Wednesday, November 4, 2009



The belligerous Colonel Shaw is a native of the State of Maine, and was born in the town of Steuben, Washington county, on the 22d day of September, 1822. He received his education at the Maine Wesleyan Seminary, and after leaving that Institution removed to Kentucky, where he engaged in school teaching. He was in Kentucky at the time war was declared by our Government against Mexico, and enlisted in the 2d Kentucky Infantry regiment, commanded by the gallant Colonel William R. McKee. He served with his regiment till the close of the war, accompanying it on every march, and fighting with it in every engagement, in which it took part. He was present in the sanguinary battle of Buena Vista; and was on that hill-slope, and in that ravine, where the battle raged with such fury, and where Colonel McKee was killed, and the chivalric Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Clay, Jr., mortally wounded. On the declaration of peace, he assisted in clearing our South-western borders of those hostile tribes of Indians, which were then so annoying to the frontier settlers.

By his great courage and determination, Colonel Shaw attained notoriety, and, in 1849, was chosen the leader of the first party, which crossed the barren and trackless country lying between Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Santa Fe. This event at that day was quite notable; and the number and names of the party have been preserved. It was composed of thirty-six men — citizens of New York, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas. In 1852, Colonel Shaw again crossed the plains, starting from Council Bluffs; and, this time, he was accompanied by only one man. In 1853, he settled in Anamosa, Jones county, Iowa, where he has since resided.

Colonel Shaw was made colonel of the 14th Iowa Infantry, on the 24th day of October, 1861; and held this rank till the summer of 1864, when he was dismissed the service.

The first of the long and bloody series of battles in which the 14th Iowa has borne a conspicuous part was that of Fort Donelson. Though present at the capture of Fort Henry, the regiment was not engaged. In the engagement at Fort Donelson, the 14th Iowa held the right of its brigade; and, on the afternoon of the 13th, two days before the successful assault which was led by the left wing of the 2d Iowa, under Colonel Tuttle, charged the enemy's works in connection with the 25th Indiana. The object of this assault was the capture of a six-gun battery, and the enemy's line in front; but through the failure of the 25th Indiana, under the immediate command of Colonel Lauman, to co-operate in the movement, no advantage was gained, except that a slightly advanced position was taken and held.

On the afternoon of the 15th of February, the 14th moved into the enemy's works to the right of the 2d Iowa, and soon after they had been entered by that regiment. In this day's fight the loss of the regiment was trifling — only one man killed, and seven wounded. On the afternoon of the 13th, it suffered more severely, losing two killed and fourteen wounded.

In closing his official report of this engagement, Colonel Shaw says:

"I may mention the valuable services rendered by Sergeant-Major S. H. Smith, who was shot dead by my side, while encouraging the men on to enter the breast-works of the enemy; also 1st Lieutenant William W. Kirkwood, commanding Company K, rendered very valuable assistance, in forming the line in front of the enemy's breast-works. Captain Warren C. Jones, of Company I, also rendered valuable service, in directing the fire of my marksmen, and, especially, in protecting the retiring of the skirmishers on the 13th instant."

I am informed that Colonel Shaw was mistaken in the case of Lieutenant Kirkwood. Second-Lieutenant Charles P. King commanded Company K at Fort Donelson, and distinguished himself.

Sergeant I. N. Rhodes, of Company I, also distinguished himself. Just after his regiment had gained the enemy's rifle-pits, the 1st Missouri Battery was hurried up to a sally-port, near by, and opened on the enemy. It at once drew the fire of a six-gun rebel battery, to the right and front. The firing of the rebel guns was so rapid and accurate that, the lieutenant in command of one section of the Missouri Battery became frightened, and deserted his guns. A sergeant of the battery, however, named Bremer, stuck to his piece, and returned the fire of the enemy. Sergeant Rhodes, of the 14th Iowa, seeing the other pieces deserted, sprang forward with six men of his company, and continued to work them on the enemy, till darkness prevented their further use.

