Civil War Centennial Feature ...

13 County Boys Fought, Died In Combat--100 Years Ago

Grundy county quietly joined the nation this week in observing the centennial of the Civil War--a war which began 100 years ago this month while the county was still in its infancy, yet which called some of its fine young men of the day.

The county was still only sparsely settled by a few rugged pioneer families when the first shot was fired at Fort Sumpter on April 12, 1861.

And it was not until several days later, historians tell us, that word spread across the prairie that the Civil War had beun. But Grundy county's youth were quick to volunteer for duty with Union forces.

All told, 13 men from the county enlisted during 1861-65, a surprisingly large complement considering only a few hundred persons were counted as permanent residents during the federal census of 1860.

The volunteers were Earl Crane, Kenricks Sprague, George Macy and his brothers, Seth and John, Nathan Modlin, Alfred Walker, Stephen Bell, Joshua Meyers, Frederick Severance, John S. B. Thompson, John Wheeler and Abram Collins--many of these names familiar in the county today.

George Macy died of wounds received in a battle now long forgotten in the annals of history. As far as is known he was the only Grundy county boy killed in Civil War action. His elder brother, Seth, barely escaped being another.

George was born in Oneida county, New York, on May 29th, 1843, and came to Grundy county in the 1850's and settled on a farm a mile east of the Hardin county line in Melrose township.

He was only 20 years old and a private in Company F, 32nd Iowa Infantry Regiment, when he died in a lonely hospital tent near Brownsville, Arkansas.

Macy's commanding officer, E. Kilgone, described the action in which George was fatally wounded in a letter to his father, Elias Macy, dated September 19, 1863.

The letter said George was one of six foragers sent out from Brownsville, Arkansas, 25 miles east of Little Rock, and were successful in their mission. But while returning to camp, a distance of about six miles, they were fired upon by a band of Rebel guerrillas.

Two mules in the front wagon manned by the foraging party were killed, and George was struck by a pair of bullets. One was a minny ball, which hit him in the left thigh. The other was buckshot, which entered his left side and passed through his body.

A battlefield surgeon removed the bullet back at camp, but he died of internal bleeding at noon, September 10.

Before his death, however, George talked with Kilgone and asked him to give his clothing and $30 in cash to his younger brother, John.

George's body was originally buried at Hicks' Station, Ark., but was moved to the National Cemetery at Little Rock in September, 1869, where his remains are today.

An older brother, Seth Macy, was a member of Company A, 12th Iowa Infanty, after he joined the Army on the side of the Union in September, 1861.

He was taken prisoner and reported "missing in battle" at Shiloh, Tennessee, on April 6, 1862, and was interned in the infamous Andersonville prison for some time until he escaped. He returned to Company A in April, 1863, was promoted to 3rd Corporal, and received his discharge at Memphis in 1866 after the war had ended. He died many years later in California.

Seth, in a letter to his family, vividly described Andersonville, made famous many years later in a historic novel by McKinley Kanter.

He said the prison literally crawled with lice, and compounds were so crowded there was barely room to stand. Thousands of Union troopers died in Andersonville. Escape probably spared Seth this fate.

The younger of the three Macy boys to serve in the Civil War, John, enlisted in October, 1864, and was assigned to Company A, 15th Iowa Infantry. He was mustered out of service at the conclusion of the war, but died in 1870 from lung trouble contracted while in the Army. His body was buried in the Benson cemetery in Melrose township, near his parents.

Source: The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 4 May 1961, sec 3, pg 1