Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ninth Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry

The ten companies of the Ninth Regiment of Iowa Volunteer Infantry were ordered by the Governor to rendezvous at Dubuque, as part of the quota of the State under the proclamation of the President dated July 23, 1861, and were mustered into the service of the United States on dates ranging from September 2d to September 24, 1861, by Capt. E. C. Washington, United States Army.

The Hon. Wm. Vandever, then a member of Congress from Iowa, was given authority by the President to organize this regiment from the counties composing his district, and he was commissioned by Governor Kirkwood as its first Colonel. The names of the field and staff and company officers, at the date of muster in, will be found in the subjoined roster, in which will also be found notations of the subsequent changes which occurred on account of death, promotion, resignation, or from whatever cause, together with a paragraph opposite the name of each line officer and enlisted man, arranged in alphabetical order, showing his personal record of service in so far as the same could be obtained from the official records in the Adjutant General's office of the State of Iowa, and the War Department in Washington. That some of these records are very imperfect, and that they may, in some instances, do injustice to the memory of the officers and men of this gallant regiment, is a matter beyond the control of those under whose supervision this great work has been done. Every effort has been made to make this compilation historically correct, in so far as the limitations as to time and space would permit; but, where the records of individual service may have been incorrectly given in the official returns and reports, and no other source of Information was available, there was but one course to pursue, and that was to follow the official records, which, in the main, will be found to be correct.

The last company was mustered September 24, 1861, and, two days later, the regiment, with an aggregate strength of 977 officers and enlisted men, was embarked on steamboats at Dubuque and transported to St. Louis, and, upon its arrival there, marched to Benton Barracks, where it received it first supply of arms, clothing and camp equipage. Here it remained until October 11th, receiving such instruction in military drill as could be given in so short a period of time. It was then ordered to proceed to Franklin, Mo., at which place regimental headquarters were maintained, while companies were detached to different points for the purpose of guarding the railroad from Franklin toward Rolla, Mo. During the three months in which the regiment remained upon this duty it suffered greatly from exposure to the inclement winter weather, and, like all new regiments, was subjected to much sickness on account of such exposure On the last day of the year 1861, the official returns showed a death loss of l7 and 7 discharged on account of disability, total 24; but on the same date it had gained 38 by additional enlistment, and 4 by transfer, making a net gain of 18, and an aggregate of 995. Of this number, however, many were on the sick list, and the hardships which the regiment was called upon to endure, during the active winter campaign which followed, still further reduced its fighting strength, and when it first went into battle it numbered but little more than half the aggregate above stated. January 21, 1862, the regiment was again consolidated, the companies on detached duty having been relieved, and was conveyed by rail to Rolla, Mo., and from there began its first real campaign against the enemy. Marching to Lebanon, Mo., it joined the Army of the Southwest commanded by General Curtis. Colonel Vandever was placed in command of the brigade to which his regiment was attached, leaving Lieut. Col. Frank J. Herron in command of the regiment.

Upon the approach of the Union forces, the rebel General Price evacuated Springfield, which he had occupied during the winter, and began his retreat towards the Ozark Mountains. Then began that remarkable march of General Curtis' army in pursuit of the enemy. The regiment started from Springfield on the 14th of February and, in less than one month, had marched over difficult roads, and much of the time through storms of alternating rain and snow, a distance of two hundred and fifty miles. Arriving at Cross Hollows, Ark., a detachment of three hundred of the regiment was sent upon an expedition to Huntsville — forty miles distant — with the purpose of surprising and capturing a detachment of the enemy stationed there as a guard for commissary stores: but, upon reaching Huntsville, they found the place abandoned, and learned that the rebel army under General Van Dorn was marching to the attack of General Curtis' army, which had fallen back from Cross Hollows and taken up a new position at Pea Ridge. Realizing the danger of being cut off and captured by a superior force, the detachment of the Ninth Iowa at once started to rejoin the command and, after a continuous march of sixteen hours, covering a distance of forty-two miles, it reached the regiment at 8 P. M. March 6th. With only a few hours of rest after this exhausting march, these men went into the memorable battle of Pea Ridge at 10 A. M., March 7. 1862.

