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1917 History
Chapter IV
Military History
Emmet County IAGenWeb

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It has been said that "War brings an element of patriotism that cannot be awakened in the people by any other agency."    However that may be, much of the history of human progress centers about the deeds of great generals and their armies.    Aggressive wars have been waged by strong nations for the conquest of weaker ones, or to uphold the regal power and "divine right" of kings; and defensive wars have been fought to advance the rights and liberties of the people or to maintain established governments. The independence of the United States was gained only by a war which lasted for eignt years, and of all the great nations of the civilized world the United States is perhaps the only one which has never declared war except to defend her institutions or to secure greater liberties for downtrodden humanity.

One of the greatest wars in history was the Civil war of 1861-65, between the northern and southern states, commonly known as the "War of the Rebellion," in which the South fought to dissolve and the North to preserve the Union of States. Almost from the very beginning of the American Republic, the slavery question became a "bone of conten­tion" between tlie free states on one side and the slave states on the other. Slavery was introduced in America in 1619, when a Dutch trader sold a few negroes to the planters of the Jamestown Colony. The custom of owning negro slaves gradually spread to the other colonies, but by 1819 seven of the original thirteen states had made provisions for the emancipation of the slaves within their borders.

The first clause of section 9, article 1, of th  Federal Constitution provides that "The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year 1808."

The adoption of this clause was regarded as a victory for the slave­ holding element, as under it Congress had no power to interfere with the foreign slave trade until 1808.  But in that year an act was passed pro­hibiting any further traffic in or importation of negro slaves. In 1819 slavery existed in six of the thirteen original states, the other seven having abolished it as already stated. In the meantime Kentucky, Ten­ nessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama had been admitted with constitutions permitting slavery, and Vermont, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois as free states, so that the country was evenly divided - eleven free and eleven slave states. Maine was admitted as a free state in 1820 and the advocates of slavery sought to have Missouri admitted as a slave state to maintain the equilibrium in the United States Senate. After a long and somewhat acrimonious debate, that state was admitted under the act known as the "Missouri Compromise," which provided for the admission of Missouri without any restrictions as to slavery, but expressly stipulated that in all remaining portion of the Louisiana Purchase north of the line of 36° 30' slavery should be forever prohibited.

During the next twenty-five years the slavery question remained comparatively quiet, owing to the admission of free and slave states in equal number. Arkansas came into the Union in 1836 and Michigan in 1837; the slave state of Florida, admitted in 1845, was offset by the admission of Iowa as a free state in 1846. At the conclusion of the Mexican war in 1847, the United States came into possession of a large expanse of territory in the Southwest, to which the advocates of slavery laid claim, and again the question came up as a subject for legislation, resulting in the compromise act of 1850, commonly called the "Omnibus Bill." The opponents of slavery took the view that the act was a violation of the provisions of the Missouri Compromise, because it sought to carry slavery north of the line of 36° 30'. Four years later the Kansas-Nebraska Bill was passed, which added fresh fuel to the already raging flames. Its passage was one of the causes that led to the organization of the republican party, which opposed the extension of slavery to any new territory of the United States whatever.

In the political campaign of 1860 the issues were clearly defined and some of the slave states declared their intention to withdraw from the Union in the event of Abraham Lincoln's election to the presidency. The people of the North regarded these declarations as so many idle threats, made merely for political effect. Through a division in the democratic party, Mr. Lincoln was elected and on December 20, 1860, South Carolina carried her threat into effect when a state convention passed an ordinance of secession, declaring that the state's connection with the Union was severed and that all allegiance to the Government of the United States was at an end. Mississippi followed with a similar ordi­nance on January 9, 1861; Florida seceded on January 10; Georgia, January 19; Louisiana, January 26, and Texas, February 1. All these states except Texas sent delegates to a convention at Montgomery, Alabama, February 4, 1861, when a tentative constitution was adopted; Jefferson Davis was elected provisional president and Alexander H. Stephens, provisional vice-president of the Confederate States of America. They were inaugurated on February 22, 1861, the anniversary of the birth of George Washington. Consequently, when Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861, he found seven states in open rebellion and with an organized government in opposition to his administration. However, the Presi­dent, his advisers and the people of the North generally clung to the hope that reconciliation could be effected and that the citizens of the seceded states could be induced to return to their allegiance. Vain hope!

Relations between the North and South were still further strained early in the year 1861 when Maj. Robert Anderson, then in command of all the defenses of the harbor at Charleston, South Carolina, secretly removed his garrison and supplies from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter because the latter could be more easily defended in case of an assault. The people of the South claimed that this move was a direct violation of an agreement with President Buchanan, and the feeling was intensified when it was discovered that Major Anderson, prior to his removal, had spiked all the guns in Fort Moultrie. On the other hand, the press of the North was practically unanimous in justifying Anderson's course and in demanding that additional supplies and reinforcements be sent to him at Fort Sumter. The persistent hammering of the northern press caused the war department to despatch the steamer Star of the West, with 250 men and a stock of ammunition, provisions, etc., to Fort Sumter, but on January 9, 1861, while passing Morris Island, the vessel was fired upon by a masked battery and forced to turn back. In the official records this incident is regarded as the beginning of the Civil war, though the popular awakening of the North did not come until some three months later.


