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Dubuque County
July, 1863

 ~ Contributed by Julia Krapfl ~


In May, 1863, John Hodnett, who was connected with the Herald, while at a private house in Cedar Falls, was waited upon by Lieutenant Sessions and a crowd of his friends and told to leave town in ten minutes or suffer the consequences, and that if he returned he would be tarred and feathered. He was followed across the river by a howling mob and remained there all night and in the morning went to Independence. S. P. Adams became provost Marshal in May. Marshal Conger collected the government revenue here. In May, 1863, Bishop Smyth disapproved of all secret societies and his remarks went the round of the press. The enrollment for the draft was commenced June 1, 1863.

The Ladies' Aid Society gave a strawberry festival at the Lorimier House, June 11, 1863, for the benefit of sick and wounded soldiers. There were urgent appeals at this time from the fields and hospitals. The net proceeds were $412.20; the Dubuque Herald said, "The soldiers will probably never see a dollar of it."

''The conscription act, as will be seen by telegraphic dispatches, has caused an insurrection in the city of New York. This was no more than was expected and anticipated. The popular belief is that besides being unconstitutional, the conscription act is unjust in its discriminations. It is also regarded with disfavor by the large portion of the citizens, who do not believe that the war is waged for but against this Union. How can anyone who in his heart believes that the war is only widening the breach between the North and South give his services to fight in this war? If there were no question about the objects of the war there would be no more need of conscription to raise an army now than there was when it was supposed that the war was for the Union."

--(Herald, July 14, 1863)

The Federal successes in July greatly encouraged Union sentiment here and cast a damper on the outspoken opposition of the Copperheads. The victories were duly celebrated by a large crowd at Washington Square. The river was soon to be opened to New Orleans, it was said. Two men arrested in Clayton county under the conscription act and brought here to be confined were released on a writ of habeas corpus by Judge Hempstead. The men then sued the sheriff for kidnapping them, but nothing came of this suit.

"Thus at the outset of the contest under the conscription act have the rights of the people been vindicated in Dubuque from the attempt of provost marshals, a deputy United States marshal, the sheriff of Dubuque county and leading members of the S. B. Society to trample under foot the power given by the people to maintain the laws inviolate. * * * Was it not a brave act of Marshal Conger, assisted by a crowd of S. B.'s, to march these shackled victims of arbitrary power through the streets of Dubuque on a Sunday afternoon. * * * We congratulate this community that the majesty of the law is still respected in the city of Dubuque and that there are some judicial officers left who have the courage to enforce the laws even against United States officers."

--(Herald, July 21, 1863


The Times denounced the action of the county court in the conscription cases and Governor Kirkwood directed the adjutant general to call out volunteer companies to aid the provost marshals and serve as a posse comitatus, or bands of loyal citizens to do the same. Generally over the state the act of Judge Hempstead was declared to be an outrage and a direct affront to the draft and state authorities.

"The governor of Iowa has directed the adjutant-general of the state to issue an order which, if carried into practical effect, will result in producing civil war. * * * We have no words which will adequately express our condemnation of this order from Governor Kirkwood. * * * The governor invites his partisan friends to take up arms ostensibly to aid in the enforcement of the laws--for the purpose of overawing Democrats and preventing them from exercising their political rights. There can be no doubt whatever that a secret understanding existed between the governor and the organizations known as Union Leagues to furnish those organizations with public arms and to pay them for services they might render as partisans in support of the administration. We call the attention of the people to the infamous designs of the order, and we undertake to tell those partisans who are expected to comply with it that civil war will be the result should this order of Governor Kirkwood be carried into practical effect."

--(Herald, July 23, 1863)





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