From Fort Donelson, the 14th Iowa marched with its division to Pittsburg Landing, on the Tennessee. The distinguished part which the 14th took in the sanguinary engagement of Shiloh, has been noticed in the sketches of Colonels Geddes and Woods. The 8th, 12th and 14th Iowa regiments stood side by side, at the time they were surrounded and captured — the 14th holding the centre, with the 12th on its right, and the 8th on its left. In speaking of the gallant conduct of Colonel Shaw's regiment in this engagement, Major Hamill, of the 2d Iowa Infantry, said:

“They were to our left, and in plain view of us, until up to the time we learned of the flank movement of the enemy, and were ordered to fall back to save ourselves. The regiment can not receive too much credit; for I never saw such splendid fighting before nor since. They would lie quietly in line until the enemy was within fifteen or twenty paces, when they would rise and deliver a deadly fire, and then, in an instant, charge his line, which, in every instance, they did not fail to break, and force back in confusion."

Colonel Shaw, who commanded his regiment in this engagement, was captured and retained a prisoner of war until the following October, when he was paroled at Richmond, and sent into our lines. The history of his hardships, during his six months' prison-life, is the same as are those of Major, now Governor Stone, Colonel Geddes, Captain, now General Hedrick, and others, who were captured during the first day's battle.

The 14th Iowa, as also the other Iowa troops captured at Shiloh, were exchanged in the fall of 1862, and sent to Annapolis, Maryland. While at Annapolis, some of the officers telegraphed to General Halleck for permission to visit Washington; and the general replied: "You can come. Such troops can go any where: your indomitable courage at Shiloh saved the Army of the Mississippi from total annihilation." The courage and endurance of these troops was appreciated by General Beauregard, who is reported to have said, "We charged the centre (they held the centre) five distinct times, and could not break it."

The history of the 14th Iowa Infantry, subsequently to its exchange and re-organization, and up to the time when the greater portion of it was mustered out of the service, is similar to that of the 32d Iowa. During the spring and summer of 1863, it served at different points on the Mississippi River, on garrison-duty; but shortly before General A. J. Smith moved with his division from Memphis to Vicksburg, from which last named point he marched on the Meridian Expedition, the 14th was brigaded with the 27th and 32d Iowa, and the 24th Missouri. Colonel Shaw of the 14th Iowa was assigned to the command of this brigade; and, with it, saved the army of General Banks from defeat and capture at the battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana.

In the fall of 1864, the 14th Iowa joined in the operations which were instituted for the expulsion of General Price's army from Missouri; soon after which the regiment was mustered out of the United States service; for it had failed to re-enlist in sufficient numbers to entitle it to retain its organization. Only two companies remained in the service.

The 14th is the only Iowa regiment, from the 2d to the 17th, (and no others of the infantry troops came within the order) that lost its name and organization, on account of not re-enlisting. The reasons why the regiment refused to renew their enlistment need not be stated, for they involve an old feud, which should not be revived.

A true history of the Red River Campaign will attribute the chief glory which attaches to the battle of Pleasant Hill, to the 2d Brigade, 3d Division, 16th Army Corps; (Colonel William T. Shaw's command) for these troops saved the army of General Banks from destruction, on that day of terror.

Rumor says that the army of General Steele should have been, at least, as far south as Camden, Arkansas, on the 8th of April, 1864, the day on which General Banks first met the enemy in strong force, some four miles east of Mansfield, Louisiana. The object of both Banks and Steele was a common one—the capture of Shreveport, and the destruction of the rebel army in Western Louisiana and Arkansas. Of the character of the orders under which these officers marched, I am ignorant; but, had they co-operated as they should have done, the power of the Confederates would no doubt have been broken in the trans-Mississippi country. As it is, history must record disastrous defeat to the armies of both Steele and Banks.

