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History of Iowa

Volume II

Chapter VII

Chapter XIX


Pictures included in this chapter are: Colonel Samuel Merrill, Colonel W. R. Kinsman, and the Siege of Vicksburg




The Twenty-first Iowa Infantry


            This regiment was made up largely of companies raised in the Third Congressional District. Company A, however, had been recruited in Mitchell, Worth and Black Hawk counties for the Eighteenth, but, as that regiment was full, it was placed in the Twenty-first. Companies B, D and G were raised in Clayton County; C, E, I and F in Dubuque; H and K in Delaware; making nine hundred seventy-six men. The field officers first commissioned were: Colonel Samuel Merrill, Lieutenant-Colonel C. W. Dunlap, Major S. G. Van Anda, Adjutant Horace Poole. The Twenty-first went into camp near Dubuque late in August, 1862, where it remained until the 16th of September, then embarking on a steamer for St. Louis. From there proceeding to Rolla it was armed and equipped and for a month drilled for service. On the night of the 24th the brigade with the Ninety-ninth Illinois, Thirty-third Missouri, artillery and cavalry under command of General Fitz-Henry Warren, of Iowa. Early in November the command marched to Hartsville. On the night of the 24th the brigade train was moving from Rolla to Hartsville, when it was attacked by a large force of mounted men, captured and burned. The small guard in charge was nearly all killed or captured after a short resistance. Three of the slain and fifteen of the prisoners were members of the Twenty-first Regiment, which at once marched to the scene of the disaster. The enemy had disappeared, leaving only the charred wreck of the train. Early in December the command marched to Houston, thirty miles northeast of Hartsville, where it remained a month.


The Battle of Hartsville


          On the 7th of January, 1863, General Brown, who was in command of the Union forces at Springfield, learned that General Marmaduke, with an army of 4,000 men was on the march to make an attack upon that place. He at once called on General Warren, who was eighty miles distant from Springfield, for reinforcements. Colonel Merrill was sent with about 1,000 men from the Twenty-first Iowa, Ninety-ninth Illinois, Third Iowa Cavalry, and the Third Missouri cavalry, with two pieces of artillery. The command started on the 9th, marched twenty-two miles and camped for the night on Beaver Creek. Long before daylight the next morning the march toward Hartsville was resumed, when the news came that a large force of the enemy had occupied that place the night before. A reconnaissance was made while the command halted to learn the result. No enemy being found Colonel Merrill pushed on, going into camp on the night of the 10th within eight miles of Hartsville and but one mile from a Confederate encampment. Early the next morning, it was discovered that a large force of the enemy was approaching from the direction of Springfield. This proved to be the advance of General Marmaduke’s army, which had been defeated by General Brown in an attack upon Springfield a few days before. Colonel Merrill formed his men in line of battle and kept up a warm fire on the advancing Confederates for an hour, holding them in check, while the main body occupied the town. About eleven o’clock Merrill advanced upon Hartsville, and placing his artillery on a commanding ridge made his dispositions for the battle. The Twenty-first Iowa, under Lieutenant-Colonel Dunlap, held the left, the Illinois infantry was on the right, with the cavalry on the extreme left, all sheltered by a dense growth of brush. General Marmaduke had formed his line of battle on the open field and in the town facing the Union lines, while a large force held the Springfield and Houston roads and banks of the Gasconade on the south of the town. Five pieces of artillery were in battery on a high bluff east of the town.

            The battle was opened with artillery, and soon after a charge was made on our lines by Jeffery’s cavalry, seven hundred strong. Our infantry lying flat on the ground, sheltered by the brush, with guns cocked, coolly awaited the onset. With fierce yells the troopers came on at a gallop until close to our line, when a deadly fire smote them, horses and riders going down in death and confusion. The artillery opened on the disordered mass, which turned and fled from the field. All day charge after charge was made by the infantry on our lines, all of which were repulsed. Toward night the confederates begun to retire on the Houston road, while Colonel Merrill, with the main body of his troops, retreated toward Lebanon. But the Twenty-first Iowa, not having received orders to retire, remained on the field long after dark, alone repulsing three charges of the enemy after their comrades had gone. After the last of the Confederates had retired from the field the Twenty-first moved off deliberately toward Lebanon, where the next day it joined the main body of the command. Of the two hundred twenty members of the regiment engaged in this battle, twenty-one were killed, wounded or missing. General Warren issued an address to his troops commending them in high terms for the gallant fight made against greatly superior numbers. It was a stubborn fight of 1,000 Union soldiers, with two cannon, for six hours, against more than 3,000 Confederates supported by five pieces of artillery. The enemy lost General McDonald and two colonels among the three hundred killed and wounded, while the Union loss was seven killed and seventy-one wounded and captured.

