Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Twenty-Fourth Iowa Infantry

The Twenty-Fourth was made up of companies raised chiefly in Jackson, Clinton, Cedar, Linn, Johnson, Jones, Tama and Iowa counties. It went into camp at Muscatine in September, 1862, and on the 18th was mustered into the United States service, numbering 950 men. Its field officers were Eber C. Byam, colonel; John Q. Wilds, lieutenant-colonel; Ed Wright, major. On the 19th of October the regiment was sent to Helena, Ark. From here it was sent on various expeditions into Mississippi and Arkansas, doing some hard marching and suffering from sickness. Lieutenant-Colonel Wilds was in command of the regiment a large portion of the time as Colonel Byam resigned June 30th, 1863. The Twenty-Fourth was attached to General Grant's army early in 1863 and was in his campaign against Vicksburg. It was actively engaged in the battle of Port Gibson, in General Hovey's division. At the great battle of Champion Hill no regiment in the union army surpassed the Twenty-Fourth for desperate fighting. A rebel battery of five guns on a commanding position was doing fearful execution on Hovey's division, as it advanced on Champion Hill. The Twenty-fourth alone charged upon it under a terrific fire of grape and canister, drove the gunners from their pieces and overwhelmed the infantry supports, carrying everything before them. But no other regiment coming to its support, it was assailed by overwhelming numbers and finally driven back. The loss of the regiment in this heroic charge was 195, including several gallant officers. The regiment participated in the hardships and dangers of the siege of Vicksburg and was in the campaign against Jackson. It was afterwards transferred to the Army of the Gulf and was in General Banks' disastrous Red river campaign. At the battle of Sabine Cross Roads the Twenty-fourth fought bravely, but nothing the army could do was sufficient to counteract the incompetency of the commanding general, Banks, who led it only to defeat and retreat. In July, 1864, the regiment went by river, gulf and ocean to Alexandria, Va., from there to Harper's Ferry, and joined Sheridan's army in the Shenandoah valley. At the battle of Winchester the Twenty-Fourth was hotly engaged and lost seventy-four men. It also took part in the battles of Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek, which followed, fighting with its accustomed vigor and bravery and losing many good men. Among the mortally wounded at Cedar Creek was the gallant Colonel Wilds. In January, 1865, this fighting regiment which had seen service in some of the greatest campaigns of the war, was again sent south by ocean steamer and did duty in Georgia and North Carolina. It was finally, at the close of the war, mustered out at Savannah, transported back to Iowa and disbanded in August. Few Iowa regiments traversed as many miles of the enemy's country or fought in as many battles as the Twenty-Fourth.

SOURCE, Benjamin F. Gue, Biographies And Portraits Of The Progressive Men Of Iowa, Volume 1, p. 107

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