Iowa: Its History and Its Foremost Citizens
Revised, Home and School Edition by Brigham Johnson.
2 Vols. Des Moines,
IA: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1918.
Unless otherwise noted, biographies submitted by Tamara Jorstad.
Thompson Pioneer Congressman and Brigade Commander
Much of Iowa history is grouped around the career
of William Thompson. We have already followed his course as a student of the law
with Columbus Delano in Ohio, a law partner of J. C. Hall in Mount Pleasant,
Iowa, a member of the House in the Territorial Legislature of 1843, secretary of
the Constitutional Convention of 1846, member of Congress in 1847, a contestant
for his seat against Daniel F. Miller in 1849, and, finally, in a special
election, defeated by Miller; for several years editor of the Iowa State
Gazette, and chief clerk of the Iowa House during the extra session of 1861.
A war democrat, he raised a company for the First
Iowa Cavalry and was chosen captain of Company E. He was promoted from one rank
to another until, on March 13, 1865, at the age of fifty-one, he was made a
brevet brigadier-general. Thompson was the fourth and last colonel of FitzHenry
Warren's famous regiment, a regiment which, starting out in 1861 with 1,245 men,
saw much service, did much hard fighting and, though greatly depleted,
reenlisted -- about five hundred strong.
Stuart describes General Thompson as a large man,
weighing about one hundred and ninety pounds, with black hair and eyes and dark
At the close of the war General Thompson was appointed
a captain in the regular army, and, at Custer's request, was detailed
for service in the Custer campaign against the Indians. He retired a
short time prior to the massacre which ended in the slaying of Custer
and his men. General Thompson died in Tacoma, October 7, 1897, aged
Trumbull, Soldier -- Editor --
Author -- "Soldiers' Friend"
Matthew Mark Trumbull,
one of the little-known members of the Seventh General Assembly, found
his fame in the heroic period. Born in London, England, in 1826, we
find him, at twenty-one, employed as a railroad section hand. In this
connection the Dubuque Herald, in an obituary dated Mary 11, 1894, pictures
Trumbull as a young man of "splendid physique and quick intelligence."
We next find him a teacher of a country school in Vermont. Later he
taught in Virginia, where his open opposition to slavery rendered it
desirable for him to make another change. While teaching school he studied
law and was admitted to the bar. He came to Iowa in 1853 and here practiced
law. The Dubuque Herald refers to service rendered by Trumbull during
the war with Mexico, but its mention of his experience as a teacher
seems to cover the war period. When elected as a republican to a seat
in the House in 1857, he was practicing law in Clarksville, Butler county.
We next find him, in 1861, a captain in the Third Iowa Infantry; then,
in 1862, lieutenant-colonel of the Third, and, in 1863, colonel of the
Ninth Iowa Cavalry, the last of the three years' regiments raised in
Iowa. Its various companies were recruited from the state at large.
Its organization was completed at Davenport in November, 1863, with
Trumbull as its colonel. While this splendid aggregation of about twelve
hundred men, many of whom were veterans, were not called to participate
in great battles, the regiment did effective service on the western
frontier, with headquarters at Fort Smith, Arkansas. With his regiment
he was mustered out at Little Rock, February 28, 1866, he having previously
received a brevet as brigadier-general.
At the close of the war the general returned to Iowa and engaged in
the practice of law, first in Waterloo, and later in Dubuque. He took
an active part in several political campaigns. General Grant was his
personal friend, and one of his earliest presidential appointments was
that of Trumbull to the position of collector of internal revenue at
Dubuque. He held this office for two terms. About 1882 General Trumbull
moved to Chicago, where he entered upon a new career -- that of a writer
on sociological themes. His contributions to the Forum, the Monist and
the Open Court were numerous and attracted much comment. He wrote a
book entitle "Free Trade in England," which won him celebrity
at the time. He was for some time associate editor of the Open Court.
He was an active member of the U.S. Grant Post, Chicago. Because of
the aid he rendered soldiers in securing pensions, he earned the title
of "The Soldier's Friend." He was an active member of the
British-American League; also of St. George's Benevolent Society, of
which he was president.
General Trumbull died at his Chicago home on the 9th of May, 1894, after
a two weeks' illness, caused by Bright's disease. His age was sixty-eight.
He left a widow and four son's: M. M. Trumbull, Jr., Casper H., Barnard
H. and Ellsworth. He also left a daughter, Alma Trumbull, and a stepdaughter,
Mrs. Florence English.
The Open Court of May 17, 1894, is given over to tributes to General
Trumbull, -- from Paul Carus, its editor, George A. Schilling, Clarence
S. Darrow, Col. James A. Sexton and others. The purpose of General Trumbull's
later life as author and editor is revealed in this quotation from his
"Wheelbarrow": "Coming out of the labor struggles of
my childhood, youth and early manhood, covered all over with bruises
and scars, and with some wounds that will never be healed, . . . I may
have written some words in bitterness, but I do not wish to antagonize
classes, nor to excite animosity or revenge. I desire to harmonize all
the orders of society on the broad platform of mutual charity and justice.
I have had no other object in writing these essays."
