16th Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry
in the War of the Rebellion
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Historical Sketch button-sm.gif (1265 bytes)


     The organization of the Sixteenth Regiment of Infantry began when the first company was ordered into quarters by Governor Kirkwood, September 17, 1861. The designated rendezvous was Camp McClellan, Davenport, Iowa, and there seven companies of the regiment were mustered into the service of the United States on dates ranging from December 10, 1861, to March 12, 1862, by Captains Alexander Chambers and S. A. Wainwright, of the United States Army. Of the remaining three companies, the records show that Company F was mustered in at Keokuk, Iowa, in February; Companies I and K, at Benton Barracks, near St. Louis, March 24, 1862, by Captain Chambers. It will thus be seen that it was more than six months from the date on which the first company was ordered into quarters before the organization of the regiment was completed.

     The files of reports and returns in the office of the Adjutant General of Iowa contain several papers relating to an incipient militia organization called the "German Regiment," from which it appears that John P. Koch had been commissioned as Colonel, and authorized to raise a regiment bearing that designation. It also appears that but two companies, with an aggregate strength of 151 men, were recruited for that regiment when its organization was abandoned and the two companies were merged into the Sixteenth Regiment. On Page 22 of the report of the Adjutant General of Iowa—1861-2— appears the roster of the Field and Staff of the German Regiment then forming, but including only the names of John P. Koch, Colonel, and Charles Altman, Adjutant. The next and last reference to this organization is found on Page 13, Vol. I, of the Adjutant General's report for 1863, in which he says: "Since my last report the Sixteenth Iowa Infantry and the German (Iowa) Regiment have been consolidated, and the regiment is known as the Sixteenth Iowa Infantry." There were a large number of volunteer organizations from the different states which were given distinctive names, some prior to and others after being mustered into the service of the United States. On Page 30 of a volume compiled under the direction of the Adjutant General at Washington, published in 1885, entitled, "Synonyms of Organizations in the Volunteer Service of the United States," the following statement appears under the caption "Iowa": "German Regiment Sixteenth Infantry (part)." The name is thus officially and historically identified with the regiment, although the designation could have no significance as applied to its completed organization.

     It should be kept in mind that Iowa was then a young State, that the greater part of its territory was but sparsely populated, and that it had already sent into the field fourteen regiments of Infantry, five regiments of Cavalry and three batteries of Artillery. It was not, therefore, an indication of lack

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of patriotism that the call for two more regiments of Infantry—coming at the same time—was not as promptly responded to as the first and second calls had been. It will be seen, by comparing the subjoined roster with those of the earlier regiments, that the average age of the officers and men was much greater. This plainly indicates a larger proportion of married men, whose duty to their families had restrained them from enlisting until the necessity for their making the sacrifice became imperative. Moreover, when these men volunteered their services, many battles had been fought, the great magnitude of the rebellion was realized and the dangers and hardships of a long and terrible war confronted them. They had given due consideration to the question of duty to their country; were not carried away by enthusiasm, but their action was deliberate, and their subsequent conduct demonstrated that they were equal to all emergencies.

     The regiment left Davenport March 20, 1862, was conveyed by steamer to St. Louis and marched thence to Benton Barracks, where it went into quarters, was furnished with arms, ammunition and field equipage, and, without having the opportunity for drill and instruction except to the most limited extent, was hurried to the front. It had the good fortune, however, of having a commander who was a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a thoroughly trained soldier. He was a Captain in the Eighteenth Regiment of Infantry in the Regular Army at the time he was appointed Colonel of the Sixteenth Iowa by Governor Kirkwood, and had been acting as Mustering Officer for Iowa troops since the commencement of the war. The regiment was thus better fitted for immediate active service in the field than it would have been under a commander without military training or experience. On the 1st of April Colonel Chambers was ordered to embark his regiment and proceed to Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., and, upon arriving there, to report to General Grant.

