Saturday, December 19, 2009



Milo Smith was born in the State of Vermont, about the year 1819. At the time of entering the service he was a resident of Clinton, Iowa. He was commissioned colonel of the 26th Iowa, the 10th day of August, 1862; was mustered into the United States service on the 30th of the following September; and served with his regiment in the field until after the fall and occupation of Savannah, when he resigned his commission and returned to his home in Clinton.

I know more of the 26th Iowa than of its colonel. The regiment, like all the regiments of its old brigade, has a splendid record. It was raised in Clinton and adjoining counties, in the summer and early fall of 1862, and proceeding to the front arrived at Helena, Arkansas, in the latter part of the following October. The first military movements in which it joined were the White River and Tallahatchie marches. It also joined General Sherman in his operations against Vicksburg, late in December, 1862, by way of Chickasaw Bayou and the Walnut Hills; but in the severe and disastrous fighting which took place at that point, it took no part, being detached from its brigade, and engaged on pioneer-duty.

The regiment's first engagement was Arkansas Post. This battle was not only its first, but, judging from its list of casualties, the severest one in which it ever took part. Its position on the field was exposed, and it was not only subjected to a severe fire from the enemy's artillery, but to a direct and partially enfilading musketry-fire. The regiment went into the engagement with an aggregate, in officers and enlisted men, of four hundred and forty-seven, and lost, in killed and wounded, one hundred and nineteen. Two officers were killed, and six wounded. The killed were Lieutenants P. L. Hyde and J. S. Patterson; Lieutenant James McDill died of his wounds a few days after the engagement. Colonel Milo Smith was slightly wounded in the leg. Among the enlisted men killed were Corporal Shaffer, Pankow, Delong and J. E. Stearns. Lieutenants William R. Ward and Edward Svendsen were wounded.

The engagement at Arkansas Post took place on the 11th of January, 1863; and on the 13th instant the regiment left that place on transports for Young's Point, Louisiana.

General Steele's Division, of General Sherman's Corps, to which the 26th Iowa was attached, was the one selected by General Sherman to open up a passage through Deer Creek to the Yazoo River, and thereby gain the high lands to the rear of Haines' Bluff and Vicksburg.

The following is from General Grant's official report of his operations against Vicksburg:

"On the 14th day of March, Admiral D. D. Porter, commanding the Mississippi squadron, informed me that he had made a reconnoissance up Steele's Bayou, and partially through Black Bayou, towards Deer Creek; and so far as explored, these water-courses were reported navigable for the smaller iron-clads. Information, given mostly, I believe, by the negroes of the country, was to the effect that Deer Creek could be navigated to Rolling Fork, and that from there, through the Sun-Flower to the Yazoo River, there was no question about the navigation. On the following morning, I accompanied Admiral Porter in the ram Price, several iron-clads preceding us, up through Steele's Bayou to near Black Bayou.

The expedition was promptly dispatched, and as a co-operating infantry force, Sherman, with Steel's Division, was sent up to Eagle's Bend and marched across the country from that point. I need not add the expedition was a failure.

"All this may have been providential, in driving us ultimately to a line of operations, which has proven eminently successful." And so thought all who accompanied the expedition.

In this connection, mention should not be omitted of the other expedition, to which the one in question was only supplemental. The Yazoo Pass Expedition had already been organized and sent out, and was now blocked by the rebel Fort Pemberton at Greenwood. The junction of the Sun-Flower Bayou with the Yazoo River was between Fort Pemberton and Haines' Bluff; and General Grant hoped to introduce a force between that fort and the high grounds above Haines' Bluff. Had he succeeded, the rebel works at Greenwood would not only have been rendered untenable and the garrison compelled to fly east to escape capture, but the two Federal forces, united, would have been sufficiently strong to possess and defend the desired point.

The enterprise was burdened with most annoying and stubborn obstacles, to overcome which no man who possessed less hope and persistency than Grant would have attempted. But Vicksburg would never have been captured from this direction, and I doubt whether Grant ever honestly expected it. The former of these expeditions was christened by the soldiers " the back-water," and the latter, the " Deer Creek raid."

In the meantime, General Grant, having settled on the plan which promised and resulted in success, recalled the detached portions of his army, and concentrated it on the west bank of the Mississippi, above Vicksburg. The 26th Iowa returned with its division to Milliken's Bend on the 25th of April, and on the 2d of May following marched with Sherman for Grand Gulf and Jackson, and thence to the rear of Vicksburg. In this march the regiment failed to meet the enemy in a single general engagement. It arrived at the Walnut Hills the 18th of May, and all that afternoon skirmished with the enemy, they gradually falling back to their strong works encircling the city. The heavy skirmishing of the following day the regiment engaged in, as it also did in the assault which was made the same afternoon. Its position before Vicksburg was north of the city. It was in Steele's Division, which held the right of the besieging line.

