Friday, December 11, 2009



Samuel L. Glasgow is the youngest officer of his rank from Iowa. He is a native of Ohio, and was born in Adams county of that State, on the 17th of September 1838. His education is academic, and was acquired at the South Salem Academy, Ross county, Ohio. In the fall of 1856, he left his home in Tranquillity, and, coming to Iowa, settled in Oskaloosa, Mahaska county, where he studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1858, and soon after removed to Corydon, Wayne county, where he opened a law office. He practiced his profession in Corydon till the spring of 1861, when he entered the service. Corydon is his present home.

In July, 1861, Mr. Glasgow assisted in enlisting Company I, 4th Iowa Infantry, of which he was elected and commissioned first lieutenant. He served with his regiment in Missouri till the 4th of January, 1862, when ill health compelled him to resign his commission. In the following Summer having recovered his health, he recruited a company for the 23d Iowa Infantry; and, on reporting to his regiment at Des Moines, was made its major; on the first of the following December he was promoted to the lieutenant-colonelcy. Colonel Kinsman was killed in the charge of his regiment at Big Black River Bridge, on the 17th day of May, and, two days later, Lieutenant-Colonel Glasgow was made colonel, or rather the 19th day of May, 1863, is the date of his commission. For his gallantry at Milliken's Bend, Louisiana, where he saved the place from capture and the black troops from massacre, and for general good conduct since, he was in the spring of 1865, promoted to brevet brigadier-general. For one so young he has had a brilliant military career.

Since entering the service in 1862, General Glasgow's military record has been made with his old regiment. He has served with it constantly. At Port Gibson, its first engagement, he commanded it; for at that time Colonel Kinsman was under arrest, though for what cause I have been unable to learn. That day he distinguished himself, fighting his regiment almost from morning till night, without rest or food. He engaged the enemy on the left. Brigadier-General E. A. Carr, of Pea Ridge fame, commanded the 14th Division, and in his roll of honor he speaks thus of the 23d Iowa and its brave young commander: "The 23d Iowa, with its gallant commander, Lieutenant-Colonel S. L. Glasgow, behaved admirably."

The battle at Milliken's Bend, Louisiana, was the first in which Colonel Glasgow commanded his regiment with his new commission. These briefly are its antecedents. After Joe Johnson's defeat at Jackson, and Pemberton's at Champion's Hill and Big Black River Bridge; after Sherman had gained Haines' Bluff, and formed communication with the outside world by way of the Yazoo; Pemberton's grand army was shut fast in the very trap which for months the rebel papers had declared was set for Grant. This was all very mortifying, and the least that could now be done was to raise the siege. The enemy, however, boasted that they would capture Grant's army. To this end, Johnson, with troops sent him from nearly every corner of the Confederacy, was to strike the Federal army in the rear, while Holmes, at the same time or a little before, was to capture different points held by the Federal troops along the Mississippi River. Then, with the Mississippi blockaded, and his supplies and reinforcements cut off; with a valorous army in his rear, and a co-operating one in his front, Grant must surrender. This was what they boasted; but, had they released their friends, they would doubtless have felt amply compensated.

Among the points on the Mississippi to be attacked were Young's Point, Milliken's Bend and Lake Providence. Milliken's Bend was the only point where the fighting was severe.

How the 23d Iowa happened to be in the affair at Milliken's Bend is explained thus: The regiment, after the engagement at Big Black River Bridge, had been detailed as a portion of the troops to guard prisoners north, and had made its trip, and returned to Young's Point. On the afternoon of the 6th of June, word came from Milliken's Bend that the place was being threatened by the enemy; and, that evening, Colonel Glasgow received orders to proceed with his regiment to that point; for it was garrisoned by only a few colored troops. Arriving that night, the colonel reported to the commandant of the place, and was advised to retain his regiment on the boat, which he did. The commandant anticipated no serious attack.

