3rd Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry
in the War of the Rebellion
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Historical Sketch button-sm.gif (1265 bytes)


The companies composing the Second and Third regiments of Iowa Infantry Volunteers were organized and ready to respond to the first call of President Lincoln for troops, but as only one regiment from Iowa could be accepted under that call these companies were compelled to wait during the brief time that intervened before the second call was issued. The Second and Third were then ordered into quarters by Governor Kirkwood, and his order was so promptly obeyed that there was but little difference in the dates upon which these three regiments assembled at the designated rendezvous, Keokuk, Iowa. There, on the 8th and 10th days of June, 1861, the ten companies composing the Third regiment were mustered into the service of the United States by Lieutenant Alexander Chambers of the regular army, for the term of three years. On June 27, 1861—only seventeen days after its last company was mustered—the regiment embarked on the steamers, Gate City and Hamilton Belle, and was conveyed to Hannibal, Mo., there to await further orders. The First and Second regiments had reached Hannibal only a few days before, and were then engaged in taking possession of the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad, and in preventing the concentration of the bands of rebel troops then being raised in that part of Missouri. The Third Regiment was at once assigned to the same duty. From Hannibal it was transported by rail to Utica, Mo., on the line of the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad, where it went into camp. Up to this time the Governor had not appointed the field officers of the regiment, and it had been commanded by its senior Captain, Richard G. Herron of Company A, a very capable and efficient officer, and highly esteemed by the officers and men of the regiment. Shortly after arriving at Utica, the field officers were appointed.

Nelson G. Williams, who had received military training at West Point, was commissioned Colonel, Capt. John Scott of Company E, a veteran soldier of the Mexican War, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain William M. Stone of Company B was promoted to Major. The Lieutenant Colonel and Major had been mustered in as Captains at Keokuk, but the Colonel was a stranger to the regiment. Upon assuming command, he proceeded to enforce strict discipline, which, at that time, a majority of the officers and men could not appreciate the necessity for, as they could, and did, later on. The result was a strong feeling of dislike for Colonel Williams. Retaining that feeling of self-respect and manly independence which had characterized them as citizens, and having all their lives been amenable only to the mild restraints of the civil laws, it was not strange that the sudden transition from the comparatively mild discipline to which they had thus far been accustomed, to the most rigid enforcement of the rules and regulations governing the professional soldiers of the regular army, should seem harsh and even cruel. While it soon became evident that the efficiency of the regiment had improved, the stern and autocratic manner of the Colonel created a feeling of prejudice against him which his enforcement of discipline would not alone have created, had his bearing towards his officers and men been less arrogant.

The citizens of Missouri were divided into bitterly contending factions, many adhering to the cause of the Union, and many assuming an attitude of open rebellion. These hostile factions were constantly being organized into armed bodies. It was a most deplorable condition, and the duty of protecting the loyal people of the State devolved upon the Union troops. In the State, thus rent and torn by contending factions, the Third Iowa spent its first summer, autumn and winter. Its operations extended over a wide territory. During the summer, the regiment maintained headquarters, first at Utica, and later at Chillicothe, Brookfield and Macon City, but companies were stationed at different points to guard the railroad and keep it in operation for the transportation of troops and supplies. In the performance of this duty many skirmishes and minor engagements took place. Several expeditions were planned and executed by portions of the regiment, but during its entire campaign in Missouri there were no operations in which the entire regiment was engaged at one time. The regiment suffered much from sickness, and, up to the time when it first encountered the enemy in battle, its greatest loss had been by deaths from disease, and the discharge of men who proved to be physically incapacitated to stand the hardships and exposure incident to a soldier's life. The most important of the expeditions undertaken during the summer were those against considerable bodies of the enemy, commanded by the rebel Generals Thomas Harris and Martin Green, and encamped near the towns of Paris and Kirksville. The first movement was against Kirksville with 500 of the Third Iowa under command of Lieutenant Colonel Scott, and the second against Paris with the balance of the regiment under Colonel Williams. Only partial success was accomplished by these expeditions. The enemy, being mounted and familiar with the country, retired as the Union troops advanced, and could not be drawn into a general engagement.

