Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Holidays are Here...

...And with the Holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, come obligations. I know I'm not telling you anything new.

Well, I've decided to take a break from blogging until the new year.

Then, I'll showcase Will's second journal entries and other Civil War topics.

Thanks for following Iowa Volunteers and for visiting I hope you'll rejoin me in 2012.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day in the Plain of Reeds, A short story

I'm taking a break from Will's Civil War journal to present one of several short stories I've written over the years about my year in Vietnam. I hope you enjoy it.

Day in the Plain of Reeds
©2011 Christopher Newlon Green

Through my field glasses I studied a flock of gray crane flying overhead toward the marshlands west of us, unbothered by war. Their distinctive red heads and black-tipped wings contrasted the clouding sky.

Now with the naked eye, I watched the cyclist traverse a narrow, wood bridge over the muddy canal stream-bed a half-kilometer away, his black hair flowing under a white cap. He then disappeared among a hedgerow, then behind a tall berm. Was he headed our way or toward a grove of palms about one click south of us? The lugging putt-putt sound of the motor bike became louder coming our way as the rider curved to the right of the LZ and approached the village.

“What d’ya think went wrong, Sarge?” I asked.

“Somebody fucked up”, he replied, “Zung, where are ya?”

I had to chuckle to myself how the Sarge’s last words directed to Zung seemed to sum up his prejudice and disdain toward our interpreter. To the Sarge they were all gooks. Zung was learned, and the Sarge couldn’t handle that. Our interpreter could always sense the NCO’s mean streak and, for his own good, managed to hold his own anger in check. He glanced at me as he cautiously left the protection of the quan coc to join the Sarge in the middle of the road.

The cyclist slowed down and stopped in front of our small group in the middle of the road. A slender anh, a young man, in a white long-sleeve dress shirt and dark western-style pleated slacks, dismounted and secured his bike. He quickly began combing his black hair back as he walked toward us. Pinned on his shirt pocket he wore the small red cross of the government medical corps, Quan Y. I wore one on my left fatigue pocket, strictly non-reg, but so was my soft jungle hat.

With much deference his eyes darted back and forth to each of us, for our body language was saying WE WANT ANSWERS! With a big smile, displaying a gold front tooth, our visitor bowed, saluted, offered his hand, and greeted each of us with “Ong manh gioi, khong?” Yes, I’m fine and you? Anh and Zung then conversed in hushed tones about our situation here in the village.

The Sarge interrupted them and got to the point, “What the fuck is goin’ on?”

“He say order not received. I think someone forgot to arrange”, Zung summarized the situation to us.

Anh Thanh, standing there nervously smiling, was working at damage control. Someone had simply dropped the ball and neglected to inform the farmers, nearby villagers, as well as the Moc Hoa Quan Y, that the American “doctors” would be in town.

A gray cloud moved overhead and it threatened rain; we took our meeting inside the quan coc.

“Let’s get the word out now to the villagers that we are here,” Sarge suggested. No, that would be impossible our visitor replied through Zung, not enough time. Without a field radio to call in a chopper for a pick up, it appeared that we were stuck here for the day. The sun broke through the clouds.

The young man took the break in the weather as his cue to get out of this out-post; he couldn’t get back on his bike fast enough. Thanh promised to call Co Van My Bluebird, our My Tho HQ, when he got back to Moc Hoa.

“Oh yeah, like the Army is goin’ drop everything and send a limo out to pick up our sorry asses”, the Sarge summed it up with a sardonic chuckle.

So, we stood there, wetted by intermittent showers, and watched Anh Thanh cross over the bridge and disappear from view. Like Sarge said, two fuck-ups. Would there be a third?

The showers let up, and sweat dripped again off our faces. With the Sarge’s OK, I sent Do out beyond the LZ, down the Moc Hoa road to stand guard. I soon noticed he had found a lean-to by a water wheel near the bridge. He gave me the high sign with his rifle barrel once he was in place.

By 1130 hours Sarge and I had each finished off a bowl of pork and noodle soup, and started working on our second “Ba Moui Ba”, a weak rice beer, with the number “33” on the label. It’s close to drinking watered-down formaldehyde I was told, far better than drinking the water, though. But, as long as I took my little white pill, I could eat and drink almost anything. I’d suffered from the GIs for the past couple of months; it was no big deal now.

Boredom started to kick in, so when the owner’s teen-age daughter delivered Sarge’s and my second bottles of poison, I told her, with Zung reluctantly translating, that I thought she was pretty, and that I wanted to take her photo. At that, the Co’s face flushed and she dashed to the back of the quan coc and disappeared into the living quarters before I could un-sling my camera from my shoulder.

“What the hell happened, Zung?” I asked.

“Many Vietnam girl never told they are pretty and words make them timide,” he replied using the French word for shy.

I didn’t see the Co the rest of the day. Her mother, the Ba, cleared the bowls off our tables without a word, and without looking at me. Then, she went to the back of the quan coc and tied up a hammock in the breezeway for the Sarge.

After that, Zung retreated from the quan coc, to escape from the Americans, I suppose, and to find a secluded spot where he could read his book, I was sure.

It began to rain again. Across the plain the clouds dragged along the ground all around us. Raindrops, now banging the metal roofs, were loud enough that I sometimes found myself yelling back at the Sarge, as we exchanged jokes and stories, both watching a tree line, each keeping his un-ease and feelings of isolation to himself.

Finally Sarge grew silent. That was okay with me; I was tiring of his bullshit stories anyway. Sarge’s boot heel crushed his spent Marlboro into the dirt floor and he settled into his hammock, Carbine on his lap, to watch the LZ and the far levees.

As the rain ceased, I was overcome by ennui. I was weary of Sarge’s twangy voice, and his “Johnny Reb will rise again” take on things, his swagger. I was a California Boy. The Civil War? ... Get over it, man.

A long silence followed as Sarge finished off his second beer. His brown fluted beer bottle with the “33” label reminded me that we were in a combat zone, and not some American beer joint, time to spread out and watch the perimeter. And like Zung, I yearned to find a secluded spot, a different look out.

I stowed my journal in my field pack, grabbed my weapon, and with two bottles of warm “33” stuffed into my fatigue pockets I left the quan coc. Seeming to want me to leave, the Ba cleared a path through the shack and offered me a tall glass of ice on my way out.

“Hey Sarge, I’m gonna check on Do and Zung.”

“OK,” Sarge replied while eyeing the hedgerow beyond the LZ through his field glasses, “I want you to watch that grove of trees to the southwest; it’s outta my view.”

I gave a lazy salute back and headed outside to check the roads, touch base with Ha Shi Do and Zung, and after downing two beers, to get to the outhouse.

Up ahead under the shelter of a frond-covered lean-to I spotted Do surveying the eastern levee road, and called out to him as I headed for the latrine. He raised his weapon slightly as a salute. You have to love his Tommy gun. I didn’t see Zung, but he had a way of disappearing.

Coming back from the outhouse I paused to study the roof line of the “circus” building west of the quan coc. I heard again what I thought were squealing sounds coming from within its walls. It began to sprinkle again, so I headed for its door to find shelter and to investigate.

I entered its low doorway, and my eyes immediately fixed on the bamboo cages, a dozen or more, along the wall to the left of the doorway. Glancing around the inside of the Big Top, I noticed a six-inch wooden center post that supported a peaked roof made of a patch-work of materials, plywood, metal, all just thrown up there with no apparent plan.

The rain dripped through here and there into buckets or made small puddles on the dirt floor. Two wood steps led to a raised floor area along the side of the building hanging over the canal. That’s what I had earlier thought were jail bars. An assortment of boxes, cans, a table, chairs, oil lamps, rope, barrels, baskets, and carpentry tools cluttered up this area.

A chorus of squeaks and chirps rang out from the cages on the left. I backed up a few feet to take it all in. I saw several stacked bamboo cages that housed blackish-brown bats, with fox-like snouts and claws, shrouded upside down from wood perches, one to a cage, except for three or four housing mothers and pups.

These were no small animals, but about the size of our house cat, Tigger. Our tabby didn’t have claw hooks, a canine snout and a pair of three foot wings, though. Some bats enveloped their furry bodies within canopy-like wings and appeared to rest. Others preened, stretched and yawned, and made chattering and squeaking noises to one another across the room and back.

