Delaware County IAGenWeb

Military Biography

United We Stand

Delaware County, Iowa in the Civil War
Delaware county Civil War Soldiers
of the
Twenty-first Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry

Historical information, notes & comments, in some cases correcting the record
Soldier biographies written by Carl Ingwalson

Carl will do look-ups in his extensive records of the 21st Iowa and he is always willing to share what he has.


Alonzo John Rutter, the son of Emerson and Mary Rutter, was born on June 14, 1837, in Smithfield, Rhode Island. A brother, Hollis E. Rutter, was born in 1842 and another brother, Jubal Adelbert Rutter, in 1844, both in New York. The family moved to Delaware County, Iowa, in about 1856.

On Christmas Day, 1856, nineteen year old Alonzo married Mary Emily Finch in Spring Branch, Iowa. Sixteen-year-old Mary was born June 6, 1840. They would have at least ten children, three of whom were born before the Civil War: Flora L. Rutter was born on September 12, 1857, Alice L. Rutter was born on March 17, 1859 and, two months before Confederate guns fired on Fort Sumter, Dora Emily Rutter was born on February 3, 1861. All three of the girls were born in Delaware County.

On August 14, 1861, Hollis enlisted in the state’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment. The following year, on August 15, 1862, Alonzo enlisted in what would be Company K of the 21st Iowa Infantry.

Company K was mustered into service at Camp Franklin in Dubuque on August 23rd and the regiment, also at Camp Franklin, on September 9th. Training was brief, but Company B’s William Crooke said, “the process of getting used to restraints of freedom, to inclemencies of weather, to hard beds, and new forms of food, sometimes not well cooked, was not always a pleasant one. Habits of obedience had to be formed.” A different view was given by a postwar author who said “the rendezvous was so near the men’s homes, that their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, sweethearts, and friends, were too often present to allow either drill or discipline to any great extent. But, whatever the cause, the main fact is, the regiment was not drilled at Camp Franklin.”

On a rainy September 16th, they left Dubuque on board the sidewheel steamer Henry Clay and two barges tied alongside. They transferred downstream to the Hawkeye State, reached St. Louis at 10:00am on the 20th, and the next night left by rail for Rolla. Alonzo was marked “present” on the bimonthly company muster rolls for October 31st at Salem and December 31st at Houston. From there they were ordered to West Plains and, on January 26th, started their march - on the wrong road. They had covered five or six miles in "mud knee deep" by the time they realized their mistake, reversed direction, and started a return to Houston. The weather was cold and the march exhausting but, bit by bit, in small groups, they arrived about dark. All were tired, wet and very hungry. Alonzo said he “gave out and was one of the last to get into camp.”

The next day, those able for duty left on the right road, but Alonzo, suffering from ague and a fever, was one of many who were sick and left behind. He was transferred from one place to another but eventually rejoined the regiment and was present when it was stationed at Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana, in April. General Grant was planning a Vicksburg campaign that would entail a march south along dirt roads, through swamps and across bayous west of the Mississippi and only able-bodied men were needed. On April 11th, Alonzo was still convalescing when he was admitted to the hospital steamer Nashville and the next day his regiment started its march.

On May 4th, with an intermittent fever, Alonzo was transferred to the City of Memphis. On the 11th, he was suffering from chronic diarrhea when he was transferred to the Marine General Hospital in St. Louis. On June 8th, he was transferred to the Keokuk General Hospital where he arrived the next day. He was still there on July 21st when he wrote to an aunt, Caroline Stone, in Friendship, New York. “I don’t expect that I will ever be fit for field duty,” he said. “I am completely broke down.”

Despite his prediction, military records indicate Alonzo returned to the regiment on September 29, 1863, and was marked “present” on all subsequent company muster rolls until being mustered out with the regiment on July 15, 1865, at Baton Rouge. Although “present,” records don’t indicate if he was able for duty the entire time.

Meanwhile, Jubal enlisted in the 2nd Cavalry on February 26, 1864, and Hollis reenlisted in the same regiment on March 28, 1864. Alonzo was mustered out of service on July 15, 1865, and discharged at Clinton on July 24th. Jubal and Hollis were mustered out on September 19, 1865, at Selma, Alabama.

By the time Alonzo returned home, Flora was seven years old, Alice was six and Dora was four. Another daughter, Nina Estelle, was born in Delaware County on May 16, 1866, and a son, Adelbert E. was born on December 29, 1869.

On January 3, 1871, giving his address as Cherokee, Iowa, thirty-three-year-old Alonzo applied for an invalid pension. He said he had been working as a carpenter, but was suffering from service-related chronic diarrhea, piles and general debility. A surgeon thought Alonzo was “one-half degree incapacitated for obtaining his subsistence by manual labor,” but the claim was rejected.

A daughter, whose name was given by her father as H. Louresa Rutter, was born on February 12, 1871. Alonzo said they moved to Sibley in Osceola County in 1872 and that where their next child, William Eugene was born on April 1, 1873. He was followed by Leona P. on October 29, 1878, and by Phillip E. on August 22, 1879.

On June 22, 1880, giving his Post Office address as Sibley, Alonzo applied again. He retained George Lemon, a well-known pension attorney, to assist him and said he had suffered a hearing loss starting in March, 1863, that was caused by exposure and the use of quinine by the doctors who treated him. He was, he said, “a poor man with a large family dependent upon him and he has been without means wherewith to employ a physician.” He submitted additional affidavits and secured others from people who knew him, people such as Rock Rapids’ resident John Kaster who said Alonzo “was very deaf at the time of his discharge and has been ever since” and Flora Dixon who agreed that Alonzo was deaf. This time a pension was granted at $6.00 retroactive to the day after his discharge and $8.00 effective January 3, 1883.

Pension laws became more liberal as years passed and, like most pensioned veterans, Alonzo made several requests that his monthly pension be increased. His requests were granted and his pension was increased to $12.00 in 1884 and $16.00 in 1885. By then they were living in Pipestone, Minnesota, and that’s where their last child, Guy Alonzo Rutter was born on February 8, 1887.

The monthly pension, payable quarterly through a local pension agent, was increased to $18.00 in 1887, $22.00 in 1888, and $25.00 in 1888.

Alonzo’s father, Emerson Rutter, died on April 21, 1891, and was buried in Hopkinton Cemetery. Alonzo and Mary were still in Pipestone but, in 1899, Alonzo gave his address as Northfield, Minnesota, when he applied for another increase. Mary explained that they lived in Northfield for two years “so our son Eugene could stay at home and go the Carlton Colledge,” but then returned to Pipestone.

Some of their children stayed in the area while others moved away. A private bill was passed by Congress increasing Alonzo’s pension to $40.00 monthly but, less than four months later, on September 15, 1910, Alonzo died at age seventy-three. He was buried in Pipestone Cemetery. Mary applied for the balance of his accrued but unpaid pension and requested her own pension. On January 10, 1911, she was approved for $12.00 monthly, but died the following year on January 22d. She is buried in Riverview Cemetery, Rock Rapids, Iowa.

Alonzo’s brother, Hollis, moved to California where he died on October 12, 1914. Jubal was the last of the brothers to die. He moved to Kansas, and died on September 24, 1936.

~ Compiled & submitted by Carl Ingwalson <>