Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Eighteenth Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry

The Eighteenth Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry was organized under authority of Special Orders from the War Department, dated May 21-23, 1862. The ten companies composing the regiment were ordered into quarters by Governor Kirkwood on dates ranging from June 10 to July 21, 1862. The designated rendezvous was Clinton, Iowa, and the camp was named "Kirkwood," in honor of the Governor. The companies were there mustered into the service of the United States by Captain H. B. Hendershott, United States Army, on August 5, 6 and 7, 1862. The aggregate strength of the regiment (Field, Staff and Line officers and enlisted men) when the muster was completed was 877 [see note 1]. Its first equipment with arms was Austrian Rifles (calibre 58) with appendages. It was provided with the other necessary equipment for active service, and on August 11, 1862, received orders to proceed to Sedalia, Mo., at which place it arrived August 28th, and was ordered to proceed to Springfield, Mo., where it arrived September 13th, and joined the Army of the Frontier under General Schofield. The regiment was assigned to the First Brigade of the Second Division, commanded respectively by Colonel Husted of the Seventh Missouri Cavalry and Brigadier General Totten.

On September 29th the army advanced in the direction of the enemy's camp at Newtonia, at which place the troops which led the advance became engaged with the enemy. The brigade and division to which the Eighteenth Iowa belonged were marched quickly in the direction of the troops engaged but, before their arrival, the rebel forces had retreated. During the forced march in the night preceding the engagement, the Eighteenth Iowa had come in contact with an advanced post of the enemy and in the skirmish which ensued lost one man killed and three wounded. The pursuit of the retreating rebel army was continued as far as Fayetteville, Ark., where the Eighteenth Iowa, being in advance, skirmished with the rear guard of the rebel army, but sustained no casualties. The enemy having been driven out of the State of Missouri, and the object of the expedition having been accomplished, General Schofield was ordered to return and make such disposition of his forces as would best protect the State against further invasion. The Eighteenth Iowa was ordered to Springfield, Mo., where a large quantity of supplies for the army had been accumulated. The regiment arrived at Springfield, November 14, 1862. While its loss in conflict with the enemy, up to this time, had been light, the men had suffered greatly from exposure and from the hardships to which they had been subjected on the long march in pursuit of the enemy, and the return to Springfield. They were passing through the common experience of all soldiers, in their first year of service. Many were stricken with disease, the prevailing malady being measles, which spread through the regiment and claimed many victims. The entire casualties now numbered ninety, and yet the regiment had been in active service less than three months.
At Springfield, the Eighteenth Iowa constituted an important part of the garrison which numbered about 1,500 troops of all arms, and several pieces of field artillery. The defenses consisted of earthworks and detached forts, but the number of troops in garrison, were insufficient to man the works at all points. Brigadier General Brown was in command of these troops, with Colonel Crabb of the Nineteenth Iowa in command of the Post. Lieutenant Colonel Cook was in command of the Eighteenth Iowa, five companies of the regiment being on out-post duty some distance from Springfield. The rebel General Marmaduke had, by a skillful and daring movement, eluded the vigilance of the Union Army, and by a series of rapid marches reached the vicinity of Springfield on the evening of January 7, 1863. On the forenoon of that day the scouts of General Brown had discovered the approaching force of the enemy, and the garrison therefore had warning of the impending attack and made every' possible preparation to meet it. The Union men of the town armed themselves, offered their services for the defense, and afterwards fought bravely with the troops. Even the sick in hospital, who were able to leave their beds, took their guns and went to the front On the morning of January 8th, the cavalry pickets of General Brown discovered the enemy's skirmish line and the preliminary fighting began some three miles from the entrenchments. In his history of the regiment, Colonel Hugh Campbe.ll gives the following brief account of the engagement which ensued:

January 8, 1863, the rebel forces, thirty-five hundred strong, under Marmaduke, attacked Springfield, then held by the Eighteenth Iowa, and a few hundred militia. The regiment was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Cook. After a severe engagement, lasting the whole of the day, the enemy retreated, leaving one hundred and eighty killed and wounded. The Eighteenth Iowa suffered severely in the action, losing fifty enlisted men killed and wounded, and two commissioned officers killed — Captain William R. Blue, Company C, and Captain Joseph Van Metre, Company H, who died of wounds received in the action — and two commissioned officers wounded, Captain Landis, Company D, and Lieutenant Conaway, Company C. The regiment behaved nobly, standing their ground against three times their number, and by their coolness and determination saving the town and its valuable stores on which the army of the Frontier, thence drawing its supplies, depended for its existence. ... The regiment received a well merited compliment from Brigadier General Brown, commanding, for their bravery and gallantry in this action [see note 2].

The official report of the part taken by the Eighteenth Iowa in the gallant defense of Springfield not being obtainable [see note 3], the compiler has availed himself of the account given by Major Byers, in his "Iowa in War Times," and that of L. D. Ingersoll, in his "Iowa and the Rebellion," to supplement the statement of Colonel Campbell. The following is a part of the concluding portion of Major Byers’ account:

By two o'clock, the rebels massed their forces several lines deep and made a determined effort on the Union right and center. It was then that Captain Landis, of the Eighteenth Iowa, with a piece of artillery, was pushed forward into an exposed and dangerous position at the right. Three companies of the Eighteenth Iowa, under Captains Van Metre, Blue and Stonaker, were sent along as supports. By a bold dash, with overwhelming numbers, the rebels succeeded in capturing the gun, but not till Captains Blue, Van Metre and Landis were wounded — the two former mortally. At their sides fell many of their brave comrades. At the same moment the rebels got possession of a strong stockaded building south of and near to the town, and from this vantage point poured a heavy fire into the Union line. In another hour Brown's forces were being heavily pressed, and the position seemed extremely critical. Then the "Quinine Brigade” [see note 4] led by Colonel Crabb, rushed to the front They were real soldiers, if they were sick ones. In an hour's fighting they drove the enemy back on their left center, but an immediate and very nearly successful assault by the rebels followed at the right. Some of the militia were giving way. General Brown hurried to their front to re-form them, but was shot from his horse in the endeavor. It was now four o'clock, and Colonel Crabb assumed the command. Again the battle was resumed at the center, and for another hour continued with varying results. Once more some of the militia faltered and for a time all seemed lost, when others, also militia, charged for the lost ground with a cheer. At the same time Lieutenant Colonel Cook, with the remaining companies of the Eighteenth Iowa who had hurried from outpost duty to the scene, came up, and they, too, charged the rebel center with a shout and drove it rearwards. Darkness soon ended the contest, and that night the defeated rebel army withdrew. . . . This handful of brave men and the sturdy, heroic militia of Missouri had saved Springfield with its enormous stores, and it had saved a disaster to the Union Army. . . .

Ingersoll, who wrote a lengthy account of the engagement, giving the details with great particularity, confirms the statements of Major Byers heretofore quoted. Near the close of his account he says:

Meantime five companies of the Eighteenth Iowa, which had just reached the scene of action from an outpost at some distance from Springfield, came up in fine style, under Lieutenant Colonel Cook, and went into the fight on the center with such effect as to drive the rebels back into the stockade, and encourage the men who had been fighting for hours most wonderfully. Darkness was now coming on and the firing gradually ceased. . . . The enemy retired under cover of the night from his position south of town, and had taken position more than a mile to the eastward. Hither Colonel Crabb sent a cavalry force to engage them and retard their advance, but they declined battle, and soon retired in haste. They had lost in the battle more than two hundred in killed and wounded. Our loss was about the same. There were but five companies — A, C, F, G and H — of the Eighteenth Iowa taking part in the contest until near its close, when the other five came up and turned the tide of battle in our favor, as has been related. The number of the regiment engaged was less than five hundred, of whom fifty-six were killed or wounded.

