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Delaware County, Iowa in the Civil War



John A. Green, born on September 6, 1839, was one of eight children born to Charles Samuel Green and his wife, Jane (Hinton) Green. Their first two children were born in Indiana but John, their third child, said he was born in Kentucky forty miles “east of” Louisville and thirty miles “above Louisville” (which could mean thirty miles upstream from Louisville). Another son was also born in Kentucky, but the family then moved to Delaware County, Iowa, where the last four children were born - William in 1846, Sylvester in 1849, Alvin in 1853 and Sarah in 1856.

On August 1, 1858, John and Hanna Melissa Wilson were married in Delhi Township. The next year, on July 3rd, a daughter, Florence, was born.

War Department records indicate that, on December 10, 1861, at Hopkinton, John enlisted in Company K of what would be the 16th Iowa Infantry. On March 20, 1862, the regiment left Davenport’s Camp McClellan for Camp Benton in St. Louis, but John stayed behind and was admitted to a hospital. On May 7th, he deserted.

On August 15, 1862, having regained his health, John enlisted at “Uniontown” (possibly the old post office near Hopkinton) in Company K of the 21st Iowa Infantry. On the same day, another man enlisted in the same regiment. Like John, during earlier service he had deserted from a hospital but, unlike John, he appears on all rosters under an alias.

The regiment received its initial training at Camp Franklin in Dubuque, was mustered in on September 9th and left for war on September 16th. This time, John maintained his health well. After one night at St. Louis’ Camp Benton, they traveled by rail to Rolla where they camped southwest of town for a month before marching south to Salem, Houston, Hartville and back to Houston. On January 27, 1863, they started another march and three days later unfurled their flag and marched into the town of West Plains. From there they headed to the northeast and John remained “present” as they moved through Ironton and Iron Mountain and, on March 11th, into the old French town of Ste. Genevieve.

On April 1st, they boarded the Ocean Wave and started downstream to Milliken’s Bend where General Grant was organizing an army for the purpose of capturing Vicksburg. After walking and wading, along roads and through swamps and bayous west of the river, they crossed to Bruinsburg, Mississippi, on April 30th. The first regiment to land was deployed to the hills around the landing to watch for any approaching enemy. The second regiment, the 21st Iowa, was ordered to march inland along a sunken dirt road and to keep walking until fired on. About midnight they drew first fire but, unable to see each other, both sides soon rested.

The next day John participated with his regiment in the Battle of Port Gibson, also known as the Battle of Magnolia Hills, in which three men were mortally wounded and another fourteen were wounded less severely. The regiment was present but held in reserve during the May 16th Battle of Champion’s Hill but, with the 23d Iowa, assaulted, and routed, Confederates entrenched near the railroad bridge over the Big Black River. There’s no indication whether John participated in the assault, but he was present during the siege of Vicksburg that ended with the city’s surrender on July 4th and during the expedition to and siege of Jackson that followed.

After returning to Vicksburg, they were transported south and camped in Carrollton, Louisiana, before engaging in an expedition to Bayou Boeuf, Brashear City, Berwick, Vermilion Bayou and other locations west of the river. While in New Orleans on November 22nd, they were ordered, as some anticipated, to move to Texas. Under the command of Major William Crooke, most left the next morning on board the Corinthian. John’s Company K and some from Company B left on the St. Mary’s later in the day.

Still serving on the Gulf coast in 1864, a scouting party composed of some of the best horsemen from several regiments was surprised by the enemy on February 22nd near Green Lake. Charles Kellogg, Hiram Libby, William McCarty, George Parker and Charles Voorhees, from the 21st Infantry, were among those captured and later confined at Camp Ford, an overcrowded prison camp near the town of Tyler. By the time the Green Lake prisoners arrived, it was described as a "sty not fit for pigs," a “hell hole,” a “sewer pit.”

Meanwhile, the rest of the regiment continued its service along the coast. On March 9th, John was with the regiment at Indianola when, in Iowa, two of his brothers, eighteen-year-old William and twenty-nine year-old Newton, both residents of Delaware County, were mustered in as new recruits. In mid-June, the regiment was transported back to New Orleans, crossed to Algiers, and took rail cars of the New Orleans, Opelousas and Great Western Railroad from Algiers to Terrebonne Station where they arrived after dark. By July 8th, they were back in Algiers.

