Notes and References about the 10th Iowa

from Steve Beszedits <>


There is one little anecdote involving the 10th Iowa that I'm sure is unknown to most people. It concerns the canal built by Gen. John Pope's troops to bypass the guns of Island No. 10 and to improve their positions for besieging this Confederate stronghold. Numerous publications describe how the canal was built and used to ferry troops across it; the account of Col. J. W. Bissell, Pope's chief engineer officer who supervised the construction, appears in Volume I of Battles and Leaders of the Civil War.

While Col. Bissell was the principal figure in digging the canal, the originator of the idea remains a controversial point. Feeling that Col. Bissell was taking claim for the idea, Gen. Schuyler Hamilton, in a note following Col. Bissell's narrative, insists in a very forceful tone, that he and he alone came up with the idea.

However, noted Civil War correspondent Charles C. Coffin in his book The Drum Beat of the Nation, p. 193, states that the originator of the canal concept was one Carlton Ela, Company F of the 10th Iowa, who passed the idea on to Gen. Hamilton, the commander of the division to which the 10th Iowa belonged.

Your web site of the roster of the 10th Iowa shows two soldiers by that family name in Company F, Levi C. Ela and Gustavus W. Ela. Judging from the data provided, they were apparently brothers. Perhaps the C. in Levi C. Ela stands for Carlton, and this is the individual Coffin was referring to.

If Coffin is right, then Gen. Hamilton certainly did not give credit where credit was due.


A number of Americans publications, e.g. Peter Cozzens's The Darkest Days of the War: The Battles of Iuka & Corinth, state that Col. Nicholas Perczel was loved by his men, giving the impression that Perczel was a kind, considerate, "grandfatherly" type of individual. I don't know how the authors came to this assessment, but if they are correct, Perczel had to have undergone an amazing personality transformation. According to Hungarian contemporary writings, Nicholas Perczel and his more famous older brother Mór [Maurice] were anything but lovable. They possessed the best and worst characteristics of the Hungarian aristocracy of the time; they were brave, patriotic and steadfast to their friends and convictions, but were also extremely arrogant, vain, haughty, easily offended, and more than willing to carry on grudges for decades. The Perczel brothers were feared and respected, but not loved. In their world humanity was divided into two groups: a very tiny fraction who measured up to their standards and the rest, the vast majority, who were many notches below them. I'll include some comments about Col. Perczel's personality when I'll write up his biography for your web site.


Published references containing useful information about the 10th Iowa:

Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion. Des Moines: Dyer Publishing Co., 1908.

This well-known and well-regarded book contains, among other entries, capsule histories of units involved in the Civil War. Many regimental web sites on the Internet have posted Dyer's account of their regiments; as a matter of fact, in many cases, this is the only piece of information posted about regiments. A copy of the history of the 10th Iowa extracted from this book is given in its entirety below.

Grant, Ulysses S. The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant. Edited by John Y. Simon. 22 vols., Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1998.

Volumes 3 and 4 contain a considerable body of valuable and interesting information in the form of reports, correspondences, and text regarding the activities of the 10th Iowa while under Gen. U. S. Grant's command in Missouri, including the operation of the regiment against the Confederate guerrillas of M. Jeff Thompson and the ambush near Charleston, MO.

Hughes, Nathaniel C. Jr. The Battle of Belmont: Grant Strikes South. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1991.

On pp. 55-56 there is a brief, but well-written, account of the march of the 10th Iowa against the headquarters of M. Jeff Thompson in Bloomfield, Missouri, which constituted Gen. U. S. Grant's overall move against Belmont, Missouri. 

Perczel, Miklós. Naplóm az emigracióból [My Diary from the Emigration]. 2 vols. Budapest: Tankönyvkiadó, 1977.

This is the published version of Perczel's diary and of course it is in Hungarian. [Miklós is the Hungarian form of Nicholas]. The first volume covers his departure from Hungary to the Ottoman Empire and ends with his coming to the United States. The second volume describes his American experiences as well the five years he spent in between in England. His comments about the Civil War are rather skimpy, but do give some revealing insight into the organization of the regiment, the hardships he and his men endured, and the battles they fought. 