Some skirmish fighting took place, in which several were killed and wounded on both sides. Prior to these two expeditions portions of the regiment had come into contact with the enemy at Hager's Woods and Monroe, and later at Shelbina and Florida, Mo., in all of which only slight losses were sustained. The compiler of this sketch, then a crude young soldier in, one of the companies of the Third Iowa Infantry, was imbued with the same ardent desire which animated his comrades, to meet the enemy in a general engagement. The desire was soon to be gratified. About the middle of September Lieut. Col. John Scott in command of 500 of the Third Iowa left camp and proceeded west to Cameron, Mo. Upon his arrival there, he was ordered to act in conjunction with Colonel Smith, who, with his regiment—the Sixteenth Illinois Infantry—was to meet Colonel Scott at or near Liberty, Mo., and intercept a force of the enemy reported to be marching towards Blue Mills Landing, on the Missouri river, with the purpose of crossing the river at that point and joining the rebel army under General Price. In his official report Lieutenant Colonel Scott details at length the movements of his command from the time he received his orders to the end of the battle of Blue Mills. Colonel Smith was moving from St. Joseph towards Blue Mills, and, at the time Scott left Cameron, had reached a point on his line of march which placed the two commands at about equal distances from Liberty, where they were ordered to intercept the enemy. Smith had sent a courier with a message to Scott urging him to move as rapidly as possible, and to keep in communication with him. The following extract from Scott's report will explain his movements prior to the battle:

I left Cameron at 3 P. M. on the 15th inst., and through a heavy rain and bad roads made but seven miles during that afternoon. By a very active march on the 16th, I reached Centerville, ten miles north of Liberty, by sunset, when the firing of cannon was distinctly heard in the direction of Platte City, which was surmised to be from Colonel Smith's Sixteenth Illinois command. I had sent a messenger to Colonel Smith from Hainsville, and another from Centerville, apprising him of my movements, but got no response. On the 17th at 2 A. M. I started from Centerville for Liberty, and at daylight the advanced guards fell in with the enemas pickets. * * *

Lieutenant Colonel Scott continued to advance, the pickets of the enemy retiring before him. They were closely followed and driven to the town of Liberty, which was reached at 7 a. m. The troops were halted on the hill north of and overlooking the town. Scouts were now sent forward to examine the position of the enemy. The only information obtained was that the enemy had passed through the town on the afternoon of the 16th, to the number of about 4,000, taking the road to Blue Mills Landing, and were reported as having four pieces of artillery. Lieutenant Colonel Scott at once sent a courier to Colonel Smith advising him of the situation, and urging him to hasten his command. In the meantime firing was heard in the direction of the landing. This was presumed to be a conflict between the Union troops under General Sturgis and the enemy, disputing the passage over the river; but the firing was being done by the enemy, solely for the purpose of misleading the advancing Union troops, and leading them into making the attack before reinforcements reached them. The ruse on the part of the enemy had the desired result. Lieutenant Colonel Scott felt that it was his duty to at once advance, but before starting he dispatched another courier to Colonel Smith, advising that officer of his intention to attack the enemy, and urging him to hasten his troops forward in order that he might arrive in time to participate in the impending battle. The following extract from Lieutenant Colonel Scott's report describes the fighting which ensued:

At 12 M. I moved the command, consisting of 500 of the Third Iowa, a squad of German artillerists, and about seventy Home Guards, in the direction of Blue Mills Landing. On the route, learned that a body of our scouts had fallen in with the enemy's pickets, and lost four killed and one wounded. About two miles from Liberty, the advance guard drove in the enemy's pickets. Skirmishers closely examined the dense growth through which our route lay, and at 3 P.M. discovered the enemy in force, concealed on both sides of the road, and occupying the dry bed of a slough, his left resting on the river, and the right extending beyond our observation. He opened a heavy fire which drove back our skirmishers, and made simultaneous attacks upon our front and right. These were well sustained, and he retired with heavy loss to his position. In the attack upon our front the artillery suffered so severely that the only piece a brass 6-pounder— was left without sufficient force to man it, and I was only able to have it discharged twice during the action. Some of the gunners abandoned the piece, carrying off the matches and primer, and could not be rallied. The enemy kept up a heavy fire from his position. Our artillery useless, and many of the officers and men already disabled, it was deemed advisable to fall back, which was done slowly, returning the enemy's fire, and completely checking pursuit. The 6-pounder was brought off by hand, through the gallantry of Captain Trumbull, Lieutenants Crosley and Knight, and various officers and men of the Third Iowa, after it had been entirely abandoned by the artillerists. The ammunition wagon, becoming fastened between a tree and a log at the road side in such a manner that it could not be released without serious loss, was abandoned. The engagement lasted one hour, and was sustained by my command with an intrepidity that merits my warmest approbation. I have to regret the loss of a number of brave officers and men, who fell gallantly fighting at their posts. I refer to the enclosed list of killed and wounded as a part of this report The heaviest loss was sustained by Company I, Third Iowa Volunteers, which lost four killed and twenty wounded, being one-fourth of our total loss. Major Stone, Captains Warren, Willett and O'Neil, and Lieutenants Hobbs, Anderson, Tullis and Knight were severely wounded. Lieutenant Knight was wounded three times, but refused to retire from the field, and remained with his man until the close of the engagement. Among the great number who deserve ray thanks for their gallantry, I might mention Sergeant James F. Lakin of Company F. who bore the colors, and carried them into the thickest of the fight, with all the coolness of a veteran.

The Third Iowa lost in this battle 96 killed and wounded, out of less than 600 engaged, while the loss of the enemy was reported at 160 out of 4,400 engaged. The enemy fought on the defensive, and had all the advantage in position. Colonel Smith with the Sixteenth Illinois met Lieutenant Colonel Scott's command about three miles from Blue Mills Landing, but his troops were in such an exhausted condition that it was deemed best not to renew the attack. The enemy only followed in pursuit a short distance, and during the night retreated across the river. The compiler of this sketch has a vivid personal recollection of this first battle of the Third Iowa. That it ended in defeat does not detract from the bravery of the officers and men of the regiment. Considering the great disparity in numbers, it was greatly to the credit of its commander, and the best possible evidence of the coolness and courage of his men, that it was able to extricate itself from its perilous position, and to retire from the field in good order. To have longer continued the fight in the face of such a greatly superior force, would have resulted in such greater loss that the surrender of the small command might have become a necessity. The surviving officers and men came out of this fight with unimpaired confidence in their gallant commander and in their own ability to successfully contend with the enemy under anything like equal conditions. They had here fought against at least seven times their own number, and had inflicted such heavy damage to the enemy as to discourage them from continuing the pursuit and taking the chances of another engagement, when the Third Iowa would have met the re-enforcement's coming to its assistance. The next day the dead were buried with military honors, the wounded who were able to bear the journey were conveyed under escort to Cameron, while the most severely wounded were left at Liberty to be later conveyed by steamboat to the government hospital at Fort Leavenworth.

A few days after the battle this detachment of the Third Iowa joined the command of General Sturgis at Kansas City, where Union troops were being rapidly concentrated to resist a threatened attack upon that place by the rebel forces under General Price. Union troops continued to arrive until it became evident to the rebel general that he would soon be acting on the defensive, and, after securing all the recruits that could be induced to join him, he withdrew his army to Springfield, there to await reinforcements from the South. The Third Iowa was again reunited, and, on account of the large number of men upon the sick list, it was deemed best to give it a change of location and an opportunity to rest and recruit. It was therefore ordered to Quincy, Ill., where it went into camp in a beautiful location just north of the city, and enjoyed a season of much needed rest. The citizens of Quincy extended a cordial welcome to the regiment, the best of discipline was maintained, the health of the men rapidly improved, and at the end of three weeks they were again in such good condition for active service as to fully justify the wisdom of the order granting this short respite from active duty in the field. November 9, 1861, the regiment was transported to St. Louis, and went into quarters at Benton Barracks a huge camp of instruction, where troops of all arms were being concentrated and prepared for the great campaign which was soon to begin. The barracks were soon overcrowded by the constant influx of troops, and much sickness resulted. The order to again take the field was joyfully received by the regiment, although the duty to which it was assigned involved a winter campaign in northern Missouri. The regiment was selected for this service on account of its past experience in dealing with Missouri rebels. It was important that the line of the North Missouri Railroad should be protected against the frequent raids of rebel bands, who tore up portions of the track, cut down telegraph poles and otherwise seriously interfered with the operation of the road. The companies of the regiment were distributed at stations along the line of the road, and were constantly engaged in protecting the working parties whose regular labor of keeping the track in condition for the passage of trains was greatly augmented by the repairs necessitated by the depredations of the enemy. The rebels infested the country in well-mounted bands, and the road could not have been operated at all, except for the presence of Union troops.