I got over my initial surprise and recalled that I’d encountered bats before while on all-night guard duty at My Tho HQ. During my roof-top vigil I would watch them swoop silently down from the dark sky. With a jagged, but quick flight they captured insects buzzing around the big floodlights that shone out into the jungle surrounding the compound, the Seminary, as it was called. On guard duty, I would relieve my boredom by lying in wait and swinging a broom at them, or with whatever else I could find. I never could hit them though.

I was not alone in this workshop. An older man, an Ong, apparently unaware or unconcerned with my arrival, busily tended to his work bench tools. The Ong sported a scraggily Fu Manchu moustache and a dozen long chin whiskers. He dressed in tattered white cotton shorts, a stained singlet and shower slippers. I greeted him with a slight bow and “Chao Ong”. Quietly, and with a nod of his head, he replied, “Chao Anh”. He then returned to clearing off his work bench.

I offered Ong one of my warm beers. He politely declined, as he raised his tall glass of tea to his lips. It seemed as though he accepted my presence in his shop after I offered him an American smoke. “Ah, Salem!” he said with a satisfied smile.

It was now pouring outside, so I found a chair and a place to prop up my feet in the raised floor area among the cages and where I had a view of the south western perimeter and the grove of trees, Sarge mentioned, through the bamboo slats. I could also watch the Ong going about his workshop tasks. I put my beers and glass of ice down on a small table within easy reach.

I then became aware of four brown eyes staring at me. A cage to my right, three feet away, housed a mother and her pup. As I settled into my chair the little one moved closer to mother, his eyes trained on me still. Mother opened her wings slightly and the youngster scooted within her folds.

The pup’s face reminded me of the eight-week old Collie mix I had brought home one day when I was ten, little Pandy. A sudden roar of the rain on the metal roof and squealing interrupted my reverie.

Finally, the sun broke through allowing me to scan a hedgerow one click southwest. I saw human silhouettes out there, shadowy figures, moving this and that way. Clouds dragged the deck, obscuring a clear view. I was hoping to soon hear the sweet chop-chop sound of a Huey.

My wishful thoughts were jolted by a high-pitched frantic screeching, and I spun my head around toward Ong. He had reached a gloved hand into a cage near his workbench and had grabbed and was pulling out a struggling creature from its roost, wings flailing. The thrashing and cacophony drew the pup closer to mother.

With a sudden and swift swinging arm motion the Ong slammed the animal’s small head against a blood-stained post to the right of the work table, stunning it. He held the dazed bat up high by the tip of the left wing. The knife blade in his left hand severed the artery in the armpit of the right wing. Blood spurted, then gushed from the wound and down into an awaiting white plastic pail on the dirt floor.

Once the blood ceased to pour from the cut, Ong threw the dying animal into a large wooden crate just beyond the “whacking post”. Flapping sound from the crate filled the shop for only brief seconds. An occasional wing tip claw would appear on the rim of the wooden box, only to fall back again and become still.

I sipped my beers and shared my smokes with this man while he repeated the gruesome task a half dozen more times. Some weird fascination made me stay there.

The Ong was now working his way toward the mother and pup’s cage. Did the pup sense danger and fear from his mother’s rapid heart beat? What was the point of doing this killing, for a half-pint of blood? Did they eat these creatures? I had seen served in the villages a coagulated blood dish sprinkled with peanuts, looking like pizza, Tiet Canh, and never would try it. Was he making that stuff? And for whom, for the half dozen people of Vinh Loi?

I lit another cigarette off the butt-end of the last and started working on the second Ba Muoi Ba. The sounds around me and the three beers must have gotten to me - the wind through the caning, the screeching, rain hitting metal, the sporadic wings flapping, the scratching of claws, the mother’s soothing coo, and my own thoughts.

I peered through the bamboo siding toward the west levee road and tried to focus on the shadows and movements beyond and through a far tree line, toward nowhere. I tuned out the screeching and wracking sounds, and I began to reflect on past cruelties and killings. A stream of images started racing through my mind – stoning the water snake at Lexington Dam when I was a kid, or when I watched the older neighborhood boys drown the cat in the flume. And closer to the moment, the beating of a Viet Cong prisoner in the flickering shadows of a village fire pit, the beheading of the two American Advisors, touring a battlefield covered with enemy dead, the firefight at Mo Cay, or us firing on a band of VC running along a tree-lined levee at Tan Hiep airstrip. Did I hit one?

The sound of someone calling my name brought me back to the present. I then recognized the faint “whop, whop, whop” sound of the blades of an incoming helicopter.

“Yeah, I’m in here; I’m coming!” I yelled back to the voice. I glanced at my watch hanging from my fatigue shirt lapel; it was just past 1500 hours. My supply of ice was now reduced to a dozen rice husks floating in a glass of water. I must have dozed off. The rain had ceased, and the wracking sound of aircraft blades, Sarge’s limousine to the comforts of the Seminary, got my attention.

I finally blinked after a long stare at mother and pup and the crate. I approached the Ong and handed him my half pack of cigarettes. And in not the best Vietnamese and with much hand gesturing, I pleaded for their lives. My pronunciation must have been awful. I headed for the door of the bat house, but then turned toward him again. For good measure, I pointed toward the mother and pup and repeated my plea in French, “Je vous en prie, ne tuez pas ces deux animaux!” That should do it.

Out the door I ran to join the others. I bumped into Zung near the back of the aid station; he was on his way to find me. We ran through the village and past the outhouse.

“Hey, Zung, you know what that ong is doing in there?” I continued my story as we both quick-timed toward the LZ.

The Sarge, ahead of us on the right, dashed toward the Huey as it landed; on the other side of the chopper, I spotted Do running backwards toward the craft, fanning his weapon right and left. The whine of the turbine engines changed to a lower pitch as the blades began to slow to an idle. Sarge signaled us to hurry.

“So, what’s he doin’?” I asked as Zung and I quickened our pace onto the LZ.

“Let’s move, soldier!” Sarge barked from the open chopper door.

Ha Shi Do was already in when Zung and I scrambled onto the Huey’s nylon sling bench and buckled up. I sat at the open starboard door with Zung in the middle with Do; Sarge surveyed the perimeter on the port side. I checked the clip on my M4, “Grease Gun”, and took it off safety; I was a door-gunner for the flight back.

Zung tilted his head toward mine and, with lips pursed, yelled over the shaking roar, “Ong make mau doi drink; Chinese people like it. Drink bat blood with liquor. I don’t like.”

The hissing whine of the turbines increased in pitch and volume, and the craft shook and rattled. The pilot brought the Huey up off the ground ten feet to a hover. He then nosed it down and throttled up the engines. We swooped up into the air at a sharp angle, faster than the Rocket Plane ride, swirling a dust cloud below.

At 300 feet we leveled off, banked and circled Vinh Loi. Today’s rains made the Plain of Reeds appear wetter than this morning. I could see clearly a labyrinth of snake-like canals. One minute the water’s surface twinkled back at us, a brownish reflection of the sun; the next, dark, as patchy cloud cover obscured the clear sky. I glanced northward and imagined the Khmer temples of Ankar Wat, just a few clicks away in Kampuchia. I squinted toward the west into the sun to catch sight of the marshlands where the cranes go, just a hint of green.

As the craft banked starboard, I looked straight down now at Vinh Loi, that tiny, dusty, piss-hole of a place that we called home for a day. This poor village in the middle of the Plain of Reeds certainly took on a whole new meaning for me since touching down this morning. I knew I would never again harass the flying foxes back at My Tho, and I’ve seen enough pain and suffering during the past few months to last me, although more may lie ahead.

The Co, who had disappeared for most of the day, now stood next to the Ba near the quan coc, watching our ascent. I waved down to the Co; she waved back tentatively. We then disappeared into a wisp of clouds.

©2011 Christopher Newlon Green

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Heading South

Heading South

The next day was spent in moving from the cars to the steamboat intended to carry us down the river. I procured a pass in the morning and visited Benton Barracks where I found the 4th Iowa Cavalry. Here I found a number of acquaintances, that I had not seen since enlistment. The barracks looked almost like home, for I spent two months here last winter and not very pleasantly either. The day was spent very pleasantly with my former associates.

In the evening I returned to the landing and found my Regiment aboard the steamer Iatan, all ready to open the way through the running ice down the Mississippi River.

