Roster and Records of Iowa Soldiers, War of the Rebellion

Historical Sketches of Volunteer Organizations, Vol. V

Roster and Records Index

Page 1577


     (In which were included detachments from the eighth, Twelfth and Fourteenth Regiments of Iowa Volunteer Infantry.)

     The "Union Brigade" was largely composed of Iowa soldiers who were temporarily separated from the regiments to which they belonged. The brigade performed most important Service, a record of which is not included in the historical sketches of the three Iowa regiments to which the soldiers composing the detachments, referred to in the title, belonged. The brigade is, therefore, entitled to representation in this work, as a separate and distinct military organization. The officer who was longest in command of the brigade rendered a detailed report of its operations from the date of its formation until it was disbanded. The report is here given in full, as follows:

    DAVENPORT, IOWA, January 9, 1863.
    Adjutant General, State of Iowa.

    SIR: Having been In command of the Union Brigade, from the 1st of July last until its dissolution on the 17th day of December, and believing that a brief narrative of its doings, from its organization to termination, would not only be Interesting to the people of Iowa, but just and proper to be made, as the largest proportion of the brigade consisted of Iowa troops, being remnants of regiments, which had highly distinguished themselves by their devotion to their country, and deeds of daring, thereby establishing the enviable reputation for bravery of the Iowa soldiery. At the battle at Shiloh, which took place on the 6th day of April, [1862,] the greater part of the Eighth, Twelfth and Fourteenth Iowa, and Fifty-eighth Illinois, Regiments were taken prisoners of war, after bravely fighting and maintaining their positions from morning until 6 o'clock in the evening. The remnants of these brave but ill-fated regiments were mostly sick and convalescent, unfit for duty, and left with a small number of officers to command them. On the 21st day of April, a number of men belonging to these regiments having returned from the hospitals, General Davies, then In command of the Second Division, determined to combine the fragments of regiments, in order to make them available In the field, and issued an order to that effect. Agreeably to that order, the Fifty-eighth Illinois was formed Into Companies A. F, and D, to be commanded by Captains Collins, Glassner and Lynch, respectively. The Eighth Iowa formed Companies xxxx1, C and H, commanded by Lieutenants Harper, Beatty and Scott. The Twelfth Iowa formed Company E, commanded by Lieutenant Henderson, and the Fourteenth Iowa formed Companies K, G and B, commanded by Lieutenants Shuey and Moorehead, and Captain Pemberton. The Field and Staff Officers were as follows: Captain R. W. Healy, Fiftyeighth Illinois, Acting Colonel Caplain J. G. Fowler, Twelfth Iowa, Acting Lieutenant Colonel; Captain G. W. Kittell, Fifty-eighth Illinois, Acting Major; S. E. Rankin, Eighth Iowa, Adjutant; George W. Sawin, Fifty-eighth Illinois, Quartermaster Dr. G. M. Staples, Fourteenth Iowa, Surgeon; and Doctors Morgan,

     1 See Historical Sketches of Eighth, Twelfth and Fourteenth Regiments of Iowa Volunteer Infantry, In Volumes I and II of this work.

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Fourteenth Iowa, and A. W. Hoffmeister, Eighth Iowa, Assistant Surgeons. Each original regimental organization was kept up separately, each regiment representing the whole number of companies belonging with their original letters, and to be known as the Union Brigade, but in its form was but one regiment in the field.

    When the army left Pittsburg Landing to move on Corinth, the Union Brigade, with the Second Division, was ordered to march in the advance, continuing in that position during the siege of that place. Its pickets were frequently engaged in skirmishing with those of the enemy, and several of the men were killed and wounded. On the 17th day of May, Lieutenant Colonel J. C. Parrott, of the Seventh Iowa Infantry, was assigned to the command of the Union Brigade, and with it, when Corinth was evacuated on the 30th day of May, formed part of the command of General Pope, sent in pursuit of the rebels, and marched to Booneville, Miss., and on the 13th day of June returned to Corinth, and went into camp at Camp Montgomery, three miles south of Corinth, on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. On the 29th of June, I reported to General Hackleman, then in command of the First Brigade, Second Division, Army of the Tennessee. for duty. Colonel Parrott, who was then in command, and had performed all his duties, as might have been expected of that gentlemanly and accomplished officer, to the entire satisfaction of all concerned, was relieved at his own request, and I was assigned the command on the 1st day of July. At that time the aggregate strength of the brigade was as follows:

    Fifty-eighth Illinois, two commissioned officers, one hundred sixty-five enlisted men; total, one hundred sixty-seven. Eighth Iowa, six commissioned officers, one hundred seventy-three enlisted men; total, one hundred seventy-nine. Twelfth Iowa, three commissioned officers, seventy-two enlisted men; total, seventy-five. Fourteenth Iowa, three commissioned officers, forty-seven enlisted men; total, fifty. Field and Staff, seven. Total, four hundred seventy-eight.

