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History of Iowa

Volume II

Chapter VII

Picture included in this chapter is of Colonel William M. Stone



The last raid into Iowa by Missouri guerrillas was in October, 1864. On the morning of the 12th, twelve young men, dressed in Federal uniforms, and mounted on good horses, entered Davis County in the southeast corner, and, riding along the highway at a rapid gait, began to plunder the farm houses and people they met on the road. They seized such arms as they found, and destroying them, took some of the citizens prisoners. Their leader was Lieutenant James Jackson, who sent out small detachments on intersecting roads to bring in plunder. The point at which they entered the county was about sixteen miles from Bloomfield, and, as they advanced with a large number of prisoners, they presented a formidable appearance that so terrified the inhabitants that it was several hours before the news of the raid reached the county seat. The first man killed was Thomas Hurdy, a farmer, who refused to give up his team. The leader shot him in his wagon and robbed his body of about four hundred dollars. The next man killed was a returned soldier from the Third Iowa Cavalry, Eleazer Small, who was shot by the leader, who dismounted and coolly rifled the pockets of the dying man. At Springville, the marauders went to the residence of Captain Philip Bunce, an officer of the Thirtieth Iowa Infantry, who happened to be at home on a visit. They robbed him of his uniform and were about to shoot him when he walked up to the leader and in a low voice, that he might not be heard by his terrified family, requested that he might not be killed in the presence of his wife. He was accordingly taken several miles from home and brutally murdered.


When the news of the bloody raid reached Bloomfield, the county fair was in session. The men rushed to the arsenal, where arms and ammunition were hastily distributed, horses were taken from the wagons and mounted, Colonel J. B. Weaver was called to the command. A company of mounted men was soon organized, and, led by Weaver, started in pursuit of the guerrillas, while Lieutenant-Colonel S. A. Moore took command of the militia to protect the town. The party under Weaver struck the trail of the outlaws at Hurdy’s and followed it with great rapidity until the place was reached where Captain Bunce had been murdered. It was now midnight, they were in Missouri and five hours behind the raiders, as they learned from the citizens. It was impossible to track them in the darkness, and in a region where the raiders knew every bridle path and were among their friends, who would give no information to the pursuers. It was useless to proceed further and Weaver’s party reluctantly turned back, taking the of Captain Bunce. On the 7th of November, while three men in Davis County were attempting to arrest suspicious characters, one of them, William Wallace, was shot by the raiders and killed. During these troubles in teat county, thirteen of the guerrillas were captured by the militia, and delivered to the proper authorities.

Governor Kirkwood, having declined to be a candidate for a third term, there was a lively contest between the supporters of General Fitz Henry Warren and Elijah Sells, Secretary of State, before the Republican State Convention, which assembled at Des Moines on the 17th of June, 1863, to nominate candidates for Governor and other State officers. Colonel William M. Stone, of the Twenty-second Regiment, who was home with a wound in his arm, received before Vicksburg, had a few supporters, who held the balance of power between the two chief candidates. The night before the convention, after the delegates had arrived in the city, a rally was held in the convention hall, at which General Warren and Colonel Stone were the chief speakers. Warren, who was an accomplished gentleman and an experienced politician, opened the meeting with a polished address, but most injudiciously made some remarks which seemed to reflect upon his principal competitor and gave great offense to the supporters of Mr. Sells, who was not a public speaker, and who did not address the meeting. Colonel Stone saw the mistake and was not slow to profit by it. When called out, he walked up to the platform in his blue uniform, with his wounded arm in a sling. The war feeling was high at this time, with Grant’s army covered with the glory of that wonderful campaign, in which he had outgeneraled and prevented the junction of the armies of Johnston and Pemberton, beaten both in a series of brilliant engagements, and was now tightening the coils around the Confederate stronghold at Vicksburg. Iowa regiments and officers had won fame in Grant’s army and every Republican was wrought to the highest tension, waiting for the news of the fall of Vicksburg. As Stone paused a moment on the platform, the representative of “our boys in blue” with Grant, he must have realized that the opportunity of a life time was before him. He was equal to the occasion. Always an eloquent stump speaker, he now seemed inspired by the surroundings, and without alluding to the impending political contest on the morrow, he brought a message from the army before Vicksburg. Paying an eloquent tribute to the Iowa soldiers and their glorious deeds on the battle-field, he continued in glowing terms to eulogize the National and State Administrations under Republican rule, the superb loyalty of the people, their sacrifices and devotion to their country during the long and bloody war. Seizing the auspicious moment he made the speech that stampeded the convention the next day and made him Governor.

