History of the Twenty-Fourth Regiment,|
Iowa Volunteer Infantry
The Twenty-fourth Iowa was now about to enter upon an entirely new field of warfare, in which but few of the regiments from its own State had been called to serve, On the 4th of August it was conveyed by rail to Harper's Ferry, where it arrived at midnight and moved out on the Winchester Pike and went into bivouac. On July 6th the regiment commenced a series of movements in connection with the army; first marching to Halltown, to intercept the army of 30,000 rebels, under the command of General Early, which was moving towards Maryland and Pennsylvania; but the rebel general was not yet ready for a general engagement, and, handling his force with consummate skill, managed to avoid a conflict. The Union force arrived at Cedar Creek, near Strasburg, Va., on August 12th , where it encamped and remained until the 15th, when it fell back to Charleston, where General Grover had just arrived with reinforcements from Washington, and a re-organization of the army took place. The Twenty- fourth Iowa was assigned to the Fourth Brigade, Second Division, Nineteenth Army Corps, with Colonel Shunk, of the Eighth Indiana Veteran Infantry, commanding the brigade, General Grover commanding the division, and General Emory commanding the detachment of the Nineteenth Corps. The Army of the Shenandoah consisted of two divisions of the Nineteenth Corps, the Sixth Corps commanded by Major General Wright, the Army of Western Virginia commanded by General Crook and about 10,000 cavalry commanded by General Torbet, making in all an army of about 40,000, under command of Major General Sheridan.
On the 3d of September, General Sheridan began the series of movements which led up to the battle of Winchester, September 19. 1864. The part taken by the Twenty-fourth Iowa in that battle is described in the official report of Lieutenant Colonel Wright, as follows:
CAMP RUSSELL, VA., NOV. 19, 1864.
I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Twenty-fourth Regiment of Iowa infantry Volunteers in the battle of Opequon, or Winchester, Va., Sept. 19. 1864.
The regiment was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel J. Q. Wilds, but circumstances beyond his control prevented him from making an official report, prior to the battle of Cedar Creek, at which place he was severely wounded, and has since died; for this reason I take the responsibility of making it myself. On the 18th of September, orders were issued from army headquarters, requiring all transportation to be sent to the rear, also all extra baggage, retaining only such articles as could not be dispensed with; these to be carried by the men, and officers' horses. Thus, stripped of everything that would encumber its movements, the Army of the Shenandoah retired to rest in camp near Berryville, Va., on the evening of the 18th with orders to be in line of battle ready to move at 2 o'clock next morning. The Twenty-fourth Iowa belonged to the Fourth Brigade, Second Division, Detachment Nineteenth Army Corps. The brigade consisting of the Eighth and Eighteenth Indiana Veteran Volunteers and the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-eighth Iowa was commanded by Colonel D. Shunk of the Eighth Indiana, the division by Brigadier General C. Grover, the corps by Brevet Major General Emory. At 3 o'clock the advance sounded, and the Nineteenth Corps moved out on the Winchester Pike, halting about three miles west of Berryville, for the Sixth Corps, commanded by Major General Wright, to pass, as it was to have the advance. The Army of Western Virginia, under command of General Croc, moved by another road to the right. Shortly after sunrise, the Sixth Corps having passed, the Nineteenth Corps was put in motion. The Second Division, having the advance, arrived at Opequon Creek about 9 o'clock A. M., when heavy skirmishing and some cannonading was heard in the front, near Winchester. Here we received orders to push forward rapidly, as the cavalry and Sixth Corps were already engaged. When we had reached a point about three miles from Winchester, we turned to the right and moved in the direction of the Winchester and Martinsburg Pike about one mile, and formed line of battle on the right of the Sixth Corps. The Second Division was formed in two lines. The First and Third Brigades formed the first line, and the Second and Fourth Brigades the second. The Twenty-fourth Iowa was on the left center. the Twenty- eighth Iowa on the left, Eighth Indiana on the right, Eighteenth Indiana on the right center, the Fourth Brigade being on the extreme right. Soon after, the First Division, Nineteenth Corps, commanded by General Dwight came up and formed in the rear as a reserve. In this position we remained until about 12 M., when the advance sounded and the whole line moved forward steadily. The front of the whole division was covered by a strip of woodland, near a third of a mile wide. Beyond this woodland was an open field about one-fourth of a mile wide, beyond which was woodland again. When the second line emerged into the open field, the first line was just entering the wood on the opposite side, having driven the enemy's skirmishers across the open field, and were driving the enemy. The enemy, discovering that our right flank was unprotected, threw a heavy column of infantry, with one battery of artillery, around on our right, nearly at right angles with our lines, and kept them concealed in a deep hollow. In consequence of a flank fire from this column, the first line gave back and passed through the second, when about half way across the field. This created some confusion, but the line was soon in good shape again, and moving forward steadily.
When within one hundred yards of the woods, the column that had been thrown around on our right opened out with musketry and canister shot, showering the iron hail along and almost parallel with our ranks and mowing down our men by the score. As soon as the flank movement was discovered, the whole line was ordered to fall back to the woods, which was done in as good order as could be expected under the circumstances. The line was reformed and advanced about one fourth of the way across the field and halted, holding the enemy at bay until some troops could be thrown around to our right, as the enemy's lines extended nearly half a mile to the right of ours. Up to this time the Twenty-fourth had had two officers mortally wounded, and two more severely: six enlisted men killed, and about thirty wounded. This line was held under a most destructive artillery fire from both the front and right flank for about two hours, when General Crook came up with the Army of Western Virginia and formed on the right, relieving the most of the Fourth Brigade. Captains Rigby, Smith and Martin, with Lieutenant Lucas, had been posted with their commands in a point of timber nearest the enemy, with orders to hold it at all hazards, and were not relieved. I had supplied them with ammunition, and when the fresh troops in making the final charge came up even with them, they moved forward with the line, which drove the enemy from every position taken until it became a perfect rout. In this last charge the Twenty-fourth lost a number of brave soldiers wounded, and one killed. After the Fourth Brigade was relieved (except as above mentioned) boxes were filled with ammunition, and it was moved to the extreme right in order to prevent any more flank movements of the enemy, but General Averill, coming in with his cavalry, rendered the movement entirely unnecessary. After the enemy was entirely routed and driven pell-mell from the field, the regiment was got together, and marched about two miles, and went into camp near Winchester, on the Front Royal Pike. Casualties during the day: Officers mortally wounded 2, severely, 4. Enlisted men killed, 9; wounded, 56; captured, 3. Total 74; a list of which is hereto appended. I cannot close this report without referring to Captain J. R. Gould, of Company D, and Lieutenant S. S. Dillman, of Company E, both having been mortally wounded while leading their men on in the hottest of the battle. Both were brave almost to rashness. In them the Twenty-fourth Iowa lost two valuable officers and society two valuable men.
I have the honor to be, most respectfully,
Your Obedient Servant,
ED WRIGHT, Lieutenant Colonel Twenty-fourth Regiment Iowa Infantry Volunteers.
COL. N. B. BAKER, Adjutant General of Iowa (10)
It will be seen from the foregoing report that the Twenty-fourth Iowa had, in its first battle in the east, gloriously maintained its previous proud record, and had upheld the honor of its State while fighting beside the trained veterans of the Army of the Potomac.
On the night of the 19th of September the regiment went into camp near Winchester. The next morning it marched towards Cedar Creek, and in the evening found the enemy strongly entrenched at Fisher's Hill. The Twenty-fourth Iowa actively participated in the movements which followed and which culminated in the battle of Fisher's Hill, in which, and in the pursuit which followed, the regiment participated, but fortunately-owing to the positions to which its brigade was assigned-it had but one officer and four men wounded. Lieutenant Colonel Wright, in his official report,(11) describes minutely the part taken by his regiment in the battle of Fisher's Hill, and highly commends the officers and men for their prompt obedience to orders and the gallant manner in which they conducted themselves during the battle and the subsequent pursuit of the enemy. The rebel General Early and his army had again been defeated and compelled to retreat up the Shenandoah valley.
In all the operations of its brigade and division, from the 23d of September until the 19th of October, upon which latter date the Twenty-fourth Iowa fought its last battle, the regiment performed its full share of duty and always acquitted itself with honor. Although it remained in the service for nearly six months after the battle of Cedar Creek, the remainder of its history, while characterized by the same faithful devotion to duty, was not marked by further severe conflict with the enemy. The compiler deems it most fitting, therefore, that the conduct of the regiment in the memorable battle of Cedar Creek, as portrayed in the official report of its gallant commander, should occupy' the greater portion of the space left at his disposal for this historical sketch. In this, one of the most remarkable battles of the great War of the Rebellion, the Twenty-fourth Iowa suffered heavy loss, and ended its battle history by as splendid and heroic fighting as was ever exhibited upon any battlefield. The official report is here given in full:
CAMP RUSSELL, VA., Nov. 19, 1864.
I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Twenty-fourth Regiment Iowa Infantry Volunteers in the battle of Cedar Creek, Va., on the 19th of October. 1864. The regiment belonged to the Fourth Brigade, Second Division. Nineteenth Army Corps, Brevet Major General Emory commanding corps, Brigadier General Grover commanding division, and Colonel Shunk, Eighth Indiana Veteran Volunteers, commanding brigade. The brigade occupied the left of the second line, which was about two hundred paces in rear of the line of works occupied by the first line. The left of the brigade rested about two hundred yards to the right of the pike leading from Winchester to Stanton. The works in our front were occupied by the Third Brigade, Second Division, Nineteenth Army Corps with Battery D, First Rhode Island Artillery, near the pike on the left. The regiment occupied the right center of the brigade, with the Twenty-eighth Iowa on the left. The Eighth Corps, under command of Major General Crook, was posted on the left of the pike, and about three hundred paces to the front. The Sixth Corps was on the right of the Nineteenth, with its right thrown back toward Middletown, about one mile. Our teams parked about one mile In the rear. The enemy was in camp at Fisher's Hill, some four miles to the front. In this position we rested on the evening of the 18th, not even suspecting our danger, or the Yankee trick that Early was going to play on us the next morning.
Soon after retiring to bed, Colonel Wilds, then in command of the regiment, received orders to have the men under arms at precisely 5 o'clock next morning, as the first line was to make a reconnaissance to the front, and the Fourth Brigade was to move up to the works as soon as vacated. In obedience to this order, at 6 o'clock the regiment was in line of battle, and really to move to the works. Having reason to believe that the reconnaissance would not last more than one or two hours, as the order was not to bring on an engagement, everything except, arms and accouterments were left in tents. At ten minutes past 5 o'clock, firing commenced on the picket line of the Eighth Corps. Supposing it to be only a reconnaissance by the enemy, it created but little alarm. In a few minutes heavy firing commenced on the left and front of the Eighth Corps. It was not yet daylight, and a dense fog, which had settled to the ground, rendered it almost impossible to distinguish objects at any distance. Soon after the firing commenced on the left, the brigade was ordered to move by the left flank, until the left of the Twenty-fourth Iowa rested on the pike. Colonel Wild's ordered me to ride to the left of the regiment, and to lead it to the place indicated, but, before reaching the pike, I was ordered to halt and take position, as we were already receiving the enemy's fire. The regiment was halted, and the right thrown forward so as to form a line across the crest of the hill, at an angle of forty-five degrees with the pike. The right of the brigade, Eighteenth Indiana Veteran Volunteers, supporting the battery on the left of the first line. The fog was so dense that it was impossible to tell what was in front of us, and, as the Eighth Corps was failing back at the time, our fire was reserved until the enemy had pressed his columns close up to and charged the battery on the right, one piece of which was captured. We held the position, however, until Colonel Shunk, discovering that the enemy had thrown a column across the pike on our left, ordered the brigade to fall back about five hundred yards, and take position parallel to and facing the pike. This was done in good order, and the position taken and held, until it became necessary, in the opinion of General Grover, to fall back, in order to prevent being cut off entirely. (Up to this time the regiment had lost six men killed and about forty wounded.) The order was given to fall back as rapidly as possible in the direction of the camp of the Sixth Corps. The enemy came in heavy force on our left and captured four officers and about forty men. The brigade fell back about one mile and formed between the First Brigade, General Birge, and the Sixth Corps, which was on the left.
Previous to this time, Colonel Wilds had been wounded and carried from the field. I had also received a bruise on my hip from a piece of shell and a wound from a musket ball in the left arm near the elbow, which sickened me so that I could not ride for near an hour, and the regiment was commanded by Captain L. Clark, during my absence. Soon after I returned to the regiment, which was then in the position above mentioned, the enemy made a flank movement to the left of the Sixth Corps, rendering it necessary for it to fall back, and we were ordered to retire by the right of regiments to the rear. We moved in this manner nearly three mile, halted, took position, procured ammunition and prepared to renew the battle. After we had rested about half an hour, Major General Sheridan came on the field, having been absent since the morning of the 18th . He ordered the Eighth Corps to take position on the left of the pike between Middletown and Newtown, the Sixth Corps the center, and the Nineteenth Corps the right. Sent two divisions of cavalry to the right, and one to the left. The Fourth Brigade was formed on the extreme left of the Nineteenth Corps, connecting with the right of the Sixth Corps. In this position the troops were ordered to rest, and throw up some temporary works.
About 12 O'clock I was ordered to move the Twenty-fourth Iowa to the extreme right of the Nineteenth Corps, and protect the flank, I immediately moved to the place indicated, took position and threw out a skirmish line. In this position I remained until 3 o'clock P. M., when I received orders to call in my skirmishers and take my place in the line, as it was going to advance. My skirmishers had just reported when the advance was sounded. In order to get my position in the line, I had to double quick about one mile, and, during the greater part of this distance, we had to pass through the fire of the enemy's guns, which overshot our advancing columns, the shells exploding in the rear. About 3 « o'clock, I got my place in the line, which, steadily advanced, driving the enemy from every position taken until we reached the camp we left in the morning. Here we halted and made some coffee, (those of us who were fortunate enough to have any,) the first we had tasted since the evening of the 18th . We found one wounded officer there, who had hidden among the rocks during the day, and quite a number of our wounded men. Everything was taken from our camp, leaving the men and most of the officers without haversacks, blankets or shelter tents. At 8 o'clock P. M., the regiment moved forward, with the brigade, to a point near Strasburg, to protect the parties that were sent out to collect the property abandoned by the enemy in his hasty retreat. There we bivouacked for the night, without fires, the men suffering severely for want of blankets and proper clothing to protect them from the excessive cold. On the following morning (20th) the remainder of the Second Division came up, and we went into camp about one mile from Strasburg.
It would appear invidious to mention individual cases of gallantry, during the day, when all, both men and officers, did their whole duty. I cannot close, however, without referring to the bravery of our lamented Colonel Wilds, who was wounded soon after daylight and died November 18th . In him we lost a noble, brave and efficient officer. Captain Knott and Lieutenant Kurtz were wounded and captured, but both were retaken in the evening. Captain Smith, and Lieutenant Davis, were captured in the morning about daylight. The loss of the regiment was: Killed; enlisted men 7; Wounded; officers 6, enlisted men 39. Captured; officers 2, enlisted men 39. Total casualties 93; a list of which is hereto annexed.
I have the honor to be, most respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
ED WRIGHT, Lieutenant Colonel Twenty-fourth Regiment Iowa Infantry Volunteers.
H. B. BAKER, Adjutant General State of Iowa.(12)
During the remainder of the mouth of October the regiment participated in the various movements of its brigade and division in the Shenandoah Valley, but did not again come into contact with any considerable force of the enemy. In the early part of November the regiment was engaged in the duty of escorting supply trains for the army. On the 8th of November, 1864, the officers and men of the regiment recorded their choice for President of the United States, with the following result: Whole number of votes cast, 303, of which Abraham Lincoln received 285 and George B. McClellan 18. On November 10th the regiment arrived at Camp Russell, where the army of the Shenandoah was encamped, and during the remainder of the month was engaged in the erection of fortifications and building cabins for winter quarters. In December the winter quarters were completed, and the regiment was engaged in the performance of picket and escort duty until the close of the month. On December 30th the regiment was assigned to the post at Winchester, Va. On the 6th of January, 1865, the Twenty-fourth Iowa left Winchester and proceeded by rail to Baltimore, thence by steamship to Savannah, Ga., where it went into camp and remained for two months. It then moved to Morehead City, N. C., and, from that point, to Goldsboro and Raleigh, escorting transportation trains. After the surrender of the rebel General Johnston's army, it returned to Savannah, moved thence to Augusta, Ga. with the Twenty-second and Twenty-eighth Iowa, crossed the river at Augusta and went into camp near the town of Hamburg, S. C., where it remained until the 6th of June, when, with the other Iowa regiments, it was ordered to return to Savannah. Its last long march was completed on June 20th . The regiment then went into camp at Savannah, where it remained until the 17th day of July, 1865, on which date it was mustered out of the service of the United States. A few days later it was provided with transportation to Davenport, Iowa, and, upon its arrival there, was disbanded, and the survivors returned to their homes, there to resume and discharge the duties of citizens, with the same fidelity they had shown as soldiers, while engaged in the defense of their country against armed treason and rebellion. No Iowa regiment has a more distinguished record than the Twenty-fourth, and there were only a few others whose operations covered such a wide extent of territory. Everywhere, in camp or garrison, upon the march, in battle, and under all the vicissitudes of its long and arduous service, it maintained in the highest degree the honor of the flag and its State. The archives of the State of Iowa end of the War Department at Washington contain no more glorious record of valor and patriot service than that of the Twenty-fourth Regiment of Iowa Infantry Volunteers.
Killed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
Wounded. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .260
Died of wounds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
Died of disease. . . . . . . . . . . . . .201
Discharged for disease, wounds or other causes 235
Buried in National Cemeteries. . . . . . .117
Captured . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
Transferred. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
Term of service three years
Mustered into service of the United States at Muscantine, Iowa
September 18, 1862, by Captain H.B. Hendeshott, U.S.A.
Mustered out of service at Savannah, Ga., July 17, 1865
Roster of Field, Commissioned and Non-commissioned
Staff Officers at muster in of organization, together with
subsequent appointments from civil life.
Field and Staff
Wilds, John Q. Rank: Brevet Colonel
Wright, Ed Rank: Brevet Brigadier General
Byam, Charles L. Rank: Adjutant
Baldwin, Jr., Luke Rank: Quartermaster
Ely, John F. Rank: Surgeon
Lyons, Henry M. Rank: Surgeon
Lanning, J. Meek Rank: Assistant Surgeon
Witherwax, John M. Rank: Surgeon
Cook, Sylvanus S. Rank: Assistant Surgeon
Vinson, Felix W. Rank: Chaplain
Skinner, Elias Rank: Chaplain
Carroll, George R. Rank: Chaplain
Eshleman, Albert B. Rank: Quartermaster
Maxon, Johathan H. Rank: Commissary Sergeant
Starr, Samuel J. Rank: Hospital Steward
Vansant, James E. Rank: Drum Major
Eatherton, William L. Rank: Fifer Major
Names of company officers at muster in of their companies.
Henerson, Stephen H. Rank: Captain
Lawrance, Chauncey Rank: 1st Lieutenant
McKinley, Seymour J. Rank: 2d Lieutenant
Rathbun, Stephen W. Rank: Captain
Fobes, Benjamin F. Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Rigby, William T. Rank: 2d Lieutenant
Johnson, Silas D. Rank: Captain
Gue, Jeremiah C. Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Pound, Edwin H. Rank: 2d Lieutenant
Casebeer, Jacob B. Rank: Captain
Gould, Joseph R. Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Branch, John H. Rank: 2d Lieutenant
Clark, Leander Rank: Captain
Strong, James W. Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Dillman, Sylvester S. Rank: 2d Lieutenant
Dimmitt, Wilbur C. Rank: Captain
Hayzlett, JohnG. Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Bradshaw, Centenary B. Rank: 2d Lieut.
Vinson, Felix W. Rank: Captain
Smith, William W. Rank: 1st Lieutenant
McNary, Richard Rank: 2d Lieutenant
Carbee, William Rank: Captain
Knott, Abraham R. Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Dutton, Isaac B. Rank: 2d Lieutenant
Martin, James W. Rank: Captain
Tubbs, Ara E. Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Lane, William Rank: 2d Lieutenant
Williams, Jams D. Rank: Captain
Green, Thomas Rank: 1st Lieutenant
Loomis, Aaron M. Rank: 2d Lieutenant