First meeting of the survivors was held at Chariton, on the 8th and 9th days of September, 1886.
Col. W. S. Dungan was elected President; Capt. N. B. Gardner. Secretary; C. T. Brant, Treasurer; Capt. J. S. Clark, Historian. Executive Committee consisting of one from each Company in the order given; the President and Secretary of the Association to be the President and Secretary of Said Committee: J. B. Culver, A. J. Rogers, Ves. Barnes, J. L. Wilson, B. F. Dora, Capt. J. N. McClenahan, W. F. Galtry, J. R. Ashworth, Oliver Springer, W. F. Tout. Present one hundred and forty-nine.
Second meeting held at Indianola, on the 26th and 27th of September, 1888. Col. W. S. Dungan, President; Capt. E. B. Herring, Vice-President; Capt. N. B. Gardner, Secretary; Lieut. W. F. Galtry, J. R. Ashworth, Oliver Springer and W. F. Tout. Number present, one hundred and fifty one.
Third meeting held at Garden Grove, on the 24th and 25th of September, 1890. Major R. D. Kellogg, President; Sergt. Jas. Brocewell, Vice-President; Capt. J. N. McClanahan Secretary; Lieut. F. G. Moffatt, Treasurer. Executive Committee: Capt. Eli H. Alexander, G. N. Proctor, Lieut. J. T. Meek, J. L. Wilson, J. W. Stout, H. H. Bobenhouse, Lieut. W. F. Galtry, Jos. Patterson, Capt. T. B. Ward and James Sowden. Present, about one hundred and twenty.
Fourth meeting, called to meet at Corydon, on the 28th and 29th of September 1892. It is expected this will be one of the best meetings the Regiment has ever held. Capt. McClanahan, Secretary, is on his "native heath," and bringing his enthusiasm and splendid abilities to bear upon this reunion. This History will be ready for distribution at Corydon.
At the Re-union of the Regiment held in September 1888, at Indianola, Capt. J. S. Clark, Historian, was requested to prepare a record for the next spring meeting.
At the Re-union held September, 1890, at Garden Grove, the history was presented and read and a rising vote of thanks to the Historian passed with great heartiness. The following resolution was offered and passed by this meeting:
Resolved, That our worth Historian, Capt. J. S. Clark, in conjunction with the Executive Committee, secure the publication, in suitable form, of the History of the Regiment; and when in print, ready for sale, proper notice be given thereof.
In pursuance of the foregoing authority, this little book now comes into being. It is meager and imperfect and prepared under stress of private business most urgent and exacting. It is hoped comrades will be forbearing and indulgent in their criticisms and know what their historian has meant to do his work with care and fidelity.
Acknowledgment is hereby made of valuable assistance from Capt. B. Rockwell, who furnished the description of the operations around Mobile and charge on Fort Blakely.
J. S. CLARK
Historian of the Regiment
DES MOINES, Iowa, September 15, 1892.
This regiment was called into existence by the proclamation of President Lincoln for "Six Hundred Thousand More," made July 2, 1862. The Companies composing the regiment were enlisted in the month of August; one in Wayne, two in Decatur, three in Lucas, and four in Warren counties. These companies rendezvoused at Camp Lauman, Burlington, and on the 15th day of October, 1862, were mustered into the United States service. The regimental officers at the commencement consisted of the following:
Colonel, G. W. Clark.
Lieutenent [sic] Colonel, W. S. Dungan.
Major, R. D. Kellogg.
Adjutant, W. M. Bryant.
Surgeon, C. W. Davis.
Assistant Surgeons, V. H. Coffman and Henry W. Jay.
Quarter Master, J. D. Sarver.
Chaplain, U. P. Golliday
Our stay at Camp Lauman was rendered delightful by the kind and courteous treatment received at the hands of the citizens of Burlington, and all will cherish pleasant memories of those days. One misfortune which befell the regiment at this time was the terrible suffering caused by the prevalence in the camp of measles, and this suffering was only a foretaste of the after effects of the disease, caused in many cases by subsequent exposure.
