Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Thirty-Ninth Iowa Infantry

The companies of this regiment were chiefly raised in the counties of Polk, Dallas, Madison, Clarke, Greene, Des Moines, and Decatur. It went into camp at Davenport in October, 1862, And was mustered into the service in November with 802 men. Its field officers were: H. J. B. Cummings, colonel; James Redfield, lieutenant-colonel; Joseph M. Griffiths, major. It went south on the 13th of December, stopping at Jackson, Tenn., and marched from there to Trenton. It was in the battle of Parker's Cross Roads, under Colonel Dunham, in which Lieutenant-Colonel Redfield distinguished himself for energy and bravery. He was severely wounded in rallying his men. The loss of the regiment was thirty-seven. Soon after 100 of its members were captured and suffered ten months in a rebel prison. In January, 1863, the regiment joined General Dodge at Corinth, and was assigned to the Third brigade of his division, and served under Dodge for nearly two years. It took part in Colonel Straight's raid in Alabama. Soon after Company H was surrounded and captured. It joined Sherman's army in the Atlanta campaign, and in the defense of Allatoona it made a most heroic fight. General Corse was ordered by Sherman to hold Allatoona Pass to the last extremity. He had 2,000men, including the Thirty-ninth Iowa. General French, with a large confederate army, attacked the place on the morning of the 10th of October, and a desperate battle ensued. Hour after hour the battle raged with the greatest fury, not surpassed by any conflict during the war. At 2 o'clock the confederates made a most determined charge on all sides, but they met such a storm of grape, canister, and rifle balls as no troops could stand, and were driven back in confusion, with heavy loss. In this heroic defense of Allatoona no regiment fought more gallantly than the Thirty-ninth Iowa, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Redfield. This brave officer was wounded in his foot early in the battle, but he dragged himself along the lines, cheering and directing his men. He was again severely wounded but would not relinquish his command, but seated on the ground issued his orders and encouraged his regiment to stand firm, until a fatal bullet pierced the heart of one of the bravest officers that Iowa sent to the war. His regiment lost 165 men in this battle. The Thirty-ninth marched on with Sherman's army to Savannah, and on through the Carolinas to Alexandria, Va., in sight of the national capital. In the final great review this regiment, with banner torn by shot and shell, marched in Gen. E. W. Rice's brigade before the vast concourse of people gathered to do honor to the war-worn veterans. Soon after it was sent home to Clinton, where it was disbanded.

SOURCE: Benjamin F. Gue, Biographies And Portraits Of The Progressive Men Of Iowa, Volume 1, p. 118

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