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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.



George Moser, one of three sons of Benedict and Rosa Moser, was born on September 2, 1837, in the Canton of Bern, Switzerland, and immigrated to the United States in 1848. In 1850 the family moved to Dubuque. In the pre-war years, George worked with his father as a “mineral picker and sawyer,” in the F. V. Goodrich & Co. general store, and then at Sheffield & Scott, a dry goods store in the Globe Building.

Civil War infantry regiments had ten companies, each headed by a Colonel, 1st Lieutenant, 2nd Lieutenant, five levels of Sergeant, eight levels of Corporal and Privates. On August 21, 1862, George was enrolled by David Greaves as 4th Sergeant in what would be Company I of the state’s 21st Regiment of volunteer infantry. On August 23rd the company of 101 men, officers and enlisted, was mustered in at Camp Franklin in Dubuque with David, a veteran of an earlier 90-day regiment, as Captain and, on September 9th, ten companies were mustered in as the state’s 21st regiment of volunteer infantry. Training was brief and, on September 16th, those healthy enough to travel crowded on board the Henry Clay and two barges tied alongside, and started down the Mississippi for St. Louis, although low water at Montrose forced them to transfer to the Hawkeye State.

They reached St. Louis on the 20th, spent one night at Benton Barracks, and then traveled by rail to Rolla where they camped for about one month. From there they walked to Salem, Houston, Hartville, back to Houston, south to West Plains and then northeast through Ironton and Iron Mountain and into the small French town of Ste. Genevieve. By then it was March 11, 1863. From there they took steamers to Milliken’s Bend where General Grant was organizing a 30,000 man, 3-corps, army at the start of his Vicksburg Campaign.

So far, George had been continuously present and he remained with the regiment as they walked south along dirt roads west of the river, passed homes of the now-absent plantation owners, waded through bayous, and kept a wary eye for snakes and alligators. On April 30th they crossed to the east bank and, with their regiment designated as the point regiment for General Grant’s entire army, started a slow movement inland. They drew first fire from Confederate pickets about midnight but, unable to see each other, both sides soon rested. The next day, George participated in the daylong Battle of Port Gibson and, on May 16th, he was present when the regiment was held in reserve during the Battle of Champion’s Hill. After the battle they helped guard prisoners and two companies engaged in light skirmishing, before moving to Edward’s Station where they spent the night.

The next day, rotated to the front of the army, they were among the first to encounter Confederates entrenched on the east side of the Big Black River who were hoping to keep its railroad bridge open long enough for their comrades to complete a withdrawal into the confines of Vicksburg. Colonel Kinsman of the 23rd Infantry, Colonel Merrill of the 21st, his adjutant Henry Howard and Company D’s Samuel Moore conferred. “Before we four separated,” said Merrill, “Sergeant Moore gently struck up the tune of Old Hundred, ‘Be Thou O God Exalted High,’ and all of us, quartett [sic], joined, my Adjutant Howard, a broad chested young man with a grand old bass, all singing tenderly.” Merrill and Kinsman ordered their regiments to charge and George Moser was with his company as they raced across an open field and, in three minutes, routed the enemy. Regimental casualties included seven killed, eighteen mortally wounded and at least forty who were wounded less seriously. George was unscathed, but Kinsman, Howard and Moore were killed. Merrill was seriously wounded and returned to McGregor to recuperate.

On May 22nd, men still able for duty were in position opposite the railroad redoubt at the rear of Vicksburg when they again participated in an assault. This one was unsuccessful, casualties were higher than at the Big Black and George Moser was among the wounded. He had been shot on his right thigh, not far from the hip. The wound was considered “slight,” but surgeons were unable to remove the musket ball. Captain Greaves was more seriously wounded and, like Merrill, was granted leave to return to Iowa to recuperate. While they were gone, at Major Van Anda’s request, they and three others were discharged by the War Department and Van Anda recommended George “for promotion to the position of Captain.” The promotion, however, was not forthcoming as Merrill, Greaves and two of the others protested their dismissals and were reinstated.

In February, 1864, George was detailed for the recruiting service in Iowa, returned home and, by March 16th, had “raised 25 recruits.” He was “in every respect one of the best young men in this city,” said a letter to Adjutant General Baker. “Dubuque never had a better boy,” said another letter. On April 28 1864, George rejoined the regiment, then stationed on Matagorda Island, Texas, and he was with it when they moved to Louisiana in June. On June 23rd they traveled west by rail and camped by the Terrebonne railway station. On July 8th, they returned to Algiers and saw subsequent service along Arkansas’ White River. Later that year, when Hiram Buel resigned, George received a well-deserved promotion and was commissioned as the company’s 2d Lieutenant. He continued in that capacity during subsequent service in Memphis, at Kennerville in Louisiana, and during the campaign in the spring of 1865 to occupy the city of Mobile in Alabama. They were mustered out at Baton Rouge on July 15, 1865, and discharged at Clinton on July 24th.

Three months later, October 25, 1865, George married Sophia M. Weigel, “a sister of Fred Weigel, one of the early settlers of Dubuque.” They had one daughter, Lizzie Ann Moser, but thirty-five-year-old Sophia died on January 28, 1875, reportedly while giving birth to another child. Sophia is buried in Dubuque’s Linwood Cemetery.

On June 26, 1877, George married for a second time when he was united “in the Holy Bonds of Matrimony” with twenty-year-old Margaret “Mary” Funk by Rev. Henry Luz. Mary later gave birth to three girls - Anna Elizabeth on December 18, 1878, Nellie M. on February 7, 1882, and Mildred on October 16, 1890.

A county history in 1880 said George was a dealer in groceries, other provisions, flour and feed on Clay Street (now Central Avenue) between Seventh and Eighth streets and was active in the Veteran Reserve Corps, the Order of Workmen and the Legion of Honor. He continued in good health for many years but finally, in 1891, applied for an invalid pension indicating he was bothered by the musket ball embedded since the assault at Vicksburg and by sunstroke suffered, he said, on July 24, 1864, at Terrebonne Station. Several of his comrades, including the regimental surgeon, William Orr, signed affidavits supporting the claims and verifying the dates. It took three years, but a pension of $2.00 monthly was finally granted for the wound. Despite all the supporting affidavits, however, military records showed that the regiment was not at Terrebonne Station when George and the others claimed he had been prostrated by sunstroke.

Pension laws were gradually liberalized. Disabilities no longer had to be service-related and, eventually, pensions were granted solely on the basis of age, ninety days’ service and an honorable discharge. George, like other veterans, applied for and received periodic increases. He was receiving $12.00 monthly when he died at home, 31 Arlington Street, Dubuque, on February 19, 1907. He is buried next to Sophia in Linwood Cemetery.

His second wife, Mary, was receiving a widow’s pension of $30.00 monthly when she died on October 20, 1908. The place of her burial is unknown.





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