Sharp, John and Helen Maria Sharp. "The Sharp Family Civil War Letters." Edited by George Mills. Annals of Iowa, 34 (January 1959): 481-532.

Sharp entered the 2nd Iowa Infantry on Nov. 20, 1861, and was discharged for disability in November of 1862. He enrolled in the 10th Iowa in January of 1865 and was mustered out in August of 1865. Consequently, his service with the 10th Iowa was brief, but this is the only published reference I came across involving the personals letters of a soldier from the 10th Iowa.

United States, Adjutant General's Office. Official Army Register of the Volunteer Force of the U.S. Army for the Years 1861, '62, '63, '64, '65. 8 volumes, Washington: Adjutant General's Office, 1867.

Gives the list of officers for each Union regiment as it stood on the day of muster out, and, more importantly, also lists the officers who had resigned, were discharged or dismissed, were promoted to serve outside the regiment, or were killed, along with the date of the occurrence. Iowa regiments appear in Vol. 7. I have found this to be a very useful reference in doing my research on Hungarians and in checking the regimental affiliations of various officers. However, typographical errors and misspellings of names are rather common throughout. Therefore, this source must be used with caution.

War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 128 vols. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902.

This is of course the "Bible" of the Civil War. I have searched through it regarding the 10th Iowa only up to Perczel's resignation in November 1862; there are many other entries about the regiment subsequent to this date. My extracts are as follows:

Ser. I, Vol. 3, pp. 258-259 - Col. Perczel's report of Nov. 12, 1861 regarding the expedition to Bloomfield, MO, against the guerrillas of M. Jeff Thompson.

Ser. I, Vol. 8, pp. 47-48 - Col. Perczel's report of Jan. 8, 1862 about the ambush near Charleston, MO. The 10th Iowa lost 5 killed, 2 mortally wounded, and 15 more or less severely wounded.

Ser. I, Vol. 8, pp. 101-105 - Gen. Schuyler Hamilton's report of April 22, 1862 commending the conduct of Col. Perczel and his troops at New Madrid and Island No. 10. The 10th Iowa was in Gen. Hamilton's division.

Ser. I, Vol. 8, p. 108 - Col. Perczel's report of April 19, 1862 about the movements of the 10th Iowa around New Madrid, MO, and Island No. 10.

Ser. I, Vol. 10, Part 1, pp. 723-725 - Gen. Schuyler Hamilton's report of June 17, 1862, concerning the movement of the troops under his command, including the 10th Iowa, at Fort Pillow and Corinth.

Ser. I, Vol. 17, Part 1, pp. 105-107 - Gen. Jeremiah C. Sullivan's report of Sept. 20, 1862, praising the conduct of Col. Perczel and the 10th Iowa in the battle of Iuka.

Ser. I, Vol. 17, Part 1, pp. 107-108 - Sept. 20, 1862 report of Lt. Lorenzo D. Immell, First Missouri Light Artillery, describing the valiant behavior of Col. Perczel and his men at Iuka. Lt. Immell's battery was with Perczel's troops during the fight.

Ser. I, Vol. 17, Part 1, pp. 108-109 - Col. Perczel's report of Sept. 21, 1862 about the engagement of his troops with the Confederates in the battle of Iuka.

Welcher, Frank J. The Union Army, 1861-1865; Organization and Operations. 2 vols., Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989-1993.

This huge work received a lot of adverse reviews because of its rather incoherent arrangement. However, employed properly, it can yield a lot of useful information. It contains a fair amount of material on the 10th Iowa and the relevant material can be found and retrieved by consulting the index under Perczel and/or the 10th Iowa Infantry.

The following books apparently contain useful material about the 10th Iowa. Since they are not available here I couldn't check them or comment on them. However, these publications should be in libraries in Iowa. Perhaps you or someone else can skim through them to see what they have to say about the regiment.

Byers, S. H. M. Iowa in War Times. Des Moines: W. D. Condit & Co., 1888.

Ingersoll, Lurton D. Iowa and the Rebellion. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott and Co., 1866.

Stuart, Addison A. Iowa Colonels and Regiments. Des Moines: Mills & Co., 1865.