Fort Donelson fell. Iowa troops had won renown in the reduction of that rebel stronghold, while the Third Iowa was still engaged in guarding the North Missouri Railroad. It was not the hardships to which they were exposed in this wintry weather of which the men and officers of the regiment complained, but the lack of opportunity to win honor for themselves and their State on Southern battlefields. During this campaign Lieutenant Colonel Scott was serving as a member of a military commission in St. Louis, and Maj. W. M. Stone was in command of the regiment until Colonel Williams—who had been under arrest for several months—returned and took command. He had been tried by Court Martial, upon the charge, preferred against him by certain officers of his regiment, of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. The court had acquitted him of this charge. While the feeling of prejudice was still strong against the Colonel, his officers and men had come to appreciate the necessity for strict discipline, and were disposed to treat their commanding officer with greater respect. The Colonel had, in the meantime, come to a better understanding of his men, and held them in higher regard on account of the important service they had rendered while he was separated from them. Had such consideration been shown earlier, it would have saved the Colonel much humiliation, and the officers and men of his regiment much annoyance and ill feeling.

On the 3d of March, 1862, the welcome order was received for the regiment to proceed to St. Louis. The scattered companies were concentrated at the regimental headquarters in Mexico, Mo., transportation was provided, and the regiment was in St. Louis the next day, where it immediately embarked on the steamer Iatan, and was soon on its way to the South. From Cairo, Ill., it proceeded up the Ohio and Tennessee, and soon overtook the large fleet of transports conveying General Grant's army. The boats were greatly crowded, and the impure water of the river had a bad effect upon the health of the men. The result was a large increase of the sick list, and when the regiment went ashore, at Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., on March 17, 1862, it had less than 600 men able for duty.

The regiment was assigned to the First Brigade of the Fourth Division Army of the Tennessee. The other regiments composing the brigade were the Twenty-Eighth, Thirty-second and Forty-first Illinois Infantry. Brig. Gen. S. A. Hurlbut was in command of the division, Col. N. G. Williams of the Third Iowa commanded the brigade, while Maj. W. M. Stone was in command of the regiment, in the absence of Lieut. Col. John Scott, who had the misfortune— with many other officers and men of the regiment—to be confined by severe sickness on board the hospital boat "City of Memphis," which lay at Pittsburg Landing. It was very hard for these brave men, many of whom had not sufficiently recovered, at the time the battle was fought, to rejoin the regiment, to listen to the thunder of battle reverberating along the river, and to endure, in addition to the pain that racked their bodies, the mental agony which came with the knowledge that their comrades were bravely fighting, while they could not be permitted to join them.

