Friday, January 13, 2012

The First Iowa Cavalry

Colonel Fitz Henry Warren, one of the most distinguished citizens of Iowa, commanded the First regiment of cavalry raised in Iowa for the war of 1861. The men making up this regiment were enlisted from all parts of the state in the summer of 1862. Charles E. Moss was the first lieutenant-colonel and E. W. Chamberlain, James O. Gower and Wm. B. Torrence were the first majors. The regiment went into camp at Burlington, where it remained until October, when it was ordered to St. Louis. The different battalions of the regiment were employed in Missouri through the winter in the field, patrolling a large portion of the state, protecting union settlements from guerrillas and doing hard riding on various duties. In July, 1863, Major Gower with his battalion whipped Quantrill near Pleasant Hill, killing a large number of the outlaws. On the 7th of August the regiment was brought together for the first time since it left camp at Burlington. Soon after Colonel Warren was promoted to brigadier-general and took final leave of his regiment to enter upon his new duties, and Lieutenant-Colonel Gower succeeded to its command. On the 6th of December, two battalions of the regiment, under Colonel Gower, joined General Blunt and took part in the battle of Prairie Grove. In the pursuit after the battle the First Iowa cavalry was in the lead and came up with two regiments of the enemy's cavalry near Van Buren. A lively fight ensued and a large amount of stores, wagons, four steamboats and all the camp equipage was captured from the retreating army. In General Steele's campaign against Little Rock, the First Iowa cavalry had a sharp fight with the enemy at Bayou Metaine, in which it made a brilliant charge, losing thirty-seven men. In the capture of the city the First cavalry was under fire a good portion of the day and lost several men. Among the wounded was Major Caldwell. Colonel Gower resigned in August on account of ill health and Lieutenant-Colonel Anderson succeeded him, Major Caldwell was made lieutenant colonel and Captain McQueen was promoted to major. The regiment continued to serve (having re-enlisted) with distinction until the close of the war and was one of the last to be mustered out of the service. Few regiments have left a more worthy record of duty well and faithfully done.

SOURCE: Benjamin F. Gue, Biographies And Portraits Of The Progressive Men Of Iowa, Volume 1, p. 119-20

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