Verbatim extract about the 10th Iowa from Dyer's book:


Organized at Iowa City and Montezuma August and September, 1861. Ordered to St. Louis, Mo., September 6; thence to Cape Girardeau, Mo., October 1. Attached to District of Cairo October, 1861. 5th Brigade, Military District of Cairo, to February, 1862. 4th Brigade, 1st Division, District of Cairo, to February, 1862. 4th Brigade, 1st Division, District of Cairo, to February, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Army of Mississippi, to April, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, Army of Mississippi, to April, 1862. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, Army of Mississippi, to May, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, Army of Mississippi, to November, 1862. 3rd Brigade, 7th Division, Left Wing 13th Army Corps (Old), Dept. of Tennessee, to December, 1862. 3rd Brigade, 7th Division, 16th Army Corps, to January, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 17th Army Corps, to September, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 17th Army Corps, to December, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 15th Army Corps, to August, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 15th Corps, to April, 1865. 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 15th Corps, to August, 1865.

SERVICE. - At Cape Girardeau, Mo., till November, 1861. Expedition against Thompson's forces November 2-12. Action at Bloomfield November 10. Moved to Bird's Point, Mo., November 12. Action at Charleston January 8, 1862. Moved to New Madrid, Mo., March 4. Operations against New Madrid, Mo., March 6-15, and against Island No. 10 March 15-April 8. Pursuit and capture at Tiptonville April 8. Expedition to Fort Pillow, Tenn., April 13-17. Moved to Hamburg Landing, Tenn., April 18-22. Advance on and siege of Corinth, Miss., April 29-May 30. Action at Farmington May 9 and 26. Occupation of Corinth and pursuit to Booneville May 30-June 12. At Clear Creek till July 29. Moved to Jacinto July 29. Expedition to Iuka September 18-19. Battle of Iuka September 19. Moved to Corinth October 1. Battle of Corinth October 3-4. Pursuit to Tipley October 5-12. Grant's Central Mississippi Campaign November, 1862, to January, 1863. Reconnoissance to Holly Springs November 8-9, 1862. Duty near Memphis guarding Memphis & Charleston Railroad January to March, 1863. Yazoo Pass Expedition and operations against Fort Pemberton and Greenwood March 13-April 5. Moved to Milliken's Bend, La., April 13. Movement on Bruinsburg and turning Grand Gulf April 25-30. Battle of Port Gibson May 1. South Fork of Bayou Pierrie May 2. Battles of Raymond May 12. Near Raymond May 13. Jackson May 14. Champion's Hill May 16. Big Black River May 17. Siege of Vicksburg May 18-July 4. Assaults on Vicksburg May 19 and 22. Surrender of Vicksburg July 4 and duty there till September 13. Moved to Memphis, thence march to Chattanooga, Tenn., September 13-November 20. Operations on Memphis & Charleston Railroad in Alabama October 20-29. Battles of Chattanooga November 23-25; Tunnel Hill November 23-24; Mission Ridge November 25. Pursuit to Graysville November 26-27. March to relief of Knoxville November 28-December 8. Duty at Bridgeport and Huntsville, Ala., till April 30, 1864. Moved to Decatur, Ala., April 30. Veterans on forlough June 15-August 1. Duty at Kingston, Ga., till November. Non-Veterans mustered out September 28, 1864. Operations against Wheeler October. March to the sea November 15-December 10. Siege of Savannah December 10-21. Campaign of the Carolinas January to April, 1865. Salkehatchie Swamps, S.C., February 3-5. Fishburn's Plantation, near Lane's Bridge, Salkehatchie, February 6. South Edisto River February 9. North Edisto River February 12-13. Congaree Creek February 15. Columbia February 16-17. Lynch's Creek Febraruary 25-26. Cox's Bridge, N.C., March 19-20. Battle of Bentonville, March 20-21. Occupation of Goldsboro March 24. Advance on Raleigh April 9-13. Occupation of Raleigh April 14. Bennett's House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. March to Washington, D.C., via Richmond, Va., April 29-May 30. Grand Review May 24. Moved to Louisville, Ky., June. Duty there and at Little Rock, Ark., till August. Mustered out August 15, 1865.

Regiment lost during service 6 Officers and 95 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 134 Enlisted men by disease. Total 235.