To Keokuk, St. Louis and Points West
In 1862 the Civil War began to involve the trans-Mississippi states
in a serious way. As a result President Lincoln issued a call for 300,000
new volunteers on July 9, 1862. The 19th Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment
was the first unit formed in Iowa after the President's call. Each of the
10 Companies were to comprise the 19th Infantry and enrolled
different counties, but for the most part, men from Washington County and
town enrolled in Company C ensuring that some of the recruits were acquainted.
The Division was activated in Keokuk in August of 1862. One historian was J. Irvine Dungan of Company C. Dungan was 21 and gave his occupation as student. When released from service, Dungan traveled to Wapello to consult with Dr. Thomas Bell and his journal for dates and other particulars, and published his History of the Nineteenth Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry in Davenport in 1865.
Another account of the 19th Regiment was kept by Benjamin
Franklin McIntyre who enlisted in Company A, enrolled in Lee County, as
a Sergeant. A resident of Keokuk, McIntyre was 34 years old when he enlisted
and was promoted to Lieutenant and was acting Company Commander for a period.
He listed his occupation as carpenter. McIntyre's diary did not cover the
Pensacola/Mobile part of the l9th's three year period of activity. The
two accounts, Dungan's and McIntyre's, differed in style. More contemplative
at times, McIntyre tended to write extensive eulogies on men who would
not return to Iowa. Dungan was captured at Sterling Farm, Louisiana on
September 29, 1863 but McIntyre, on sick leave, was not, so they covered
records on the two halves of the Regiment. McIntyre's diary titled Federals
on the Frontier was unpublished until 1963 when it was issued by the University
of Texas Press and edited by Nannie M. Tilley.
On September 2, the 19th Regiment went on dress parade at Camp Lincoln and on the morning of September 4, marched through Keokuk to the big River where the steamboat T. L. McGill was waiting. The unit filed on the boat supposedly 980 strong, but William West got cold feet and skipped. Pondering the departure Dungan thought that some of the men would see the beloved state of Iowa "no more forever." Perhaps, the same thought had occurred to William West. The T. L. McGill was crowded and the afternoon hot, but St. Louis was an overnight trip and the soldiers debarked the next morning. The staging area was Benton Barracks some miles from the River. Another hot day and the men had to carry all their gear, including overcoats, to the Barracks. Some of them took the street cars instead. The men gave Benton Barracks a good review but they were not there long. On September 11 the unit marched four miles to Pacific depot and were put on freight cars. It rained all day and some of the rattle trap cars were roofless. The trip to Rolla, the end of the line, was a gloomy one. Upon arrival, about midnight, the men were cold, wet and hungry as they pitched tents and rolled up in blankets to sleep. On arising the next morning the men of the 19th discovered that their provisions hadn't been unloaded from the train. But the 20th Wisconsin had been sent in ahead and were set up. They invited their twin Iowa regiment over for breakfast. Ben McIntyre said they "went in big and many a Badger Boy rolled up his eyes to see the hardtack and sow belly disappear."
McIntyre said, 'Rolla was small and the country around it was poor'. But the l9th Iowa, the 20th Wisconsin and the 94th Illinois Regiments were going to have to start walking and continue walking (and running) until they got back to Rolla on June 4 of the next year, 1863. The long march started out of Rolla on September 13 and near Lebanon seven days later McIntyre wrote in his journal.
"We camp tonight by a stagnant pond in which are half decayed
hogs, horses and mules and a thick green scum covering the surface of the
water. We left camp this morning at 7 o'clock with but a very poor apology
of a breakfast and a much poorer one for dinner and tonight we feel lank
and ill natured. The day has been a very warm one and water has been scarce
along our route, so much so that we have suffered. This has been the first
day that we have had a scarcity of that article which is absolutely indispensable
to a soldier on the march and which today has been a most disagreeable
one. Swollen feet, parched tongues have been plenty and we have hastened
on expecting a rich banquet at our camping ground tonight where we might
satiate our thirst. And O' such a reception as awaited us - a pond putrid
from the rottenness which oozed from scores of decaying carcases.
I saw some so regardless or so exhausted that they cared not for anything but to quench the thirst that parched them push back the scum of green decayed matter and drink to satisfaction. Others chafed their arms and feet in the stinking water gazing upon it with feelings never before experienced. Others sick at heart turned from it but to feel more keen the anguish that was almost excruciating. And which they knew full well they must partake or perish. This perhaps could not be obviated, it was maybe the only source from which we could get water. But I must say I do think we might have been placed in different circumstances had our officers known the real facts connected with this camp.
Our camp is in a field of ragweed so high and SO thick that any common army might play hide and go seek and find plenty of room for the playing of such a game. And in after years we shall all remember this spot of slue water and where Gen Herron gave us the rot gut."
The 19th Regiment was en route to Springfield, Missouri and reached there after a "toilsome" march of 125 miles arriving in the afternoon of September 24. On the 29th of September, the 19th Regiment was ordered to guard some butternut prisoners, so named for the homespun clothes worn by the Southerners, dyed with the bark of walnut trees. McIntyre reported that the men did not feel that they were in the service to "do menial service or for the purpose of acting as guard over a few miserable bushwhackers." Released at noon without either breakfast or a noon meal, the men returned to camp where Col. Crabb informed the men that they needn't do any duty until they received some rations. "We thought then, " McIntyre wrote, "that our Col. was a great man." But the men were forced to pay 5¢ each for hardtack in order to get something to eat. However the men got fed or watered it wasn't always the best of fare. On October 6 McIntyre reported,"Many of our regiment are quite unwell. The camp diarrhea is making a sad havoc among our ranks, quite a number have already been sent to the Post hospital and one hundred & thirty in camp are reported to the surgeon."
