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History of Iowa

Volume II

Chapter XXIX

Pictures included in this chapter are Major-General Cyrus Bussey and General John W. Noble.


The Third Iowa Cavalry


            When the war broke out in the spring of 1861 Cyrus Bussey, a member of the State Senate from Davis County, was appointed aid-de-camp on the staff of Governor Kirkwood. T him was assigned the duty of superintending the forces called out for the protection of the southern border of the State. He received authority from General Fremont to raise a regiment of cavalry for the United States service. On the 13th of August he issued a call for volunteers. On the 28th there were 1,000 men assembled at Keokuk, well mounted and ready to enter the service. They were promptly accepted and mustered in. The officers were Colonel Cyrus Bussey; Lieutenant-Colonel H. H. Trimble; Majors C. H. Perry, H. C. Caldwell, and W. C. Drake. The adjutant was John W. Noble. On the 4th of November, 1861, the regiment was sent to Saint Louis where drill was begun. On the 12th of December one battalion under Major Caldwell was sent to Jefferson City and was employed some time in the vicinity of Boonville, attempting to discover ammunition that had been secreted in various localities. In the spring of 1862 a portion of northeastern Missouri had been formed into a military sub-district, under command of Major Caldwell and his battalion was kept busy in suppressing disloyal bands. He had many sharp skirmishes with these hostile companies during the winter. In August he encountered a large force of the enemy at Kirksville and after a severe battle defeated and dispersed them, killing one hundred and twenty-eight and wounding about two hundred. In this engagement Captain Mayne was killed and Captain Hughes, Lieutenant Burch and ten men of the battalion were wounded. The southern sympathizers in  that part of the State having been dispersed, Major Caldwell reported with his command at Lebanon. He was soon after promoted to lieutenant-colonel in place of Trimble who had been dangerously wounded at  the Battle of Pea Ridge and had resigned. Fro several months the command was employed in suppressing outbreaks in southern Missouri and keeping open lines of communication. In the summer of 1863 it joined the cavalry division under General Davidson and took part in the Little Rock campaign. Colonel Bussey, with two battalions of the regiment, remained at Saint Louis until the 4th of February, 1862, when he was ordered to Rolla, from which place he soon marched to join the army of General Curtis, who was pursuing Price. After a rapid march of two hundred miles in four days, the command reached Sugar Creek where General Curtis’ army was found. Learning that the Confederates had been largely reinforced and were now greatly superior in numbers, General Curtis had concentrated his army in a strong position on Sugar Creek. It was William Miller, a private of the Third Iowa Cavalry acting as a spy, who discovered the approach of the Confederates in overwhelming numbers and at the risk of his life, gave the information to General Curtis. The Third Cavalry bore a conspicuous part in the Battle of Pea Ridge which now opened. It had a desperate fight near the front where Lieutenant-Colonel Trimble was wounded and lost twenty-two killed, sixteen wounded and nine captured. Colonel Bussey’s regiment was one of those which joined in the pursuit, capturing many prisoners. Major Drake, who had been left at Salem, had several sharp skirmishes in that vicinity, finally rejoined the regiment and in the absence of Colonel Bussey on other duties took command of the Third. The command remained in that city several months, and was sent on frequent expeditions into the interior. Early in November Major Drake resigned on account of failing health and returned to his home where he soon after died. HE was a brave and accomplished officer and his death was a severed loss to the regiment. Adjutant John W. Noble was promoted to fill the vacancy. During the stay at Helena the Third Regiment was engaged in two important expeditions. One was the attempt of the army under General Hovey to capture Arkansas Post, which was unsuccessful. Colonel Bussey had command of 2,000 cavalry in this affair and in the march to Grenada, under General Washburn, the cavalry destroyed the railroad, encountered the enemy, the Third Iowa losing four men captured. Colonel Bussey was now assigned to the command of the Second Brigade of the Second Division of Cavalry of the Army of the Tennessee. The Third Iowa Cavalry was in this brigade under command of Major Scott, Major Noble commanding a battalion. On the 21st of April Major Noble in command of the regiment encountered a detachment of the enemy and a week later near Big Creek met another party both of which were defeated. During the month of May detachments of the regiment engaged in frequent skirmishes in the vicinity of Helena. In June Colonel Bussey was ordered to join General Grant’s army then engaged in his Vicksburg campaign. His regiment was assigned to General Sherman’s command on the line of the Big Black River. He was placed in command of the cavalry which was kept busily employed until the surrender of Pemberton. Soon after the close of this campaign Major Noble took command of the Third Iowa in place of Major Scott who had resigned. After the two detachments of the regiment were again united at Little Rock, Lieutenant-Colonel Caldwell took command and Major Noble was appointed Chief of Cavalry on the staff of General Davidson. On the 1st of January, 1864, more than six hundred men of the Third Iowa Cavalry reenlisted as veteran volunteers and on the 6th were granted furloughs of thirty days to visit their homes. About this time Colonel Bussey was promoted to Brigadier-General, H. C. Caldwell to colonel, John W. Noble lieutenant-colonel, Captain Mudgett and McCrary were promoted to majors. Colonel Caldwell was soon appointed Judge of the United states District Court of Arkansas and resigned his military commission. Noble was thereupon promoted to colonel and Major Duffield became lieutenant-colonel.