Starting time found not a few of the soldiers intoxicated for they had liberty to do as they saw fit during the day. Privilege, which a great many abused, brings trouble upon themselves as well as others.

At 10 o’clock P.M. the 7th, with all being in readiness, we shoved from shore, directing our course to the sunny South....

During March Will and the Iowa 3rd Infantry traveled south, through Cairo, Ill, stopping at Paducah, Fort Henry and Savannah to rest and regroup.

On the 17th Will’s Winterset Zouaves arrived at Pittsburg Landing:

We remained aboard the boat until the 17th when a part of the expedition landed at Pittsburgh Landing, Hardin county, Tennessee, where we still remain in camp this the 26th of March. We are at last brigaded. Colonel Williams is acting-brigadier general and has command of the First Brigade in the 4th Division, which gives our regiment the position of honor, which is on the extreme right of the division.

Leading up to the Battle of Shiloh, 6 April, Will writes:

April the 1st finds the Iowa 3rd Infantry with 150,000 other troops quietly in camp on the Tennessee River, Hardin County Tennessee, but making preparations to act upon the defensive or aggressive in a very short time. The rebel’s army at Corinth, Mississippi is being augmented daily by troops arriving by railway from different parts of the Confederacy.

Further down his narrative, Will foresees the future battle:

This was a signal for a battle, which I think, will soon be forgot not and it would appear from this that the enemy will be the attacking force. Our army is still being augmented by the arrival of fresh troops. If a battle takes place here between the two majestic armies, the loss of life will be immense.

After the Battle of Shiloh, Will gives his assessment of its historical significance when he pens:

April 16th A.D. ‘62, what a change since I last took up my pen. A terrible battle has been fought, and a great victory has been won by the great federal army at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee.

On the evening of the 5th, everything appeared to be quiet along our lines, our regiment had dress parade at the usual hour (5 P.M.) a chaplain’s order was read announcing that we would assemble the next day (Sabbath) at 11 o’clock for divine service. The evening was pleasant and all appeared to be happy, little did we think that, the Sabbath soon to dawn upon us would be a day to be remembered by generations yet unborn, is the day on which began one of the greatest battles ever fought on the American continent up to that time.

Later, in a more personal entry, Will writes about surviving the battle in one piece. Yet, in the fall of 1862, six months later, Will would have his right leg amputated due to a wound during the Battle of Davis Bridge (6 October 1862):

I, myself, was wounded about 4 o’clock P.M. of the first day, in the right leg but not serious. As I looked around and saw hundreds with legs arms and bodies torn to pieces, I felt that I should be thankful that I had escaped with so slight a wound. However, this the 16th day of April the wound is healing finally, and I hope that in a short time I will be entirely well, little if any worse off than I was before I was wounded...

Five months after Shiloh and a year after the Battle of Liberty, Will compares Liberty to later battles:

Wednesday Sept. 17th / 62

Quite stormy last night, raining this morning. This day one year ago we fought the Battle of Blue Mills. We thought that a terrible affair; would think it no fight at all now. Our Regiment is stronger and in better condition this day than it was one year ago.

My health is good; all in excellent spirits. At this P.M. the sky is clear.

Camp near Bolivar

Sunday, August 14, 2011

South to Tennessee

We pick up the action now as Will and the Third travel by boat into Tennessee. A date at Shiloh awaits them... 

Events in Review

Headquarters, Keokuk
Huntsville, Randolph Co., Missouri
February 8th, 1862

The year of ‘62 dawned upon me at Benton Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri. The first day of the new year was spent in a way peculiar only to a military life. A New Year’s dinner was served in the Captain’s room in military style. Nothing worthy of notice took place during the day.

We remained in Benton Barracks until the 11th of January at which time we were ordered to join our Regiment at Montgomery City on North Missouri Railroad eighty-five miles north of St. Louis. At an early hour we bade adieu to Benton Barracks, but not without giving those remaining behind something to remember us by which we did by forming a line between Headquarters and the General’s house and gave three groans for Benton Barracks. I never was in all my life so much pleased to get away from a place as I was on this morning to leave Benton Barracks, Although, I left many good friends, from Page and Louisa Counties [Southwest and southeast Iowa counties, respectively ].

We marched to the R.R. Depot, and in due time were on the cars for Montgomery City. We arrived at St. Charles on the Mississippi River at 11 o’clock A.M. and the river, not being bridged; we crossed on a large steam ferry.

St. Charles is situated on the north side of the river, it contains perhaps 3000 inhabitants and I presume in ordinary times that a great deal of business is done here, it having the advantage of river and R.R.

The crossing of baggage and such like occupied considerable time and consequently did not leave till 3 o’clock P.M. And, before we reached our destination, night overtook us and therefore did not get to see much of the country along the road.

At 11 o’clock P.M., arrived at Montgomery City. Found our friends hail and hearty. The town of Montgomery City is a new place containing but few inhabitants, and is noted for nothing but the distilling and selling of whiskey and an unfinished well thirteen and fifty feet deep [1350]. Water is very scarce here, the citizens using cistern water.

We remained at Montgomery City till the 1st of February 1862. During our stay here I, with four associates, boarded at a private house. The time passed off pleasantly while here.

However on the first of February we were ordered to Huntsville 60 miles north[west] of Montgomery City.

We took cars at 3 o’clock in the evening [afternoon]; arrived at Allen Station at twelve o’clock the same evening after a cold and disagreeable ride. We remained in the cars till morning and slept but little on account of the extreme cold. In the morning, after building fires on the ice and snow to get breakfast, we partook a meal gotten up in military style.

After all was over we took up a line of march in the direction of Huntsville six miles west of Allen Station, at which place we reached about noon, stepping to the time of “Yankee Doodle”.

Quite a number of Negroes were upon the streets, with their white eyes turned up as large as a full moon. A few citizens could be seen standing around on the corners dressed in homespun of a blue and brownish color. There are but few, if any, avowed Union men in the town or vicinity. Those who have not declared openly their secession principles take a neutral position.

The town of Huntsville contains perhaps 2,000 inhabitants. There is nothing remarkable grand about the buildings except a magnificent courthouse and an educational institution, without which the town would present an insignificant appearance. The location is among the hills and resembles some of the county towns of eastern Ohio.

There are but five companies of the 3rd Iowa Infantry here and one company of cavalry under the command of Captain Ogg.

On the evening of the 8th of February at 11 o’clock P.M., a detachment of the Black Hawk Cavalry brought to headquarters at Huntsville 90 kegs of Kentucky Rifle Powder captured some twelve miles from this place, also 7 prisoners. The powder was found part in a corncrib and part of it in a hollow log, February 10th, 1862.


News of the battle and taking of Roanoke on the North
Carolina coast February 8th reached here the 13th. The taking of Fort Henry at the same time caused great joy among the troops. News reached here today, the 15th of February, that the federal troops were shelling Fort Donelson, also of the success of our troops at Springfield. After a short skirmish, Price retreated, leaving General [Samuel R.] Curtis in possession of Springfield with the stars and stripes floating from the courthouse for the first time, small rebellion.
The number of prisoners taken at Roanoke was 3000. Our loss fifty killed, about one hundred wounded. The enemy’s loss was still greater; they lost their entire naval force including all their gunboats except two of _.

The enemy is in a perilous condition; they are being struck on every side, with a complete success to our army in every instance - Harrah for the right and the destruction of the wicked.
We still continue to remain in Huntsville. But, up to this date, nothing of importance has transpired worthy of notice, February 15th A.D., 1862.
Fort Donelson was attacked on Thursday the 13th of February. The fight continued until Sunday morning at 9 o’clock the 16th, when the fort surrendered to the forces of General Grant. 15,000 prisoners including Generals [Brig. General Gideon J.] Pillow, [Lt. General Simon B.] Buckner and [Albert S.] Johnston. Of a greater victory has not been won since the present war.
The number killed in taking of the fort is __. The number wounded is __ . [Will drew underscores, but left quantities blank.] Great joy among the troops today, the army of rebellion is broken. General [John B.] Floyd escaped from Fort Donelson with 5,000 men. A traitor to his country, a traitor to the traitor; he is cursed by his own followers.

Today, the 17th of February, a number of slaves and other property were brought into town. Their masters were just starting to Texas, but, lo and behold, we relieved them of some of their plunder. The Negroes are here and free, almost frantic with joy.