Later that month, the Green Lake prisoners were taken down the Red River and, near its mouth on the 22nd, were turned over to Federal forces. All had suffered greatly and were transported downstream to Algiers where they could receive better medical care. Company F’s Alexander Voorhees had scurvy, his weight had dropped from 155 to 96 pounds, his feet were swollen, and he had “fissures on top and between the toes in which the maggots held high carnival.” He was described as a “living skeleton” and even a good friend recognized him only by the sound of his voice. John Green “helped carry him from the boat to camp” where he could be cared for by his father, Alexander Voorhees, Captain of Company F.
On August 7th, John was granted a forty-day furlough to go north. By the time he rejoined the regiment at St. Charles, Arkansas, he had been gone too long. John was restored to duty with a loss of pay and allowances for fifteen days, that being the time “he was absent without any reasonable excuse.” He continued with the regiment during service along Arkansas’ White River and when it later moved to Memphis. They were still there on December 21st when they were ordered to accompany cavalry in what would be an unsuccessful attempt to intercept Confederate General Hood after his defeat at Nashville. The expedition was brief and during their return to Memphis, they camped at White’s Station. While there, Jim Bethard would later tell his wife, they saw a crowd at a nearby house and, thinking enemy soldiers might be present:

“two squads from the regiment surrounded a house, but failed to give proper passwords and shot at each other at not more than ten paces distant before the mistake was discovered but fortunately owing to the darkness and the excitement of the men the shots were wild and nobody was killed and only two wounded John Green of co K was shot through both thighs but no bones were broken.”

John’s injuries were disabling and he was hospitalized in Memphis before being allowed to go north to recuperate. On March 17, 1865, he reported at Camp McClellan in Davenport seeking transportation back to his regiment which, by then, was involved in a campaign to capture the city of Mobile. He caught up with it on the east side of Mobile Bay on March 25th and continued with the regiment during its remaining service in Alabama and Louisiana before camping near Baton Rouge. On July 12th, his brothers were transferred to a consolidated 34th/38th regiment to complete their enlistments, while others remained in camp. John was mustered out with the regiment on July 15th, went north on the Lady Gay and was discharged at Clinton on July 24th.

Postwar acts of Congress recognized that many soldiers, while sick or wounded, had failed to secure discharges from their regiments before serving in another regiment and the Adjutant General of the Army was authorized to issue “a certificate of discharge” from the regiment “in which he first served.” As a result, military rosters and records show that John is regarded as having been “discharged May 16, 1862, Davenport, Iowa” from Iowa’s 16th Infantry.

Like most Union veterans, he applied for a postwar pension. Early laws required proof of a service-related total or partial incapacity to earn a living by manual labor. Subsequent acts became increasingly liberal and eventually were based solely on age, a requisite period of service and an honorable discharge without any need to show an inability to work. John applied for and received monthly pensions.
John’s father died in 1883; his mother in 1894. Both are buried in Delaware County’s Buck Creek Cemetery as is John’s older brother Newton Green who died in 1904.

John, however, left the county. In affidavits and in response to questionnaires from the Bureau of Pensions, John said he and Hanna made their home near Worthington in Dubuque County for three years after leaving the military and then moved to Nashua in Chickasaw County for six years. During that time, Hanna gave birth to Charles A. on May 11, 1866, Ida L. on April 17, 1868, Bertha A. on September 20, 1870, and Walter Allen on April 25, 1872.

About 1874 the family of seven moved to Nebraska. Eda M. was born on May 7, 1874, Millard R. on August 13, 1876, Mable S. on June 4, 1878, Oliver C. on April 18, 1881, and Earl D. on August 25, 1885. Ten years later Hanna Green died on September 23, 1895. She is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Norfolk, Nebraska. On May 8, 1916, John died and, like Hanna, was buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery.
After a veteran’s death, wives frequently applied for their own “widow’s pension.” Both John and his daughter, Bertha, with whom he lived near the end of his life, said he had married only once in the twenty-one years after Hanna’s death, but archive records are confusing as to the identity of that second wife. In 1915, John had told the government his second wife was “hariet M. maiden name Harriet M. Skinner” and that they married on January 11, 1911, in Kansas City, Missouri. After his death there was no widow’s claim by Harriet, but there was a widow’s claim by Hannah E. Green who said she had married John on December 8, 1897, “under the name of Hanna E. Pepper, at Norfolk, Neb.” Bertha didn’t give the name of her father’s second wife, but did say the wife, whoever she was, had “abandoned him October 1915.” Government records are silent as to whether a widow’s claim was allowed.
~ Compiled & submitted by Carl Ingwalson <>