Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Edward Francis Winslow


Almost alone among the Iowa soldiers who bore distinguished honors and responsibilities during the War for the Union, General Winslow lived on until the 22d of October, 1914, when his death occurred, at Canandaigua, N. Y., aged seventy-seven years.

Edward Francis Winslow was born in Augusta, Me., September 28, 1837. In 1856, at the age of nineteen, he entered upon a business career in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. When the war called the young men of Iowa, he gave quick response, recruiting a company for the Fourth Iowa Cavalry. In January, 1863, he was made major, and, ten months later, was commissioned colonel of his regiment. He commanded a brigade under Sherman, Grant, Sturgis and Wilson respectively, and wherever he was ordered, whether to victory or, as under Sturgis, to inevitable defeat, he served with equal fidelity and courage. In December 1864, after having earned his star over and over again, he was brevetted a brigadier-general. He was mustered out at Atlanta, August 10, 1865.

Reference has been made to Sturgis’s ill-starred campaign against Forrest. It is a matter of history that but for the defense put up by Winslow’s brigade, without orders other than those originating with himself, the retreating army of Sturgis would never have reached Memphis. Other witnesses of the retreat corrected certain misrepresentations of Sturgis, and Winslow received the high praise he had so bravely won but which his chief had withheld. The chagrin of this retreat was in part obliterated by the after-victory at Tupelo in which Winslow was led by A. J. Smith.

To tell with any detail the story of General Winslow's activities during the war — from the winter of 1861-62, with Curtis in Missouri, until the victory at Columbus in 1865, to which he contributed both the plan and a brigade of splendid veterans — would be to write many chapters of war history. It must suffice here to quote the deliberate judgment of Iowa’s war-historian, Maj. S. H. M. Byers, who says: “He was loved by his soldiers, and shared with them the hard march, the fierce encounter, or the last cracker. His brigade, was a fighting brigade and was as well known among the cavalry of the West as was Crocker's Iowa Brigade among the infantry.” He “came out of the war a brevet brigadier-general, with the reputation of a good patriot, a brave soldier and a splendid cavalry commander.”

The veteran general was only twenty-eight when he was mustered out. Gen. James H Wilson, in his interesting work, “Under the Old Flag,” refers to General Winslow's achievement at Columbus as “one of the most remarkable not only of the war but of modern times.”

After the war, General Winslow was offered a captain’s, and later a major’s, and still later a colonel’s commission in the regular army, but he had seen enough of war.

In the siege of Vicksburg he received a wound which caused him no end of pain and inconvenience. Before setting out on his long marches, his wounded leg was wrapped in stiff bandages, and much of the time his suffering was acute. Again, one day, while leading his brigade in the fall of 1863, in the vicinity of Vicksburg, a shell burst near him as he sat on his horse, and the concussion ruptured an ear-drum, causing total deafness in one ear.

The purpose of the war attained, the general gladly turned his attention to business. His executive ability led him to engage in railroad building and managing. For years he resided in Cedar Rapids, serving as manager of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern Railway, years afterward absorbed by the Rock Island system.

In 1879, as vice president and general manager of the Manhattan Elevated Railway, he unified the system of control and management of its lines. In 1880 he was elected president of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway Company, and vice president of the Atlantic & Pacific Railway Company. He was also for several years president of the New York, Ontario & Western Railway Company, and formed an association for the purpose of building the West Shore Railway, which he completed in about three years. His last active work was in the organization of the “Frisco” system.

For several years after his retirement, General and Mrs. Winslow resided in Paris and spent much time in travel. A few years ago the general visited his old comrade, General Bussey, in Des Moines, and a reception given the two worthies by ex-Mayor and Mrs. Isaac L. Hillis, was a notable assemblage of prominent Iowa soldiers and civilians. The general was in full possession of his faculties, including that most elusive of all the faculties, the memory.

During the last three years of his life, General Winslow had busied himself writing a book of reminiscences of his part in the Civil War. The book had been completed and waited only the final revision when, on the 22d of October, 1914, illness closed it forever to the author. The manuscript left in possession of his widow cannot fail to be a valuable addition to Iowa history, as it is a transcript from the memory of one of Iowa’s best-known and most highly esteemed soldiers.

SOURCE: Johnson Brigham, Iowa: Its History and Its Foremost Citizens, Volume 1, 397-9

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