IAGenWeb Project

Iowa History

       An IAGenWeb Special Project


Join the IAGenWeb Team



Iowa Historical Record Quarterly

Published Quarterly by the State Historical Society, Iowa City, Iowa


VOL. IV. APRIL, 1888. No. 2


    When the Rebellion burst upon the loyal States of our Union the demands of the Government for troops with which to meet and overthrow it were of course urgent and very great. The uprising of the entire North in answer to these demands was the most magnificent popular movement this world ever saw. It seemed as if an overruling providence had so guided the rebel machinations as to lead them to so strike their first blow as best to arouse the national spirit to the defense of the Union.
    The thunder of the rebel cannon upon Fort Sumter, amid the shouts and loud acclaims of the rebel hosts, proved in fact the death knell to all their hopes and aspirations. Nowhere did the fires of patriotism burn more brightly than on the prairies of Iowa, from river to river all over the State.
    When the first call was made for 75,000 men for three months of service there seemed almost a fight for places, and in Iowa two regiments were enlisted when but one was called for and but one could be accepted. But such was the spirit of the enlisted men that so soon as a call came for enlistments for three years' service this seasoned regiment, which had enlisted but for three months, went bodily into the three years' service. As the conflict progressed and increased in magnitude the Government, in 1862, issued a call for 300,000 men to be enlisted for three years' service, and for another 300,000 to be enlisted for nine months, if possible, but if not then to be drafted. Then was the time we saw the war spirit on the rampage here in Iowa. In our own county we saw 700 men go into the Twenty-Second Regiment, while some 500 had gone out before. The quota for Iowa in each one of these calls was about 10,500 men. The first was soon filled. As to the second, Gov. Kirkwood said he would not put in a man for nine months. He said it took nine months for raw recruits to become of value as soldiers, to become inured to camp and march, to change of food and habits, and the exposure incident to army life, and efficient in drill and the use of arms. By the time they had got thus far and were beginning to be soldiers indeed their term of enlistment would expire and they be lost to the service. So he called upon the patriotism of Iowa to fill this call also with three years' men, and so well was his call responded to that the whole number were so enlisted and sent to the field. Of all the wise things done by Gov. Kirkwood during the war, and there were very many of them, none were wiser than this. Had this call been filled throughout the country in the same manner, the rebellion would have collapsed much sooner than it did, and tens of thousands of precious lives and hundreds of millions of treasure been saved. But all Governors did not have Iowa patriotism to draw upon. But Iowa received at Washington credit only for the number of men sent, without reference to the time of their enlistment. As the war progressed, with all its casualties and the expiration of the enlistments of the nine months' men, more recruits were wanted, and as they could not be enlisted fast enough a draft was ordered in 1863, and Iowa was called upon to furnish troops under it. I then suggested to Gov. Kirkwood that Iowa was entitled to credit for the time of enlistments as well as for the number of men enlisted. He directed me to correspond with the War Department and present the claim. This I at once did and received prompt reply that the claim was just, but that the department was overwhelmed with work and had no time then to adjust the matter, but would do so and give due credit on any subsequent call—that the necessity for men was most pressing and this draft must go on, as it did, early in 1864. In July, 1864, another draft was ordered and Iowa had not received her due credit. Gov. Kirkwood's term closed in January, 1864, and Gov. Stone succeeded him. He also pressed this claim for credit, but it was not until January 23d, 1865, that he was enabled to issue his proclamation announcing that, " After a careful settlement with the War Department and adjustment of credits due under previous calls, together with recent enlistments, we are gratified in being able to announce that all demands by the Government upon this State for troops have been filled, and that we are placed beyond the liability of a draft under the impending call for 300,000 one years' men." Had proper credit for these three years' men been obtained as the men were furnished our quota would have been full when the first draft was ordered and, with the enlistments which were constantly being made, all calls would have been met by enlistments and Iowa at no time subject to a draft. The 10,500 for three years were equal in time of service to 42,000 men enlisted for nine months. In actual value they were vastly greater than this. They were, after the nine months expired, veterans in service to the close of the war, while some of the greatest embarrassments the Government encountered were from the expiration of the terms of the nine months' men from the other States.
    This was one of the most striking and creditable events in Iowa's glorious war record—that she went so far beyond the demand made upon her by the Government as to furnish this so vastly greater support than she was asked to do, or than any other State in the Union did do or attempt to do. The initiation of this was due to the good sense and sound judgment of Gov. Kirkwood. The fulfillment of it was due to the abounding patriotism and heroic valor of the young manhood of Iowa.


back to History Index