Not long after President Lincoln was inaugurated, General Beaure­gard, who was in command of the Confederate forces at Charleston, made a demand upon Major Anderson for the evacuation of Fort Sumter. Anderson refused, but on April 11, 1861, seeing his stock of pro visions in the fort running low and having no hope of obtaining a new supply, he informed General Beauregard that he would vacate the fort on the 15th, "unless ordered to remain and the needed supplies are received." This reply was not satisfactory to the Confederate com­ mander, who feared the new administration might find some way of sending reinforcements and supplies to Sumter that would enable Anderson to hold the fort indefinitely. In that case Fort Sumter would be a constant menace to one of the Southern strongholds. After a council with his officers, Beauregard decided upon an assault. Accordingly, at twenty minutes after three o'clock on the morning of April 12, 1861, he sent word to Anderson that fire would be opened upon the fort.  At 4:30 a. m. Capt. George Janes fired the signal gun from Fort Johnson, the shell bursting almost directly over the fort.  A few seconds later a solid shot from the battery on Cummings Point went crashing against the walls of the fort. The war had begun.

Anderson's gallant little band responded promptly to the fire and the bombardment continued all day. Late in the afternoon fire broke out in one of the casements of the fort and the Confederates increased their fire, hoping to force Anderson to surrender. That was on Friday. Anderson held out against desperate odds until Sunday, the 14th, when he was permitted to exacuate the fort with all the honors of war, even to saluting his flag with fifty guns before hauling it down.

When the news of Sumter's fall spread through the loyal states of the North, all hope of bringing about a peaceable settlement of the differences was abandoned. Party lines were obliterated.  Political controversies of the past were forgotten in the insult to the flag and there was but one sentiment - The Union must and shall be preserved. On Monday, April 15, 1861, the·day following Anderson's evacuation of the fort, President Lincoln issued the following


"Whereas, the laws of the United States have been for some time past and now are opposed and the execution thereof obstructed in the states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings or by the powers vested in the marshals by law:

"Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several states of the Union to the aggregate number of 75,000, in order to suppress said combinations and cause the laws to be duly executed.

"The details for this object will be immediately communicated to the state authorities through the war department.

"I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity and the existence of our National Union and the perpetuation of popular government, and to redress wrongs already too long endured.

"I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces hereby called forth will probably be to repossess the forts, places and property which have been seized from the Union; and in every event the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of or interference with property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens in any part of the country.

"And I hereby command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within twenty days from this date.

"Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, convene th houses of Congress. Senators and rep­resentatives are therefore summoned to assemble at their respective cham­bers at 12 o'clock noon on Thursday, the 4th day of July next, then and there to consider and determine such measures as, in their wisdom, the public safety and interest may seem to demand.

"In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

"Done at the City of Washington, this 15th day of April, A. D. 1861, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.

"By the President:

"W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."


On the 16th, the day following the issuance of the President's proclamation, Gov. Samuel J. Kirkwood, of Iowa, received the following tele­gram from the secretary of war: "Calls made on you by tonight's mail for one regiment of militia for immediate service." It is said that when this message was delivered to the governor he expressed some doubts as to Iowa's ability to furnish an entire regiment. Notwithstanding his doubts on the subject, as soon as the call was received he issued a proclamation asking for volunteers, to wit:

"Whereas, the President of the United States has made a requisi­ tion upon the executive of the State of Iowa for one regiment of militia, to aid the Federal Government in enforcing its laws and suppressing rebellion:

"Now, therefore, I, Samuel J. Kirkwood, governor of the State of Iowa, do issue this proclamation, and hereby call upon the militia of the state immediately to form, in the different counties, volunteer companies with a view of entering the active military service of the United States for the purpose aforesaid.  The regiment at present required will consist of ten companies of at least seventy-eight men each, including one captain and two lieutenants to be elected by each company.

"Under the present requisition only one regiment can be accepted, and the companies accepted must hold themselves in readiness for duty by the 20th of May next at the farthest. If a sufficient number of companies are tendered their services may be required.  If more companies are formed and reported than can be received under the present call, their services will be required in the event of another requisition upon the state.

"The nation is in peril. A fearful attempt is being made to overthrow the Constitution and dissever the Union. The aid of every loyal citizen is invoked to sustain the general Government. For the honor of our state, let the requirement of the President be cheerfully and promptly met.

"Iowa City, April 17, 1861."

As the first telegram from the war department called for "one regiment of militia for immediate service," and Governor Kirkwood stated in his proclamation that the companies "must hold themselves in readiness for duty by the 20th of May," a word of explanation as to this apparent discrepancy seems to be necessary.  The explanation is found in the fact that late on the afternoon of April 16, 1861, the governor received a second telegram from the secretary of war saying: "It will suffice if your quota of volunteers be at its rendezvous by the 20th of May."