            During the winter the Twenty-first, thinly clad and with insufficient food, endured hard marches over roads almost impassable. The men suffered greatly from disease contracted from exposure and hardships until death carried off scores of them. In March the regiment was sent to Milliken’s bend, in Louisiana, and was assigned to the Second Brigade, Fourteenth Division of the Thirteenth Army Corps, under command of General McClernand. After a toilsome march through a swampy country, the army was embarked on transports which ran the frowning batteries of Vicksburg and Grand Gulf, landing fifteen miles below, to unite with General Grant’s brilliant movement which resulted in the fall of Vicksburg. On the 30th of April the Twenty-first was one of the regiments that made up the advance guard which followed the retreating enemy and opened


The Battle of Port Gibson


            Detachments of the Twenty-first under Lieutenant-Colonel Dunlap led the advance, supporting the First Iowa Battery, Captain Harry Griffith, in a night march on Port Gibson. An old negro slave acted as guide. The road led through a dense forest, over ridges and through deep ravines lined with a heavy growth of underbrush. As the skirmishers approached the forks of the roads, four miles from Port Gibson, they came upon Magnolia Church, where a detachment of the enemy was posted, who opened on the enemy, aided by Klaus’ Indiana Battery. The Confederate batteries replied and for two hours the rapid discharge lighted up the darkness of the night, the screeching shells were hurled through the air, bursting with fearful explosions as the artillery duel went on. Early in the morning of May 1st, the artillery firing was renewed while the troops came p and deployed into line. Soon after sunrise, General Osterhaus made a vigorous attack on the enemy’s right, which occupied a strong position, finally dislodging him after an hour’s stubborn fight. The battle was now in progress all along the lines, and continued with great fury throughout the day. Toward night the Union army had won every position attacked, and had captured five hundred and eighty prisoners and several pieces of artillery. No report was made of the number killed and wounded. During the night the enemy retreated, burning the bridges, and abandoning Port Gibson and Grand Gulf. The Iowa regiments, aside from the Twenty-first, which participated in this battle, were the Twenty-second and Twenty-third under Lieutenant-Colonel Glasgow, both doing excellent service. Lieutenant-Colonel Dunlap and sixteen men of the Twenty-first were wounded. The total Union loss was one hundred and thirty killed and seven hundred and eighteen wounded.

            Soon after this battle, the army advanced toward Jackson and then on toward Vicksburg, in pursuit of the Confederates. At the severe Battle of Champion’s Hill, fought on the 16th, the Twenty-first was posted with the reserve, and was not actively engaged. The next day General Grant pushed on rapidly in pursuit of Pemberton’s retreating army and fought another battle at Black River Bridge. General Pemberton had here taken a strong position protected in front by a broad, deep bayou, behind which was a line of rifle pits. The Twenty-first and Twenty-third Iowa regiments were in a gallant charge made on the enemy’s works, which were carried with heavy loss. Among the slain was Colonel Kinsman of the Twenty-third, while Colonel Merrill, of the Twenty-first, was severely wounded. His regiment lost in that charge, thirteen killed and seventy wounded. On the 19th, the regiment was in the lines investing Vicksburg, and took an active part in the operations of that famous siege. In the assault of May 22d, Lieutenant-Colonel Dunlap was still suffering from a wound received at Port Gibson and unable to lead his regiment in that charge, but rode on to the field to watch the progress of the battle and was killed by a shot from the enemy. Colonel Merrill was still prostrated from his wound and Major Van Anda led the regiment in the assault and was wounded. Its loss was one hundred and thirteen kin killed and wounded. The command now devolved upon Captain William D. Crooke of Company B, the regiment doing duty in the trenches until the surrender on the 4th of July. It was then sent to reinforce the army operating against General Johnson, participating in the siege of Jackson, until that city was evacuated, when it returned to Vicksburg. While there, the regiment suffered greatly from sickness, losing many of its members by death from diseases which prevailed in the camps and city. On the 13th of August the regiment steamed down the river to Carrollton, where a delightful and healthful camping place was found just above New Orleans. Early in September, it was sent on an expedition into western Louisiana to Vermillion Bayou, remaining in a beautiful and healthy prairie country for a month, guarding bridges and gaining health and strength. Early in November, it started eastward by easy marches, stopping at New Iberia, Berwick City and Brashear, reaching Algiers on the 21st of November. Captain Crooke had now been promoted to major. The regiment soon went to Texas, where it remained o various duties until June, 1864. While at Indianola, a detachment of fourteen men, while out on a scout, was surprised by a force of cavalry, captured and sent to a Confederate prison at Tyler. Early in June, the regiment was transported to New Orleans and from there to various points in Louisiana. Late in July, it was sent to Morganza, remaining in that unhealthy region until September, guarding the property of cotton speculators. The winter was spent at St. Charles, White River and Memphis. Late in December, a long march with General Grierson’s cavalry was made through the interior of Tennessee. In January, 1865, at Dauphin Island, Alabama, the regiment was assigned to the Thirteenth Army Corps, in a brigade commanded by General J. R. Slack. On the 17th of March, from Fort Morgan, it joined in the march to Mobile, participating in the stirring events of that campaign, the siege and capture of Spanish Fort and Blakely. The Twenty-first remained on duty in the vicinity of Mobile until near the close of the war, when it was moved to Baton Rouge, where, on the 15th of July, 1865, it was mustered out of the service.


The Twenty-Second Iowa Infantry


            Seven companies of this regiment were raised in Johnson County and one in each of the counties of Monroe, Jasper, and Wapello. They went into camp near Iowa City in August, 1862, and were mustered into the United States service on the 9th of September. William M. Stone, who had been major of the Third Infantry, was appointed colonel; John A. Garrett, lieutenant-colonel; Harvey Graham, major; and J. B. Atherton, adjutant.

            Soon after organization the regiment was sent by steamer to St. Louis, and from there to Rolla, where it remained about four months. In January, 1863, it was made a part of the First Brigade of the First Division of the Army of Southeast Missouri. Colonel Stone was placed in command of the First Brigade, which consisted of the Twenty-first, Twenty-second and Twenty-third Iowa and the Eleventh Missouri regiments. The Twenty-second was employed in service in southeast Missouri until toward the last of March, when sent to Join Grant’s army then starting on the Vicksburg campaign. The First Brigade was assigned to the Fourteenth Division of the Thirteenth Army Corps under General John A. McClernand. The corps was moved down the river below Vicksburg and soon after joined the army in its march toward the rear of Vicksburg. Under command of Major Atherton the Twenty-second participated in the Battle of Port Gibson, where it lost twenty men. This was the regiment’s first battle, and it won the commendation of General Carr, commanding the division. At the Battle of Champion’s Hill the Twenty-second was among the regiments held in reserve and was not engaged in the conflict, but joined in the pursuit and captured many prisoners. The next day it was slightly engaged at the Battle of Black River Bridge, where two of its number were wounded, and from there it marched with the army to the rear of Vicksburg, where General Pemberton’s army was driven into the defensive works of the city. In the after noon of the 19th of May and attack was made on the enemy’s works, which proved too strong to be carried by assault. General Grant’s army had now been marching and fighting for twenty-five days, victorious in every battle. General Johnston was gathering a large army in his rear for the avowed purpose of raising the siege and relieving Pemberton. Under these circumstances General Grant determined to risk a general assault in the hope of being able to carry the works and take possession of the city. He could not then know how nature and art had combined to make it the stronghold of the Southern Confederacy. The high bluffs commanding the river front made it impregnable from that side, defended as they were by massive fortifications mounting heavy artillery. In the rear, where it was now assailed, the best engineering skill of the Confederacy had been employed to strengthen the natural defense. The steep ridges were parapets and the deep ravines were natural ditches, covered with a tangled growth of vines, cane, brush and trees, through or over which no army could advance in lines. There were detached fortifications connected by rifle pits on all commanding points. The whole was manned and defended by an army of veteran soldiers equal to the best in the service on either side. IT was against such combined strength that the western Union soldiers were to be led. The assault  was ordered to begin all along the line at ten o’clock on the morning of May 22d. In order that all should move promptly at the appointed time, the watch of each corps commander was set by that of General Grant. Early in the morning every piece of artillery in position, with the great guns of the fleet on the river opened fire on the enemy’s works. For three hours the earth rumbled beneath the thunder of cannon. The air was filled with the missiles of destruction and the explosion of shells and caissons. Many of the enemy’s guns were silenced and breaches were made in some of the works. Sharpshooters kept up a continuous  fire at the enemy’s gunners, compelling the garrison to keep behind the defenses. Suddenly every gun became silent and the bugles sounded the charge as the hour of ten arrived. Out of the smoke emerged the head of every assaulting column, with fixed bayonets they moved forward without firing a gun. Pressing on over the obstructions, disordered by the difficult advance, they came within range of the enemy’s musketry. Suddenly the Confederates arose in the trenches and poured volley after volley at short range into our ranks. Hundreds went down beneath the deadly fire, dead and dying, but their comrades pressed on to share the same fate in a mad effort to carry the works. It could not be done. No troops could stand before the deadly fire. Thrown into disorder they sought the nearest shelter, holding their position by musketry fire. McClernand’s corps won a slight temporary success. Charging on Fort Beauregard the Twenty-second Iowa led the column, followed by the Twenty-first Iowa and the Eleventh Wisconsin, with General Lawler in command to charge was given the Twenty-second was sheltered behind a ridge. Advancing rapidly to the assault, it was met by a deadly fire, which killed and wounded many. Colonel Stone was disabled and Lieutenant-Colonel Graham took command. Rallying about sixty around him, they pressed forward, reached the fort and planted the colors on the rampart. Sergeant Joseph E. Griffith and several others scaled the walls, entered the effort, and captured some prisoners. But assailed by a deadly fire all were killed or captured except Sergeant Griffith and David Trine, who managed to escape. Lieutenant-Colonel Graham and several of his men were captured in the ditch at the fort. The entire assault was most gallantly made on all parts of the bloody field and the defeat did not shake the confidence of the army or its commander in final success. In this assault Iowa furnished sixteen regiments of infantry and two batteries.

            The regiments engaged were the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Twelfth, Sixteenth, Twenty-first, Twenty-second, Thirtieth, Thirty-first and Thirty-fifth. The First and Second Batteries were also in the engagement doing excellent service. In his report of the Vicksburg campaign General Grant said:


            “No troops succeeded in entering any of the enemy’s works with the exception of Sergeant Griffith of the Twenty-second Iowa Volunteers and some eleven privates of the same regiment; of these none returned except the sergeant and one man.”