The regiment remained in Springfield during the remainder of the winter of 1863, performing the monotonous duties incident to the camp and garrison life of soldiers. While the holding of Springfield was very necessary and meant so much to the loyal citizens of Missouri, it could not be otherwise than unsatisfactory to the gallant officers and men of the Eighteenth Iowa to be retained upon such duty, while so many Iowa regiments were actively participating in the great campaigns then in progress in other parts of the South, and winning honor and distinction for themselves and their State. In April, 1863, Colonel Edwards, who had been on detached service at St. Louis, returned to Springfield and assumed command of the Post. The operations of the regiment now assumed a much more active character. The rebel General Shelby had invaded Missouri with a considerable force, and, besides holding the Post at Springfield, portions of the Eighteenth Iowa were called upon for active service in the field. The subsequent service of the regiment is described by Colonel Campbell, as follows:

During the spring and summer of 1863, different portions of the regiment, under command of Major Campbell, made three long marches of one hundred and ten miles each, two of them forced marches, besides doing very heavy fatigue and guard duty, in which they were taxed to their utmost strength, by reason of the smallness of the garrison and the constant proximity of the enemy. In the latter of these marches, they participated in the campaign against Shelby, who invaded Missouri and penetrated nearly to the Missouri river; The regiment was ordered to Cassville, Mo., under command of Lieutenant Colonel Campbell [see note 5], to cooperate in heading off Shelby's retreat. October 9th, Springfield being considered in danger, a part of the regiment was ordered back by forced marches, and marched the distance of fifty-five miles in twenty-seven hours, including halts.

October 16th, Companies D and F, under command of Captain Hay, marched from Cassville to Fayetteville, as escort to a supply train, and at Cross Timbers encountered the enemy under Colonel Brooks, who attacked the train with five hundred men. After a. short but severe contest, the enemy retired with a loss of ten men killed and wounded. October 17th, the remainder of the regiment, under command of Colonel Edwards, moved, along with all the forces of the district of southwestern Missouri, under General McNeil, in pursuit of Shelby, who was then retreating from Missouri, and reached Fort Smith, Arkansas — after an animated pursuit, during which they marched night and day, fording deep streams, and crossing the Boston Mountains — October 31, 1863.

January 2, 1864, a portion of the regiment, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, marched to Roseville, Arkansas, to prevent an anticipated attack upon a supply train on the way from Little Rock, in charge of Captain Clover, Company K, Eighteenth Iowa, with a detachment of the regiment, and returned to Fort Smith, January 8, 1864, having marched seventy-five miles in the depth of winter, the snow being six inches deep, without tents or shelter of any kind. During the rest of the winter, the regiment was engaged in excessive labor, in fatigue, escort, and guard duty, men and officers going on duty for months every other day, and living upon half rations. March 22, 1864, the regiment, under command of Captain Duncan, Colonel Edwards commanding the First Brigade, and Lieutenant Colonel Campbell being detained at Little Rock by a severe hurt, which disabled him entirely from walking or riding, moved with the Third Division to join General Steele, who with the Seventh Army Corps was moving on Camden, Ark., to cooperate with General Banks. April 12th, the regiment participated in the battle of Prairie d' Anne. April 13th, the Third Division, being the rear guard of the army, was attacked by the enemy in force at Moscow. In this engagement the Eighteenth Iowa, with the Second Indiana Battery, held the enemy in check until the rest of the division came up and forced the enemy to retire. Captain J. K. Morey, Company F, then acting Assistant Adjutant General of the First Brigade, was highly complimented by Colonel Edwards, commanding the brigade, for bravery in this action.

April 18th, the regiment, under command of Captain Duncan, moved from Camden to reinforce Colonel Williams, Second Kansas (colored), who was escorting a large forage train. About fourteen miles from Camden, at Poison Springs, Colonel Williams was attacked by the enemy six thousand strong, under Generals Marcy and Fagan. He had with him the Eighteenth Iowa, the First Kansas Colored, one section of the Second Indiana Battery and about two hundred cavalry. His small force was completely surrounded and separated, and after a fierce and sanguinary conflict, in which the rest of the command was entirely routed and scattered with great loss, the Eighteenth Iowa was completely isolated and hemmed in on all sides. It retired slowly rod by rod, reforming and charging the enemy seven times, and finally cut its way through the enemy's lines and returned to Camden. The casualties in this engagement were eighty enlisted men killed, wounded and missing and one commissioned officer wounded [see note 6]. The regiment received great credit for the deliberate and determined courage with which it held together in the face of such desperate odds and forced its way out. The officers and men behaved gallantly. Captain Thomas Blanchard, when wounded, and under a heavy fire, seized the colors and held them, by ordering the men to form upon him.

