Saturday, January 23, 2010

Colonel Edward Francis Winslow


Edward F. Winslow was born in Kennebeck county, Maine, on the 28th day of September, 1837. He was raised and educated in Augusta, his native town, where he continued to live till the spring of 1856. In 1856, he came to Iowa, and settled in Mt. Pleasant, where he entered the mercantile business. He was engaged in this business at the time of entering the service, in the fall of 1861.

Colonel Winslow enlisted in the war as captain of Company F, 4th Iowa Cavalry. On the 3d of January, 1863, he was promoted to a majority in his regiment, which rank he held till the 4th of the following July, when he was mustered colonel. Since promoted to his present rank, he has been in command of his regiment but little. He commanded it during the month of July, 1863, and also while it was at home on veteran furlough. At all other times, if we except a few weeks in the fall of 1863, when he was chief of cavalry to the 15th Army Corps, he has been in command of a brigade of cavalry. With the succession of Colonel Winslow to the command of his regiment, a new and more fortunate chapter opened in its history. Prior to that time, the discipline of the regiment was bad, and its efficiency questionable. Indeed, I am told that at one time mutiny was threatened; but, under the new commander, order and confidence were soon restored.

A brief summary of the services of the 4th Iowa Cavalry, subsequently to the time it left Helena in the spring of 1863 to date, may be given as follows: It led the advance of General Sherman's Corps in the march from Milliken's Bend, Louisiana, to Jackson, and thence to the rear of Vicksburg; operated during the siege of the city on the right-rear of the besieging army, and in front of the line held by General Sherman on the Big Bear Creek and the Big Black River; returned with Sherman to Jackson after the fall of Vicksburg, marching thence under General Bussey to Canton; accompanied the expedition across the country to Memphis, which passed through Yazoo City, Lexington, Grenada and Panola, in August; took part in the movement that was made in September, 1863, to divert the attention of the enemy while Sherman was en route with his corps from Memphis to Chattanooga; accompanied the reconnoissance made, in October following, by Major-General McPherson in the direction of Canton; led the van of Sherman's army in the rapid march from Vicksburg to Meridian, Mississippi; came North on veteran furlough in the early spring of 1864; returned to the front in April, and reported at Memphis, from which point it marched on the expeditions of General Sturgis against Forest, and on those of General A. J. Smith against the same rebel leader; marched from Memphis in pursuit of General Price in Missouri, in September, 1864; accompanied General Grierson in his raid from Memphis down the Mobile and Ohio Railroad to Okalona, and thence to Vicksburg; and, finally, reporting to General Wilson, accompanied that officer in his brilliant and successful march through Alabama and Georgia, to Macon.

Two instances are given, where officers of the 4th Iowa, in command of detachments of their regiment, distinguished themselves in rear of Vicksburg. The following occurred just after the investment of the city: "Being ordered to Haines' Bluff on a reconnoissance, the regiment was halted at Mill Dale, and Captain Peters [now lieutenant-colonel] with twenty men of Company B, went to the point indicated in the order, capturing seven men, nine large siege-guns, and a quantity of ammunition, remaining in the works until the gun-boat De Kalb, which had been signaled by Captain Peters, came up and received the prisoners, cannon, &c. Captain Peters and the regiment are justly entitled to the credit of capturing this strong-hold."

The other instance is that where Major Parkell, with a detachment of one hundred and twenty-five men from Companies A, K, F, and I, was suddenly surrounded while on a scout in the vicinity of Big Black River. The enemy, whose strength was estimated at not less than six hundred, demanded instant surrender; but the major, instead, resolved to fight his way out, and succeeded. The fight was short, but most bitter, as I have been informed by Captain Zollars of the regiment; and, indeed, the list of casualties evidences as much. One officer and ten enlisted men were killed, and the wounded and captured numbered thirty-three. Lieutenant Joshua Gardner was one of the killed, and Lieutenant W. J. McConnellee was captured.

The operations of General Sherman in his expeditionary march against Johnson, after the fall of Vicksburg, have been fully detailed elsewhere, and can not be repeated with interest. After returning from that expedition, the 4th Iowa Cavalry rested near the Big Black till the 10th of August, and then left on a raid through the country to Memphis. As already stated, the line of march lay through Yazoo City, Lexington and Grenada. This expedition was commanded by Colonel Winslow, and resulted in the destruction of much of the Mississippi Central Railroad, and the burning of a large amount of railroad stock.