The Forts

[Brig. General Ambrose E.] Burnside’s Expedition sailed and attacked the enemy at Roanoke [North Carolina] with success to our arms, capturing 3,000 prisoners and army equipment of great value.

Forts Henry and Donelson were captured [16 February 1862] by the forces under gallant Brig. General Grant and Flag Officer [Andrew H.] Foote, commander of the gunboats.

Fort Henry was captured with but little difficulty, the enemy having evacuated it after a short engagement. Fort Donelson was taken after a horrible battle, which lasted three days. The fort was attacked first by the gunboats under Commander Foote and afterwards by the land force 30,000 strong, divided in three divisions, commanded by [Brig.] General [Charles F.] Smith, Major Generals Don Carlos Buell and John A. McClernand, the whole under the command of Brigadier General U.S. Grant.

The battle raged with great fury until the fourth day (Sunday). At six in the morning when General Buckner requested of General Grant an armistice till twelve o’clock for the purpose of coming to some terms of surrender, to which General Grant replied that he would except of nothing but an unconditional surrender and said he’d propose to move upon your works. Buckner replied that he was compelled to surrender. Thus on the morn of 16th of February, 1862, Brig. General Buckner surrendered Fort Donelson with 15,000 prisoners of war to Brig. General U.S. Grant, commander of the federal troops.

In the meanwhile, General John B. Floyd and Brig. General Gideon J. Pillow escaped from the fort with 5,000 men leaving their comrades to make the best of it. Oh! Floyd, thou traitor, hell is yearning for a traitorous soul. W.C. Newlon

This month has witnessed the retreat of the rebel leader Major General Sterling Price commanding the so-called Missouri State Guard from the unfortunate State of Missouri into Arkansas closely followed by the gallant Brig. General [Samuel R.] Curtis and his noble army. The enemy made a stand at a formidable position, but after a short engagement, he (Price) beat a hasty retreat, the feds in hot pursuit capturing arms, baggage, commissary stores. In abundance also a number of hostile prisoners of war among who [sic] is Brig. General [Edwin M.] Price, son of Sterling Price, Major General, commanding Missouri State Guards. And the notorious Colonel Freeman, both of which are now in Prison at Alton, Ill.

During the past month the 120,000 troops, which were stationed in the state of Missouri have all, with a few exceptions, left and gone into the field of active service. The Iowa 3rd Infantry still remains in West Missouri, divided in three divisions, part at Mexico [Missouri], Sturgis on the W.M. [West Missouri] R.R. and four companies there at Huntsville under command of Capt. A. S. Ogg, captain of Company G.


On the 4th of March at 10 o’clock A.M., orders came for the 3rd Iowa to march, and at 12 o’clock the same day, we were on our way to St. Louis. The journey was very unpleasant as the weather was remarkably cold. We arrived at St. Louis 9 o’clock P.M., the sixth.


Uncle Sam’s Mule
By a played out warrior

In a muddy ditch by a deep morass,
A Government mule lay breathing his last,
With harness all geared, and waiting for death –
The grim driver’s summons to pull his last breath.

A right hearty chap he was when he enlisted,
And took his scant rations of hay unassisted.
Stood up to the rack like a patriot true,

And his body, by welting, was red, white and blue!
At evening, oft times, his day’s labor over;
Would he pensively dream of his mule-age and clover;
But his sweet tho’ts would grow sour and uncandid,
When he gazed on his end and the U.S. there branded.

“O! Abe, why did [you] allow the contractor
To disfigure me thus like a base malfactor?
You nail me for life – I don’t see it; t’ain’t fair –
The compact was ‘three years, or during the war’.
You’ve ‘throwed’ on me; Abe, I’m gone up the spout;
I get nay furlough, and bounty’s played out,
Promotions uncertain - I work for no pay;
Ain’t this patriotic? Pray tell me I bray!”

But now all his sighs and complainings are over,
And the lash of the driver shall goad him no more.
For he’s ‘passed in his checks’; has finished his work.
Has pulled his last load of shingles and pork.
There are none who will miss his elongated face;
Another is ready to pull in his place,
And the train will move on, and the soldiers be fed,
And no tears for the Government mule that is dead!


Ah! My bold sojer boy, tho’ thy hard bread is tough,
Thy ‘sow-belly’ worse and shoulder-straps rough,
Take this sweet consolation, and don’t feel so cruel –
For tho’ both are high-privates, you out-rank the mule.

3rd Iowa Inf.

February reviewed [18]62 (The month of February is at a close, and what has been done in this last month of winter?). The war has been prosecuted with more vigor and more has been done for the cause of the Union in the past month than any three months prior to this, since the war began.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Benton Barracks


Camp of Instructions, Benton Barracks

I slept on herrican _ich[?] last night, slept but little.

We passed a number of boats along the shore tied up for repair.

At nine A.M. we reached the city, landing and immediately marching to the barracks.

I have found my old friends, Tom Whitehill, John Toner. Health good.


Camp of Instructions, Benton Barracks

I spent the greater part of this day in cleaning up my department, airing my clothes, &c.

I chose an upper berth, a fine place to sleep. I have not had what might be called a bed before for 5 months, anything more than one of nature’s foundations.

Good news from the Great Fleet, landing troops in South Carolina. Hurrah for the American Army


Camp of Instructions, Benton Barracks, St Louis

I procured a pass and wound my way into the city by railway.

St. Louis is quite a city. The streets are remarkably narrow.

I had two pictures taken today with my great coat on. I intend sending one to W. S. Moreland, and one home.

My health good. W.C. Newlon

Gen. McKinsly, Provost Marshall, is under arrest.


Camp of Instructions, Benton Barracks, Mo

I had such a fine sleep last night and the consequence is I felt good this morning.

I am on post duty today, 1st Sentry on Eastern Division. O! How dusty and disagreeable it is. Orders strict, no one pass the line without a pass from Headquarters.

Frémont’s Bodyguards came into the Barracks today.

Drum is beating.


Camp of Instructions, St Louis

Being excused from duty today, I spent the time in writing and reading. I wrote W. S. Moreland; sent my picture. Also [wrote] to James L. McClaughy at Quincy.

Two companies of Frémont’s Bodyguard came into the Barracks. I had the pleasure of seeing my old riding steed, John’s horse, belonging to an officer here.

Health good.

Sham Battle


Camp of Instructions, Benton Barracks, Mo

Oh! What a fine sleep I had last night. I went out on drill two hours this morning.

At two o’clock P.M. we marched on the drill grounds to fight a sham battle. Several regiments of infantry and cavalry were engaged, firing with blank cartridges. After making several grand charges, one of our men, belonging to Co. A, 3rd Iowa, was shot through the head by a comrade. Whether accidentally or intentionally is not yet known. The top of his head was blown off.

Some suppose that, owing to the excitement, that a ramrod was fired, which took effect. Others, that he was shot by a musket ball. Two of the cavalry were seriously wounded.

Same Old Routine


Camp of Instructions, B.B., St Lo[uis]

The same old routine this morning, first thing fold blankets; dust my clothes, and prepare for breakfast.

About 12 o’clock, the 7th Reg., Iowa Infantry marched into the Barracks. They are a fine set of Boys, but were horribly cut up at the Battle of Belmont [Mississippi County, Missouri, 7 November 1861].

I found an old friend among them, John Pruin.


Camp of Instructions, Benton Barracks

This morning I was detailed for post duty. It is a nice, pleasant day, but I do not like to do duty on Sabbath. Yet the soldier is not exempt from duty on Sabbath.

Troops are coming in here by [the] thousands. Already five regiments of Iowa troops are here, and twice that number coming.

My health is very good.


Camp of Instructions, St Louis, Mo.

I was on duty last night and slept but little and consequently I feel rather dull.

Nothing of interest transpired today. A number of troops arrived today from Iowa and Wisconsin. The Iowa regiment here marched in front of the Iowa 7th and cheered them for their gallantry at Blue [Mills].


Camp of Instructions, Benton, St Louis

Nothing of importance transpired in a place so remote from the battlefield as this place.

Drill appears to be the main thing, and indeed, it is highly important under the present circumstances. For, it is my belief that we will be soon engaged at Columbus, Ky in terrible battle [Kentucky passed an ordinance of secession from the Union on 18 November].


Camp of Instructions, Benton Barracks

The same routine this forenoon. This afternoon, as usual, we went on Battalion Drill, during which time a heavy rain came up.

