Winnebago County, IA
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It has been said that “War brings an element of patriotism that cannot be awakened in the people by any other agency.”  However that may be, much of the history of human progress centers about the deeds of great generals and their armies.  Aggressive wars have been waged by strong nations for the conquest of weaker ones, or to uphold the regal power and “Divine right” of kings; and defensive wars have been fought to advance the rights and liberties of the people or to maintain established governments.  The independence of the United States was gained only by a war which lasted for eight years, and of all the great nations of the civilized world the United States is perhaps the only one which has never declared war except to defend her institutions or to secure greater liberties for downtrodden humanity.


One of the greatest wars in history was the Civil War of 1861-5, between the northern and the southern states, commonly known as the War of the Rebellion.  In this war the South fought to dissolve and the North to preserve the Union of states.  Almost from the very beginning of the American Republic, the slavery question became a bone of contention between the free states on one side and the slave states on the other.  Slavery was introduced into America in 1619, when a Dutch trader sold a few negroes to the planters of the Jamestown colony.  The custom of owning negro slaves gradually spread to the other colonies, but by 1819 seven of the original thirteen states had made provisions for the emancipation of the slaves within their borders.

The first clause of Section 9, Article I, of the Federal Constitution provides that “The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year 1808.”

The adoption of this clause was regarded as a victory for the slaveholding element, as under it Congress had no power to interfere with the foreign slave trade until 1808.  But in that year an act was passed prohibiting any further traffic in or importation of negro slaves.  In 1819 slavery existed in six of the original thirteen states, the other seven having abolished it as already stated.  In the meantime Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama had been admitted with constitutions permitting slavery, and Vermont, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois as free states, so that the country was evenly divided—eleven free and eleven slave states.  Maine was admitted as a free state in 1820 and the advocates of slavery sought to have Missouri admitted as a slave state to maintain the equilibrium in the United States Senate.  After a long and somewhat acrimonious debate, that state was admitted under the act known as the Missouri Compromise, which provided for the admission of Missouri without any restrictions as to slavery, but expressly stipulated that in all the remaining portion of the Louisiana Purchase north of the line of 36° 30’ slavery should be forever prohibited.

During the next twenty-five years the slavery question remained comparatively quiet, owing to the admission of free and slave states in equal number.  Arkansas came into the Union in 1836 and Michigan in 1837; the slave state of Florida, admitted in 1845, as offset by the admission of Iowa as a free state in 1846.  At the conclusion of the Mexican War in 1847 the United States came into possession of a large expanse of territory in the Southwest, to which the advocates of slavery laid claim, and again the question came up as a subject for legislation, resulting in the compromise act of 1850, commonly called the Omnibus Bill.  The opponents of slavery took the view that the act was a violation of the provisions of the Missouri Compromise, because it sought to carry slavery north of the determined line.  Four years later the Kansas-Nebraska bill was passed, which added fresh fuel to the already raging flames.  Its passage was one of the causes that led to the organization of the republican party, which opposed the extension of slavery to any new territory of the United States whatever.


In the political campaign of 1860 the issues were clearly defined and some of the slave states declared their intention to withdraw from the Union in the event of Abraham Lincoln's election to the Presidency.  The people of the North regarded these declarations as so many idle threats, made merely for political effect.  Through a division in the democratic party, Mr. Lincoln was elected, and on December 20, 1860, South Carolina carried her threat into effect, when a state convention passed an ordinance of secession, declaring that the state's connection with the Union was severed and that all allegiance to the government of the United States was at an end.  Mississippi followed with a similar ordinance on January 9, 1861; Florida seceded on January 10th; Georgia, January 19th; Louisiana, January 26th; and Texas February 1st.  All these states except Texas sent delegates to a convention at Montgomery, Alabama, February 4, 1861, when a tentative constitution was adopted; Jefferson Davis was elected provisional president and Alexander H. Stephens [,] provisional vice president of the Confederate States of America.  They were inaugurated on February 22, 1861, the anniversary of the birth of George Washington.  Consequently, when Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated on March, 1861, he found seven states in open rebellion and with an organized government in opposition to his administration.  However, the Preisdent [sic], his advisers and the people of the North generally, clung to the hope that a reconciliation could be effected and that the citizens of the seceded states could be induced to return to their allegiance.  Vain hope!