General Smith arrived with his command within one mile of Pleasant Hill, at sun-down on the evening of the 8th of April, 1864, and a little before the fighting of that day had closed at the front. That night, General Banks fell back with his troops of the 13th and 19th Corps; and, early on the following morning, took up a position about one mile west of Pleasant Hill. At ten o'clock of the same morning, the command of General Smith was ordered to the front. Colonel Shaw's Brigade led the advance, and took up a position on the Pleasant Hill and Mansfield road. His own regiment was thrown across the road, and at nearly right angles with it. His right was held by the 24th Missouri, and his left by the 27th and 32d Iowa — the 32d holding the extreme left. To the right of his command, was the brigade of General Dwight; but the name of the brigade on the left, I am unable to give. Nor does it matter, since it fled at the first onset of the enemy. No sooner had Colonel Shaw brought his command into line, than the skirmishers of the enemy were encountered; and then, after an interval of long and harrowing suspense, followed the fierce and sanguinary conflict of Pleasant Hill, the details of which are given in the sketch of Colonel John Scott, of the 32d Iowa Infantry.

For the part taken by the 14th regiment in this engagement, I refer to the official report of Lieutenant-Colonel, then Captain W. C. Jones:

"The regiment moved out to the front with the brigade to which it was attached, at a few minutes before eleven o'clock A. M., taking position upon the line parallel with an open field, the right resting upon a road immediately in the rear of the 25th New York Battery. Company I, under command of 2d Lieutenant G. II. Logan, Company K, under command of Captain W. J. Campbell, were deployed as skirmishers toward the centre of the field. Their left was resting upon the: skirmish line of the 27th Iowa. Skirmishing occurred at intervals, until 4 o'clock P. M., when the enemy advanced by a cavalry charge — our skirmishers rallying in their proper places, the 25th New York Battery fell in the rear of us. We reserved our fire until the enemy were in easy pistol range, when we opened a fire upon them, which almost annihilated them. Horses and riders rolled almost within our lines. This charge was followed by an advance of infantry in two lines, when the conflict became general. The enemy was repulsed in front with heavy slaughter. The second line advanced upon our front, and a line at right angles upon our right flank, opening a terrible cross-fire. Our right was changed in the new direction to meet the new line. In this bloody cross-fire, our lamented Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. Newbold, fell from his horse, mortally wounded, the ball passing through his body from the right breast, disabling his left arm. There, also fell Lieutenant Logan, Lieutenant McMillen, and Lieutenant Shanklin, officers beloved by all, nobly laying their bodies a bleeding sacrifice upon their country's altar. The long list of casualties below, clearly indicate the unreproachable bravery and indomitable will of the regiment. Upon the fall of Lieutenant-Colonel Newbold, I assumed command of the regiment, and I tender most hearty thanks to the officers, commissioned and non-commissioned and privates, for the gallant manner in which they sustained their reputation, gained upon the bloody fields of Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, De Russy and Pleasant Hill.

"I withdrew the regiment, with the rest of the brigade, by your order, at six o'clock P. M."

Among the wounded of the 14th Iowa in this engagement, were Lieutenant Holmes, and Sergeants Ford, Parmenter, Nichol and M. L. Roberts — the last mortally. Private S. J. Parker had his head blown completely off by a shell.

Disregarding former services, his conduct in this engagement alone should have made Colonel Shaw a brigadier-general; but he was disgusted with the weakness of certain general officers, and the exhibitions of his manly wrath procured his dismissal from the service. He was dismissed for publishing a letter in the Dubuque "Times," from which the following is an extract:

"I reported to General Emery at about ten o'clock in the morning: he then appeared to be both drunk and a coward. I relieved General McMillan, who was drunk. I did not see General Emery again till after dark, and the fighting had ceased. He was then beastly drunk. I saw General Stone, General Banks' Chief of Staff, thirty minutes before the main attack was made, and pointed out to him my position, which he approved and said it must be held at all hazards."