On the same day that Governor Kirkwood issued his call for volunteers he also issued a call for the State Legislature to meet in special session on May 16, 1861. At the opening of the special session he said in his message: "In this emergency Iowa must not and does not occupy a doubtful position. For the Union as our fathers formed it, and for government founded so wisely and so well, the people of Iowa are ready to pledge every fighting man in the state, and every dollar of her money and credit, and I have called you together in extraordinary session for the purpose of enabling them to make the pledge formal and effective."

He then explained how, when the call for volunteers came from Washington, he had no funds under his control for such emergencies as organizing, equipping, subsisting and transporting troops, nor had the state any efficient military law under which he could operate.  He also explained how the chartered banks and wealthy, loyal citizens of the state had come to his rescue by placing at his disposal all the funds he might need, and concluded this portion of his message by saying: "I determined, although without authority of law, to accept their offer, trusting that this body would legalize my acts."

And the governor did not trust in vain. The immediate and universal response to his call for volunteers had removed any doubt he might have entertained as to Iowa's ability "to furnish a whole regiment," and the General Assembly crystallized the patriotic sentiment of the people by legalizing everything the governor had done, by passing a law providing for the organization of the militia of the state upon a war footing, and appropriating a sum of money large enough to cover all probable expenses in connection therewith.


According to the United States census of 1860, Emmet County then had a population of 105 and Dickinson County 180. The former had been an organized county but a little over one year and the latter less than three years when this census was taken.  At the beginning of the war neither county had telegraph communication, fast mail train nor local newspaper. The only means of communication was by the slow mail route then in use, and several days elapsed after the fall of Fort Sumter before the news reached Estherville and Spirit Lake. When the news did arrive, there was no difference of opinion as to the course to be pursued. Every vote in both counties was cast for Mr. Lincoln in 1860, and the few inhabi­ tants were unanimous in declaring that the national administration must be upheld in its effort to suppress the rebellion.  Owing to the location of the two counties, Iowa's quota under the first call was filled through the prompt response from those parts of the state where better transportation facilities existed and the people of Emmet and Dickinson had no opportunity under that call to demonstrate their loyalty.

Under the call of July 3, 1861, an independent cavalry company was organized at Fort Dodge, in which a number of meri from Emmet and Dickinson counties were enrolled. The company was sent to the Army of the Potomac and was subsequently attached to the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry instead of an Iowa cavalry regiment. Nathaniel B. Baker, then adjutant-general of Iowa, called the attention of the war department to this error, and after repeated efforts on his part the company was formally credited to Iowa's quota of troops, though it continued to serve with the Army of the Potomac until the close of the war.

Scattered through other Iowa regiments were Emmet and Dickinson county men. To give a complete list would be almost impossible at this late day and consequently no attempt is made to do so. It is stated on apparently good authority that five-twelfths of the entire population of Emmet County were enlisted in the service of the United States at some period or another during the war, while in Dickinson there were at one less than a dozen men liable to enrollment for military duty.


As a matter of fact the people of Northwestern Iowa were interested in military affairs before the secession of a single southern state. This was due to the attitude of the Sioux Indian tribes in that section of the country. After the massacre of Dickinson County settlers in March, 1857, there was a general feeling of insecurity that checked immigration to that portion of the state, and those who had already settled there became more or less discouraged and disheartened. Early in the year 1858, Hon. Cyrus C. Carpenter, of Fort Dodge, then representing the district in the lower house of the Iowa Legislature, succeeded in having a bill passed provid­ing for the raising of a company for the protection of the northwestern frontier.

The company was recruited chiefly in Hamilton and Webster counties and was commanded by Capt. Henry Martin, of Webster City. It arrived on the frontier about the first of March and was divided into three detachments. Captain Martin, with the main squad, took up his quarters in the old fort at Spirit Lake; First Lieutenant Church was sent to Peter­son, in the southwest comer of Clay County; and Second Lieutenant Jewett was stationed with a few men in Emmet County. After remaining on duty until about the first of July, without any indications of an Indian outbreak, the men were ordered home, though the company was not disbanded. At the earnest request of a majority of the settlers along the frontier, the company was again called out in the fall of 1858 and remained on duty until the spring of 1859, when the men were discharged.


The withdrawal of Captain Martrin's company left the northwestern frontier without any armed protection except such as could be furnished by the settlers themselves. Samuel J. Kirkwood was inaugurated govern­or early in the year 1860. No man in the state knew better the dangers to which the settlers along the northern border were exposed. He had noted that when troops were on duty along the frontier the Indians kept out of sight, but as soon as the soldiers were withdrawn, new outbreaks were committed. He communicated these facts to the Legislature with the result that in March, 1860, a bill providing for a company of "Minute Men" was passed. As this bill is something of a curiosity, it is given in full:

"Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Iowa, that for the purpose of protecting the citizens of the northwestern portion of the state and enabling them to defend themselves against the threatened depredations of marauding bands of hostile Indians, the governor be, and is hereby, authorized to furnish said settlers such arms and ammunition as he may deem necessary for the purposes aforesaid.

"Sec. 2. That the governor be, and hereby is, authorized to cause to be enrolled a company of minute men in number not exceeding twelve, at the governor's discretion, who shall at all times hold themselves in readiness to meet any threatened invasion of hostile Indians as aforesaid. The said minute men to be paid only for the time actually employed in the services herein contemplated.

"Sec. 3. That the said minute men, under the orders of the governor at his discretion, and under such regulations as he may prescribe, a number of not exceeding four may be employed as an active police for such time and to perform such services as may be demanded of them, who shall be paid only for the period during which they shall be actively employed as aforesaid.

"Sec. 4. There is hereby appropriated from the state treasury the sum of five hundred dollars, or so much thereof as may be necessary, for carrying into effect the provisions of this act."

This act was approved on March 9, 1860. It seems almost ridiculous to think of placing a state like Iowa on a war footing with a force of twelve men, only one-third of whom were to be in active service, the remainder held as a reserve, and an appropriation of only $500. There were two hundred miles of frontier to be guarded by this little army. While the provisions of the act were not altogether satisfactory to Governor Kirkwood, he accepted the situation. The minute men were enlisted and headquarters established at Cherokee, which was then a frontier town. They remained in service until the fall of 1861, carrying despatches, watching the movements of the Indians, etc., but no official record giving the full list, the time of enlistment or discharge can be found.


When the Civil war began in the spring of 1861, the Government had need of all the regular troops stationed at the various posts in the Northwest, leaving the frontier without adequate protection against the Indians. Under a special order from the war department a company of cavalry was recruited in the fall of 1861 to take the place of the regular troops that bad been withdrawn. The greater portion of the company came from about Sioux City and the settlements along the Floyd and Little Sioux rivers. It was known as the "Sioux City Cavalry" and was commanded by Capt. A. J. Millard. James A. Sawyer was first lieutenant, and J. T. Copeland second lieutenant. The comapny was assigned to scouting and frontier service. During the winter of 1861-62 it was divided into small squads, which were stationed at various points along the frontier from Sioux City to Et!therville. In the autumn of 1862, Lieutenant Sawyer re­signed to take command of the Northern Border Brigade, J. T. Copeland was promoted to first lieutenant, and Orderly Sergeant S. H. Cassady was made second lieutenant.

The Sioux outbreak in Minnesota began at Acton on August 17, 1862, when several settlers there were murdered. News of the uprising reached Spirit Lake on the morning of the 29th, when a Norwegian named Nelson came in carrying two of his little children and reported that the other members of his family had been killed by the Indians the night before, in the Norwegian settlement on the Des Moines River some six miles above Jackson, Minnesota. Even the two children he carried had been taken by the heels and their heads knocked against the corner of the cabin, and one of them afterward died.

A company of volunteers from Spirit Lake and Estherville went up the Des Moines and rescued some of the settlers. On the day this party returned Lieutenant Sawyer arrived at Spirit Lake with thirty men of the Sioux City Cavalry. The little detachment was divided into three parts. One under Corporal Robbins was sent to Okoboji; another, under Sergeant Samuel Wade, was sent to Estherville, and the third, under Lieutenant Sawyer, remained at Spirit Lake.

In the meantime the settlers about Spirit Lake had gathered at the court-house for protection. The building was not yet completed, but loose lumber was thrown over the joists to form a floor, the doors and windows were barricaded as well as possible, and while some slept others stood guard. This was the situation there when Sawyer's squad of cavalry arrived.  After a consultation it was decided that the settlers should return to their homes, while the soldiers kept watch for the coming of the savages. It was also decided to build a stockade about the court-house, in which all could assemble upon a signal of danger. Prescott's sawmill at Okoboji Grove was in good condition and the mill-yard was full of logs. Both mill and logs were requisitioned. Planks twelve feet long and from four to five inches thick were cut and taken to the court-house. While some were operating the sawmill, others dug a trench about three feet deep around the court-house.  As the planks arrived they were set on end in the trench, the dirt firmly packed around the foot, and a piece of timber pinned along the top for greater strength.  Portholes were then cut and in a short time the "fort" was ready for an assault. It was occupied by United States troops until in July, 1865.

At Estherville the people gathered at the school house and organized for defense. A writer in the Northern Vindicator some years later, after the danger was passed and the subject could be treated with some levity, says: "The school house was used for all the purposes of barracks, hospital and soldiers' quarters, and a strange scene it presented. At night the floor was literally covered with citizens of all ages, classes, sex and nation­alities."

Judge A. R. Fulton, in his "Red Men of Iowa," gives this interesting account of the Sioux City Cavalry: "While acting as an independent organization, they were generally stationed in squads in the principal settle­ments, including those at Correctionville, Cherokee, Peterson and Spirit Lake.  Their valuable and arduous services doubtless contributed largely to securing to the people of Northwestern Iowa immunity from danger during the perilous summer of 1862, when more than eight hundred persons were massacred by the Indians in Minnesota. In the spring of 1863 the Sioux City Cavalry were ordered to rendezvous in Sioux City prepar­atory to joining an expedition under General Sully against the Indians, in which they were detailed as the body-guard of the General.

"On the third of September, 1863, they participated in the battle of White Stone Hill and distinguished themselves by taking 136 prisoners. After this battle they were consolidated with the Seventh Iowa Cavalry as Company I. On returning to Sioux City, Captain Millard, commanding the company, was assigned by General Sully to the command of a subdistrict embracing Northwestern Iowa and Eastern Dakota, with headquarters at Sioux City. On the twenty-second of November, 1864, their term of enlistment having expired, they were mustered out of service.

"Referring to this company, General Sully expresses the following high compliment: 'A better drilled or disciplined company than the Sioux City Cavalry cannot be found in the regular or volunteer service of the United States.' "


As soon as news of the Indian outbreak in Minnesota reached Gov­ ernor Kirkwood, he immediately took steps to protect the Iowa frontier against an invasion. To that end he addressed the following communication to S. R. Ingham of Des Moines, appointing him a sort of special agent to investigate conditions on the border:

"August 29, 1862.
"S. R. INGHAM, Esq.,

"Sir: I am informed there is probable danger of an attack by hostile Indians on the inhabitants of the northwestern portion of our state. Arms and powder will be sent you at Fort Dodge. Lead and caps will be sent with you. I hand you an order on the auditor of state for one thousand dollars.

"You will proceed at once to Fort Dodge, and to such other points as you may deem proper. Use the arms, ammunition and money placed at your disposal in such manner as your judgment may dictate as best to promote the object in view, to wit: The protection of the inhabitants of the frontier. It would be well to communicate with Captain Millard commanding the company of mounted men raised for the United States service at Sioux City. Use your discretion in all things and exercise any power I could exercise if I were present according to your best discretion.

"Please report to me in writing.

"Very respectfully your obedient servant,

Immediately upon receipt of this commission, Mr. Ingham set out on a tour of the border counties. He visited Webster, Humboldt, Kossuth, Palo Alto, Emmet and Dickinson counties and "found many of the inhabitants in a high state of excitement and laboring under constant fear of an attack by the Indians." He also ascertained that quite a number of families had left, or were preparing to leave, for the more thickly settled portions of the state. In his report to the governor he says:

"In Emmet and Kossuth, both border counties, I had the settlers called together in order that I might learn from them their views and wishes as to what ought to be done for their safety, or rather what was necessary to satisfy and quiet their fears and apprehensions. They said all they wanted or deemed necessary for the protection of the northern frontier was a small force of mounted men stationed on the east and west forks of the Des Moines River to act in concert with the United States troops then stationed at Spirit Lake, but that this force must be made up of men such as could be chosen from amongst themselves, who were familiar with the country and who had been engaged in hunting and trapping for years, and were more or less familiar with the habits and customs of the Indians, one of which men would be worth half a dozen such as the state had sent there on one or two former occasions. In a small force of this kind they would have confidence, but would not feel safe with a much larger force of young and inexperienced men, such as are usually raised in the more central portions of the state.

"I at once authorized a company to be raised in Emmet, Kossuth, Humboldt and Palo Alto counties. Within five days forty men were en­ listed, held their election for officers, were mustered in, furnished with arms and ammunition and placed on duty. I authorized them to fill up the company to eighty men if necessity should demand such an addition to the force."

The company thus organized afterward became Company A of the Northern Border Brigade. After it was organized and equipped for duty, Mr. Ingham went on to Spirit Lake, where he found Lieutenant Sawyer's detachment of the Sioux City Cavalry. In his report Mr. Ingham says: "From the best information I could obtain, I deemed this a sufficient force and therefore took no action to increase the protection at this point further than to furnish the settlers with thirty stands of arms and a small amount of ammunition, for which I took a bond as hereinafter stated," etc.

All this work was preliminary to the organization of the Northern Border Brigade. While Mr. Ingham was absent on his mission a special session of the Legislature was convened and the first bill passed authorized the governor "to raise a volunteer force in the State of Iowa, from the counties most convenient to the northwestern border of said state, of not less than five hundred mounted men, and such other force as may be deemed necessary, to be mustered into service by a person to be appointed by the governor, at such place as he may designate, to be stationed at various points in the northwestern counties of said state in such numbers in a body as he may deem best, for the protection of that portion of the state from hostile Indians at the earliest practicable moment."

The Legislature also adopted a joint resolution calling upon the· General Government for aid. Both the resolution and the above bill were approved by Governor Kirkwood on September 9, 1862. The next day Mr. Ingham made his report of conditions in the counties he had visited and was appointed to superintend the organization of the force authorized by the act of the Legislature. On September 13, 1862, the governor issued:


"First. The number of companies that will be received for service under the act to provide for the protection of the northwestern frontier of Iowa from the hostile Indians, passed at the extra session o'f 1862, and the acts amendatory thereto, is as follows, viz.: One to be raised at Sioux City, one at Denison, Crawford County, one at Fort Dodge, one at Webster City, and one now stationed at Chain Lakes and Estherville.