Relations between the North and the South were still further strained early in the year 1861, when Major Robert Anderson, then in command of all the defenses of the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, secretly removed his garrison and supplies from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, because the latter could be more easily defended in case of an assault.  The people of the South claimed that this move was a direct violation of an agreement with President Buchanan, and the feeling was intensified when it was discovered that Major Anderson, prior to his removal, had spiked all the guns in Fort Moultrie.  On the other hand, the press of the North was practically unanimous in justifying Anderson's course and in demanding that additional supplies and reinforcements be sent to him at Fort Sumter.  The persistent hammering of the northern press caused the war department to despatch [sic] the steamer “Star of the West” with 250 men and a stock of ammunition, provisions, etc., to Fort Sumter, but on January 9, 1861, while passing Morris Island, the vessel was fired upon by a masked battery and forced to turn back.  In the official records this incident is regarded as the beginning of the Civil War, though the popular awakening of the North did not come until some three months later.


Not long after President Lincoln was inaugurated General Beauregard, who was in command of the Confederate forces at Charleston made a demand upon Major Anderson for the evacuation of Fort Sumter.  Anderson refused, but on April 11, 1861, seeing his stock of provisions in the fort running low and having no hope of obtaining a new supply, he informed General Beauregard that he would vacate the fort on the 15th, “unless ordered to remain and the needed supplies are received.”  This reply was not satisfactory to the Confederate commander, who feared that the new administration might find some way of sending reinforcements and supplies to Sumter that would enable Anderson to hold the fort indefinitely.  In that case Fort Sumter would be a constant menace to one of the southern strongholds.  After a conference with his officers Beauregard decided upon an assault.  Accordingly, at twenty minutes past three o'clock on the morning of April 12, 1861, he sent word to Anderson that fire would be opened upon the fort.  At four-thirty A. M. Captain George Janes [sic] fired the signal gun from Fort Johnson, the shell bursting almost directly over the fort.  A few seconds later a solid shot from the battery on Cumming's Point went crashing against the walls of the fort.  The war had begun.

Anderson's gallant little band responded promptly to the fire and the bombardments continued all day.  Late in the afternoon fire broke out in one of the casements of the fort and the Confederates increased their fire, hoping to force the surrender of Anderson.  That was on Friday.  Anderson held out against desperate odds until Sunday, the 14th, when he was permitted to evacuate the fort with all the honors of war, even to saluting his flag with fifty guns before hauling it down.

When the news of Sumter's fall spread through the loyal states of the North all hope of bringing about a peaceable settlement of the differences was abandoned.  Party lines were obliterated.  Political controversies of the past were forgotten in the insult to the flag.  There was but one sentiment—the Union must and shall be preserved.  On Monday, April 15th, 1861, the day following Anderson's evacuation of the fort.  President Lincoln issued the following


“Whereas, the laws of the United States have been for some time past and are now opposed and the execution thereof obstructed in the states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by law:

“Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the Laws, have thought fit to call forth and hereby do call forth the militia of the several states of the Union to the aggregate number of 75,000, in order to suppress said combinations and cause the laws to be fully executed.

"The details for this object will be immediately communicated to the state authorities through the War Department [.]

"I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity and the existence of our national Union and the perpetuity of popular government, and to redress wrongs already too long endured.

“I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces hereby called forth will probably be to repossess the forts, places and property which have been seized from the Union; and in every event the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of, or interference with property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens in any part of the country.

“And I hereby command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within twenty days from this date.

“Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, convene both houses of Congress.  Senators and Representatives are therefore summoned to assemble at their respective chambers at twelve o'clock, noon, on Thursday, the 4th day of July next, then and there to consider and determine such measures as, in their wisdom, the public safety and interest may seem to demand.

“In witness thereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

“Done at the city of Wishington [sic] this 15th day of April, A. D., 1861, and of the Independence of the United States, the 85th.

“Abraham Lincoln.

“By the President:
“W. H. Seward, Secretary of State.”


On the 16th, the day following the issuance of the President's proclamation Governor Samuel J. Kirkwood of Iowa received the following telegram from the secretary of war:

“Calls made on you by tonight's mail for one regiment of militia for immediate service.”

It is said that when this message was delivered to the governor he expressed some doubts as to Iowa's ability to furnish an entire regiment.  Notwithstanding his doubts on the subject, as soon as the call was received, he issued his proclamation asking for volunteers, to wit:

“Whereas, the President of the United States has made a requisition upon the executive of the state of Iowa for one regiment of militia, to aid the federal government in enforcing its laws and suppressing rebellion:

"Now, therefore, I, Samuel J. Kirkwood, Governor of the State of Iowa, do issue this proclamation and hereby call upon the militia of the state immediately to form in the different counties volunteer companies with a view of entering the military service of the United States for the purpose aforesaid.  The regiment at present required will consist of ten companies of at least seventy-eight men each, including one captain and two lieutenants, to be elected by each company.

“Under the present requisition only one regiment can be accepted and the companies accepted must hold themselves in readiness for duty by the 20th of May next at the farthest.  If a sufficient number of companies are tendered, their services may be required.  If more companies are formed and reported than can be received under the present call, their services will be required in the event of another requisition upon the state.

“The Nation is in peril.  A fearful attempt is being made to overthrow the Constitution and dissever the Union.  The aid of every loyal citizen is invoked to sustain the general government.  For the honor of our state let the requirements of the President be cheerfully and promptly be met.

“Samuel J. Kirkwood.
“Iowa City, April 17, 1861.”

As the first telegram from the war department called for one regiment of militia for immediate service and Governor Kirkwood stated in his proclamation that the companies “must hold themselves in readiness for duty by the 20th of May,” a word of explanation as to this apparent discrepancy seems to be necessary.  The explanation is found in the fact that late on the afternoon of April 16, 1861, the governor received a second telegram from the secretary of war, saying:  “It will suffice if your quota of volunteers be at its rendezvous by the 20th of May.”

On the same day that Governor Kirkwood issued his call for volunteers he also issued a call for the state legislature to meet in special session on May 16th.  At the opening of the special session he said in his message:  “In this emergency Iowa must not and does not occupy a doubtful position.  For the Union as our fathers formed it and for government founded so wisely and so well the people of Iowa are ready to pledge every fighting man is the state and every dollar of her money and credit, and I have called you together in extraordinary session for the purpose of enabling them to make the pledge formal and effective.”

He then explained how, when the volunteer call came from Washington, he had no funds under his control for such emergencies as organizing, equipping, subsisting and transporting troops, nor had the state any effective military law under which he could operate.  He also explained how the chartered banks and wealthy loyal citizens of the state had come to his rescue by placing at his disposal all the funds he might need, and concluded this portion of his message by saying:  ''I determined, although without authority of law, to accept their offer, trusting that this body would legalize my acts.”

And the governor did not trust in vain.  The immediate and universal response to his call for volunteers had removed any doubt he might have entertained as to Iowa’s ability to furnish a whole regiment.  The general assembly crystallized the patriotic sentiment of the people by legalizing everything the governor had done, by passing a law providing for the organization of the militia of the state upon a war footing, appropriating a sum of money large enough to cover all probable expenses in connection therewith.