    On assuming command. I found a large number of the men in the brigade in bad condition as to clothing, and much complaint was made as to the character of the rations issued, which had produced much demoralization amongst them. I found there was cause for these complaints, but do not attribute it to the officers in command; but at that time it was unavoidable, in consequence of the low stage of water in the Tennessee River, and the communication by rail with the Mississippi having just been completed, it was impossible to transport clothing, subsistence, and other things necessary in quantities sufficient to supply the army, but as soon as the railroad was fully in operation, I was enabled to furnish nearly everything wanted, and with some wholesome advice and discipline, a change for the better was soon perceptible.

    The brigade remained at Camp Montgomery until the 15th of August, when it was ordered to report to General Granger, at Danville, Miss., ten miles south of Corinth, Danville being an outpost in an exposed situation, much and constant watchfulness was required on the part of the command, consequently guard and picket duties were severe; but the men, now in excellent health, well provided with clothing and wholesome food, with an abundance of fruit, performed every duty cheerfully, and the stay of the brigade at this place may be reckoned among its most prosperous days. The aggregate strength of the brigade on the 1st of October, [1862,] exclusive of Company A, Fifty-eighth Illinois, which was on detached service, was six hundred thirty-one.

    On the 2d of October. [1862,] the brigade was ordered to fall back towards Corinth, across the Tuscumbia River and we encamped four miles north of Danville that evening. At 8 o'clock, on the morning of the 3d, we were ordered to send back a company to destroy the bridge over the Tuscumbia River, and immediately join General Hackleman's Brigade at Camp Montgomery. Before reaching this point, the whole division had left, and, judging from the heavy cannonading, which could be distinctly heard, had already engaged the rebels; but, hastening forward to the front, we came up with our division about two miles northwest of Corinth on the Chewalla road, to which point they had retired, and a new line of battle was then being formed. The Union Brigade was thrown forward into an open wood, at right angles with the road; here the men were ordered to lie down in line, and remained there at least an hour, the enemy's shot and shell ranging from right to left of our whole line, but, fortunately for us, the elevation of their guns was too great to do us much damage, none of our men were killed but several severely wounded.

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     The artillery, which had during this time engaged the rebels at this point. retired rapidly towards Corinth and our division was drawn up in line parallel to and nearly on the road, occupying the same ground from which the artillery had just retired. The Union Brigade was posted on the extreme left of the division, and had but barely got into position when the firing began with much fierceness on both sides. The men went into the action with the coolness of veterans and stood manfully until the enemy, emerging from the woods in front, massed in largely superior force, and also attempting to turn our left flank, a portion of our left gave way across the road and, taking covert behind some of the trees, continued to pour a rapid and heavy fire into the rebels. The right of our division had already fallen back, and, from the overwhelming force now on our flank as well as in front, were obliged also to retire for a time in good order, and were finally rallied and brought into line in the rear of Fort Robinet, with the rest of the division. This day was one of the hottest of the season, and very dry and dusty; the men having marched about eight miles, many of them were completely exhausted, suffered much with heat and thirst, and fell by the way from exhaustion and sunstroke. We lost, this day, Lieutenant Tichenor, a meritorious young officer of the Eighth Iowa, who was killed, and Lieutenant Palmer of the Twelfth, shot through the chest and left for dead on the field; he is, however, likely to recover. Several noncommissioned officers and privates were also killed or wounded. Here our division rested until between nine and ten o'clock, when it was marched to the eastern side of Corinth, and at three o'clock in the morning took position in line on the left of the fort north of the place, the left resting on the town and the right on the battery south of the fort, our brigade occupying nearly a central position in the line. Soon after reaching this point the enemy opened fire from their artillery upon the town and Fort Robinet, which was replied to by our guns and kept up with terrible vigor till daylight, when the rebel guns seemed to slacken fire and ceased entirely soon after. No great damage was done by their fire, but some of their guns were silenced and taken. About eight o'clock the whole force of the enemy marched upon our lines. In front of our division they could be seen steadily approaching under a most terrible fire of both artillery and musketry, but which gave them no apparent check. Finally, the battery on the right of our division rapidly retired; soon after, most of the line fell back, some portions of which could not be rallied, but the greater portion returned, and, with the reserve, aided in securing a complete victory, Among the troops rallying to close the fight, the Union Brigade was fully represented. The officers and men of the Union Brigade, with some few exceptions, behaved manfully, and the list of killed and wounded shows that, in proportion to the number engaged, they suffered as severely as any other regiment in the field. Casualties of the brigade please find appended. 2


     On the morning of the 5th of October, [1862,] the Union Brigade, under command of Captain Kittell, of the Fifty-eighth Illinois, Acting Major, started with the division in pursuit of the rebels, as far as Ruckersville, Miss., when the force was ordered back to Corinth, where they arrived on the 13th, after a fatiguing march of eight days. On the 20th of November, the Fiftyeighth Illinois was detached, and was no longer a part of the brigade. The command then devolved upon Captain Webb. At this place it remained doing garrison duty. On the 11th of December I returned to Corinth, having nearly recovered from the wound received there on the 4th of October, and assumed command. On the 17th day of December, I received the following order from General Dodge, viz:

    CORINTH, MISS., Dec. 17, 1862.


