Our Iowa Heritage Index: Iowa And The Civil War.

As you can see, our growing website Our Iowa Heritage covers a lot of time (pre-1800 to the present) and a lot of people. We’ve written about famous people and the not-so-famous ones as well. Yet, despite a person’s prominence (or lack of it), everybody has a story. And as you read our posts, you’ll hopefully discover that everyone’s story is a good one. So, in order to better find these good stories and details surrounding them, we’ve added this INDEX of HISTORICAL ACCOUNTS to help you along the way. Enjoy your journey.

Our Iowa Heritage: An Introduction. We might suggest you start here! Here’s how & why I got started collecting stamps, coins, and other Iowa memorabilia.

Samuel J. Kirkwood – Iowa’s Civil War Governor. After the Lincoln-Douglass debates changed American politics, gubernatorial candidates Samuel Kirkwood and Augustus Dodge crisscrossed Iowa debating the pros and cons of slavery. In 1860, Iowans chose rightly, sending Kirkwood to Des Moines, opening the door for a humble miller from Coralville to become Iowa’s famous Civil War Governor.

Iowa & The Underground Railroad. From the moment Iowa was first proposed to become the 29th State in the Union, the pressure was on the good people of The Hawkeye State to decide if we would be a northern state, siding with those against slavery, or join with our neighbors to the south, Missouri, which was a slave state. Iowa overwhelming supported freedom for all, thus becoming an important stop in The Underground Railroad.

Iowa & The Civil War – 1861-1865. As a ‘free state’ Iowans played a major role in the Civil War. Under the leadership of Iowa’s Civil War Governor – Samuel Kirkwood – Iowa offered 48 infantry regiments, 9 cavalry regiments and 4 batteries of artillery to the Union troops. The Hawkeye State also furnished one black regiment and one thousand replacement troops for the war effort between 1861 and 1865.

The Great American Postage Stamp Exchange Of 1861. After the Civil War broke out in April 1861, the U.S. Postal Service was concerned that rebels in the Confederate States would sell their U.S. postage stamps back to northerners – thus providing funding for the South. By mid-year, a whole new set of U.S. stamps was issued with strict instructions for postmasters in the North to make the transition from old to new within a six-day window. Obviously, with communication and transportation issues slowing things down, this Great American Postage Stamp Exchange of 1861 had a few hiccups along the way!

Iowa City’s Civil War Postmaster – J.R. Hartsock. During the Civil War, moving mail quickly across the nation was a high priority. Here in Iowa City, we had a dedicated postmaster who took this job seriously, and in the process, won over the hearts of Iowa Citians. Upon his retirement in 1872, the new building/hotel on the southeast corner of Clinton Street & Iowa Avenue was named after him.

Major Ira J. Alder – The Hundred-Day Civil War Veteran. In 1864, the North desperately needed more man-power. President Lincoln approved a recruitment idea that added over 80,000 men to the war effort, asking each man for a 100-day commitment. SUI student, Ira Alder was one of those young men who served his country and then returned to Iowa City, being called The Major until his death in 1922.

Henry County’s Newspaperman, Statesman & Civil War Hero. Here’s a salute to Samuel McFarland, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa’s Civil War hero who also played a big part in the history of Iowa City as it transitioned from State Capitol to Home of the University of Iowa.


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