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~ Military Biography ~

Dubuque 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 High’s father, Westmoreland M. High, married John’s mother on March 22, 1834, in Shelbyville, Tennessee. John’s mother died in New California, a small settlement in Grant County, Wisconsin, in August of 1860, the same year Abraham Lincoln was elected as President. On April 12, 1861, Confederate guns fired on Major Robert Anderson’s federal garrison at Fort Sumter in the harbor at Charleston, South Carolina, and war soon followed.

      On July 9, 1862, Iowa Governor Samuel Kirkwood received a telegram asking him to raise five regiments as part of the President’s recent call for 300,000 three-year men. If the state’s quota wasn’t raised by August 15th, it would be “made up by draft" and all men between eighteen and forty-five were listed in preparation for a draft, a draft that wasn’t needed. One of the state’s new regiments was to be raised in the “third congressional district, consisting of Dubuque, Delaware, Clayton, Fayette, Bremer, Chickasaw, Floyd, Cerro Gordo, Worth, Mitchell, Howard, Winneshiek, and Alamakee counties.” Soldiers' Aid Societies were formed, fund-raising fairs were held and residents donated money and furniture, lightning rods, real property, equipment, silver and other items for sale. Iowa paid no state bounties, but cities and counties levied taxes to raise funds for volunteers and their families. Dubuque County offered $50 for men enlisting between August 20th and September 1st while the federal government offered a $100 bounty with $25 to be paid in advance and the balance on honorable discharge.

      On August 20th, John High was enrolled by real estate agent Leonard Horr. Military rolls indicate John had enlisted at Dubuque (or Epworth) and was described as being 5' 9" tall with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion; occupation, farmer. The Muster-in Roll said John had been born in Bankston, Iowa, and was twenty-six years old. He was mustered in with Company F on August 22nd and, on September 9th, ten companies were mustered in as the 21st regiment of the state’s volunteer infantry. Brief training was received at Camp Franklin and, on September 16, 1863, they boarded the four-year-old sidewheel steamer Henry Clay (a “miserable cramped up old tub” according to the Dubuque Daily and Weekly Times) and two barges lashed alongside and started south. They spent one night on Rock Island before continuing their trip, debarked at Montrose, were transported by rail to Keokuk, boarded the Hawkeye State, reached St. Louis on the 20th, left on the 21st and arrived in Rolla the next morning.

      In January they were stationed in Houston, Missouri, when word was received that a Confederate force moving north from Arkansas was heading for Springfield. A relief force including twenty-five volunteers and one officer from each company, together with Colonel Merrill and Lieutenant Colonel Dunlap, and a similar number from an Illinois regiment was quickly organized. John High was one of the volunteers from Company F and, on the 11th, participated in a one-day battle at Hartville before returning to Houston. John continued to be marked “present” on bimonthly muster rolls at Houston on January 31st and Iron Mountain on February 28th before arriving in St. Genevieve on March 11th. They were then transported to Milliken’s Bend where General Grant was organizing a large three-corps army to capture the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg.

      During the ensuing campaign that ended with the city’s surrender on July 4, 1863, John participated in the May 1st Battle of Port Gibson, was present during the May 16th Battle of Champion Hill (when the regiment was held out of action by General John McClernand), participated in the May 17th assault at the Big Black River and participated in the May 22nd assault at Vicksburg when he sustained a hand wound and was sent to a hospital. He rejoined the regiment two weeks later and was present for the balance of the siege.

      John was then marked “present” on bimonthly company muster rolls on August 31st at Vermilion Bay, Louisiana, October 31st at Matagorda Island, Texas, December 31st at Indianola, Texas, February 29, 1864 at Indianola, Texas, where he was promoted to Corporal, April 30th at Matagorda Island, Texas, and June 30th at the Terrebonne railroad station in Louisiana. On August 2nd, at Morganza, Louisiana, John was promoted to 6th Corporal. He continued to be “present” on October 31st when they were camped near the mouth of the White River but, the next day, for unspecified reasons, he was “reduced to the ranks” while remaining on duty. He was present on December 31st when they were camped near Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island, Alabama, and two months later when they were still posted near the fort. On March 4th, when Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated in Washington, John was reappointed as 6th Corporal.

      Since enlisting more than two and one-half years earlier, John had been “present” on all bimonthly muster rolls and participated in all of the regiment’s assaults and battles. Now, in the spring of 1865, the regiment was ready to start its final campaign of the war. The entrance to Mobile Bay had been secured the previous year but the city at the head of the bay was still in Confederate hands. Tents were turned in on March 8th and, on the 17th, they crossed the bay’s entrance, landed at Navy Cove and started a difficult march north along the east side of the bay. Still moving north, they camped at Holyoke Mills on March 30th and John High was sent to New Orleans for medical care. On May 22, 1865, while a patient in the city’s St. Louis U.S.A. General Hospital, John died from the debilitating effects of chronic diarrhea with the Casualty Sheet giving his age as twenty-three and his father’s post office address as Tivola, Iowa. The next day, John was buried in what is now Chalmette National Cemetery.

      On December 30, 1879, giving his address as Warren in Jo Davies County, Illinois, John’s sixty-eight-year-old father applied for a dependent father’s pension saying he had been partially dependent on John for his support. The pension office verified John’s service but, by then, Westmoreland had moved to Aurora, Illinois. The claim was never pursued and Westmoreland died in July 1889 and was buried in Freeport City Cemetery, Freeport, Illinois.

      On July 18th, Oscar Heard, an attorney in Freeport, wrote to the pension office and indicated that Westmoreland “was a pauper and was buried today. He has been somewhat deranged for several years and his daughter thinks from what she has found since his death that a pension for which he made application several years ago had been granted and that it had been drawn by some one else as she is certain he never got it.” The pension office replied that necessary evidence had never been received.

      On March 18, 1891, Mrs. Alice Bird gave her address as11 Carpenter Street, Freeport, when she wrote to the Commissioner and said Westmoreland “got notice from the department his pension was granted twenty eight hundred and sixty dollars his atorney at Warren took A. L. Brink the attorney got the voucher and papers and kep them and said he would write he herd nothing no more of them.” The pension office notified her that her suspicions were wrong. No pension had been allowed since Westmoreland had failed to complete the application process.


~ Compiled & submitted by Carl Ingwalson <cingwalson@cfilaw.com>

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