Sunday, January 12, 2014

On to Keokuk and the Battle of Athens

 On Monday August 5th a messenger arrived in Burlington from Athens MO. 1,500 secessionists were en-route to attack a force commanded by Colonel David Moore. Moore was in command of 500
David Moore, Colonel
  Missouri Home Guard troops. However because of men on leave he had only 333 men on the line.  These men were new recruits and armed with varied weapons and accoutrements. The opposing force was commanded by Colonel Martin Green and was composed of 2,000 secessionist Home Guard troops. 
Martin Green, Colonel 
 As Col. Moore prepared to defend Athens men from the 6th Iowa were marched to a building to receive arms for the purpose of reenforcing Athens. This is the account: 

   "Three companies of the Sixth Regiment Company D, Captain Walden commanding, Company I, Captain Brydolf commanding, and Company K, Lieutenant White commanding, were marched to a large building near the levee, where new Springfield muskets, with accouterments and ammunition were issued to the men, and then the command was immediately embarked on board cars on the Des Moines Valley Railroad, and started for the scene of threatened hostilities."

 They apparently encountered more messengers on the way that had news that the rebel troops had pushed the Union boys across the Iowa line. The left flank commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Callihan did falter as the confederate advance name him nervous. The rest of the line held. Colonel Martin's men were ill equipped compared to that of the defenders of Athens. 

As the union train approached Colonel McDowell ordered "...cartridges distributed to the men, guns loaded, bayonets fixed and every man standing ready to leap from the car when the train arrived at the depot."

 When the rebels saw the train they made a hasty retreat and the battle was over before the 6th Iowa could see any action. 

 The troops unloaded from the cars to warm reception and soon were given orders.

 "McDowell ordered the men to take off their shoes and stockings, roll up their pants and proceed to wade the Des Moines River, which was knee deep and about two hundred yards wide. It was soon learned that Colonel Martin Green with his band of Missouri secessionists had abandoned the field and fled south in a demoralized condition. The only participation had in the affair after arriving on the field was by a detail of advance skirmishers, who fired a few parting shots at some stragglers in the rear of the enemy's fleeing forces."

 Here was another account of the battle given. 
 " According to accounts given, a force, said to be fifteen hundred armed men with three pieces of artillery, had charged in at daylight upon the three hundred Union men occupying the hamlet of Athens, pouring in volleys of musketry, yelling like demons, firing solid shot and dis- charges of slugs from their cannon, most of which were aimed high and passed over the river where they lodged in the low hills back of Croton. The battle raged with great fury for several hours, the Union men holding sub- stantially their position in the town. When the reinforcements were seen approaching, the Union men took courage and charged with great gallantly, dispersing the enemy in uttor rout and confusion. There were two Union men killed in the affair and fifteen wounded; the loss of the enemy was never definitely reported, but was believed to be more than double that of the Union side."

 Later under a flag of truce the rebels recovered their dead. The Union troops set out pickets and were prepared to answer an attack, sleeping on their arms as to be ready. 

 The next day at 5pm the company's of the 6th were loaded onto cars and sent to Keokuk where they arrived at 6pm to much applause. 

 The arms they had received for the battle of Athens were returned. 

"I am called "Little Mother" : Sewing in the Army

Well it looks like I had to do some repair work to the trousers. Two buttons came off. I thought this was a good chance to talk about sewing in the army.

 Soldiers in both armies carried needle books, sometimes called a "housewife". Everything you needed for a quick repair was contained a nice little wallet of sorts. These were usually made for the men by their women folk back on the home front and sent with them as they marched off for war.

I was reading this account of sewing from a Journal written by Theodore Upson of the 100th Indiana. He was talking about nicknames in the army and describes why his nickname was "Little Mother".

 "Among the boys I am called "Little Mother", all because when we first came out I had a needle book with thread and needles all very convenient. And when the boys lost a button, or tore their trouse(r)s, what more natural than to go and get "Mother" to fix it." 
 -Private Theodore Upson, 100th Indiana Volunteer Regiment

 You can imagine how hard they were on their uniforms. Missing buttons and rips were a common occurrence.

