Tuesday, March 29, 2011

16th Iowa Infantry Regiment

The reason I'm going on about Iuka is because I have an ancestor that fought and died there. His name was Private George Bedford and he was my great x3 grandmother's brother... whatever that means. He wrote his sister a letter and posted it a month before Iuka. This letter has survived down through the family, but who Bedford was an what he did in the war had not. This is why I'm making this such a big thing,... I want to know more about Bedford and his comrades. His story ends with Iuka, but I have been able to peice together some of it leading up to the battle. I'll try and post up bits of his letter as I go along, but for today's installment I thought I'd give a real quick background covering from the time of his enlistment to just before writing his letter.


Forming the 16th Iowa Infantry Regiment
Bedford joined the 16th Iowa Infantry Regiment early in 1862. The regiment was slow to form as the small young state of Iowa had already raised fourteen infantry and five cavalry regiments. Unlike the other regiments, the 16th Iowa consisted of older recruits, mostly married men. They had heard of the Northern failures in the east, and felt that their help would be needed after all to preserve the Union.

The regiment was formed over the course of six months and included recruits from all across the state. However, the majority of the volunteers came from the southeastern portion of Iowa, the same region as Bedford. George was mustered into to Company F of the 16th Iowa Regiment in January 1862.

By March the regiment was ready to be deployed, however they lacked a critical component: they had no chaplain. Eager to get into combat, the regiment made do without, claiming that it was a moral regiment and that having a chaplain would be redundant. Furthermore, they claimed, there was only one deck of cards for the entire regiment so they couldn’t get up to much mischief!

The Battle of Shiloh
With virtually no training at all, Bedford and his regiment were rushed to the Battle of Shiloh on 6 April, 1862. When they arrived on the banks of the Tennessee River they given their first batch of live ammuntion. However, they had no time to familiarize themselves with firing muskets. Broken Union soldiers were running and retreating as fast as their legs could take them. The booming cannon and the crack of Confederate muskets greeted the fresh 16th Iowa Volunteers. To their credit, the Iowans kept formation and pressed on to meet Johnny Reb amid the havoc around them without having the faintest clue what to expect in combat.

An aid-de-camp of General McClernand erroneously ordered the 16th into a position badly exposed to Confederate fire. Still, they formed their battle line just as the Confederates approached. They stood firm and delivered a deadly volley. The unit fought hard and despite having to withdraw back to the river, they kept order and discipline, a true testament to a unit with absoultely no prior shooting practice let alone combat experience.

The next day they helped push the Confederates back, earning a hard won victory for the unit’s first battle. The 16th had survived its first test, but casualties were high. Colonel Alexander Chambers, the 16th Iowa’s commander, was wounded along with 17 dead and over 100 dead. Bedford’s Company F fared well, all things considered, with only 17 wounded (including the Captain Edward Frazer) and no deaths.    


Incidentally, my great x3 grandmother's husband (my great x3 grandfather) Edward Bentley was in the 14th Iowa Volunteer Regiment. Bentley missed Shiloh by a year, but the 14th earned fame defending the Hornet's Nest at Shiloh. Bentley will be the focus of my next family Civil War project, along with my dad's side of the family from West Virginia.

18 comments:

  1. Whoa, wonder if I am only one who read this entry with slow fiddle music underscoring it?

    This is an awesome project, and one I would emulate if any of my ancestry were deamons! Can't wait for the next installment.

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  2. Any of your ancestors Confederates? Because that would qualify them as deamons for sure. ;)

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  3. Not that I know of. Most of my historical family headed to Utah with the rest of the early Mormon settlers between 1851 and 1853ish. The Mormons didn't pick a side in the civil war. The reasons why vary from the war was fulfilling the words of one of their profits, to business interests, but I would bet the fact that both sides had ran them out had a little to do with it. Lincoln pretty much didn't bug them, I think he is quoted as saying something like:

    "You go back and tell Brigham Young that if he will let me alone I will let him alone."

    I know a small group of people out of Utah were tasked with guarding rail or telegraph or mail routes. But I just don't think that would make for a very exciting army.

    I guess they could be seen as "cultists", and that is normally associated with daemons!

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  4. Lol, unintentional slip of the misspelling of "prophet" there.

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  5. My 4th Great Grandfather, David F. Hamilton, was 1st Corporal of Company F. He died of disease at Corinth on August 1st. Do you have any mention of him or others from Boone/Boonesboro Iowa in the letters.