When the convention assembled in the morning and the balloting began, it looked as though Warren would be nominated. When Sell’s supporters realized that the battle was lost, they turned their votes for Stone, who had developed unexpected strength after his speech the evening before. His nomination was won as clearly by an eloquent and adroit speech, as was Bryan’s at Chicago in 1896. Enoch W. Eastman was nominated for Lieutenant-Governor, and John F. Dillon for Supreme Judge. No new issues were represented in the platform he adopted.

The Democratic State Convention met at Des Moines on the 8th of July and put in nomination the following candidates: fro Governor, Maturin L. Fisher; Lieutenant-Governor, John F. Duncombe; Supreme Judge, Charles Mason. A lengthy platform of fifteen resolutions was adopted, in which the most notable declarations were these:


“We are opposed to the war for the purpose of carrying out the emancipation proclamation of the President of the United States. That the power which has recently been assumed by the President, wherein, under the guise of military necessity, he has proclaimed martial law over States where war does not exist, and has suspended the writ of habeas corpus, is unwarranted by the Constitution, and its tendency is to subvert our free government. That the establishment of military government over loyal States where war does not exist, to supersede the civil authorities and suppress the freedom of speech and of the press, and to interfere with the elective franchise, is not only subversive of the Constitution and the sovereignty of the States, but the actual inauguration of revolution.”


Mr. Fisher declined the nomination for Governor and General James M. Tuttle was placed at the head of the ticket by the State central committee. The campaign was fought out on the issues made in the above declarations by the Democratic Convention. The Republican candidates were elected by majorities ranging from 30,000 to 32,989.


The feeling of depression and gloom pervading the North after the disasters that had followed the great Army of the Potomac, under its various commanders, up to the close of the year 1862, was not lifted during the first half of 1863. General Rosecrans, after the indecisive battle near Murfreesboro, in Tennessee, in which he lost nearly 20,000 men, without advantage to the Union cause, remained inactive in that vicinity.


The Army of the Potomac, now under General Hooker had fought another great battle with Lee at Chancellorsville and had been defeated with a loss of more than 17,000 men. No great victory had been won by a Union army in any department to compensate for these failures and heavy losses. Early in June, General Lee, with his army largely reinforced, and flushed with victories, marched northward, threatening Washington and Philadelphia. Never before had the Union cause seemed in such peril. President Lincoln hastily called upon the Governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio for 120,000 militia to repel the invasion. Not more than 50,000 men from the five States responded to the call. The most serious apprehensions were felt in Washington for the safety of the city, and at no time since the beginning of the Rebellion had the people of the North felt so thoroughly disheartened. Their country was about to be invaded and all the horrors of war brought to their homes.


The largest and best army ever raised in the Southern confederacy, composed of veterans who had never been beaten, was on the march of invasion. All attempts to crush this army, or capture the Confederate Capital, had ingloriously failed, and the National cause and its greatest army was now on the defensive. The disloyal element in the North was never so defiant as now. Loud and persistent threats were made of armed resistance to the draft. The only hopeful news for the Union cause in this time of general gloom was coming from Grant’s army in the West. He had penetrated the heart of the enemy’s country, won the a series of brilliant victories, driven a large army into the entrenchments at Vicksburg and, closing all avenues of escape, was now shelling that stronghold, the fall of which would open the Mississippi. Suddenly the gloom that had long that had long hung over the Union cause was lifted. On the 3d of July was ended the greatest battle ever fought on this continent. Fro three days the gigantic struggle for supremacy between the Confederate army under Lee, and the Union army under Meade, had raged among the hills and valleys of Gettysburg, while the Nation trembled with suspense. On the third day Lee’s army was shattered, beaten, and in full retreat with a loss of nearly 30,000 men. Next day, Pemberton surrendered his entire army, cannon, small arms, and the city of Vicksburg was reached; the capture of Jackson, the capital of the State; the fall of Vicksburg, and the opening of the Mississippi River; the surrender of an army of 37,000 after more than 10,000 had fallen in battle. The
”History of the American Conflict,” in summing up the results of this campaign says:

"This was the heaviest single blow ever given to the muscular resources of the Rebellion. No other campaign of the war equals in brilliancy of conception and general success in execution that which resulted in the capitulation of Vicksburg.”


 It is an undeniable fact that the loss of this entire army, with all its equipment, and the fall of the great stronghold of the Mississippi Valley, was a greater blow to confederacy than the defeat of Lee at Gettysburg. Although beaten, he had inflicted upon the Union army losses almost equal to his own; he had replenished his scanty army supplies from the granaries and storehouses of Pennsylvania; exchanged his worn-out cavalry horses for the well-fed animals of the northern farmers; had levied forced contributions of hundreds of thousands of dollars upon the cities in his line of march; and so slow was Meade’s pursuit that he escaped with nearly all of his plunder, and, taking a defiant position on the Rappahannock, checked Meade’s advance toward Richmond to the end of the year.