In another paragraph, McIntyre wrote that "Hucksters with pies and cakes are plenty in our camp daily."
On October 11 the Iowa unit reached a place called Twin Springs after a march of 12 miles, members of the unit had hired a team, chipping in 25¢ each, to carry knapsacks to the Springfield camp and did so again on the march to the Twin Springs camp. McIntyre thought that if the unit ever reached rebel territory it would have a team of its own. It might, be added, that McIntyre was not a farm boy in background. While he listed himself as a carpenter, his trade was that of an undertaker and as such was an indoor worker who was by no means used to marching long distances under a hot sun. He explained the difference and he would get used to it.
On October 12 at a place called Crane Creek, halfway between Springfield
and Cassville, the 19th was joined by the Wisconsin 20th and General Francis
J. Herron arrived on the scene with his staff and what McIntyre described
as a "pretty extensive bodyguard." Herron's command in the Army
of the Frontier now being put together under Gen. John M. Schofield was
the 3rd Division. The commander of the First Division was Gen. James G.
Blunt with Gen. James Totten leading the Second. The 8th Missouri Cavalry
was also a part of this army. McIntyre thought that there were 20,000 troops
encamped in Cassville on October 14.
Gen. Francis J. Herron the freshly anointed head of the 3rd Division was a mere youth of 25. Gen. Herron's parents had set him up, with a brother, in a bank in Dubuque, thus, he began his military career as a Captain in Company I, First Iowa Infantry taking part in the battle of Wilson's Creek. Later appointed a Lt. Col. in the 9th Iowa Infantry, he was wounded and taken prisoner at Pea Ridge in March of 1862. Later exchanged, the soldier was made a Brigadier for courage at the Pea Ridge battle, hence his rapid promotion. He was determined to make a reputation and in that determination put his mark on trans-Mississippi war history.
The Mud Town Marches
On October 17 the 19th began a series of tough marches through, around and over the Boston Mountains in an attempt to come to grips with the Confederate force. On Monday, October 20, the Iowans were camped at a place called Sugar Creek, Arkansas. Ben McIntyre took up his pen to record some complaints. He had his reasons.
"At 5 p.m. this evening received notice to take up the line of march within as short space of time possible. This order came while the boys were cooking their suppers & nothing was prepared for any future necessity, and since our arrival here having been in a constant alarm had no time for any preparation for a march. We marched all night and all the next day, not even allowing us time to make a cup of coffee and very many of us had no rations in our haversacks of any kind. At 5 o'clock on Tuesday we halted on the bank of White River [about eight miles west of Huntsville] not only footsore and weary but exhausted."
But records indicate that Lt. Ben McIntyre was on furlough from September 17 until October 11. It is not certain where he was during this interval. The spokesman for Company C, Pvt. J. Irvine Dungan's comments on the Sterling Farm outpost, were not always complimentary to the Command.
The nineteenth never before had kept in camp as closely as here,
and not an hour passed but the whole command could have been in fighting
trim, in line in less than two minutes. Every day a squad of our mounted
infantry went to the river and returned, never failing to see stragglers
of the rebels, sometimes in considerable numbers; but they never exchanged
shots, the rebels fired once at Adjutant Wood, who escaped unhurt.
Yes, Lt. Wood was returning to Camp with some milk when he was accosted by a group of rebels with revolvers. Wood took off and while he lost his hat, he got away.
At length this became so threatening that Gen.Herron was addressed in a note, asking if he was aware of the daily presence of large numbers of rebels in our rear, and between us and his division. He replied that he did know of it, in fact had taken a prisoner *of some Texas regiment, and yet with his three thousand men and several Batteries strongly entrenched, he lay, never making an effort to prevent the enemy from swarming around our rear. He not having out at any time one half the number of pickets we had out all the time with our scanty six hundred.
There was a road past the Farm with a levee along it and Col. Leake had a gap cut in the levee so that the Lt. in charge of the two guns could place them in position to sweep the cane field. This gap and cane field are clearly indicated on the map Dungan prepared for inclusion in his history. If it seemed that Col. Leake was expecting an attack he got one on the morning of September 29. Dungan continues. The morning of the 29th of September was rainy and disagreeable. Near half past eleven as we were preparing dinner, a shot was heard at the picket post north of camp, then three or four shots in quick succession all from our one picket post then a few shots form the cane beyond, the bullets whistling through our quarters. Col. Leake hastily belting on his sword, ordered his Adjutant General to have the artillery placed inside the gap and to open across the canefield, then ran out to where the Nineteenth was in line awaiting orders, and commanded the line himself, to "about face! advance to the fence and commence firing!" which was done at once, the regiment having been in line sooner after the first shot had been fired than these lines could be written
Our regiment fired the first volley at the advancing line of the enemy, causing them to waver for a moment, they came on again. Col. Leake leaving us at the fence, hastened back to the 26th Indiana, and placed them at a fence on our left, but a few rods in advance of our line, ordering them to fire obliquely to the right.
Then Col. Leake ran to find that the guns were being dragged to the yard back of the house where, it would appear from the map, that their field of fire was obstructed so it came down to the 450 infantrymen. The 19th and 26th then were reformed back of the levee which formed a natural breastwork. But the Iowa and Indiana men, badly outnumbered and slowed by fatigue, couldn't stop the rebels. Dungan continues.
