History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/2/11
THE companies composing the regiment were raised and organized in their respective neighborhoods soon after the fall of Fort Sumter, when the spirit of patriotism was sending the best men of the country into the volunteer service. But there was no room for them under the first call of the President and they waited for the next summons. The companies were enlisted in the counties of Cedar, Jasper, Louisa, Keokuk, Buchanan, Marshall, Benton, Jackson, Allamakee and Van Buren.
The first officers of the Fifth Regiment were: W. H. Worthington, colonel; C. L. Matthies, lieutenant-colonel; W. S. Robertson, major; John S. Foley, adjutant; Dr. C. H. Rawson, surgeon; R. F. Patterson, quartermaster, and A. B. Mederia, chaplain. The regiment numbered nine hundred and eighteen men when it went into camp at Burlington, on the 15th of July, 1861. After two weeks, it was moved to Keokuk and, while there, a detachment under Lieutenant-Colonel Matthies was sent in pursuit of the Rebel force under Green, who had recently marched to Athens on the Iowa border, where he had been driven off by Colonel Moore. The detachment did rapid marching, but was unable to overtake Green, who fled south. On the 12th of August, the regiment was sent to St. Louis by steamer, where arms were received. Soon after it was sent to Jefferson City, where the men were clothed in United states uniform and received other equipments for the field. The regiment was employed in various parts of Missouri until the 14th of October, when it was attached to General Pope’s Division of Fremont’s army, on the march to southwestern Missouri. After a long march the regiment returned to Syracuse. During most of the winter Colonel Worthington was in command of a brigade and the Fifth was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Matthies. In February, after Grant’s victory at Donelson, the Fifth was sent with General Pope, who was marching his army against New Madrid. General Pope had recently pronounced the Fifth Iowa the most soldierly appearing regiment he had seen in Missouri, and it was under the rigid drill and discipline of Colonel Worthington that his men had in, so short a period, become such thorough soldiers. The regiment did excellent service in the siege and capture of New Madrid, and also in the taking of Island Number Ten. In May the Fifth was with Pope, near Corinth, where, on the 22d, Colonel Worthington was accidentally killed. He was officer of the day and, while approaching one of the picket lines, was mistaken for an enemy by the frightened sentinel, and shot dead. Colonel Worthington was an excellent officer and had been recommended for promotion; had he survived the siege of Corinth, he would have been made a Brigadier-General. Upon his death, General Pope issued the following order:
The General commanding announces with great regret to the army, the death of Colonel W. H. Worthington, Fifth, Iowa volunteers. He was killed by an unfortunate accident at three o’clock this morning while in the discharge of his duties as general officer of the day. In the death of Colonel Worthington, this army has sustained a serious loss, and his place in the regiment will be hard to fill. Prompt, gallant and patriotic, a brilliant career in the military profession was before him. … Sad as is his fate, he had lived long enough to be mourned by his country, and have his memory cherished by the army with which he served.