It is an undeniable fact that the loss of this entire army, with all its equipment, and the fall of the great stronghold of the Mississippi Valley, was a greater blow to Confederacy than the defeat of Lee at Gettysburg. Although beaten, he had inflicted upon the Union army losses almost equal to his own; he had replenished his scanty army supplies from the granaries and storehouses of Pennsylvania; exchanged his worn-out cavalry horses for the well-fed animals of the northern farmers; had levied forced contributions of hundreds of thousands of dollars upon the cities in his line of march; and so slow was Meade’s pursuit that he escaped with nearly all of his plunder, and, taking a defiant position on the Rappahannock, checked Meade’s advance toward Richmond to the end of the year.


The great joy of the eastern people over the firs decided victory of the Army of the Potomac, and the relief of the North from danger of invasion; so thoroughly absorbed their attention, that the greater victory in the West was not appreciated by the Nation at large. Grant’s armies form the beginning of his great career, were composed entirely of western troops, and were made up largely, to the close of his Vicksburg campaign, of Illinois and Iowa volunteers. Iowa soldiers had won fame in all of his battles and campaigns. Belmont, Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Iuka, Corinth, Champion’s Hill and Vicksburg. In the West our armies had generally been successful. Before the middle of July, 1863, we had opened the Mississippi River to New Orleans, driven the Confederate armies out of Missouri, Kentucky, the greater portion of Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. In addition to the many thousand Confederate soldiers killed and wounded in battle, our armies had taken more than 50,000 prisoners. This progress in the West had inspired a confidence among its citizens in the final overthrow of the Rebellion, which had never been seriously shaken by the disasters to the eastern armies. From the beginning to the end of the war no Iowa regiments were in the Army of the Potomac, although we had many regiments with Sheridan in his campaign of the Shenandoah Valley, when he won the brilliant victories of Opequan, fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek, in the fall of 1864.


On the 17th of October, 1863, the President issued a call for 300,000 volunteers to serve three years, if the war should last so long. This call was made necessary owing to the fact that the term of service of a large number of men now in the army would expire during the year 1864. Iowa again raised its quota with volunteers, without resort to a draft.

The Tenth General Assembly convened at Des Moines on the 11th of January, 1864. The Senate was called order by Lieutenant-Governor Needham. The House was organized by the election of Jacob Butler, speaker. In his last message to the Legislature, Governor Kirkwood, in referring to the attitude of Iowa toward the Rebellion, says:

 “The position occupied by our State in this war for the preservation of the Union is a proud and enviable one. From the first outbreak of the Rebellion, until the present time, Iowa has neither faltered nor wavered in the discharge of her duty. In both branches of the National Council has she presented an unbroken front to treason and rebellion, and has given a steady and undivided support to the General Government. Her State Government in all of its branches has given evidence of her unflinching and unconditional loyalty and devotion to the good cause. Her people have at all times and promptly filled all requisitions made upon them for troops to fill the ranks of the Union armies; and the men she has sent to the field have been at least second to none in all soldierly qualities.

When the war began ours was a new State without a history. To-day her name stands on one of the brightest pages of our country’s record, graven there by the bayonets of our brave soldiers—and that page is all over glowing with proofs of their heroism and devotion. We have sent to the field no regiment of which we do not feel justly proud, and the bare mention of the names of many of them stirs the blood and warms the heart of every Iowan. It may perhaps be permitted me to say that I trust when the history of the gallantry and devotion of these men shall be written, the position I have held will of necessity connect my name humbly and not discreditably with theirs, and that this trust affords compensation for somewhat of toil and care which have attended the position, and should be sufficient to satisfy an ambition greater than mine.”

 The Governor, in his message, pays the following well-earned tribute to his able Adjutant-General, N. B. Baker:

 “The office of Adjutant-General has been since the commencement of the war, and still is, a very important one. The labor and responsibility have been very great. The labor has always been well and promptly performed, and the responsibility cheerfully borne….It affords me great pleasure to say that whatever of success has attended the raising and organizing of troops in this State is due to the efficient services of the present incumbent of that office.”

 At the close of Governor Kirkwood’s term, the report of the Adjutant-General showed that these two officials had raised, organized and put into the field, forty regiments of infantry, nine regiments of cavalry and four batteries of artillery.

