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. For an excellent background, read chapters 1-9 of James McPherson's Pulitzer Prize winning book Battle Cry of Freedom.
The Civil War was a glaring example of the United States getting into a war before it prepared for it. (1) In 1861 most of the 16,000-man army was scattered among seventy-nine frontier posts west of the Mississippi River. One third of its officers were resigning to serve with their friends in the South. All but one of the heads of the eight army bureaus had been in service since the War of 1812. The Union Army had no general staff, no strategic plans, and no program of mobilization. It possessed few accurate maps of the South. When General Henry W, Halleck, commanding the Western Department in early 1862 wanted maps he had to purchase them from a St. Louis bookstore. (2)
By 1861, many military companies had been organized in Dubuque: the DUBUQUE CITY GUARDS, Turner Rifle Company, GOVERNOR'S GREYS, JACKSON GUARDS, DUBUQUE LIGHT HORSE GUARDS, UNION GUARDS, DUBUQUE LIGHT ARTILLERY, and the WASHINGTON GUARDS. 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. (3) 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 never again seen a departure of so many of its young men (as a percent of population) in any war. (4) In the first days of enlistment, so many young men came forward that four companies rather than just two could have been created. (5) The First Iowa Infantry regiment, formed in Dubuque under the leadership of Colonel John F. Bates, 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. (6) 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. (7)
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. (8)
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. (9)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. (10) 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.
Food supplies were not much better. Soldiers in the First Iowa during one four-day march covering seventy-eight miles were issued one cup of corn meal mush per day. (12) Soldiers added what food they could find along the way. Perhaps the worse element of the meal was the pork. Correspondent Franc Wilkie claimed "it reposes in superlative nastiness in every barrel. (13)Franc WILKIE claimed the guns posed a bigger threat to "friend than enemy." (15)
On August 10, 1861, Dubuque troops fought at the Battle of Wilson's Creek in southwestern Missouri near Springfield. The First Iowa Regiment was in the center of battle and took heavy loses. The Union Army lost 1,235 men and the Southern army lost 3,000. (16) 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. (17) The battered troops marched home to be mustered out. Many enlisted again in new companies and became officers. The First Regiment was never reorganized. (18) Instead of recruiting old regiments up to strength, states preferred to organize new ones with new opportunities for patronage in the form of officers' commissions and pride in the number of regiments sent by the state. (19)
Professional soldiers detested the practice of electing officers in volunteer regiments and appointing generals through politics. On July 22, the day after the Union defeat at Bull Run, the Union Congress authorized the creation of military boards to examine officers and remove those unqualified. Hundreds were quickly discharged or resigned voluntarily rather than face the examiners. (20)
Dubuque residents along with Americans throughout the country soon became aware of the terrible nature of war. Correspondents like 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. (21)
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. (22)
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." (23) 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. (24)
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. (25) 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. (26)CAMP UNION made little sense. It was renamed Camp Franklin. (27)
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.Joseph B. Dorr earlier in the war helped recruit a regiment after he had escaped from a Confederate prison. (34)
When the government issued a call for more troops, each state was 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. Negotiating for substitutes was a perfectly honorable deal. Fees for same were governed largely by the availability of men willing to go as a substitute. A substitute usually got as much as a commutation fee of $300.00. Thus, a substitute could receive his fee of $300.00 plus volunteer bonus of $100.00, totaling $400.00--a fair sum, about equal to a year's average rural income. (35) 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. (36)
Iowa was the only state to organize a group of older men for service; this was the GRAYBEARD REGIMENT which included several Dubuque residents. (37)
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. (38) 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. In eight days, 248 women sewed all the uniforms for the Governor's Greys and the Jackson Guards. (39) 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.
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.
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. (40) By 1864, sixty-two families of soldiers were entirely dependent on the Ladies Volunteer Aid Society for their survival. (41)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. (42) 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. (43)
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." (44)
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 1895 survivors of the Battle of Shiloh returned to the site to help the national commission locate where different regiments fought. The passage of thirty years made the task nearly impossible. Boards were placed at different locations on the battlefield to allow former commanders to indicate where their soldiers had been at different times of the day. The results often showed confusion. The commission began its survey of the battlefield on April 4, 1895 and was expected to complete its work in six months when the site became a national park. (45)
In 1928 Dubuque still counted twenty citizens who were veterans of the Civil War. (46) 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. (47)
An account of Dubuque's role in the Civil War often leaves the actions of a Dennis Mahony or the role of the Copperheads as the sole representatives of the anti-war or anti-Northern response. The City of Dubuque contributed four sons of the most prominent local figures to the defense of the Confederate States of America. These were Junius Lackland HEMPSTEAD, the son of Iowa's first governor; George Jones and Charles Scott Dodge JONES, the sons of George Wallace JONES, and lastly; Daniel O'Connell QUIGLEY, one son of Dubuque's first Justice of the Peace, a founding father, trustee, and a treasurer of the city.
On October 4, 2014 a ceremony at OLIVET CEMETERY was held honoring the military service of the Jones brothers. Participating in the program were several Sons of Confederate Veterans, an organization dedicated to preserving a factual history of the Southern soldier and sailor. The Iowa division of the organization had researched and documented more than 225 Confederate veterans buried in Iowa. (48)
1. McPherson, James. Battle Cry of Freedom. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 312
2. Ibid. p. 313
3. "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
5. Johnson, Russell Lee. Warriors Into Workers: The Civil War and the Formation of Urban-industrial Society in a Northern City. Fordham University Press, 2003. p. 61 Online: http://books.google.com/books?id=ahqtg54TXyEC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
6. Gallagher, Mary Kevin. Seed/Harvest: A History of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Dubuque, Iowa, Archdiocese of Dubuque Press, 1987, p. 19
8. Ibid., p. 20
9. Ibid., p. 21
11. Johnson, Russell Lee. p. 62
14. McPherson, p. 313
15. Johnson, Russell Lee. p. 62 Online: http://books.google.com/books?id=ahqtg54TXyEC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
16. "Iowa Soldiers in the Civil War," The Des Moines Register, Feb. 20, 1933
17. "Battle of Wilson's Creek." Online: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Wilson%27s_Creek
18. "Iowa Soldiers in the Civil War."
19. McPherson, p. 326
20. Ibid., p. 327
21. "Awakening to Battle...," Iowa Heritage Illustrated, Spring 2014, p. 16
22. Fact and Grave. "Francis J. Herron," Online: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?GRid=4842&page=gr
24. 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
25. Wildman, David. Iowa's Martyr Regiment. Iowa City, Iowa: Camp Pope Publishing, 2010, p. 20
26. "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
27. 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
28. Wildman, David. p. 16
29. Wildman, David. p. 37
30. Renner, Beverly.
32. "Honor the Colors," County Enlistments in the Civil War by Regiment, State Historical Society of Iowa, Online: http://www.iowahistory.org/museum/battleflags/info/assets/county_enlistments.pdf
33. Johnson, Russell Lee. p. 59 Online: http://books.google.com/books?id=ahqtg54TXyEC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
34. Edward DECKERT and Cherba, Connie. "The Union Hero and the Anti-Lincoln Fanatic," Julien's Journal, August 2010, p. 77
35. Moffat, William C. Jr. "Soldiers' Pay in the Civil War," The Cincinnati Civil War Round Table, January 1965. Online: http://www.cincinnaticwrt.org/data/ccwrt_history/talks_text/moffat_soldiers_pay.html
36. "Union Draft-Civil War," Online: www.wtv-zone.com/civilwar/usdraft.html
37. Iowa in the Civil War, "37th Iowa Volunteer Infantry," Online: http://iagenweb.org/benton/civil_war/37th/37th-history.htm
38. Edward DECKERT and Cherba, Constance. "Florence Healey: Dubuque's First Shop Girl," Julien's Journal, August 2011, p. 58
39. "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
40. "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
41. Deckert, "Florence Healey," p. 58
42. 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
43. 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
45. "Back From Shiloh," Dubuque Sunday Herald, April 4, 1895, p. 2
46. "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
48. Reber, Craig D. "Dubuque Ceremony Will Honor Confederate Army Soldiers," Telegraph Herald, p. 4A
See: AFRICAN AMERICANS