One or two gave a yell, as a signal. When the whole column gave a shout, and in an instant, all broke for quarters on double quick, leaving the Major on [the field].


Camp of Instructions, Benton Barracks, Mo

The Iowa 11th Infantry came in last night through the rain. Among them I found a cousin, Y [?] Winder, the only known relative in the service. I was much pleased to see him. We spent many hours in reporting circumstances, which transpired while we were separated. Old times became new.

Health good W.C. Newlon


Camp of Instructions, Benton Barracks, Mo

It rained last night and the consequence is that everything is muddy; every little rain makes it muddy here, for the ground is so muddy. The ground is gr[ated?]; we had no drill today on account of bad weather. The weather is very warm here for this time of year, no freezing yet here.


Benton Barracks

I rose quite early this morning. And O, how cold it has got; the ground is hard froze.

No drill today, as it is Saturday. This day is spent in cleaning the quarters and clothing, preparatory to a general inspection, which takes place on Sunday at 9 A.M.

This P.M. the Boys are dancing.


Camp of Instructions, Benton Barracks

Oh! How windy and cold it is this morning. At 10 A.M. the troops here (16,000) appeared on the parade grounds for grand review, which lasted till 1 P.M. The scene was quite grand. The lion-like voice of Gen. Curtis was distinctly heard throughout the column.

A number of generals and field officers were present.

Nov. 24th ‘61

This day presented a grand military appearance, field officers riding in all directions, commanding their different divisions.

The accurate movements of the troops had a tendency to animate the spectator in the highest degree. No person is permitted to pass our lines.

Health moderate WCNewlon Co. G, 3rd Iowa


Benton Barracks

It still continues to be cool, not exactly cool, but cold and freezing. I am not exactly at home sitting by Old Nathan’s fire [Will’s father], but in the great Army of the West, spending my time in writing letters and reading newspapers at U. Sam’s expense. $13 per month all sounds good for me.


Camp of Instructions, Benton Barracks

I feel very unwell, owing to a very bad cold, which I unaccountably got someplace, after standing around the corners like a mule with the dyspepsia [indigestion, ill-humor].

All forenoon, while in the mode of stupor, a rumor came like a puff of wind from a fan mill that the Smallpox was in camp. So, I scampered to the surgeon and was vaccinated (Bully for me).


Benton Barracks

Having a bad cold and not feeling very well generally, I was excused from duty, so I spent the time in writing letters and visiting friends.

Mr. McCracken came in to see us, but I, being absent from quarters, did not get to see him. Well, so much for that.

I wrote to Sister Mary, &c, &c, &c. W.C.N.


Benton Barracks

Well, I am all right this morning. The weather is fine and pleasant, cool and agreeable.

The usual drill took place in the forenoon. In the afternoon we had a Five Battalion Drill conducted by Major Stone, a good and persevering Drill Master.

Health pretty good.


Camp of Instructions, Benton

Old things have not passed away yet, and all things become new, for we have to drill every day.

This evening the Ill. 52nd and Iowa 9th came into quarters.

I have caught cold by some means, which has settled in my neck and throat. Perhaps I will be all right in the morning.


Camp of Instructions, Benton Barracks

Sleep was not known to me last night, owing to pain in neck and throat. I was compelled to lie in bed during the day. I fear a gathering will take place on the inside of my throat.

The Iowa 12th & 14th Regiments came in today. Bully for Iowa.

A Zouave Drill


Camp of Instructions, Benton Barracks

I feel very much relieved as Mc got me some medicine, which had good effect.

One of the grandest reviews, which I ever have seen, took place today at 11 A.M. I presume there was [sic] 15,000 on the review. But the glories of the day were covered with gloom.

Dec 1st

In the evening, as the drums were beating for Dress Parade, the companies were forming in front of their respective quarters. Company K, who are just on our right, were forming. Two of their Boys stepped a few paces in front of the company and were practicing a Zouave Drill when one accidentally fired his gun, killing the other immediately. The ball took effect in his head, tearing the entire top of his head off. I was standing six paces distance and saw the whole affair. His brains lay upon the ground where he fell. He lived some 6 minutes. I would rather see 20 men fall in a battle than one under such circumstances.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                        W.N. Newlon


Benton Barracks

My health is very good this morning.

The snow is 9 inches deep.

Nothing of importance to note.


Benton Barracks

A. Mc is going to leave me this morning. I hasten to send a few letters, articles, which I have by me. I intended sending some presents, but have no chance to get them.

My health is good.

This diary, don’t let anyone see, for there are a great many mistakes in it. WCN
There are no journal entries from 4 December through 31 December 1861. Will continues writing on 8 February 1862 in Journal Book Two.

The next chapter describes the Third's boat trip to the South.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The 3d Iowa in Quincy, Illinois, October-November 1861. To learn more about Will Newlon and the 3d Iowa, visit my website:



We left St. Joseph this morning at 6 o’clock on the Hannibal & St. Joseph R.R. for Quincy, Ill, where we arrived at 2 o’clock Sunday morning. We had a pleasant journey.

At Chillicothe I saw friend Miller (the Jew), who used to keep store in Winterset. We were glad to see the Boys; they were up waiting for us.

Quincy, Ill. 3rd

I slept a little this morning, awoke, found myself surrounded by old associates whom I had not seen for 5 weeks.

I went downtown, found Mc[Claughy], had a good talk. Succeeded in getting a place for my Negroes.

Quincy is a beautiful town. Went to church this evening with Capt. Ogg.

Health good.

Quincy, Ill. 3rd Inf.

Our camp is in a very nice situation, one mile from the Landing at the north part of town. We are not confined, but have liberty to go to town when we please.



I have come to the conclusion that we are particularly favored by having the privilege of staying in this a liberty-loving state. How happy I feel to think I am in this patriotic state.

My health is moderate, yet not so good as I would wish. My lungs trouble me very much at night.

Yours, W.C. Newlon


Quincy, Ill.

The weather is fine and cool, quite heavy frost at night.

We drill four hours per day, Company Drill from 9 to 11 o’clock A.M., Battalion Drill from 2 to 4 o’clock P.M., Dress Parade 5 P.M.

I think it will have a tendency to improve the health of the Company.

We have the name of being the best-drilled regiment in Missouri, Western Service.


Quincy, Ill.

The weather still continues to be fine and clear.

I think I can almost see an improvement in the health of the men.

I wrote a letter to [Miss] M.A.C., Page Co., Iowa today. Went downtown this evening; took a walk over the fine city of Quincy, which is pleasant to think of, not alone, to look at.

Health moderate.



The ladies of Quincy propose to give us a picnic today. I was detailed to assist them in arranging the table, which was covered with delicacies of all kinds.

After dinner we repaired to the parade ground where a friendly dance, participated in by ladies & gents, after which Major [William M.] Stone made a very nice speech. W.C. Newlon


Quincy, Ill.

I feel refreshed after such a gallant [a young man of fashion, ladies’ man] with the ladies.

Drilling occupies the greater portion of the day, so that not much time is spent in idleness. For my part, I am always on duty writing letters or something of an equal importance.

I walk downtown most every day, which is always pleasant.

W.C. Newlon


Quincy, Ill.

I put on my fix-up [refurbished attire] and went to the 2nd Baptist Church on Vermont St. Heard an excellent discourse on the depravity of the human heart.

The building was one of those fine church edifices usually found in cities. The music was such as could challenge comparison with any of the fine music of Germany.

After service Wm Wright & I took a short walk over the city, then returned to camp where I spent the remainder of the day.

At eve I again returned to town after visiting about 20 different churches. I found myself again at the Baptist Church where I again heard another excellent discourse. WCNewlon


3rd Iowa, Quincy, Ill.

I was very restless last night. I coughed a good deal.

The usual routine commences this morning - drill, drill, drill - and I have so many letters to write which takes all my leisure time, so that I cannot get much time to read.

This evening, as usual, the ladies appeared on the parade ground as sheep having no shepherd.


Quincy, Ill., 3rd Iowa

The weather is still very cool; almost every day is cool enough for an overcoat.

I am on guard today, the first time in two months. And, oh, how windy it is! I think I never saw the wind blow so hard in my life, to blow all day. I think I will try and make it.


Quincy, Ill.

After standing guard all night, I don’t feel as good as I might feel.

I am cook today. And, I tell you, I got a magnificent dinner; so near perfect that a single objection could not be raised.