I am informed by officers, who were with Colonel Shaw at the battle of Pleasant Hill that he stated in his letter nothing but the truth; but, though that be so, the publication of the letter was an ill-judged act, and in violation of wise and imperative rules. The colonel received his dismissal in the fall of 1864, and while he was with his command in Missouri, aiding to drive Price from that State. He returned at once to his home in Anamosa.

The last three months' service of the 14th Iowa was performed in Missouri. After the death of Colonel Newbold, the regiment was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel W. C. Jones, the original and celebrated "Paul Bentley," who, in the winter of 1862-3, entrapped Mrs. Jeff Thompson and Rosa at St. Louis. The history of this affair need not be repeated. I will only add the compliment the colonel received from General Curtis. "You have," he said, "done me more service than all my troops stationed at St. Louis."

The 14th Iowa, with its division, took part, during the month of October and a portion of September, in driving General Price from Missouri. Leaving Memphis on the steamer Bostona, the 5th of September, it arrived by way of Cairo at Jefferson Barracks, and, after a stay of a few days, left for Pilot Knob. It left at mid-night of the 24th of September. Part of the regiment was distributed along the Iron Mountain Railroad for purposes of defense, while the balance went forward with General Ewing to Pilot Knob.

Having been re-called to Jefferson Barracks, or that portion of it stationed along the railroad, it left with its division for Jefferson City, and marched thence to Tipton. From the last named point, it returned to St. Louis without meeting the enemy, and, on the 6th of November, reached Camp Kinsman, Davenport. Here the non-veterans were mustered out, and the others—two companies, as I have before stated — were organized into the Residuary Battalion. This battalion, which has since served at Camp Butler, Illinois, was officered as follows:— Company A: Hugo Hoffbauer, captain; Joseph D. McClure, 1st lieutenant; Addison Davis, 2d lieutenant. Company B: Orville Burke, captain; Thomas B. Beach, 1st lieutenant; Perry L. Smith, 2d lieutenant.

Colonel Shaw is of only medium size, being five feet and ten inches in hight [sic], and sparely built; though there is something about him which makes him appear larger. He is rough and abrupt in his manners, is careless in dress, and by no means comely in person. His eyes are gray and deep-set, and his cheek-bones prominent. His mouth is large, and has about it an expression of stubbornness, which, I believe, is his most prominent trait of character.

Colonel Shaw is a man of great experience, and large and varied acquirements. Indeed, there seems to be no profession or science, with which he is not, in a good degree, familiar. He can talk law, divinity or physic; and, by his blunt shrewdness, surprises even those who, by these callings, obtain a livelihood. In nearly all questions, he is noted for assuming the negative; and, when once interested, he will talk and argue from morning till night. Many days of his prison-life were passed in this way. In prison, Major, now Governor Stone, was his chief opponent.

It is a mystery to some why Colonel Shaw was never made a brigadier-general. He was brave and efficient in the field, and never met the enemy without distinguishing himself; and many, destitute of these qualifications, have been made general officers. He doubtless would have been promoted, had he been more reticent on the conduct and merits of his superiors. It was against his nature to let a blunder pass unnoticed; and he would quarrel with a superior, sooner than with a subordinate.

SOURCE: Addison A. Stuart, Iowa Colonels and Regiments, p. 271-80

1 comment:

Steve Hanken said...

"The reasons why the regiment refused to renew their enlistment need not be stated, for they involve an old feud, which should not be revived." In reality I think it should be revived, the men who most likely would have re-enlisted but did not, I believe, supported their commanding officer who had been forced out by the same officers who had left the 14th holding the line at Pleasant Hill. It appears to me, the regular line officers would just as soon have killed off "Old Shaw" as to attempt to protect him. "Mustang" officers have always been a thorn in the side of professionals, and Shaw was a professional outsider who often did bring shame on those who though more highly of themselves than others did of their accomplishments or lack there of.