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Dubuque County
 April 1863
 ~ Contributed by Julia Krapfl ~


Early in 1861 Lieutenant Sessions, of Cedar Falls, in a speech at the public park in Dubuque, called the Dubuque Herald a secession sheet and declared that the office ought to be mobbed. For this the Dubuque Herald denounced him through the Iowa State Journal as a coward for advising such an attack on a defenseless newspaper office. On March 8, 1863, two years after the above event, the editor of the Dubuque Herald (local editor probably Armstrong or Hutchins) stopped at a hotel in Cedar Falls and while there was approached by Lieutenant Sessions, who demanded an explanation of the article in the Iowa State Journal. Not receiving a satisfactory explanation, he proceeded with his fists to take revenge then and there. He struck the editor several times in the face, bringing the blood, and a crowd rushed in, shouting "Give it to him; he is a Secessionist." The editor was pretty thoroughly cowed and was severely beaten to the evident delight of the shouting crowd that had hastily gathered. About the same time a squad of soldiers at Waterloo took an agent there of the Dubuque Herald and ducked him repeatedly in the river to show their distaste for that newspaper and for the alleged disloyalty of the agent.

About this time there arose all over Iowa and the Northwest a general demand from all persons actively and earnestly engaged in putting down the rebellion that the course in opposition to the prosecution of the war should cease in Dubuque, city and county. The Dubuque Herald, though still outspoken and apparently defiant, began to modify its tones of severity and instead of howling as before vented its wrath and hate in ominous growls.

On March 18, 1863, the Dubuque Herald passed from the control of Stilson Hutchins to that of Patrick Robb, Esq. Mr. Hutchins and Mr. Mahony took charge of the Philadelphia Journal. At this time (early in 1863) there were several deserters in this county and they were shielded by their relatives and neighbors. When the officers approached, warnings were sounded. Lieutenant Downey called for recruits for the Seventh regiment, whereupon the Dubuque Herald of March 4 said: "The business of obtaining recruits is, however, 'played out' here just at present; so we think Lieutenant Downey will not be troubled with a very large muster roll for some time to come." This open and manifest opposition to enlistments was not lost upon the Dubuque Daily Times and the Union leaders. The Dubuque Herald, with Mahony, Hutchins and Armstrong, was the strongest secession sheet in the state, if not in the West. All three possessed unusual ability. Hutchins made a fortune of several million dollars by 1911.

Mr. Mahony published a book in April, 1863, entitled "Prisoners of State," in which he related his experiences while confined in the old capitol prison at Washington. The Copperheads here cut out the heads off Liberty on the copper cents, made pins of them and openly wore them---copper head. At an open meeting of the Union League at Julien Theater on March 21, H. H. Heath, D. E. Lyon, John O'Meara, and G. Grosvenor delivered speeches. It was at this time that many Democrats began to disapprove of the severe course of the Dubuque Herald and its supporters and sided with those who favored a continuance of the war. The Dubuque Herald received a setback which was probably the cause of the reorganization of its editorial staff. Lieutenant-Colonel O'Brien sent seventy recruits to the Seventh cavalry late in March.

"It has been very hard to impress upon a certain class of the community a true conception of the designs of the party in power. Plainly and unequivocally, readers of the Dubuque Herald, its members are determined either upon your subjugation or a revolution. What else do you think that their midnight meetings betoken? For what other purpose are they being provided with arms? Now from the lips of the governor we have the admission that such is a fact. This was done, he said, 'because secret organizations of disloyal men had banded together to inaugurate rebellion and civil war in the state. If the citizens now refuse to heed our warning, absolutely refuse to place themselves in a position of safety, they must not reproach us when they pay the penalty of their apathy. We say to them, organize everywhere, organize in every school district, no matter how few or many. We have done our duty. We have placed before the people a knowledge of the dangers which beset and threaten them."

--(Dubuque Herald, April 12, 1863)


J. B. Dorr, Jesse Clement, Edward Langworthy, E. R. Shankland, H. Knowlton, Thomas Gilliam, D. Leonard, F. Hinds and Colonel O'Brien and others went to Waterloo April 15, 1863, to attend the formation of a Grand Union League of the state of Iowa.

In April, 1863, the editors of the Dubuque Herald, at the request of several subscribers, ordered from New York eight Colt's revolvers which were to be sent by the American Express. Upon their arrival here they were detained by J. B. Henion, collector of the port of Dubuque, who apprised Mr. Hutchins, of the Dubuque Herald, of what he had done. The box was marked "current funds," and Mr. Hutchins was refused possession by order of the collector. Mr. Hutchins wrote a formal note demanding to know the reasons for the detention, and was answered that such was the order from the government, and the act containing such authority was cited and language quoted--"until further orders no powder of any description and no arms, large or small, will be permitted to pass into the state of Iowa * * * except such as are moving under military authority." The Dubuque Herald accordingly said: "The arms were kept from our possession by virtue of no law, but in express contravention of law and, without employing force, we were and are powerless." * * * The game is too transparent to win--too bold to deceive any sensible man. Its purpose is to put the Democratic party at the mercy of armed Union Leagues. We saw at Fairfield on Monday forty armed Union Leaguers drilling on the public square. What does it portend? We are no alarmist. Nothing do we so much fear and desire to avoid as war at home. We cannot stand still and be bound hand and foot. We will not! Our only defense is to provide against outrage, and that we will provide against it these men may be sure. Upon them will be the responsibility of the assault; but when it comes, when we are reduced to the alternative of the conflict or subjection, we shall not hesitate in the choice. We can get arms in spite of them. We advise all to provide for their security without delay, and in the fear of God, but not of man, we warn these conspirators to cease their wicked efforts."

--(Dubuque Herald, April 26, 1863)




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