The enemy opened the engagement by a fierce attack upon the Union lines, and the Ninth Iowa was in the thickest of the fight. The first attack of the enemy was repulsed, and the Union line advanced, but was in turn compelled to retire under a terrific fire of musketry, grape and canister. Thus the battle raged during the entire day, with alternating temporary advantages for both Union and rebel forces. There were occasional intervals, during which the men on both sides availed themselves of the opportunity to replenish their ammunition and to attend to the removal of their wounded to the rear. The fighting was most persistent and desperate, and in no battle of the war was the valor of the American soldier—upon both sides—more splendidly exhibited. While this was the first time the Ninth Iowa Infantry had met the enemy in battle, its officers and men exhibited the steadiness and bravery of veterans. Had this been the only service rendered by the regiment, it would have been entitled to the lasting gratitude of every patriotic citizen of the Union, which it was there defending against those in armed rebellion against it.

At night the survivors lay upon their arms, ready to renew the conflict at the dawn of day. At daylight the Union artillery again opened upon the enemy, and the fire was promptly returned. In his official report Colonel Vandever says, "At this point, finding ourselves exposed to a raking fire from one of the enemy's batteries on our right, we changed direction to the east. About this time, the First Division coming into position on our left, we joined in the general advance upon the enemy, the whole cavalry force participating, and the artillery co-operating. The enemy here broke into disorder, and the fortune of the day was decided in our favor."

The entire rebel army was soon in full retreat, and the battle of Pea Ridge ended in a brilliant victory for the Union army. At the close of his official report Major General Curtis especially commended Colonel Vandever and the gallant troops of his brigade, and says, "To do justice to all, I would spread before you the most of the rolls of this army, for I can bear testimony to the almost universal good conduct of officers and men, who shared with me the long march, the many conflicts by the way, and the final struggle with the combined forces of Price, McCulloch, McIntosh and Pike, under Major General Van Dorn, at the battle of Pea Ridge." At the close of his official report Colonel Vandever says:

Of the bravery of Lieutenant Colonel Herron, In Immediate command of the Ninth Iowa Infantry, too much can not be said. He was foremost in leading his men, and, with coolness and bravery never excelled, rallied them to repeated attacks of the enemy. Unfortunately near the close of the day on the 7th, he was disabled by a. painful wound, his horse was killed under him, and he was captured by the enemy. Major Coyl, also of the Ninth Iowa, acted with distinguished valor until disabled by a severe wound, and compelled, reluctantly, to leave the field. Adjutant William Scott also deserves great praise. Lieutenant Asher Riley of Company A, my Acting Assistant Adjutant General, deserves particular mention. Upon the fall of Captain Drips and Lieutenant Kelsey, of Company A both distinguished for their bravery. Lieutenant Riley gallantly took command and remained with the company to the end of the battle. Captain Carpenter and Lieutenant Jones of Company B also acted with great bravery, leading their company in the face of the enemy, and bringing off one of our disabled guns and a caisson. Captain Towner and Lieutenant Neff, of Company F, were conspicuous for their bravery. Both of these officers were severely wounded, when the command devolved upon Lieutenant Tisdale, who gallantly led the company through the remainder of the battle. Captain Bull and Lieutenant Rice, of Company C, also deserve particular mention, the latter of whom was killed near the close of the day, while the former was severely wounded. Captain Bevins of Company E was killed upon the field, and the command devolved upon Lieutenant Baker, who acquitted himself with great credit. Captain Washburn, and Lieutenants Beebe and Levrich of Company G, Lieutenants Crane and McGee of Company D, Captain Moore and Lieutenant Mackenzie of Company H, Captain Carskaddon and Lieutenant Claflin of Company K, and Lieutenant Fellows, commanding Company I, also Lieutenant Inman, were all conspicuous for bravery, under the hottest fire of the enemy. I should also mention Sergeant Major Foster and other members of the non-commissioned staff, who did their duty nobly. Many instances of special gallantry occurred among non-commissioned officers and men, during the trying events of the battle, which I cannot here enumerate. Where all did their duty so nobly and well, distinction would be invidious. I can only say that I feel deeply Indebted to every officer and man of my command for the heroic manner in which they have acquitted themselves.