When day-light broke a strange sight met the eye of the regiment. Standing on their boat they first saw commotion among the Federal troops on shore, and then looking across the broad, open fields that stretch back from Milliken's Bend for some half a mile, they saw emerging from the timber and at full run a long, rebel line of battle. Instantly Colonel Glasgow prepared to debark his regiment, a task always attended with irksome delay.

Back a few rods from the river bank is the Mississippi levee. The black troops were already stationed behind it; but between the enemy and the 23d Iowa there was a race to see who would first reach the place. The regiment, after landing, started on the run by the right flank and the right of it reached the levee just as the enemy came up on the opposite side. The left was still back, and as it came up the enemy poured into it a most deadly fire. The struggle which now followed, was of the most desperate character and the conduct of the 23d Iowa was gallant beyond description. The conflict became hand-to-hand, and to give an idea of its fierceness I will state that the person of Colonel Glasgow was bespattered with the blood and brains of his slaughtered men, beaten out with the clubbed muskets of the enemy. The contending forces were separated only by the levee and several hand-to-hand encounters took place on its top. In one instance, a powerful man of the 23d Iowa named John Virtue assaulted a rebel with his bayonet. The parties met on the top of the levee, and after a few parries each pierced the other through. They stood thus struggling when another soldier of the 23d Iowa, named Thomas McDowell, rushed on the rebel and beat his brains out with his musket. Virtue afterward died of his wound. The above is an actual occurrence. And thus the fighting continued until the arrival of the gun-boats from below, when after a few shots the enemy fled to the woods. The 23d Iowa lost in this engagement twenty-three killed and thirty-four wounded. Captain J. C. Brown and Lieutenant Downs were killed; and among the wounded were Major Houston, Captain Dewey and Lieutenants Carlton and Dewey. The regiment went into the engagement with not above one hundred and ten men. Its losses were frightful. At the same time the enemy attacked Milliken's Bend, other commands also attacked the posts at Lake Providence and Young's Point. At Young's Point there were but a few shots fired. A squad of one hundred or more convalescents were kept constantly on the march from one point to another, and thus threw the enemy from their reckoning. They thought the place was held by a large force, whereas there were few troops except these convalescents.

A few days after the fight at Milliken's Bend the 23d Iowa re-joined its brigade in rear of Vicksburg, where it remained until the fall of the city, and then marched under General Sherman on the second trip to Jackson. Next, it sailed with its brigade to Carrollton, Louisiana, and from that point marched on the expedition via Bayou Boeuf, Brashear City, Berwick Bay and Opelousas to Vermillionville. A history of this march will be found in the sketch of the 24th Iowa.

For a history of the voyage to the Texan coast in the fall of 1863, and to show the character of services of the 23d Iowa and the other Iowa troops of that division while stationed in that outside country, I quote from the history of one of the regiments of the 2d Brigade, (afterward of the 1st):

"On the 20th November proceeded down the river and crossed the bar into the Gulf of Mexico, at 9 A. M., of the 21st. On the 26th, after a stormy and perilous voyage, arrived at the mouth of the Rio Grande, and off Brazos Santiago, Texas. Here an attempt was made to land a portion of the troops at Point Isabel. The ship drawing too much water to cross the bar, five companies of the 11th Wisconsin were landed in small boats, but during the undertaking — a somewhat hazardous one — a storm arose, and the ship was compelled to put to sea again, leaving that portion of the troops landed at Point Isabel. On the evening of the 27th, we arrived off Mustang Island, seventy miles from Matagorda Bay, and the storm having somewhat abated, succeeded in landing the troops safely. On the 29th, proceeded on the expedition against Fort Esperanza, commanding the entrance to Matagorda Bay, crossed St. Joseph's and Matagorda Islands, and arrived at our destination December 1st. The enemy, having blown up their magazines, and abandoned their works the night previous, we encamped near the port of Saluria. December 2d, crossed Pass Cavallo, at the entrance of the bay, and went into camp on the Peninsula, at De Crou's Point. Remained at this place until January 3d, 1864, when proceeded to Indianola, up the bay, a distance of forty miles. The enemy occupied the town, but fled at the approach of the Union army. We were quartered in houses at Indianola about three weeks, when the brigade was ordered to Old Indianola, where it went into winter quarters. While at Old Indianola, the 1st and 2d Brigades were consolidated, and formed the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division ; the former commanded by Brigadier-General Fitz Henry Warren, and the latter successively by Generals Washburne, Dana, and Benton.

