Friday, January 8, 2010

Colonel George W. Kincaid


George W. Kincaid is a native of the State of Ohio, and an old resident of Muscatine county, Iowa. He is about fifty-three years of age. His occupation in civil life I have failed to learn. He entered the army in the fall of 1862, as colonel of the 37th Iowa Infantry, and served with that rank till the spring of 1865, when, with his regiment, he was mustered out of the service. In the judgment of his regiment, he served with little honor to himself, or the State.

The 37th Iowa is the celebrated Gray-Beard Regiment. It was organized under a special order of the War Department, in the fall of 1862, and was to be composed of men over the age of forty-five years. If I am correctly informed, it was a condition precedent that, the regiment was to be employed only on post- and garrison-duty. Certain it is that, with one exception, it was never assigned to any other. Its history, therefore, throwing age out of the question, is not a brilliant one. Its thirty-months' service was passed at the following points: St. Louis, Missouri; Alton, Illinois; Memphis, Tennessee; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Rock Island, Illinois.

The following from the pen of L. M. Miller, the regiment's sergeant-major, is the chief item of interest in the regiment's history;

"On the 15th instant, [July 7th, 1864] a detail of fifty men was sent from the 37th regiment, to go as guard on a supply-train, on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. When about thirty-six miles out, the train was fired into by fifty or sixty bushwhackers, concealed in the brush and behind the fence. Our guards were stationed on top of the cars, exposed to their fire, the train running thirty miles an hour. Our men returned the fire very promptly, and it is believed from the best information we can gather we did the enemy equal damage, at least in numbers. Our loss was Samuel Coburn of Company A, and Corporal Charles Young of Company B, both mortally wounded. The corporal lived till next day, and Colburn till the evening of the same day. Two others were slightly wounded, but are doing well."

But if these patriarchal patriots did little service in the field, it is not to be supposed that theirs was holiday duty. Garrison-duty, if not attended with great risk, is fatiguing and monotonous; and few soldiers, if consulted, would prefer it to field-service. We should, therefore, accord to these ancient heroes a full share of the State's military renown.

I am told that Colonel Kincaid is a tall, raw-boned, gray-haired man, uninviting in personal appearance and in address. He was strict in his discipline, to which may be attributed his great unpopularity with his regiment. I am unwilling to record the many stories of his misrule.

SOURCE: Addison A. Stuart, Iowa Colonels and Regiments, p. 521-2

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