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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.



      Edmund D. Sweet and Elizabeth Crubb were married in Greene County, Illinois, on January 17, 1839.  On October 20th of that year their son, Edward Flavel Sweet was born in Pike County.

      Confederate guns fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston’s harbor on April 12, 1861, war followed and thousands of men died. On July 9, 1862, Iowa’s Governor Samuel Kirkwood received a telegram asking him to raise five regiments as part of the President’s 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" but, despite the Governor’s confidence, 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 possible draft.

      Northern volunteers during the first year of the war were promised a $100 bounty payable on completion of their service with an honorable discharge but, on July 7, 1862, Congress agreed, at Secretary of State Seward’s request, that $25.00 could be paid in advance. A $2.00 premium would be paid to anyone who secured a recruit, or to the recruit himself if he appeared in person. Local meetings were held, enlistments continued and an Iowa draft was not required.

      By then Edward Sweet was working as a clerk in Dubuque where, on August 22, 1862, he was enrolled by David Greaves as a wagoner in what would be Company I of the state’s 21st regiment of volunteer infantry. Edward was described as being twenty-two years old and 5' 5" tall with brown hair and a fair complexion. His company was ordered into quarters on the 23rd and mustered into service the same day at Camp Franklin which was located  "on a sandy plateau on the bank of the Mississippi" "at the upper end of the bottom land adjoining Lake Peosta" just south of Eagle Point, a mile or two above Dubuque. Its ten buildings were each twenty by sixty feet and "arranged to accommodate one hundred men each.” When ten companies were of sufficient strength, they were mustered in a regiment on September 9th. On the 16th, on board the Henry Clay and two barges tied alongside, they started down the Mississippi. Their first night was spent on Rock Island but their journey continued the next day. They debarked at Montrose, traveled by rail to Keokuk, boarded the Hawkeye State, reached St. Louis on September 20th and from there went to Rolla.

      On January 9, 1863, they were in Houston when word was received that a Confederate column was moving north toward Springfield. Volunteers were requested, twenty-five from each company, to join others to go to the relief of Springfield. On January 11th, with Edward as one of the volunteers from Company I, they met the Confederate force under John Marmaduke in a one-day battle at Hartville. After returning to Houston, they moved to West Plains, Ironton and Iron Mountain. On March 11th they walked another sixteen miles and reached Ste. Genevieve on the Mississippi River. From there they were transported to Milliken’s Bend and joined a large army under General Grant at the start of his successful Vicksburg campaign.

      Edward continued to be present with his regiment and was with it on April 30th when they crossed from Disharoon’s Plantation to the Bruinsburg landing in Mississippi and took the lead on a march inland. On May 1st he participated with his regiment in the Battle of Port Gibson and on the 16th they were present during the Battle of Champion’s Hill although held out of action by General John McClernand.

      On the night of the 16th their brigade under “Big Mike” Lawler camped at Edward’s Station and early on the 17th resumed their march with many wearing "feathers" from cotton bales pried open the night before. At the Big Black River they met the enemy. Confederates had built breastworks and rifle pits with a bayou as a defensive ditch. Trees were cut and placed in the bayou with sharpened ends facing out.  To the rear was another line with rifle pits behind a parapet constructed of bales of cotton covered with dirt. After an initial advance, men huddled in a protective ravine awaiting their orders. Colonel Kinsman of the 23d Iowa, Colonel Merrill of the 21st Iowa, his Adjutant Henry Howard and Sergeant Samuel Moore consulted. Decisions were made. Regimental commanders gave the order to "fix bayonets" and the men complied. It was about 10:00 in the morning when Lawler mounted his horse, leaned forward and led the way up and out of the ravine where they were "met by a storm of shot." Merrill shouted to the 21st - "By the left flank, Charge!" Kinsman ordered the 23d "Forward!" and "his noble regiment sprang forward" over the plain and toward the bayou and the waiting enemy. The two Colonels waived their hats and "the Boys clambered up the Bank, formed on the colors and raised the yell like so many demons."

      The assault was successful. It lasted only three minutes, but the Confederates were routed and the way for General Grant’s army to continue to the rear of Vicksburg was open. The regiment had, however, suffered heavy casualties. Seven men had been killed during the assault, eighteen had wounds that would soon prove fatal, and at least forty had non-fatal wounds but some of which led to amputations. Edward Sweet was among those lying on the field after the assault. Shot in the bowels, he and others who had been wounded were cared for by regimental surgeons while the dead were buried. From there, Edward and many others were put on board the D. A. January, a hospital steamer then on the Yazoo River. Edward was still on board when he died on June 5, 1863. The place of his burial is unknown.

      Edward and others in the regiment had been paid through February 28, 1863, and, on March 27, 1865, his father wrote from Chicago to Iowa Adjutant General Nathaniel Baker. Indicating his brother (E. D. L. Sweet) was Superintendent of the Illinois & Missouri Telegraph Company, Edmund asked that his son’s accrued salary, about $40.00, be paid to him “as by the time the money can be obtained I shall very much need it.” After their relationship was verified, the money was paid. On September 14, 1883, Edmund’s wife, sixty-two-year-old Elizabeth, died of pneumonia at 185 22nd Street, Chicago, after a five-day illness.

      On November 30, 1891, on the letterhead of The Wilmington Coal Association, Edmund wrote to the Adjutant General and requested his son’s military record. Living at 2239 Grove Street, Chicago, he then filed an application for an “Original Pension of a Father” with Ada Celeste Sweet as his representative. Thirty-eight year-old Ada was “an American reformer and humanitarian” who had been appointed as the U.S. agent for paying pensions in Chicago, “the first position as disbursing officer ever given to a woman by the US government.” In addition to “being the founder of the ambulance system for the Chicago police, she found time to do literary and philanthropic work, and to labor for governmental reforms.” After reappointments by Presidents Hayes and Arthur, she resigned, worked in New York City and visited Europe before returning to Chicago as literary editor of the Chicago Tribune. In 1888 she opened a claims office in Chicago “and did a large business in securing pensions for soldiers or their families.” With Ada as his agent, Edmund’s application was soon granted at $12.00 monthly, payable quarterly. He was dropped from the pension rolls on December 5, 1899, due to his death on a date not given.

      While Edmund’s brothers, Albert D. L. Sweet and Edward D. L. Sweet, are buried in Chicago’s Rosehill Cemetery & Mausoleum, it’s not known where, like their son, Edmund and Elizabeth are buried. 


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

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