2nd Iowa arrived in St. Louis in late October, and by December 26, the regiment’s sick list numbered about 200. It’s during this time, when the author of our letter – Lieutenant Colonel M.M. Crocker – was promoted to Colonel and moved over to the 13th Regiment. More on him later…

(Weaver) is an officer that possesses the highest qualifications and has the full confidence of all the officers of his command. He has now served in the 2nd about 14 months as 1st Lieut, has participated in the two memorable battles of Donelson and Pittsburg Landing, at both of which he distinguished himself.

On February 14, 1862, the 2nd Regiment arrived at Fort Donelson, Tennessee. There, these brave Iowans would become legendary in one of the most crucial battles of the war. Strategically, the capture of Fort Donelson meant navigability for steamers along the Cumberland River, a direct path to the rear of Confederate forces in Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as a hold on valuable supply and communications lines. After the defeat at Fort Donelson, confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston wrote, “The blow was disastrous and almost without remedy.” On March 19, 1862, the 2nd Iowa arrived at Pittsburg Landing/Shiloh, Tennessee. There, General U.S. Grant ordered the brigade to the front where they repelled several enemy attacks, resulting in great losses for the Confederate army. The fighting was so severe that the place became known as “The Hornets’ Nest.” During this fighting at Shiloh, the 2nd Iowa, once again, proved themselves as brave and vital to the Federal forces.

I hope that you will find it possible to make him Major of the 18th Regiment. His qualifications are much above ordinary and I am quite well satisfied that he will do credit to the position and honor to the state.

Yours Very Respectfully – M.M. Crocker – Col. 13th Iowa Vols

I fully endorse the above recommendation, there being no better officer in the service.
J.M. Tuttle – Brigadier General – U.S.V.

After the bravery of the Iowa Regiments at Shiloh, several new promotions occurred. And yes, First Lieutenant James B. Weaver did have a new assignment that came his way! Keep reading…

Marcellus M. Crocker – the author of our letter, who was moved over from the Iowa 2nd Regiment to the 13th in November 1861, fought bravely at Shiloh, and after that battle, was promoted to Brigadier General on Nov. 29, 1862. When the 13th was later combined with the 11th, 15th and 16th Iowa Regiments – making a new 3rd Brigade of the 6th Division – Crocker was chosen to command that unit as well. But throughout his military career, Crocker suffered from consumption, and became very ill en route to join the army of William T. Sherman preparing for the Atlanta Campaign in 1864. He tendered his resignation on May 14, 1864, but it was not accepted by Secretary of War Stanton as “the department is unwilling that the Country should lose the service of so valuable an officer as General Crocker.” Instead, he was offered a post in New Mexico Territory, where it was thought his health might improve in an arid climate. Apparently, the assignment did end up benefiting Crocker’s health, and by late 1864, he asked to return to active field service – a request supported by Ulysses S. Grant who stated “I have never seen but three or four Division commanders his equal and we want his services.” Ordered to report to General George H. Thomas at Nashville, Crocker arrived in St. Louis on April 21, 1865, but, once again, became so ill that he could not proceed to his new assignment. Granted a ninety-day leave of absence, Crocker’s health continued to decline, and he died, at the young age of 35, at Willard’s Hotel on August 26, 1865, in Washington, D.C., and is buried in Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines.
James M. Tuttle – Our second signer of our letter, Brigadier General Tuttle, went on during the fall and winter of 1862, commanding the Union garrison at the vital supply town of Cairo, Illinois. In the spring of 1863, he was assigned the command of a division in Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s XV Corps, going on to participate in the Vicksburg Campaign and the capture of Jackson, Mississippi, again distinguishing himself in action. In September 1864, Tuttle resigned his commission, and returned to civilian life in Des Moines, where he was engaged in various mining and manufacturing interests, including partnerships in mines in Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. Among his many business interests was Tuttle Brothers, a pork packing operation he owned with his brother Martin. In 1866, he was the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Congress, but was beaten by former general Grenville M. Dodge in the general election. In 1871, he was elected to the Iowa House, and in 1883, Tuttle switched political parties and was easily re-elected to another term in the Iowa Legislature as a Republican. Tuttle died, at age 69, in 1892 in Casa Grande, Arizona, and like his friend M.M. Crocker, is buried in Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines.
James B. Weaver – After Shiloh, and the high recommendations of Crocker and Tuttle, Weaver was appointed to Major – not of the new 18th Regiment, but with his original brigade – Company G of the 2nd Regiment on July 25, 1862 – about one month after our letter to Governor Kirkwood was written. Weaver was promoted, once again, to Colonel on Oct. 13, 1862, and in the summer of 1863, was re-deployed to the Tennessee–Alabama border near Pulaski, Tennessee. His regiment was then called into action at the Battle of Resaca, a part of the Atlanta Campaign, and then continued with Major General William T. Sherman’s march through Georgia to the sea in 1864. Weaver’s enlistment ended in May 1864, and he returned to his family in Iowa. There simply isn’t room here to tell you about all Weaver accomplished in the years following the war – including two runs for the U.S. Presidency! You can read a more complete biography here. After the war ended, Weaver did receive an honorary promotion to Brevet Brigadier General, backdated to March 13, 1865. Weaver died in 1912, at age 78, and like his two Civil War partners is buried at Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines.

