Recalling pleasant things and taking the time to dwell on them.
Iowa & The Civil War – 1861-1865.
In April of 1861, most Iowans were going about the business of building a young state. Farms and towns were being established. Railroads connected most settled areas in the eastern part of the state and were gradually being extended westward.
But, on April 12, 1861, the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter changed everything. Personal concerns were put aside, and the entire nation became involved in a civil war.
Iowa, being a northern state since 1846, was thrust into the conflict just as every state in the Union was. The War Department issued a call for volunteers and asked for one regiment from Iowa. Governor Samuel Kirkwood was uncertain if Iowa could raise the number of volunteers necessary to meet its quota, but enough men enlisted to form ten regiments. In total, Iowa furnished 48 infantry regiments, 9 cavalry regiments and 4 batteries of artillery. The Hawkeye State also furnished one black regiment and one thousand replacement troops to the Union cause.
Between 1861-1865, there were no major battles between Union and Confederate forces in Iowa. In truth however, 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. During this four year period, Iowa – with a total population of 674,913 in 1860 – provided 76,534 men to fight with the Union Army. 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.
Three Iowans became major generals during the war. Samuel Curtis of Keokuk (above left) was a graduate of West Point. He was also a member of Iowa’s congressional delegation. He resigned from Congress in 1861 and commanded Iowa forces at the Battle of Pea Ridge. Grenville M. Dodge (above middle), an engineer and railroad builder, had settled in Council Bluffs in the 1850s. He recruited a company of volunteers at the start of the war and served under General Curtis at the Battle of Pea Ridge. He participated in many major battles – including Vicksburg and Chattanooga. He was wounded three times. Iowa’s youngest major general was Francis Herron (above right), a Dubuque banker. He served at both Pea Ridge (1861) and Prairie Grove (1862).
Iowans fought in many battles. Iowa soldiers first saw combat at Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, and Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Early in the war, many Iowa units accompanied General Ulysses S. Grant in his campaign to gain control of the Mississippi River. They took part in the great battles of Fort Henry, Fort Donelson and Shiloh. At Shiloh, five Iowa regiments “saved” Grant’s army by holding the center of the Union line (called the “hornets’ nest” by attacking Confederates) until late in the first day of the battle. This campaign ended with the great Union victory at Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 4, 1863. Iowa soldiers then fought in Mississippi and Tennessee. Finally, in the spring of 1864, thousands of Iowans took part in General William Tecumseh Sherman’s famous “March to the Sea” through Georgia and South Carolina.
(P-0262)Long after Lincoln’s death, his life was commemorated. This beautiful penny postcard from 1904 was created in his memory.
There are two Civil War remembrance plaques (above) posted on stone monuments outside the Johnson County Court House. The one on the left of the steps has General John Logan’s Memorial Day Order of 1868. The one on the right has Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.