Part of Article on “Waterloo Honors Living and Dead Heroes of ‘61-‘65"
“Veteran’s Remembrances of War.
John Q. Hanna Pays Tribute to Braver of the Blue and the Gray.
Editor Courier: To recall all of the events of fifty-two years of yesterdays in a short article would be beyond the power of mortal. We can only “snap-shot” a few things as memory calls them up.
To discuss the causes that led up to the war is not the purpose of this contribution.
For many years prior to 1861 we had said many bitter things against each other, both north and south. Some things said were true, but most things said were false. In the early days of 1861 we had talked ourselves into a fight that was to last us for four long bloody years.
The cry went forth, north and south: “To arms! To arms!!”
From the corn fields of the north and the cotton fields of the south men marched in tens of thousands to meet each other on the field of battle, where the harvest is death.
Passions Ran High.
The blood of the people was at boiling heat and the time had come for war with all its horrors. The Union had to be redeemed by the blood of its sons. Many thousands of these men upon whose graves you heap flowers today died that the Union might live. The sons of Iowa rushed into camp and the drill master soon prepared them to take their places in the army that formed the first line of battle. These first soldiers represented all parts of the north. Every city, town, village and school house was a recruiting station.
Waterloo was then a small town, but she was “on the job” from start to finish. The writer and about fifteen other Waterloo boys enlisted in June, 1861, in a company organization for the First Iowa Volunteer Cavalry.
Judge J. D. Thompson of Eldora was the captain of the company. We furnished our own horses and drew $12 per month for the use of them. In July, 1861, the Waterloo squad marched to Eldora and there joined Captain Thompson and the men he had recruited in and around Eldora. After a few days spent in Eldora we marched overland to Mt. Pleasant. It was understood that when we got to Burlington the government would furnish us saddles.
Long Bareback Ride.
We made the ride in hot July days, bare back. Sore! I guess so; but we were not sore like the infantry boys; their feet got sore. That is not where we were sore. Here they loaded us onto a freight train. There were no seats in the cars, so we all stood up and never made a kick. We could see better standing. When we arrived at Burlington we met the rest of our company that had been recruited at Dubuque.
Camp Warren was established about one mile from Burlington and named after our first Colonel, Fitz Henry Warren. There “Prepare to Fight,” was the law of the camp. All hands fell into line and “dressed on the flag.” There we got our first schooling in the arts of war.
Knowledge That Helped.
Here it is proper to say something about the knowledge that we took into camp with us that would be of use to us as soldiers. We were the children of frontiersmen. We had the wild Indian for our near neighbor all of our lives. We had hunted the wild game and had learned to shoot straight. We had camped out much and had learned how to take care of ourselves out in the wild, and we were not afraid of” buggers.” Above all we believed that our fathers had laid the foundations well and deep on which to build the greatest nation on earth, and we felt that it was our duty to protect every stone in that foundation so that future generations may build thereon the noblest structure that was ever built by the hands of men. This we swore to do and then got ready to fight.
Did we keep the oath? Did we make good? Look at our nation today and then let the world answer.
The history of the First Iowa Cavalry while at Camp Warren was being duplicated in thousands of other camps north and south reveille, roll call, guard mount, hospital call and dress parade at sunset, at 9 p.m. taps, “lights out.” In a very short time we began to act like soldiers, but we learned later that it was not until we got up against the enemy and convinced him that we were real soldiers that we could pat ourselves on the back and say “I’m a soldier.”
There were no dull times in camps. We eagerly scanned the daily papers for the news from all along the battle line that was rapidly forming from the Atlantic to the foot of the great plains of the west. Each day new companies and regiments from the north and from the south marched into their respective lines of battle. By October, 1861, these lines of battle nearly paralleled from Richmond on the east to the north line of the Indian Territory on the west.
Getting Ready for Crisis.
For about one year there was not much change in the two lines. Each side was filling up the gaps and getting ready for a general forward movement. In October, 1861, the First Iowa Cavalry moved into line at Benton Barracks, St. Louis. Mo. When we marched through the streets of St. Louis on our way out to Benton Barracks we realized by the cold stare and the frown on their faces that there were many foes in the throng we were passing and that it would not be long until we would have them to whip.
We stayed in Benton Barracks but a short time when we went up to Jefferson City on steamboats. When we landed at Jefferson City we found some new government wagons, new harness and a bunch of wild mules. In three days we broke the mules, hitched six to a wagon, drove them with a “jerk line,” loaded in our camp outfit and hit the road to join General Fremont on the march to Springfield, Mo. We joined him in a few days and from this time on we were part of the “great army of the union.”