Which brings us, now, to our second Civil War letter…

Our second letter is a 3-pager and it comes from Captain William Peter Moriarty (below), writing on July 21, 1862 to U.S. Senator James Harlan from his home in Mount Algor in Jackson County, Iowa. Before we share the contents, here’s a brief overview of our letter’s author…

Captain William Peter MoriartyCompany I with 5th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. Born (1821) in Claremont County, Ohio, Moriarty and his wife moved Jo Daviess County, Illinois (1846) before coming to Mt. Algor/Jackson County, Iowa in 1854. At the age of 18, Moriarty enlisted in Company K with 4th U.S. Infantry, serving from January 1840 until March 1842 – when he was discharged on account of a severe disability. In Mt. Algor, Moriarty engaged in the publishing business, and from 1855-1857, he was appointed as State Printer for the governmental printing services done for the State of Iowa. When the Civil War broke out, Peter, at age 40, re-enlisted, being mustered in at Burlington as First Lieutenant on July 17, 1861. Moriarty was promoted to Captain on March 29, 1862, four months prior to writing his letter to Senator Harlan.
(JP-074b) Mount Algor – Jackson Co. Ia – July 21, 1862

Friend Harlan. I am at home from the army on a short sick leave after an absence of one year in hard and active service. From the occasional glimpses I have had of (Congressional) doings and of your action as a representative of our noble state in the Senate, it affords me great pleasure to assure you that it accords with the views and feelings often expressed in the ranks of our gallant volunteer (Regiment) in the field. Hence you are known and remembered by your friends with pride and satisfaction, and your course is endorsed by thousands you personally know not. Our state is fitly and nobly represented in Congress and our soldiers often think and speak the very sentiments you have uttered without knowing it.

The ten companies that formed the 5th Iowa Regiment were ordered into quarters by Governor of Iowa Samuel Kirkwood at different dates between June 24 and July 3, 1861. The companies rendezvoused at Burlington, Iowa, where they mustered into Federal service between July 15 and July 17.

My health permitting, I return to my Regiment in 20 days. I have command of a gallant Company in a brave and tried Regiment (5th Iowa Infantry). My aspirations would be to command a Regiment where I could have a wider range for what military talent I possess, but our excellent Governor (Kirkwood) is so besieged by more politicians seeking important military positions, that he has no chance to turn his attention to the ranks of tried and experienced men, where the right men may be found – hence many of our Regiments go into service without preparation or fitness for the arduous duties before the soldier. I have seen men holding field appointments in some of the latter Regiments sent from Iowa who reflected anything but honor upon the state or credit to the appointing power, but all those steps in the dark, soon have light and ventilation, hence the numerous resignations and changes that take place in our Regiments.

There were two major battles fought when Moriarity was with the 5th Regiment – The Battle of Island Number Ten was an engagement at the New Madrid or Kentucky Bend on the Mississippi River, lasting from February 28 to April 8, 1862, and the Siege of Corinth – also known as the First Battle of Corinth – lasting from April 29 to May 30, 1862, in Corinth, Mississippi. It’s probably in these battles, where Moriarty saw leaders that weren’t pulling their weight or commanding as they should.