"On the 13th day of March, the troops evacuated the town and returned to Matagorda Island. All other troops of the 13th Army Corps having left the Island, the 1st Division under command of General Dana was assigned to the defenses of the coast at this point. * * * * * *

"On the 21st of April, was ordered to embark on board the steamers, and proceed on an expedition, under command of General Warren in person, to Port Lavacca, a distance of seventy miles from the mouth of the bay, and thirty miles above Indianola; the object of which was to obtain lumber for the completion of the forts, and other works already constructed on the island. We arrived in front of town at noon on the 23d instant, when the enemy, consisting of one company of Wall's cavalry, seeing the approach of the steamers, fled to the country. Port Lavacca is beautifully situated on the west bank of Lavacca Bay, and contained before the war nearly two thousand inhabitants."

On the receipt of the news of disaster to Banks up the Red River in the latter part of April, 1864, the Texan coast was abandoned by the chief portion of the Federal troops, they being ordered to report to that officer; for Banks had caught the bear, and he wanted reinforcements "to help him let go." The fleet bearing the command proceeded up the Red River as far as Fort De Russey. Here the river was found obstructed and the troops returning to its mouth disembarked. They remained in camp till Banks was about to work his way through to Simmsport when they proceeded to the latter place. But the history of these operations, and of those in which the 23d Iowa took part during the following Summer and Fall are void of much interest. Colonel Glasgow and the 23d Iowa have more recently distinguished themselves in the operations around Mobile. Leaving Morganzia on the 5th of January, 1865, the colonel proceeded with his regiment to Kennerville about twenty-five miles above New Orleans, and then prepared for the coming Spring Campaign. The 23d Iowa operated under Granger, and marched to the rear of Spanish Fort from Mobile Point, crossing Fish River at Danley's Mill or Ferry. With the 19th Iowa, 20th Wisconsin and 94th Illinois the 23d held the extreme left of the Federal line and in pushing its approaches toward Spanish Fort led every regiment of its division. Indeed General Granger issued orders I am told for it to cease work till the balance of his troops could dig their way up.

To show the zeal with which the officers and men worked, I give the following:

The country in which the left of Granger's command operated was a level sandy plain, and no one could rise from the trenches without being exposed to the fire of the enemy's sharp-shooters. In front of Colonel Glasgow's line, which was not more than seventy-five or eighty yards from the enemy's works, was a rail pen near which he was desirous to start a trench, to meet another, being dug on the left of his line.

To R. W. Cross, a gallant young officer, and some half-dozen of his men was entrusted this dangerous work. I need not add that it was successfully accomplished, only one man was wounded. The party were obliged to run nearly fifty yards under the enemy's fire, before reaching cover; the captain and each man carried a gun and shovel.

There is little more of special interest in the history of the 23d Iowa. After the fall of Mobile it accompanied the Federal forces to Texas. It will probably soon be mustered out of the service.

Without regard to his age, General Glasgow is one of the bravest and best officers of the volunteer service. He is tall and slender in person, has black hair and eyes, and a lively intelligent countenance. He is a much better looking man than his portrait represents.

I am told that in battle he is gallant in the extreme: that, if there is a charge to be made, he never sends, but leads his men. At Spanish Fort, he was anxious to assault the enemy, whom he believed to be evacuating the place; (which afterward proved true) but the brigade commander would not consent. " The ground is full of shells, and we shall be all blown to pieces." " Who cares for the shells?" replied Glasgow, "my regiment will follow me."

He is the model of a gallant, chivalric young officer.

SOURCE: Addison A. Stuart, Iowa Colonels and Regiments, p. 389-96

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