War of the Rebellion
Iowa Volunteer Infantry
THIRTEENTH REGIMENT IOWA VOLUNTEER
The Thirteenth Iowa Infantry was ordered into quarters by Governor Kirkwood, under the proclamation of President Lincoln bearing date July 23, 1861, the organization of this regiment having completed the quota of the State up to that date. The ten companies of which the regiment was composed were ordered into quarters on dates ranging from Sept. 17 to Oct. 11, 1861. The rendezvous designated in the order was Camp McClellan, near Davenport, Iowa, and there the companies were mustered into the service of the United States on dates ranging from Oct. 15 to Nov. 2, 1861, by Capt. Alexander Chambers, United States Army. The total enrollment at muster in was 890, but this number was soon increased by additional enlistment to 898. The regiment was exceedingly fortunate in the choice of its first commander. Col. M. M. Crocker was gifted with rare military genius. He had the advantage of military training at West Point, and, while some of the officers and most of the men of his regiment did not fully appreciate the necessity for his rigid enforcement of discipline from the day he assumed command, it did not take them long to discover that he was just the kind of man they needed to instruct them, and to fit them for the performance of the stern duties of soldiers who were about to enter upon active service in one of the greatest wars in the history of mankind.
The regiment remained only a short time in Camp McClellan. It was transported down the Mississippi river to St. Louis, and went into quarters at Benton Barracks, where troops were being concentrated and fitted as rapidly as possible for an active campaign against the enemy. Here it was armed and equipped, and, on December 11th, was ordered to proceed by rail to Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri, where it remained until early in March, 1862, when it was ordered to return to St. Louis. While the regiment was at Jefferson City it was mainly engaged in preparation for the great campaign which was being planned, and which was to begin in the early spring. There was no considerable body of the enemy in the vicinity of its camp, and the official records do not show that it met with any loss except from disease, but the death rate from this cause was large on account of the men being unused to the hardships incident to camp life in winter. In addition to the deaths from disease, many became incapacitated for further service and were discharged. This was the common experience of all troops during their first year of service.
From St. Louis, the regiment was conveyed by steamer to Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., where it arrived March 23, 1862. Here it went into camp and was assigned to the First Brigade of the First Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand. The brigade consisted of the Eighth and Eighteenth Illinois, the Eleventh and Thirteenth Iowa, and Battery D, Second Illinois LightArtillery, and was under the command of Col. A. M. Hare of the Eleventh Iowa, who was the senior officer present for duty. The concentration of the Union army under Maj. Gen. U. S. Grant, at Pittsburg Landing, the presence of the rebel army under Maj. Gen. A. S. Johnston, at Corinth, Miss., and the fact that a distance of only twenty miles intervened between the two armies, indicated that a great battle was impending.
The compiler of this sketch, while fully realizing the importance of the service rendered by the Thirteenth Iowa in subsequent battles, feels that, in describing the part it took in its first great battle, he is justified in going into greater particularity of detail than the limitation of space under which he is working will permit when he comes to deal with its later achievements.
On the morning of the 6th of April, 1862, the rebel army, which had been advancing during the previous afternoon and night, with the purpose of making an attack before further reinforcements could reach the Union army, was hurled against the advanced lines of General Grant's forces, and one of the greatest battles of modern times was in progress. In his official report, Colonel Crocker describes the part taken by his regiment, as follows:
HEADQUARTERS THIRTEENTH REGIMENT IOWA INFANTRY VOLUNTEERS,
CAMP NEAR PITTSBURG LANDING, TENN., April 8, 1862.
SIR,--I have the honor to report the part taken by the Thirteenth Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry in the engagement with the enemy on the 6th and 7th inst.
Early in the morning of the 6th, the alarm was given, and heavy firing in the distance indicated that our camp was attacked. The regiment was formed in front of its color line, its full force consisting of 717 men, rank and file. It was at once ordered to form on the left of the Second Brigade, and proceeded to that position at a double quick, and was then formed in line of battle in a skirt of woods bordering on an open field to the left of a battery. Here it remained for some time inactive, while the enemy's guns were playing on our battery. In the meantime, a large force of the enemy's infantry were filing around the open field in front of our line, protected by the woods, and in the direction of our battery, opening a heavy fire of musketry on the infantry stationed on our right, and charging upon the battery. The infantry and battery to the right having given way, and the enemy advancing at double quick, we gave them one round of musketry and also gave way. At this time, we--as, indeed, all our troops in the immediate vicinity of the battery--were thrown into great confusion, and retired in disorder.
Having retired to the distance of 100 or 200 yards, we succeeded in rallying and forming a good line, the Eighth and Eighteenth Illinois Volunteers on our left, and, having fronted to the enemy, held our position there under a continual fire of cannon and musketry until after 12 o'clock, when we were ordered to retire and take up a new position. This we did in good order and without confusion. Here, having formed a new line, we maintained it under incessant fire until 4:30 o'clock P. M., the men conducting themselves with great gallantry and coolness, and doing great execution on the enemy, repulsing charge after charge, and driving them back with great loss.
At 4:30 P. M., we were again ordered to fall back. In obeying this order, we became mixed up with a great number of regiments falling back in confusion, so that our line was broken up and the regiment separated, rendering it very difficult to collect it, but finally, having succeeded in forming, and being separated from the brigade, we attached ourselves to the division commanded by Colonel Tuttle of the Second Iowa Volunteers, and formed with his division in front of the encampment of the Fourteenth, Second and Seventh Iowa Volunteers, where it sustained a heavy fire from the enemy's battery until dark, and there remained during the night on our arms. During the day, we were under fire of the enemy for ten hours, and sustained a loss of 23 killed and 130 wounded.
On the morning of the 7th, we were ordered to continue with Colonel Tuttle's division and to follow up and support our forces that were attacking and driving back the enemy. We followed them up closely, moving to support the batteries until the
enemy was routed, after which we were ordered to return to the encampment that we had left on Sunday morning, where we arrived at 8 o'clock P. M.
Our total loss in the action of the 6th and 7th is, killed 24, wounded 139, missing 9, total 172. The men for the most part behaved with great gallantry, and the officers exhibited the greatest bravery and coolness; and I call especial attention to the gallant conduct of my field officers, Lieutenant Colonel Price and Major Shane, who were both wounded in the action of the 6th, and acknowledge my great obligations to my Adjutant, Lieutenant Wilson, who during the entire action exhibited the highest qualities of a soldier.
M. M. CROCKER,
Colonel Thirteenth Iowa Infantry.