Tuesday, November 3, 2009



John Shane was born in the county of Jefferson, Ohio, on the 26th of May, 1822, and was educated at Jefferson College, Pennsylvania. After graduating, he taught school for a few years in Kentucky, and then, returning to Ohio, studied law in the office of E. M. Stanton, Esq., now our honored Secretary of War. He was admitted to the bar at Steubenville, in 1848, where he continued in the practice till the year 1855, when he removed to Vinton, Benton county, Iowa, his present home.

Colonel Shane volunteered as a private in Company G, 13th Iowa Infantry; and, on its organization, was elected its captain. This rank he held till the 30th of October, 1861, when he was elected to the majority of his regiment. At the battle of Shiloh, both Lieutenant-Colonel Price and Major Shane were severely wounded. The former soon after resigning his commission, Major Shane was promoted to the lieutenant-colonelcy. On the 13th of March, 1863, he succeeded General Crocker to the colonelcy of the 13th Iowa Infantry, which position he retained till the expiration of his three years' term of service. The principal portion of the history of this gallant regiment has been made under Colonel Shane; for, with the exception of Shiloh, it was under his command in all its engagements, prior to the fall of Atlanta. It is, however, but proper to state that, for several months after Colonel Crocker left his regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Shane was indebted to him for its marked efficiency; for, although in command of a brigade and nominally absent, the colonel was really the commanding officer of the regiment.

I need not record in full the services of the 13th Iowa, for they are given elsewhere, in connection with the histories of the other regiments of the Iowa Brigade. Dating from the middle of April, 1862, the records of these regiments are almost precisely the same.

Returning from General Grant's march into Central Mississippi in the winter of 1862-3, the 13th Iowa, with its brigade, returned to the line of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, and, for a few weeks, went into camp at La Fayette, Tennessee. About the 20th of January, the brigade marched to Memphis, and on the 22d left that city on transports for Young's Point, Louisiana. Here the regiment remained for several weeks, furnishing heavy details to work on the celebrated Vicksburg Canal, which taps the Mississippi just below Young's Point. The services of the 13th Iowa and of the Iowa Brigade were, from this time till the following September, of the most annoying and fatiguing nature.

In the complicated movements around Vicksburg, which attended its investment and capture, the regiment acted a prominent part; though the services performed were of such a nature as not to challenge special notice. General McArthur's Division, to which the Iowa Brigade was attached, was the last of the 17th Corps to leave the river above Vicksburg, in the march across the country to the river below that city. By the time this division had reached a point opposite Grand Gulf, the brilliant successes of General McClernand and two divisions of General McPherson's Corps had compelled the evacuation of this point; and all that was now required of McArthur was to cross the river, and take possession of the place. This happened on the 6th of May, and, from that date until after the battles of Champion's Hill and Big Black River Bridge, Grand Gulf was held by the Iowa Brigade, and made a sort of base from which Grant's army received its supplies, and where all surplus baggage was stored.

There is an amusing and honest story connected with the occupation of Grand Gulf. Admiral D. D. Porter, since become celebrated on the coast of the Atlantic, had tried nearly one whole day to reduce this strong-hold, with his gun-boat fleet; but he so far failed as not to silence a single gun. He still watched in the vicinity, and, when the garrison, flanked by McClernand and McPherson, were compelled to evacuate, at once entered and occupied the works, and labeled upon the breech of every gun, "Captured by Admiral D. D. Porter, May 6th, 1863." I suppose Admiral Porter did well at Fort Fisher, as, indeed, he did on the Mississippi; but, though he is a brave and efficient officer, General Ben. Butler is not the only one who has had occasion to "blow the froth from his lively porter."

On the 19th of May, at mid-night, the Iowa Brigade was ordered back by forced marches across the neck of land to Young's Point, and sent by boat up the Yazoo, to the assistance of Sherman; but, on its arrival, it was learned that Sherman had sufficient force, and it was ordered again to the left. It retraced its weary steps, and, crossing the Mississippi River near Warrenton, marched to the front, arriving on the evening of the memorable 22d of May, but too late to participate in the general charge.