He was succeeded in command of the regiment by Lieutenant-Colonel Matthies. At the close of General Halleck’s slow approach on Corinth, finding it evacuated, his
General Pope had been called to the command of the Army of the Potomac and was succeeded by General Rosecrans, General Grant commanding the Department. General Price, with a large Confederate army, had seized Iuka and captured a large amount of stores. General Grant, who was at Corinth threatened by a large army under Van Dorn, determined to attack and destroy Price’s army at Iuka. He ordered General Ord, with 6,000 men, to move on Price by roads north of the railroad, while Rosecrans with 9,000, should move south by Jacinto and assail him from that direction. Price did not wait to be caught in the trap laid for him but marched out to overwhelm Rosecrans before Ord appeared. Two miles from Iuka, Price found a strong position protected by swamps and hills. As Rosecrans approached the head of his column was fiercely attacked. The Eleventh Ohio Battery took position on the crest of a hill commanding the road in front. The Fifth Iowa was posted on the right and the Forty-eight Indiana on the left. The Twenty-sixth Missouri was in the rear of the battery. This was the entire front opposed to the Confederate army, 10,000 strong, moving against Rosecrans’ advance. This line was hastily formed under a heavy fire of artillery and musketry from Price’s army in its strong position. A sharp fire was opened by the Union line as other regiments were brought up to positions on the flanks. The Tenth and Sixteenth Iowa were among the regiments warmly engaged. The battle opened about 5 p. m., and raged until darkness put an end to the conflict. No more desperate fighting was done during the war than that which, for four hours, sent death and destruction into the fiercely contending ranks at the front. Again and again the Confederates charged on our lines and were as often beaten back by the devouring flame of shot and shell that mowed them down. In the vicinity of the Ohio battery the combat raged with terrible fury. The guns were handled with wonderful effect, constantly hurling their iron missiles into the enemy’s ranks at close range. A supreme effort was made by Price to capture that death-dealing battery. A large force was massed and ordered to take it at any cost. Before this irresistible charge, the Forty-eighth Indiana was swept from its position and the left of the battery fell into the hands of the enemy. Fresh troops came to the rescue, charged bayonets on the exultant captors and drove them from the guns. Three times in an hour this battery was taken and recaptured. Most of the gunners were killed or wounded, the horses were all dead or disabled, the battery was a mass of ruins, the guns dismounted were the only remnants that had escaped the awful destruction. When darkness put an end to the struggle the guns were in the hands of the enemy, but the Union lines held their position, the men sleeping on their arms. During the night, Price retreated to Eastport, and the Union army marched into Iuka. General Rosecrans said of the Fifth Iowa:
“The glorious Fifth Iowa under the brave and distinguished Matthies, sustained by Boomer with part of his noble little Twenty-sixth Missouri, bore the thrice-repeated charges and cross-fires of the enemy’s left and center with a valor and determination, never excelled by the most veteran soldiery.”
General Hamilton, in his official report, says:
“The Fifth Iowa under the brave and accomplished Matthies held its ground against four times its number, making three desperate charges with the bayonet, driving back the foe in disorder each time; until with every cartridge exhausted, it fell back slowly and sullenly, making every step a battle ground and every charge a victory.”
Colonel Matthies commends his officers and men without exception, and speaks in the highest terms of Lieutenant-Colonel Sampson, Adjutant Patterson and Lieutenant Marshall. The loss of the regiment at Iuka was more than two hundred and twenty in killed and wounded. Among the officers killed were Lieutenants Shawl, Holcomb and Smith. Of other Iowa regiments in the battle, the Tenth and Sixteenth were particularly distinguished for bravery and valuable services. The Seventeenth, under Colonel Rankin, was thrown into confusion for a time, and was unjustly censured by the commanding General; Colonel Matthies was promoted to Brigadier-General soon after the battle. On the 1st of October, the Fifth marched to Corinth and, during the battle of the 3d, was posted on the road to Pittsburg Landing, some distance from the scene of conflict. The next day, however, it fought bravely, repulsing a charge on the Eleventh Ohio Battery. The charge was made on the right of the battery, and in repelling it, the Fifth marched on the double-quick to the threatened point, fired four volleys into the advancing enemy, driving them back in great confusion. It joined in the pursuit of the defeated