IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.
updated 03/07/2017

Clayton county Civil War Soldiers

of the

Twenty-first Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry

Historical information, notes & comments, in some cases correcting the record
Soldier biographies written by Carl Ingwalson

Surnames J

Carl will do look-ups in his extensive records of the 21st Iowa and he is always willing to share what he has.
His email address is on the Look-up Volunteers page.
If any of these biographies are copied, please give credit to Carl. Copyright info. at bottom of page.

Carl's notes:
There are three published rosters for the 21st Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Infantry. They're significantly different and all three contain numerous errors, in large part since they were relying on handwritten records, handwriting was often difficult to decipher, some men could not read or write, and others sometimes did not know how to spell their own names or altered the spelling from time to time.

a. Nathaniel B. Baker, Report of the Adjutant General, Volume I (Iowa State Printer 1863). Baker's roster was prepared while the war was still in progress, many had not yet enlisted, and there were errors for those who did enlist.
b. George Crooke, The Twenty-First Regiment of lowa Volunteer Infantry (King, Fowle & Company, 1891). Crooke's roster has limited information and was prepared at a time when record keeping wasn't the best. While he was a member of the regiment, he was absent for almost ten months and probably for that reason some of his narrative is also wrong.
c. Roster and Record of lowa Soldiers, Volume 3; by Guy Logan (Iowa State Printer 1910). The most recent of the three rosters, part of a massive state effort to accurately reflect those who served and, I thought, the most likely to be accurate.

I have researched the regiment for more than thirty years and visited most sites that were visited by the regiment. Each of these biographies is based on that research, the soldier’s records and records of his comrades that are on file with the National Archives & Records Administration, records and diaries on file with the State Historical Society of Iowa, original letters by members of the regiment, county histories, other original source documents and relevant online information.


Jewell, David
Co D, age 36, b. New York, residence Volga City, Clayton county

08/12/62 enlist as 5th Sergeant
08/22/62 muster in
12/10/62 discharge at Houston for disability (spinal complaint)

This is from the R&R. I have not verified the information.


Jewett, Morris
Co D, age 32, b. Pennsylvania, residence Delaware county, Iowa

01/18/65 enlist as Recruit
01/18/65 muster in
07/12/65 transfer to 34th/38th Consolidated

This is from the R&R. I have not verified the information.


Johns, William

According to his great-grandson, William was born in Devonshire, England, on November 8, 1842, although military records indicate he was born in Canada. It’s possible that William, like many others emigrating from England to North America, went first to Canada and from there to the United States.

William was working as a laborer when, giving his age as twenty-two (which he would be in another three months), he was enrolled in the Union army at McGregor on August 15, 1862 by Willard Benton. He was mustered into Company G, with Benton as Captain, on August 22, 1862. When all ten companies were adequately staffed, they were mustered in as the 21st regiment of Iowa’s volunteer infantry on September 9, 1862. William was described as being 5' 5" tall with brown eyes, brown hair and a light complexion. He is one of the relatively few members of the regiment who was reported "present" on every bi-monthly Company Muster Roll that indicated the presence or absence of the soldier as of the last day of the period.

After brief training at Camp Franklin in Dubuque, they boarded the Henry Clay and two barges lashed to its side and left for the South on September 16th.

Their initial service was in Missouri and they were stationed in Houston when word was received that a Confederate force was heading for Springfield. A relief column was quickly assembled including 25 volunteers from each company with William being one of those who volunteered from Company G. With a force of 262 men from the 21st Iowa, additional infantry from Illinois, and two howitzers, they left as quickly as possible. On January 11, 1863, they met the enemy at Hartville. Carl Preschl (Elkport), Charles Carlton (Manchester) and Harrison Hefner (Delaware Center) were killed in action. William Jones (Dubuque) was seriously wounded and died the next day. Another thirteen were wounded less seriously.

After recuperating in Houston, they moved to West Plains, Thomasville, Ironton, Iron Mountain and finally to Ste. Genevieve while William started a twenty-day furlough. With the Vicksburg Campaign about to start, he rejoined the regiment and was with it when it crossed the Mississippi on April 30, 1863 and during its participation in the next day's battle at Port Gibson, a town that General Grant said was too pretty to burn.

On May 16th, the regiment was present, but did not participate in, the battle at Champion Hill. On the 17th, with the 23rd Iowa, it led the assault on entrenched Confederates at the Big Black River. It lasted only three minutes as the Federals had charged over an open field, exposed to enemy fire the entire time. The Confederates were routed, but the regiment had seven killed in action, another eighteen who suffered fatal wounds, and at least forty with less serious wounds. The regiment's Colonel, Sam Merrill, was among those seriously wounded while William suffered slight wounds to a wrist and ankle. Five days later, he was with the regiment as it assaulted the enemy lines at Vicksburg and again suffered heavy casualties.

During the lengthy siege at Vicksburg, William worked much of the time as a Company cook, something he had also done while they were in Missouri earlier in the year. Following the occupation of Vicksburg and a subsequent siege at Jackson, the regiment went south where it made camp in Carrollton, Louisiana. On September 4, 1863, they started on an expedition west of the Mississippi, while William was left behind in a convalescent camp to recover from illness. By the 22nd, he was back with the regiment at Brashear City (now Morgan City) and he was with it during the balance of its service in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and, during the Mobile Campaign, in Alabama. On July 15, 1865 they were mustered out at Baton Rouge. On the 24th, in Clinton, Iowa, they received their final pay, were discharged and started home to friends and family.

After the war, William and his wife, Ellen Mathilda (Walsh) Johns, and their ten children spent two years in Wisconsin before returning to Iowa where they lived in Ida County and William worked as a farmer. By 1886 he said he was "disabled from obtaining his subsistence by manual labor" due to his wartime injuries and illness, including eye problems contracted while they were in Texas. A pension was granted and William was receiving $12.00 monthly, payable quarterly, until his death in Aurelia, Iowa, on July 12, 1895.

On her husband’s death, Ellen applied for and received a widow's pension that was granted at $10.00 per month. Ellen died on January 14, 1923 while living with her daughter, Lillie, in Spencer, Iowa. William and Ellen are buried together in Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Aurelia.

Photos - I received this family photo, and the photo of William at the top of the biography, from William's great-granddaughter twelve years ago. Eight of his ten children are in the photo: Cynthia Mae, Robert David, Edith Belle, Charles William, Lilli Augusta, Arthur Thomas, Richard C. Samuel, Adah Mathilda, Clyde, and Eva Dell..... but I don't know which of them are in this picture.
Family of William & Ellen (Walsh) Johns


Jones, John J.
John Jones was born in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, on October 7, 1841; his brother, Thomas, on July 24, 1843. The family immigrated to Clayton County and settled in Mallory Township in 1857, one of the most economically depressed times in the county’s history, the so-called “Panic of ‘57.” Acknowledging “the uproar of bank, railroad and individual failures throughout the country,” even the North Iowa Times was forced to temporarily suspend publication so it could collect enough money to stay in business. Many debtors were forced into the hands of the Sheriff. Grain prices were depressed. Immigrants were returning to Europe. Lager and beer saloons suffered and, looming ominously, was “the great moral question of slavery.”

During the next several years, the economy gradually improved and, on November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President. On March 4, 1861, he took office and on April 12, 1861, Southern guns fired on Fort Sumter. The ensuing war escalated and, on July 9, 1862, Governor Kirkwood received a telegram calling on Iowa for five infantry regiments in addition to those already in the field. The fall harvest was imminent, but the volunteers came. Thomas enlisted on August 14th and John on the 15th, both in Company G. They were mustered in as a company on the 22nd with McGregor postmaster Willard Benton as captain and, on September 9th, ten companies were mustered in as the state’s twenty-first regiment of volunteer infantry.

They left Dubuque on the 16th, reached St. Louis on the 20th, arrived by rail in Rolla on the 22nd and, from there, walked to Salem, Houston, Hartville and back to Houston and that’s where they were on January 8, 1863, when word was received that a Confederate force was advancing on Springfield. Volunteers were requested (twenty-five enlisted men and one officer from each company) and, with a similar number from an Illinois regiment and artillery, a hastily organized relief force left on the 9th under the command of the 21st’s colonel, Sam Merrill. On January 11th, John was one of the volunteers from Company G who participated in a one-day battle at Hartville before returning to Houston by way of Lebanon.

They walked south to West Plains later that month and then moved northeast through Thomasville and Ironton to Iron Mountain where Charley Wilson, a Company G comrade, wrote to his parents that, “I sold my watch to John Jones for $20.00.” From there they went to Ste. Genevieve and were transported down the Mississippi to Milliken’s Bend where General Grant was organizing a three-corps army to capture Vicksburg. The army moved south along the west side of the river to Disharoon’s plantation and, on April 30th, crossed to the Bruinsburg landing on the east bank. As the point regiment for the entire army, the 21st Iowa walked slowly inland along a dirt road and, on May 1, 1863, John participated in the Battle of Port Gibson.

Having been at the front of the army for two days and engaged in battle on the 1st, the regiment was moved to the rear as Grant continued inland. Advance regiments reached Jackson, drove the enemy out of the city and then reversed to the west and the ultimate goal of Vicksburg. On May 16th, the Union army met John Pemberton’s Confederates at the Battle of Champion’s Hill. The 21st’s corps commander, John McClernand, held them out of action during the battle, but Companies A and B engaged in some slight skirmishing after the battle.

On the 17th, the 21st Iowa and 23rd Iowa encountered entrenched Confederates who were hoping to keep the railroad bridge over the Big Black River open long enough for all of their comrades withdrawing from Champion’s Hill to cross. Colonels Sam Merrill and William Kinsman ordered their regiments to charge and soldiers rushed across an open field and into enemy fire. In three minutes it was over. Confederates were routed, but Colonel Kinsman was dead and Colonel Merrill, seriously wounded high on both thighs (some accounts say the hip), was carried from the field.

While most of the army continued on to Vicksburg, the two Iowa regiments were allowed to rest, treat their wounded and bury their dead. By the 22nd, they were on the Union line around the rear of the city and participated in another assault before General Grant decided on a siege. Since crossing the river, the regiment had suffered 30 killed in action, another 33 who would die from their wounds and 102 with non-fatal wounds but many of which led to amputations and military discharges. John Jones had been one of the lucky ones. He had participated in every engagement, including Hartville, with no injuries or wounds.

After the city’s surrender, John accompanied those still able for duty in a pursuit of Confederate General Joe Johnston to Jackson which surrendered after a brief siege. They then returned to Vicksburg, went south to Louisiana, spent six months on the Gulf Coast of Texas (where John was detailed as a teamster) and then saw service in southwestern Louisiana, along the White River of Arkansas and in Memphis before participating in their final campaign of the war, a successful campaign to Alabama where they occupied Mobile before camping at Spring Hill. On July 15, 1865, they were mustered out at Baton Rouge before going north to receive their discharges and final pay at Clinton on the 24th. Like John, Thomas had survived the war, and the brothers were no doubt anxious to return home.

Margaret (also spelled Margarette) Harbough had moved to Iowa in 1855 with her parents, Thomas and Mary Harbough, who settled in the Pine Hollow area of Volga Township. In 1866, John and Margaret married. A daughter, Loretta, was born in 1867. Another daughter died in infancy. An 1885 census showed a household of John, Margaret and Loretta. Living with them was seven-year-old Delbert Beddow. Delbert was an orphan raised by John and Margaret.

Pension acts for the military had been enacted and amended for decades prior to the Civil War and were gradually liberalized as years passed. On June 27, 1890, “an act granting pensions to soldiers and sailors who are incapacitated for the performance of manual labor, and providing for pensions to widows, minor children, and dependent parents” was adopted by Congress and that year John applied. Invalid pensions required, generally, that a soldier serve at least ninety days, secure an honorable discharge and prove he was suffering from a service-related infirmity. To prove such claims, applicants often hired attorneys and secured affidavits from comrades who could testify to the claimed disability.

Two of John’s comrades retained the well-known George van Leuven to represent them. He had achieved unparalleled success in securing pensions for many veterans, but gained unwanted notoriety when he was convicted of pension fraud. The government hired Special Examiners to investigate the legitimacy of pensions already granted to his clients, one of whom was Willard Benton, Captain of Company G, who told an examiner that “one of my company John J. Jones who lives at east Elkport Iowa was with me when I went into field Hospital after the Battle of Black River Bridge who can testify to my condition.” Willard’s claim was strong and well-documented and the examiner felt “the testimony of the said John J. Jones is not essential.” Samuel Withrow had also been a Van Leuven client. An examiner reviewing Samuel’s claim recommended a deposition “of Thomas Jones of Stuart Guthrie Co. Ia - and his brother John J. Jones, East Elkport.” By then it was 1898, thirty-five years after the war’s end, and John recalled that he “got acquainted with Saml. T. Withrow in the service,” but “I don’t remember messing or bunking with him.” He couldn’t recall Samuel “being sick or off duty while in the service” and had not seen him since being discharged.

Loretta Jones married Samuel Nichols. One of their children was Leslie Nichols who married Katie Barrett and one of their children was Lela Jane Nichols who married Donald McShane. As John’s great-granddaughter, Jane recalled in 1994 that her grandmother, Loretta, was “quite a woman her self, she would take the horses and go out and pull stumps out of the fields to clear land herself” and at one time had “the largest house on the highest hill in the Garber Area.” Late in life, John and Margaret lived with Loretta who, Jane said, “tried taking care of him, one day she was making Jelly and he plunged his hand into the pot of Hot Jelly.” Loretta “felt so bad, she felt she couldn’t take care of him after that & put him in a home.” That was in the spring of 1912 and John was taken to Independence for better care. He was still there two weeks later when he died on April 7th. A funeral was held at Loretta’s home, then in Colesburg, on April 11th with Rev. Hansel officiating. Burial was in Brown Cemetery.

The following year Margaret applied for and received a widow’s pension. Margaret died on April 8, 1914; Loretta in 1937. Both are buried in Brown Cemetery. John’s great-granddaughter, Lela Jane (Nichols) McShane, died on December 18, 2013, and was buried in Sixteen Cemetery, Allamakee county, near Monona.


~researched and compiled by Carl Ingwalson for Clayton co. IAGenWeb ęCarl Ingwalson & Clayton co. IAGenWeb.

Carl has offered to do look-ups in his extensive records of the 21st Iowa. His email address is on the Look-up Volunteers page.


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