The 4th Cavalry re-enlisted as a veteran regiment in the winter of 1863-4, and, immediately after its return from the Meridian march, came North on veteran furlough. On the expiration of its furlough, Colonel Winslow left in command of it for the front, and was proceeding to Vicksburg, when he received orders from General Sherman assigning him to duty under General Sturgis, at Memphis. The regiment reached Memphis on the 23d of April, and from that time till the last of July following was almost constantly in the saddle and on the scout. Indeed, from that time till its arrival at Macon, Georgia, nearly one year later, the regiment enjoyed little rest. At Memphis, in the spring of 1864, the regiment was brigaded with the 3d Iowa and 10th Missouri Cavalry, and all its subsequent history has been made with those regiments. The brigade, from the time of its organization, has been under the command of Colonel Winslow.

Among the operations participated in by the 4th Iowa Cavalry, that of General Sturgis against Forest, made in the early part of June, 1864, is prominent. If the expedition terminated disastrously, it did not with discredit to this regiment; for few soldiers have ever shown greater patience, endurance and courage in the hour of calamitous defeat than did those of the 4th Iowa Cavalry, and I should add, of the entire 2d Brigade. The "regiment left Memphis on this expedition the 2d or 3d of June, marching by way of La Fayette, Salem, Bucksville and Ripley, where it arrived in the forenoon of the 7th instant. Thus far the march was made in an almost incessant shower of rain; but no enemy had been encountered. That evening, however, Company C of the 3d Iowa Cavalry, while out in search of forage, was attacked by rebel cavalry in considerable force, and a sharp skirmish, lasting nearly an hour, followed. In this skirmish two companies of the 4th Iowa were engaged, and lost four men wounded. On the 8th and 9th, the advance was continued in the direction of Guntown, or Baldwin, without opposition, though evidences of the nearness of the enemy were seen all along the route. The 1st Brigade of Cavalry led the advance on the morning of the 10th instant, and was the first to engage the enemy in the disastrous battle of Guntown, or rather of Brice's Cross Roads; for Guntown was nearly six miles distant from the battle-field.

Guntown, Mississippi, is situated in a region of country which is made up of barren hills and difficult morasses. In this same region of country the Hatchie, Tallahatchie and Tombigbee Rivers take their rise. Just north of Brice's Cross Roads, where the main battle was fought, was one of these swamps; and through this, General Sturgis must march to meet the enemy. The roads, which are narrow and difficult of passage in their best stages, were, at the time in question, in a wretched condition, rendered so from the incessant rains. Indeed General Sturgis, to a large extent, attributed his defeat to the condition of the weather and roads, and in that he was doubtless correct; but he offers no excuse for bolting down into that difficult swamp with his whole train, while the rattle of musketry was telling him of the presence of the enemy in force, not more than two miles in advance.

On the evening of the 9th instant, Sturgis encamped at Stubb's plantation, fifteen miles from Ripley, and some seven miles from where the enemy were first encountered. The march was resumed on the following morning, the cavalry leaving their camp at five o'clock, and the infantry following closely on their heels. The manner in which the engagement opened, and its progress till the arrival of the infantry, General Sturgis gives as follows in his official report:

"On this morning I had preceded the head of the infantry column, and arrived at a point some five miles from camp, when I found an unusually bad place in the road, and one that would require considerable time and labor to render it practicable. While halting here to await the head of the column, I received a message from General Grierson that he had encountered a portion of the enemy's cavalry. In a few minutes more, I received another message, saying the enemy numbered six hundred, and were on the Baldwin road; that he was himself at Brice's Cross Roads, and that his position was a good one and he would hold it. He was then directed to leave six or seven hundred men at the cross-roads to precede the infantry on its arrival, in the march on Guntown, and, with the remainder of his force, to drive the enemy toward Baldwin, and then rejoin the main body by way of the line of railroad, as I did not intend being drawn from my main purpose.

"Colonel McMillen now came up, and I rode forward toward the cross-roads. Before proceeding far, however, I sent a staff officer back, directing McMillen to move up his advance brigade as rapidly as possible, without distressing his troops. When I reached the cross-roads I found nearly all the cavalry engaged, and the battle growing warm; but no artillery had yet opened on either side. We had four pieces of artillery at the cross-roads; but they had not been placed in position, owing to the dense woods on all sides and the apparent impossibility of using them to advantage. Finding that our troops were being hotly pressed, I ordered one section to open on the enemy's reserves. The enemy's artillery soon replied, and with great accuracy, every shell bursting over and in the immediate vicinity of our guns. Frequent calls were now made for reinforcements; but until the infantry should arrive I had, of course, none to give. Colonel Winslow, 4th Iowa Cavalry, commanding a brigade, and occupying a position on the Guntown road a little in advance of the cross-roads, was especially clamorous to be relieved, and permitted to carry his brigade to the rear. * * * * * * * *

"About half-past one P. M., the infantry began to arrive. Colonel Hoge's Brigade was the first to reach the field, and was placed in position by Colonel McMillen, when the enemy was driven a little. General Grierson now requested authority to withdraw the entire cavalry, as it was exhausted and well nigh out of ammunition. This I authorized as soon as sufficient infantry was in position to permit it, and he was directed to organize his command in the rear, and hold it in readiness to operate on the flanks."