A column of cavalry were seen galloping toward us; they were dressed in blue, and to the anxious inquiry of many, the Adjutant General assured us they were our own cavalry, and knowing our battalion was on the road, the squadron was allowed to approach till their rifles could be seen lying across the pommel of their saddles, then they received a volley that brought many down, but the affair was over, and by twos and threes we were picked up. Col. Leake surrendered himself, not his command. Gen. Green (Thomas) himself, riding up to Leake asked, "why don't you stop this firing?" - the men, many of them from fence corners and odd places of concealment, continued to fire till their guns were wrenched from their hands.
Part of this engagement took place near the bridge four miles south of the Farm. Dungan found an account of the battle in the Galveston News of October 20 and this tells of another phase of it.
General Green in the general plan took the road direct in order to attack the cavalry and any force at the bridge, four miles below the battlefield. There were only two hundred men there, and he soon drove them off, and hearing the fight above, ordered Major Boone tab rush to the assistance of the troops engaged, and "charge the enemy if ten thousand strong."
Boone did it nobly, only a few shots were fired by the enemy, two of which took effect on him, shattering his shoulder and arm, the latter has been taken off at the joint in the shoulder, the other hand has only two fingers on it.
Well, where Boone was going he wouldn't need either arm, joining the list of 27 Confederates killed in this encounter. The Galveston News fixed the number of wounded at 80. On the Federal side there were 16 killed, 45 wounded with 454 captured. The 19th Iowa lost 10 killed, 3 wounded and 214 captured. On the Confederate side, Lt. Col. James E. Harrison, was in command of a brigade involved in the attack and Dungan reported "he had directed the attention of five sharp-shooters successively to Col. Leake, and after seeing their fire ineffectual, had himself drawn his never failing weapon, but at the last moment refrained from firing, he knew not why."
Some Federals in the engagement found the opportunity to escape
capture to make their way back to the levee and boat camp at Morganza.
There were 63 of these. The next day it rained and these men were ordered
to report to the Provost Marshal so that they could get some rations and
go on guard duty over some rebel prisoners. Lt. McIntyre didn't return
to the Regiment until October 11 but when he was told about the treatment
his escaped buddies received, he waxed as indignant about it as if he had
been there. "Yet wet, cold, and hungry" and so on. The plight
of these orphaned soldiers was indeed dreadful and didn't improve for some
Among those members of the 19th Regiment now in Confederate custody was its historian, J. Irvine Dungan of Company C.
The Confederate forces committed in the action of September 29
numbered 5000 and it was believed that an attack on the Federal units at
Morganza was intended. Some believed that the stand at Sterling Farm held
them up, aborting a move on their real target. In any case the Confederates
returned to their base on the west bank of the Atchafalaya River and Dungan
starts his chapter 7 at that point.
After our capture, we were marched back through the rain and mud to the ferry boat, and about dark crossed the river. On the bank we huddled together, having had no dinner and no supper, and through the night sat or stood around little rail fires that struggled for existence in this drenching rain that never ceased falling for the next forty-eight hours.
Sullen over our recent defeat, we had none of the jokes and lightsome
talk with which we usually beguiled the tediousness of sleepless hours.
Morning broke upon as weary and dispirited a band as I ever saw, and noon
brought us beef and raw meal with no vessels to cook in. From this place
we were marched through the bottoms to Alexandria, passing on the way,
parts of Walker's army. The troops used us well, giving us to eat of their
For day after day through hot dusty days we marched, having a ride of twenty-one miles that ended at Alexandria, where we were shut up in one room, the Court room. It was about twenty-four by thirty-six feet, and there was a few prisoners already there, so that in that room was fully five hundred men. But we had to stay in it but one night, luckily for us, for the next morning we were started on toward Shreveport, traveling over high rolling, heavily pine timbered country, which afforded views that would nave been heartily enjoyed but for the bayonets on either side.
Corn meal and beef, then beef and corn meal till Natchitoches,
where laying over one bright Sabbath day, I eluded the guard, and took
a stroll out into the country a few miles, where stopping at a large fine
Southern mansion for a drink of water, and telling what I was, I found
friends, was entertained by "Star Spangled Banner," and other
pieces by a loyal daughter of Dixie, and had a lunch of most appetizing
pie and cake washed down by generous wine of their own manufacture.
At Mansfield, a Union planter brought in and gave us sweet potatoes, for the whole command. At Shreveport we were place on a side of a hill, overlooking town and had nothing to eat for twenty hours after getting there, and we had made a day's march before reaching there. Hucksters from the town swarmed around with baker's bread, cakes, pies and apples, and hungry men would strip themselves of every available article to get a few mouthfuls. Knives, combs, gold pens and greenbacks all were bartered for eatables.
Here we had hoped we would be paroled; but we were turned toward
Texas, and the middle of October we were at Tyler, in a pen on the hill
side Pith the great pine woods around us, and no shelter or means of making
one over us.
Lying out long cold nights, thinking of home, rain falling upon us frequently, these things begat thoughts of escape and many let their thoughts mature into plans and executed their plans.