On the 22d of November 1862, the regiment embarked in boats for Helena, Arkansas. On this trip down the river many will recall the distress and inconvenience resulting from want of sufficient room and accommodations on the transports. The regiment arrived at Helena on the 5th of December and reported to Brig.-Gen. Steele, commanding the district of East Arkansas, and remained at Helena until the 21st of December. We had at this point our first experience with "dog tents," and the hardships of soldier life exposed to heavy rains, and chilled and benumbed with snow and the approaching inclement winter weather of that climate. And as to test the courage and loyalty of as brave men as ever marched to battle, in addition to the above named afflictions, the small pox broke out in the regiment. It is impossible to go into details in this brief history, and to depict the intense suffering which followed the incidents which we have mentioned.
We left Helena on the 21st of December and joined Gen. Sherman in his unfortunate expedition against Vicksburg. We were assigned to the Third Brigade of the Fourth Division of the Thirteenth Army Corps, commanded by Brig.-Gen. J. M. Thayer. All who were present will remember with great distinctness the operations on the 27th, 28th, and 29th of December at Chickasaw Bayou, and the unavailing assaults on Chicasaw Bluff, and how we lay in line in front of the enemy under constant fire, drenched and almost overwhelmed with the terrific rain storm, leaving us as we awoke one morning, lying midside deep in pools of cold water.
We will pass lightly the humiliation and misery attending the useless, and seemingly senseless slaughter connected with Sherman's assaults upon those impregnable hills. This was our first baptism of blood. At that time the whole army critcised Sherman severely, holding him responsible for our want of success, but we did not then know that the capture of Holy Springs, with all the stores held there for Grant's army had caused Grant to fall back on Memphis, and permitted Pemberton's force which was opposing him, to occupy the defenses of Vicksburg, against which owing to the overflowed bottoms and bayous, Sherman could not bring to bear one-fourth of his troops.
The accumulations of our sufferings and misfortunes in this early period of our history, as we now recall them, render it a matter of wonder that so many survived to fight the subsequent battles of the war and return home, crowned with victory and welcomed with applause.
About the time we finished our operations at the mouth of the Yazoo, just named, Gen. John A. McClernand arrived and organized out of these disheartened troops the expedition against Arkansas Post.
McClernand's troops and Porter's fleet reached Arkansas Post on the evening of the 9th of January. In the operations of the 10th and 11th of January, 1863, we had a further taste of war, accompanied with the exulation of victory. The Thirty-Fourth took a leading part in the siege and capture of the fort. Its flag being one of the first placed within the breastworks of the rebels, by Major R. D. Kellogg.
Among the 4,791 prisoners were Gen. Churchill, rebel general commanding, and his staff; seven colonels; about fifteen lieutenant-colonels and majors, and 330 other officers. Rebels killed and wounded, about 800; of the Union troops, about 1,000; the Thirty Fourth in killed and wounded, seventeen; among them the brave and fearless Capt. Dan H. Lyons of company C, mortally wounded by a bullet in the breast, who died the morning after the battle.
As if in recognition of the gallantry of the Thirty-Fourth, the prisoners taken in this engagement were put in charge of that regiment with what assistance they needed, being six companies of the Thirteenth Illinois regiment. These prisoners except the commissioned officers were conveyed to Camp Douglas, Chicago, Ill. The officers were sent to Johnson's Island.
One hesitates to attempt a description of the suffering of this trip to Chicago which resulted from packing and jamming of about 5,500 men on three moderate sized boats. The cases of small pox were greatly multiplied in the regiment and before we reached St. Louis the disease broke out among the prisoners. We were two weeks going from Arkansas Post to St. Louis.
Col. Clark stated in one of his reports, what we all remember too vividly, that "the human suffering during this trip exceeded anything I have ever witnessed in the same length of time."
The state rooms were filled with sick. The floors of the cabin were covered with the sick of our own regiment, and also sick rebels, all lying closely together, some with fevers, some with pneumonia, some with measles, some with small pox, all with chronic diarrhea. There were not enough well men to properly guard the prisoners and care for the sick.
Each night the pails used for excretions were filled to overflowing and the overflow would run down the sides of the cabin. The poisonous stench arising from the cabin was terrible. It could have been no worse in the black hole of Calcutta, or in the holds of slave-ships, which before our war, filled with human beings, made their long voyages with closed hatches.