What is true of the position of Grant's forces before Vicksburg, on the morning of the 22d of May, is not generally known. The left of McClernand's Corps did not extend to the river below the city. A strip of country nearly seven miles in width, between McClernand's left and the river, was held by the enemy; and it was this gap in the line, which McArthur was ordered to fill, and which, when filled, completed the investment of Vicksburg. In coming into this position, the Iowa Brigade skirmished nearly the entire day of the 22d, and, as I have said, arrived before the enemy's works, just after the disastrous charge. But this position was maintained by General McArthur only until the 26th of May, the date of the arrival of General Lauman's command; for in the meantime, the enemy were reported to be concentrating in heavy force in the direction of Yazoo City, and the Upper Big Black, for the purpose of moving on General Grant's rear, to raise the siege; and General Blair, with a picked command, consisting of McArthur's Division and other troops, was ordered out to disperse them. This, with the exception of the march to Monroe, Louisiana, and that one just recently made through the bottomless swamps of South Carolina, is the hardest one the Iowa Brigade ever made. It was made by forced marches, in the heat of a Southern summer's sun, and through dust that was well-nigh suffocating. By those who participated in it, it will never be forgotten. But the march was the only thing of terror connected with the expedition ; for the enemy, who were met only in inconsiderable force near Mechanicsville, were dispersed with but few casualties. The expedition, however, was not without its good results; for, on its return by way of the fertile valley of the Yazoo, almost fabulous quantities of corn and cotton were destroyed. Five thousand head of cattle, sheep and hogs, too, were driven back to Grant's needy army.

After the return of this expedition, the 13th Iowa, with its brigade, constituted a portion of the force with which General Sherman held at bay the rebel General Johnson, on the Big Black. On the 3d and 4th of July, the regiment skirmished with the enemy's advance, and, on their retreat to Jackson, followed in close pursuit. Next follows the expedition under Brigadier-General Stevenson, from Vicksburg to Monroe, Louisiana, which was made in the middle of August, 1863; and an account of which appears in the sketch of General J. M. Hedrick, formerly of the 15th Iowa.

The following Autumn, and the greater part of the following Winter, were passed by the 13th Iowa in camp at Vicksburg. It was at Vicksburg that the regiment re-enlisted as veteran volunteers. Immediately after the march to Meridian, in which the 13th joined, it returned North on veteran furlough. The balance of its history has been made in the three wonderful marches of General Sherman — from Dalton to Atlanta, from Atlanta to Savannah, and from Savannah to Goldsboro and Washington. The regiment bore a conspicuous part in the memorable engagement of the 22d of July before Atlanta. Its loss was eleven killed, forty-two wounded, and ninety-six missing. Among the killed was the brave Major William A. Walker; and among the wounded, Captain George McLaughlin and Lieutenants Wesley Huff, George B. Hunter, and Charles H. Haskins. Captain Pope, and Lieutenants Rice, Parker and Eyestone were captured.

The aggregate loss of the 13th Iowa during the Atlanta Campaign I have failed to learn.

That which has most contributed to give the regiment a National reputation is the part it acted, or a portion of it, in the capture of Columbia, South Carolina, on the 17th of February, 1865. The colors of the regiment, in the hands of Lieutenant-Colonel Justin C. Kennedy, were the first to flaunt from the capitol building of South Carolina.

"Head-quarters 4rn Division, 17th Army Corps,
"Near Columbia, S. C., February 17, 1865

“Brigadier-general W. W. Belknap:

"SIR: — Allow me to congratulate you, and through you, Lieutenant-Colonel J. C. Kennedy, 13th Iowa Veteran Volunteers, and the men under his command, for first entering the city of Columbia on the morning of Friday, February 17th, and being the first to plant his colors on the Capitol of South Carolina.

"I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

"Your obedient servant,
"Giles A. Smith,
"Brevet Major-General Commanding."

Lieutenant-Colonel Kennedy is a resident of Vernon, Linn county, Iowa. He is thirty-two years of age, and a native of the State of New York. His name will live in American history.

Colonel Shane is one of the largest of the Iowa colonels, his weight being two hundred and ten pounds. He has sandy hair, (perhaps red) a florid complexion and blue eyes, looking out through a large, round, good-natured face. He is of an easy, jovial nature, relishes a joke, and is fond of good living. He ranked fairly as a soldier, and was popular with his command.

At home and in private life, he is much respected. He is economical, and has secured a snug property. I am told he was one of the few officers of our army who honestly made money in the service.

From the organization of the Republican Party in his county, he has been a prominent, working member. He was a delegate to the State Convention which re-nominated the Hon. Samuel J. Kirkwood for Governor of Iowa.

SOURCE: Addison A. Stuart, Iowa Colonels and Regiments, p. 265-70

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