Now let us turn back and review, for a short time, what was being done at home. The windjammer was in his glory, both north and south. Their screams could be heard everywhere. “It is a big bluff, they won’t fight.” “I can drink all the blood that will be spilled during the war.” “We can whip them with pop guns.” “Can take a corn cob and a lightning bug and run them all out of camp.” “Whip ten of them before breakfast,” etc., etc.
Some of the boys in the north that helped to plan the corn in the spring of 1861 expected to get home in time to help ”shuck” it that fall. Some of the boys in the south that helped to plan the cotton in the spring of 1861 expected to get home in time to help pick it that fall. During the summer and fall of 1861 we had some skirmishes and little fights along the line, just a few samples of what was in store for us in the near future.
A Gloomy Winter.
When the winter of 1861-‘62 came on the army went into winter quarters and shivered and scouted, and thousands of the boys went to the poorly equipped hospitals to die of disease, exposure and homesickness. That was a gloomy winter and many despaired and died.
We learned when we cooled off a little that being “mad” might do on which to pull off a fist fight, but that it lacked a whole lot of being sufficient equipment to fight to a successful ending, a long and tedious war. Then we sent the screamers and howlers to the rear and the cool-headed patriotic people began to dress the army in its fighting clothes.
All along the battle line supply depots were established and then our friends at the north loaded thousands of trains with supplies, guns, ammunition, revolvers, cartridges, clothing, tents, skillets, pots, kettles, pans, sow belly, hard tack and a darned little bit of whiskey; hay, oats, corn, hospital tents, ambulances, medicines of all kinds, etc, etc. Every train of supplies was a loving reminder of our noble friends of the north.
Then the boys in the field and their friends in the north took each other into full partnership and that partnership has grown stronger as the years have rolled on. An army without food and scantily clothed is easily whipped.
The spring of 1862 found our army with its fighting clothes on. From that time forward, the war was on in earnest, and for fear that this limping narrative of an old soldier is getting tiresome I will not follow them through.
I must say something about our enemy (the reb). If he was not a fighter then all of our tales about the hard fights we were in are just plain old lies. But he was a fighter, and it is my opinion that any man on either side that was close up to the front all the way through the war, and did not get enough of it is a d___d hog.war and did not get enough of it is a d____d hog.
I have lived here in Texas about thirty years. I found many old rebel soldiers on the cow range when I came here. It did not take us long to fix up a compromise. I quit calling them d - - -d rebels and they quit calling me a d---d Yankee, and we have lived happily together ever since.
The intelligence of the south is satisfied with the results of the war. The now see and admit that had they won the fight that the principle, “the right to secede” would have worked the destruction of the confederacy. It would soon have become a nest of warring republics like Central and South America. They nearly all admit that it was a good thing for the mases of the white people of the south that the negro was set free. Fools and demagogues have caused more trouble than all other forces for evil combined. It is said to be unlawful to knock them in the head or killtem in any old way, so if we want this nation to live and prosper, we will have to keep our eye on them forever. They tell me there is one of them born every minute. I can’t see for the life of me what for. Can you?
Flowers For All.
I know that if any old confederate sleeps the long sleep in any graveyard in the north that his grave will be covered with flowers today. Hate is dead. Long live the Union!
Veterans Are Aging.
The old soldiers that are left have nearly all passed the 70-mile post. We are “marking time” as the rear guard of the Grand Arm of the Union.
We brought the old flag back from the field of battle, rent and torn with shot and shell and stained with the blood of our fallen comrades. Our flag is a living thing; in battle it guides us; in peace it protects us. It waves today proudly over the strongest nation on the face of the earth. On this Decoration Day pile high the flowers on the graves of the mothers, sisters, wives and sweethearts. They suffered death in every battle in which their loved ones fought; they kept the fires of liberty burning on the watch towers of the nation during all the years of gloom. Kindness and smiles for the living; sweet memory, flowers and tears for the dead. This Union has within it the soul of liberty—it is immortal and shall live forever.
JOHN Q. HANNA
Co. G. 1st Iowa Vol. Cavalry.
Blackwell, Texas, May 10, 1913
[John Q. Hanna is being modest when he writes this. Enlisted at Waterloo as a private, age 19, born in IL; promoted numerous times, ending with promotion on 12-31-1863 to 4th Corporal.]
~Source: “The Waterloo Evening Courier”: Thursday, May 29, 1913
~Submitted by Laura Blair, Researched and typed by Mary Mys
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