Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/6/2001 at 10:56:56
From the Portrait and Biographical Album Jefferson and Van Buren Counties - 1890
John Whitten, the present Deputy Treasurer of the State of Iowa, was born August 4, 1842 in Lick Creek Township, Van Buren County; his parents, Walter and Rebecca Whitten having come to the county in 1840 from Scioto County Ohio. In his youth he received the ordinary educational advantages of the pioneer schools of those days, and on July 1, 1861, although less that nineteen years of age, he enlisted in Company H, Fifth Iowa Infantry. He was two years and six months of service in the field and wore the blue for over four years. He was with Gen. Fremont during the Springfield Missouri campaign in the fall of 1861, participating in the siege of New Madrid, Missouri, the battle at Island No. 10, and the siege of Corinth, Mississippi, under General Halleck in the spring of 1862. In the battle of Iuka Mississippi on September 19 of that year he was wounded. He took part in the battle of Corinth Mississippi on October 3rd and 4th, and was in the Yazoo Pass expedition under Gen. Sherman, the battles of Jackson and Champion Hills, Mississippi and the siege of Vicksburg. This was followed by the battle of Lookout Mountain, and in the engagement at Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863, he was taken prisoner. We quote from a volume, “Iowa in War Times”, written by S.H.M. Byers, later Adjutant of the Fifth Iowa Infantry. In writing about the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, he says: “The fifth Iowa Infantry’s loss including quite a number captured, was one hundred six officers and men, out of the two hundred forty-eight engaged. Several officers and the color guard were among those captured in the assault. The flag too, though torn nearly to pieces was lost. At the moment it was about to fall into the rebel hands, it was seized by some of those nearest it, its stars torn out and secreted about their persons. One of these stars was saved by John Whitten; now Deputy State Treasurer. He was captured a few moments later and carried the star with him through many horrible months of rebel imprisonment. That star; worthier than any star of the Order of the Garter, framed and preserved, is in the Capitol in Des Moines. Mr. Whitten was confined on Belle Isle, Virginia, for over three months and was then removed to Andersonville Georgia in the spring of 1864, and there confined until April 17, 1865. Of the eleven of his company confined at Andersonville, nine died form ill treatment and starvation, among which number was his brother, Josiah A., a young man full of promise of a useful life. Mr. Whitten was released ten miles from Jacksonville Florida, April 28, 1865, and discharged from the service on July 7th, having for more that four years, under one enlistment, followed the fortunes of war.
On returning from the army, Mr. Whitten took up farming but his health was so impaired that he had to abandon that labor and then attended the Iowa Agricultural College for two years. He was married on October 8, 1872, to Miss Ella L. Rice of Farmington Iowa, who is also a native of Van Buren County. He was elected to the office of County Auditor of Van Buren County in the fall of 1879, and re-elected in 1881, serving two full terms. He received the appointment of Deputy Treasurer of the State, January 1, 1885, and his third term of two years each, will close in January of 1891. Mr. Whitten is a member of Miles King Post, G.A.R. of Farmington; of Mt. Moriah Lodge A.F. & A.M., and Kadosh Chapter, R.A. M. of Farmington; also of El Chanan Commandery, K.T. of Keosauqua.
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Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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