The names of these two able, faithful and devoted  public officials will be forever intimately associated with the most critical period of our National history. Governor Kirkwood was clam and deliberate, endowed with excellent judgment and possessed a vast amount of practical common sense. He was solid rather than brilliant and made few mistakes in solving the difficult problems thrust upon his administration by the war. Not the least difficult of these was the selection of field officers for the forty-nine regiments of volunteers organized during his term. Hundreds of prominent politicians sought these places, very few of whom had any knowledge of military affairs. IT was impossible to fill these most important positions with officers educated for the profession of arms, for they were not in the country. Selections had to be made had to be made largely from men engaged in civil pursuits, who must acquire a knowledge of military affairs in camp, on the march, or amid the carnage of the battle-field. Under these circumstances, it was inevitable that mistakes should be made. But in a large majority of cases the excellent judgment of the Governor and Adjutant-General enabled them to make wise selections. The incompetent were usually soon weeded out by resignation, and the places filled by promotion of those who had shown their fitness on the field of battle.

Governor Kirkwood was untiring  in his efforts to meet every requirement of the National Administration, and at the same time was constant in his attention to the wants of the sick and wounded Iowa soldiers in camp and hospital. He retired from office with the respect and esteem of all loyal citizens of the State, and his fame as one of the most eminent “War Governors” of that momentous period will endure for all time.

On the 14th of January, 1864, William M. Stone was inaugurated Governor, and Enoch W. Eastman was sworn in as Lieutenant-Governor. On the 16th, the General Assembly met in joint convention and proceeded to ballot for United States Senator. James W. Grimes received one hundred and twenty-eight votes, John D. Jennings five, and J. M. Love one. James W. Grimes was declared elected for the term of six years, beginning the 4th of March, 1865.

The most important acts of this session of the Legislature were the following: an act to organize and discipline the militia of the State; an act for the relief of the families of soldiers and marines in the service of the United States, which required the collection of two mills on the dollar of all taxable property in each county for the benefit of such families for the years 1864-1865; an act making an appropriation for the erection of a building for the State Agricultural College; an act authorizing the trustees of said college to lease or sell the lands granted by Congress for the support of that institution; an act to repeal the law of the Third General Assembly, which prohibited the immigration of free negroes into this State; an act increasing the number of Supreme Judges from three to four; an act fixing the salary of the Governor at $2,500, and requiring him to keep the Executive Office at Des Moines, where he should transact the business of the Executive Department, and keep a secretary in his absence. That all official acts of the Executive should, at the time, be entered in a journal. He should keep a military record, on which should be entered every act done by him as Commander-in-Chief. An act prohibiting the circulation of foreign bank notes in Iowa and an act abolishing the State Board of Education, and providing for the election of a Superintendent of Public Instruction were also passed.

Several joint resolutions were passed, among which were: one requesting the colonels of Iowa regiments in the service to furnish the Adjutant-General with a brief history of their respective regiments, in order that their achievements might be placed on record, and be preserved for use in permanent history; one asking a grant of public lands to aid in the construction of a rail road from McGregor to a point on the Missouri River, along or near the 43d parallel of north latitude; one authorizing the Governor to convey to S. H. Taft ten sections of land in Humboldt County upon which he had located a colony.

No act of this General Assembly proved to be of such far-reaching importance as that authorizing the lease of the lands of the Agricultural College grant. Under that grant, 224,169 acres of Government lands had been selected in our State by Peter Melendy, the commissioner appointed by Governor Kirkwood in the years 1862-1863. there were, at this time, and for many years afterward, hundred of thousands of acres of Government lands in Iowa subject to homestead entry at the cost of but fourteen dollars to the settler upon one hundred and sixty acres. Under such conditions there could be no hope of selling lands of the college grant for many years. The college could not be opened until revenue sufficient to meet current expenses could be derived from this land grant. The state would make appropriations for the erection of buildings, but not for the support of the school. There was a growing and earnest demand for the establishment of the institution. The friends and founders of the college were not willing that this munificent grant should be sacrificed fro the insignificant sum that a sale of any portion would bring then, if, indeed, the lands could be sold at any price. In order to solve the difficult problem, if possible, Senators B. F. Gue, one of the originators of the Agricultural College bill, held several consultations, calling Governor Kirkwood to confer with them. They finally devised the plan of having an appraised value placed on each tract of the land, at which price it would be sold at the end of five years to the person who should lease it, he paying interest at the rate of six per cent. In advance, annually, on the appraised value of the land leased. The title remaining in the State, the lands were exempt from taxation, the person leasing with the privilege of buying, was neither required to improve nor to live upon the land, as in the case of one taking a homestead, and the amount that one person could lease and buy was not limited. These conditions made the college lands the most desirable investment to a large class of people who had confidence that in the future there must be great increase in the value of Iowa lands. This plan of disposing of the college grant met the approval of the General Assembly and was promptly enacted into law. Its workings met the most sanguine expectations of projectors, as will be seen hereafter.