Confederate army some distance, returning to camp at Corinth, on the 11th, greatly fatigued. From this time until March, 1863, the regiment was on duty in Mississippi and Tennessee, but engaged in no battles. On the 2d of March, it joined Grant in the campaign against Vicksburg. It was in the battle before Jackson, on the 14th of May, suffering small loss. At the severe battle at Champion’s Hill, on the 16th, the Fifth was in thickest of the fight. The Third Brigade, to which it belonged, held the left of Crocker’s Division. When General Hovey’s right was driven in, the Third Brigade hurried to its aid and a fierce conflict ensued. For an hour and a half the unequal contest was maintained before the brigade was forced back by overwhelming numbers. Just at this moment, the Seventeenth Iowa came to its relief, the tide was turned, and the Confederate army was soon in full retreat toward Vicksburg. Lieutenant-Colonel Sampson was in command of the regiment. On the 1st of June Major Banbury was promoted to colonel; Adjutant Marshall was promoted to major, and S. H. M. Byers to adjutant. The loss of the Fifth at Champion’s Hill was nineteen killed and seventy-five wounded. In the assault on Vicksburg May 22d, the regiment lost three killed and nineteen wounded. In the campaign under General Sherman, which followed the capture of Vicksburg, the Fifth assisted in driving Johnston’s army out of the State, after which it did garrison duty in Vicksburg for two months. The Fifth was attached to General Sherman’s army in the march to Chattanooga in November, and in the battles that were fought about that city and among the mountains the regiment bore an honorable part. Near Tunnel Hill, it fought bravely on the 25th of November, but toward night was overcome by superior numbers; Major Marshall, Adjutant Byers and many of the men, with the colors, were captured, while others escaped by running through a terrible fire of shot and shell. The regiment’s loss in killed, wounded and missing was one hundred and six. Colonel Banbury closed his official report of the part his regiment took in this campaign as follows:
“I can bear testimony to the manner in which my brave men have performed the hard labor, endured the severe privations of the campaign, especially during the last week of November, following upon the long fatiguing march over two hundred miles. They were up at midnight of the 23d, fortifying and maneuvering for battle all day the 24th, fighting desperately and under most unfavorable circumstances on the 25th, pursuing the enemy on the 26th and 27th, without rations or blankets, shivering around the campfires during the nights, marching through rain and mud during the days, and returning to camp twenty-two miles on the 28th. All this in the dead of winter and without a murmur.” The services of the Fifth had been most arduous in two of the remarkable campaigns in military history—says Ingersoll:
“It had marched through the swamps of Louisiana; marched and fought over the hills of Mississippi; rushed under the guns of Vicksburg in the terrible unavailing assault; sweltered in the heat under those formidable works during long weeks of siege; commenced another campaign before that was finished and materially assisted in bringing it to a successful close; by steamer, railway and march, traveling five hundred miles to join in the final grand victory of the year, whereby the backbone of the Rebellion was broken, and its complete destruction made a question of time.”
Campaigns like these had fearfully reduced the ranks of the splendid regiment that, two and a half years before, had marched proudly to the levee at Burlington, in the full vigor of young manhood. Now, in January, 1864, as the remnant took its line of march to Huntsville, Alabama, to go into winter quarters, there were scarcely two hundred of the original nine hundred and eighteen men remaining. While here, one hundred and fifty members of the regiment (being most of the men present, fit for duty) reënlisted as veterans and, on the 1st of April, started on furlough to visit their homes in Iowa. They returned in May to join their brigade at Decatur, Alabama. A number of the members of this regiment were taken prisoners by a cavalry raid. On the 30th of July, the non-veterans were honorable mustered out and soon after the veterans were transferred to the Fifth Iowa Cavalry, and with this event the history of the Fifth Iowa Infantry closed.
During its three years’ service, the Fifth had marched on foot more than 2,000 miles, through Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, participating in Fremont’s “One Hundred Days’ Campaign” in 1861; in Pope’s campaign against New Madrid and Island Number Ten; in Grant’s campaigns of Iuka, Corinth, Vicksburg and Chattanooga; some of the most brilliant of the war, or of history. Its ranks were thinned by battle, hard marches, captures and sickness, until it closed its glorious record of deeds that can never be forgotten in Iowa’s war history.