At Memphis we put off a number of sick, at Cairo more, and at Arsenal Island just below St. Louis, a desolate looking place it was, 100 or more cases of small pox and varioloid1; in Chicago hospitals we left 200 of "our poor sick boys."
After disposing of the prisoners in Chicago, the regiment returned to Benton barracks on the 5th day of February, 1863. The regiment was at this time totally broken down. Its dead had been planted along the islands of the Mississippi, and at every graveyard we touched in our route, its sick and dying had filled the hospitals at every place where hospital accommodations could be had.
On the 26th of February, 1863, at Benton barracks we had only 298 enlisted men present and 101 "for duty," reduced from 941 four and a half months before, when we were mustered in -- a skeleton of our former organization. The few who were able and fortunate enough to secure leave of absence had gone to their homes to die, or to be nursed back to health by loving, helpful friends.
Of this number the gallant Maj. Kellogg and the writer of this history were able to reach Burlington, and for some days lay on beds in opposite corners of the same room, watching each other to see who would die first, but as neither was willing to go and leave the other, both were finally helped into the cars, and in the course of time reached home and friends.
Of the stay in Benton barracks it is sufficient to say that this period was used to nurse the sick, and take care of the helpless, and gradually the men grew strong and were put on duty.
On the 2d of April, Capt. Gardner, with Lieutenants Dilley and Rockwell and seventy men were detailed to guard 470 prisoners, mostly bushwhackers, from Gratiot street prison to City Point, Va., a pleasing, though very arduous duty, which occupied fourteen days; one night was spent by this party at City Point under the stars and bars.
On the 20th of April the regiment went to Pilot Knob, Mo., which was at that time being threatened by the rebel Gen. Marmaduke. Col. Clark was assigned to the command of the district and Lieut. Col. Dungan to the command of the regiment. The troops were very much benefitted by the improved sanitary condition of things at this locality.
On the 3d day of June the regiment broke camp and marched across the country to Saint Genevieve on the Mississippi river, where it embarked for Vicksburg.
On the 15th day of June the regiment arrived at Vicksburg. The soldiers had become seasoned and toughened, and were recognized by the commanding officers as remarkable for their strength and efficiency. The Thirty-Fourth was assigned to the First Brigade of the Second Division of the Thirteenth Army Corps, and joined the lines environing Vicksburg, closing the gap on the river south of the city. Gen. Vandever commanded the brigade Gen. Herron the division and Gen. McClernand the corps.
From the 15th of June to the 4th of July, when the city surrendered, we kept up our part of the line and pressed forward with the parallels and gradual approaches, in excellent health and spirits, performing cheerfully every duty devolving upon the regiment.
Our casulties during the seige were four killed and six wounded. Lieut. Swift was badly wounded with a rifle ball and afterwards died at Baton Rouge, and Lieut. McAndrew slightly with shell.
During the last week before the surrender, our regiment was the last on the extreme left of the besieging forces. Never did we celebrate the anniversary of American Independence with more joy and gladness than this day, when the white flag waved over those rebel fortifications, and we realized that the confederacy was cut in twain; that the greatest rebel stronghold in the west was ours.
After the siege was over on the 10th of July, our division embarked on transports for the purpose of joining Gen. Banks and assisting in the reduction of Port Hudson. That garrison, however, surrendered before our boats left the wharf at Vicksburg, and we were ordered up the Yazoo river to Yazoo City, which was captured on the 14th day of July. The 400 or 500 "able for duty" rebels skedaddled, but we made prisoners of about 300 convalescent Johnnies and captured twelve siege guns and one twelve pounder.
The gun boat which preceded our transport, the Baron de Kalb, struck a torpedo which exploded and sunk her. She carried fifteen guns; her crew was nearly all saved.
On the 16th and 17th we marched under Gen. Herron, in the direction of Canton, Miss., to assist Gen. Sherman, then engaging rebel Gen. Johnston, at Jackson.
This march was through a county overflowing with peaches, apples and all kinds of vegetables, as well as an abundance of chickens, mutton and beef which surrendered to us promptly and were put to where they would do the most good. After crossing Black river, it was ascertained that both Canton and Jackson had been taken by our troops, and we returned to Yazoo City.
