Black Hawk County History

Civil War Notes

Secession, abolition and John Brown had long been the topic of conversation over stake and rider fences but when, in April of 1861, the South bombarded Fort Sumter, Waterloo (and the Union) was shocked. Five thousand Cedar Valley residents turned out to wave and kiss good-bye 100 county volunteers getting on a Dubuque and Sioux City train commandeered by a Union general. Twenty-year-old Lorraine Washburn (left), son of pioneer, Levi Washburn, and a private in the Third Iowa Infantry, was the first Waterloo soldier killed -- at Blue Mills Landing, Missouri.

When the train brought Peter Dorlan, the first wounded man home on a cot, businesses were closed and the plow left, to welcome the hero home. For the next four years, the town waited for the train to bring news of Bull Run, Shiloh, Gettysburg, Vicksburg . . . and the lists of dead and wounded.

The night Waterloo learned Lee had surrendered, April 11, 1864, Commercial Street became a mass of humanity with the Central House lit from top to bottom, cannons firing, rockets flying, a torchlight parade eight abreast led by Judge Couch and J. H. Leavitt singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".

words copied as printed. Photo from Harman History.