April 30th, the regiment participated in the battle of Jenkin's Ferry, at Saline river, where the enemy attacked General Steele's army, then retreating from Camden, and endeavored to prevent his crossing, but was repulsed after a day's hard fighting, with heavy loss on both sides. The regiment returned to Fort Smith May 15, 1864, having marched seven hundred and thirty miles, through swamps and over mountains, subsisting part of the time on raw corn, wading whole days and nights in mud and water, and suffering hardships that have been surpassed in no campaign of the war.

The subsequent months of the summer and fall of 1864, and the winter of 1864-5, were occupied with a series of long and rapid marches, the intervals of which were employed in severe labor on the fortifications around Fort Smith, and extremely heavy guard duty. Different bodies of the enemy, under Shelby, Gano, Cooper, Fagan and Brooks, emboldened by their successes against General Steele, hovered closely around Fort Smith, cut off our communications, captured supply trains, and completely held the surrounding country. During the whole time the troops at Fort Smith were kept upon two-thirds, and, during the greatest part of the time, half rations, and the subsistence that was furnished consisted, for a long time, mostly of damaged bread and meat.

May 25, 1864, the regiment, under command of Major Morey, together with the Second Kansas (colored) and a section of the Second Kansas Battery, all under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, moved to Clarksville, Ark., to hold that place and keep open the navigation of the river, upon which the army at Fort Smith depended for supplies. The regiment lost on the march two men killed by guerrillas. While here, Sergeant Vance, Company C, Eighteenth Iowa, with twenty-eight men, in charge of a forage train, was attacked, ten miles from Clarksville, by forty rebels, but repulsed them and saved his train, killing two and wounding two of the enemy, and losing one man wounded.

August 6th, Clarksville was evacuated by order of Brigadier General Thayer, and the Eighteenth Iowa under command of Major Morey, together with a battalion of the Fourteenth Kansas Cavalry, and a large train of government stores and refugees, all under command of Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, marched for Fort Smith. On their march they were followed closely by the enemy, who harassed them slightly, but without doing serious injury.

From August 11th to December the regiment was sent, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, upon four successive expeditions. In November, a large supply train of four hundred wagons, enroute for Fort Smith, was lying at Neosho crossing, Cherokee Nation, deterred from advancing by the threatened intervention of Gano's forces between them and Fort Smith. The supplies at Fort Smith were exhausted, and the possibility of holding it all depended upon the safe arrival of this train. November 22d the Eighteenth regiment, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, marched to Fort Gibson to meet the train. On arriving there, he was ordered to proceed by forced marches towards Neosho crossing, one hundred miles distant, with the Eighteenth under command of Captain Blanchard, and the First Indiana Infantry, till he met the train. His command drew for rations a peck of corn in the ear per man, and a little coffee, and upon this supply, with no salt and a little fresh beef, killed on the way, the command marched day and night till it reached the train at Neosho crossing. The suffering from exhaustion on this march exceeded that experienced in any of the campaigns of the regiment. At Neosho crossing, the command met the train, escorted by the Second Kansas (colored), the Second and Third Indiana, portions of the Sixth and Fourteenth Kansas Cavalry, and two sections of artillery, under command of Major Phillips, who was waiting for reinforcements. The whole, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, immediately marched for Fort Gibson, and thence to Fort Smith, which he reached December 11th, having marched three hundred and twenty miles in the winter, forded two rivers and numberless swollen streams, making night marches, the only subsistence for his whole, command, for a part of the time, being raw corn, and beef seasoned with gunpowder in lieu of salt [see note 7].