"Second. These companies shall contain not less than forty nor more than eighty men each. They will elect the company officers allowed and in the manner prescribed by law. As soon as company elections are held, certificates of the result must be sent to the adjutant-general for commis­sions. After being mustered and sworn in they will proceed, on a day to be fixed by S. R. Ingham, to vote at their several places of rendezvous by ballot for a lieutenant-colonel to command the whole. The highest number of votes cast for any one candidate shall elect."

The general orders also stated that each man would be required to furnish his own horse, subsistence and forage to be provided by the state, and that the pay allowed would be the same as that allowed for like service by the United States. In his instructions to Mr. Ingham the gov­ernor said: "It is impossible to foresee the contingencies that may arise rendering necessary a change in these orders or the prompt exercise of powers therein contained, and delay for the purpose of consulting me might result disastrously. In order to avoid these results as far as possible, I hereby confer upon you all I have myself in this regard. You may change, alter, modify or add to the orders named as in your sound discretion you may deem best. You may make such other and further orders as the exigencies of the case may, in your judgment, render necessary. In short, you may do all things necessary for the protection of the frontier as fully as I could do if I were personally present and did the same. The first object is the security of the frontier; the second, that this object be effected as economically as is consistent with its prompt and certain attainment."

Mr. Ingham was also given power to fix the places where the troops should be stationed, until after the election of a lieutenant-colonel, when the power should be given to the commanding officer. The election for lieutenant-colonel was held on November 7, 1862, and the choice fell on Lieut. James A. Sawyer, of the Sioux City Cavalry, though his commission was dated from September 1, 1862, for some reason.

The original Northern Border Brigade consisted of five companies­ A, B, C, D and E. As already stated, Company A was organized before the passage of the bill by the special session. It was mustered in on September 24, 1862, with William H. Ingham, of Kossuth, as captain; Edward McKnight, of Dakotah, first lieutenant; Jesse Coverdale, of Estherville, second lieutenant. The Emmet County men in this company were: Howard Graves, first sergeant; Amos A. Pingrey, third sergeant; Morgan Jenkins, second corporal; Thomas Mahar, fourth corporal; Ruel Fisher, farrier; Robert A. Ridley, wagoner, and the following privates: Peter S. Baker, Hiram Barrett, Ira Camfield, John H. Clark, Hogen Gil­bert, Willis C. Jarvis, George Palmer, Judah Phillips, Eugene G. Ridley, Otto Schadt (promoted to third corpora]), Elbridge Whitcomb (promoted to fourth sergeant).

Company B and the greater part of Company C came from Webster County; Company D, from Crawford, Company E, from Woodbury. As fast as the companies were raised they were mustered in for nine months, unless sooner discharged, by S. R. Ingham, who ordered blockhouses and stockades to be erected at Correctionville, Cherokee, Peterson, Estherville and Chain Lakes. The stockade at Estherville was known as:


Capt. W. H. Ingham took up his headquarters at Estherville, the detachment of Company A at Chain Lakes being under the command of Lieutenant Coverdale. As soon as orders came to erect a stockade Captain Ingham took possession of the sawmill at Estherville, sent men out to cut logs without asking permission of the owner of the land, or without even inquiring who the owner was. Teams were pressed into service to haul the logs to the mill and the lumber to the site of the fort, which was one block west and three blocks South of the southwest corner of the public square. The captain's high-handed methods aroused considerable indignation among the citizens, who dubbed him "The Dictator," but it is quite possible that his prompt action in the erection of the stockade had a salutary effect upon the Indians, and had an attack been made before the stockade was completed he would no doubt have been criticized for not doing his duty. Fort Defiance was occupied by the troops until late in the fall of 1863. After that it was used as a residence for some time. It was torn down or moved away in 1876.

Lewis H. Smith, of Kossuth County, was made quartermaster of Company A, his appointment dating from September 7, 1862. As soon as the company was mustered in he went to Des Moines for arms, etc., while Captain Ingham and William B. Carey went to Mankato, Minnesota, to learn the extent of the Indian uprising. Provisions were scarce during the winter of 1862-63 and some of the members of the company com­plained of the rations with which they were served. Rumors soon got abroad that Quartermaster Smith was appropriating the best of the food supply, and Captain Ingham was charged with being remiss in his duties, if not a party to the appropriation of company supplies. These rumors reached Lieut.-Col. James A. Sawyer at Sioux City, who came over to investigate. About noon one day he drove up to Fort Defiance in a rather shabby looking two horse wagon, dressed in civilian garb, and asked permission to cook his dinner. This was readily granted and he took his cooking utensils - an old skillet and a coffee pot - from the wagon and began, all the time watching to see what the men had to eat. He noticed that the beef had the appearance of being slightly tainted and unwholesome, and asked if that was the best the commissary could afford. The men informed him that they had been living upon that kind of meat for weeks. Lieutenant-Colonel Sawyer then made himself known and called the captain and quartermaster "upon the carpet," after which the mem­bers of the company were supplied with a better quality of food.