If the siege of Vicksburg can be seen as an eagle might, then
Gen. Sherman's troops were at the top of half a wheel with Gen. Herron's
men at the bottom. Describing Sherman's men, a physician wrote that they
were "the noisiest crowd of profane - swearing, dram-drinking, card-playing,
song-singing, reckless, impudent daredevils in the world." With no
outlet for this side of their nature, it is easy to believe that many of
the prisoners began, in idle moments, to conjure up pictures of school-yard
games in Iowa and to think of ways of viewing such scenes for real. There
was good spring water at Tyler, sometimes called Camp Ford, but the quarters
were anything but good. Some of the men simply dug holes in the ground
"with the tarantulas, centipeeds and scorpions." Besides visions
of home the miserable prisoners in Tyler no doubt hoped to be exchanged.
To implement such a hope the men were marched to Shreveport. Before they
received orders for the first march, there were four in all, Dungan said,
"winter winds blew." On the record this initial trek started
October 7. The men were to travel light and were not allowed to take any
cooking vessels with them. The first day's march ended at the Sabine River
where the men were issued a little meal, corn one supposes. With no utensils
the meal had to be made into a ball and dropped into hot coals and burnt
into bread. The head guard was one Capt. Alford whom Dungan regarded as
the most brutal man alive. His thoughts on this are convincing.
After supper and breakfast such as this and a night's rest on the wet ground, morning broke on shivering ragged wretches disclosing the cause of shrinking flesh and chattering teeth, during the night it had frozen hard, and the wet earth was encrusted with a frosty rime, and all the mudholes in the road coated with ice. Over the frozen rough road and through ice-bound streams, those barefooted and half clad five hundred marched, leaving on many a spot of Texas soil drops of blood form bruised and swollen feet. The sun at midday thawing it out only enough to make a cold slush, then toward night freezing again.
The brutal Alford told his men to ride through all streams above
us that the water might be muddy for us to drink. What could sustain men,
but the hope of exchange at such a time as this.
When the 500 got to Shreveport they were told that exchange would be arranged in a "few days" but of course the effort failed. Here the prisoners had the liberty of cutting trees and making "comfortable little houses, backwoods style." The chimneys, however, were not so successful. Through the intercession of one Col. Tchiod the Confederate authorities opened storehouses and gave shoes to a few of the men. This camp was located 10 miles below Shreveport and it was from this camp that many escape attempts were made, some of them successful. In some of this history it must be noted that Dungan fails to mention dates and we are left to feel the actions without the crutch of numbers which makes us feel that we understand things better.
Three Fly North
Although Dungan didn't tell the tale of a return to Tyler from Shreveport it is clear that this first escape attempt was from Tyler. Dungan's companions in this breakout were Horatio W. Anderson and William McGregor. Dungan did not explain why these three had selected each other but Horatio was 19 and Dungan, a student on enlistment, was 21. McGregor's age was unknown. But Dungan said the trio would follow the north star and go north to Fort Smith which clearly demonstrates that, by this definition of goal, each was eligible for admission to an asylum. With "scantilly filled haversacks" the three crept over the guard line and ran north to reach the Sabine River by sunrise. North of this River the country was so sparsely settled that they travelled by day crossing many roads and streams and going around plantations. Entering an empty dwelling, and hearing its owner off chopping wood, the three took what they needed, including a valuable compass, and noted, with laughter, that the wood chopper owned a slight volume titled, Infant Baptism. The next day, near Mt. Pleasant the group had dinner with a family whose male members were "laying out" to avoid conscription.
Further on the trip entered a house and found three men, "long haired and wild eyed" with guns leaning on a wall. Neither group chose to ask questions and so departed company. The-next day they managed to kill a pigeon and ate it raw. Around noon the lady of a large house made them welcome declaring, "it's not often any of our brave boys come to our house." The guests were fed well and listened to an exact history of each member of the family, "present or absent," and went on their way rejoicing. The talking lady went into Dungan's history as one of many hazards.
On Sunday morning, November 15, the guys from Company C stopped at a large house near Clarksville where a cavalry unit was being formed. They conned a Squire Jones out of breakfast telling him that they were returning to their unit after furloughs. That evening they stepped onto a well travelled road to see a couple of revolver packing Confederate officers on horses about a hundred yards away. The officers watched the trio as they bluffed through by walking purposefully and the officers let them go. Dungan said that they were more careful after that, apprehensive about the deep-voiced sounds of bloodhounds.
When the hikers came to the Red River they found it was too deep to wade and McGregor couldn't swim so they made a raft of fence rails held together by cotton bail ropes. McGregor took Dungan across and then went back to get Anderson. And on they went through Indian villages, survival always the persistent problem, inching toward the Arkansas line. Before reaching that mythical exit from Texas they visited a civilized Christian. Dungan told the old man of the death of Dr. Lyman Beecher. The old man mounted a pony to put his guests on the trail to Waldon, a Federal outpost much closer than Fort Smith. Saddened to part, Dungan included a quatrain to express his feelings on leaving this brother in the "Freemasonry of humanity."
Some future day when what is now is not, When all old faults and follies are forgot, And thoughts of differences passed like dreams away, We'll meet again upon some future day.
Walking on and on the men came upon a half-deserted house. There they killed a pig and dined on pork and honey from a rifled hive. After sleeping on a feather bed they were off at 3:00 o'clock in the morning. After sunrise they seemed to be approaching a settlement. Through various trials McGregor had kept pen, ink and paper and Dungan wrote out a bogus pass signing the name of "Gen. Steel, C.S.A." This latter officer was Brigadier General William Steele, a forty-year old New York West Point man who had married a southern woman. In this narrative Dungan failed to spell the officer's name correctly but perhaps, operating on a thin edge as always, it wouldn't matter. Armed with this document the three took to the State Road, apparently with added confidence. Eating dinner at a home where Federal cavalry had dined the previous evening the refugees from Company.C had a trying experience. Dungan's words are better here.