The last day of this march returning to Yazoo City was an awful one, and Gen. Vandever was severely criticised for marching men at quick time through the sun, burning hot, and the roads heavy with dust. Five or six of the brigade died from sun stroke and hundreds fell by the road side completely exhausted. We then returned to Vicksburg, where the men were employed in filling up the trenches and preparing the place for defense.
On the 25th of July our division started on transports for the department of the Gulf, stopping at Port Hudson twenty-three days. Here nearly every man had chills. Quinine and whisky were our chief articles of diet. To our Surgeons, Davis and Coffman's skillful and careful attention we attribute our light losses from sickness while at Port Hudson.
The Thirty-Eighth Iowa which came down the river at the same time with us, 700 or 800 strong, had only twenth-five or thirty for duty, death claiming its colonel and scores of men. We arrived at Carrollton, in the suburbs of New Orleans, on the 17th of August. Here we went into camp and enjoyed a rest, and rapidly recovered health and strength, which had suffered much by the hardships and malarial climate to which we had been subjected. While in camp at Carrollton, the Thirteenth Army Corps was reviewed twice by Maj. Gen. Banks and once by Gen. Grant.
On the 5th of September, we moved up the Mississippi River and disembarked at Morganza, a small town on the west bank of the river thirty-five miles above Port Hudson. While at this point engaged in skirmishing and watching the enemy in the interior, the Nineteenth Iowa, Twenty-Sixth Indiana and detachments from other regiments, including the Thirty-Fourth, were captured at an outpost on the Atchafalaya river. Lieut. Walton of the Thirty-Fourth and five men were included in this capture, also one man of the Thirty-Fourth was killed at that time.
The regiment returned about the time of this incident to our old camp at Carrollton. On Tuesday the 13th of October, 1863, the members of Iowa Regiments, by authority of State law, voted for state and county officers. Those in our brigade cast the following vote for Governor:
On the 24th of October, 1863, our Division embarked at Carrollton on Steamer Belvidere, reaching the mouth of the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico on the 27th, and after a tedious and stormy voyage, during which storm to save the ships the cavalry horses of the command were thrown overboard, and on the 3d of November arrived at Brazos de Santiago. Nine days were occupied in the passage for which three was the usual time.
Nearly all were very sea sick, and during the storm of the 30th, men lashed themselves to the sides with ropes, otherwise they would have been washed overboard. We remained on Brazos de Santiago three days on half rations of hard bread, and only one quart of water to each man per day.
One evening there was a rain, when we filled our canteens with water caught on our rubber blankets.
From there we marched to Brownsville, Tex., which the rebels evacuated upon our approach, after burning their barracks and all the cotton remaining on the Texas side of the Rio Grande. We could see thousands of bales which they had hastily moved across to the Mexican shore.
After a few days rest we marched with Forest's battery to Point Isabella, on the Gulf of Mexico, where we arrived on the 13th of November. At this point we joined an expedition under command of Brig.-Gen. Ransom, a brave, dashing and intelligent general, who, wounded many times during the war, died at Tennessee, just at its close.
Our first duty after arriving at this place was to boil every coat and shirt, each pair of pants, socks, drawers, and blankets. I need not explain the reason why. From Point Isabella we sailed up the coast 110 miles to Aransas Pass and landed on St. Joseph's Island, which is separated by a narrow strip of water from Mustang Island.
At this place we were joined by the First division of the Thirteenth Army Corps, under command of Maj.-Gen. Washburn. The entire command including the Thirty-Fourth marched forty miles to the head of this Island, crossed Cedar Bay to Matagorda Island, and marched to the head of this Island where the rebel fort, Esperanza, was situated. The Thirty-Fourth regiment assisted in the capture of that fort.
