Milo Dalton : from Carl Ingwalson -



      Job Dalton and Mary Jane “Polly” Meeker were married at her father’s house in Smthville, Chenango County, New York, on September 5, 1838. Milo, the fourth of their eight children, was born in the county on August 26, 1844. By 1852 the family had immigrated to Iowa.

      The 1860 census for Cass Township in Clayton County indicates that forty-three-year-old Job was working as a cooper while Polly had her hands full with the household. Their oldest daughter, Ann, had married James Roe the previous year, but the other seven children were still at home with Milo and John working as farmers and Melissa teaching. The four youngest children ranged in age from five to thirteen.

      The following year, on April 12th, Confederate guns under General Beauregard fired on Fort Sumter. War followed and, on November 4th of that year, twenty-year-old John Dalton enlisted in Iowa’s 16th infantry regiment. He was discharged on July 10, 1862 and on August 13th, at Strawberry Point, Milo enlisted in Company B of the states’s 21st infantry. Three days later they were ordered into quarters at Camp Franklin just south of Eagle Point in Dubuque where, on September 9th, they were mustered into federal service. Milo was a 5' 4½” eighteen-year-old with no military training. One writer said, “from reveille at 5:00am to taps at 8:45pm, when not eating or standing guard, men drilled and performed fatigue duty followed by more drill and more fatigue.” This was important, said William Crooke, since "habits of obedience had to be formed, and these to men in the ranks were doubtless the most irksome of all." Another writer felt, “the rendezvous was so near the men’s homes, that their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, sweethearts, and friends, were too often present to allow either drill or discipline to any great extent.”

      Drilled or not, on September 16, 1862, on board the Henry Clay, they left for war. One night was spent on Rock Island before they resumed their trip, debarked at Montrose, traveled by rail to Keokuk, boarded the Hawkeye State and continued to St. Louis where they arrived on the 20th. The next night, they boarded cars of the Southwest Branch of the Pacific Railroad and traveled to Rolla, a town of about 600 residents. From there they walked to Salem, Houston, Hartville and then, after a wagon train was attacked on November 24th, back to Houston. That’s where they were on January 9, 1863, when word was received that Confederate troops were advancing toward Springfield. A relief force was quickly assembled with Milo being one of twenty-five volunteers from Company B. On the 10th, they camped along Wood’s Fork of the Gasconade River and the next morning they realized a large enemy force was camped nearby. After early skirmishing, both sides moved into Hartville where a day-long battle was fought with light casualties.

      Milo continued with the regiment throughout the balance of its service in Missouri and was with his Iowa comrades when they marched into the town of Ste. Genevieve on March 11th. From there, at the start of the North’s successful Vicksburg campaign, they were transported south to Millken’s Bend on the west side of the Mississippi River where a special muster on April 10th indicated Milo and numerous others were present, but sick. Despite that, Milo was well enough to continue with the regiment when it left camp two days later and started a difficult movement south along dirt roads, across bayous and through swamps west of the river. On the 30th, they crossed to Bruinsburg, Mississippi, and the next day Milo participated with his regiment in the Battle of Port Gibson. During the balance of the campaign Milo was present when the regiment was held out of action during the Battle of Champion’s Hill, but participated in an assault at Vicksburg on May 22nd and in the ensuing siege, serving part of the time as a company cook. Vicksburg surrendered on July 4th and the next day he was with the regiment when it moved east in pursuit of Confederate General Joe Johnston and during a siege of the city of Jackson.

      On their return they reached Vicksburg on July 23rd and on the 24th made camp next to a levee for a well-earned respite almost three months after their crossing to Bruinsburg. On August 13th, men able for duty boarded the Baltic and headed downstream, but Myron Knight, Milo Dalton and several others were sent to the hospital. On the 19th, on board the hospital steamer City of Memphis and suffering from chronic diarrhea, Milo died, one of sixty-four in the regiment to die from the illness. The location of the steamer on the 19th and the place of his burial are not known. His personal effects were inventoried and stored in St. Louis for subsequent distribution.  The regiment was in Louisiana on October 2nd when Jim Bethard, a private in Company B, wrote to his wife, Caroline (Rice) Bethard, and told her “we got the news yesterday evening of Milo Daltons death we left him sick on the hospital boat at Vicksburg I don’t know whether he died there or whether he had been sent up the river.”

      Milo’s brother, William, was too young to serve during the war. He married Lucy Ball in 1872 and they made their home in Taylor County, Iowa. When their first son was born three years later, they named him Milo.

      Twenty-seven years after their son’s death, Milo’s parents were living in the town of Bedford in Taylor County on August 27, 1890, when Polly applied for a Dependent Mother’s Pension pursuant to an act adopted by Congress two months earlier. Seventy-one years old, she said Milo had left no widow or children under sixteen and she had no means of support except her own manual labor. Her application was witnessed by her daughter and son-in-law, Mary Ameline (Dalton) and Charles Engstrom, and the application was filed by Fred Mack, a pension and bounty attorney with offices at 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.

      James Noble and W. H. Russell signed a supportive affidavit saying Job and Polly had no property or means of support “except the small amount her husband can earn by manual labor which is not nearly enough to support him” and Polly had to go to friends for her support. Another affidavit was signed by John Inger and Victor Balluff who said Milo had never married and had left no widow or children. It took a year and a half, but Polly’s claim was finally approved on February 9, 1892, and on the 26th a certificate was mailed entitling her to $12.00 monthly, payable quarterly through the Des Moines Pension Agency. She died on March 31, 1898, and was buried a few miles to the south in New Hope Cemetery north of Gaynor, Missouri.

      On April 9th, eighty-one-year-old Job applied for a Dependent Father’s Pension. Dr. Henry Dunlavy testified he had been present when Polly died, Lewis Lawton said he had been present when Jobe and Polly were married, and her brother Josephus Meeker said he too had been present at the wedding and testified that Job and Polly had lived as husband and wife. With the application lagging, Job asked that evidence in his wife’s file be considered in his case and submitted an affidavit saying Milo had served in no other military unit. On November 29th, three more affidavits were signed. Frank Arthaud, a  notary public, submitted an affidavit saying he had examined the family Bible that said “Milo Dalton was born McDonough Chenango Co. N.Y. August 26" 1844,” while Dr. Dunlavy and R. F. Larison testified that Job had no assets or income and was living with family members. The claim was approved and, on February 25, 1900, a certificate was mailed entitling Job, like Polly, to $12.00 monthly.

      Job died on July 15, 1902, at the home of Mary Ameline and her husband in Marshall Township northeast of Bedford and was buried next to his wife in New Hope Cemetery. An obituary in the Bedford Times-Republican said he and Polly had eight children, six of whom survived him. “In his early married life he professed faith in Christ, and united with the Missionary Baptist church, and remained a faithful member to the end.” Funeral services were conducted at the New Hope Church by Rev. A. W. Loudy. “A good man has fallen,” he said, “but he shall rise in the bright eternity.”