Thursday, May 7, 2009



Noel B. Howard is one of the youngest officers of his rank in the service, and one of the best. He was born in the State of Vermont, in the year 1838; and was educated, I think, at the Norwich Military University of the same State. Just before the outbreak of the war, he was teaching a military school in one of the southern Atlantic States. Coming North, he was stopping in Lyons, Clinton county, Iowa, at the time Captain Hugh P. Cox's company of the 2d Iowa was being recruited. He enlisted in that company, and on its organization was elected first lieutenant. With that rank he entered the service. After the battle of Fort Donelson, he was promoted to the captaincy of his company, (I) and, on the 13th of October following, was made major of his regiment. He served with the rank of major till the spring of 1864, when he was made lieutenant-colonel, vice Lieutenant-Colonel Henry R. Cowles, resigned.

Colonel Weaver left his regiment at Resaca: since that time it has been commanded chiefly by Colonel Howard. In the terrible battle of the 22d of July, before Atlanta, he was wounded, which left the regiment for several weeks in command of Major M. G. Hamill. After the fall of Atlanta, the 3d Iowa Infantry was consolidated with the 2d. This, with the recruits and drafted men assigned to it, increasing its numbers to above the minimum of a regimental organization, entitled the 2d Iowa to a Colonel. Lieutenant-Colonel Howard was accordingly promoted to that rank; and no officer in the Federal army more richly merited the position.

The opening and closing days of the war were the most eventful to the 2d Iowa. It gained pre-eminent distinction at Fort Donelson, and closed its brilliant record, (for the war is virtually over) in the campaigns from Dalton to Atlanta, from Atlanta to Savannah, and from Savannah to Raleigh.

After leaving Resaca, Georgia, the operations of the 2d Iowa, up to the time of the capture of Atlanta, were briefly as follows:— On the 14th day of May, it marched with its brigade to Calhoun Ford, on the Oostanaula river, and assisted in forcing a crossing of that stream. It was the first regiment sent across, after which, having deployed as skirmishers, it held the enemy in check till the other troops were over. The Oostanaula was crossed on the morning of the 15th instant, and in the afternoon of the day following, the march was directed toward Rome. At Rome Cross Roads, the 2d Iowa engaged the enemy as skirmishers, and held the left of its division. Defeated at this point, the enemy fell back to Kingston, and beyond. The 2d Iowa, with its brigade and division, followed, and reached that place in the afternoon of the 19th of May. From Kingston, the regiment marched to Dallas, where it was engaged; from Dallas to Acworth Station, and thence to Big Shanty, near Kenesaw Mountain, where it arrived on the 10th of June. At Big Shanty, it was detached for a time from its brigade, and assigned to provost- and fatigue-duty; but it joined it again near Lost Mountain on the 3d of July, and the same day assisted in throwing up fortifications on Nick-a-jack creek.

From the 3d of July, until the arrival of McPherson before Atlanta, the movements of the 2d Iowa were the same as those of the other troops of its corps. Marching up past Marietta, it crossed the Chattahoochie at Roswell, and then followed out through Decatur to the east side of Atlanta. In approaching Atlanta, on the 20th instant, the regiment was deployed as skirmishers, and occupied a position between its own corps and the 23d. That day, it was engaged but slightly; but, on the 22d instant, it took an active part in repelling the desperate assaults of the enemy on the Army of the Tennessee. For the part taken by the 2d Iowa in that day's fighting, I refer to the report of Major Hamill.

"The regiment, with its brigade, was marched from position on the line between the 15th and 23d Corps, on the morning of the 22d, to position on the extreme left, to meet a rapid advance of the enemy on the left flank of the 17th Corps. We took position on the left flank of the brigade, the 7th Iowa on our right, on a ridge running almost at right angles with the line of the 17th Corps, and in an open field. Company G, under command of Captain Duckworth, was deployed as skirmishers; but had advanced only a short distance, when the enemy was discovered in the edge of the woods, advancing in force directly in our front. Our skirmishers being hard pressed retired to the left to avoid exposure, and until the regimental front was uncovered, when the regiment opened a well-directed fire on the enemy's advancing column, checking him, and throwing him into confusion. After fruitless efforts to rally his men under our fire, he was driven from the field, leaving dead, wounded, and arms in our hands." *******

"About the close of the engagement, Lieutenant-Colonel N. B. Howard was severely wounded, and compelled to leave the field, leaving the regiment in my command. Captain George Heaton, and three sergeants were severely wounded; one corporal mortally, and four privates, slightly. The captures were twenty prisoners, one hundred and sixty-seven stand of arms, and one stand of colors.