            The Third Iowa Cavalry was in the disastrous march to Guntown under command of General Sturgis and lost sixty-seven men. On the 24th of June the regiment joined the command of General A. J. Smith in the Tupelo Campaign which was successful. It was in several severe engagements and was distinguished for skill and bravery, losing nineteen men during the campaign. On the 2d of September the regiment under Major Jones marched to Brownsville, Arkansas, there joined the army under General Mower and, with the Fourth Iowa and Tenth Missouri, formed a brigade commanded by Colonel Winslow. On the 22d it joined the army under General Pleasanton near Independence where a battle was in progress. The men at once dismounted, deployed into line and fought until late in the afternoon. In this engagement Lieutenant James H. Watts, acting adjutant, was mortally wounded. The enemy was driven across the Big Blue River where he took a strong position. Colonel Winslow formed his brigade for a change and moving forward drove the enemy in confusion, but with heavy loss. Colonel Winslow was severely wounded in this engagement and the Third Iowa had thirteen men wounded. Winslow’s Brigade pursued the enemy in his rapid retreat over the prairies for a long distance until he turned and made a stand. The Union brigade at once charged and again put the enemy to flight. In the Battle of Osage James Dunlavey, a private in Company D, captured Confederate General Marmaduke, and Sergeant C. M. Young captured General Cabell on the same field. The loss of the Third Cavalry in this campaign was six killed and forty-four wounded. That portion of the regiment left at Memphis, under Colonel Noble, took an active part in the Grierson Raid, after which it went to Vicksburg in January, 1865. Soon after the entire regiment was reunited and moved to northern Alabama.


The Wilson Raid


            In March General James H. Wilson completed the organization of an army of about 12,000 men for an expedition into northern Alabama. General Edward F. Winslow commanded a brigade composed of the Third and Fourth Iowa Cavalry and the Tenth Missouri. The command left Chickasaw on the 22d of March and for about a week marched in a southerly direction through a very rough country. From Elyton to Selma, Wilson fought most of the way, gaining an important victory at Ebenezer Church on the 31st. He assaulted and carried the works at Selma on the 2d of April, capturing many prisoners and a large quantity of stores. Moving on the army entered Montgomery about a week later and raised the Union flag over the first Capital of the Southern Confederacy. Columbus was taken by assault in which Winslow’s Brigade bore the brunt of the battle. On the 20th, while moving toward Macon, news came of the close of the Rebellion. This expedition was one of the most successful of the war. It had moved over five hundred miles in the heart of the enemy’s country in thirty days capturing nearly 7,000 prisoners, two hundred and forty-one pieces of artillery and a vast quantity of small arms; laid waste granary of the South, demolished the iron works, factories, arsenals and armories upon which the Confederacy depended for arms, munitions and supplies; destroyed many bridges and miles of railroad. There was not an engagement during the campaign in which the Third Iowa did not behave with great gallantry. The loss of the regiment during the campaign was about forty killed and wounded. Moving from Macon to Atlanta on the 9th of August it was mustered out of the service, reaching Davenport on the 21st. For nearly four years this regiment had done most effective work in every field on which the fortunes of war had placed it. The record of his brilliant achievements was never dimmed by an unworthy act.


