November 22, 1906
9:00 A. M.
Music: Fifty-fifth Iowa Regimental Band
“Nearer, My God, To Thee”
Rev. Dr. A. L. Frisbie of Des Moines, Iowa
“We give unto thee, O God, our thanks that we are permitted to gather in the beautiful sunshine of today, to dedicate to good men and brave men and true men and patriotic men, these monuments. In the name of the Lord God of Hosts, Iowa here dedicates them to the memory of these men. May it be that from this day and from these exercises and from all that shall be carried back to our state from the influence and the ceremonies of these days, there may be awakened a deeper spirit of patriotism, a deeper consecration to the great ends for which governments are established among men. We rejoice that the efforts of these men, who here surrendered their lives, were not in vain. We rejoice that if they know now anything of the result of their sacrifices, they are permitted to rejoice that they did not die in vain.
“We pray that thy blessing may be upon our state, upon her families, her youth, her soldiers, and may we so learn the duties of citizens and be so inspired by the spirit of patriotism, so appreciative of the higher virtues of citizenship, that we shall be truly a greater people than we have yet been, learning lessons of the past, and made rich in the wisdom which is from above.
“Lord, accept our thanks and our petitions, and give us the help that we need, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”
Lieutenant John Hayes, Sixteenth Iowa Regiment
Comrades, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Upon a Sabbath morning in the long ago, a body of newly made soldiers disembarked at Pittsburg Landing, marched by companies to the brow of the hill, for the first time received ammunition, were told how to load the new Springfield muskets which had been given them at St. Louis but a few days before, and then formed as a regiment under the banner of the Sixteenth Iowa Volunteers.
This, the last Iowa regiment enrolled under the call of '61, had been a long time “filling up,” as the phrase was. Fall and winter had passed since the first companies went into camp and the regimental organization had been completed only thirteen days before this eventful morning, so that a common prophecy, “the war will end before the men reach the field,” which had been derisively hurled at the “Sixteenth” for months, seemed in a fair way to be fulfilled.
But all such delusions were now swept away by the warlike surroundings, the roar of artillery and the order to march which quickly followed — for the battle of Shiloh had begun.
About ten o’clock the regiment emerged from the timber at the northeastern part of this open field — now known as Jones’ Field. It moved westerly about half across the field, then took a southerly course, descended into the draw, and after briefly halting there again moved forward. Preceded by the Fifteenth regiment, it was marching by the flank, or, as known in present tactics, in column, and the band was playing, “The Girl I Left Behind Me.” The officers supposed that they were being conducted to join McClernand's division, but soon after passing the draw, the regiment was opened upon by the enemy's artillery and musketry from the timber toward which it was marching. It advanced further, then formed line of battle, and after some confusion of orders took a position here. At times lying down and at times standing, the men fought as best they were able, some seeking the protection of a fence which then bordered the field. No support at right of them, no support at left of them, other than the Fifteenth regiment, while a Confederate battery and infantry in the timber at their front dealt destruction to the command. In an hour or more a retreat was ordered, and the regiment retired with a loss of 131 men.
Of these, some found here a soldier’s sepulchre; some stricken unto death were removed from this locality and in hospital passed away; some incapable of further service sought their homes, there to nurse their wounds till life’s sad end, while others, restored, rejoined their command and with it moved onward through death-dealing camps to further conflicts, to wearisome marches and long campaigns.
To Corinth, to Iuka, to Vicksburg, to Kenesaw, to Nickajack, to Atlanta — names that in memory stand for agonies endured, for battles, sieges, prison pens which typified the hell of war. Then onward in the historic march to Savannah, to Columbia, to Bentonville, to Raleigh, and with the conquering hosts to share in the Grand Review at the National Capital.
Only a fraction of the Union army, its organization 926, its subsequent enlistments 521, in all 1,447 men, followed the Sixteenth flag. Among them, during the years of their service, there were 859 casualties classified as “killed, wounded, died of wounds, died of disease, and discharged for disability,” and there were 257 captures, making total casualties 1,116. What sorrows at home and in the field these numbers speak. They tell of days of pain and nights of anguish, of broken hearts and grief which knew no end.
And death and suffering like this, a thousand times multiplied, befell the great Union army, — 360,000 dead at the close of the war, of which Iowa gave 13,000 young lives.
“Spreading the board, but tasting not its cheer,
Sowing, but never reaping;
Building, but never sitting in the shade
Of the strong mansion they have made.”
A grateful commonwealth has erected this monument thus to honor her sons, who, for love of country, fought and suffered here. So long as it endures, it will stand a witness to the patriotic fervor which inspired the high resolve to maintain the American Union; a witness to lofty purpose faithfully executed; to sacrifices unto death.
For all the kindness a dear state has shown to those who followed the colors of her Sixteenth regiment, and for this testimonial to their fidelity, they who remain of that command, for themselves, and for voiceless comrades, extend a loving acknowledgment.
SOURCE: Alonzo Abernathy, Editor, Dedication of Monuments Erected By The State Of Iowa, p. 203-6