The rest may soon be told; for alarm begun to seize on all. The enemy, seeing their successes, pressed their victory with great energy and determination, and the infantry line was hardly formed before it was broken. General Grierson was called on for cavalry to support the right flank, and it no sooner met the enemy in that quarter than it was repulsed. An effort to hold the left was equally unsuccessful. All saw that the day was lost, and acted with indecision and irresolution. Sturgis was already driven from the high ground, and beaten back on his wagon-train. This he made a spasmodic effort to save; but, seeing the enemy in heavy columns swinging by his left flank, he gave the order to retreat. And such a retreat! Every thing but his army, and much of that was lost. For the portion saved, he was indebted chiefly to the cavalry, and in no slight degree to the Iowa cavalry regiments. It is positively asserted that the 2d Brigade, of Grierson's Division, reached Collierville (and the enemy made pursuit to that point) in a less disorganized condition than any other brigade command of the army.

The list of casualties of the 4th Iowa cavalry in the battle at Brice's Cross Roads and in the retreat to Collierville is not given. The regiment's historian, Adjutant Ambrose Hodge, closes his account of this affair as follows:

"On arriving at Collierville, the men had been in the saddle fifty-four consecutive hours, fighting the greater part of the time without feed for their horses or provisions for themselves. The regiment arrived at Memphis, on the 14th instant, the men and horses being completely worn down by excessive labor performed on this march. The distance traveled was three hundred and fifty miles."

Following the disastrous expedition of General Sturgis, was that of General A. J. Smith; and the latter was as successful as the former had been unfortunate. The 4th Iowa Cavalry joined Smith on this march, and fought in the battle of Tupelo; but an account of this expedition has already been given in the sketch of Colonel Woods of the 12th Iowa Infantry. Neither in this, nor in the second expedition of General Smith against Forest, are the losses of the regiment stated. It was during the absence of the 4th Cavalry, or rather of eleven companies of it, in August, that Forest dashed into Memphis, on a hurried call on General Washburne. Company C was left behind, being detailed on provost-duty in the city, and was the only company of the regiment that, actually encountered Forest. In this affair, the company lost Lieutenant L. P. Baker, severely wounded. It is reported as having conducted itself with/much gallantry.

Next, in the history of the regiment, follows the expedition against General Price in Missouri, an account of which has been given in the sketch of Colonel Noble and his regiment. During the Missouri Campaign, Colonel Winslow was severely wounded. He was shot in the leg, while his brigade was charging the enemy, on the Big Blue River, near Westport. Though severely wounded, it is stated he refused to leave his command till the enemy had been driven from the field.

In the charge made on the 25th of October, near the Osage, the 4th Iowa Cavalry captured two hundred and thirty-five prisoners, and two stand of colors, and lost during the expedition four killed and twenty-six wounded. Lieutenant H. W. Curtis, of Company F, was killed in the charge on the Osage, and Major A. B. Pierce, commanding the regiment, was severely wounded in the foot. Among those mentioned for special gallantry during the campaign, were Major Pierce, Captains Drummond, Dana and Lee, all commanding battalions of the regiment, and Lieutenant and Acting Adjutant John S. Keck. Company commanders, in all cases, managed their commands in a manner highly creditable to themselves.

If we except the expedition made by General Grierson through Mississippi, late in December, 1864, there remains but one more important campaign to be recorded in the history of the 4th Iowa Cavalry — that made under General Wilson through Alabama and Georgia.

On the route from Missouri to the Military Division of the Mississippi, and during the few weeks of rest that the brigade of Colonel Winslow enjoyed before starting on the Macon march, there is little of special interest; and I therefore pass at once to the history of the memorable raid. Brevet Major-General Wilson, with a cavalry corps numbering about twelve thousand men, left Chickasaw on the Tennessee on the 21st of March, 1865, for a destination known to few of his command. The outfit was extensive and had been long in making; and it was known to the command that the expectations of the commanding general were commensurate with his preparations, and that was all. The rest, the future must disclose. The route of the column was nearly south-south-east, till its arrival at Montevallo. From that point, it was south to Selma, and thence, nearly due east, to Montgomery, Columbus and Macon. In this line of march was included four of the most important inland cities of the Confederacy — important as places of note and pride, and as manufacturing points.

Let me state, while I have it in mind, that, on the march in question, the 3d and 4th Iowa Cavalry were attached to the division of General Upton, (the 4th) and the 5th and 8th to that of General McCook. These were the only Iowa troops who accompanied the march.