I really do wish for tattoo [a call sounded shortly before taps as notice to go to quarters] so that I could go to bed. Sweet sleep, hail thou! W.C.N.


Quincy, Ill, 3rd

Well, all things are passing off for good.

I have adopted a rule to get up before daylight every morning.

Drill hours keep me pretty busy to attend to other things, writing letters, &c, &c.

I have a very bad cold; my system is deranged.

W.C.Newlon, Winterset, Iowa.


Quincy, Ill.

I got a pass this morning; went downtown. Took a walk to the hospital; found Mc pretty sick with the measles.

The hospital is full of patients. One of our company by the name, Burger, is very low; cannot speak above his breath. Death appears to stare him in the face. He may recover yet.

Pay Day


Quincy, Ill., 3rd

This morning we drilled a short time, after which the battalion was formed; marched downtown to escort the Paymaster to camp. He had not arrived in town, so we did not escort him. However, we marched to the river; formed a line; loaded & fired by company into the river.

After this, we went up town; stacked arms on Main St; took a rest.

Quincy, Ill.

After resting half hour or so, we returned to camp; formed a hollow square on the parade ground.

Major Stone, in center, made a short speech to officers and soldiers, informing them that they would receive their pay in a very short time and that this regiment could send home $75,000.

And, he would advise all who had friends in Iowa to send all they could spare home to their friends, and not spend it foolishly, nor in a slave state. But to take good care of it so they could have something to fall back on after they were discharged from the service.

Also, that the 3rd Regiment was better thought of and had more true friends than any regiment from Iowa.

He also said that we had been tried, even at the bloody scene at Blue Mills, upon that day when it tried the souls of men. Said he, “There are more prayers ascending to the throne of Grace for the Iowa 3rd than any regiment from the Patriotic State of Iowa.”

Again requesting his comrades to send the money home they could spare, we were dismissed.


Quincy, Ill, Camp Wood

I got a pass this morning; went to the hospital. McClaughy not any better.

While there, a member of our company by the name of Daniel Burger died - disease Consumption and Bronchitis.

At eleven o’clock, went to church (New School), not a very good sermon.

After service took a walk with Wm Wright into the country east of town.

Quincy, Ill, 3rd Iowa

After eating all the apples we desired, we returned to town, passing by Ex-Governor Wood’s mansion, which is situated 1 ½ miles from the landing.

This is decidedly the finest building & location in the city. From the top of the house you have a commanding view of the city & river, which certainly is a magnificent view.


Quincy, Ill, Camp Wood, 3rd

At 9 o’clock A.M. we buried our brother soldier, D. Burger, with all the honors of war, which is by firing a salute of three volleys, nine rounds each.

I am on post duty today. The weather is fine, which makes it quite pleasant for me. There is not so much responsibility resting upon outposts here, as in the enemy’s land.


Camp Wood, 3rd Iowa, Quincy

I got a pass this morning; went downtown. Visited the hospital, all improving except McClaughy. He is very much discouraged.

The paymaster arrived today; I presume we will get our pay very shortly.

I feel quite unwell this evening, the effect of being up last night on duty. W.C. Newlon


Camp Wood, Quincy, Ill.

The camp is alive this morning, all expecting their first money from Uncle Sam. I don’t much expect to get mine this day, and in fact, I have become so that I cannot believe anything unless I know it to be a fact.

Well, six P.M. has come and no pay yet.

Health moderate.


Camp Wood, Quincy

The sun rose upon our camp this morning in great splendor. What will happen to us this day? Will anything strange - Strange did I say? - Yes, and it was strange.

The government this day paid each of the 3rd Iowa $57.70, happy day for the 3rd.

Tomorrow we have orders to march to St. Louis.


Camp Wood, Quincy, Ill.

On account of paying off the sick at the hospital, it was found impossible to remove today.

I got a pass for downtown; had a good time generally. My friend, Willis Brown, and I went to a saloon and feasted gloriously on oysters to our heart’s content.

Returned to camp. Slept soundly.

Good bye to all.


Aboard Steamer White Cloud, M.R.

This morning we broke up our camp at Quincy; marched down to the landing where we formed a line, and for the first time drummed a member of Company A out of the service.

Offense was for knocking down one of his fellow soldiers and robbing him of his money. One side of his head was shorn in the presence of his comrades and was marched along the line, the musicians playing the Rogue’s March*.

River M

After this was over we repaired to the boat and soon were on our way to St. Louis, the steamer White Cloud bearing us down the mighty waters.

This evening being rather dark & it not being very safe to travel after night, at 9 o’clock we tied up till morning.

My next Blog will pick up Will's narrative at Benton Barracks, St Louis.

* The tune was known as "The Rogue's March" and was played when military and/or civil rogues, criminals, offenders and various undesirable characters were drummed from camps and cantonments.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Madison County Call to Arms

The following is maintained by Judy Wight Branson
and County Co-Coordinator Kent Transier                                  


The following narrative is excerpted from History of Madison County (Iowa) & Its People printed in 1915. It has been reformatted for easier reading. Throughout this text, initials were often used in lieu of given names.  Where well known and documented, initials have been replaced with given names.

The news soon reached Winterset that the Southern states were in rebellion and that the flag had been insulted at Charleston, South Carolina. Although fully advised of the spirit manifested by Southern leaders the people were not prepared to realize the danger menacing free institutions of the Republic and were astounded and horrified when the real situation arose and confronted them. But almost every man and woman in Madison County loved and revered the Union and rallied at the first call, to express their sentiments.
Mass meetings from this on were the order of the day and night, and but little time was lost before action was taken. At one of these meetings, held on April 24, 1861, at the Christian Church, in Winterset, a large assemblage of people met in the house of worship and was presided over by Dr. D. B. Allen; John J. Davies acted as secretary. The object of the meeting was to discuss the ominous situation of the country and to ascertain how many persons in the county were willing to join a military company, or companies, for home protection. A committee of ten was appointed for the purpose of securing the names of those desiring to become members of the proposed companies. That committee was composed of the following named persons: Lewis D. Karns, Lorenzo N. Clark, William L. Leonard, Alfred Hood, Nathan Garretson, Henderson C. Carter, Frederick Mott, William Shannon, John W. Holbrook and Charles Gaskill.
It was the sense of the meeting that both the cavalry and infantry company should be organized, and that as their formation would be for home protection the citizens should furnish the enlisted men with arms. Thereupon, the Madison County Rangers, a cavalry company, was organized and the patriotic citizens signing their names that evening to the rolls of the cavalry company were: Jacob Israel Denman, John M. Lambert, E. W. Evans, David Dekalb Davisson, Charles A. Gaskill, Henderson C. Carter, George M. Rutledge, Henry M. Porter, B. M. Bixby, William Reynolds, Samuel Conigan, Butler Bird, William C. Newlon.
An infantry company was also formed and assumed the name of the Winterset Guards. Its muster roll showed the following names:
John M. Andrews
Nathan Anderson Harlan
Leander Pitzer
Oliver C. Ayres
William P. Hastings
William R. Shriver
Thomas Bardrick
John M. Holaday
James Stafford
Sylvester G. Beckwith
John D. Holbrook
John Stiffler
Derrick D. Bennett
Benjamin C. Howell
George W. Stiffler
George W. Betts
William M. Jenkins
Thomas M. Stiffler
David W. Burnett
Lewis D. Karns
D. W. Thompson
F. I. Cash
Jacob W. Kirk
Charles Tibbles
Francis M. Cassidy
Jesse R. Lambert
Miller Richard Tidrick
Lorenzo N. Clark
Hamilton Marlow
Cal Trion
J. W. Craven
Benjamin F. Murray
C. C. Ward
Henry J. B. Cummings
John Nichol
E. T. Warner
Henry C. Farnsworth
James P. Noel
Joseph D. Williams
Milton Foster
Asbury Nosler
John H. Williams
Titus W. Fouch
Eli Odell
Seymour B. Williams
William H. Goodwin
F. M. Pickerell

The "Rangers" met on the evening of the 26th and selected these officers:

Captain David Dekalb Davisson
First Lieutenant, George M. Rutledge
Second Lieutenant, Butler Bird
Third Lieutenant, B. F. Bixby
Orderly Sergeant, Henderson C. Carter

The men joining the "Rangers" were required to furnish themselves with a horse and saddle "and such arms as each might obtain." And the object of the organization, by the records, was to "defend the citizens and property of Madison County when the contingency might require it." This was the first military company organized in Madison County.

