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Encyclopedia Dubuque



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See the category--Civil War Sketches

CIVIL WAR. The American Civil War was a struggle fought within the United States from 1861 until 1865 with such complex political, economic, psychological and social causes that reasons for the conflict remain a source of disagreement among historians.

Express and Herald Jan 12, 1861. Photo courtesy: Diane Harris
Express and Herald Jan 12, 1861. Photo courtesy: Diane Harris

Sincere efforts were made nationally and at the nation level to avoid armed conflict.

By 1861, however, many military companies had been organized in Dubuque: the DUBUQUE CITY GUARDS, the Turner Rifle Company, the GOVERNOR'S GREYS, the JACKSON GUARDS, the DUBUQUE LIGHT HORSE GUARDS, UNION GUARDS, DUBUQUE LIGHT ARTILLERY, and the WASHINGTON GUARDS.

Dubuque Herald Jan 24, 1861. Photo courtesy: Diane Harris

The number of military groups was a concern for some residents. (See editorial on left)

With the firing upon Fort Sumter, President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers. At the time, the State of Iowa was only twelve years old; Dubuque was thirty. (1) When the final records were checked at the end of the war, it was found that half of the men of military age had marched to war. The state has not seen a departure of so many of its young men (as a percent of population) in any war since. (2) The first Iowa Infantry regiment was formed in Dubuque under the leadership of Colonel John F. Bates. This was the first Iowa unit established under Lincoln's call for volunteers on ninety-day service. Later regiments were formed of men volunteering typically for three years.

The call-up of volunteers brought tension to Dubuque. Iowa Catholics especially in Dubuque were not generally supporters of the war. (3) Bishop Mathias LORAS owned a slave. Other Catholic bishops while insisting that slave owners treat their slaves in a humane manner seemed to accept the practice as a part of Southern society. Traditionally Democratic, Dubuque Catholics supported Democratic candidates in 1860. Patrick J. QUIGLEY and George Wallace JONES committed themselves to the Democratic candidate, Breckenridge. Dennis MAHONY, an influential lay leader in the church, teacher, state legislator, and newspaper editor chose to support Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas. While Lincoln carried the state in the election of 1860, Dubuque and Lee counties, voted Democratic. (4)

Iowa Catholics also had reservations about the new Republican Party. Formed just before the election of 1860, this political group included anti-Catholics such as the former Know-Nothings. The DUBUQUE OBSERVER came into existence in 1854 with a definite hostility to the Irish and foreign born and a suspicious attitude toward Catholics. A belief at the time was that a Catholic conspiracy existed which was attempting to bring down the Republic and the Constitution. (5)

Given the strong pro-Southern leanings of many of the citizens, Bishop Clement SMYTH took a decidedly different approach. The bishop strongly condemned the activities of the COPPERHEADS and threatened excommunication of any Catholics who joined. He called upon the foreign born not to do anything that would suggest they were disloyal and openly expressed grief at the death of Lincoln at the end of the war. (6)

Volunteers leaving Dubuque.
Two Dubuque companies were the Governor's Greys led by Captain Fredrick Gottschalk and Captain Francis J. HERRON and the Jackson Guard. Only four of the Jackson Guards were native-born Americans. The other members of the company were immigrants from Prussia, Bavaria, Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, Luxembourg, and nine German states. The Governor's Greys were primarily native-born Americans with nearly half of the company originally from New York and only five natives of Iowa. There were fifteen foreign-born members of the group.

On April 22, 1861, the companies departed Dubuque for Missouri aboard the ship the Alhambra in a scene illustrated by Alexander SIMPLOT. (7) The Dubuque Herald on April 23, 1861 noted that volunteers were walking as far as twenty-five miles to come to Dubuque to volunteer. Pro-war sermons were preached by ministers of the Baptist and Congregational Churches. Classes at Catholic schools were dismissed, and Bishop Smyth flew the Stars and Stripes. Led by the GERMANIA BAND, the companies marched to the boat at the base of Jones Street.

Dubuque Herald, April 26, 1861. Image courtesy: Diane Harris
Uniforms for the soldiers, despite valiant efforts of the Ladies Volunteer Labour Society (see the editorial on the left), were not complete and were sent two weeks later.
Dubuque Herald, May 5, 1861. Image courtesy: Diane Harris
Dubuque Herald. Feb. 27, 1861. Photo courtesy: Diane Harris
Supplying weapons for the troops also proved difficult. (See article on the right.) Captain R. G. Herron returned from Springfield, Illinois on May 4, 1861. He had been sent by Governor Kirkwood to requisition 5,000 "stands" of arms. He found nothing but old flintlocks which had been refitted into percussion arms. There were bayonets but no scabbards. He refused all of the equipment. Military weapons, however, were on their way from Chicago according to the Dubuque Herald.

On August 10, 1861, Dubuque troops fought at the Battle of Wilson's Creek in southwestern Missouri near Springfield. They were defeated in their mission to control the area for the Union. (8) The bloody battle, which lasted only one morning, led to the death of 30 percent of the Jackson Guards and 23 percent of the Governors' Greys whose gray uniforms unfortunately led many to be mistaken for Confederates. (9)

Dubuque residents along with Americans throughout the country soon became aware of the terrible nature of war. Correspondents like Franc WILKIE reported the tragedy:

                   Some the wounds were horrible; some had the
                   lower jaw shot away, others had arms torn
                   off, others came in with legs dangling over
                   the sides of the wagon, all thirsty, and
                   calling almost incessantly for water.  A
                   flag of truce went out soon after to bring
                   in the wounded and bury the dead, and up to
                   a late hour the work went on. (10)
Envelopes were commonly used to support the unity of the nation.
1862 patriotic envelope.
Express and Herald Jan 12, 1861. Photo courtesy: Diane Harris

Eleven days after the battle, one-fourth of the Jackson Guards and half of the Governors' Greys re-enlisted. In 1862 Captain Herron became the youngest major general on either side at the time of his appointment. (11)

Dennis MAHONY, editor of the Dubuque Herald, wrote to Governor Kirkwood and offered to recruit and lead an Irish regiment. His offer was not accepted. Other efforts by Democrats to join in the war effort were also rejected, an action that has led some historians to suspect the Republican Party of attempts to gain a partisan victory from the war with political and economic benefits. The conflict over the Civil War was carried out locally through the NEWSPAPERS. The editor of the Dubuque Times, a staunchly Republican publication, even suggested that if Democrats really wanted to cooperate in the war effort they would join the Republican Party.

Most Northern Democrats did support the war effort, earning the title "War Democrats." Other Democrats came to oppose the war and earned for themselves the term "Peace Democrats" or more commonly "Copperheads." (12) Dubuque also had its southern sympathizers. Senator George W. Jones and former Governor Stephen HEMPSTEAD had sons in the Confederate army. Jones, a life-long friend of Confederate President Jefferson DAVIS and United States ambassador to Columbia, was arrested upon his return to the United States in part because of indiscreet letters he had written Davis prior to the Civil War. Jones, his political fortunes ended, raised an uproar by going south to visit Davis after the war and returned in 1899 to attend the funeral of his friend. (13)

Anti-Catholic and anti-foreign attitudes expressed by those who were also anti-slavery angered many Dubuque residents. Republican leaders including President Abraham Lincoln believed that many influential Dubuque citizens were pro-slavery. Dubuque was rumored to be a headquarters of the KNIGHTS OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE. There was widespread suppression of the press, along with arrests, censorship, and suspension of habeas corpus. It has been said Jones was jailed as much as a warning to powerful Dubuque residents as for his letters to Davis.

Nearly every company of stopped in front of the offices of the "Dubuque Times" to give three cheers for the newspaper's support of the war. (14) Dubuque's principal newspapers bitterly attacked each other's point of view. Accusations made by the Dubuque Times against the Dubuque Herald led Dennis Mahony to charge the paper with libel. The Herald further incited the Times by printing editorials that urged peace and condemned the Lincoln Administration. A riot caused by rumors of a plot to destroy the Herald office was prevented by law enforcement officials and the efforts of MAYOR Henry L. STOUT.

Mahony, a bitter opponent to the war, was arrested on August 13, 1862, at his home and jailed in the Washington, D.C. prison without habeas corpus until after the elections in November 1862. (15)

Image courtesy: Diane Harris
Dubuque was selected in July 1862, as a rendezvous for regiments raised by a new call from the War Department. Recruiting offices flew flags from nearly every block in the city. Since Dubuque had such an anti-Lincoln reputation, the idea of it being the headquarters for a training center called CAMP UNION made little sense. It was renamed Camp Franklin. (16)
Dubuque-Herald, January 16, 1863. Image courtesy: Diane Harris
The barracks for the volunteers were constructed 60 feet by 20 feet to house one hundred men. More than six hundred were quartered two weeks after the camp was built. Soldiers were advised to take their own blankets or quilts because the camp had none. (17) Apparently this advise was not followed because "Captains Welsh and Rogers went door to door in Dubuque asking for blankets" with the promise that they would be returned when they were no longer needed. (18) By 1863, Camp Franklin housed 2,000 soldiers with another 1,500 living in private homes and hotels in the city. (19) The same year, Camp Franklin was discontinued. (20)
Dubuque-Herald, January 11, 1863. Image courtesy: Diane Harris

The search for more soldiers led to the movement to form an Irish regiment in Dubuque. Service for one year would grant citizenship to foreigners. Those who joined were attached to General Corcoran's Irish Brigade. A special Christmas dinner for the volunteers and others stationed by Camp Franklin came from local ladies who sent pies, cakes and supplies of turkeys to the soldiers.

Dubuque-Herald, Aug. 5, 1862. Image courtesy: Diane Harris
Dubuque became recognized as one of the Union's best recruiting centers. Lieutenant Dewey, one of the most successful recruiters, enlisted five hundred men in one year.

When the government issued a call for more troops, each state would be given a quota to fill based on its population. The number of volunteers would be subtracted from the quota and the difference would be drafted. If a draftee, volunteered before the final muster, he avoided the stigma of compulsory service and was eligible to collect a bounty of $100 from the federal government plus additional bounties from the state and local communities. In total, the bounties could exceed $500, which was about the average yearly wage in those days. States considered it a matter of pride to fill their quotas without having to resort to the draft.

A draftee could gain an exemption by paying a fee of $300 or by hiring a substitute. The obvious inequity of this provision prompted the cry of "rich man's war, but poor man's fight." The bounty system also made possible the enrichment of a large number of unscrupulous persons called "bounty jumpers." These men would enlist to collect their bounty, then desert and enlist somewhere else and collect another bounty. (21)

Iowa was the only state to organize a group of older men for service; this was the GRAYBEARD REGIMENT which included several Dubuque residents. (22)

Soldiers from Dubuque were also active in the final campaigns of the war. They saw action along the Rio Grande, in Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee. At the same time, recruitment became more difficult. Obtaining substitutes to avoid conscription became more common with offers ranging from $200 to $400. (23) A brokers' association formed in Dubuque furnished substitutes. Members each paid $250 to have a substitute for one year. If the member was not drafted his fee remained in the association. In 1864 a special tax was levied by the Board of Supervisors to relieve Dubuque County of the draft. A total of $125,000 was appropriated to secure volunteers who would enlist giving credit to Dubuque County. Scores of men flooded to Dubuque although each was to be paid no more than $400. The total amount paid out reached $115,800.

Sacrifice on the battlefield was matched by determined assistance from those left at home. Under the leadership of Mrs. James Langworthy, Mrs. Henry L. Stout, and Mrs. J. W. Taylor, the Ladies' Volunteer Labour Society in Dubuque made uniforms for the Jackson Guards and the Governor's Greys in 1861. Boxes of clothing and food were sent to soldiers in the field throughout the war. The Society met in the basement of the Baptist Church. Annual membership dues were twenty-five cents. Donations of knitting, sewing, money, and food were accepted. Christmas dinner was provided every soldier's family in Dubuque in 1863.

Image courtesy: Diane Harris.
Fund-raising was an important activity of the Society. By 1864 an estimated sixty-two families were entirely dependent on the Society for support. In addition to the dues, the Society served breakfast and refreshments at the Iowa State Agricultural Fair in 1864. This activity, in addition to providing an evening benefit entertainment, earned the Society $1000. Collections were also taken in church. Local festivals and balls earned hundreds of dollars.

Other community efforts to help in the war effort included the Christian Commission Society. Organized on November 21, 1864, the agency met the needs of the church in distributing food and spiritual needs to military personnel. Representatives were sent to every army with supplies and Bibles. In 1863 efforts were started to establish a Soldiers' Home in Dubuque. Since it helped soldiers from counties outside of Dubuque, financial assistance was sent from boards of supervisors in Blackhawk, Bremer, Butler, Chickasaw, Delaware, Floyd, Jones and Mitchell counties. Over one thousand soldiers were aided within one year.

Direct benefit to the troops also came from the NORTHERN IOWA SANITARY FAIR and LINT SOCIETIES.

Public sponsored relief for soldiers and relief for their families after the war raised serious questions. Many considered relief to a soldier as something earned and therefore respectable. There was a definite thought, however, that relief to a soldier's family only encouraged poor habits and was a financial drain on the community. (24)

Sept. 28, 1866. Photo courtesy: Diane Harris
News of the occupation of Charleston by Union troops and the surrender of General Robert E. Lee were causes of joyous celebration. Flags were displayed on February 22, 1865, to celebrate the Charleston victory, and Captain Oliver Perry SHIRAS ordered a salute fired with one hundred guns in WASHINGTON PARK.

News of Lee's surrender reached Dubuque on April 8, 1865. Church bells pealed the glorious news. The bell on the FIRST CONGREGATIONAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST rang so long it cracked. (25) Flags were displayed everywhere. Those excessively patriotic dressed themselves in national colors and paraded through the streets.

Few knew what to expect from the returning veterans. "Great God!" the Iowa Religious Newsletter, a newspaper founded in the city during the war by a group of pro-war ministers, had quoted an army chaplain saying in July 1862.

         I tremble at the result of this war, 
         lest tens of thousands of the valiant 
         defenders of our country be turned 
         into men of vile speech and ruined 
         character and then turned loose to 
         curse the country their arms have 
         rescued. (26)

The anti-war "Dubuque Herald" and the pro-war "Dubuque Times", each expressed similar concerns. Dennis Mahony, regularly worried in print about the creation of a "subservient army" of "rapine and plunder" to do Lincoln's bidding and tied it to a more general loss of the "sturdy manliness which [once] characterized the citizen of the United States." The "Times" offered this advice to the soldiers: "We would earnestly say to all of our noble hearted volunteers ... [you] may come home maimed for life in body and limb, but do not return with crippled character, and poisoned faculties." (27)

A hauntingly beautiful picture in the Civil War section of Linwood Cemetery. Photo courtesy: Diane Harris
Dubuque Herald. A very typical obituary during the war. Image courtesy: Diane Harris

The Civil War led to the deaths of 3,540 in combat; 8,498 of disease; 515 in prisoner-of-war camps; 227 in accidents; and 221 from nonmilitary causes. There were 8,500 reported wounded. In 1893 Dubuque's monument to her Civil War dead was erected in LINWOOD CEMETERY after twelve years of collecting funds.

In 1928 Dubuque still counted twenty citizens who were veterans of the Civil War. (28) Many visited Linwood Cemetery on Decoration Day. Later called Memorial Day after the nation had been involved in other wars, the day was originally set aside by the Grand Army of the Republic to pay respects for those who had died in this battle or afterwards. (29)



1. "Tattered Dubuquers Paid the Full Price," Telegraph Herald, Oct. 16, 1859, p. 29. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=fItFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=0LwMAAAAIBAJ&pg=3801,5157564&dq=civil+war+dubuque&hl=en

2. Ibid.

3. Gallagher, Mary Kevin. Seed/Harvest: A History of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Dubuque, Iowa, Archdiocese of Dubuque Press, 1987, p. 19

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid., p. 20

6. Ibid., p. 21

7. Ibid.

8. Carpenter, Allan. The Encyclopedia of the Midwest," New York: Facts on File, p. 93

9. "Battle of Wilson's Creek." Online: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Wilson%27s_Creek

10. "Awakening to Battle...," Iowa Heritage Illustrated, Spring 2014, p. 16

11. Fact and Grave. "Francis J. Herron," Online: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?GRid=4842&page=gr

12. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copperhead_(politics)‎

13. History, Art and Archives of the United States House of Representatives, "George Wallace Jones," Online: http://history.house.gov/People/Listing/J/JONES,-George-Wallace-%28J000221%29/#biography

14. Wildman, David. Iowa's Martyr Regiment. Iowa City, Iowa: Camp Pope Publishing, 2010, p. 20

15. "Dubuque Observes 50th Anniversary," Telegraph Herald, Apr. 23, 1911, p. 25. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=5_BCAAAAIBAJ&sjid=76sMAAAAIBAJ&pg=4979,1216434&dq=civil+war+dubuque&hl=en

16. Renner, Beverly. "When 'Boys in Blue' Had Rendezvous Camp Here," Telegraph Herald, July 11, 1952, p. 31. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=b3VFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=ubwMAAAAIBAJ&pg=5649,1872181&dq=camp+union+dubuque&hl=en

17. Wildman, David. p. 16

18. Wildman, David. p. 37

19. Renner, Beverly.

20. Ibid.

21. "Union Draft-Civil War," Online: www.wtv-zone.com/civilwar/usdraft.html‎

22. Iowa in the Civil War, "37th Iowa Volunteer Infantry," Online: http://iagenweb.org/benton/civil_war/37th/37th-history.htm

23. "Civil War Draft List, Other Records Posted by City Clerk," The Morning Record, Jan. 26, 1967, p. 5. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=0QlIAAAAIBAJ&sjid=UwANAAAAIBAJ&pg=2486,2736953&dq=civil+war+draft&hl=en

24. "Dubuque During the Civil War," Telegraph Herald, May 29, 1997, p. 5. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=xQZRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=wsAMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6614,6141606&dq=civil+war+dubuque&hl=en

25. Nevans-Pederson, Mary. "160 Years Strong," Telegraph Herald, May 8, 1999, p. 14. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=cp1dAAAAIBAJ&sjid=1FwNAAAAIBAJ&pg=5773,1570096&dq=first+congregational+church+dubuque&hl=en

26. Johnson, Russell L. The Civil War Generation: Military Service and Mobility in Dubuque, Iowa 1860-1870. Online: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+Civil+War+generation%3A+military+service+and+mobility+in+Dubuque,...-a055084000

27. Ibid.

28. "Dubuque Still Has Twenty Veterans," Dubuque Telegraph Herald and Times Journal, May 30, 1928, p. 4. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=_apFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Gr0MAAAAIBAJ&pg=1474,5835924&dq=civil+war+dubuque&hl=en

29. Ibid.

Harris, Diane

Pregler, John.

Recruiting payment receipt. Photo courtesy: Dr. Darryl Mozena
Mustering out payment receipt. Photo courtesy: Dr. Darryl Mozena
Photo courtesy: Tredegar Museum, Richmond, Virginia. Confederate general's coat.
Soldiers who fought in the Civil War are buried near a monument to their sacrifice.
Civil War letter from Camp Franklin. Courtesy: John Pregler
Civil War letter from Camp Franklin. Courtesy: John Pregler
Civil War letter from Camp Franklin. Courtesy: John Pregler
Civil War letter from Camp Franklin. Courtesy: John Pregler
Civil War letter from Camp Franklin. Courtesy: John Pregler
Following the Civil War, some individuals formed companies supposedly to help soldiers receive their pensions. Photo courtesy: Diane Harris
Telegraph Herald, Feb. 16, 1936. Image courtesy: Diane Harris
Dubuque Herald, April 23, 1861. Image courtesy: Diane Harris
Dubuque Herald, April 23, 1861. Image courtesy: Diane Harris
This list is provided by Diane Harris from a genealogy newsletter.
Photo courtesy: Tredegar Museum, Richmond, Virginia. Insignia worn by (CT) "Colored Troops"
Iowa in the Civil War. Photo courtesy: Iowa National Guard
Surgeon's equipment. Photo courtesy: Tredegar Museum, Richmond, Virginia.
Medical equipment. Photo courtesy: Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas
Bucket for water to cool the cannon between firings, sponge on pole to clean/cool cannon barrel, screw to remove debris in barrel, pendulum (upper left) used for sighting cannon. Photo courtesy: Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas.
Associated with the sketch of a cannon: pendulum used for sighting, lanyard attached to the friction primer and pulled to fire the cannon, friction primer inse4ted into the vent and used to fire the cannon, priming wire used to puncture the artillery powder bags, thumb stall used to cover the cannon vent while being loaded. Photo courtesy: Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas.
Case shot. Photo courtesy: Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas
Solid shot. Photo courtesy: Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas
Rifled shell (more accuracy). Photo courtesy: Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas
Case shot. Photo courtesy: Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas
Photo courtesy: Tredegar Museum, Richmond, Virginia. Confederate cannon manufactured by the Tredegar Company. On the left a 42-pounder rifled and banded siege cannon. On the left Model 1841 6-pounder field cannon and thought to be the first bronze cannon manufactured at this site.