The loss of the regiment was very heavy. Of the 560 who went into the battle, 4 commissioned officers and 34 enlisted men were killed, 5 commissioned officers and 171 enlisted men wounded, and 1 commissioned officer and 3 enlisted men captured, making a total loss of nearly forty per cent of the aggregate number engaged.*

After the battle the regiment had only a brief season of rest. Its next experience was a long, devious and trying march with the Army of the Southwest, through Missouri and Arkansas, covering six hundred miles and ending at Helena, July 17, 1862. During this march the weather was very warm and dry, and the troops suffered greatly from the heat, dust and thirst, and, on the latter part of the march, from insufficient rations. For five weeks of this time the army was cut off from all communication, but fortunately no considerable body of the enemy was encountered and it at last arrived safely at Helena.

Here the regiment went into camp, and for the ensuing five months enjoyed comparative immunity from the hardships and dangers of a soldier's life. It was, however, rendering valuable service in holding an important post, and the time was not spent in idleness. The officers and men utilized the time to the best advantage, in perfecting themselves in military drill and discipline, and, when they again entered upon the duties of active campaigning, they were splendidly equipped for the hard and continuous service which they were called upon to perform during the remainder of their term of service. While the regiment was in camp at Helena, a most pleasing incident occurred, which deserves permanent preservation in this sketch and is thus described by Lieutenant Colonel Abernethy in his "History of the Ninth Infantry":

At Helena a stand of beautiful silk colors reached us, sent by the hands of Miss Phoebe Adams, in behalf of a committee of ladies of Boston, Mass., as a testimonial of their appreciation of our conduct in the battle of Pea Ridge. They were guarded and cherished while in the regiment with religious care. After having been borne over many a proud field, they were, by the unanimous voice of the regiment, given back, riddled and torn — one to the original donors, the other to Brevet Major General Vandever, our original Colonel, who, by his bravery and decision at Pea Ridge and Arkansas Post, with the regiment, and by his honorable record thereafter in other fields, won the confidence and love of his regiment.

December 18, 1862, the regiment was again called into active service, this time on the lower Mississippi, and was assigned to General Thayer's Brigade of General Steele's Division of the Fifteenth Army Corps. It participated in the battle of Chickasaw Bayou, December 28th and 29th, where it maintained its good record for bravery under the fire of the enemy. Lieutenant Colonel Abernethy, describing the part taken by his regiment in this battle, says, "The regiment, though under fire the greater part of the 28th and 29th, was only engaged about half an hour of the latter day. While the hardest fighting was in progress, we were being transferred from a point above Chickasaw Bayou to where the main army was massed, reaching there only to go into position as others were falling back. We were soon withdrawn beyond the reach of the rebel batteries lining the hills in our front, and next day embarked, the attempt having been given over."

The regiment next went into camp on the Yazoo River above Vicksburg, where it remained until the close of the year 1862. The official returns show that, during the year, the regiment had gained by additional enlistments 54, and by apointment 2; total gain 56. In the same time it had lost in killed in battle 43, died from wounds 41, and from disease 37; total number of deaths 121; 178 were discharged for disability, and 8 had deserted, making a total loss for the year of 307. Its losses up to the 31st day of December, 1861, had been 24, and its gain by additional enlistment 42. It will thus be seen that, in the one year and three months that the regiment had then served, it had lost 331 officers and men, and had gained 98 by additional enlistment. Its losses thus far had aggregated nearly one-third of those originally mustered and gained by additional enlistment, while it had just entered upon the second year of its three years' term of service.