The Fourth Iowa Cavalry


          This regiment was raised during the autumn of 1861 and was in part formed of companies enlisted for other regiments. Henry County furnished nearly three companies; Poweshiek, one; Madison, one; Jefferson, one; and others were enlisted in various parts of the State. The regiment originally numbered 1,035 men and assembled at Camp Harlan, near Mount Pleasant, and was there mustered into service late in November, 1861. The field officers were Colonel Asbury B. Porter, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Drummond, Majors Simeon D. Swan, Joseph E. Jewett and George A. Stone with George W. Waldron adjutant. The regiment remained in camp most of the winter, drilling and procuring arms, horses and equipment for active service. The men suffered greatly from the exposure of camp life during the severe weather, which caused a great amount of sickness. Toward the last of February the regiment was sent to St. Louis, soon after to Rolla and from there to Springfield. Here the men were furnished a variety of antiquated arms, at which they were justly indignant. The regiment joined the army of General Curtis which began an invasion of Arkansas and was assigned to General Vandever’s Brigade. After a long march the army turned eastward and finally reached Helena on the 15th of July. The Fourth Cavalry followed the fortunes of the army, which had seen more hard marching than fighting. From this time until April, 1863, the regiment remained in Helena employed in scouting and picket duty, having frequent skirmishes with the enemy in the vicinity and losing a number of men. On the 11th October Major Ben Rector with a detachment of fifty men, while several more were killed and wounded. Lieutenant Parsons with fifty men came up a few minutes later driving the enemy from the field and capturing the lieutenant-colonel commanding.


            Colonel Porter was a slack disciplinarian, while Lieutenant-Colonel Drummond was a born soldier and knew the value of strict discipline and rigid drill. Their ideas of military requirements were so radically different that frequent misunderstandings ensued. Drummond resigned and returned to his place in the regular army in June, 1862, while Colonel Porter left his command, returned home without leave, sent in his resignation in March, 1863; he was however dismissed from the service by order of the President. He was the only Iowa colonel thus dismissed during the war. He had previously served as major of the First Iowa Infantry, made a good officer, and had distinguished himself at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. In July, Major E. F. Winslow was promoted to colonel of the regiment. In January, 1863, Major Ben Rector who had been exchanged and returned to the regiment, died at Helena and in February Captain Tullis died at the same place. On the 29th of April the regiment moved to join Grant’s army then engaged in the Vicksburg campaign and was assigned to Sherman’s Corps and at once placed in the advance. On the 16th of May it was employed in the rear guard on the march of Sherman’s Corps toward Vicksburg. During the entire siege the regiment was in action being in the saddle fifty-two days out of the fifty-six. The men were worn out by hard and continuous service, many were prostrated by sickness and a large number died. On the 22d of June, while a detachment form the regiment was blockading the road leading to Johnston’s army then trying to break the blockade, it was suddenly assailed by a body of eight hundred cavalry which cut off one company and made a furious attack on the others. The detachment made a vigorous fight and cut its way through to the camp but with the loss of nearly half its men. On the 5th, after the fall of Vicksburg, the regiment under Colonel Winslow, in a brigade commanded by Colonel Bussey, crossed the big Black River and took the advance on the road to Jackson. Three hundred men under Major Parkell forming part of a force of eight hundred cavalry commanded by Colonel Winslow, on the 10th of August made a raid of over three hundred miles by Grenada and Coldwater to Memphis. From this time until December the regiment at Vicksburg in comfortable quarters. By the 19th of December enough reenlistments had been secured to constitute the Fourth Iowa a veteran regiment and during the early part of winter enough recruits were received to fill up the ranks. On the 1st of February the Fourth Iowa Cavalry started with Sherman’s army on the Meridian expedition. This, with tree other regiments of cavalry under Colonel Winslow, constituted the advance of the army and was almost constantly  engaged with the enemy during the entire march of one hundred and fifty miles to Meridian. Battles of more or less magnitude were fought by the cavalry at Bolton, Jackson, Hillsboro, Morton, Tunnel Hill and Meridian. Upon its return to Vicksburg the regiment was granted a long expected furlough. On the 29th of April the veterans were back in camp at Memphis where they were joined by recruits filling up the ranks to the number of 1,350 men. The Fourth was in the army under General Sturgis in his disastrous Mississippi campaign that marched in June to find General Forrests army. Lieutenant W. F. Scott gives the following graphic description of the Battle of Guntown:


            “General Sturgis’ army consisted of about twelve thousand men. The cavalry, numbering three thousand, was under command of General B. H. Grierson. Colonel Winslow, of Iowa, and the Tenth Missouri. The cavalry kept in advance of the army, and on the morning of the 10th of June became engaged with the enemy’s cavalry near Guntown, a small station on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. The Rebels fell back until they gained the protection of their main body, which was soon found to be posted in force and ready for battle. Our infantry was over five or six miles in the rear. General Sturgis ordered it up on the double-quick, on learning the disposition of the enemy, and directed the cavalry to engage him until the infantry should arrive. The enemy, under Forrest, was about equal to our force, and was strongly posted on the crest of a semi-circular hill or ridge, in front of which ran a small creek with but one bridge and otherwise impassable, except in a very few places for footmen. The day was very warm and when the infantry regiments came up they were exhausted and disordered, having double-quicked the whole distance from where they were ordered forward. By another great blunder close up with them came the train of more than two hundred wagons, which was hurried across the bridge and parked in a field within easy range and sight of the enemy’s batteries. If there was a time when the attacking force should be well organized and disposed with particular skill it should be when the enemy has so great advantage in position. But in this instance the infantry, tired and disordered, was hurried into the fight, already opened by the cavalry, and was soon and completely beaten. The division, brigade and subordinate officers made strenuous efforts to check the tide of defeat, but without avail, and the whole army was soon in full retreat, the greater part in utter confusion. The Rebels rejoicing in their easy victory pursued with unrelenting vigor, capturing the entire wagon train and cutting off our weary infantry men in large numbers. It was some time before an attempt at order in the retreat was made, and then Colonel Winslow’s brigade was ordered to act as rear guard, it being the only organized force in the whole command. Of the First Brigade of cavalry a large part had been taken as an escort for the commanding general, while several detachments had been used for other purposes. No attempt was made to restore order in the infantry, and it was hurried along, a fleeing mob. Back toward Memphis fled the disordered army, its retreat covered by Winslow’s brigade of cavalry during the terrible night’s march of June 10th, and through the next day until Ripley was reached. Here the enemy pressed so hard that the running skirmish swelled into a sharp engagement, checking the ardor of the pursuit. General Sturgis made no attempt to reorganize or control the troops after the retreat began and he alone should be held directly responsible for this great disaster. Our losses were about four thousand men killed, wounded and missing, the entire train of two hundred and fifty wagons captured and almost the whole ambulance train with every gun except two belonging to Winslow’s brigade of cavalry were lost.”


            The Fourth Cavalry was with General A. J. Smith in his Tupelo campaign, also in his expedition sent from Memphis, in the month of August into Mississippi. It was with the army sent into Arkansas the latter part of August in pursuit of Price, which did not overtake him. The regiment was with General Pleasanton in his pursuit of Price in western Missouri taking part in engagements near Independence and at Big Blue River. In forcing a passage of this river Colonel Winslow’s Brigade had a sharp skirmish with the enemy strongly posted on its banks. In this battle the colonel was severely wounded and the Fourth lost several men. At Mine Creek the Union army again overtook Price where a cavalry battle took place on the open prairie The Fourth Iowa made a most gallant charge on the enemy’s lines breaking through them and sending him off in full retreat. Our whole line now joined in the charge and the rout of the foe was continued until it was driven into the Indian Territory and nearly destroyed. Winslow’s Brigade now returned to St. Louis. It had marched nearly 2,500 miles in three months, worn out two sets of horses and fought in many engagements with unvarying success. The Fourth Iowa took part in the two great raids under Grierson and Wilson, described in another place. In the Battle of Columbus under Wilson, described in another place. In the Battle of Columbus, under Wilson, the Fourth captured nine hundred and forty prisoners and twelve field pieces. In August, 1865, the regiment was finally mustered out of service at Atlanta, Georgia.


The Fifth Iowa Cavalry


            The regiment known as the Fifth Iowa Cavalry was not wholly an Iowa organization but was composed of companies recruited in Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska Territory. Carl Schaeffer and A. W. Haw, who had served in the First Iowa Infantry, were authorized to raise a troop of cavalry in Iowa to form part of a bodyguard for General Fremont. Schaeffer was a German and a nobleman by birth.  Succeeding to his title and estate of Baron of Boernstein he assumed the surname of Boernstein to which his rank and estate entitled him. In conjunction with Sergeant Haw he succeeded in raising two companies which were organized and mustered into service at St. Louis as “Fremont Hussars.” Captain Boernstein, serving on the staff of General Curtis, succeeded in having the troopers from Iowa detached from the “Hussars” and formed into an independent command. On the 20th of December, 1861, a regiment called the “Curtis Horse” was formed to which the Iowa troops were attached. Four companies of the regiment were from Nebraska, three from Minnesota and two from Missouri. The organization was completed in February, 1862, and the “Curtis Horse” entered the service with about 1,000 men.


            W. W. Lowe was colonel; M. T. Patrick, lieutenant-colonel; the majors were Carl Boernstein, Wm. Kelsay and A. B. Brackett, with W. B. McGeorge adjutant. IN February the regiment was sent to Fort Henry, recently captured by General Grant’s army, and in this vicinity remained for more than a year. On the 14th of March a detachment of two hundred and fifty men under Captain Croft, marched toward Paris, Tennessee, and, being joined by Captain Bullis’ Battery of Light Artillery, pushed on, attacked a body of about six hundred Confederates, posted west of the town and after a short but sharp engagement, defeated them with considerable loss. Captain Bullis of the Union battery was mortally wounded. Early in May, Major Boernstein with one hundred and fifty men marched beyond Paris and, while in camp near Lockridge’s Mills, was suddenly attacked by Colonel Clayborne with overwhelming numbers. The little party made a brave resistance but was overpowered and soon cut to pieces. Captain Nott was thrown from his horse and seriously injured but escaped with eleven of his men. Captains Haw and Van Minden were wounded and captured. Major Boernstein was mortally wounded and died the next day. He was a gallant soldier and an accomplished gentleman and his death was universally deplored in Iowa where he was widely known. More than half of his men were killed, wounded or captured.


            On the 25th of June the regiment was assigned to our State and became the Fifth Iowa Cavalry. Colonel Lowe was continued in command and, as Major Kelsay had died of disease, Brackett was the only major remaining in the regiment. On the 25th of August Fort Henry was attacked by a force of confederates under Colonel Woodward. Major Hart in command, telegraphed Lowe for reinforcements. Taking six companies of the Fifth Cavalry, Colonel Lowe hastened to the rescue but upon his arrival, found that the enemy had been defeated and had retreated up the river. Early the next morning Colonel Lowe started in pursuit and soon overtook the Confederates making a vigorous attack. Lieutenant Summers riddled with bullets, fell from his horse surrounded by enemies who attempted to bayonet him, but, fighting with his saber and revolver, he refused to surrender. When finally disarmed and captured he was found to have seven minie´ balls and a bayonet wound in his body.


            The regiment remained in the vicinity of Fort Heiman during the winter, making many incursions into the surrounding country and having several sharp fights with the enemy. In March it was sent to garrison Fort Donelson, remaining three months and then joined the army of General Rosecrans at Murfreesboro. For a long time it was in active service in Tennessee and Alabama, frequently in skirmishes with the enemy. On the 9th of October, 1863, Colonel Lowe met with Wheeler’s Cavalry at Sugar Creek where thirty of the enemy were killed and about one hundred taken prisoners. The regiment was on active duty in Tennessee during the remainder of the year and, before the 1st of January, 1864, more than three-quarters of its members had reenlisted, becoming veteran volunteers. Toward the last of the month they were granted furloughs and visited their homes. During the month of February, Companies G, I and K were sent to Minnesota, where they were formed into an independent battalion under the command of Major Brackett and did not again join the regiment.