Company A was mustered out on September 26, 1863, and was re­ organized as Company F, with William H. Ingham, captain; Jerome M. White, first lieutenant; Lewis W. Estes, second lieutenant. In the reorganization, which was completed on October 20, 1863, Emmet County fur­nished the following members of the company: Edward Altwegg, Henry Archer, Peter S. Baker, William Carter, Jerry Crowley, John D. Goff, Erwin Hall, John W. Hewitt, Patrick Jackman, Gunther Knutzen, John A. Lucas, James Maher, Thomas Maher (or Mahar), Joseph T. Mulroney, Keiran Mulroney, William J. Salisbury, George F. Schaad.

Dickinson County furnished a large part of the company, viz.: Hudson D. Barton, Franklin Bascomb, Jacob Bossert, Alexander H. Burd, Charles Carpenter, David N. Carver, William W. Collins (promoted bugler), Joseph Courrier, John H. Evans, Samuel N. Guilliams, William A. Harden, Roderick Harris, Charles W. Hathaway, Silas R. King, Joseph R. Line, Jonathan N, Lyon, Eben Palmer, John W. Rose, Robert Seeber, Joseph W. Sharp, Milan E. Sharp, Miles R. Sheldon, John Striker, John D. Striker, Harrison L. Thomas, John L. Thomas, William H. Thrift, Robert F. Turner, Crosby Warner. The c?mpany was mustered out in December, 1863.

Soon after the Northern Border Brigade was mustered out of service a detachment of Company I, Sixth Iowa Cavalry, under command of Cap­ tain Wolf, was stationed on the frontier. Captain Wolf made his headquarters at Estherville and part of his command was sent to Spirit Lake, under Lieut. Benjamin King. In the spring of 1864 Captain Cooper's company of the Seventh Iowa Cavalry relieved Captain Wolf. This com­pany remained but a short time, when Capt. Daniel Eichor came with Company E, Sixth Iowa Cavalry, and continued on duty until the spring of 1865, when he was succeeded by a detachment of Minnesota troops under Captain Read. This was the last military force stationed along the Iowa border.


From the time Cuba was first discovered until 1898 - a period of a little more than four centuries - the island was a dependency of Spain. For three hundred years of that time the people of the island were intensely loyal in their allegiance to the mother country, even going so far as to declare war against Napoleon when in 1808 he overthrew the Spanish Bourbon dynasty. About that time the island was placed under the control of a captain-general, which form of government continued until Spain relinquished the island in 1898. In 1825 the royal decree of the Omni­modas gave the captain-general power to rule at all times as if Cuba was under martial law, thus placing the lives and fortunes of the inhabitants at the absolute disposal of the governor. The "conquistadors" had been slow in coming, but they had at last arrived.

Under the humane policy of Captain-General Las Casas, the people of the island prospered, but he was succeeded by a man of different type and in 1829 was formed the first conspiracy for casting off the Spanish yoke. The movement was discovered before the conspirators were ready to begin active operations and was cruelly crushed. In 1844 there was an uprising of the blacks, which resulted in nothing more than to increase Spanish cruelty in dealing with the islanders. Then followed the futile expeditions of Narcisso Lopez in 1849, 1851 and 1854, in his Quixotic efforts to free the Cubans.

In 1868 there was a general uprising of the Cubans against Spanish oppression and for ten years the island was the scene of war. During that decade Spain sent 250,000 soldiers to Cuba and so great was the sacrifice of human life that fewer than fifty thousand returned to Spain. Property worth $300,000,000 was destroyed during the war, and the enormous debt contracted by Spain was saddled upon the Cubans in the way of taxes as a penalty for their rebellion. To offset the general dissatisfaction that followed, the Spanish Cortes in 1880 abolished slavery upon the island. But even this measure failed to allay the discontent and the people began planning another insurrection. Past experience had schooled them in caution, and for fifteen years they continued their preparations with the greatest secrecy.

In 1895 the revolution broke out in several places simultaneously, under the leadership of Generals Gomez, Garcia and Maceo. Martinez Campos was then captain-general. To him Spain sent troops and instructions to suppress the uprising at all hazards. Campos conducted his warfare according to the usage of civilized nations, which policy was not satisfactory to the Spanish authorities. He was therefore removed and in his place was appointed General Weyler. The new captain-general forced the people of the rural districts into the cities, where they were kept under strict guard in order to prevent them from furnishing sup­plies to the revolutionists. This was a policy of starvation. The supply of food in the cities was soon exhausted and many of the "reconcentrados," as the people confined in the cities were called, actually were starved to death. Weyler's inhumanity aroused the indignation of the civilized world. In the United State political conventions, irrespective of party, commer­ cial organizations in many cities and a few of the State Legislatures adopted resolutions calling upon the Federal Government to intervene in behalf of the suffering Cubans.