Madison Tuttle Hero of Donelson and Shiloh
One of Iowa's greatest citizen-soldiers, forever
associated with the first great victory of the western army, is James Madison
Tuttle. He was born in Summerfield, Ohio, September 24, 1823. He became a
resident of Farmington, Van Buren county, Iowa, in 1846. The next year her
returned to Indiana and married Elizabeth Conner, who four years after her
marriage passed away. In 1852 he married Laura M. Meek, of Farmington, who
became the mother of three daughters and two sons. He held several county
offices which necessitated his resident in Keosauqua. We find him in 1861, in
his thirty-eighth year, uniting with other war-democrats in support of the
Union. He raised a company in Keosauqua, and in May, 1861, was commissioned
lieutenant-colonel of the Second Iowa Infantry, the firsts two years' regiment
to enter the service from Iowa. In September, 1861, when Colonel Curtis was made
a brigadier-general, Tuttle became colonel of the Second. His personal heroism
and the valor of his regiment and the high honor accorded the Second Iowa
reflect lasting credit on his state. Colonel Tuttle was made a brigadier-general
in June, 1862. At Donelson he received a slight injury from which he rapidly
recovered. At Shiloh the general evinced the same fearlessness and quality of
leadership as at Donelson.
In 1863, the democrats of Iowa nominated the hero
of Donelson for governor; but he was defeated by the republican nominee, Colonel
Stone. He remained in the army until well on in 1864, part of the time
commanding a division. In 1866 the general suffered a second political defeat.
Nominated for Congress on the democratic ticket in a republican district, and
against General Dodge, a candidate of great personal strength, his defeat was a
An extended trip through the South, soon after
his defeat, opened his eyes, as he afterward declared, to the all to evident
purpose of the southern democrats to utilize the control of the government that
they had sought to destroy. He surprised his Iowa friends, on his return, by
declaring that henceforth he would act with the republican party. Twice he
represented Polk county in the Iowa House, -- in 1872, and in 1882. He was
elected to the Fourteenth General Assembly as an ally of Kasson in his contest
for the new capitol building.
Colonel Tuttle's report on his part in the
capture of Fort Donelson is told so modestly that one will have to turn
elsewhere to find the good and sufficient reason why the colonel and his
regiment were accorded by General Smith the high honor of leading the march of
the conquering heroes into the fort, and of planting his regimental colors upon
the battlements beside the white flag of the enemy; and just why the regiment he
led was characterized by General Hallock as "the bravest of the
brave." This is a portion of Colonel Tuttle's report:
" . . . The regiment was assigned position
on the extreme left of our forces, where we spent a cold and disagreeable night, without tents or blankets. We
remained in this position until 2 o'clock P.M. of the next day, when we were
ordered to storm the fortifications of the enemy in front by advancing the left
wing of the regiment supported a short distance in the rear by the right wing. I
took command of the left wing in person and proceeded in line of battle steadily
up the hill, until we reached the fortifications without firing a gun. On
reaching the works we found the enemy flying before us, except a few who were
promptly put to the bayonet. I then gave the order to fire which was responded
to with fatal precision until the right wing with Lieutenant-Colonel Baker
arrived, headed by General Smith, when we formed in line of battle again, under
galling fire, and charged on the encampment across the ravine in front, the
enemy still retreating before us. After we had reached the summit of the hill,
beyond the ravine, we made a stand and occupied it for over an hour. Soon
afterwards I retired from the field owing to an injury received as report among
the casualties of the engagement."
"The sword of Donelson," the sword
which the intrepid Tuttle swung as he led his men over the outer walls of the
fort, is one of the valued possessions of the State Historical Department.
The late Richard P. Clarkson, of the Iowa State
Register, who was under Colonel Tuttle at Donelson and General Tuttle at Shiloh,
in a lengthy and keenly appreciative editorial, October 26, 1892, gives this
intimate view of General Tuttle in battle: "Just after forming his brigade
in line to advance in line of battle, [April 6] . . . General Tuttle made his
first speech to his brigade. The editor of the Register was a member of the
Twelfth Iowa Infantry which with the Second, Seventh and Fourteenth . . .
constituted Iowa's "Hornet's Nest Brigade," a title they nobly gained
on that day's battle field. We will remember the speech. There was no time of
ostentatious display, but the grand old hero threw the whole force of his voice
and patriotism into that speech, and it was heard all along the line of the
brigade, above the rattle of the musketry and the roar of the cannons of the
oncoming rebels, then a mile or more distant, and it was about as follows:
"Iowa expects every man in the brigade to do
his whole duty today. It will be a great battle, and we will have to fight as we
have never fought before. Stand your ground, take good aim and fire low, and
remember the record of Iowa soldiers at Wilson's Creek and Fort Donelson."
Mr. Clarkson gives interesting information in
connection with General Tuttle's career as a civilian. The general had gained a
competency in the pork-packing industry; but, a few years after the war, the
large stock he was carrying and a steadily failing market swept away nearly all
his accumulations. But he met every obligation unflinchingly, and, with his
remaining means engaged in promising mining enterprises which commanded his
activities until his last illness.
One the evening of October 24, 1892, at the age
of sixty-nine, at his temporary residence in Casa Grande, Arizona, General
Tuttle passed away. His death was the result of a paralytic stroke. On the
Sunday evening before his death, Mrs. Tuttle and Martin Tuttle were suddenly
called to Casa Grande by a telegram announcing the hopelessness of the general's
case and the nearness of his end. His body was embalmed and conveyed to Des
Moines for interment.
General Tuttle was tall and erect, with square
shoulders and deep chest. In appearance as in fact he was every inch a soldier.
He quickly acquired the infantry tactics and the art of handling men in