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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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WASHINGTON GUARDS. The Washington Guards was organized on May 9, 1859 in the GLOBE BUILDING with the election of Richard Heron as chairman and P. M. Guthrie as secretary. Officers elected included Col. H. H. Heath, captain and R. G. Heron, first lieutenant. (1) Weekly drills, held at their armory on the corner of Main and Fourth STREETS, led to their first dress parade on September 22, 1859, with an escort furnished by the GOVERNOR'S GREYS. The Guards' first military ball was held on November 25, 1859. The uniforms of the Guards included a regulation blue cloth coat with three rows of buttons and braiding. The trousers, of the same material, had a scarlet stripe. Red caps with gold ornaments and white pompoms completed the uniform. The Washington Guards offered their services to the governor of Iowa on April 17, 1861. On April 19, 1861 an announcement in the Herald read:

               This company is filling up rapidly with recruits. 
               Last night a meeting was held, at which quite a number 
               were enrolled.  The company meets tonight for drill and 
               to receive recruits.  Parties who joined the company last 
               evening are requested to meet for drill tonight.

On April 22, 1861 several members of the Guards appeared before the volunteer fund board. They stated that they were not prepared for immediate service unless they were assured that their families would be taken care of in their absence. The following guaranty was immediately given:

                We, the undersigned committee appointed by the Union 
                meeting held on Saturday evening, the 20th of April, 1861 
                for the purpose of providing funds for the support of the 
                families of such of our citizens as may volunteer in service 
                of their country, hereby pledge ourselves to see that the 
                purpose for which we were appointed is fully carried out 
                and that the families of all such are fully supported during 
                the absence of such volunteers.   (Signed by)
                              Henry L. STOUT
                              Julius K. GRAVES
               M. Allison, G. F. Matthews, A.H. Mills, J. C. Chapline,  
               T. Faherty, W. W. Mills-secretary

On April 19, 1861, the commanders of the Washington Guards, GOVERNOR'S GREYS, and JACKSON GUARDS were ordered to form a company of 78 men and be prepared to march. As members of this first regiment, they would met at Davenport by May 20th to be called into service during the CIVIL WAR. The men of the Governor's Greys and Jackson Guards left for Davenport on April 23. In May, 1861 Colonel J. F. Bates was elected colonel of the First Iowa Regiment.

On May 3, 1861 a letter was received from Governor Kirkwood stating that the Washington Guards would not be accepted to form a part of the First Regiment. The other regiments from Dubuque came to Davenport without, or contrary to orders, but after being received into service a third Company could not be accepted from here.

The Washington Guards were finally accepted into service about May 21st.



1. "New Company Organized," Express and Herald, May 12, 1859, p. 3

Oldt, Franklin T. The History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, p. 253, 260, 262

"Washington Guards," Dubuque Herald, May 3, 1861