If you can find time to give a little attention to a personal matter for an old friend, you will do me a valuable service. I have been so troubled with inflammatory rheumatism in the legs as to in some degree disable me from marching, while I could be very serviceable mounted. I don’t intend to lay myself aside or quit until rebellion is subdued.

As we mentioned earlier, Moriarity, when he was young, served in the U.S. Military from 1840-1842, at which time he was released due to a disability. It appears that, now once again, in 1862, his health is keeping him from being fully committed to the war assignment he’s been given. His hope is to be reassigned and promoted – moving from his infantry role in the 5th Regiment to a Cavalry Regiment – where commanding from a horse might be easier for him.

My life is given freely to the cause as long as I can move a foot or lift an arm. All I care about is some place to stand for my country. Well, I have a place now, an honorable place, but as the reasons and aspirations of which I speak are suggestive enough, I will say no more, but leave you to take your own course, dictated by your own good sense and sound judgment and not by any personal appeals from myself.

I have the honor to be very respectfully &etc
P. Moriarty – Captain – 5# Iowa Volunteers
Captain William Peter Moriarty – From what we find in the historical records, Moriarty was recommended by Senator Harlan for a new assignment, and Governor Kirkwood appears to have agreed with the idea. But, apparently, nothing came of that recommendation as Moriarty was discharged on Oct. 17, 1862 – dismissed by order of President Lincoln. It’s our guess that Moriarty’s health played a major part in that decision, but as history shows, this just might have saved his life! A little over one year later – on November 24, 1863 – the Iowa 5th Regiment crossed the Tennessee River south of South Chickamauga Creek by pontoon boat, where it fought in the Battle of Missionary Ridge. Here, while the Union troops prevailed, out of 248 officers and men present at the beginning of the battle, the 5th Regiment suffered 106 casualties, including 82 captured!

Returning to Jackson County, Iowa after being released from military service (1862), Moriarty went back to his printing business. A Republican – fully supportive of Lincoln in 1860 – suddenly changed his political interests during the 1864 election. Who knows? Maybe he was disgruntled at Lincoln for discharging him in 1862, but for whatever reason, Moriarty decided to back the Democratic nominee – George B. McClellan. You can see from the newspaper article (above), this Moriarty switcheroo caused quite the controversy around Iowa!

With McClellan losing badly to Lincoln in the 1864 election, Moriarty must have seen the light, and returned to the Republican Party for the rest of his days. He and his family moved to Council Grove in Morris County, Kansas in 1872, where Moriarty purchased and published The Morris County Republican. This work continued until Moriarty’s death – at age 55 – in Council Grove on June 16, 1875, at which time the newspaper passed into the hands of his son.

So, there you have it – two major Iowa leaders – Governor Kirkwood & Senator Harlan – passing on the high recommendations for promotion for four dedicated Civil War soldiers.

M.M. Crocker, J.M. Tuttle, J.B. Weaver and W.P. Morairty. Thanks for your service to Iowa and the Nation! Godspeed!

Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.

Iowa in the American Civil War, Wikipedia

2nd Iowa Infantry Regiment, Wikipedia

13th Iowa Infantry Regiment, Wikipedia

Marcellus M. Crocker, Wikipedia

Marcellus Monroe Crocker, Find-A-Grave

James M. Tuttle, Wikipedia

James Madison Tuttle, Find-A-Grave

Weaver, James Baird, Biographical Dictionary of Iowa

James B. Weaver, Wikipedia

James Baird Weaver, Wikipedia

United States of America flag made by women from Bloomfield, Iowa that was carried by the 2nd Iowa Infantry throughout the American Civil War which is on display at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, Wikipedia

Mount Algor, Jackson County Ghost Towns, IowaGhostTowns.com

William Peter Moriarty, Kansas And Its Surnames, KansasOakland.blogspot

5th Iowa Infantry Regiment, Wikipedia

Battle of Island Number Ten, Wikipedia

Siege of Corinth, Wikipedia

A Valuable Acquisition, Muscatine Weekly Journal, September 9, 1864, p 1

1864 United States presidential election, Wikipedia

Capt Peter Moriarty, Find-A-Grave

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