 FOR REENACTORS: If you are looking a quality reproduction housewife for use in your kit and don't want to try your hand at making your own,  I reccomend S&S Sutler of Gettysburg PA.
 You can find it here :

Saturday, January 11, 2014


John Adair McDowell, Colonel
The 6th Iowa was mustered in Burlington Iowa and it's organization went into effect on July 17th 1861. These men would have been un-uniformed and with out standard equipment until a later date.

John Murray Corse, Major
 From Wright's History of the Regiments :

On July 17, 1861, at Camp Warren, in the city of Burlington, Des Moines County, Iowa, the organization of the Sixth Iowa Infantry Volunteers was effected with held and staff officers commissioned as follows: Colonel, John Adair McDowell of Keokuk; Major, John Murray Corse of Burlington; Assistant-Surgeon, John E. Lake of Marion ; Chaplain, John Ufford of Muscatine.

 Companies were accepted and assigned as follows:
"Marlon Light Guards'' of Marion, Linn County: Captain, Rosea AY. Gray; First-Lieutenant, Tarlton Caldwell; Second-Lieutenant, Willard EL Harland; 13
non-commissioned officers, 1 musician, 1 wagoner, and 69 privates; total, 87 men; mustered in, July 17, 1861.
"Lucas County Guards" of Chariton, Lucas County: Captain, Daniel Tseminger; First-Lieutenant, Emmet B. Woodward; Second-Lieutenant, Eugene E. Edwards; 13 non-commissioned officers, 2 musicians, 1 wagoner, and 66 privates; total, 85 men; mustered in, July 17, 1861.
"Union Guards" of Eldora, Hardin County: Captain, David M. Stump; First-Lieutenant, Abraham B. Harris; Second-Lieutenant, Philander Lockard; 12 non-commis- sioned officers, 1 musician, 1 wagoner, and 66 privates; total, 83 men; mustered in, July 17, 1861.

"Appanoose Volunteers" of Centerville, Appanoose County: Captain, Madison M. Walden ; First-Lieutenant, John L. Bashore; Second-Lieutenant, William A. E. Ehodes; 13 non-commissioned officers, 2 musicians, 1
wagoner, and 6S privates; total, 87 men; mustered in,

"Monroe Guards" of Albia, Monroe County: Captain,  Henry Saunders; First-Lieutenant, Calvin Kelsey; Sec- ond-Lieutenant,-Leander C. Allison; 13 non-commissioned officers, 2 musicians, 1 wagoner, and 68 privates; total, 87 men; mustered in, July 17, 1861.
"Clarke County Guards'' of Osceola, Clarke County: Captain, Samuel P. Glenn ; First-Lieutenant, Calvin Min- ton; Second-Lieutenant, John T. Grimes; 13 non-com- missioned officers, 2 musicians, 1 wagoner, and 65 pri- vates; total, 84 men; mustered in, Julv 17, 1861.
"Union Guards'' of North Liberty and Iowa City., [JohnsonCounty: Captain,JohnWilliams;First-Lieu- tenant, Alexander J. Miller; Second-Lieutenant, Joseph M. Douglas; 13 non-commissioned officers, 2 musicians, and65privates; total,83men; musteredin,July18,1861.
"MontroseGuards"of Montrose, LeeCounty: Cap- tain,WashingtonGalland; First-Lieutenant,EufusGood- nough; Second-Lieutenant, George R. Nunn; 13 non- commissioned officers, 2 musicians, 1 wagoner, and 66

" Burlington Blues" of Burlington, Des Moines Coun- ty: Captain, Fabian Brydolf ; First-Lieutenant, Joseph S. Halliday; Second-Lieutenant, Samuel B. Philips; 13 non-commissioned officers, 1 wagoner, and 69 privates; total, S6 men; mustered in, July IS, 1861.

"Tippecanoe Guards" of Borne and Mount Pleasant, Henry County: Captain, Wilson D. Deniston; First- Lieutenant, James Brunaugli; Second-Lieutenant, Hi-ch- ard E. White; 13 non-comrnissioned officers, 1 musician,
1 wagoner, and 73 privates; total, 91 men; mustered in, July 18, 1861.*

 The men of Iowa are highly praised in the writings of Wright. Maybe he was a little biased, but the high opinions of Iowa boys during the war was not something only Iowegians talked about. 

