Robert Wampler, honored as a pioneer in Iowa and as one of the
few remaining veterans of the Civil war, has been a resident of
Allamakee county since 1852. He has, therefore, witnessed almost
its entire growth and development and has borne an honored part
therein, his work along agricultural lines having constituted one
of the forces in local agricultural development. He was born in
Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, May 22, 1842, and is a son of
Eli Wampler, also a native of the Keystone state. The father grew
to maturity in Westmoreland county and there married Miss Mary
Jane Luek, a Native of the same section. They moved west in 1850
and settled as pioneers in Jackson county, where they resided for
two years, moving in 1852 to Allamakee county. The father,
however, never arrived in this section for he died of cholera on
a Mississippi river boat upon the journey, while two of his sons
and one of his daughters died on the same disease after reaching
Lansing, Iowa. Mrs. Wampler with her surviving children located
on Clear creek, where she later married again.
Robert Wampler remained with his mother until the outbreak of the Civil war, when, on October 15, 1861, he joined Company B, Twelfth Iowa Volunteer Infantry. The regiment was soon afterward sent to Dubuque, where it was organized and drilled for some time, and afterward it went to St. Louis, where it remained during the winter months. In the spring of 1862 it was sent down the river to Fort Henry, where Mr. Wampler was for the first time under fire. He later participated in the battle of Shiloh, where he was wounded in a peculiar manner. Having put his hand to his head to pull down his cap behind, a ball cut off his finger and gave him also a scalp wound across the back of his head. He was taken prisoner with General Prentiss and taken to Memphis, and later to Mobile and Montgomery, where he contracted typhoid fever so severely as to bring him near death and was placed in a hospital until his recovery. He was then paroled and sent to Chattanooga with about eleven hundred other soldiers to be exchanged, but it was not until October of that year the exchange was completed in Richmond. Upon his exchange he went to St. Louis, where he drew some money and received clothing and through the influence and kindness of Colonel Earl his company was sent home on a furlough to recuperate. After six weeks he returned to St. Louis and rejoined his command at Benton Barracks, the regiment being later ordered to Vicksburg. It participated in the siege preceding the fall of that city and also in the battle of Jackson. It later returned to Memphis and afterward took part in the raid at Holly Springs. Mr. Wampler was in the thick of the battle at Tupelo, Mississippi, fighting in a hotly contested engagement of three hours duration. He later returned with his regiment to Memphis and there to Eastport, where he remained in camp several months, returning to Memphis at the end of that time. The regiment was later sent down the river to New Orleans and after two weeks spent in Fort Jackson aided in the attack on the Spanish Fort. In that engagement Mr. Wampler was wounded by a shell which exploded over him. A piece, one and a half inches long and three quarters of an inch wide, striking him in the back. His wound not proving serious, he returned to his regiment after a few days and served until the close of the war, when he was mustered out at Memphis and returned to Iowa, receiving his honorable discharge in Davenport on January 20, 1865.
With this honorable military record Mr. Wampler returned to Allamakee county and purchased a forty acre farm, to which he later added the forty acres adjoining. For sixteen years he cultivated and developed this property and his practical and progressive methods were rewarded by success, his farm becoming one of the best improved and most valuable in this section of the state. Finally Mr. Wampler retired form active life and moved into Waukon, having earned leisure and rest by many years of honorable and worthy labor. He purchased a comfortable residence in the city and makes him home therein, having disposed of all of his farm property.
While home on a furlough during the Civil war Mr. Wampler married, April 11, 1864, Miss Margaret Duff, a native of Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, who was reared and educated in Allamakee county. Mr. and Mrs. Wampler have five children: Eli M., who is a resident of Sioux City, Iowa; L.O., of Waukon; Ella, married J.E. Mills, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Mary Agnes, the wife of L.F. Seelig, of Waukon; and Lillian, who was married December 25, 1912. Two sons born to Mr. and Mrs. Wampler have passed away. James grew to maturity and married. He died in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1901. Warren met death by accident, having been killed by a a horse when he was a young man of seventeen, his death occurring in 1892.
Politically Mr. Wampler is identified with the republican party and has been for many years an active worker in its ranks. He has been a delegate to numerous republican conventions and served for as city assessor. He is prominent in the affairs of the Grand Army of the Republic, being connected with John J. Stillman Post, No. 194, of which he has served as commander and of which he is at present chaplain. Since he was a lad of ten years he has been a resident of Allamakee county and now at seventy-one can county among his friends many who have known him from boyhood. As a public-spirited and progressive citizen he has borne his part in the work of development and progress, displaying in all business, public and private relations of life the same loyalty and courage which marked his service on the southern battlefields.
-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by
Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich
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