All who were present and still survive will remember the winter spent in camp in the vicinity of Fort Esperanza, where the regiment remained until the 20th of April following. The five months spent on these Islands mark one of the bright spots in the history of the regiment. Occasionally a norther drove us all to be to keep warm, but usually the air was bracing and balmy, the salt water bathing was fine. We celebrated Christmas by a dip in the Gulf of Mexico. We caught great numbers of fish and feasted on oysters. At this period of the history of the regiment the command was in fine condition, excellent health, splendid discipline, well drilled, well equipped and a fine regiment, although somewhat reduced in numbers. During this winter, company C. of the Thirty-Fourth regiment, under command of Captain J. S. Clark, competed in a prize drill with five of the best companies in the division, under the direction of Generals McClernand and Lawyer.
This company excelled in many particulars, and was only beaten in the aggregate by one company, and by that company only two degrees in thirty. Some of the companies ran down as low as seven. This drill elicited a great deal of admiration and called out a highly complimentary order from the commanding general.
The regiment had attained a remarkable proficiency in drill. In the bayonet exercises it excelled all other regiments with which it came in competition, and was inferior to none in the service, as far as the writer hereof is aware.
On the 20th of April, 1864, we embarked for New Orleans, where we were at once transferred to river boats and joined Gen. Bank's celebrated campaign on the Red River. We arrived at Alexandria on the 27th of April, where we met Banks' army on the retreat.
Our division being composed of fresh troops was put to the front and did outpost duty. For two weeks we skirmished daily with the enemy. Reveille would be sounded at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, and our brigade with a battery would move outside our pickets and drive back those of the enemy who made it a rule to picket up close to our lines each night. We would march in lines of battle two to five miles out, our progress being contested by the enemy's cavalry and artillery.
Many will remember how on May 5th, Col. Dungan's life was saved by his horse dropping to the ground, thus avoided a passing shell which went between two files of our men, knocking a canteen off one, but not injuring either. During the running fight of this day our brigade lost about twenty, killed and wounded; only one wounded in the Thirty-Fourth, but many miraculous escapes.
On the 12th our regiment was transferred to the Second Brigade Fourth Division and Col. Clark made Brigade Commander; Gen. Bryant Assistant Adjutant General and Capt. J. S. Clark, Brigade Inspector.
This campaign has gone into history as celebrated for one thing, if for nothing else, that as a failure it was monumental. The retreat was most masterly and successful.
While the Thirty-Fourth was in bivouac near Alexandria, a rebel planter secured a guard for his store house, and while the guard was religiously marching up and down in front of the only door, the sugar all mysteriously disappeared through an accidental hole in the floor.
It was a Thirty-Fourth man who astonished the same planter by bending a lead pipe into a siphon and drawing water for the regiment from a big wooden tank cistern, which the owner thought was dry, and he declared that no one but a Yankee could make water run up hill.
It has also been stated that it was a Thirty-Fourth man who, on his retreat, coming from a hen house and encountering the rebel owner's wife on the porch in conversation with Gen. Banks and his staff said: "Madam, will you let me have a little butter to fry my chicken in?"
We crossed the Atchafalaya River at Simmsport on a novel bridge. Twenty-four steam boats lay alongside of each other and across the bows was laid a pontoon bridge. Each boat had steam up so that in case one took fire the others might pull out and save themselves.
It took from May 13th to May 22d to march from Alexandria to Morganza, and slow and tiresome it was, marching all one night, and often late into the night. We would not know when we halted whether it would be for five minutes or for five hours, and would lie down in the dusty road and wait, catching what sleep we could with our harness on. Our cavalry, and advance and rear guards were fired upon daily; the entire command losing 600 to 700 during the retreat.
We struck the Mississippi at Morganza on May 22d, and in a few days went from there to Baton Rouge. All will remember the pleasant encampment and comfortable time the regiment had doing light garrison duty at this post.
The regiment about this time was ordered to join the army of the Potomac, and went to Algiers, opposite New Orleans, for the purpose of embarking at that point. Some little delay occurred and Maj.-Gen. Granger, who was about starting on a campaign against the forts at the mouth of Mobile Bay, procured orders to take the Thirty-Fourth regiment with him, which was done.
The regiment disembarked on the 28th of July, on the west end of Dauphin Island, marched that night to within two miles of Fort Gaines, and commenced the siege of that fort. On the 5th of August, Admiral Farragut made his celebrated run by the forts, lashed to the masts of the flag ship.
We were immediately moved across the Bay to Mobile Point, and commenced operations against Fort Morgan.
The siege of this fort was commenced in earnest at daylight on the morning of the 23d of August, 1864. Fort Morgan was a powerful and formidable one, and made desperate resistance.
All who were there will remember that the cannonading was most terrific, excelling anything ever witnessed by the regiment. The stream of shot and shell was incessant from daylight of the 23d until daylight of the 24th.
The enemy exhibited wonderful pluck and held out until the fort was in ruins over his head. The rebel commander was Brig.-Gen. Page. On the 24th the ceremonies of receiving the prisoners were conducted, and the Thirty-Fourth, assigned to that duty, marched up in front of the fort to receive the prisoners, the band playing "Hail Columbia." The rebels marched out through the sally-ports, and formed in a line parallel with the Thirty-Fourth. The rebel officers were ordered to the front and center, the men ordered to stack arms, and the officers to surrender their swords into the hands of a staff officer detailed for that purpose. The national salute was being fired during the ceremonies, and the band was playing patriotic airs. The scene was very impressive.
The compliment of designating the Thirty-Fourth for this ceremony was in recognition of its leading services in connection with the siege. Capt. Rockwell's company was the first to enter the fort, having been detailed to occupy it as guards.
One night during the siege of Fort Morgan, the lights were all out in our camp except in a certain wall tent; this was occupied by some persons engaged in a game of draw. The enemy noticing this light commenced firing at it with a Whitworth rifle cannon. Several times he fired and the men of the regiment, who were lying near trying to sleep cried "put out the light," no attention was paid to their cries; finally a shot cut one of the corner ropes of the tent dropping it on the players and ending the game.
One the 25th of August the Thirty-Fourth, with four other regiments, was sent on tin clads to Cedar Point to capture Fort Powell but found it had been evacuated. Here we spent two never to be forgotten days. Our movements stirred up the mosquitoes. At midday, under a broiling sun, they gathered in clusters on our clothing, and regardless of heavy woolen shirts and blouses drew forth our life's blood. At night we put up our little mosquito bars, built a smudge at both head and feet, lit our pipes and tryed [sic] to sleep.
These long-billed galli-nippers bit as if they never before had tasted Yankee blood. They provoked the most horrid oaths ever listened to, but heeded neither man's cries, prayers nor execrations.
After a short stay in this locality, during which time we engaged in destroying the rebel fortifications. We returned to New Orleans about the middle of September, and immediately proceeded, without disembarking, to Morganzia, La., where the regiment spent about four weeks, doing outpost duty along the Atchafalaya River, where we had several skirmishes with the enemy.
On the 21st of September, Col. Clark, Capts. Boyle, Clark, Waters, Herring and Lieut. Clauson started north for recruiting service. On the 12th day of September, 1864, by order of Maj. Gen. E. R. S. Canby, commanding the military division of the west Mississippi, the Thirty-Fourth and Thirty-Eighth Iowa were consolidated, making a full regiment of about a thousand men, one of the finest regimental organizations that ever marched to martial music.
From the organization of the Thirty-Fourth up to this time, 214 officers and men had been killed or died of disease. With sorrowful and regretful feelings we bade good bye to those who, by the consolidation, were super-numerary and mustered out. Among them, Adjutant Bryant, Capt. Hatton and Lieut.. Boyd, Comins and Dilley, all brave, noble and true men, who had been tried in the fire and not found wanting.
Together we had stood shoulder to shoulder in battle and enjoyed victory; together endured hunger, thirst, storms, heat, cold, fatigue and disaster. There will be found in a supplement to this sketch a roster of the officers of the Regiment, as first organized, and of the Regiment after the consolidation.
The regiment remained in the vicinity of Morganza until the 25th of January, 1865, when we went by water to Barrancas, Fla., this movement being part of the general campaign, under the direction of Gen. Canby, against Mobile.
We arrived at Barrancas on the 28th day of January, 1865. At this time the regiment went into a delightful encampment in a grove of evergreens, on the main land, just across the bay from Fort Pickens, Gen. C. C. Andrew in command of the brigade. It is a pleasant spot in the history of the regiment, and one to be ever remembered as a sort of compensation for the distress and discomfort experienced in many localities.
On the 11th of March the regiment broke camp at Barrancas and marched to Pensacola, a distance of about sixteen miles by land, and half that distance by water.
Ten thousand men, under Gen. Steele, left the old historic town of Pensacola, Florida, on the 20th of March, 1865. Gen. C. C. Andrews commanded the second divisions of these troops; Col. G. W. Clark, the Thirty-Fourth Iowa Infantry, one of the best regiments in the division. The Thirty-Fourth was often called the Star regiment, because its number was the same as the stars which filled the field of our flag, and represented the number of States in our Union at that time. For eleven days we marched through Florida swamps, corduroying many miles of road, were rained upon hours each day, slept in damp clothes at night, were on half rations the last five days: our men gathered and ate the corn which had been left on the ground by the enemy's pickets and had been slobbered over by their horses. During this time we had numerous skirmishes with the rebel cavalry. The first day of April found us opposite Blakely, Ala., at one time a town of three thousand people, now one of the main defenses of Mobile. The fortifications around Blakely were circular in form, three miles long, and included nine well built redoubts. They were armed with forty pieces of artillery, and surrounded by ditches four to five feet deep. All the trees six to eight hundred yards in their front had been felled. Fifty yards out from the works was a line of abatis, and opposite some of the redoubts a second line, then three hundred yards out to the front, parallel with their works, was another line of abatis and behind the latter detached rifle pits. These works were manned by three thousand and five hundred of the enemy. The second of April which operation we lost sixty or seventy killed and wounded.
Hawkins' Division, which was composed of colored troops, was on the right, Andrews' Division in the center, and Garrad's on the left. It is supposed that ten men, well protected by earth works, can successfully resist three or four times their number. So, instead of throwing our troops against the enemy's fortifications, with great loss of life and possible repulse, Gen. Steele determined to work up as near his lines as possible, with pick and shovel, with which we were well supplied. In fact, when the campaign of Mobile was commenced, Gen. Canby, in general orders, provided that one pic, one ax, and one spade be carried by every twelve men. Our first entrenchments were dug a thousand yards from the enemy's works.
For the benefit of our posterity, a few words as to temporary intrenchments [sic] may be inserted here. They are usually called "rifle pits", and are two or three feet deep, the dirt being thrown on the side toward the enemy; occasionally on top of this dirt will be placed the trunk of a tree six or seven inches in diameter. By scraping away a little earth from under this trunk, the enemy could be observed without exposing the heads of our men. These trenches were always dug at night, no talking above a whisper being permitted, and no sound but that which came from digging with pics and shovels. Owing to the scarcity of these, it took three nights' work to complete our first line. The fourth night, the supply of intrenching tools having been increased, more rapid progress was made, so that by the eighth night we had finished a second and a third line of intrenchments, the last being six feet wide and capable of holding troops in three ranks, and was 600 yards from the rebel works.
The skirmishers in front of our division entrenched themselves within eighty yards of the enemy's outer line of pickets. In the mean time small forts for our artillery had been constructed along our first and second lines, and the guns of our light batteries placed in them.
The enemy was not quiet while this was going on as any exposure of our men drew his fire, both of musketry and artillery, killing and wounding each day twenty to forty of ours. Spanish Fort, eight miles south, which had been invested March 27th by the Sixteenth Army Corps, surrendered to Gen. A. J. Smith on the 8th, and some of the guns used in its siege were immediately sent to Gen. Steele, who had them placed in position during the night of the 8th and the morning of the 9th.
Five o'clock, the evening of the 9th day of April was fixed as the hour for a general assault of the enemy's works. At that hour the simultaneous firing of all the cannons on the line of the second division was to be the signal for the charge.
Owing to an unforeseen delay, this signal was not given until 5:30 p.m. At that hour our troops had all been formed in line of battle, in the lines of entrenchments nearest the enemy with bayonets fixed. One regiment of each brigade was deployed as skirmishers along the front of its brigade, in the entrenchments. Breathlessly they waited the signal to move forward. The silence was interrupted only by an occasional shot from a rebel picket.
The waiting and suspense was a severe test of courage. Some tried to conceal their anxiety by an effort to appear reckless, careless and brave, and whispered jokes and puns, pretending they enjoyed it immensely.