            Those who participated with Griffith in this most heroic achievement of that day’s terrible battle were Alvin and Hezekiah Drummond, Ezra L. Anderson, Richard Arthur and William Griffin, who were killed in the fort, and John Robb, M. L. Clemmons, W. H. Needham, Hugh Sinclair, N. C. Messenger, Allen Cloud and David Jordan, who were taken prisoners. Griffith and David Trine alone escaped to our lines. The regiment lost one hundred sixty-four killed, wounded and captured in the assault. Finding the defenses of the city to strong to be taken by assault the army now settled down to the he siege. Week by week General Grant pushed his lines of intrenchments nearer to the doomed city. The men toiled patiently early and late through the hot days and sultry nights, thoroughly imbued with the indomitable determination of the commanding general. Threatened in the rear by General Johnston’s army, Sherman was sent to hold him in check while the siege was crowded with the greatest energy. More Iowa regiments and batteries were sent to strengthen the army until thirty were with Grant and Sherman before the end of the campaign. Finally, on the 3d of July, the endurance of the Confederate army reached its limit. All hope of assistance of escape was abandoned and General Pemberton showed a white flag and proposed to negotiate for terms of surrender. On the next day his entire army of 27,000 men, together with artillery, arms and munitions of war, for an army of 60,000, steamboats, locomotives, vast amount of cotton and other property and the strongest fortified city o the continent, were surrendered to General Grant. This was by far the most brilliant campaign of the war. From the time Grant’s army landed below Vicksburg he had won five battles, killed and wounded 10,000 of the enemy taken 37,000 prisoners and opened the Mississippi River. It was the most crushing and ruinous blow ever dealt to the Confederacy until the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox. The great Battle of Gettysburg, which had just been fought to save Washington and Philadelphia, so completely absorbed the attention of the East, that the magnitude of the far greater victory at Vicksburg was not immediately realized by the country. Lee had been defeated at the end of a three days’ battle and turned back for the invasion of the North. The losses on each side were about equal Lee made and orderly retreat; and Meade, slowly following, was unable to inflict any serious damage upon the retiring army. At Vicksburg the enemy lost everything, the entire army, city, arms, equipment and the blockade of the river. Gettysburg on our part was a strictly defensive battle, which left Lee’s army able to continue the war nearly two years. Vicksburg annihilated all power of that army for further warfare. No State in the Union made greater contributions of gallant soldiers to win this unparalleled victory than Iowa. NO soldiers in that victorious army won more undying fame than the fourteen who carried muskets in an Iowa regiment and alone were able to scale the enemy’s works on the day of the desperate assault.

            After the surrender, the Twenty-second Iowa joined the army operating against Jackson, and participated in the arduous labors of that campaign. In August the regiment was sent to Carrollton, where it remained in camp until September, when it joined the army sent west on the Bayou Teche expedition, which operated in western Louisiana until the middle of November, when it returned to Algiers. From there it was sent to Texas. Early in January, 1864, the regiment, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Graham, was sent by steamer to Indianola, where it went into winter quarters with the First Brigade, now under command of General Fitz-Henry Warren. Here, under the strict discipline of that accomplished officer, the brigade was brought up to a high standard of efficiency. The twenty-second lost six men here, captured while on duty. Colonel Stone had resigned in August, 1863, and Lieutenant-Colonel Graham was promoted to colonel May 4, 1864. Early in July the regiment was assigned to the Second Brigade of the Second Division of the Nineteenth Corps, commanded by General Emory, and sent by ocean steamer to Fortress Monroe, and joined there the army under General Butler, then operating on the James River. About the middle of August it was sent to General Sheridan’s army in the Shenandoah Valley. On the 19th of September was fought the Battle of Winchester. The Twenty-second was in General Molineaux’s Brigade and was stationed on the left of the Nineteenth Corps, in the thickest of the fight. The position was as much exposed to the terrible fire of the enemy as any on the field. The Twenty-second held this position firmly until Dwight’s Division on the left gave way, when it was forced to fall back, but soon rallied and joined in a charge with great enthusiasm. It lost in the battle in killed wounded and missing one hundred nine men. Among the slain were Captains D. J. Davis and R. D. Parks, Lieutenant J. A. Boarts and Sergeant-Major George A. Remley. On the 20th the regiment joined in the pursuit of the retreating foe to the vicinity of Strasburg, where the army went into camp. The enemy took up a strong position at Fisher’s Hill near by. On the 22d, General Sheridan led his army against the Confederates and fought the Battle of Fisher’s Hill, where he won another victory over General Early. The Twenty-second was but slightly engaged, losing but four men. Early in October the army went into fortified encampment on Cedar Creek, where on the 14th the last battle of that brilliant campaign was fought. The Iowa regiments in Sheridan’s army took a prominent part in this engagement and hared in the honor of the great victory. The loss of the Twenty-second Regiment in this battle was seventy-seven men. Early in January, 1865, the regiment was ordered to Savannah to perform garrison duty for a month. In April the brigade was reorganized under the command of Colonel Harvey Graham, of the Twenty-second Iowa. Toward the last of July it returned to Iowa having traveled more than 13,000 miles since entering service, and on the 3d of August it was disbanded at Davenport, numbering at the time four hundred thirty-six men.




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