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Blankets for the Iowa Troops


            There was much actual suffering among the men of the early regiments because of lack of equipment. Great difficulty was encountered in securing blankets for the men. They could not be bought readily in the East and there was not a sufficient quantity on hand within the State. Many of the companies did not have enough blankets to go around, and one company of the Second Regiment had “nary blanket.” Patriotic citizens donated blankets by the dozen, some of the companies being supplied before they left home for the place of rendezvous. In fact, in October, 1861, Adjutant General Baker published an order requesting all officers who were sending or bringing recruits to make known to their men the importance of bringing along at least one good blanket, comfort or quilt, for each volunteer. Captain D. B. Clarke’s company marched clear across the State in December, 1861, from Council Bluffs to Keokuk with only such blankets as the citizens of their own community could supply to them. In one part of the State, a “little trouble was had by Mr. Allison in buying blankets with Iowa bonds, for use of the men so rapidly volunteering… Adjt. Genl. Baker, sent him word to ask once more for blankets, and if not forthcoming, some troops would be sent at once to that part of Iowa, and ‘the reason found out.’ The blankets were soon bought now, in abundance.” In August, 1862, the Governor was still appealing for blankets. He requested ten thousand blankets from the War Department to equip the men coming into rendezvous. He could furnish fifteen regiments but had blankets for only five. “The weather grows cold,” he said, “and our men suffer for want of clothing and blankets.”73

            The scarcity of equipment and the slowness with which the government acted were a drawback to the service. “It would much hasten matters”, wrote Governor Kirkwood, “if clothing and equipments could be sent to deliver as companies are mustered in. The delay in furnishing these to other regiments discourages enlistments.” In 1862 the lack of blankets made it impossible for the regiments to be in rendezvous at he appointed time. The First Iowa Regiment did not get army uniforms until after the term of enlistment expired and the men wee on their way home. Some of the other States seemed to be treated better than Iowa. One of the men of the Seventh Regiment wrote home form Bird’s Point in the fall of 1861 that “it makes quite a difference whether a regiment hails from Iowa or from Illinois. Shoulder strap officials recognize the difference between Hawkeyes and Suckers. It has been with difficulty that our claims at the Quartermaster’s and pay department could be recognized until Illinois regiments had been attended to first.” 74




73 Des Moines Valley Whig (Keokuk), May 27, 1861; The Dubuque Herald, May 3, 9, 1861; Burlington Daily Hawk-Eye, August 14, 1861; Council Bluffs Nonpareil, October 26, November 30, 1861; Byers’s Iowa in War Times, pp. 59, 60; War of Rebellion: Official Records, Ser. III, Vol. II, pp. 400, 417, 658.


74 War of the Rebellion: Official Records, Ser. III, Vol. I, p. 499, Vol. II, p. 486; O’Conner’s History of the First regiment of Iowa Volunteers, p. 13; The Dubuque Weekly Times, November 7, 1861.


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