     On the morning of April 6, 1862, the regiment arrived at Pittsburg Landing. The great battle of Shiloh had begun, and the roar of the conflict at the front was heard as the regiment was leaving the boat. Here the men loaded their guns for the first time. Wounded men and some panic-stricken stragglers began to arrive from the firing line, with tales of disaster to the Union troops, indicating that the rebel forces were superior in numbers and were victorious on every part of the field. This was a hard experience for these men who had, but a few days before, left their homes in Iowa, and was a severe test to their courage and discipline, even before they were ordered forward to meet the enemy. The order soon came, and the regiment marched promptly to the front under the leadership of their gallant Colonel, to the aid of the troops who were being hard pressed by the enemy. The official report of Colonel Chambers shows the heroic conduct of his regiment in that great conflict, and the compiler of this historical sketch regrets that the limitation of space which he is compelled to observe will not permit the reproduction of the report in full. The following extracts, however, give the main features of the report, omitting details:

     *** From 9:30 to 10:30 A. M., the time occupied in reaching the battlefield, we met more men returning, of all arms, than belonged to the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Regiments, but I must say, for the credit of the State of Iowa, not one of her quota did I meet. On crossing an open field, beyond which was the position of the rebels, two of my command were wounded. My regiment was formed on the right of this field in rear of a fence. ***I ordered the men to lie down, when the greater part of the enemy's fire passed harmlessly over us. I had, however, several wounded here. From this position the regiment was ordered forward to the edge of timber, within close range of the enemy, as many of my men were wounded at the same time by both ball

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and buckshot. *** For nearly or quite an hour the regiment held its ground against a much larger force of the enemy, supported by artillery, when it was compelled to give way before the destructive fire, or be captured. Word came down the line that a retreat had been ordered. ***At this our whole line gave way and became mixed up with other regiments. My regiment was raised by Lieut. Col. A. H. Sanders to the number of about 300 and was posted in rear of a battery during the remainder of that day and night, during which time those who had become mixed with other regiments returned and reformed with those under the Lieutenant Colonel, I having been wounded in the hip joint, which was very painful and rendered me quite lame. The next day the regiment held the same position in rear of the battery during the fight.+ ***

     With a few exceptions the officers and men behaved with judgment and gallantry. The field officers were particularly cool under a destructive fire and rendered great assistance. The horses of all the field and staff officers were killed or wounded, evidently showing an intention on the part of the enemy to pick off the most  prominent officers. Captains Ruehl and Zettler, both gallant men, were killed or mortally wounded, and First Lieut. F. M. Doyle, a brave and efficient officer, was also killed. The loss during Sunday's fight was two officers and sixteen non-commissioned officers and privates killed, and nine officers and ninety-four non-commissioned officers and privates wounded, and fifteen non-commissioned officers and privates, missing.+ ***

     The experience gained by the regiment in this great battle was invaluable. In the numerous battles in which it was subsequently engaged it had the advantage of the training and drill which it had not received before the battle of Shiloh, but it was never afterwards placed in a position in which the bravery and fortitude of the officers and men received a more thorough test. It was the common experience of all soldiers that their first battle, no matter how favorable the conditions under which it was fought, was the severest test to their courage. At Shiloh the conditions under which the Sixteenth Iowa went into action were most unfavorable. The impression its men received, the moment they left the boat and formed in line of battle, was that the enemy was successful on every part of the battlefield; and this impression was sustained as they marched to the front and met large numbers of wounded being taken to the rear, also many demoralized and panic-stricken soldiers who had not been wounded but had deserted their regiments in the face of the enemy and sought safety in flight. The fact that the men of this new and untried regiment did not become infected with the feeling of panic, but marched steadily forward and went into that hell of battle with the coolness of veterans, fought until the only alternative was retreat or surrender, and afterwards rallied to their colors and rendered important service until the close of the battle, entitles them to a place in the front rank as heroic soldiers. In its subsequent history the record made at Shiloh was fully maintained but, in the judgment of the compiler, never surpassed.

     After the battle, the regiment was ordered to move toward Corinth, the strongly fortified position to which the rebel army had retreated. General Grant's army cautiously advanced, constructing earth-works at regular intervals along its front, thus guarding against another possible attack by the enemy and preparing for the siege of the rebel stronghold. On the 27th of April the organization of a brigade, consisting of the Eleventh, Thirteenth, Fifteenth and Sixteenth Regiments of Iowa Infantry, was effected, and Col. M. M. Crocker, of the Thirteenth Iowa, became its commander. This organization was maintained until the close of the war and was known throughout the army as "Crocker's Iowa Brigade"; although, after Colonel Crocker was pro-


     +War of the Rebellion Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 10, Pages 286 and 287.  Same Volume, Page 104, tabulated casualties, shows total loss 131.  Bronze tablet on regimental monument to Sixteenth Regiment Iowa Infantry at Shiloh shows losses as follows:  Killed, officers, 2, men, 15; wounded, officers 11, men 91 (8 mortally); captured or missing, men 13.

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moted to Brigadier General, it had many different commanders, most if not all of whom were, or had been, officers of some one of its regiments.* The history of the Sixteenth Iowa is, therefore, closely interwoven with that of the brigade to which frequent reference will be made in giving the outlines of the further service of the regiment.

     During the siege of Corinth the regiment, with its brigade, performed arduous and important service and contributed its full share to bring about the evacuation of that stronghold, just as General Grant had determined to order an assault upon the fortifications. The evacuation took place during the night of May 30, 1862. The regiment now went into camp near Corinth, where it remained until July 28th, at which time it marched, with its brigade, to Bolivar, Tenn., where it was engaged in watching the movements of the enemy, erecting fortifications and guarding against threatened attack by the enemy. A considerable rebel force remained in the vicinity of Bolivar for several weeks but, as was later shown, not with the intention of attacking the Union troops stationed there, but to draw away from Corinth enough Union troops to make it possible for the rebels to recapture that important post. When the real purpose of the enemy was discovered, the regiment with its brigade was ordered to return to Corinth. Upon its arrival there it was ordered to march toward Iuka and watch the movements of the enemy.

     On the 19th of September, 1862, the brigade was in close proximity to the enemy. The Sixteenth Regiment was ordered forward late in the evening of that day, while the other regiments of Crocker's brigade were held in reserve. The part taken by the regiment in the battle which ensued is shown in the official report of Lieut. Col. A. H. Sanders, who, after Colonel Chambers had been severely wounded, assumed command of the regiment.


                                           Sept. 21, 1862.

     SIR,—I have the honor to report the part taken by the Sixteenth Iowa Infantry, in your brigade,+  in the battle on the evening of the 19th instant, one and one-half miles south of Iuka, Mississippi.

     The regiment, under command of Col. A. Chambers, was placed in position about 5:30 P. M. in rear of the Eleventh Ohio Battery, the left of the regiment extending across the road from which it had filed into position. Immediately after the regiment was formed in line a charge of grape and shell from a battery of the enemy cut down six or seven men, including an officer, when the men were ordered to lie down. In this position but few or none were injured by the repeated discharges of canister and ball from the rebel battery. In probably half an hour from forming in line, the enemy made a charge of infantry on the battery. Our fire was reserved till the last moment in the center of the regiment, for fear of killing those manning the battery or the horses of the same, and in the two right companies, till a regiment which was lapping them was withdrawn; but when the enemy's lines were plainly or partially in sight (which, owing to the trees and thick underbrush, was not till they were very close) Colonel Chambers ordered the men to rise and fire, which order was instantly obeyed, for a time stopping the enemy's advance, but they again charged. The attack was evidently by a very heavy force and with the object of capturing the battery. Our men stood their ground manfully, and I am not aware that a single officer or man failed in any part of his duty. They were finally beaten back by the overwhelming force of the enemy, the center, in the rear of the left section of the battery, retiring first but warmly contending with the enemy till they were almost in our ranks. The


     * At the close of the war the survivors of these four Iowa regiments formed an organization by which they have preserved the name "Crocker's Iowa Brigade". They meet biennially in reunion.  Gen. W. W. Belknap was its first commander, and, at his death, was succeeded by Col. H. H. Rood, its present commander. (1908.)

     + As will be observed at the close of this report, the Sixteenth Iowa fought under another brigade commander at the battle of Iuka, being entirely detached, for the time being, from its own brigade.

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left, holding a comparatively safe position, did not retire till they were fired into by one of our own regiments in the rear. The entire right companies, although under a remarkably heavy fire, held their position longest and experienced the heaviest loss. Company A, Captain Smith, was the last to leave the field, and for a time held its ground alone, the regiment on its right having at an early hour been compelled to retire, and the remaining companies of its own regiment retiring at a later hour.

     Where all the officers did so well it seems scarcely fair to particularize the conduct or bearing of one from the other, yet I deem it my official duty to notice the fact that Captain Smith exhibited in this action bravery and gallant conduct for which he cannot receive too much praise.  He brought out of the battle scarcely half the men he took into it, and the same may be said of company F, Captain Fraser. The remaining portion of the regiment was immediately after reformed by myself and took a position near the battlefield, it then being nearly dark, and soon after, while changing to another position, was directed to rest on the right of an Ohio regiment, formed along the Iuka road, where it remained during the night. I regret to report the severe wounding of Colonel Chambers by gunshot wounds in the shoulder and neck, toward the close of the action. He was taken prisoner at the time of receiving the wounds, but was left by the enemy in the hospital at Iuka.

     I have the honor to enclose herewith a list of the killed, wounded and missing of the Sixteenth Iowa Infantry at the late action near Iuka, as complete as it can be made at this time, summing up, killed 14, wounded 48, missing 14.+  The regiment went into the battle with about 350 men, exclusive of details made to take care of the wounded.

             Very respectfully your obedient servant,

                                           ADD. H. SANDERS, 
                                         Lieut. Col. Comd'g Sixteenth Iowa Infantry.


Comd'g First Brigade, Third Div., Army of the Mississippi.++

     The regiment had again contributed its full share to the defeat of a superior force of the enemy in this hard fought battle. Its loss was even greater than at Shiloh, in proportion to the number engaged. Soon after the battle of Iuka the regiment returned, with its brigade, to Corinth and, on the 3d and 4th of October, participated in the battles which were fought there. Major William Purcell, who commanded the regiment after Lieutenant Colonel Sanders had been compelled to retire on account of his severe wounds, wrote an admirable official report of the conduct of his regiment during both days of the battle. After describing the positions occupied by the regiment prior to that in which it was attacked by the enemy, he says:

      In this position we remained until the Second Brigade fell back, and, the batteries with the Eleventh and Thirteenth Iowa being ordered to the rear to form a line oblique to the one then held by us, we remained in position to cover this movement, and were under the immediate command of Colonel Crocker when the enemy drove in our skirmishers and charged furiously up the hill upon which the Fifteenth and Sixteenth were posted. This charge was repulsed, and after holding the enemy in check and severely punishing him, were ordered to fall back upon the new line. The movements of the batteries and of the rest of the brigade having been effected, the Sixteenth was ordered, in company with the Fifteenth, to retire, which they did slowly and in good order, rejoining the rest of the brigade, remaining there until ordered to retire with the batteries to the inner fortifications. During the fight this day Lieutenant Colonel Sanders was severely wounded in the thigh and had his horse shot in several places, but retained command until the regiment was ordered to the inner line of  fortifications, when he retired to have his wounds dressed, and the command devolved upon me.


     + War of the Rebellion Official Records, Series 1, Part 1, Vol. 17, Page 100.

     ++  War of the Rebellion Official Records, Series 1, Part 1, Vol. 17, Page 78.  tabulated losses, Sixteenth Iowa:  Killed 14, wounded 48, missing 13.

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     On the morning of the 4th the Sixteenth retained its position in support of the Fifth Ohio Battery, throwing forward, under cover of temporary breastworks, Company A, under command of Captain Smith, to engage the enemy's sharpshooters. While in support of the battery three of our men were wounded by the sharpshooters of the enemy. Permit me to say while at this point, that the officers and men are entitled to great credit, and their superior officers and their State may well be proud of them. They did their whole duty in the engagement on Friday. ***  I noticed with pleasure the courage and bravery displayed by the Color Sergeant, Samuel Duffin, Company F. He stood waving the colors and encouraging the men both by actions and words. He was the last to leave the field, and bore the colors away with him while the missiles of death flew thick and fast around him. The Color Corporals, McElhany, of company E, H. B. Eighmey, of company H, and J. Kuhn, of company C, also deserve mention for their gallant conduct.***

     For the third time the regiment had met the enemy in a hard fought engagement and acquitted itself with honor. Its losses in battle and on the skirmish line now aggregated 250. It had also lost a large number by death from disease and by discharge for disability, and yet it had been only six months in active service in the field. Its subsequent splendid record cannot be adequately described without exceeding the space allotted to this sketch. The compiler will endeavor, however, to cover as fully as possible the principal battles and movements in which the regiment participated, including only the most important details.

     The regiment now remained in camp for nearly a month. On November 2d the brigade was ordered to march to Grand Junction, and, arriving there November 5th, joined the army which was to engage in the movement against Vicksburg. November 28th the march to the South began, the Third Brigade of the Sixth Division of Hamilton's Corps (Crocker's Iowa Brigade) being assigned to the advance. The Sixteenth Iowa, with its brigade, bore its full share of the great hardships of that winter campaign, which proved a failure on account of the brilliant exploit of the enemy's cavalry in getting in the rear of General Grant's army and capturing the immense depot of supplies which bad been accumulated at Holly Springs, Miss. This compelled the abandonment of the expedition and the retreat of the army. During this retreat the troops suffered greatly from the cold and from lack of sufficient food. The regiment, with its brigade and division, reached Memphis early in January, 1863, and on January 18th again started for Vicksburg, this time on transports down the Mississippi river. Landing at Milliken's Bend, the troops went into camp. From this point, detachments from the Sixteenth and other regiments of the Iowa Brigade were sent out for the purpose of watching the movements of the enemy, and were engaged in some skirmishing in which slight losses were incurred.     On the 20th of January, 1863, the regiment, with its brigade and. division, was assigned to the Seventeenth Army Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, Brigadier General McArthur being retained in command of the division, and Colonel Crocker, of the brigade. On February 8th the brigade and division were conveyed to Lake Providence, and there began the arduous undertaking of  connecting the Lake with the Mississippi river by cutting a canal. This work was steadily prosecuted, and completed on the 16th of March, 1863. While at Lake Providence the regiment and brigade were inspected by Inspector General Wm. E. Strong of the Seventeenth Corps, who paid a very high compliment to Colonel Crocker for the splendid condition and perfect drill of his brigade.

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     April 21, 1863, the brigade left Lake Providence and, from that time until the surrender of Vicksburg, was actively engaged in the arduous operations which culminated in that most important event. About the time these operations began, Col. M. M. Crocker was promoted to Brigadier General and assigned to the command of the Seventh Division of the Seventeenth Army Corps. It was with deep regret that the officers and men of the brigade witnessed the departure of this accomplished officer. They fully appreciated the fact that it was on account of his rigid enforcement of discipline, and his ability as an instructor, that the brigade had reached such a high state of efficiency and had gained such an excellent reputation throughout the army.  Colonel Hall, of the Eleventh Iowa, succeeded to the command of the brigade during the remainder of the Vicksburg campaign. Colonel Chambers, of the Sixteenth Iowa, was still absent on account of the wounds he received at Iuka, and Lieutenant Colonel Sanders, although not fully recovered from the wound he received at Corinth, was—during the greater part of the campaign—in command of the regiment and wrote the official report, in which he describes in detail the movements of his regiment and the different positions occupied by it, from May 16 to July 4, 1863.

     The service of all four of the regiments of the Iowa Brigade during this period was practically of the same character. The compiler may, therefore, summarize in the same words he used with reference to the Thirteenth Iowa, as equally applicable to the Sixteenth and to every regiment of the brigade:

     "During the entire campaign, which ended with the surrender of Vicksburg, the Sixteenth Iowa with its brigade performed most arduous and important service. It was moved from point to point, was part of the time with the army of observation, in the rear of the lines of troops engaged in the siege, watching the rebel force under General Johnston, who was constantly threatening an attack for the purpose of raising the siege, and part of the time with the investing forces in the entrenchments, assisting in the prosecution of the siege, but everywhere doing its full duty and sustaining its well won reputation for bravery and efficiency."

     At the time of the surrender, the regiment was skirmishing with the enemy on Black River, in the rear of Vicksburg. The following quotation is made from the brief outline of the movements and operations of the regiment, furnished to the Adjutant General of Iowa by Maj. J. F. Conyngham:*

     Had a sharp engagement with the enemy July 4, 1863, part of the regiment having crossed the river and driven the enemy from his position on the opposite bank. July 12th was ordered to re-enforce General Sherman at Jackson and bring up an ammunition train. Johnston having evacuated Jackson, the army returned to Vicksburg July 28th; camped near Vicksburg till the 6th of August. The regiment was engaged in the march to Monroe, La. Returning to Vicksburg remained in camp till the 3d day of February, 1864; when we started on the Meridian campaign.  After a march across the entire State of Mississippi, returned to Vicksburg, March 4, 1864. Left Vicksburg March 17th on veteran furlough. The regiment again started from Davenport, Iowa, May 3d; arrived at Clifton, Tenn., about the middle of May; marched to Huntsville, Ala.; arrived at the latter place May 22d; marched to Decatur, Ala., thence across the mountains to Rome, Ga., where arrived on the 5th of June. Starting again the next morning, joined the main army under Sherman near Ackworth on the 10th; arrived in front of Kenesaw Mountain on the 11th; had a sharp engagement with the enemy June 15th; part of the regiment was engaged in the attack on Kenesaw Mountain June 27th, meeting with heavy loss. The regiment was under the enemy's fire from June 14th to July 2d; moved from left to right of our line, meeting the enemy again July 4th; had another sharp engagement, driving the enemy. On the


     *Adjutant General of Iowa, Report for year 1866, Pages 272-274, inclusive.

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5th, we again had the advance, driving the enemy from his fortified position and across Nickajack Creek; were under fire of the enemy until the 16th day of July, when the rebels were compelled to cross the Chattahoochee river, and pushed on to Atlanta. Was engaged in the battles of July 20th, 21st and 22d, meeting with heavy losses in killed, wounded and prisoners, reducing the regiment to less than 100 men present for duty; engaged in the battle of July 28th. Continued to take an active part in pushing forward our lines of investment till Aug. 26th, when the siege was raised, the army marching for the vicinity of Jonesboro, where the regiment was again under fire; was in the pursuit to Lovejoy's Station, returned to Atlanta, remained till September 1st, when active movements were again commenced by the transfer of Hood's rebel army to the north of the city. After engaging in the pursuit of the enemy towards Dalton and through Snake Creek Gap, thence to Gaylesville, Ala., returned to Atlanta. Our regiment being again increased to 450 men present for duty, by the exchange of prisoners in the month of September and the assignment of drafted men, we started from Atlanta, November 15th, marched to Savannah, before which place we arrived December 10th, after much hard marching and skirmishing, and drove the enemy behind his fortifications.  At Savannah our regiment was the first to seize the Savannah and Charleston Railroad, and, under the direction of Brigadier General Belknap, commenced destroying the same. Was engaged in the siege till the evacuation of the city. Marched to the suburbs of the city and went into camp on the 21st, where we remained, getting ready for the next campaign.

     After a review of the entire army by General Sherman, we were put in motion Jan. 6, 1865, for Beaufort, S. C. Marched against Pocotaligo Jan. 15th, our corps (the Seventeenth) driving the enemy out of his strongly fortified position. Remained near Pocotaligo until the 28th, when the new campaign commenced. Marching to Rivers Bridge, on the Salkehatchie, met the enemy's strongly fortified. At this point the Salkehatchie forms an almost impenetrable swamp about two miles wide, which was waded by the Fourth Division, Seventeenth Army Corps (of which the Sixteenth formed a part) on the 3d day of February, 1865; and the enemy was driven from his position. Continuing the march, driving the enemy before us, capturing every place which he attempted to hold, and after encountering many hardships, privations and dangers, arrived at Goldsboro, N. C., on the 23d day of March, 1865. Remaining at Goldsboro until the 10th day of April, the regiment was again on the march in search of the enemy. Pushing forward, the command entered Raleigh on the 16th, and camped there until the 2d of May. the war being brought to a close, the command marched for Washington, where it took part in the grand review May 24th, left Washington June 7th and arrived at Louisville, June 12th.

     The record from which the foregoing quotation is made embraced the entire period of service of the regiment, but only that portion of it commencing July 4, 1863, has been quoted, for the reason that the compiler of this sketch found it necessary, in preparing the earlier history of the regiment, to refer to official reports and other data, going more fully into the details of its operations than the closely condensed record given by Major Conyngham. At Goldsboro, N. C., under date March 25, 1865, Captain Conyngham, (subsequently commissioned Major,) in an official report addressed to Brig. Gen. N. B. Baker, Adjutant General of Iowa,* says;

      I have the honor to submit the following as a brief outline of the movements of the Sixteenth Iowa Infantry Veteran Volunteers, during the sieges of Atlanta and Savannah, the campaigns through Georgia and Carolinas, commencing on the 23d day of July, 1864, and ending on the 23d day of March, 1865. I embrace the above dates, not that I was in command of the regiment during the entire period, but because there has been no report made to your office during the time stated, and as I am the only officer, now in the service, of those who have commanded during the period.


     *Adjutant General of Iowa Report for year 1866, Pages 274-5.

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     This report, while giving a more detailed account of the movements of the regiment for the time indicated, refers mainly to the events already briefly described. In the desperately fought battle before Atlanta, July 22, 1864, after completely exhausting its ammunition, and being entirely surrounded by the enemy, the regiment with its gallant commander, Lieut. Col. A. H. Sanders, surrendered as prisoners of war. Upon his return from captivity, Lieutenant Colonel Sanders made a detailed report for Adjutant General Baker; Capt. C. W. Williams also submitted a report of the battle, with a list of the killed, wounded and missing, and Oliver Anson, Sergeant Major of the regiment, gave an account of the experience, while in prison, of those who were captured.*  The length of these reports precludes their reproduction in full, but the compiler has chosen the following extracts from them, to show how splendidly the sixteenth Iowa maintained its well-won reputation as a fighting regiment in this tremendous conflict before Atlanta.  Lieutenant Colonel Sanders' report is, in part, as follows:

      SIR,—I have the honor to report the action of the Sixteenth Iowa Veteran Infantry in the battle before Atlanta, Ga., July 22, 1864, resulting in the capture of nearly all of said regiment and myself.

      On the morning of July 21st, my regiment charged on the rebel batteries, and, after a desperate assault, lost sixty-five men. The regiment was complimented by General McPherson for its daring bravery. General McPherson's last words to me, the day he was killed, were: "The old Sixteenth shall be remembered." On the afternoon of the 21st, the old Iowa brigade was removed to the extreme left flank of Sherman's army, about two miles from Atlanta. The Sixteenth Iowa formed a line at right angles with the main line of the army. Immediately on the right of the Sixteenth's works, the Eleventh Iowa established themselves in rifle pits; on a road running between the Eleventh and Sixteenth Iowa's works were planted two Napoleon guns of the Second Illinois battery protected by heavy works. On the left of the Sixteenth, and a little to the rear, the Fifteenth Iowa had rifle pits. About a hundred yards to the rear of the Sixteenth, the Thirteenth Iowa had breastworks. During the night of the 21st, each regiment of the brigade built substantial rifle pits along the line that I have designated, and each cleared a space of fifty yards in front of its works. Still the heavy underbrush concealed the works of the different regiments from each other's view.

      On the 22d were under arms at daylight, but no enemy appeared. The afternoon before, immediately on our arrival, I had thrown out two companies (B and G) several hundred yards in front, to act as pickets and skirmishers. About noon on the 22d I received an order from General Smith,+  in person, to have my regiment ready to fall in at a minute's notice, and that he expected me to hold those works to the last, as the safety of the division might depend upon the delay we could occasion the enemy at that point. This was the last order I received that day from any commanding officer. About 1:30 o'clock P. M., our skirmishers in front commenced a brisk firing. I immediately formed the regiment in the entrenchments, and soon after the skirmishers were driven in upon us. I again sent them out, but a strong line of the enemy forced them back.  Lieutenant Powers, commanding the battery, opened fire on the advancing enemy, but I requested it stopped until the enemy should get nearer. I ordered my men not to fire a gun until they received my command, no matter how close the enemy came. The rebel line advanced steadily to the charge, and I permitted them to approach to the open space of fifty yards in front of my works, when, cautioning the men to aim well and fire low, I ordered the rear rank to fire, and then the front rank. The response was a terrific and deadly volley from one rank, followed Immediately by another, and then a continuous rapid firing, fast as eager and experienced soldiers could load and discharge their guns. The result of our fire was terrible; the enemy's line seemed to crumble to the earth, for even those not killed or wounded fell to the ground for protection. Lieutenant Powell's battery here did excellent execution.  An-


     * These reports are found in the report of the Adjutant General of Iowa for the year 1865, Vol. 2, Pages 1104-13, inclusive.

     + Brig. Gen. Giles A. Smith.

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other heavy line of the enemy advanced, and were repulsed in the same terrible manner. ***

      More splendid firing, or more effectual in its results, was never witnessed in the army. The Second and Eighth Arkansas regiments, with two Texas companies, got into a position in our front, in which they could not advance, and dared not attempt to retire, but hugged the ground close, suffering a terrible fire. While thus lying down, they raised the white flag. I ordered the firing to cease, and these regiments threw down their guns and hurried over to our works as prisoners. We had at this time double the number of prisoners we had men in ranks. A part of these men were sent to the rear, but before the remainder could be secured the enemy had taken the Thirteenth's works Immediately in our rear, and commenced a heavy firing into our ranks. ***

     The report then describes the desperate situation in which the regiment was placed; how the fight was continued against tremendous odds until it became evident that the other regiments of the brigade had been outflanked and compelled to abandon their works, when, all hope of receiving reinforcements being abandoned, the brave officers and men of the Sixteenth Iowa reluctantly surrendered themselves as prisoners of war. At the conclusion of his report Lieutenant Colonel Sanders shows the utter hopelessness of the situation, and that he would not have been justified in urging his brave men to further resistance. He says:

      At the time of our surrender we were entirely out of ammunition, the rebels having been so long in our rear that supplies were prevented from reaching us. Why we were left alone, an isolated regiment, surrounded and helpless, while the other regiments around us were ordered from their works, as I suppose they were, I  cannot realize. If the sacrifice of this noble regiment was intended to give the army in our rear time to rally, then it was well, and the sacrifice was nobly made of a band of as brave and faithful men as any who fought upon the field that day.  They could not be taken from the front, and only surrendered when further resistance would have been suicide. ***

      I should have stated in its proper place, that while firing heaviest, and guns so heated that they could scarcely be handled, we were re-enforced by companies D and K, of the Thirteenth Iowa, commanded by Captain Pope and Lieutenant Rice. Captain Pope informed me that they were ordered to our assistance, fearing our ammunition as well as men must soon be exhausted. I assigned these companies places along the trenches, and they went into the work like veterans, fought nobly to the last, and surrendered with us.

     That the order to withdraw from their works was given to the two flanking regiments of the Iowa Brigade is shown by the following extract from the report of Gen. Giles A. Smith, who commanded the Fourth Division: *

      I ordered Colonel Hall to withdraw his two flank regiments which this movement enveloped, and to move them by the right flank around the front or east side of my main line of works, having already directed the men occupying that line to take the same position and drive back the enemy, now already pressing their rear. This movement was promptly executed, and successful except in the case of the Sixteenth Iowa, occupying the extreme left, which was completely surrounded, and over two hundred and thirty men captured.

     That the order failed to reach Colonel Sanders was no doubt owing to the fact that the staff officer, to whom it was entrusted, found himself cut off by the enemy, and was thus prevented from delivering it. Capt. C. W. Williams of the Sixteenth Iowa also wrote a report of the part taken by his regiment in the battle of July 22d, in which he says, in part:


     * Adjutant General of Iowa Report for 1865, Vol. 2, Page 1278.

Page 1069:

      + The other regiments of the brigade did all that could be done under the circumstances to arrest the calamity to this regiment, but it will be remembered that they were attacked by a large force upon the left flank, and were compelled to change front under a severe cross fire of the enemy, so that the best they could do was to take care of themselves. It is proper to add, that a detail for fatigue duty had been made from the regiment just previous to the attack, consisting of three commissioned officers, viz: Captain Williams, and Lieutenants Conyngham and Weingartner, and eighty enlisted men, all of whom were absent from the regiment, and did not rejoin it, having nearly a mile to travel. The detail was posted upon the left of the Third Division, and materially aided in the final repulse of the enemy, all doing their duty nobly. Some twenty-five of them were killed, wounded and missing, most of them before they gained the works, as they were exposed to a cross fire of the enemy's artillery during the interval of leaving their works and gaining our main line, as well as to direct a fire of musketry. ***I append to this report a list of the killed, wounded and missing, on the 22d inst.; also a complete list of casualties in the regiment from June 14th to August 8th, inclusive, making an aggregate of 369 killed, wounded and missing.

     Sergeant Major Oliver Anson, in a communication addressed to General Baker* relative to the capture of the officers and men of the Sixteenth and their treatment while prisoners of war, says, in part: "*** We were taken to Macon, and there the enlisted men were separated from the officers, and taken to Andersonville, six miles farther south. The enlisted men of the regiment captured numbered 225. *** The men are suffered to lie out in the open air without any shelter whatever, and many of them are in a manner naked. They do not get enough to eat, and what they do eat is not fit to eat. It is killing the men faster than the army. When I went into the prison the 28th of July, there were over 33,000 prisoners, and on the 7th of September, the issuing clerk told me they issued to 29,553, and since the 28th they had captured the Eighth Iowa Cavalry and some of the Fifth, and a large number from McCook and Stoneman, besides making captures from Sherman's army, and yet the number ran down in spite of them. *** "

     The compiler has endeavored to compress within the limits of this brief sketch the main outlines of the history of this splendid military organization, and to give some of the details of its most important achievements. In the subjoined roster will be found the record of personal service of every soldier who at any time belonged to the regiment, condensed into a paragraph opposite his name. The transcript of these rosters has been carefully made from the official records of the office of the Adjutant General of the State of Iowa. In addition to official sources, surviving officers of the regiment have been asked to correct errors and omissions and to complete records, but only to a limited extent has it been found possible to secure such information.

     The commonwealth of Iowa has fulfilled a high duty in providing for the preservation of the history of her brave sons who went forth to battle for the unity of the States, and for the perpetuation of a Government which has proved such an inestimable blessing, not only to the loyal and patriotic men who so nobly fought to save it but, also, to those misguided men who fought so desperately to destroy it.


+ Adjutant General of Iowa Report for 1865, Vol. 2, Page 1107.

*Adjutant General of Iowa Report, 1865, Vol. 2, Page 1113.

Page 1070

Summary of Casualties

Total Enrollment 1,441
Killed 62
Wounded 311
Died of Wounds 35
Died of Disease 220
Discharged for wounds, disease and other causes 224
Captured 271
Transferred 29
Buried in National Cemeteries 141

Transcribed by Elaine Rathmann and Sue Trout
from the Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers, Vol. 2

©2002 by Linda Suarez solely for the use and benefit of
The IAGenWeb Project, a part of The USGenWeb Project
Background & Civil War Button Graphics © 1998 by Sue Soden