They entered the house, sitting around on chairs, beds and tables promiscuously, with shot guns and squirrel rifles. We could hear their rough talk from the kitchen, and trembled at our probable fate but the crisis had to come, so putting on an unconscious look, we arose from the table and entered the room. To meet the curious gaze of ten or twelve pair of eyes peering from out the hairy faces of roughly dressed men, without flinching or changing color, was the task successfully accomplished. When one at last ventured to ask us who we were, I as spokesman answered, we were paroled Federal prisoners sent through to our lines by Gen. Steele, whose army lay in or near that part of the country we had passed over. Then one of them who plainly prided himself on his shrewdness and knowledge of business said, "you'd orter hev a showin or paper" "certainly" said I, drawing forth the pass and handing it to him. He took the slip of paper gingerly betwixt his thumb and fore finger, using it as though momentarily looking for it to evaporate, and turning to a small sharp-eyed red headed man said, "Judge, you're more on a skollard than we, read this," and judge accordingly read it aloud pronouncing it "all squar," which verdict being echoed by the others a mountain lifted itself from my heart. Not to seem hurried, we sat a half hour, promising to "jog along a bit further fore night," which promise we conscientiously kept.
One of the Federal commanders in the area was Brig. Gen. Frederick Steele - Steele against Steele on some maps. Near Fort Smith with no further signs of guerrilla activity Anderson had a chill. McGregor and Dungan had to get him to a house and while they were sithng by a fire, talking, the sound of horse's hooves was followed by the entry of three rough characters with drawn revolvers. One of these was unconvinced and it was all over. The trio then lived with a motley band of guerrillas led by J. B. Williamson a lawyer from Kentucky, too smart to try to fool, Dungan thought. The trio lived with this crude bunch of irregulars from November 23 until December 6. Poor Horatio was ill most of this time but he received plenty of nourishment. Dungan said the band lived well, dining on fresh beef, pork and mutton. The Iowa men were then turned over to Confederate officers in Washington, Arkansas and then marched seventy miles and lodged in a county jail in a room some 18 by 30 feet. Dungan reported that there were over 60 men in this place "some of them having been in that room for months without a change of clothing." He may not have had to conduct any interviews to find this out.
Over the Wall
They were stuck into this vile place just a year after the Prairie Grove battle was over and conditions were about as bad and the three refugees from Company C had by no means had the idea of freedom beaten out of them. Two fellow jail inmates joined them in planning the new exit. One of these was Anthony C. Johnson of Little Rock, a son of Judge Johnson the Attorney General of the State of Arkansas. The other was William Greer who had been taken from his home 25 miles east of Washington and put in jail to meditate on the evil of "laying out" to escape service in the Confederate army. Dungan described Greer as a quiet man, mild in his language and effeminate in appearance. In contrast Johnson "was a boasting, reckless kind of a fellow" but each was to prove "every inch a man."
Somehow Dungan hid a knife in a boot and this was used to chip away enough wood to release a bar to create an opening eight by sixteen inches. They were waiting for a cloudy night but grew tired of waiting and went out Christmas Eve, using a rope someone had conned off a guard via liar skill. They ran through the town and were swallowed up in "Egyptian darkness" as clouds covered the moon. They were headed for Greer's home where a river bottom contained many horses. They did reach Green's residence but he fell ill of a fever. On the last day of 1863, they started a wild ride for Little Rock but a few miles from Federal lines, cold, snow and fatigue forced the quintet to seek refuge in a house and they were captured by a Confederate cavalry troop. Taken to Camden, some 125 miles from Lithe Rock, the group were put to work as "scavengers." Dungan refused to work and was strung up and beaten. The Post Adjutant added a few words. "That's the way we break all such @#! *!# nigger-loving s- o -bs." Dungan said there was more but that it was "too low to bear repeddon." Strung up for an hour and growing faint and sick, Dungan chose work and work they did until late in January when, presumably, the five were joined by some others and returned to Shreveport. Here the prisoners were shut up in a windowless brick warehouse.
Not light enough came through the dusty panes above the door to enable us to wage successful war against "Greybacks." Here we lay through cold damp days and long sleepless nights, eating the pittance of coarse half-cooked corn cake without salt until the last of March.
After Dungan, McGregor and Anderson ran north out of Tyler on November 8 there was no historian for the Tyler prisoners and we are left to guess how they fared. Nobody would be inclined to dream of a scenario in which the Iowa and Indiana men, no doubt joined by others, received generous treatment, yet on the record there were few, if any, deaths among the Iowans. Guards could be bribed and not every Texan was a sadistic brute.
But when Dungan reported that "we" were shut up in the brick warehouse in Shreveport, he left the impression that Horatio Anderson was included in this group with no chance to get out. Dungan may have omitted a detail here for during the last days of February, Horatio did escape "from Shreveport." Dungan gave no details but said that "after a hard and perilous trip, when the waters covered the whole face of the country, he reached Natchez." Horatio was well named, strangely so in a Washington, Iowa clan who seldom named any male child anything but John, James, William or David. But all along Horatio may have had a reason to be driven. Horatio's biological mother was long dead. His father had remarried when Horatio was two so Sarah Dawson Anderson was the only mother he had known and her fatal decline began in 1863. His older sister Helen may have written that Sarah was ill. In any case if Horatio had hoped to get back to Washington, Iowa to see her alive he failed.