Early in the year 1898 the Atlantic squadron of the United States navy was ordered to the Dry Tortugas, within six hours sail of Havana, and on the evening of January 25, 1898, the battleship Maine dropped anchor in the harbor of that city. The presence of a war vessel was not pleasing to the Spanish officials, who sought to retaliate by ordering the armored cruiser Vizcaya to anchor off New York City. Thus matters stood until February 9, 1898, when the Spanish minister to the United States resigned his position and asked for his passports. On the evening of the 15th the Maine was blown up, with a loss of over two hundred of her officers and men. A court of inquiry afterward reported that the battle­ ship was blown up "by a submarine mine, which caused the explosion of two or more of her forward magazines."  This wanton destruction of one of the best ships in the navy, with the consequent loss of life, was followed by great excitement in the United States and the demand for intervention became more insistent.

About this time General Blanco, who had succeeded Weyler as captain-general, issued a proclamation declaring a suspension of hostilities and announcing his intention to permit the reconcentrados to return to their homes. American consuls soon afterward reported that Bianco's promise was not being kept and that the suffering among the imprisoned reconcentrados had not been diminished in the least. On March 8, 1898, Congress made an appropriation of $50,000,000 "for the national de­fense," but nothing further was done for over a month, or until it was positively learned that Bianco's promise to release the reconcentrados had not been, fulfilled.

On April 19, 1898, Congress adopted a resolution declaring that the "people of Cuba are and of right ought to be independent," and demanding that Spain immediately withdraw her troops and relinquish all authority over the island. The resolution closed as follows: "The United States hereby disclaims any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over said island, except for the pacificaton there­of, and asserts its determination when that is accomplished to leave the government and control of the island to its people."

Another resolution of the same date authorized the President to employ the forces of the United States army and navy to aid the Cubans, and an act was passed providing for an increase of the regular army to 61,000 men. The next move on the part of the Government was to order Rear Admiral Sampson to blockade the Cuban ports, which was followed by a formal declaration of war against Spain. On April 23, 1898, President McKinley issued a proclamation calling for 125,000 volunteers, to be supplied as far as practicable from the militia of the several states.

The Iowa Legislature, which adjourned only a few days before war was formally declared, in anticipation of such an event, appropriated $500,000 "to aid the General Government in case of war." Two days before the President issued his call for volunteers, Adjutant-General Byers promulgated a general order to the company officers of the Iowa National Guard to have all officers and men undergo a physical examination to determine their fitness for active military service. On the 25th Gov. Leslie M. Shaw received a telegram from the secretary of war ad­vising him of Iowa's quota of troops under the call.  The state fair grounds, near Des Moines, were designated by the state authorities as a mobilization camp for the National Guard and the commanding officers of the four infantry regiments composing the guard were ordered to report "with the least possible delay."

In arranging for the mustering in of the Iowa regiments, Governor Shaw ordered them to be numbered to follow the last regiment of infantry furnished by Iowa in the Civil war. The First Regiment of the National Guard therefore became the Forty-ninth; the Second, the Fiftieth; the Third, the Fifty-first, and the Fourth, the Fifty-second.


This regiment was composed of companies raised in the northwestern part of the state. Company K was made up of men from Palo Alto and Emmet counties. Its commissioned officers at the time of muster in were: Peter O. Refsell, captain; Claude M. Henry, first lieutenant; Charles F. Grout, second lieutenant, all from Emmetsburg. The following Emmet County men were enrolled as privates: Leonard Anderson, Hans Gilbert­son, Charles E. Hawk, William O. Mulroney, Thomas M. Pullen, Oscar A. Quinnell (promoted corporal), Charles E. Ridley and Charles R. Rose.

The regiment was mustered into the United States service on May 25, 1898, with William B. Humphrey, of Sioux City, as colonel. Three days later, under orders from the war department, it broke camp at Des Moines and entrained for Chickamauga Park, Georgia. Upon arriving there it was assigned to the Third Brigade, Second Division, Third Army Corps, commanded by General Wade. On August 8, 1898, orders were received to move the regiment to Porto Rico, but before embarking a telegram came revoking the order. Immediately following this there were a number of cases of sickness among the men of the regiment, which the surgeon said was largely due to their disappointment. The regiment remained in camp at Chickamauga Park until August 29, 1898, when it was ordered back to Des Moines. There the men were given a thirty-day furlough and permitted to visit their homes. The furlough was afterward extended to October 30, 1898, when the companies were reassembled at Des Moines and the regiment was mustered out. In his final report Colonel Humphrey says: "Had the opportunity presented, the regiment would have ac­quitted itself with honor and credit to the state.

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Emmet County IAGenWeb
URL: http://iagenweb.org/emmet/index/

Source: History of Emmet County Iowa and Dickinson County Iowa:
A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement,
Illustrated, Volume I, The Pioneer Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1917.

Transcribed by Lynn Diemer-Mathews and uploaded March 24, 2024.