The Rousseau Raid


            In July General Sherman’s army was in the heart of the Confederacy resting in northern Georgia. At this time he was planning a raid for the purpose of destroying the communications of the Confederate army at Atlanta with the southwest. Major-General L. H. Rousseau was chosen to lead the expedition. His army was about 3,000 strong and with it was the Fifth Iowa Cavalry, in command of Major Baird, Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick having command of a brigade. The expedition started from Decatur in light marching order, without wagons and with but a single ambulance to each regiment. Going by way of Sommerville and Ashville to the Coosa River, Rousseau’s army dispersed General Clayton’s command which disputed his passage. It pushed on rapidly by Talladega destroying railroads, store house, iron works and bridges. On the 18th a detachment under Major Baird sharply engaged a Confederate force under Clayton, near Montgomery, in which the latter was defeated with considerable loss. As the sun went down on the 22d Rousseau’s army reached Marietta, on the line of communication from Chattanooga to Atlanta, where Sherman had thirteen days before directed him to strike the Confederate lines. General Rousseau had marched nearly four hundred miles in thirteen days, had crossed the Sand Mountains, two large rivers, fought tow battles, destroyed thirty miles of railroad, five large depots of cotton and army supplies. Not a single act of pillage or vandalism had been committed by his soldiers. His loss did not exceed thirty men.


            The Fifth Iowa took a prominent part in this raid in which Captain Curl was killed and Captain Wilcox severely wounded. In the latter part of July the Fifth Cavalry took part in another raid which proved disastrous. It was under command of General Edward McCook who for a time was successful. He destroyed two large wagon trains, filled with supplies, and many miles of railroad north and south of Lovejoy; but soon disasters came thick and fast. The loss of the Fifth Iowa was very heavy although it fought bravely on all occasions. Lieutenant Andrew Guler was killed, Lieutenant W. T. Hays was taken prisoner and about one hundred and twenty men were killed, wounded and captured. The remnants of the regiment, now under Major Young, in August marched with General Kilpatrick to cut the communications south of Atlanta on the Macon railroad. There was hard fighting and severe marching. The Fifth Regiment greatly distinguished itself, again losing heavily. In September, by order of the War Department, two companies of the Fifth Regiment greatly distinguished itself, again losing heavily. In September, by order of the War Department, two companies of the Fifth Iowa Infantry were consolidated with the remnant of the Fifth Cavalry. Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick resigned and Major Harlan Baird was promoted to the place. November, 1864, found the regiment at Columbia, on Duck River, not far from Nashville, Tennessee. On the 28th General Forrest forced a passage of the river above the fords guarded by the brigade to which the regiment belonged. The brigade commanded by Colonel Capron was by this movement left in a bend of the river completely isolated from the main army and in a perilous position. Colonel Capron was missing and Major Young assumed command. He at once determined to make a desperate attempt to save the brigade by cutting his way through the enemy’s lines. The dispositions were quickly made and the order given “forward.” The Fifth Iowa was in advance and when the enemy’s liens were reached, the major shouted—“charge!” and with a fierce yell the cavalry cut its way through the Confederate ranks. The brigade reached the Union lines about midnight and reported to General Wilson. He was most agreeably surprised as Colonel Capron had arrived some time before and reported his brigade cut to pieces. The Fifth Iowa lost fifteen men in this affair. Lieutenant-Colonel Baird, now having secured horses from Kentucky to replace those lost in the campaign, was ready for the Battle of Nashville. On the 15th of December General Thomas advanced with his army to attack the Confederates and won a great victory. The Fifth Iowa was in the fight on the right of the line where Lieutenant John W. Watson was killed. Joining in the pursuit it skirmished with the retreating enemy for several days. The next important service of the regiment was in the raid led by General J. H. Wilson. Major J. M. Young was now promoted to colonel, in place of Lowe who had previously resigned. In an engagement near Six Mile Creek the Fifth was in the advance when Colonel Young gave the order to “charge.” For a moment both friend and foe were obscured by dust but the next moment revealed the enemy broken and fleeing in every direction. At the battle of Ebenezer Church and at the capture of Selma our regiment was in the thickest of the fight. The last battle in which it fought was the taking of Columbus, Georgia, where three companies joined in the assault. Colonel Young captured the books and assets of the bank of Tennessee, and money amounting to about $800,000. The war now being ended, the regiment was sent to Nashville where on the 11th of August, 1865, it was mustered out of the service.


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