FEW SLACKERS DURING CIVIL WAR
As I have said, at the beginning of the Civil War Waverly shared, with all others of the frontier towns, much excitement. In some cases the discussion was very earnest, even bitter, between men of different politics, for a respectable number of the best men could not forget their politics and the democrats of the old school were inclined to hold the republicans as responsible for the break between the south and the north. In time the more conservative element became ardent supporters of the president and his policies, and thus segregated themselves from their old party. But a goodly number remained loyal to the old party which assumed what was dubbed in those days "a masterful inactivity," and finally became known as "Copperheads." Today people holding like opinions upon the war question are called "slackers" or "pros." The division on the war question reached into social, fraternal and church relations; so bitter was the sentiment that it took many years to eradicate the feeling, if it ever will entirely disappear.
Among the early settlers in Waverly was Henry L. Dole, who came to town in 1859 from Vermont and established a small jewelry store. He was an expert workman, devoted to his business and soon built up a good trade. He was a radical abolitionist and often engaged in hot discussions over the slavery discussion. He and Dr. Pomeroy were good friends, came from the same place in Vermont, but they never agreed in politics. Doc was very fond of nagging Dole and kept him stirred up most of the time.
When actual war came Dole was much excited. To add to his discomfort and perturbation of mind Pomeroy, Elias Grove, Will Brown, Mayor Wood, O. F. Avery and others of his chums insisted Dole should enlist, if he was in real earnest in his faith. They systematically tormented him about enlisting until he was nearly frantic. They put up the story that an army would be made up by drafting at once, and all young men would be sure to have to go. Dole was by nature a timid man, and war was a horror to him which his tormentors very well knew. In a day he disposed of his business as best he could, packed his most valuable goods and with them left town. Where he went was a secret to all, and so far as known no one knew his whereabouts, and he was forgotten.
While I was in Washington in 1894 one morning a page informed me that a gentleman was in the lobby of the house and earnestly asked an interview. I repaired to the place and found the man, who seemed more than ordinarily delighted to meet me. He grabbed my hand and greeted me so cordially I realized he was an old-time acquaintance, but I had not the most remote idea who he was. To his inquiry whether I recognized him, I was compelled to tell him that I did not. He expressed surprise that I failed to recall him, and then told me he was "Hank Dole." Then I could plainly see he was the long-lost "Dole" from Waverly in 1861. I was glad to see him and he invited me to take a day off and visit with him, which I did. We went down to Mt. Vernon to see Washington's old home, and back to the city to see many very interesting things, and last of all to a famous restaurant, where he ordered an elaborate dinner. In the meantime he kept up a continuous stream of inquiries about all of the people of Waverly in her pioneer days. He had never heard from a soul in the little town from the day he left it until then. He recollected everybody who lived there and all about them, and was particularly interested to know who of his old chums had gone into the army, and their facts, all of which I was able to tell him. All day long, and until a late hour in the evening, we visited fast and furiously. He remained in the city two or three days and took all the time I could spare in asking questions about the people and the town he had left so unceremoniously.
He told me he went straight to Boston from Waverly, and had been there continuously and was the owner of as fine a jewelry store as the city afforded, had never married and he never should, that life was a pleasure garden for him, etc., etc.
I asked him how he knew where I was and he replied that he saw an item in the paper that I was in congress, and that he started the next day to find me. I never had a more pleasant visit with anyone than with him. To my inquiry why he so suddenly left Waverly, he replied, "I was so scared at the thought of being drafted that I was half crazy, and when I started I had no idea where I would go, but kept going until. I reached Boston."
Since that time I often hear from him by letter. He is now retired and spends his time on easy street. Louis Case will recollect him well, as may some other old settlers. It was a queer experience to me, and proves we never know what may happen in our lives.
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Among the early settlers in the eastern part of the county was David Chadwick, for whom a grove was named in Dayton township. He was a robust and powerful man in physique, industrious and fully alive to the development of the new country in which he had cast his lot, just such a man as was needed to help make Bremer county great. He had as good a farm as was in the county. When the war came upon the country he was afire with patriotism and had he not been too old would have been a soldier. As it was, the best he could do was to furnish a son in the person of John J. Chadwick, of Tripoli, one of Bremer county's best men, and a hero and lion under all circumstances. No better man ever wore the blue than John J. Chadwick. John went in my company and is today an honored citizen of the county.
In the summer of 1864 our part of the army was assigned to the duty of watching and warding off the attacks of Forrest upon the lines of supplies and the country in and about Memphis. We were constantly on the move to thwart the sleepless and wizard Forrest, and often cut off from mail communication with our homes. This caused uneasiness at home as well as provoked the soldiers. Uncle Dave Chadwick decided he would make a trip down to Memphis and, if possible, visit his boy and all the rest of us. When he reached Memphis the army was many miles out in the interior of the country confronting Forrest, and to all civilians communications were closed. On the 4th of July we lay in camp fifty or sixty miles from Memphis along the line of the railroad, on which guarded trains were operated back to Memphis. In the evening a train reached us and to the surprise of all Uncle Dave landed in camp. He was received like a king, for he was the only person we had seen from "God's country" for as much as a year, if not more. It was refreshing and a royal treat to have him with us. The camp of Company B resounded with boyish glee as we gathered about him to hear from home, for, as Josh Meeker put it, "his clothes smelt good to us." After the welcome was over, he told us all about affairs at home and how the people were interested in the progress of the war. I wondered how it was possible for him to get thru the lines and find us, for I knew the extreme caution exercised and the iron-clad rules enforced concerning keeping civilians from passing the lines. To my inquiry he promptly replied, "I told them I had come to see John and the rest of you, and when they told me I could not go thru the lines, I said, 'I am going, pass or no pass'." The fact developed he won the friendship of a guard on the train, who tucked him in a secure place, and he was overlooked by the detectives, or purposely passed, and landed safely.
We remained in camp, I think, two days, while General Smith was arranging his plan to fight Forrest. When the order came to move, Uncle Dave was fierce to have a hand in the impending battle and began to look for a gun. When told from headquarters that he could go no further, but must go back to Memphis on what was to be the last train before the try-out between Smith and Forrest, he at first declared he would not go, but would have a hand in the battle. But the order was peremptory and he had to go, which he did protestingly. He was as eager to march out with us and take part in the bloody battle which was fought at Tupelleo on the 12th, as a boy ever is to go to a circus, and not a doubt exists that he would have done the full duty of a good soldier. It goes to show the pluck, as well as the patriotism, of an old pioneer of the county and that courage and fortitude were transmitted to his son, who was a model soldier.
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Another patriotic pioneer was Cyrus Odiorne, of Leroy township. He was past age when we were raising Company B, but insisted on being enrolled. He was afire with patriotic enthusiasm and would not consider for a moment his age, which was greater than his appearance indicated. His persistency won him permission to go to the state camp with the company. But when the examination by the surgeon was made Cyrus was rejected, much to his disappointment. He was a wiry and active man, and had the spirit to make a good soldier, but the years forbade his acceptance. About that time'. a regiment of men past forty-five years was being raised and he enlisted in it and went and did good service, which was entirely garrison and guard duty about Memphis, where the government had tremendous stores of supplies for the armies in the field. It was known as the "Gray Beard regiment" and was numbered 87. Iowa was the only state that was authorized to furnish such a body of men. Cyrus served full three years and returned home as well as when he left it. His lament always was he could not go with us, so he could see some fighting. He lived several years after the close of the war, and was always the same energetic and enthusiastic patriot and persisted in saying he was denied seeing more active service, a service in which he would have heard big guns and smelled powder. Men of such fiber as Odiorne made up the pioneer colonies of Bremer county and put the county on the road to its present greatness.
Among the very early settlers of the eastern part of the county was Ephraim Wattenpaugh, who settled what is now Sumner township. He was a young man of high morals, studious habits and industrial proclivities. He soon had a farm blocked out and was on the road to success. But the call for young men to save the country from division was heard by him, and no sooner heard than he was found shaping his affairs to respond, which he did, and for three long years, or more, he did his duty as a soldier, as he has always done in civil life. When a peace was conquered he came back to the same farm and took up the lines he dropped on the plow handles and proceeded to finish the furrow he had left half done. All the years since he has plowed, sowed and reaped rich crops from the same land, until today, in his age, he is on easy street, comfortable and honored by all who know him, and those who know him best honor him most.
No better type of good cititen ever lived in Bremer county than Eph Wattenpaugh. He has lived to see the pioneers grow old, and most of them gone, and he can go back in memory when a trip to Waverly to pay his taxes was nearly as big a job as it is now to go to Chicago. He forded streams, wallowed thru sloughs and mud holes, with the same courage that he faced death on the sanguinary field, and now is reaping the victories he won on both fields, and is a splendid example of what true and honest manhood brings to the man who has a vision and faithfully follows it to the end. Eph is one of the old timers in the county and knows from grim experience what it costs to be faithful in the discharge of the duties of life.
Last updated 4/13/15
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