What followed in the long and arduous siege is given elsewhere. But one general assault was made after the 19th instant — that of the memorable 22d of May; and in that the 26th Iowa participated. Up to and including this disastrous day, the 26th Iowa lost in its skirmishes and assaults some forty in killed and wounded. Colonel Smith and Lieutenants Rider, Noble, and Maden were among the wounded.

After the fall of Vicksburg, the 26th Iowa joined the army of General Sherman in the pursuit of Johnson to Jackson, where it arrived on the 10th of July. It remained there during the eight days' siege, without meeting the enemy. It next marched to Brandon; then back to Jackson, and thence to Big Black River, where it remained in camp till the 23d of the following September, when it left with three divisions of its corps to reinforce the Army of the Cumberland, at Chattanooga. This march was accomplished without any fighting, if we except the affairs which General Osterhaus had with the enemy at Cherokee Station and beyond that place, in the direction of Tuscumbia, Alabama. The 26th Iowa was attached to this division, and participated in some of these affairs, but suffered no loss. In the meantime, General Sherman was preparing to cross the Tennessee at Chickasaw Landing; and the object of Osterhaus' advance to Tuscumbia, I do not understand, unless it was to draw the attention of the enemy from Sherman's real purpose, which was to reach Chattanooga by way of Florence, Alabama, Fayetteville and Winchester, Tennessee, and Bridgeport.

Returning to Chickasaw, General Osterhaus crossed the river with his division, and moved on after the main column; for Sherman was already well under way. He did not arrive in Lookout Valley until the evening of the 23d of November, and was too late to operate with Sherman's forces against the northern point of Mission Ridge. He was therefore ordered to report to General Hooker; and thus it happened that the 4th, 9th, 25th, 26th, 30th and 31st Iowa regiments, all of General Osterhaus' Division, engaged the enemy on Lookout Mountain. The 26th Iowa fought in the battle of Lookout Mountain in the afternoon and night of the 24th of November, after which it moved across the valley to engage the enemy on Mission Ridge; for the enemy had been routed and Lookout gained by our forces early on the morning of the 25th.

At Mission Ridge the 26th Iowa, and also the 25th, were separated from their division, and made a sort of Corps of Observation to watch the enemy's cavalry from near Rossville Gap. Neither of these regiments were therefore engaged at this point. But on the flight of General Bragg the night of the 25th instant, the 26th Iowa was near the van in its division, which led the advance in the pursuit. Osterhaus came up with the enemy at Ringgold as previously stated, and at Ringgold the 26th engaged them from behind their works, and suffered greater loss than it had done in the whole campaign before. In the engagement at Lookout Mountain, the loss of the regiment was only five wounded, among whom was Lieutenant-Colonel Ferreby. At Mission Ridge it was not engaged. Its loss at Ringgold on the 27th was three men killed — McDonnell, Beddon and Phillips — and nine wounded. Among the latter were Captain Steele, and Lieutenants Hubbard and Nickel. Captain Steele, a brave and efficient officer, died of his wounds soon after the engagement.

On the close of the Chattanooga Campaign, the 26th Iowa returned with its division to Bridgeport, and in the latter part of December was ordered to Woodville, Alabama, on the line of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, where it went into Winter quarters. On the opening of the Spring Campaign against Atlanta, it marched to the front: since that time its services have been nearly the same as those of the other Iowa regiments of its division. Moving via Gordon Mills and Snake Creek Gap, the regiment came on the enemy at Resaca, where it first engaged him. It subsequently engaged the enemy at New Hope Church, Big Shanty, Kenesaw Mountain, before Atlanta, and at Jonesboro; but in none of these engagements was its loss severe. At Big Shanty, it lost one enlisted man killed, and one officer and six men wounded. In the terrible fight before Atlanta on the 22d of July, the regiment lost only five men wounded; and, at Jonesboro, its loss was one officer and four men wounded.

After joining in the pursuit of Hood in his celebrated flank movement northward, the 26th Iowa returned to near Vining Station, on the Chattahoochie, where it rested and fitted for the march to Savannah. The history of this march, and of that from Savannah to Raleigh, will be found in the sketches of those officers whose regiments belonged to the 15th Corps' Iowa Brigade. I have already said that the 26th Iowa was attached to this brigade.

On the arrival of his regiment at Savannah, Colonel Smith resigned his commission.

SOURCE: Addison A. Stuart, Iowa Colonels and Regiments, p. 415-20

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