 He writes :
 "The young men composing the rank and file of the regiment were drawn from the best brain and brawn and the best pioneer blood of the western prairies. Their parents had emigrated in an early clay to the new country then opening up west of the Mississippi River, where they were inured to the severities of rugged pioneer life. With the glow of health on their cheeks, the fire of patriotic enthusiasm sparkling in their eyes, their hearts swelling with manly pride, honest but untutored in the wiles of the world, earnest in their devotions to the principles of liberty, they were ready and willing to try the pending issue at arms squarely, and never flinch or quail, when the day of trial and danger should come." 

 Many of the men that rose up to fight for this cause were in fact not native to the state. Many had come from Ohio, Indiana and many other states in the East as small children. However they seem to have embraced the idea of the hard working rugged midwesterner even then. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Charles F. Stratton, Sergeant

 This was the first tidbit I found about Company D of the 6th Iowa. This is to my knowledge the only photo of a soldier of this company.
Charles F. Stratton, Sergeant 
 Stratton, Charles F. (Veteran.) Age 19. Residence Centerville, nativity Missouri. Enlisted June 25, 1861, as
Drummer. Mustered July 17, 1861. Wounded April 6, 1861, Shiloh, Tenn.
Re-enlisted and re-mustered Jan. 26, 1864. Promoted Third Sergeant Nov. 10,
1864. Killed in action March 20, 1865, Bentonville, N. C. Buried in National
Cemetery, Raleigh, N. C. Section 17, grave 5.

 In researching this young man he seems to have been well liked by the men. I found this excerpt :

"On Friday morning, April 4th, a scouting party of Con- federate cavalry made an attack on the picket guard posted on the Purdy road beyond Owl Creek, which was guarded by Captain Walden with his company (Company D) at the bridge. Here Charles F. Stratton, company drummer, serving on the picket post at the time, was shot and se-verely wounded in the hand, causing the amputation of a finger. The bold raiders were speedily driven away, by the guards on duly, without any additional casualties. The jolly drummer boy of Company D had the distinction of being the first man in the regiment to be shot by the enemy."
                          -A History of the 6th Iowa Infantry by Henry H. Wright 

 This is a fascinating story. Charles Stratton almost survived the entire war. He was killed at Bentonville  on March 20th. Henry Wright recounts some of the days actions. 

"At daybreak, March 20, 1865, all of the troops were busy wiping out guns, filling up cartridge boxes with fresh dry ammunition, and putting everything in order for the work of the day, for they knew, as well as did the general commanding, what was in store for them as the advance division of the corps 
....all of the troops were busy wiping out guns

 "The Second Brigade led the advance with the Sixth Iowa next to the advance regiment in the brigade."

 "Captain Orlando J. Fast, serving as brigade Adjutant-General and always a familiar figure
at the front, spoke encouragingly to the troops as they filed into position, saying, "Keep a stiff upper lip boys, and give them the best you have".

 "The battle opened at once with a crackling fire of small arms, accompanied by the familiar shouting of the 97th, which was heartily responded to by the whole brigade. Glorious commencement! The enemy was routed from his first position and the column steadily advanced for three miles, the skirmishers driving the foe out of several strong; positions, protected by rail barricades. A hall was called to let the column close up, at which time the 97th Indiana was relieved and the 6th Iowa advanced as the skirmishers." 

After they were relieved the 6th were not engaged for the rest of the day taking up a position in a fortified line at the rear. 


Rosters of Iowa Regiments

 Here is a link to the Company D roster of the 6th Iowa for those interested. I'll also post a link to the rosters of the other company's. Enjoy. 



First Post and Welcome

Thanks for coming to my blog about Iowa and the Civil War. The subject of Iowa's participation in the Civil War has always interested me because it is the first War that people "from" Iowa took part. Even though the Northern armies fought against a Confederacy bent on the idea of state rights and pride in that state, Iowans too have always had a great sense of pride in our great land of farms and hardworking people.

 Iowa sent more men per capita towards the cause than any other state in the Union. Ulysses S. Grant praised Iowa troops during the war and countless times Iowa boys distinguished themselves on the field of Battle.

 I myself am from the County of Appanoose where in 1861 Company D of the 6th Iowa Volunteer Infantry was raised. It was commanded initially by Captain Madison M. Walden. Many good men of this company fought with distinction at Shiloh and many other battles in the south. 

 This blog will serve as a place to compile my research on the 6th Regiment, Company D and also of other Iowa Regiments serving in the war as I try to recreate a common soldier from the great state of Iowa.