Madison County


The following history is taken from the book History of Iowa by B. F. Gue, The Century History Company, 1903

This regiment was made up of companies raised in the counties of Polk, Boone, Warren, Tama, Madison, Greene, Jasper, Poweshiek and Washington. It numbered nine hundred and thirteen men, who went into camp at Iowa City and were mustered into service in September and October, 1861. After which, at Cape Girardeau, the men were drilled. The first field and staff officers were: Nicholas Purczel, colonel; W. E. Small, lieutenant-colonel; J. C. Bennett, major; W. P. Davis, surgeon; T. W. Jackson, adjutant; John Truesdale, quartermaster; D. W. Tolford, chaplain.

The First Engagement

On the 13th of December the regiment went into winter quarters at Birdís Point. On the 8th of January, 1862, Colonel Purczel was sent with his regiment to capture a body of Rebels reported to be at Charleston, twelve miles distant. The night was dark, the rain falling in torrents and the line of march led through swamps, where the roads were nearly impassable. While slowly feeling their way in storm and darkness, the men were suddenly fired upon by an enemy in ambush and thrown into confusion. Quickly rallying, the regiment returned fire in the direction of the concealed foe, the strength of which was unknown. The enemy was soon dislodged and scattered and the regiment marched on beyond Charleston. The Tenth lost in this first fight, eight men killed and sixteen wounded.

New Madrid

In February the regiment joined General Popeís New Madrid expedition. That place was defended by five regiments of infantry and several companies of artillery, and strongly fortified by earthworks, upon which were mounted twenty-one heavy guns. Six gunboats, carrying from four to six heavy guns each, were anchored along the shore between the upper and lower redoubts. Thus the approaches to reinforce nothing but drill and sickness to vary the depressing monotony. Many died and many contracted disease which caused their discharge.

Battles of Inka & Corinth

In September the regiment participated with Rosecransí army in the bloody Battle of Inka, where it repulsed two separate charges of Texas regiments and won special commendation of the commanding general. In the desperate two daysí Battle of Corinth which soon followed, the Tenth, under Major McCalla, in General Sullivanís Brigade, made a most gallant fight, of which Major McCalla says in his report:

"During both days I was assisted in the field by Captain N. A. Holson, acting lieutenant-colonel; Captain Jackson Orr, acting major; and Lieutenant William Manning, adjutant; who acted throughout with great coolness and courage and to whom large credit is due. The line officers without exception deported themselves with great gallantry, and to the men under my command too much praise cannot be given for their courage, endurance and strict obedience to orders."

The regiment lost three killed and thirty-seven wounded, among the latter was Captain Albert Head.

Oxford to Vicksburg

The regiment was with General Grant in the Oxford campaign and later at Memphis, where it went into winter quarters. Colonel Purczel had resigned in November, 1862, and was succeeded by Lieutenant-Colonel Small. Major Bennett had resigned in January of the same year, and Captain McCalla was promoted to the vacancy. Dr. Davis resigned in April, and B. J. Mohr was appointed surgeon. Adjutant Jackson also resigned in April and was succeeded by Lieutenant John Delahayed. The next active service of the Tenth was under General Quimby against Fort Pemberton, which was bombarded for several days without success. The regiment soon after joined General Grantís army at Millikenís Bend, and was in the great campaign, which captured Vicksburg. In this campaign the Tenth Iowa bore a conspicuous part, fighting bravely at Raymond on the 12th, at Jackson on the 14th and at Championís Hill on the 16th of May. General Quimby being ill, his division was under command of General Crocker, of Iowa, and the Tenth was in a brigade under Colonel Boomer, in McPhersonís Corps.

At Jackson the corps did the largest share of the fighting and then turned west to cooperate with the main body of Grantís army, which was concentrating to meet General Pemberton, marching from Vicksburg to resist Grantís progress toward that city. Pemberton had taken a strong position on a high hill on the plantation of a Mr. Champion. To the right of the road a dense forest extended some distance down the hill, opening into cultivated fields on a gentle slope and broad valley. Here Pemberton, with 25,000 men, had posted his army, commanding the roads by which Grant was advancing. The divisions of Logan and Crocker were soon in the thickest of the fight, where the heavy rattle of musketry for an hour and a half had not been surpassed in any battle of the war. Hovey, who had been holding his ground tenaciously against greatly superior numbers, was finally forced slowly back, when Crocker and Logan reinforced him, and the tide was turned, the Confederates gave way, and were soon in retreat, so vigorously pursued that much of their artillery and many prisoners were captured.

There were many Iowa regiments in this greatest battle of the campaign, and none fought with greater bravery than the Tenth. When Crocker came to the aid of Hovey, this regiment, with the brigade, was thrown into the vortex of as desperate a struggle as ever was witnessed on the field and helped to turn the tide of battle. But Boomerís brigade was immolated in the conflict and the loss of the Tenth was fearful, reaching nearly fifty per cent. of its entire number. Among the killed were Captain Poag and Lieutenants Terry and Brown, while Captains Lusby, Head, Kuhn and Hobson and Lieutenants Meekin and Gregory were wounded. Soon after the battle the Tenth was with the army before Vicksburg. It was in the assault of the 22d, making two gallant charges on the impregnable works. Colonel Boomer, commanding the brigade, was killed in one of the charges and Captain Head was severely wounded.


After the surrender, the Tenth marched with Sherman against Johnston and after his retreat again returned to Vicksburg, remaining for two months on garrison duty. Near the close of September it was transferred to the Fifteenth Corps and marched with Sherman to Chattanooga. General Matthies, of Iowa, had succeeded to the command of the brigade after the death of the gallant Boomer, and the Tenth took part in the brilliant battles, which Grant fought, in and about the city. Here, many of its best officers and men perished in storming the defenses and bravely facing the death-dealing batteries. The soldiers never faltered in the line of duty and everywhere sustained the high reputation won on many battlefields.

At Missionary Ridge the Tenth won high honors. At three oíclock on the 24th of November, General Sherman moved against Missionary Ridge, where General Bragg was strongly posted on that range of hills. The Tenth Iowa, with its brigade and division, marched down through the timber and low bottomland to the assault. Reaching the first hill on a high range beyond, the enemy was seen strongly fortified and in force, and against this position the Seventh Division directed its attack the next day. The Union army had won Lookout Mountain and on the night of the 24th, held the entire line from the north side of Lookout Mountain through the Chattanooga Valley to the north end of Missionary Ridge. General Bragg was now defeated and was fighting to save his army, artillery and baggage. The point against which the Fifth, Sixth, Tenth and Seventeenth Iowa regiments were directed on the 25th, covered Braggís line of communication to the rear, and if this hill were lost Braggís defeat would be disastrous.

The Tenth, with its brigade, moved at eleven oíclock to reinforce General Ewing, marching over an open field to low ground covered with underbrush and advancing to the attack on the hill. The artillery fire was terrible. Solid shot, shell, grape and canister at short range from forty pieces of artillery, smote their ranks, mowing down the men by scores. No troops could stand against it and a retreat was ordered. General Matthies fell severely wounded; it was next to Championís Hill the most terrific artillery fire the Tenth ever encountered.

After the close of the Chattanooga campaign the regiment went into winter quarters at Huntsville, Alabama, and, during the months of January and February, 1864, nearly three hundred of the men reenlisted, converting it into a veteran regiment. Colonel Small had left the service in August, 1863, and was succeeded by Lieutenant-Colonel P. C. Henderson; Major McCalla became lieutenant-colonel and Captain Robert Lusby was promoted to major.

Tennessee Engagements

The Tenth was sent with General Thomas in a movement against Johnston in Tennessee and in April was ordered to Decatur, Alabama. In June the veterans were granted a furlough, returning to duty in the latter part of July, and were stationed along the Chattanooga and Atlantic Railroad, having headquarters at Kingston, Georgia. The Tenth was next in the expedition under Generals Steadman and Rousseau against Wheeler, and in the Battle of Jonesboro, pursuing the enemy through east Tennessee and northern Alabama, returning to Kingston after a march of nearly 1,000 miles.

Shermanís March

The regiment went to Atlanta and joined Shermanís army in the march to the sea, taking part in the battles around Savannah. In the campaign through the Carolinas it made a gallant passage of the Salkahatchie River, crossing waist deep under a heavy fire from the enemy posted behind earthworks and, with another regiment, dislodging the Confederates. The Tenth was with the advance upon Columbia, and was warmly engaged at Cox Bridge on the Neuse River in North Carolina at the opening of the Battle of Bentonsville. It moved with the army to Goldsboro and Raleigh, and was at the surrender of Johnstonís army of nearly 37,000 men on the 21st day of April, 1865, which event virtually ended the war.

The End of the War

The Tenth soon after went to Washington and participated in the grand review of May 24th. From there it was sent to Louisville, and thence to Little Rock and was not mustered out until August 15th, 1865. It numbered at that time little more than three hundred men and had the following field and staff officers: Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. Silsby, Adjutant H. S. Bowman, Surgeon R. J. Mohr, Chaplain W. G. Kephart. The regiment entered the service over nine hundred strong and had received thereafter about three hundred recruits; so that during its four years of camp life, hard marches and battles it had lost from disease, wounds, disability and death as many men as it took into the service. Such are the ravages of war. The flag of the Tenth Iowa Volunteers, deposited in the Capitol of the State, is entitled to have inscribed upon its war-worn folds the names of Charleston, New Madrid, Island Number Ten, Farmington, luka, Corinth, Raymond, Jackson, Championís Hill, Vicksburg, Missionary Ridge, Decatur, Salkahatchie, Columbia and Bentonsville.


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This page was created on October 15, 2004.
This page was last updated Thursday, 13-Apr-2017 14:54:43 EDT .