Friday, January 22, 2010

Emulation at the North

While each State and almost every family at the East and the West are represented in the army fighting in defence of the Union, a generous rivalry exists between the two sections, as to which shall acquit itself the more honorably. This feeling is not confined to the two sections, but States and even counties feel ambition that the troops hailing from their respective localities shall sustain themselves in a manner to elicit admiration. If not carried too far this emulation is praiseworthy, as it will encourage the soldiers to greater exertion. We observe the effect in our own State. At the battle of Springfield, in the beginning of the war, the first regiment enrolled in Iowa acquitted itself so admirably as to elicit praise East and West and established an enviable name for our State. The Iowa regiments that took the field afterward had a reputation to sustain, and nobly they did it at Belmont, Donelson, and Pittsburg. Iowa at this time stands as high, if not higher, than any State in the Union for the alacrity with which she responded to the call upon her to defend the old flag of the Union, for the number of her sons that hastened to enroll themselves in the army and for the noble daring that has distinguished her troops on the battle-field.

Some of our contemporaries, to their shame, are seeking to build up the reputation of the troops of their own States, by undermining those of other States. Particularly are they jealous of the brave sons of Iowa, whose reputation is no factitious nature, but based upon solid merit. With the news of the battle at Pittsburg came intimations that certain regiments had acted in a cowardly manner. The Chicago Times was the first journal to fasten the obloquy upon the State of Iowa. But when the truth came out, it was ascertained that the Iowa regiments had all fought well, and those of another State had been the ones to cluster under then bank and refuse to participate in the engagement.

The Iowa troops ask not for reputation based upon the shortcomings of others, but they wish to stand upon their own merits, and in doing so are willing to concede to the regiments who fled from the battle-field on the 6th of April, that under the circumstances it was no evidence of cowardice. The affair of the first day, without preparation or Generalship, could scarcely be called a battle, and the wonder is, that the whole army was not thrown into utter panic.

An effort is now being made by some of the Illinois papers to throw the onus of the surrender of certain troops on that day on an Iowa regiment. It will not succeed; that certain regiments from this state and Illinois did surrender is true, but not until completely surrounded by the enemy and when any attempt to fight their way through would have been simply suicidal. When the official reports furnish the evidence, it will be time enough to attempt to disgrace regiments; in the meantime let us all united in ascribing honor to the noble troops who so gallantly sustained the reputation of the West, although taken at every disadvantage by a more numerous and better drilled enemy.

– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Iowa, Tuesday, April 22, 1862, p. 2

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