Eventually historian Dungan and Horatio Anderson were reunited in the later history of Company C and one is left to wonder why Horatio's escape wasn't included in more detail. Had their failed escape attempts brought about some estrangement? Perhaps, but many other Iowa men escaped what Dungan described as "southern hospitality" and he could hardly have included all of them. In his role as editor, Dungan may have selected a successful breakout to conclude this phase of his history.
Cary, Cocklin and Hall Break Out
These three started out of Shreveport confinement on February 23, 1864. John Cary was a member of the 94th Illinois and it is more than possible that Dungan never saw this man in an entire lifetime. Dungan had to know the other two. Levi B. Cocklin and Loveridge (Lub) Stone Hall were on the Company C team. It may be that Lub Hall was the better interview for Dungan chose to use the first person with Hall as narrator. It must be concluded that many of the descriptive passages in this marvelous tale are actually Dungan's, enhancing Lub Hall's bare bones account, the two talking together on the deck of some forgotten boat.
Hall, age 24, stated that two better men could not be found than Cocklin and Cary. The latter was used to frontier life and in no way could get lost if the sky was clear. Cocklin, age 25, was already a father when he enlisted. The three schemers made some preparations before breaking out carrying five day rations, some of these donated by prisoner friends who would have liked to have gone along but, lacking shoes, could not. The trio travelled a half a mile barefoot to reduce sound, putting on shoes upon reaching the shelter of timber. Several hours later they ran into a swamp and had to backtrack for miles. Crossing a stream by wading, described as "a cooler," they went on about 25 miles before camping. About 3:00 a. m. they each made a nest of pine boughs and slept until the next noon. The sun shone, the air was pure and birds sang.
They stayed put until night and travelled only when dark for two days. On February 28 they were in clouds so dense they couldn't hold course and had to hole up. It rained constantly for two nights and one day and they were wet. "Truly I believe we suffered more during that time than we would, had the weather been cold enough to freeze us to death." On the morning of the 30th it stopped raining but it was still cloudy. It was necessary to exercise so they went on until the lack of food forced a decision, very reluctantly taken, to go to a farm house. Cocklin was chosen to go in while Cary and hall waited in the brush. When Cocklin entered the house he found the farmer and his wife present along with a third individual, a Confederate officer. Cocklin had an idea that it would be best to tell the Southerner the truth at which time the officer stated that it was his duty to put Cocklin under arrest. "Cocklin replied rather coolly that it might be his duty but that he might have some trouble doing so." Though the officer was armed, the two were on neutral ground and this had to be respected. It came down to a discussion lasting almost three hours and during this one act drama Cocklin turned the man around and was free to go. The officer told Cocklin that if he got caught again all he had to do was to repeat his "eloquent appeal" and his captor would be sure to release him. This was surely an indication that on that day Cocklin was very good indeed.
After it was all over and Cocklin was resting in New Orleans, first in a hospital and then in a Camp of Instruction, he decided to fulfill a promise to his wife Eva and recount the escape so that the family and friends near Ainsworth, Iowa would know all about it. This is what Lee wrote concerning his encounter with the Confederate officer.
So you may suppose I felt somewhat embarassed on finding the man of the house at home in company with a rebel Captain. I was in for it and frankly stated my case, the officer thought it his duty to arrest me. I stayed about two hours and finally got him convinced that in letting me pass he was doing but an act of humanity, and by doing a human act he vvas serving his God and in serving his God he undoubtedly served his country.
Now just a minute here. Let's go over that again. Lithe that Cocklin
made Sergeant and then, in May, Lieutenant. But still with Cocklin's success
in verbal art he had procured no food. The man of the house refused to
have any part of it even though the Confederate said no report would be
made. When Cocklin left the woman was asked to go to the door "and
see that the dog did not bite" him and then she brought a plate of
meat and bread and a bottle of molasses. The Confederate came out the door,
too, saying, "Federal, I would advise you to avoid all roads, for
they are full of scouts and you are liable to run into a camp at any turn
of the road." Speaking of the officer to Eva, Cocklin asked, "Don't
you think he was a gentleman?"
Back on the trail Cocklin was taking no chances. He had left an impression he would go one direction, the trio went another for a dozen miles before resting. The next day Lub Hall tried his luck at a farm and got a dinner from a lady, trading a fine comb for a loaf of corn bread and a piece of bacon. The next day around noon a dog was heard to bark and Cocklin explored the place with care, a woman and her three "real pretty daughters" were present, the man a paroled prisoner in Alexandria. Lee breathed easier, "for I well knew I could elicit the sympathy of the women." This he did and departed with some food for Cary and Hall.
After more travel it was Lub Hall's turn again and he went into a slave quarters and found an old black man and his wife. Hall got food and the information that the main road was the only way through a swamp; more night hikes. And on and on they went, each day bringing on new difficulties in terms of hunger and cold with physical abilities near a terminal failure. At last on the River Cary put his coat on a pole and hailed a gunboat and a yawl put out with a dozen men in it "armed to the teeth." An officer questioned the men as who wouldn't have. Convinced, the officer said "jump in" and the beat companions were taken on board.
We were taken on board the gunboat; a good meal fast ordered, we were invited to the officers' state room to a good fire. While we warming the officers busied themselves in piling out clothes for they soon had a pile of their own clothing worth at least $150. We took the clothing - went down- got a tub of warm water, soap, brushes and towels- cast out old louse, filthy rags, overboard and went "in lemons and came out men," after rubbing off all the old scales we commenced putting on soft woolen undershirts and drawers white as the driven snow....I shall never forget the kindness of the officers and crew of the gunboat Signal.