Article IX of the Constitution, which established a Board of Education, also provided that after the year 1863, the General Assembly should have power to abolish or reorganize the Board. After a trial of five years, public opinion clearly demanded that the Board should be abolished; not because its work did not meet the approval of the people of the State, but because under that system school legislation became cumbersome and complicated. The Board of Education had no power to levy taxes or make appropriations of money; these powers could only be exercised by the General Assembly. Consequently no act of the Board could become effective which required the expenditure of money unless it met the approval of a majority of the members of both branches of the Legislature. While the members of the Boards of Education had usually been men well qualified to enact educational laws, and their acts had met public approval, the people could see no necessity for a third legislative body and the additional expense and delay involved in the new system. The Board of Education was therefore abolished by the first General Assembly which had the power, under a provision of Constitution.

The most notable contest in the Tenth General Assembly was over the suppression of the last remnant of what was known as “wild cat” currency in the State. In pioneer times, gold and silver were for the most part used as money. The Miner’s Bank of Dubuque was the only one established in Iowa in early days, and when that failed, the people lost confidence in paper money, and in the first Constitution of the State prohibited the establishment of banks with power to issue paper money. The object of this provision was clearly to rid the State of bank notes and every form of paper currency, recognizing gold and silver only as lawful money. But it utterly failed to exclude the objectionable currency and in a few years our State was flooded with disreputable paper promises to pay. After ten years of trial of this constitutional prohibition and its disastrous failure to exclude the “wild cat” currency, another plan was adopted in the Constitution of 1857. The prohibition was removed and the General Assembly was authorized to enact laws for the establishment of banks of issue, to take effect only after having been approved by the people at an election. A system of sound money and safe banking was enacted by the Seventh General Assembly, and it was expected that the notes of the State Bank of Iowa, which were always redeemable in specie, would displace the “wild cat” currency which still lingered in spite of all efforts to dislodge it. As the war proceeded most of the banks of the country, as well as the National Government, were compelled to suspend specie payment, gold, silver commanded a high premium, and consequently were retired from general circulation. Treasury notes took their place to a large extent, and came into use as the common currency of the country; and, as they were not redeemable in specie, the State Bank bills which were gradually retired from circulation. In 1863 an act of Congress was passed for the establishment of National banks, and the Tenth General Assembly made the notes of these banks receivable for taxes.

A movement was now made, having for its purpose not only striking a death blow to “wild cat” currency in Iowa, but restricting our people to the use of the money based on the credit of the Nation, and thus aiding the Government in carrying the burden of debt incurred in prosecuting the war.

On the 25th of January, 1864, Senator B. F. Gue of Scott County, introduced into that body a bill to prohibit absolutely, under severe penalties, the circulation of any bank note or bill intended to circulate as money in the State of Iowa, except United States Treasury notes, national bank bills, or those of the State Bank of Iowa. This bill met with the most determined opposition from the day of its introduction. Private bankers and brokers had for many years found a profitable business in receiving from distant banks of the country their paper currency in large quantities, at a heavy discount and putting it in circulation through produce buyers and in loans to their customers. Hundreds of thousands of dollars had been lost by the people of Iowa in the failure of these worthless banks. No legislation thus far aimed at this evil had eradicated it. The profits were so large that a strong lobby soon gathered at the Capital to defeat this radical bill. It was fought at every stage, in committee, and on the floor of the Senate, as an arbitrary, unprecedented species of legislation, discourteous to other States. But it passed the Senate and went to the House where it encountered a still more determined opposition. It was there in charge of Samuel McNutt of Muscatine. The committee of ways and means, to which it was referred, reported against it was referred, reported against it and an attempt was made by the Speaker to rule it out. The press of the State took up the discussion, and a large majority of the newspapers urged the passage of the bill. When it came up of consideration the fifth lasted two day and every device known to parliamentary practice was used by the opposition to modify, amend or defeat the bill. But under the guidance of McNutt and “Russell of Jones,” it was carried safely through, received the approval of the Governor and became a law. This ended the long struggle, which, begun in Territorial Assemblies, was carried into three Constitutional Conventional and several State Legislature to expect “wild cat” currency from Iowa. It seemed to have as many lives as the traditional cat of another species. This law terminated the existence of currency of doubtful value in the State.


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