"Were I to make special mention of the officers and men who did their duty well, and who deserve promotion, I should have to mention every member of the regiment; for each officer and soldier deported himself as if the safety of the army and the success of our cause depended on his individual efforts. No soldiers ever discharged their duties better — none were ever more deserving of the lasting gratitude of the country."

The day following this terrible engagement, the 2d Iowa took up a position on the extreme left of the army, which it held till the morning of the 27th; and then, with its corps, swung round to the west side of Atlanta. Throwing up earth-works, the regiment remained in this position till the 8th of August following, when it was ordered to take up an advanced position.

But the movement in which the regiment most distinguished itself, during the campaign, was that which resulted in the evacuation of Atlanta. Captain John A. Duckworth, a most excellent officer, who afterwards died as Sherman was approaching Savannah, gives the following account of the part taken by his regiment in the first part of this brilliant movement. After stating that on the 29th of August, the 2d Iowa had assisted in destroying the West Point railroad, he goes on to say:

"On the morning of the 30th, in company with the 7th Iowa Infantry, the regiment was ordered to support the cavalry under General Kilpatrick, when the advance on Jonesboro was commenced. Taking the main road leading to that point, the command moved out at a brisk step, and under a burning sun, carrying, besides arms, ammunition, clothing and rations, a number of intrenching tools. A force of the enemy's cavalry was found at Strithesville Post-Office, six miles north-west of Jonesboro, posted on an eminence in an open field, and protected by a barricade of rails. This position the regiment, supported by the 7th Iowa, was ordered to charge. Two companies, (B and G) under command of Captain Lewis, were deployed as skirmishers. Major M. G. Hamill assumed command of both regiments, and the movement commenced."

"The line moved cautiously until it arrived at the edge of a corn-field, through which it had to pass, when the charge was ordered. The regiment advanced in the most gallant style, driving the enemy from the crest of the ridge, and taking possession of their defenses. In this charge, Major Hamill was wounded, who, it is needless to say, was doing his duty in the coolest and bravest manner. Skirmishers were advanced, and the enemy driven from his second position, in the edge of the woods. Throwing out an additional company as skirmishers, (E) the command again moved forward, under Major Mahon of the 7th Iowa. The enemy was found in his third position near Liberty Hill Church, which was charged, taken and held, by companies B, G and E, and a squadron of cavalry. Here five companies of the 7th Iowa took the advance, supported by the remainder of the two regiments united; but after advancing a mile further, orders came to join the brigade."

That same day the advance was continued to Flint River, where the 2d Iowa arrived late in the evening, and fortified. The next day, the 31st, the river was crossed, and the enemy went in heavy force; and from that time until Hood's defeat and flight, the regiment was much of the time under fire. Atlanta was evacuated on the night of the 2d of September, and, with the exception of the brief pursuit which was made to Fayetteville, the campaign was closed.

In the march from Dalton, and in the battles and skirmishes fought around Atlanta, the loss of the regiment was fifty-five officers and men, killed and wounded. Eight were killed, among whom were Lieutenant T. K. Raush, and Sergeant Cyrus Bartow. Lieutenant V. P. Twombly, regimental adjutant, was the only officer wounded near Jonesboro.

The services of the 2d Iowa, subsequently to the fall of Atlanta, are substantially the same as those of the other Iowa troops, who accompanied Sherman on his tour, via. Savannah, to Raleigh, and thence to Washington. At the National Capital, it joined in the Grand Review; and I am told, held the post of honor in the triumphal march of the Army of the Tennessee.

Colonel Howard is a small, pale-faced man, with a weakly voice, and weighing not more than one hundred and fifteen or twenty pounds. A stranger would judge that he had little capacity for physical endurance; but he is as hardy as a knot. He is quiet, and unpretending in his manners, and quick in his movements. To look at him, one would not judge him to be the man that he is; though his countenance indicates much energy and intelligence.

He is a model soldier. From the very first, he was known in the 2d Iowa, as "the nicest young man in the regiment." When his regiment left Keokuk, he was its best drilled officer, and, while a line officer, he had the best drilled company. He always did his duty quietly and faithfully; was always popular and approachable, and never became inflated by flattery or promotion.

SOURCE: Stuart, A. A., Iowa Colonels and Regiments, p. 77-82

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