    The formation known as the Union Brigade is hereby dissolved.

    The Eighth, Twelfth and Fourteenth Iowa Infantry will proceed to Iowa to-morrow, the 18th inst., under the charge and command of Lieutenant Colonel Coulter, and report to Adjutant General N. B. Baker, of Iowa, for reorganization

    2 The names of the killed and wounded will be found noted In the rosters of the Eighth, Twelfth and Fourteenth Iowa Infantry, contained in Volumes I and II, of this work.

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     All men on detached service, except those in the First Missouri Light Artillery, will immediately report to their regiments. All government property and camp equipage will be turned over to the Post Quartermaster.

     By order of

     G. M. DODGE, Brigadier General.
     L. H. EVARTS, A. A. General.
     GEO. M. REEDER, A. A. A. General."

     On the morning of the 18th, agreeable to the above order, the Eighth, Twelfth and Fourteenth Iowa detachments embarked on the railroad train for Columbus and Iowa, with the pleasing prospect before them of soon reaching their place of destination, with the hope of grasping friendly hands and enjoying, for a brief space of time, the endearments of kindred and loved ones at home. But war had not yet "smoothed his wrinkled front," nor were these fond anticipations to be immediately realized, for on reaching Jackson, about noon of that day, It was reported that the rebel General Forrest, with a large force of cavalry and several pieces of artillery, was in that immediate neighborhood, and that an attack might be hourly expected. Colonel Lawler, the commander of the post, ordered my command to disembark, to aid In repelling the enemy. The order was of course obeyed, although many doubted the authority. I felt It clearly my duty, and It was soon acquiesced In by all, and the men turned out cheerfully to the performance of whatever work might be before us. Soon after getting into line, details for picket and guard duty were made from our regiment, amounting to two-thirds of our whole force present, and the remainder were assigned to the defense of the depot building, containing a large amount of Government stores, with Instructions to "defend to the last extremity, and, If overpowered, fire and blow up the buildings and retire to the court house." The first part of the order we were determined to fill to the letter, which we thought would render the obeying of the latter part unnecessary. We remained at Jackson until Sunday evening, the 21st, employed as on the first day. In the meantime large reenforcements had arrived, and the rebels, being satisfied with the feint upon Jackson, proceeded northward, and destroyed a large part of the railroad In their route, taking all the towns, and nearly all the posts for guard and defense of the road from Jackson to near Columbus.

     On Sunday evening, we were ordered forward with the Thirty-ninth Iowa and two Illinois regiments, Toward Humboldt, under command of General Haynie, reaching one of the destroyed bridges about eight o'clock in the evening, turned out, and, after pickets were placed, laid down upon the ground to obtain what rest and sleep circumstances would permit. We rebuilt the bridge on Monday, and that night reached Humboldt. My command was ordered back to Forked Deer River Bridge, three or four miles from Humboldt, being assured by the General in command that we would be attacked before morning. No rebels having appeared, we were relieved In the morning, and again sent forward In the advance, with the Engineer Corps, commanded by Major Tweedale, arriving at Trenton on the 26th. Here we remained twenty-four hours. Having procured flour, the men were busily engaged In making It into bread, as that article could not be obtained from the Commissary Department. We were ordered to subsist upon the country, and as the people seemed to have an abundant supply, we helped ourselves without much reluctance, the men faring rather sumptuously. On the 28th we reached Rutherford, and the South Obion, two miles beyond Kenton, the 2d day of January, 1863. Major Tweedale's Engineers, with our aid, having repaired substantially the road thus far, approaching the working party on the Columbus side, within seven or eight miles, we were relieved from further road duty by General Haynie, on the 3d, reaching Union City the same day, and thence, by Columbus and Cairo, arrived at Davenport on the evening of the 7th of January, 1863.

     Very respectfully,

     J. P. COULTER, Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding.

     3 Report of Adjutant General of Iowa, 1863, Vol. 2, pages 841 to 844 Inclusive. The compiler finds that the foregoing report constitutes the only official information of the operations of the several detachments of the regiments named therein, from the time the brigade was organized to the date of its dissolution. It will be seen that these Iowa soldiers, while thus separated from their regiments, fought valiantly, and performed all the duties required of them in a most commendable manner. In the historical sketches of the Eighth, Twelfth and Fourteenth Regiments of Iowa Infantry, contained in Volumes I and II of this work, brief reference is made of the service of these detachments, prior to the time they rejoined their respective regiments. The casualties sustained by these detachments will be found noted in the rosters of their regiments, and their subsequent history is included in that of the organizations to which they belonged, and in which the remainder of their terms of service was rendered.

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