John A. McDowell, who was a brother of the first commander of the Army of the Potomac, was living at Keokuk when the Rebellion began. He had a military education and had served as captain of an independent company. Early in the spring of 1861 he went to Washington and obtained authority of the War Department to raise a regiment. The companies were largely enlisted in the counties of Lee, Henry, Des Moines, Appanoose, Monroe, Clarke, Lucas, Johnson, Linn, Hardin and Franklin. A large proportion of the men were young vigorous farmers and mechanics inured to labor, and were, physically, fine specimens of manhood. The Sixth Regiment, numbering eight hundred and eighty-three men, went into camp at Burlington early in July. John A. McDowell was appointed colonel; Markoe Cummins, lieutenant-colonel; J. M. Corse, major; E. B. Woodward, adjutant; James Brunaugh, quartermaster; A. T. Shaw, surgeon; and John Ufford, chaplain. The regiment was sent to Keokuk soon after Colonel Moore defeated General Greene, who attempted to cross the river at Croton and invade Iowa. A detachment of the Sixth was sent to reinforce Moore at Croton, but Green had been defeated before they reached the field. General John C. Fremont was at this time in command of the Department of Missouri. On the 31st of August he issued his famous order placing the State under martial law, confiscating the property of Rebels and declaring the slaves of those engaged in war against the Government, free. The State was overrun by armed bands of confederates destroying the property of Union men, driving them from their homes or murdering them. General Fremont had, with great energy, succeeded in gathering at Tipton, the western terminus of the Pacific Railroad, an army of 30,000 men. The Sixth Iowa was of this army. In October the army marched toward Springfield. It was a hard march with insufficient means of transportation, bad roads, and the men suffered greatly. The Sixth was in General McKinstry’s command which marched seventy miles the last two days of October. General Fremont was suddenly removed from command in the midst of this campaign, from which so much was expected; General Hunter, who succeeded him, abandoned southwest Missouri, retreating to the railroad, thus suddenly bringing the campaign to an end.
The Sixth Iowa was divided, six companies were at Tipton on garrison duty and four companies were sent on similar service to Syracuse. Colonel McDowell had command of a brigade; Lieutenant-Colonel Cummins commanded the regiment, while Major Corse was on General Pope’s staff as Inspector-General. Early in the spring, the Sixth was sent to join Grant’s army at Pittsburg Landing in Tennessee. It took part in the Battle of Shiloh and was in General Sherman’s Division in front on the extreme right of Grant’s lines. At the beginning of the battle Colonel McDowell was in command of a brigade. Lieutenant-Colonel Cummins, who was in command of the Sixth Iowa, was placed under arrest for misconduct early in the day, and Captain John Williams led the regiment in the battle. After two hours of brave fighting, the Sixth, with Sherman’s entire command, was forced back on the Purdy road. Another stand was made in the edge of the woods, some distance in the rear where for two hours the advance of the Confederate army was successfully resisted by most determined fighting. Here the Sixth lost heavily; Captain Williams was severely wounded, and the command devolved on Captain M. M. Walden. Of the six hundred and fifty men in the regiment when the battle opened, sixty-four were killed, one hundred wounded and forty-seven taken prisoners. Among the killed were Captains Daniel Isminger and Richard C. White. Captain F. Brydolf and Lieutenants J. H. Orman, J. T. Grimes and J. S. Halliday were wounded, and Captain Galland was captured. Not long after the battle, Major Corse returned to the regiment and was promoted to lieutenant-colonel in place of Cummins, who was dismissed from the service by court-martial. Captain John Williams was promoted to major. McDowell remained with his brigade on duty in Tennessee and Mississippi until March, 1863, when he resigned, being disabled by disease. On the 29th of March, Corse was made colonel of the regiment. The Sixth was with Grant’s army in its first unsuccessful campaign against Vicksburg in the fall of 1862. During the winter of 1862-’63, the regiment was attached to General W. S. Smith’s command and served in several raids into Mississippi. Major Williams resigned in October, 1862, and Captain A. J. Miller, promoted to his place, was made lieutenant-colonel in July, 1863, and Adjutant Ennis was made major. In General Sherman’s march against Johnston, after the fall of Vicksburg in July, 1863, the Sixth was attached to his command.