On the morning of April 6, 1862, the great battle of Shiloh began. The Third Iowa, with the other troops of its brigade and division, was promptly in line of battle, and moved rapidly to the front, where the advanced line of the Union army was already engaged in fierce conflict with the enemy. The division was soon engaged. After a short struggle on its first line of battle, it retired some distance, to prevent being outflanked, and took up its second position, where it fought stubbornly for over five hours and suffered heavy loss. The position at last becoming untenable, it again retired, fighting from one position to another, and keeping well together. Early in the engagement Colonel Williams had his horse shot under him, while gallantly performing his duty as brigade commander. He was entirely disabled for further duty, and was borne from the field, Col. I. C. Pugh of the Forty first Illinois succeeding him as commander of the brigade. Late in the afternoon Major Stone had his horse shot under him, and he was stunned by the fall, just when the enemy were charging and the regiment was compelled to fall back. The gallant Major was thus cut off from his command and captured. Capt. M. M. Trumbull then took command of the regiment which had become separated from its brigade. Upon reaching its own camp ground, the regiment again faced the enemy, but found itself in the desperate situation of being nearly surrounded. It again retired, fighting its way through its own camp, in which many of its men were killed and wounded, among the wounded being the gallant Captain Trumbull. The casualties among the officers had been so great that only seven Lieutenants now remained upon duty, and First Lieut. George W. Crosley of Company E was the ranking officer in command of the regiment, which continued to fight its way to the rear and, at about 5:30 in the evening, formed on the right of Colonel Crocker's Thirteenth Iowa at the line of last resistance. After dark the regiment rejoined its brigade, and, on the morning of April 7th, again went into action and fought to the close of the battle that day. The next day the dead were collected from the field where they had fallen, and were buried near the regimental camp, with the honors of war. The sad duty performed, details from the regiment assisted in the burial of the enemy's dead, who were found in great numbers, and nowhere did they lie thicker than at the points where the First Brigade of the Fourth Division had fought. Capt. M. M. Trumbull, though still suffering from his wound, resumed command of the regiment shortly after the battle, and wrote the official report, including a list of the killed, wounded and missing. The summarized list shows the loss of the regiment as follows:

"Killed, 23. Wounded, l34. missing (captured by the enemy), 30. Total, 187 out of 560 engaged. Of the captured, nearly all were wounded. Sixteen of the wounded, who were not captured, died of their wounds in hospital, increasing the death list of the battle to 39. The total loss was one-third of the number engaged."

Captain Trumbull describes the conduct of the regiment during the battle, in detail, and at the close of his report says:

The regiment went into battle on the second day under the command of First Lieutenant G. W. Crosley of Company E, and. as I am well assured. nobly maintained the honor of the flag. Should I designate meritorious officers, I should have to name nearly every officer in the regiment. I think, however, none will feel envious if I specially mention Lieutenant Crosley. I desire to call the attention of the general commanding the division to the gallantry and good conduct of Sergeant James F. Lakin of Company F. who carried the colors on the first day, and of Corporal Anderson Edwards of Company I, who carried the colors on the second day of the battle.

In his order, thanking the survivors of his division for their good conduct during the battle, Gen. Stephen A. Hurlbut says in part:

Let this division remember that for five hours on Sunday it held, under the most terrific fire, the key point of the left of the army, and only fell back when flanked by overwhelming masses of the enemy, pressing through points abandoned by our supports. Let them remember, that when they fell back, it was in good order, and that the last line of resistance, in rear of the heavy guns, was formed by this division. Let them remember, that on the morning of Monday, without food and without sleep, they were ordered forward to reinforce the right, and that wherever the brigade of this division appeared on the field, they were in time to support broken flanks, and hold the line. Keep these facts before your memories, to hand down to your children when we conquer a peace, and let it be the chief pride of every man of this command, as it is of your General, that he was at Shiloh with the fighting Fourth Division.

The compiler of this sketch has given more space in this brief account of the part taken by the regiment in the battle of Shiloh than he will be able to devote to the subsequent battles in which it was engaged, with equal honor, but, in his judgment, this great historical battle gave to the regiment an experience upon which was based its subsequent splendid battle record.

If the history of its service had ended at Shiloh, the regiment would still have a record of service reflecting great honor and credit upon the military history of the State of Iowa. The regiment welcomed the order which removed its encampment from a gloomy environment, for its old camp ground on the battlefield was in the midst of the graves of both friend and foe, which were constant reminders of the horrors of the tremendous conflict. The enemy had withdrawn to his stronghold at Corinth, only a day's march from the scene of his defeat at Shiloh.

The Third Iowa, with its brigade and division, performed its full share of the arduous service involved in the advance upon and siege of Corinth, resulting in the evacuation of that place on May 30, 1862, and the pursuit of the enemy which followed, and in the campaign the following summer, in which the Fourth and Fifth Divisions of the Army of the Tennessee were constantly associated, ending on the 21st of July, 1862, when these two divisions entered the city of Memphis, Tenn., after a long and toilsome march, which put to the severest test the endurance of the troops. Lieutenant Colonel Scott had resigned June 20, 1862, to accept promotion as Colonel of the Thirty-second Iowa. Colonel Williams had returned and assumed command of the regiment after the evacuation of Corinth, but he had only partially recovered from his injuries at Shiloh, and was really unfitted for the active duties of the campaign. Major Stone had been exchanged, and had resigned to accept promotion as Colonel of the Twenty-second Iowa, and Quartermaster Geo. W. Clark had resigned July 17, 1862, to accept promotion as Colonel of the Thirty-fourth Iowa.

The regiment remained in Memphis until September 6, 1862. The Fourth and Fifth Divisions were now about to separate. Gen. W. T. Sherman expressed his regret in a letter to General Hurlbut, from which the following brief extract is taken:

Permit me through you to convey to the officers and men of your division my deep regret that the necessities of the service should at this time separate our commands. Our divisions were the first to disembark at Pittsburg Landing, and through storm and sunshine we have been side by side. The habit of acting together has made us one command, and I feel in parting from you as though my own division was divided. Your division is composed of good and sturdy men who by their behavior in camp, on guard, on the march and in battle reflect honor and credit on themselves, and their country. Be pleased to assure them that I will hail the change in events that will bring us together again.

Every man and officer of the Fourth Division fully appreciated this compliment. They all loved and honored General Sherman, and were glad to receive his expression of friendship and confidence in them, and in their trusted leader, General Hurlbut.

On the 6th of September the Fourth Division entered upon another long and arduous campaign. It marched to Bolivar, Tenn., where it remained until October 3, 1862. On the morning of that day the enemy was closing in about Corinth, and at 3 a. m. General Hurlbut received orders to march for that place. The order was promptly obeyed and the march was conducted with the greatest energy. On the afternoon of the next day the advanced guard intercepted the enemy, on their retreat from Corinth, and the fighting began just before dark, and the opposing forces lay upon their arms during the night. In the morning, the battle was renewed, and continued until the enemy—who made a most gallant and desperate defense—were completely vanquished, and in full retreat. The Third Iowa Infantry bore a most conspicuous part in this conflict, known in history as the battle of the Hatchie. It was under the command of the brave and intrepid Captain Trumbull, and at a most critical stage of the battle crossed the bridge over the Hatchie River, under a heavy fire, and after crossing again formed line of battle under the fire of the enemy charged up the steep hill, and drove the enemy from their strong position on its crest. The brave Capt. W. P. Dodd was killed. Capt. E. I. Weiser and Lieut. D. W. Foote, both of whom had been wounded in battle before, were here again severely wounded and permanently disabled. Captain Kostman, Lieutenants Hamil and Anderson were severely wounded. Lieutenant Gary remained in command of his company, after the death of Captain Dodd, though suffering from a painful wound, until the close of the battle. Adjutant Cushman, Lieutenants Scobey, McMurtrie, Burdic, Lakin and Abernethy were all warmly commended by Captain Trumbull for their bravery and efficiency, and Corporal Edwards, who again bravely bore the colors, and seemed gifted with a charmed life, received special mention.

Company A being on detached duty, guarding the supply train, did not participate in this battle. The total casualties in the regiment were 62 killed and wounded. Brigadier General Hurlbut was, soon after the battle, promoted to Major General, and assigned to the command of the Sixteenth Army Corps. The following brief extract from his farewell address will show how he appreciated the officers and men of his old "fighting Fourth Division":

And now a promotion won by your courage and discipline, removes me to a larger command. Remember, every man and officer, that whatever I may have of military reputation, has been won by your valor, and that I wear it as coming from you.

Brig. Gen. J. G. Lauman succeeded General Hurlbut as commander of the division, and Col. I. C. Pugh again assumed command of the First Brigade. The division now returned to Bolivar where it remained until November 1, 1862. Colonel Williams had been with the regiment most of the summer, but his health was very poor, and he was in actual command only a part of the time.

Capt. Aaron Brown of Company F, was promoted to Major October 15, 1862, and Capt. M. M. Trumbull was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel at the same time, but resigned November 20th to accept promotion as Colonel of the Ninth Iowa Cavalry. Colonel Williams resigned on account of disability November 27, 1862, and Major Brown became the regimental commander. The regiment now participated in the famous Mississippi Central Expedition, during which it suffered greatly, particularly on the return march, when it was for several days almost entirely without food.

During the winter of 1863, the regiment was stationed at Moscow, Tenn., and in the spring returned to Memphis. In the meantime Major Brown had been promoted to Colonel, Capt. James Tullis to Lieutenant Colonel, and First Lieut. George W. Crosley to Major. These promotions had all been earned on the battlefield, and the men had full confidence in these officers. The company officers had also stood the test of battle, and their men were ready to follow wherever they might lead, which they fully demonstrated in the great campaign that soon began. On the afternoon of May 18, 1863, the steamer "Crescent City" which conveyed the regiment down the river was fired into by the enemy on shore, and, in the few minutes it was under fire, the regiment had 14 men severely wounded, one of whom died soon afterward. The boat landed at Young's Point May 19, 1863, and, from that time until the close of the Vicksburg campaign, the regiment was constantly engaged in the most active and arduous service it had ever experienced. During the siege of Vicksburg, its division constituted that portion of the investing force on the left of General Grant's army, for forty days. The official reports of Colonel Brown and Major Crosley are among those published by the Adjutant General of Iowa. They describe in detail the operations of the regiment during the siege. Immediately following the surrender of Vicksburg, General Lauman's division was ordered to Jackson, Miss., and took the most important part of any of the troops engaged in the siege which followed. The Third Infantry here suffered a most disastrous loss. It is the saddest chapter In the history of the regiment, and may well be compared with the charge of the "Light Brigade," which Tennyson has immortalized in verse. The division commander, Gen. Jacob G. Lauman, gave the order, as he received it, from Maj. Gen. E. O. C. Ord, who was in command of the Corps. No official investigation was ever made, but the surviving officers and men of the brigade had implicit faith in the honor of General Lauman, and believed he gave the order as it was given to him.

The veteran commander of the First Brigade, Col. I. C. Pugh, promptly gave the order as it was given to him by General Lauman, and the officers and men of the old brigade obeyed the order without a moment's hesitation, as it was their duty to do. "Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do or die." The official report of this bloody engagement was written by Maj. G. W. Crosley, who commanded the regiment after Colonel Brown fell severely wounded. A copy of this report can be found on page 427 of the Adjutant General's report for the State of Iowa.*

The regiment went into action with 223 enlisted men, 15 line and 3 field and staff officers, making an aggregate of 241 rank and file. Out of this number it lost 114, nearly fifty per cent of the number engaged. The regiment was so greatly reduced in numbers that, on the evening of that fatal day, only a little more than a full company of effective men answered to roll call.

Among the killed were the Ruckman brothers, Captain and Second Lieutenant of Company B, and First Lieutenant Hall and First Sergeant Woodruff of the same company, Lieutenant McMurtrie of Company D, Sergeants Gilmore, Dent, Follett, and many others. Among the wounded were Col. Aaron Brown, severely; Major Crosley, slightly; Captain Gary, and Lieutenants Abernethy, Anderson and Irwin, severely. Lieutenant Colonel Tullis was at this time in hospital, suffering from both wounds and sickness. The other regiments participating in this terrible charge were the Twenty-Eighth, Forty-first and Fifty-third Illinois Infantry, and the total strength of the brigade was 880, while the total loss was 465.†

*Page 604 of Vol. XXIV, Series 1, Official Records of War of the Rebellion.
†Official. See page 575, Vol. XXIV, Series 1, War of the Rebellion.

The regiment now returned to Vicksburg, and with its division was ordered to Natchez, Miss., where it remained until early in December, and then returned to Vicksburg. Three-fourths of the able-bodied men now re-enlisted, and the regiment became the Third Iowa Veteran Infantry.