Other warlike movements on the part of the citizens took place, one closely upon the other, and a few of them will be related in order to show the spirit and feelings of the people at that time of national travail. On April 27, 1861, Sylvester G. Beckwith and Jesse R. Lambert announced the receipt of their commissions from the adjutant general of the state, to organize a company of volunteers "in this senatorial district." At the close of this announcement the newly made officials sent out this appeal. "Let not the young men of our district be slow in responding to the call of their country in a time of danger." To encourage others it was reported that Sylvester G. Beckwith, Jesse R. Lambert, Butler Bird, William L. Leonard, James McCleary, William C. Newlon and Benjamin F. Murray had already volunteered.

On April 27, 1861, the following call was issued: "The people of Madison County, in favor of sustaining the Government in its endeavors to maintain and preserve the Union in its present crisis, are requested to meet at Winterset on Saturday, May 4, 1861, at 1P. M., for the purpose of giving expression to their views as American citizens. Signed, Albert West, M. L. McPherson, Masten Glazebrook, L. S. Garrett, Alfred Hood, Cal Ballard, Charles D. Bevington, John Leonard, Henry J. B. Cummings, Samuel Hamilton, Lewis Mayo, John J. Davies, W. L. Hart, D. D. Davisson, Nathan Garretson, Isaac L. Tidrick, John McLeod, William Compton, J. W. Moody, John A. Pitzer, D. B. Allen, William L. Leonard, Levi Morton Tidrick, Jonas Figley Brock.

At St. Charles, May 1, 1861, a large and enthusiastic war meeting was held; a Union pole was raised and a beautiful large flag, made and presented by the ladies of that neighborhood, was run up to the breeze. The occasion was enlivened by music from the Indianola Brass Band and Union speeches were made by Dr. William L. Leonard, of Winterset, and Lewis Todhunter, of Indianola. "Ringing patriotic resolutions were adopted."

Great excitement prevailed throughout the county and war with the South was the exclusive subject of general conversation. Those opposed to the prosecution of the war kept their views to themselves, while in public places, for the danger of violence was imminent.

On May 1, 1861, Elder A. Bradfield, of the Winterset Christian Church, delivered an ultra patriotic sermon in favor of the war for the Union. Other local ministers were equally patriotic in the pulpit.

The following extracts from the Madisonian are matters of local history and should be of more than ordinary interest to the present and future generations, if not of the past: A detachment of regular soldiers from Fort Randall, Dakota Territory, on their way to the seat of war passed through Winterset May 4th. They were entertained by the citizens and given a hearty reception.

May 18th, the Clinton Guards of this county met for organization and elected the following officers:

Captain, Robert A. Stitt
First Lieutenant Empson H. Venard
Second Lieutenant William T. Shelburn
Ensign, J. Brinson
First sergeant, Jacob Hyskill

The company numbered forty-four men. They proposed to uniform themselves forthwith and report to the Government.Henry J. B. Cummings, captain Colston P. Lee, Private

About May 20th sixty stands of arms passed through Winterset for Page County, which was threatened with attack by rebels from Gentry County, Missouri.

Before May 25th "Madison County Guards," of Winterset, had disbanded, by reason of internal disagreement, and another organization was perfected which took the name of the "Union Zouaves." This organization was consisted of:

John R. Nichol, first lieutenant Ronald Bain, Private

Jesse R. Lambert, second lieutenant Charles Danforth, Private

John M. Andrews, third lieutenant Joseph D. Williams, Private

Lorenzo N. Clark, first sergeant Casper Armbreast, Private

John Stuart Goshorn, second sergeant Asbury Nosler, Private

William P. Hastings, third sergeant Benjamin F. Murray, Private

S. Pitzer, fourth sergeant John Hinkle, Private

John Stiffler, fifth sergeant E. W. Reynolds, Private

J. W. Burnett, Corporal Thomas M. Stiffler, Private

Emanuel A. Huber, Corporal George S. Stiffler, Private

John M. Holaday, Corporal Marion Cassiday, Private

E. C. Ward, Corporal John P. Wallace, Private

Frederick Mott, Private J. S. White, Private

John J. Davies, Private

May 25th, another company was due to be organized, which styled itself "The Silver Greys," and was composed of men over thirty years of age.

June 27th Capt. P. Gad Bryan, of Indianola, made a stirring speech at the Christian Church, in the effort to secure recruits, for his cavalry company. He made an impressive address which was followed by M. L. McPherson, of Winterset. At the conclusion, the following Madison County men were enlisted: Jesse R. Lambert, William R. Shriver, Charles Tibbles, David W. Burnett, Thomas M. Stiffler, John Faurote, James D. Jenks, Everett S. Ewing, Milton Carter, James Harvey Bird, David D. Burnett, George W. Tibbles, John H. Williams, and Butler Bird.

During the latter part of April a company had been organized in Madison Township, of which William F. Clampitt, a Mexican war veteran, was captain. This military organization was the subject of much reckless talk for some time, as the loyalty of certain of its members was much questioned, and as strongly defended by Captain Clampitt.

June 29th E. S. Ewing, of Winterset, advertised for cavalry horses. The owners were asked to give a credit of six months to volunteers with approved security. He didn’t secure many.

July 13th Capt. Henry J. B. Cummings’ Company G, Fourth Iowa Regiment, started for its rendezvous at Council Bluffs. Their departure was one of the saddest affairs that ever occurred in the County. Probably every eye that witnessed the scene was blinded by tears. Not even the most indifferent or hardened person withheld his emotions. It was never forgotten by anyone present.

Previous to the departure of Company G, on July 12th, the ladies in and near Winterset gave a festival supper to the company. It was one worthy of the ladies and the occasion. After the soldiers had eaten their fill there was an abundance for the citizens present. At this festival the ladies presented the company with a beautiful flag. Miss Geraldine Squire made the presentation address and the response was by the captain, Henry J. B. Cummings.

August 31, Lieut. John D. Jenks, and Serg. Jesse R. Lambert, of Bryan’s Cavalry, were home on a few days leave of absence. On their return the following recruits went with them: William O. Ludlow, Joseph Reynolds, Edward Marlow, Matthew Wilkins, James K. McCandless and "Curly Joe."

September 1st, the board of supervisors appropriated $150 out of the county funds, for the benefit of the families of volunteers of Madison County, who were left in destitute circumstances by reason of such enlistments, if there should be any.

The above excerpts, which were scattered hither and yon, throughout the various issues of the Madisonian during the stirring year of 1861, give a good portrayal of the things that most interested the people in Madison County at that time. Many such events occurred before the close of hostilities between the North and the South. It certainly would be interesting reading, to many, to give a full relation of the local war time incidents, but space will not permit. However, Madison County did her part, faithfully and well, in putting down rebellion and upholding the glory and integrity of republican institutions. The county was represented in a number of different regimental organizations and furnished 710 men to the ranks of the Union army, which was in excess of her quota. The commissioned officers from Madison County in that great conflict were as follows:

William Anderson First Lieutenant Company F, Thirty-ninth Iowa Infantry

Charles S. Armstrong First Lieutenant Company A, Thirty-ninth Iowa Infantry

Oliver C. Ayers First Lieutenant Company A, Thirty-ninth Iowa Infantry

Sylvester G. Beckwith First Lieutenant Company A, Twenty-third Iowa Infantry

Adolphus Bradfield Captain Company F, Thirty-ninth Iowa Infantry

J. M. Browne Captain Company F, Thirty-ninth Iowa Infantry

William W. Buchanan Second Lieutenant Company E, Fifth Iowa Cavalry

Dr. Samuel B. Cherry Surgeon Forty-seventh Iowa Infantry

Daniel E. Cooper Captain Company F, Fourth Iowa Infantry

John M. Cooper Second Lieutenant Company F, Fourth Iowa Cavalry

Henry J. B. Cummings Colonel Thirty-ninth Iowa Infantry

William Early First Lieutenant Company I, Fourth Iowa Cavalry

George N. Elliott Lieutenant Colonel Thirty-ninth Iowa Infantry

John Dwight Ewing First Lieutenant Company H, Twenty-third Iowa Infantry

James H. Goolman Captain Company H, Twenty-third Iowa Infantry

John Stuart Goshorn Captain Company E. Forty-seventh Iowa Infantry

George Gregory Second Lieutenant Company K Eleventh Iowa Infantry

Samuel G. Guiberson Captain Company A, Thirty-ninth Iowa Infantry

William Hastings First Lieutenant Company I, Fourth Iowa Cavalry

James D. Jenks Brevet Lieutenant Colonel, First Iowa Iowa Cavalry

John P. Jones Second Lieutenant Company A, Thirty-ninth Iowa Infantry

John A. Kelly First Lieutenant Company F, Fourth Iowa Infantry

Jesse R. Lambert First Lieutenant Company I, Fourth Iowa Cavalry

Dr. William L. Leonard Surgeon Thirty-ninth Iowa Infantry

Robert E. Martin First Lieutenant Company C Thirty-third Iowa Infantry

Josi McLeod Quartermaster Sergeant Third Iowa Infantry

Frederick Mott Quartermaster Thirty-ninth Iowa Infantry

Leander Pitzer First Lieutenant Company F, Fourth Iowa Infantry

William Pursell Captain Company I. Fourth Iowa Cavalry

Jonathan B. Rawls Second Lieutenant Company A, Thirty-ninth Iowa Infantry

Edward W. Raymond Quartermaster Sergeant Company I, Fourth Iowa Cavalry

John L. Shipley First Lieutenant Company H, Twenty-third Iowa Infantry

William R. Shriver First Lieutenant First Iowa Cavalry

Davis S. Smith First Lieutenant Company K, Eleventh Iowa Infantry

John W. Stiffler Second Lieutenant Company K, Tenth Iowa Infantry

Thomas W. Stiles Captain Company F, Thirty-ninth Iowa Infantry

Robert A. Stitt Adjutant Fourth Iowa Infantry

Miller Richard Tidrick First Lieutenant Company G, Third Iowa Infantry

Adoniram J. Tisdale Captain Company F, Fourth Iowa Infantry

Of the above named officers, John D. Ewing, Leander Pitzer, Oliver C. Ayers and John P. Jones were killed in battle or died of wounds received while in battle.

The following are some observations by the County Coordinator, Kent Transier.

Although the Madison County Rangers (Cavalry) and Winterset Guards (Infantry) who signed up on that Wednesday night in April 1861 disbanded because of bickering among the leadership, some of the members went on to serve their county and the Union. The following list details the eventual service of the members of those two groups.

Madison County Rangers Service

Butler Bird Quartermaster Sergeant, Company D, 1st Cavalry, enlisted 13 Jun 1861, discharged 14 Feb 1863

B. M. Bixby No record of service

Henderson C. Carter No record of service

Samuel Conigan No record of service

Jacob Israel Denman No record of service

David Dekalb Davisson No record of service

E. W. Evans No record of service

Charles A. Gaskill No record of service

John M. Lambert No record of service

William C. Newlon Third Sergeant, Company G, 3rd Infantry, enlisted 21 May 1861, slightly wounded at Shiloh, lost a leg, discharged 06 Apr 1863

Henry M. Porter No record of service

William Reynolds Third Sergeant, Company I, 4th Cavalry, enlisted 21 Oct 1861, discharged 18 Jun 1862

George M. Rutledge No record of service

It is interesting to note that just 3 of the original 13 Rangers ended up serving from Madison County.  Of the remaining 10, it is not known whether their fervor cooled, they were turned off by the in-fighting, they were turned down at enlistment, or they served from elsewhere. Of the Winterset Guard, 27 of 47 went on to serve and another 4 may have served but the names are in question.

Winterset Guard Service

John M. Andrews Quartermaster Sergeant, Command, 39th Infantry, enlisted 17 Aug 1862, appointed 24 Nov 1862

Oliver C. Ayres First Lieutenant, Company A, 39th Infantry, enlisted 08 Aug 1862, commissioned 24 Nov 1862

Thomas Bardrick No record of service

Sylvester G. Beckwith First Lieutenant, Company H, 23rd Infantry, enlisted 22 Jul 1862, wounded at Black River Bridge, died of wound 05 Jun 1863

Derrick D. Bennett No record of service

George W. Betts Private, Company A, 39th Infantry, enlisted 12 Aug 1862

David W. Burnett Private, Company D, 1st Cavalry, enlisted 18 Jul 1861

F. I. Cash No record of service

Francis Marion Cassidy Private, Company A, 39th Infantry, enlisted 13 Aug 1862

Lorenzo N. Clark No record of service

J. W. Craven No record of service (A John D. Craven served in the 23rd Infantry).

Henry J. B. Cummings Colonel, Command, 39th Infantry, enlisted 01 Jul 1861 as Captain, Company F, 4th Infantry

Henry C. Farnsworth No record of service

Milton Foster No record of service

Titus W. Fouch No record of service

William H. Goodwin Private, Company F, 4th Infantry, enlisted 01 Jul 1861, wounded at Vicksburg

Nathan Anderson Harlan No record of service (A John A. P. Harlan served in 39th Infantry).

William P. Hastings First Sergeant, Company I, 4th Cavalry, enlisted 14 Oct 1861

John M. Holaday Private, Company F, 4th Infantry, enlisted 01 Jan 1862, wounded at Pea Ridge, discharged

John D. Holbrook No record of service

Benjamin C. Howell Eighth Corporal, Company H, 23rd Infantry, enlisted 09 Aug 1862, discharged for disability 26 Aug 1863

William M. Jenkins No record of service

Lewis D. Karns No record of service

Jacob W. Kirk Private, Company D, 1st Cavalry, enlisted 13 Feb 1864

Jesse R. Lambert First Lieutenant, Company I, 4th Cavalry, enlisted 01 Jul 1861, resigned 02 Jul 1862

Hamilton Marlow No record of service (An Eddy Marlow served in Company E, 47th Infantry).

Benjamin F. Murray Company G, 3rd Infantry, enlisted 21 May 1861, taken prisoner at Shiloh

John Nichol No record of service

James P. Noel No record of service

Asbury Nosler Quartermaster Sergeant, Command, 47th Infantry

Eli Odell No record of service

F. M. Pickerell No record of service

Leander Pitzer First Lieutenant, Company F, 4th Infantry, enlisted 01 Jul 1861, wounded at Vicksburg 28 Dec 1862, died of wounds at Paducah, Kentucky 23 Jan 1863

William R. Shriver First Lieutenant, Company D, 1st Cavalry, enlisted 31 Jul 1861, resigned 18 Jun 1864

James Stafford Second Corporal, Company F, 4th Infantry, enlisted 01 Jul 1861, wounded at Chickasaw Bayou, killed in action at Cherokee 23 Oct 1863

John Stiffler Second Lieutenant, Company K, 10th Infantry, enlisted 28 Sep 1861, killed at Missionary Ridge 25 Nov 1863

George W. Stiffler Private, Company F, 4th Infantry, enlisted 15 Nov 1861, wounded at Chickasaw Bayou

Thomas M. Stiffler Fifth Sergeant, Company F, 4th Infantry, enlisted 01 Jul 1861, wounded at Chicasaw Bayou and Vicksburg, died of wounds 14 Aug 1863

D. William Thompson Private, Company A, 39th Infantry, enlisted 14 Aug 1862

Charles Tibbles Private, Company F, 4th Infantry, enlisted 01 Jul 1861, taken prisoner at Clayville, Arkansas

Miller Richard Tidrick Commissary Sergeant, Company G, 3rd Infantry, enlisted 20 May 1861, resigned 23 May 1862

Cal Trion No record of service

C. C. Ward No record of service

E. T. Warner No record of service (An Ephraim P. Warner served in Company G, 3rd Infantry).

John H. Williams Private, Company F, 4th Infantry, enlisted 01 Jul 1861, wounded at Chickasaw Bluffs, died of wounds at Young's Point 14 Feb 1863

Joseph D. Williams Private, Company F, 4th Infantry, enlisted 01 Jul 1861, died from hernia 17 Sep 1861

Seymour B. Williams Fourth Corporal, Company H, 23rd Infantry, enlisted 09 Aug 1862, wounded at Spanish Fort, Alabama 30 Mar 1865, died 02 Apr 1865

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Maintained by Judy Wight Branson and County Co-Coordinator Kent Transier

This page was last updated Thursday, 05-Feb-2009 23:56:32 CST