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  6. My GG Grandfather was private Phillip S. Miller of Co. D, 16th Iowa Infantry. Phillip S. Miller joined the 16th Iowa Infantry late in the Civil War and was involved with the Siege of Savannah, Georgia and Sherman's March To The Sea. The 16th was involved with the surrender of Confederate General Johnston's Army. The 16th marched through the fallen Confederate Capital of Richmond, Virginia and then marched on to Washington D.C. where they participated in the Grand Review on May 24, 1865. They were then transported to Louisville, Kentucky by rail where they were mustered out of the Army on July 19, 1865.

    Mike Donovan
    MikeBldr@aol.com

    Pursuit of Hood into Alabama October 1-26. March to the sea November 15-December 10. Siege of Savannah December 10-21. campaign of the Carolinas January to April, 1865. Pocotaligo, S.C., January 14-16. Salkehatchie Swamps February 3-5. River's Bridge February 3. South Edisto River February 9. Orangeburg February 11-12. Columbia February 15-17. Cheraw March 3. Fayetteville, N. C., March 11. Battle of Bentonville March 20-21. Occupation of Goldsboro March 24. Advance on Raleigh April 9-13. Occupation of Raleigh April 14. Bennett's House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. March to Washington, D.C., via Richmond, Va., April 29-May 20. Grand Review May 24. Moved to Louisville, Ky., June. Mustered out July 19, 1865.
    Regiment lost during service 7 Officers and 94 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 3 Officers and 219 Enlisted men by disease. Total 323.

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    1. Thats awesome Mike. It's funny how the regiment can bring people together a century and a half later!

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  7. I am the great great grandson of First Lieutenant Frederick Wiedemann of B Company, Sixteenth of Iowa Infantry. I am looking for any pictures of the regiment or of individuals associated with him. Were there and pictures take of this regiment?

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    1. Not to my knowledge. All I have is this letter. I must get it transcribed and posted! If you have any success with finding photos, I'd be very interested!

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    2. Regarding Frederick Wiedemann. My GGrandfather was also in B Company, Sixteenth Iowa and survived. Please reply with your email.

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    3. Hi there,

      You can reach me at: ScaryBiscuitsStudios@gmail.com

      Regards,
      Mike

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  8. William Webster Butler was my 3rd great grandfather. He was one of the fresh solders of the 16th (Co E) that marched off the ship at Pittsburg Landing and right into battle at Shilo. Thanks for sharing the History of the 16th. I have been to Shilo, now I must make a visit to Iowa and Jefferson Barracks Mo.

    Butler, William. Age 43. Residence Fredonia, nativity Indiana. Enlisted Jan. 5, 1862. Mustered Jan. 24, 1862. Wounded severely April 6, 1862, Shiloh, Tenn. Died of wounds April 24, 1862, St. Louis, Mo. Buried in National Cemetery, Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Mo. Section 50, grave 82.

    ARFrancis

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  9. My gg Grandfather was Captain John Claussen. Company B 16th Iowa Infantry. He was captured and sent to Andersonville. He survived. I am searching for any more information on the 16th. Letters. Photos. I am writing a book. Please respond with any clues to information you may have.
    Thank you
    Lee

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    1. Hi Lee,

      Thanks for your post. I'm about to embark on my own ACW book project (in quite a different medium than the normal history) but I would be very interested in following the progress of your book. Please keep me posted as you proceed! I'll see what I can do about posting the letter in full here for you to read. It's got a lot of great information about life on the march.

      Regards,
      Mike

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  10. Dear Mike,

    Not sure why you say that George Bedford's story ends at Iuka. He went on and on (as did so many of the 16th Iowa...as long as they could stand), re-enlisted in Mississippi, and was captured with most of the rest of the regiment in front of Atlanta on 22 July 64. But he ended the war a veteran and was mustered out with the survivors, apparently.

    I am also doing a little project on the 16th Iowa, and am particularly interested in hearing from descendants of soldiers in Company F that might have information on that period. My great-grandfather was veteran Sgt William O Robison. I have a lot of anecdotal stuff and I am very happy to share.

    What's your project?

    Yours,
    Greg Robison
    robisongf@gmail.com



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    1. That's quite interesting. What are your sources? I would love to see them. He is listed as KIA at Iuka in the Iowa Regimental Histories. Further, family memory recalls that he did not survive the war, but that's not a reliable source of information. I'd love to see what you have unearthed about Company F and its story!

      My project is to do a collection of biographies on all of my known ancestors in the war. I know of three, but there are certainly more; two from Iowa, and one from W. Virginia.

      I'd love to talk further about your information. I'll see if I can dig up a transcript of Bedford's letter as well.

      I'll send you through an email. Thanks for stopping by!

      Regards,
      Michael A. Haught

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  11. Are there any existing photos of the 16th Iowa ?

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