Its next important service was upon the famous Meridian expedition during which it was under the command of Major Crosley. The regiment left camp on the 3d of February, and returned on the 4th of March, having in that time marched 328 miles. It left camp with ten days' rations, and after that supply was exhausted lived upon such food as could be obtained in the country through which it passed. It had no tents while on this march, and suffered greatly from exposure to frequent storms.

During this expedition, the regiment lost one man killed, one mortally wounded and ten captured, while foraging. Several of the men who were captured subsequently died in Andersonville prison. Soon after the return from this expedition, the non-veteran portion of the regiment (those who had not re-enlisted) were sent upon the Red River Campaign under command of Lieutenant Colonel Tullis, and endured great hardship while participating in the operations of the forces under General Banks in that ill-fated expedition The regiment was never reunited. The detachment under Lieutenant Colonel Tullis was subsequently sent to Davenport, Iowa, and there mustered out of the service, on the 18th day of June, 1864, three years and ten days from the date of muster in at Keokuk. These officers and men had served faithfully and well, beyond the term for which they had enlisted. Many of them were married men, and it was no disparagement to them that they did not re-enlist. Their record was altogether as honorable as that of their comrades who chose to remain until the end of the war. Their long term of service justly entitled them to the name of veteran, which had been officially bestowed upon those who had re-enlisted. The re-enlisted men, under command of Major Crosley, had previously been sent to Davenport, at which point they had each received a thirty-day furlough. At the expiration of their furloughs they promptly assembled at Davenport, bringing with them a number of recruits, and again proceeded to the front, rejoining their old division at Cairo, Ill., and from there moving by boat to Clifton, Tenn.

From Clifton, the regiment marched with its brigade and division across the states of Tennessee and Georgia, and joined Sherman's army, then moving against Atlanta. At Kingston, Ga., the regiment was reorganized into an Infantry battalion of three companies, designated as companies A, B. and C of the Third Iowa Veteran Infantry, and here (the original term of the regiment having expired) the commissioned officers held a meeting, and, in view of the fact that the reduced number of companies necessitated a proportionate reduction in the number of officers, they all decided to be mustered out and give opportunity for the promotion of the officers of the new organization from the ranks. The subjoined roster will show the names of the men who thus received well-deserved promotion, and the names of those officers who thus honorably retired at the expiration of their original term of service. The battalion was entitled to but one field officer, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and that well-deserved promotion came to Second Lieut. Jacob Abernethy, one of the bravest and best officers of the old regiment. From Kingston, Ga., on to the end of the Atlanta campaign, the Third Iowa Veterans performed splendid service. On the 21st day of July Lieutenant Colonel Abernethy was killed while gallantly leading his little battalion.

On July the 22d, the remnant of these veterans again met the enemy in fierce conflict, and again met with heavy loss. On July 28th, the official reports show that it was again in action with the Thirteenth Iowa Infantry commanded by Col. John Shane. The few survivors were subsequently consolidated within the Second Iowa Infantry, and the gallant Third ceased to exist as a distinct military organization. With the Second Iowa they marched with Sherman to the Sea, thence to Washington where they participated in the grand review and were then ordered to Louisville, Ky. There, on the 12th of July, 1865-over four years from the date of their muster in at Keokuk—they were mustered out, and the record of their heroic service was ended.

Few of these gallant men remain to peruse this record, but the children of those who made it, and their posterity, so long as heroic and patriotic deeds are cherished and revered among men, will read the story of their bravery, fortitude and great achievements, and thank God that they can trace their lineage to the men who, from 1861 to 1865, confronted the storm of the rebellions and saved the United States of America from disruption and destruction.


Total Enrollment 1109
Killed 76
Wounded 370
Died of wounds 30
Died of disease 109
Discharged for disease, wounds and other causes 270
Buried in National Cemeteries 81
Captured 116
Transferred 24

Transcribed by Linda Suarez
from the Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers, Vol. I

©2001 by Linda Suarez solely for the use and benefit of
The IAGenWeb Project, a part of The USGenWeb Project
Background & Civil War Button Graphics © 1998 by Sue Soden