On the 6th of July, the army crossed the Black River and drove the enemy toward Jackson, a place now strongly fortified. The weather was very hot, the dust stifling, and the movement of the army was slow. On the 9th, it reached the vicinity of formidable earthworks and by the 13th, held all of the roads west of the Pearl River, while artillery commanded the State House. General Sherman erected earthworks to protect his men and began the siege, as the place was too strong to be carried by assault. On the 12th of July, while the Thirteenth Corps was moving up to make the investment complete on the right, General J. G. Lauman, of Iowa, commanding a division, through a misapprehension ordered an assault by a brigade upon the enemy’s works. Success was impossible and the brigade, after a terrible conflict, was driven back with a loss of nearly five hundred men. The Third Iowa, led by Major G. W. Crosley, fought with desperate valor and lost one hundred and fourteen men. General Lauman was at once relieved of command by General Ord. On the 16th Colonel Corse, in command of the skirmishers of the First Division of the Sixteenth Corps, made a strong reconnaissance of the enemy’s works to ascertain the strength and position of his batteries. The Sixth Iowa was in the command, and at a signal, the men dashed forward with a shout, driving in the pickets and skirmishers and charging a strong battery. Here the men were ordered to lie down, as the battery was too strong to be taken. After ascertaining the strength of the lines and defenses, the troops were skillfully withdrawn with small loss. The Sixth received special commendation on this occasion from General Smith for coolness and bravery under a terrific fire. On the same night the Confederate army evacuated the city and retreated toward the east. The loss of the Sixth during the siege was about seventy men. When General Sherman marched to Chattanooga, in the fall of 1863, the Sixth Iowa was with him, and participated in the Battle of Missionary Ridge, losing sixty-nine men. Major Ennis was severely wounded and Captain Robert Allison was killed. After the great victories at Chattanooga, the Sixth was sent with Sherman’s army to relieve General Burnside, who was besieged by Longstreet at Knoxville. The march was begun on the 1st of December, over roads almost impassable; the bridges had been destroyed and many of the rivers could not be forded. The weather was cold and the army in its forced march could carry neither baggage nor provisions. Early in 1864, the sixth went into camp at Scottsburg, Alabama, where it remained until spring. Early in March, 1864, most of the men reënlisted, were granted furlough, and the Sixth became a veteran regiment. On the 27th of April they were again on duty, soon after joining General Sherman’s army at Chattanooga. In the campaign through Georgia, the Sixth participated in the battles of Resaca, Dallas, New Hope Church, Big Shanty, Kenesaw Mountain, Atlanta, Jonesboro and Lovejoy. At Dallas, Colonel Miller was disabled and Major Ennis succeeded him in command. Adjutant Newby was mortally wounded and Lieutenant F. J. Baldwin was killed. At Big Shanty, Lieutenant J. T. Grimes, acting adjutant, was killed and in the Battle of Atlanta, July 28th, Major Ennis, commanding the regiment, was mortally wounded. After Major Ennis fell, Captain W. H. Clune took command and led it through this most desperate battle of the campaign. During these battles, from Resaca to Lovejoy, the losses of the Sixth were one hundred and fifty men, killed, wounded and missing, or about one half of the whole number that marched from Chattanooga. The regiment with the army, resumed the march toward the sea about the middle of November. Robert Barr, a member of the Sixth, first discovered the evacuation of Savannah on the 21st of December, and was the first man of the Union army to enter the city. The regiment remained here about three weeks, and before resuming its march Major Clune was promoted to lieutenant-colonel, and Captain D. J. McCoy, major. About the middle of January, 1865, the army moved on through South Carolina and the swamps and gloomy forests, driving the Confederate army before it, wherever resistance was offered, until the last battle was fought at Bentonsville, North Carolina. The Sixth went to Goldsboro and Raleigh, marched on by way of Richmond to Washington and participated in the grand review. The little remnant of this once strong regiment, now veterans and heroes of many battle-fields, their colors torn to shred, marched proudly before the vast multitudes gathered to do honor to the survivors of the grand Union army. It was one of the early Iowa regiments which had shared in so many of the hard marches of the southwestern campaigns, and hundreds at the National Capital, who knew its history, cheered the war-worn veterans as they marched through the streets at the close of the war.
The second colonel, J. M. Corse, had won national fame in the Atlanta campaign by his heroic defense of Allatoona Pass, a very important position. Corse, who now a Brigadier-General, was in command of the place with 1,800 men. General French, with a Confederate army of 7,000, was marching against it. General Sherman signaled to him across the mountains to hold the pass at all hazards. Corse signaled back, “I will hold it till h—l freezes over,” and he did hold it after a heroic defense of many hours. Moody’s celebrated hymn, “Hold the Fort for I am Coming,” was suggested to its author by this episode.
The Sixth regiment went to Parkersburg, Virginia, after the grand review, was transported by steamer down the Ohio River to Louisville, Kentucky, and in July returned to Iowa, and was disbanded.