They were 22 days on this successful escape venture and had travelled
four hundred miles, reaching the Mississippi about half way between the
mouth of the Red River and Morganza on March 16. Cary's fate remains unknown
since he was slated to rejoin his Illinois unit wherever it was. According
to Dungan, Hall and Cocklin rejoined the 19th in Brownsville, Texas on
April 15. In the days after the Sterling Farm debacle it would be hard
to say where the remnant parts of the Regiment were located or if indeed
there was any such unit in existence. Some members were in Tyler, Texas
or marching to Shreveport and back, some had been left in Camp Carrollton,
some were in Shreveport lock-ups and a few were in desolated areas still
trying to reach areas of Federal control. Still others were in graves a
long way from Woodlawn back in Washington, Iowa.
Back on the Road With the Tyler Men
The Tyler prisoners had started for Shreveport again on November 29 and they remained in that camp until March 25 when they were once again on the road to Tyler. Dungan's group, out of their warehouse dungeon, rejoined at Greenwood west of Shreveport. Again the head guard was Alford who had lost none of his less lovable attributes.
Our guard was mounted, and had only one wagon in which were their cooking utensils and a few days rations, not any transportation for the sick or those who might give out. With brutal threats and blows with gun and saber the lagging ones were quickened and when an old man, gray-haired, fell fainting by the wayside, Alford kicked him, prostrate, and a lariat was tied around his neck and secured to the pommel of the saddle, by which they hastened on the weak old man urging him to half run when he could keep his feet and dragging him by neck, when through exhaustion he would sink to the earth. Another, who had been sick, lying down declared his inability to go further. Alford drawing his revolver shot him inflicting a severe, perhaps mortal wound, and annoyed at the groans of the wounded man, he forced his negro slave to get a rail and beat out his brains. By such means they succeeded m marching several hundred men, many bareheaded, and most of them barefooted, over a hundred miles with little to eat and no transportation at all.
"Tyler once more!" Dungan wrote. Back in some of the same old huts built in a previous stay way back when. Dates are a little uncertain here but Dungan states that this stay in Tyler was not long and they were soon back on the road to Shreveport. This time the march was not so hard because Col. Leake, he of the Sterling Farrn command, was able to gain the prisoners "many favors." This march ended at Marshall where the men were in camp for several weeks. Nobody quite knew the reason for this change in the routine. They heard the booming of cannons in the direction of Mansfield but didn't quite know what this meant. And then, "every few days fresh squads of prisoners passed us on their route to Tyler, just from the fields of Mansfield and the Arkansas." On April 8 at Mansfield, Zachary Taylor's enterprising son, Gen. Richard Taylor, had hit a Federal force under Gen. Banks and racked it up badly. Taylor's unit took 1500 prisoners in this one battle and these were some of the men Dungan saw on the road at Marshal.
The scene in the Tyler stockade was different this time. A witness,
Captain Simeon F. Roderick declined to describe the suffering in these
words: "At this time the scenes of human misery and suffering are
beyond my power of description, and will only be known when some abler
hand than mine shall write the history of the stockade at Tyler, Texas."
Dungan had that abler hand or at lest the stronger stomach, showing none
of the restraint of historians or their editors who hoped to get their
words read by some people who possessed tender sensibilities.
Our weary waiting again ended in disappointment, for we were marched
back to Tyler, where we found between four and five thousand prisoners,
most of them without even huts. Men of every tribe and tongue and nation,
from every State in the Union, or out, old and young, and Indians of every
tribe, were assembled here; ragged many of them, while many were not blessed
with a rag, - a blanket thrown over their shoulders protected them from
the heat of mid-day and the chill dews of the night. There were men literally
swarming with body-lice, - "greybacks"- and sick men lying on
their backs in the hot sand under a burning sun, breathing out their life
in all this squalor and misery. Instead of the last kind word or prayers,
fell on his ear curses and rough jests. Idiocy, and as heart-sickening
as any thing, was the passive indifference with which these things came
to be regarded. Men standing by laughed at some driveling wretch praying
for something to eat. When one was sick the stomach refused the coarse
corn dodger, and in this way come starvation, - not to the strong men who
could have endured scanty fare, but to those who were sick and weak, -
to those who would lie near the sinks day and night, their clothes stiffening
with their own filth, maggots and lice crawling over them till they died.
Dungan noted that at the gate of his group's pen there was a pile of rough pine coffins which was constantly diminishing and being replaced. On an opposite slope new holes were being dug every day. Note was also taken of a pen near the stockade which contained a pack of hounds used for a very obvious purpose. Dungan's records indicate that 10 Federal prisoners escaped in March of 1864 which meant that these men went out of the Shreveport Camp or some nameless road camp. Perhaps these places provided better opportunities. But here Dungan wants to break in to tell about a whipping.
One morning near our breakfast hour, we were aroused by a great outcry from a crowd assembled near the centre of the stockade, and repairing to the spot, beheld a sight that rises before my mind's eye every time I hear the word "pardon" or Jeff Davis. A negro woman is being whipped, - a young, likely woman, standing on the opposite side-hill, in plain sight, with clothes held high up, exposing her body from her shoulders downward, is writhing and shrieking under the cruel strokes of the whip in the hands of a young man near her age. As stroke after stroke falls upon the quivering flesh, we could hear the sharp blow of the whip and see it curl around her back hips and legs, and each moment seemed to add to the burning anger of the northern men, compelled to look on, as much as to the agony of the helpless victim; and the maledictions of our crowd upon the hill, were hurled at the brute in human form, and were heard too. Besides our five thousand, there were scores of southern chivalry lounging around enjoying both the suffering of the woman and the discomfiture of the Yankees.
Subsequent to this passage there is a considerable gap in Pvt. Dungan's narrative and perhaps thanks are his due. It may be that describing a dull routine was not his forte but he may have discovered, when he went to Davenport, Iowa to get his ms set in type that it was a very costly kind of enterprise and that something had to be cut. In any case the former student skipped to that day in July when word came down that the prisoners were to be paroled again and put back on the road to Shreveport. Dungan made a wry joke, asking those to whom he gave his hut to give it back if he returned. Col. Leake had been given the authority to regulate the length and duration of the marches which were nevertheless hard because the road hurt barefeet and it was hot. Some of the men made hats of Hickory leaves to divert some of the sun's heat.
Aboard boats at Shreveport Dungan says "we begin to feel that we may reach our lines." He had the word "may" set in italics to emphasize that the men would believe it if and when it happened. The boats steamed slowly down the Red River and the men sat on the lower deck listening to the turning wheels and watching the unwieldy alligators lying on the banks. The men debarked above the Alexandria falls near the dam that the talented Wisconsin native, Joseph Bailey, had contrived out of sunken hulls and cotton bails to let Porter's boats out of the Red, careening to safety. The next day the men entered boats below the falls and on July 22 "we floated out upon the broad Mississippi, and beheld once more our beloved Banner and knew we were yet alive." On board the huge Nebraska with its roomy decks the men were given "Hard Tack" and coffee. Says Dungan, "The change was greater than ever before I experienced." It may be that here he ran out of words and it is easy to see why.
On Sunday, July 24 the ax-prisoners marched into the city of New Orleans still clad in rags and shoeless. The marchers were reviewed by Gen. Edward R. S. Canby the Division Commander but few cared about what he thought because the Federals had in mind a propaganda ploy to let all men know how the Confederates had treated the Tyler men. Not only were the exchanged soldiers paraded so that New Orleans church comers and goers would see them, along with newspaper reporters, but photographers were in action as well. One such firm whose employees were at work that Sunday was McPherson & Oliver, Photographists, No. 132 Canal Street. One of the photographs taken by these skilled operators included the whole group, officers seated on the ground in front. This was reproduced in Bruce Catton's, The civil War, published by a subdivision of McGraw ill in 1960. At least two photographs of officer groups were taken. A print of one of the latter included a group of eleven officers, not in rags, but in fairly decent garb including wide brimmed southern style straw hats and some canes. No reason for this style of garrnenture has descended unless, for reasons unknown, the group had been made to look like southern planters. They didn't. A number, included under the image of each ex prisoner, was obviously meant to identify. Accompanying this image was another with a handwritten message:
Officers of the 19th Iowa Infantry as they appeared on arriving at New Orleans July 24th 1864 after an imprisonment of ten months at Tyler Texas.
This was seen next to a redemption ticket with the notation, "sold to T. A. Robb not paid." He would pay for it when he got it one supposes. Thomas A. Robb had enlisted in Company D of the 19th as Sergeant. This Company had been enrolled in Jefferson County and at some later time a family member had been granted the good sense to give it to the Fairfield Public Library Museum, there to be discovered and used. Dungan saved the account of that Sunday in New Orleans in an interpretation by a reporter and printed on Monday in the New Orleans Delta. Its length precluded total inclusion here but the outrage is obvious in any part.
ARRIVAL OF PRISONERS-REBEL CRUELTIES- CONDITION OF THE PRISONERS.- Yesterday, at about the hour when Sabbath bells were ringing, and good people preparing for worship, our citizens were astonished by the apparitions of a regiment, the like of which certainly never marched through the streets of any Christian city. Hatless and shoeless, without shirts and even garments that decency forbids us to name, they were greeted with a murmur of indignation almost universal. The shreds of butternut colored clothing that fluttered from their attenuated forms deceived us all. We believed them rebels held as prisoners in our hands, and universal execrations was hurled upon the authorities for what was deemed their inhumanity to helpless prisoners. But we soon discovered our mistake, they were Union men taken by the rebels in battle, held many months in captivity and now returned to us for the sleek well fed rebel soldiers that we gave up last week. Decency forbids us to describe the utter nudity of these men, officers and soldiers. Many of them had not rags to be ragged with, and as their bare feet pressed the sharp stones, the blood marked their tracks. Animated skeletons marching through the streets of New Orleans.
This unnamed writer, for this brief moment, achieved the dream
of unrestrained exuberance in print. He wouldn't miss the chance and went
on and on crowning his memorable piece with lines of fiction which could
only have been induced by hallucination or by some sly jokester among the
Two hundred of these prisoners have been vaccinated for the prevention of smallpox with virus tainted with the foul leprosy of sin, and are now impregnated with this loathsome disease..
It must have been after the photographic session that the men were issued new clothing. Then the men of the 19th and the Indiana 26th gave Lt. Col. Joseph B. Leake of the Iowa 20th a handsome new sword with Sergeant Major Oscar G. Burch giving forth with "a few well chosen words." Col. Leake answered with "an eloquent and touching address."