HISTORY OF THE
TWELFTH REGIMENT IOWA VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
This regiment was mustered in at Dubuque Oct. 17 to Nov. 25, 1861. On Nov. 28 it left for St.
Louis to remain until late January. Joseph Jackson Woods, West Point graduate, was its first
colonel. He served in the regular army from Mexico to Oregon until 1853 when he resigned and came to
Iowa. Throughout his term of service he commanded the Twelfth or the brigade to which it was
From St. Louis the regiment moved to Cairo and on to Ft. Henry which the gunboats had taken
before the troops reached it. The Twelfth then moved to Donelson. March 12 it embarked for
At Shiloh on the morning of April 6, brigaded with the Second, Seventh and Fourteenth Iowa under
Col. Tuttle, the Twelfth awaited the enemy. Until four o'clock in the afternoon, every attack was
repulsed. Discovering the enemy in its rear, the regiment fell back. Through no fault of its own as
supporting troops to right and left had given way, the Twelfth was surrounded. Faced with
annihilation, with all hope of retreat or succor gone, the regiment surrendered.
Figures of losses vary. Many of those captured were wounded. By the time of exchange, their
wounds had healed and were not reported. In all, wounded, killed and captured, the approximate loss
Soon after Shiloh, the remnants of the Eighth, Twelfth and Fourteenth, together with the Fifty
Eighth Illinois were consolidated in the Union Brigade, its maximum strength 631. The Twelfth had
but 75 men when placed with the Union Brigade. May 17, Lt. Col. Parrott of the Seventh was placed in
command. In December, 1862, the Union Brigade was disbanded, the Eighth, Twelfth and Fourteenth
reorganized, including the prisoners now exchanged and ready for duty.
The men captured early in the war did not face the indignities and hardships of those taken
later. Bitterness between north and south had yet to reach its climax. Supply shortages had not
grown so acute. As the war dragged on, particularly in the south, civilians as well as fighting men
were hungry, cold, poorly clad, lacking medical attention. In the early years, food and supplies
were more plentiful, the suffering of non-combatants less severe. Bitterness at home was not so
poignant. It was easier for jailers, north and south, to be kind. Exchanges were frequent. Prison,
at least for a time, removed the men from the horrors of active fighting.
As northern troops overran the south, bringing distress to combatants and non-combatants alike,
retaliation on helpless prisoners was a natural sequence. As the north grieved for its dead and
listened to horrid tales of southern cruelty, payment in kind was natural. North and south,
corruption and graft existed among men guarding prisoners who received scant sympathy from civilians
in the area. Inaction increased the prisoners' misery. Idleness heightened their discomfort. North
and south charged sadism and cruelty. Without doubt it existed. Happily prisons varied and all
jailers were not equally depraved. Of Iowa's Graybeard regiment detailed as prison guards, it is
said they were more humane than younger men. The Graybeards had sons and grandsons in service, which
no doubt explains their greater understanding.
April 9, 1863, the reorganized regiment reported to Grant at Vicksburg. It took part in the
assaults of May 19 and 22, remaining in Mississippi after the surrender.
The regiment was in the battle of Nashville, and took part in the siege of Spanish Fort on
It was mustered out at Memphis, Tenn., January 20, 1866.
Joseph Jackson Woods, Maquoketa, Colonel 10/23/6, wounded Shiloh
John P. Coulter, Cedar Rapids, Lt. Colonel 11/1/61, wounded Corinth
Samuel D. Brodtbeck, Dubuque, Major 11/1/61
John H. Stibbs, Cedar Rapids, captured Shiloh 4/6/62, Major 3/23/63. Lt. Colonel 8/5/63, Colonel
Samuel R. Edgington, Eldora, captured Shiloh, Major 4/8/62, Lt. Colonel
Samuel G. Knee, Colesburg, captured Shiloh, Major 12/2/64, Lt. Colonel 11/22/65
Edward M. Van Duzee, Dubuque, Major 8/15/63
David W. Reed, Allamakee County, Major 11/22165
Total 1,473, killed 33, wounded 222, died of wounds 34, died of disease 251, captured 404.