Others, more serious, gave their comrades messages to be delivered to loved ones at home, in case they fell. The countenances of none indicated that they shrank from the approaching contest; while all dreaded it, they were impatient for the battle.
With the crashing of the signal guns our first line of skirmishers leaped from the trenches and with yells rushed forward 150 yards, while the second line, with loud cheering soon joined them and all rushed forward together. Now every cannon the enemy had on his lines, and every rifle, poured forth their deadly missiles on our men, and tempests of bullets, pieces of bursting shell, canister and grape whistled about their ears.
They were met by deadly and unseen and unknown dangers in sunken torpedoes, which, when trod upon, exploded, stripping the flesh from their legs, and wounding terribly. Fallen trees, abatis and wire stretched along near the ground impeded their way and exposed them longer to the enemy's fire. No reply was made except by our artillery, which pounded away over our heads at their forts.
In fifteen minutes we had surmounted all the obstructions, climbed their works and given them the bayonet. They staggered backward and dropping their guns, threw up their hands in token of surrender, and our work was done.
We were victorious but 654 of our men, who an hour before were joking and laughing with each other, had been laid low. In these fifteen minutes our losses were greater than those on our side in the four revolutionary battles of Lexington, Bunker Hill, Trenton and Bennington.
We captured 3,423 prisoners, 40 pieces of artillery besides small arms. The enemy's loss in killed was probably a third as much as ours. Gen. Steele reached the works soon after the capture, and in his squeaky voice exclaimed: "I knew you'd do it, I knew you'd do it."
Those were glorious moments. There are few such in a life time. Victory had crowned our efforts. The end for which days of toil and nights of waking had been passed, was quickly and gloriously accomplished. At half past three this same afternoon, Lee, at Apomattox, had surrendered to Grant and the war was virtually over two hours before our charge.
On the 14th of April our regiment entered triumphantly into the city of Mobile. One hundred guns were fired in honor of this event, and glorious victories reported from all quarters.
Mobile, a city of 25,000 before the war, was reduced at this time to about 12,000.
While the regiment was still rejoicing over the great victories, and as we were steaming up the Alabama River we received a signal announcing the assassination on the 14th of President Lincoln and Secretary Seward, causing great revulsion of feeling, from highest exultation to deepest sorrow.
On the 24th we landed at Selma, Ala., where we remained in camp a few days only. We returned to Mobile, where we remained, performing light guard duty, awaiting developments until June, when the division under command of Gen. C. C. Andrews, sailed for Galveston, Tex. Feeling that the war was closed, and our contract filed, this movement was very distasteful, and gave rise to many complaints from the boys.
We arrived at Galveston and soon after proceeded to Houston, Tex. Our regiment marched through the streets of this old historic town, the first army if free "Yankee" soldiers who had ever trod the soil of that region. The dwellings were closed, shutters were drawn, the women of that city having sworn never to look upon a Yankee, hence they closed and barred their doors and windows.
But it is historically true, and should be so recorded, that before the Thirty-Fourth left Houston, many of these rebel ladies smiled sweetly upon the "Boys in Blue," and the leading spirit of them all married a Yankee soldier, and now lives happily with him in Chicago.
Others became wives of Union soldiers.
Our stay in Houston was in many respects comfortable and pleasant, but all were eager and anxious to return to their homes. We did not leave Houston, however, until the 17th of August, when the regiment was mustered out of service, and returned to Iowa, to peace, rest and home.
Before closing I would like to speak of the courage, excellencies of character, and efficiency of Gen. Clark, of Col. Dungan, of Majors Kellogg and Kern -- poor Kern, who tried so hard to see us at our last re-union, and who is now awaiting us beyond, for the last and final re-union above -- of Bryant, Davis, Coffmann and the captains and others -- but what shall I say more? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Sampson, and of Jeptha and all the rest. Other historians must follow and carry forward and finish the work.
J. S. Clark
Late Captain of Company C. Company B, after Consolidation, Thirty-Fourth Iowa Regiment.
[1Varioloid: A mild form of smallpox occurring in people who have been previously vaccinated or who have had the disease.]