Waterloo Honors Living and Dead Heroes of '61-'65


Source: "The Waterloo Daily Courier": Thursday, May 29, 1913

John W. Krapfel
Pvt. Age 23, Born Conn.
Enlisted 6-13-1861
Lyman H. Bronson
5th Cpl; age 23,
born Ohio
Enlisted 6-13-1861
Samuel M. Hoff
Pvt., age 30, born Canada
Promoted to 1st Sgt.
Col. Victor Gilbert
enlisted 2-16-1864
Promotions lead to Cpl. on 12-31-1863

Company G, First Iowa Cavalry, also known as the "Hardin Rangers," was a part of the first body of mounted men to be enrolled in Iowa for service in the civil war. Its members were principally young men from Hardin, Dubuque, Black Hawk, Jones and Delaware counties. Of the seventeen who enlisted at Waterloo during the summer of 1861 Samuel M. HOFF is the only one still living here. John W. KRAPFEL of this city, was also a member of Co. G, but enlisted at Dubuque, and was mustered in at Burlington August 1, 1861. L. H. BRONSON was a recruit, enlisting at Waterloo February 16, 1864. The First Iowa cavalry was one of the crack regiments in that branch of the service and its experiences were decidedly thrilling.

It's principal field of operations was in southern Missouri and Arkansas, where it was pitted against guerrillas and outlaws. Its regimental history records that the First participated in 45 battles and was often for weeks engaged in almost daily skirmishes with bushwhackers, the nature of the country occupied being favorable to the tactics of that class of fighters. Seven veterans of the First were among the twenty-three furloughed and unarmed Federal soldiers taken from a captured railroad train by a detachment of Quantrell's guerillas led by the notorious Bill Anderson, Sept. 27, 1864, stood in line, and shot down in cold blood. Some of the dead were scalped, Choctaw Indians composing a part of the rebel force, and the engineer of a train following was compelled to run his engine over the dead bodies which were placed across the rails.

General Steele's army corps, 7,000 strong, including the First cavalry, left Little Rick, Ark., March 23, 1864, for the purpose of engaging Cabell and Greene's brigades of the confederate army and the movement was known as the "Camden Expedition." The confederates were commanded by General Marmaduke and constituted a superior force. Daily skirmishes and several severe but undecisive engagements were fought and on May 2 the various commands returned to Little Rock.

During this movement Victor Gilbert of Waterloo, a brave soldier, lost his life. April 4 the enemy was encountered in force at Elkins Ford and during the action a bullet entered Gilbert's breast, causing his death twelve hours later. With others killed in the fight, his body was buried on the bank of the Little Missouri river.

In referring to Gilbert's death, Judge JOHN HANNA recently said: "I was close to Vic when he was shot. We were sharp shooters and in a darned hot hole. When he was hit we proposed to take him to the rear but he said, 'No, tend to our shooting--I'm killed.' He was good goods as a man and a soldier and was my bunk mate at the time he lost his life." Gilbert was a Frenchman by birth and came to Waterloo in the early '50's. In partnership with C. W. Champlin he was conducting a furniture store in a little frame building at 615 Commercial street, opposite the Carpenter hotel when the rebellion broke out. Intensely patriotic he laid business aside and was among the first to enlist.

The departure of a body of soldiers for the war was an occasion for a general "turning out" of the people of the village and there are some still living in Waterloo who remember well that June day of '61 when the squad of 17 mounted men rode out Fourth street west, en route to Eldora to join the "Rangers" for three years' service.

One impetuous youth impressed a horse belonging to his father and the parent refused to give up the animal. The boy, however, was soon provided with a mount, patriotic citizens raising a sum of money that purchased him a good horse. Citizens on foot and in carriages accompanied the soldiers for some distance.

Arthur G. MERRIMAN, of this city, was also a member of the First serving in Company M."