Early in January, 1863, the regiment was engaged In the movement against Arkansas Post, and on January 11th, when the attack upon the fort was made, it was in the reserve line, waiting for the order to move forward to the assault; but. before the order was given, the enemy raised the white flag in token of surrender, and the regiment had the pleasure of witnessing the fall of that stronghold without loss to itself. January 24th found the regiment again in camp at Young's Point, near Vicksburg. About this time, Colonel Vandever was promoted to Brigadier General, and the officers and men of the Ninth Iowa, while rejoicing in his well-deserved promotion, felt that they were parting from one of the bravest and most efficient commanders, and that it would be difficult to determine who should succeed him. There was an excellent list of officers from which to make the selection. Captain David Carskaddon of Company K was elected and became the second Colonel of the regiment.

Lieutenant Colonel Abernethy, in his history of the Ninth Iowa Infantry thus graphically describes the experience of the regiment for the remainder of the winter of 1863:

The history of the regiment for these two months of February and March is a tale of sorrow. The health of many of its members was already undermined by a six months' sojourn in the miasmatic regions of the Mississippi valley, and it seemed that but few could withstand the debilitating and enervating Influence of this insalubrious climate. The smallpox came now, for the first time, into our ranks. Scores of our number, hitherto stout and rugged, were prostrated past recovery, and now lie buried in shallow graves about the hospitals which once stood In that sickly region; while others only recovered completely, long afterwards, In the mountains of Tennessee and Georgia, or on the sandy plains of the Carolinas. The ordeal of these unpropitious months was the more grievous because it had all the evils of the battlefield, with none of Its honors.

Every true soldier will admit the force and truth of the above statement. The inspiration which comes to men in the midst of battle sustains them in the performance of deeds of valor, but when it comes to the struggle with disease and death, without the tender ministrations of relatives and friends, far from home and all its comforts, the men who endure and die, as well as those who endure and live, must be sustained by a fortitude and courage even greater than that which enables them to perform their whole duty when engaging the enemy in battle.

During the month of April, 1863, the regiment participated in an expedition to Greenville, Miss., and farther into the interior, in which it met the enemy in occasional skirmishes, but the object of the expedition was accomplished without severe fighting. Upon its return from this expedition, it entered upon the campaign which ended in the surrender of the rebel strongholds at Vicksburg and Jackson. Its movements and operations are described by Lieutenant Colonel Abernethy, as follows:

On the 2d day of May, leaving our tents standing at Milliken's Bend, La., the regiment started In light marching order for Grand Gulf, crossed the Mississippi, and commenced on the 8th of May the march In rear of Vicksburg. On the 14th reached Jackson, the State capital of Mississippi, and took part in its capture. Four days later, after some skirmishing in which we lost three wounded, the regiment took position In the outer works which environed Vicksburg. * * *

May 15th, after severe skirmishing, and a final assault, the regiment succeeded in getting and holding an excellent position, about seventy-five yards from the enemy's works. * * *

On the 22d of May, In line with the whole Army of the Tennessee, the regiment went first up to the assault. Its flag went down a few feet from the rebel works, after the last one of its guard had fallen, either killed or wounded, and its dripping folds were drawn from under the bleeding body of its prostrate bearer. In the few terrible moments of this assault, the regiment lost 79 killed and wounded, nearly one-third of the number in action. But that was not all. The assault had failed, and we found ourselves lying in the ravines, behind logs, contiguous to and partly under the protection of the rebel earthworks, above which no traitor could raise his head, except at the expense of his life. There we were compelled to stay until darkness gave us a cover under which to escape. Here I pause to pay the slight tribute of recording their names, to Captain Kelsey, and Lieutenants Jones, Wilbur, and Tyrrell, who fell while leading their companies to the assault, and to Captain Washburn, who was mortally wounded at the head of the regiment.

Our loss in the previous assault of the 19th of May was 16 men, and when, on the morning of Independence Day, the enemy came out and stacked arms and colors on his works, our total recorded loss in the siege was 121.