About the last of February, 1865, four companies of the regiment, under command of Major Morey, were detached for garrison duty at Van Buren, Ark., and remained there until July 6th, when the regiment was concentrated at Little Rock, Ark. There, on July 20, 1865, the regiment was mustered out of the service of the United States, and was soon afterwards conveyed to Davenport, Iowa, where it was formally disbanded, the officers and men receiving their discharges and final payment August 5 to 7, 1865, just three years from the date of their muster into the service at Clinton, Iowa.

Colonel Campbell states that only about 400 of the original members of the regiment were with it upon its return to Davenport, and that but eight of its original officers remained with it at that time; he also states that during its term of service it had received 235 recruits, of which 86 were from Iowa, 72 from Missouri and 77 from Arkansas and Texas. The larger number of its officers had received well deserved promotions from the ranks, as vacancies occurred from death, resignation, discharge for disability, or other causes. Quite a number of its officers had been discharged to accept promotion in other regiments. All these changes will be found noted in the subjoined roster, together with the record of each officer and enlisted man, in paragraph form, opposite his name. Every, effort has been made to secure accuracy in this revised roster, but no doubt errors and omissions have occurred, owing to the imperfect manner in which part of the records have been kept, and this imperfect condition is largely, if not wholly, due to the failure of officers to make full reports and returns to the Adjutant General of Iowa during the progress of the war. In some instances names will probably be found not properly spelled, but this could not be avoided, for the reason that the records were the only guide to follow. In the case of the Eighteenth Iowa, the compiler has found no official reports of battles on file, and has been compelled to rely upon such general information as he could obtain from the sources previously indicated — mainly the history of the regiment, from which liberal quotations have been made.

The Eighteenth Iowa Infantry has a record of service that reflects high honor upon its officers and enlisted men and upon the State which sent it into the field. While it was not engaged in any of the great battles of the war, its service was no less important to the cause of the Union than was that of the regiments from Iowa which served in the great campaigns in Mississippi; Georgia and Virginia. Its service was upon the southwestern frontier, against an active and ever vigilant enemy; the posts which it held and successfully defended were most important ones, its conflicts with the enemy and its losses showing plainly with what determined bravery and unflinching fortitude it performed its duty. Its record of long and toilsome marches, of suffering from cold and hunger and from all the vicissitudes of war, entitles it to a place in history second to none of the gallant regiments which went forth from the State of Iowa at the call of the Government to assist in conquering a gigantic rebellion.

To the memory of the brave men of this noble regiment who gave up their lives on the field of battle, or who died from wounds or disease; to those who lived to return to their homes and loved ones, but have since answered the last roll call; to those who still survive, the fading remnant of this once powerful military organization; to the dead and the living, to their wives, families and kindred, and to all who shall come after them and inherit the proud legacy transmitted by these heroic soldiers, who endured and suffered and died that their country might live, this brief history is consecrated.


Total Enrollment 1127
Killed 28
Wounded 79
Died of wounds 9
Died of disease 113
Discharged for disease, wounds or other causes 253
Buried in National Cemeteries 89
Captured 68
Transferred 15

[Note 1.] Report of Adjutant General of Iowa, 1863, Vol. I, pages 651-81, Original Roster of the Regiment.

[Note 2.] Adjutant General of Iowa's Report, 1866, page 277.

[Note 3.] The compiler has made diligent search of the archives for the official report of Lieutenant Colonel Cook, but has failed to discover it, or any official report of the subsequent engagements in which the Eighteenth Iowa participated. He has, therefore, been compelled to rely upon the history above referred to, and such other information (deemed reliable) as he has been able to obtain.

[Note 4.] Convalescents from Hospital.

[Note 5.] Promoted from Major July 17, 1863.

[Note 6.] Captain Thomas Blanchard. Adjutant General's Report, 1867, Vol. I, page 136.

[Note 7.] Report of Adjutant General of Iowa for year 1866, pages 276 to 280.

SOURCE: Roster & Record of Iowa Soldiers During the War of the Rebellion, Volume 3, p. 117-23

No comments: