Delaware County IAGenWeb

Military Biography

United We Stand

Delaware County, Iowa in the Civil War
Delaware county Civil War Soldiers
of the
Twenty-first Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry

Historical information, notes & comments, in some cases correcting the record
Soldier biographies written by Carl Ingwalson

Carl will do look-ups in his extensive records of the 21st Iowa and he is always willing to share what he has.


      John Dubois was the son of Abraham and Martha Dubois. One of five children, he was born on February 3, 1831, in New York. From there the family moved to Ohio and, in 1856 or 1857, to Iowa where they settled in Delaware County. John had married Sarah Ward while they were in Ohio, but that marriage ended in 1856 and in October 1857 John married Marion M. Walters at Rockville, Iowa.

      By then the state was suffering from financial speculations of 1856-1857, but farmers could still make a good living and what they didn’t need for personal use they could usually trade for commercial products in local stores. On March 6, 1857, the Supreme Court ruled that slaves such as Dred Scott did not become free when taken into a free state and Negroes could not become citizens. More and more the “great moral question of slavery” was in the news and in 1858 South Carolina senator James Hammond bragged that the North would not dare to make war on the South. “Cotton,” he said, “is king!”

      While working as a farmer, John served as a Deputy under County Sheriff Sam Parker and, on December 9, 1859, Marion gave birth to a daughter, Florence Dubois. Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union and war was threatened, but the Clayton County Journal assured readers there was nothing to worry about. “There are,” it said, “men enough in Pennsylvania alone to subdue South Carolina without the aid of Iowa volunteers.” On April 12, 1861, Confederate guns fired on Fort Sumter, war followed and volunteers were needed to supplement the regulars. On June 13th, John’s brother, twenty-three-year-old George, enlisted in the 1st Iowa Cavalry and before long left for the South.

      With Florence less than two years old, John did not enlist immediately but on July 9, 1862, Iowa Governor Sam Kirkwood received a telegram asking him to raise five regiments as part of the President’s call for another 300,000 three-year men. If they weren’t raised by August 15th, the difference "would be made up by draft." The Governor was confident, but enlistments started slowly as "farmers were busy with the harvest, the war was much more serious than had been anticipated, and the first ebullition of military enthusiasm had subsided. Furthermore, disloyal sentiment was rampant in some parts of the State." All men between eighteen and forty-five were listed in preparation for a draft, a draft that was not needed.

      On August 19, 1862, at Manchester, John was enrolled by Joseph Watson as 2nd Sergeant in what would be Company H of Iowa’s 21st regiment of volunteer infantry. On August 23rd the company was mustered into service at Dubuque’s Camp Franklin, on September 9th ten companies with a total of 985 men (officers and enlisted) were mustered in as a regiment and on the 16th, after brief and largely ineffective training, they boarded the sidewheel steamer Henry Clay and two barges tied alongside and started downstream. On their way south they spent one night on Rock Island, debarked at Montrose due to low water, traveled by train to Keokuk, boarded the Hawkeye State, reached St. Louis on the 20th, left on the 21st and on the 22nd arrived in Rolla where, at his own request, John was reduced to Private and appointed Assistant Wagon Master.

      From Rolla they walked to Salem, Houston, Hartville and back to Houston. While there, John was appointed Forage Master for their four-regiment brigade. They then moved south and reached West Plains on January 30, 1863. Nine days later they started a march to the northeast and on March 25th camped near Iron Mountain. On the 1st, skipping over eight Corporal ranks, John was appointed 5th Sergeant. They reached the Mississippi River town of Ste. Genevieve on March 11th and three weeks later were transported downstream to Milliken’s Bend and that’s where they were on April 7, 1863, when Florence died. She is buried in Manchester’s Oakland Cemetery: 

                                                                         FLORENCE DUBOIS


            From Milliken’s Bend the regiment moved south along the west side of the river and crossed to Bruinsburg on the east bank on April 30th. John participated in the May 1st Battle of Port Gibson, was present during the May 16th Battle of Champion’s Hill when the regiment was held in reserve by General McClernand, participated in a May 17th assault at the Big Black River and participated in the May 22nd assault at Vicksburg. During the ensuing siege that ended with the city’s surrender on July 4th, John was promoted to Sergeant Major of the regiment.

      After a pursuit of Confederate Joe Johnston to Jackson, the regiment returned to Vicksburg to rest and recuperate before going farther downriver. On the bimonthly company muster rolls, John was marked “present” on rolls taken August 31st at Carrollton, Louisiana, October 31st at Vermillion Bayou, Louisiana, and December 31st on Matagorda Island, Texas. With many having been lost due to deaths, transfers and discharges, John was detailed to return to Iowa to enroll new recruits and escort them to the regiment. One of his comrades, Matthew King, noted in his diary on February 23, 1864, that “today, there are some men who went home to recruit for the 21st Regiment, John Dubois, Sergeant Major, Captain Swivel, and others.”

      On April 28th John rejoined the regiment, still on Matagorda Island, and Matthew noted that “Russell of Company F and John Dubois, Sergeant Major, and the other Sergeant have returned to the Regiment bringing no recruits scarcely; only two for Company H.” John continued with the regiment during the balance of its service in Texas and on July 16, 1864, wrote to a Delaware County newspaper. When mustered into service they had been furnished with old Enfield muskets but now, through the efforts of Lt. Col. Van Anda, John said they had “drawn new guns and equipment for the entire regiment.” Their new guns were 1862 Springfields. It is “with some reluctance,” he said, “that some of the boys gave up the old Enfield, but the sight of the new Springfield and the thought that it was home manufactured, made the old guns more easily parted with.”

      After subsequent service in Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee, they left for Alabama and their final campaign of the war, a campaign led by Union General E. R. S. Canby to capture the city of Mobile. On April 11, 1865, as the successful campaign neared an end, Van Anda praised several officers including “Sergt Major J Dubois.” On July 15th, they were mustered out of service at Baton Rouge and on the 16th started north on the Mississippi. John was returning to civilian life but George had reenlisted as a veteran and would not be mustered out until the following February.

      John and Marion had two more children - Edward born September 19, 1866 and Gertrude, an adopted daughter born May 13, 1873. John worked their 128 acre farm near Manchester and attended the regiment’s 1887 reunion, but in 1889 moved into the city. Abraham died in 1890 and was buried in Oakland Cemetery, the same year John applied for an invalid pension. At age fifty-nine, he said he was no longer able to work at farming and suffered from “shaking having a similar effect of palsy.” Pension surgeons said 5' 11" John was obese at 258 pounds and confirmed that he was suffering from what is now known as Parkinson’s disease. John was granted a pension of $6.00 monthly but after a serious illness in 1904 became dependent on Marion for “sympathy, comfort and cheer.” His pension had increased to $20.00 by the time of his death on December 13, 1907.

      Edward was twenty-nine years old when he died from a brain abscess in 1895. Marion died in 1923. Like Florence, John, Marion and Edward are buried in Oakland Cemetery as are three of John’s brothers (Charles, George and Sylvester) and a sister, Mary (Dubois) French.

~ Compiled & submitted by Carl Ingwalson <>