The United States census of 1860 gives Winnebago a total population of only 168 people.  The county had not been organized a great while and consequently the number of volunteers available in so sparse a community would be necessarily small.  At the beginning of the war there were no newspapers in the county, mail trains or telegraph communication with the outside world.  The only means of communication was by the slow mail route and events happened weeks before the intelligence of them was borne to the settlers here.  When the news of the firing upon Fort Sumter reached the county there was unanimous condemnation of the South and enthusiasm to join the colors immediately.  This was natural, as but few votes had been cast in 1860 against Lincoln and Hamlin.  There were a few who voted the democratic ticket, but these were quickly lined up with the North when the two sides of the country came to blows.

Winnebago County was quick to respond to the call of the President and the proclamation issued by Governor Kirkwood.  The board of county supervisors met in August, 1862, present, Chairman C. D. Smith, A. T. Cole and John H. T. Ambrose.  Among other business transacted the following motion was passed:

“That each volunteer shall receive a bounty of $50 out of the county fund at the time of enlistment.  Also, that each volunteer's wife shall receive from the clerk $1 per week and each child fifty cents per week during the time said volunteer is in the service of the United States, or until the present war is ended.”

On December 14, 1863, the board of supervisors in session adopted a resolution as follows :

“Resolved, that anyone who will volunteer from this county before the 5th of January, 1864, or before there is a draft in the state, or county, shall receive the sum of $200, and anyone who is drafted shall receive the sum of $100, the warrants to be issued when each volunteer or drafted person is accepted into the United States service.”

In August, 1864, the board further decreed that “each volunteer or drafted man from the county under the call of the President for 500,000 men, should receive a bounty of $200, and that the wife and each child under thirteen years of age should receive $1 a week apiece for their support while said volunteer was in the service of the United States.”

At a meeting of the board January 10, 1865 the following resolution was passed:

“Resolved, By the board of supervisors of Winnebago County, Iowa, that the sum of $1,000 be, and the same is hereby appropriated to each and every person volunteering from said county to fill the quota of each township of the said county; said appropriation to be paid in warrants on the treasury of the County, said warrants to be payable one half in one year from date, and one half in two years from date of their issuance, and to draw interest at the rate of six per cent per annum.”

On January 5, 1866 the board again took action of interest to the soldiers.  They ordered that “all soldiers of Winnebago County who had received less than $300 bounty shall receive enough to equal that sum, and the clerk is hereby ordered to issue warrants to make up the difference.”  The warrants so issued were to bear interest at the rate of six per cent and were payable one-third in one year and the balance in two years.

Thus did the county of Winnebago amply care for her citizens who enlisted in Uncle Sam's forces.


The following official list gives the names of the men from Winnebago County who served in the Rebellion, their company and their regiment:


Company C

Harrison Beadle
B. F. Denslow
William Lackore, Jr.
David Stancliff
John Belt
J. B. Hill
John Oulman
Fred Porter
Louis Porter
John Beadle

Company C

David Secor
C. H. Lackore
Hans Knudtson

Company B
Second Lieutenant
Samuel W. Griffin


Chandler W. Scott
Milton P. Goodell


Allen T. Cole
Hiram K. Landru
Eugene B. Oulman
Samuel Tennis, Jr.
Charles C. Church

Company C

John W. Collier

Company F

Charles C. Church
James Lackore

Company I

Sylvester Belcher
David Lutz
Cornelius A. Baker
Simon Trumbull


Winnebago County did not escape from the Rebellion without loss among her gallant sons.  Iowa suffered immeasurably in this struggle of Americans and this county bore her share.  B. F. Denslow perished in Libby Prison of starvation.  David Stancliff fell in the seven days' fight before Richmond in July, 1862.  He received seven bullets in his body and died within a few hours.  Milton P. Goodell was wounded and captured at the battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, April 9, 1864, and died just one month later.  William Lackore, Jr., died shortly after his discharge from the United States service, from the effects of being struck upon the chest by a shell fragment.  Samuel Tennis, Jr., died June 9, 1864, while in the service, of brain fever brought on by exposure.

A History of Winnebago County and Hancock County, Iowa. Vol. 2.  Chicago:  Pioneer Publishing Company, 1917.  169-78. Print.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy