Thursday, October 22, 2009



Paris P. Henderson was born at Liberty, Union county, Indiana, on the 3d day of January, 1825. He was educated at the Common Schools of his native town, where he resided till he reached his eighteenth year. At eighteen, he learned the tanner's and currier's trade in Vermillion county, Illinois. He settled in Warren county, Iowa, in the fall of 1847, and two years later was appointed organizing-sheriff of that county. In August, 1851, he was elected County Judge of his county, which office he held for three consecutive terms. In the fall of 1859, he was elected to the State Senate, and was the Senator of Warren county at the outbreak of the war.

In September, 1861, Mr. Henderson was commissioned captain of Company G, 10th Iowa Infantry, which he had enlisted in Warren county. On the 27th of January, 1863, he was promoted to the lieutenant-colonelcy, and, on the 18th of the following August, to the colonelcy of the 10th Iowa Infantry. On the arrival of General Sherman at Savannah, in his grand march from Atlanta to the sea, Colonel Henderson resigned his commission, having served three years and nearly three months. The military history of Colonel Henderson reflects on him much credit: it is the same as that of his regiment; for, from the time of his entering the service until the date of his leaving it, he was present with it. Even during the greater part of the time of his lieutenant-colonelcy, he commanded it; for Colonel Small was sick and absent.

Early in September, 1863, the 10th Iowa Infantry, which was then in camp at Vicksburg, left with its division for the purpose of reinforcing General Steele, then marching on Little Rock; but, news coming of the fall of Little Rock on the arrival of the division at Helena, it remained in camp at that place, awaiting transports in which to return to Vicksburg. In the meantime, General Sherman's old Corps had been ordered to report at Chattanooga. The march from Memphis commenced about the middle of October. Why, I do not know, but for some reason the 7th Division of the 17th Corps was separated from its command, and ordered to join General Sherman in this march. There were many other troops, who for a long time had done little, and who, in fairness, should have been selected for this arduous campaign. It was supposed by the division that the mettle of which it had shown itself possessed, on so many battle-fields, had determined the commanding general in this choice; for General Grant was once reported to have said: — "One knows just what he can do with that division." In justice to the veteran troops of this command, these facts should be stated; for they should receive the credit due to their gallant services. And here, although not in strict keeping with my plan, I yield to what I know would be the earnest wish of the regiment whose history I am recording, and append the names of the regiments which constituted this noble command. In the First Brigade were the 4th Minnesota, the 48th and 59th Indiana, the 18th Wisconsin, and the 63d Illinois. In the Second Brigade were the 10th Missouri, the 17th Iowa, the 56th Illinois, and the 80th Ohio. In the 3d Brigade were the 5th and 10th Iowa, the 26th Missouri, and the 93d Illinois. In our great National struggle there has been no more worthy or potent representative from the great North West than the 7th Division, 17th Army Corps.

Moving up the river from Helena to Memphis, the 10th Iowa left that city early in October, and proceeded by rail as far as Glendale, Mississippi, nine miles east of Corinth. From that point the regiment marched to Chattanooga, by way of Dixon's Station; Chickasaw Landing, on the Tennessee River; Florence, Alabama, Rogersville, Prospect Station, on the Nashville and Decatur Railroad; Fayetteville, Winchester, Decherd and Bridgeport. The Tennessee River, at Chickasaw Landing, was crossed on the night of the 30th of October, and, in the evening of the 19th of November, the 10th Iowa, with its division, arrived under Lookout Mountain. The night of the 30th of October, 1863, was stormy and dismal, which not only rendered the crossing of the Tennessee disagreeable, but soured the tempers of all. General –––, in command of the division, superintended the crossing of his troops, and, like every one else, was irritable. On one occasion, while his boat was approaching the south bank of the river, the detail on shore had left their post, and no one chanced to be at hand but a lieutenant, the son of a Congressman. The hawser being thrown ashore and no one there to receive it, General ––– cried out, "Take hold of that rope, sir." "I am a lieutenant, and the son of Congressman –––." " Don't care a d—n, take hold of that rope." But the lieutenant was relieved by the detail, who at that instant came up.

I have said that the 10th Iowa, with its division, arrived at the foot of Lookout Mountain in the evening of the 19th of November. The head of the division arrived in Lookout Valley just before night-fall, and no sooner was it seen by the enemy, than he commenced displaying his signal-lights. Bragg knew that General Grant was receiving reinforcements, but the number he could not tell, for darkness intervened soon after the head of the column came in view. Before day-light the next morning, the division was marched across the Tennessee River, and behind some hills, out of view of the enemy. It was said that this was one of the plans which General Grant had adopted to puzzle and mislead the enemy; and it may be correct history. It was even said that General Grant would, in the night-time, march troops from the north bank of the river under Lookout Mountain, and, after day-light the next morning, march them back to their former position. But, however this may be, it is certain that Bragg was, by some means, thrown from his reckoning; for he attributed to General Grant, at Chattanooga, a much larger army than he had.

From the 20th of November until the 23d, the 10th Iowa, with its brigade and division, rested in camp behind the hills above mentioned, but at mid-night of the last named date marched down to the river to effect a crossing. The crossing was to be made in pontoons, and just below the mouth of South Chickamauga Creek. The pontoon-boats had already been launched in the North Chickamauga, so that all was in readiness. The brigade of General Giles A. Smyth, numbering about eighteen hundred men, led the advance. Embarking on the pontoon-boats, they floated quietly down into the Tennessee, and then made rapidly for the opposite shore; and so quiet and systematic were their movements that they surprised and captured the entire picket-guard of the enemy but one. By day-light in the morning, nearly three entire divisions of Sherman's command had reached the south bank safely, and were behind intrenchments nearly a mile and a half in length. These successes insured victory to General Grant at Chattanooga; for he could now swing round on the enemy's right and rear, and force him to abandon his boasted impregnable position.

In the fighting which followed, the 5th, the 10th, and the 17th Iowa regiments took a conspicuous part, though neither of these regiments met the enemy till the 25th instant. Nor did the 6th Iowa, which was the only other Iowa regiment that crossed the Tennessee with Sherman, meet the enemy before that time. In a south-westerly direction from where the crossing was effected, and about four miles distant, was the long range of irregular and precipitous hills, known as Mission Ridge; and to wrest these from the possession of the enemy, was the object of General Sherman's crossing the river. At about three o'clock in the afternoon of the 24th instant, the 10th Iowa, with its brigade and division, (the whole command drawn up in column by division) marched down through the timber and wet bottom-lands that intervened between the place of crossing and Mission Ridge, to assault and capture a high hill in the northern portion of the ridge. The movement was made, and the hill gained without a casualty; for, not having been fortified, it was abandoned by the enemy. But on the next hill beyond, which was about half a mile distant, were the enemy in large force, and strongly fortified; and against this position were the attacks of the 7th Division directed the next day. Retiring from the hill just occupied by its division, the 10th Iowa bivouacked the night of the 24th in the woods near the Chattanooga and Knoxville Railroad; but there was little sleep for the regiment, for it was during that night that General Hooker was driving the enemy from Lookout Mountain; and such an incessant and appalling fire of musketry was hardly ever heard before in the night-time. It raged from sun-down until near day-light the next morning. Thus far every thing had worked favorably, and "on the night of the 24th our forces maintained an unbroken line, with open communications, from the north end of Lookout Mountain, through Chattanooga Valley, to the north end of Mission Ridge." General Bragg was now defeated; and to save his army, his baggage, stores and artillery, was with him the important question. The point against which the attacks of the 5th, 6th, 10th and 17th Iowa regiments, with their respective commands, were directed on the 25th instant, covered and protected Bragg's line of communications to the rear; and hence it was that the fighting at that point was of the most desperate character; for, that hill lost, and Bragg would have lost nearly every thing.

The 10th Iowa, with its brigade, was ordered up to reinforce General Ewing's command at eleven o'clock in the morning. Moving west across the railroad already alluded to, it marched out across an open field, and down into low ground, which was covered with under-brush. Next, it was faced to the south, which brought it fronting the hill in question, and for the possession of which, General Sherman was now struggling. Thus far, the entire brigade had lost but two men; but now orders came for an advance — first to the White House, (which was already in flames) and then to the top of the hill. In the advance to the White House, the artillery-firing of the enemy was most frightful. Their position on the hill, or succession of hills, was semi-circular, and, at different points along their line, were some forty pieces of artillery in battery, the range of which was short and accurate. They used solid shot, shell, canister and grape; and, altogether, it was the most terrific artillery-fire the 10th Iowa ever passed under in the open field. It was also the most terrific artillery-fire the 5th and 17th Iowa ever passed under. To this day, I can not recall that hour, without feeling in sympathy with the old Latin poet: "Steteruntque comoe et vox faucibus hoesit."

On the hill-top, the 10th held the left of the brigade, and fought with its accustomed gallantry; but the numbers of the enemy, with their strong position, could not be overcome, and a retreat had to be ordered soon after General Matthies, its brigade commander, was wounded. The engagements of Champion's Hill and Mission Ridge are regarded by the 10th Iowa, as among their hardest battles.

From the 25th of November, 1863, until the following May, the histories of the 10th and 17th Iowa regiments are similar. The 10th marched to Graysville, Georgia, in pursuit of Bragg's forces, and then, returning, was ordered to Huntsville, Alabama, where it remained until the following May. It was then sent to Decatur, Alabama, the junction of the Nashville and Decatur with the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. While at Huntsville, the regiment had re-enlisted as veterans; but it did not receive its veteran furlough until the following June.

While stationed at Decatur, the 10th Iowa, under Lieutenant-Colonel McCalla, with some one hundred and thirty men of the 9th Ohio Cavalry, had a little affair with the rebel forces of General Forest, on the south side of the Tennessee River; but I omit details, for their recital could give no additional lustre to the already brilliant record of the regiment.

The 10th Iowa Infantry returned to the front late in July, 1864, and arrived at Kingston, Georgia, on the 1st of August. Here it remained on guard-duty along the railroad, until the time of Wheeler's celebrated cavalry raid on General Sherman's rear line of communications, when it joined the command which was organized to make pursuit. The expedition was out about twenty days, and marched, during that time, more than five hundred miles. But their fleet-footed adversary could not be brought to a stand, and, after pursuing him through East and Middle Tennessee and Northern Alabama, they finally came up with him just as his rear-guard was crossing the Tennessee River at Florence. Soon after, followed the flank movement of General Hood, after which, the 10th Iowa moved with General Sherman on his memorable march to Savannah. Its last campaign was from Savannah to Raleigh, and that will probably be its last in the war; for the veteran army of Northern Virginia has now surrendered.

Colonel Henderson is about six feet in hight, and well formed. He has a pleasant face, and an easy, winning address. No one can know him but to like him. The Colonel was a brave and efficient officer, and popular with his regiment; but he was too kind and conceding, I am told, for an excellent disciplinarian.

Henderson was one of the Iowa colonels who would do justice to a subordinate, without an express or implied consideration. He never bartered his honor to enhance his chances for promotion.

SOURCE: Addison A Stuart, Iowa Colonels and Regiments, p. 227-34

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