After the surrender of Vicksburg, the regiment participated in the siege of Jackson, and, after the evacuation of that place, took part in the pursuit of the enemy, and lost one man killed in a skirmish at Brandon. The regiment now went into camp on Black River, Miss., where It remained until September 22d, when it was ordered to Vicksburg, thence by river to Memphis, and from there by rail to Corinth, Miss., from which point it took up the line of march to Chattanooga, and entered upon another campaign which resulted in great success for the cause of the Union, and a crushing defeat to that portion of the rebel army against which the operations were directed. After a march of three hundred miles, during which the regiment had some skirmishes with the rebel General Forrest's troops, it arrived at the foot of Lookout Mountain, Nov. 23, 1863, and, on the 24th, took part in the battle above the clouds, and, later, in the battles of Missionary Ridge and Ringgold. Although not in the heaviest fighting in these three engagements, the regiment accomplished all that was assigned to it. Its losses in killed and wounded during the campaign aggregated 22. It now marched to Woodville, Ala., where it went Into winter quarters Dec. 29, 1863. During the year the regiment had marched 870 miles, and had been conveyed 1,300 miles by water and 100 miles by rail. In the same time, it had met with a total loss of 227 and gained by enlistment 11, leaving an aggregate of 510.

January 1, 1864, 287 men of the regiment re-enlisted as Veteran Volunteers for another term of three years, and under the terms of their enlistment were entitled to a thirty days' furlough, to begin after reaching the State of Iowa. They left Woodville, Ala., February 4, 1864, and reached Dubuque, Iowa, February 14, 1864, at which point they separated for their respective homes. March 16th found the veterans of the regiment re-assembled at Davenport, Iowa, accompanied by 125 recruits. They reached Woodville, Ala., April 10th, having marched from Nashville, a distance of 125 miles. A new supply of arms, clothing and camp equipage was issued to the regiment, and on May 1st, with Colonel Carskaddon In command. It took up the line of march for Chattanooga. In six days it had again reached the scene of military activity, and entered upon another great struggle for the preservation of the Union. The Ninth Iowa Infantry was constantly at the front, on the firing line, and in the trenches, and had its full share in the fighting during the campaign. The compiler of this sketch is compelled, by the limitation of space to which he is restricted, to omit the detailed account of the operations of the regiment given by Lieutenant Colonel Abernethy in his history, from which quotations have heretofore been so freely made. It must here suffice to say that, from the opening to the close of the Atlanta campaign, the Ninth Iowa Infantry displayed the same conspicuous gallantry which had characterized Its career In all the battles In which It had been engaged, from Pea Ridge to Jonesboro. Describing the close of the campaign, Lieutenant Colonel Abernethy says:

At Jonesboro, on the 31st of August, where we were attacked in vain, and for the last time, by the rebel army of Tennessee, we held our position easily, and with comparatively slight loss. The march thence to Lovejoy's Station, and back again to East Point, Ga., by the 8th of September, completed the campaign — a campaign which, for hard and continuous fighting, for severe labor and exposure, for long marches in the hottest weather, for duration and persistent obstinacy, is unparalleled in history. We had marched 400 miles, principally in the night, built 40 different lines of works, crossed three large rivers In the face of a powerful enemy, flanked him away from three of the strongest natural positions In the country, and fought the battles of Resaca, Dallas, New Hope Church, Big Shanty, Kenesaw Mountain, Chattahoochie River, Decatur, Atlanta, Jonesboro, and Lovejoy.

The regiment lost in the campaign since the 1st of May 14 killed, 70 wounded, and 6 captured.

The non-veterans of the regiment were mustered out of the service on the 23d day of September, 1864, the original three years' term for which they had enlisted having expired. For the re-enlisted veterans and recruits there yet remained the experience of the closing campaigns of the war, which, in some respects, were more remarkable than any which had preceded them. On the 4th of October the regiment was again on the march with the army which followed the rebel forces under General Hood through Marietta, Rome, Resaca, and across into Alabama, returning to the vicinity of Atlanta on the 5th of November, having marched 354 miles. November 15th, the regiment, then under the command of its senior captain, Paul McSweeney, began the famous march with General Sherman's army to Savannah and the sea. This remarkable military exploit was accomplished in 35 days, the distance covered being 400 miles. During the year, the regiment had marched 1,400 miles, and traveled by steamboat and railroad 1,900 miles. It had gained by additional enlistment 160, had lost in killed 14 and from other causes 214, leaving an aggregate of 442 on December 31, 1864.

The closing campaign — the trip by sea to Beaufort, S. C, and the march through the states of South and North Carolina — was full of interest and most worthy of being recorded in detail, did space permit. Colonel Carskaddon, who had been wounded at Atlanta, returned to the regiment, and was honorably mustered out by reason of expiration of term of service on February 14, 1865. While the regiment was marching through Georgia, Major George Granger had died in hospital at Nashville, Tenn., and Captain Alonzo Abernethy of Company F had been promoted to Major, January 1, 1865, and was now in command of the regiment, which he led successfully during the remainder of its service. After giving a detailed description of the events which transpired during the long and toilsome march, the Major thus describes the closing scenes in the history of his regiment:

Our severe labors, hardships, and exposures were forgotten in the pleasure of having taken part in this most magnificent of all our campaigns. The remaining history is briefly told. On the 10th of April started with the army to Raleigh, N. C, where we found the rebel leader suing for terms. When these had been given, the regiment started for Washington, D. C, via Petersburg, Richmond, and Alexandria, Va. Reached the latter place on the 19th of May, after a march of 293 miles in the last nineteen days, and 360 miles from Goldsboro, N. C. Took part In the military pageant of May 24th, which consisted of the review of Sherman's army In the streets of Washington. The regiment came thence by rail and steamboat to Louisville, Ky., on the 1st of June. Went Into camp and awaited further orders, which came July 10th to the effect that the remaining regiments of the army of the Tennessee would be at once mustered out of service.

Lieutenant Colonel Coyl had resigned June 17th on account of his having received the appointment of Judge Advocate of the Department of Kentucky. Major Abernethy was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain Inman of Company I to Major. On the 18th of July, the muster out was completed.

The regiment was then sent to Clinton, Iowa, where it was disbanded, and the officers and men returned to their homes.

From the time it started from Dubuque, three years and, ten months from the date of its final muster out, the Ninth Iowa Infantry had marched over 4,000 miles, and traveled by rail and steamboat 6,000 miles. During the year 1865, there had been added by transfer from the Twenty-fifth Iowa 53, by enlistment 15, from the draft rendezvous of the State 129, a total gain of 197. The total losses had been 45, leaving an aggregate of 594 at muster out.

In closing this brief sketch, the compiler again refers to the subjoined roster for the record of personal service of each officer and man of the regiment, in so far as it has been possible to obtain such record. As an organization the Ninth Iowa Infantry has a record of service unsurpassed by that of any regiment which the State sent to the field during the great War of the Rebellion.


Total enrollment 1440
Killed 84
Wounded 385
Died of wounds 64
Died of disease 210
Discharged for disease, wounds and other causes 299
Buried in National Cemeteries 139
Captured 32
Transferred 30

* The compiler of this sketch finds this loss statement in the return of casualties of the Army of the Southwest in the battle of Pea Ridge, Ark., attached to the report of Major General Curtis, found on page 205, Series 1, Vol. 8, War of the Rebellion Official Records. In the history of the Ninth Iowa Infantry by Lieut. Col. Alonzo Abernethy, found on page 174 of the Adjutant General's report of the State of Iowa, for the year 1866, the aggregate loss In killed, wounded and captured Is given as 240, making nearly 44 per cent of the number engaged. In either event, the loss was far above the average of the battles of the War of the Rebellion.

SOURCE: Roster & Record of Iowa Soldiers During the War of the Rebellion, Volume 2, p. 3-10

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