The enemy first made a determined stand at Six-Mile Creek, between Montevallo and Selma. They had just previously occupied Montevallo, with the expectation of defending it; but, on the near approach of the Federal column, their hearts foiled them, and they fled in the direction of Selma. At Six-Mile Creek, the enemy were under Chalmers, Roddy and Lyon, with the inhuman wretch, Forest, as commander-in-chief. The battle was fought on the last day of March, and on that day the division of General Upton was in the lead of the column. The enemy were found in a strong position, which was defended by artillery; but after some skirmishing they were charged and routed, losing their artillery and more than two hundred prisoners. The second fight was at Ebenezer Church, about twenty miles from Selma. Here the enemy were no more successful; for after a brief engagement they were a second time routed and forced back toward Selma. This battle was fought on the 1st of April. The following day, General Wilson defeated Forest for the third time, and entered and occupied Selma.

Selma, on the north bank of the Alabama, and one of the chief railroad-centres of that State, was defended by two lines of works, each swinging entirely round the city, and resting on the right and left of the river bank. The outer line was guarded by a strong palisade. This strong-hold was captured by two divisions of the Federal troops — Generals Upton's and Long's. General Long took position on the right, and General Upton on the left. Line of battle was formed on the high ground, and, after the usual skirmishing and signaling, an assault was ordered. As In all successful charges, the work was well and quickly done. With less than three thousand men, the outer works were carried, in the face of artillery and nine thousand muskets; and only some two thousand of the latter were in the hands of the citizen militia.

In taking the outer line of works, the 3d Iowa Cavalry was In the front, and the 4th, in reserve; but, in taken [sic] the second line, the 4th held the front. Lieutenant George W. Stamm, of the 3d Iowa Cavalry, who wields a good pen and I believe a good sword, says: "Immediately after we took possession of fortifications, the 4th Iowa Cavalry were mounted, and rushed on the flying foe with an impetuosity which nothing could withstand. Weary, out of breath and heated with our double-quick, we saw them pass us like a whirlwind, scattering death and confusion among the Johnnies, while the brass band that had boldly ventured to the front was playing the enlivening strains of 'Yankee Doodle,' in singular unison with the rattle of musketry and the shouts of victory." Thus Selma was captured, the great military store-house and manufacturing depot for the Confederates, in Alabama. The enemy lost many killed and wounded, and about two thousand prisoners.

Montgomery fell without a struggle, as also did Macon, Georgia; but Columbus, Georgia, made a determined defense. General Wilson appeared before the place at noon of the 16th of April, and that evening carried it, as he had Selma, by assault. Columbus is situated on the east bank of the renowned Chattahoochie; but the works that protected it from the west, and which General Wilson was obliged to carry, were on the west bank of the stream. Both above and below the city, bridges spanned the Chattahoochie: the approaches to each were covered by artillery, mounted in strong forts. Rifle-pits and other defenses commanded the approaches in every other quarter westward. The 2d Brigade of General Upton's Division first approached the city, and when near the works that defended the lower bridge made a charge with the hope of carrying the position and gaining the bridge. They were unsuccessful, being repulsed with much loss. Colonel Winslow's First Brigade now coming up was sent back by the commanding general, and directed to gain, by a circuitous route, a position in rear of the upper bridge. The movement was successfully made, and at dusk in the evening a charge was ordered which resulted in the fall of Columbus. As at Selma, the 3d and 4th Iowa Cavalry were in the front line. Indeed, there was little fighting done during the whole campaign in which these regiments did not have part.

I have already said that the last fighting of the expedition was done at Columbus. After resting here one day, General Wilson marched on Macon; but when near the city, he was advised of the terms agreed on between Sherman and Johnson, and informed that his entrance into the place would not be opposed. The 4th Iowa Cavalry is now in camp at Macon, and the war is virtually ended.

The loss of the regiment during the campaign was not very severe. Captain E. R. Jones, Chief Bugler Tabor, and Sergeant Beezley, were among the killed, and Quarter-Master Sergeant Detrick and Sergeant Stocks among the wounded. The entire loss of the regiment in killed and wounded was, I think, twenty-five. Captain Jones was killed in the charge at Selma.

I never saw Colonel Winslow, but am told he has an intelligent and pleasing countenance, and a feminine voice. He is a man of great energy, great ambition and unlimited self-confidence. All agree that he is a splendid officer. He has both the courage and the skill to handle troops successfully in the face of the enemy. His worst fault, if it can be termed a fault is his self-conceit, which sometimes discovers itself immodestly.

SOURCE: Addison A. Stuart, Iowa Colonels and Regiments, p. 609-20

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