Twenty-seventh Regiment of Iowa Infantry Volunteers was organized under the proclamation of President Lincoln dated July 2, 1862. The ten companies of which it was composed were ordered into quarters by Governor Kirkwood on dates ranging from July 30 to August 26, 1862. The rendezvous designated in the order was Camp Franklin, near Dubuque, Iowa, and there the companies together with the field and staff officers, were mustered into the service of the United States, by Captain George S. Pierce, of the Regular Army, on dates ranging from September 1 to October 3, 1862. At the completion of the muster of the last company, the regiment had an aggregate strength of 940. (Report of Adjutant General of Iowa, 1863, Vol., 1, pages VIII and XIII: also pages 951 to 982 inclusive, Original Roster of the Regiment.)
The regiment remained but a short time at Camp Franklin after the completion of its muster into the service. On October 11, 1862, Colonel Gilbert was ordered to embark his regiment on transports and proceed to St. Paul, Minnesota, and there report to Major General John Pope, than in command of the Department of the Northwest. After disembarking at St. Paul, the regiment marched to Fort Snelling and went into camp near the Fort. At that time there were no hostile Indians in that vicinity. A few days after going into camp, Colonel Gilbert received orders from General Pope to march with six companies of his regiment to Mille Lacs, Minnesota, 125 miles north-west of St. Paul, for the purpose of superintending the payment of annuities to the friendly Indians in that section of the State. No hostile Indians were encountered on the march, and the object of the expedition was successfully accomplished. Upon his return to Fort Snelling, on November 4th, Colonel Gilbert was ordered by General Pope to embark the six companies on transports and proceed to Cairo, Illinois, to which place the other four companies had been sent during his absence on the expedition. Upon arriving at Cairo the regiment was reunited and remained in camp until November 20th, on which date it again embarked and was conveyed to Memphis, Tennessee.
On November 27th the regiment joined the army under Major General Sherman, with which it marched against the rebel army under General Sterling Price, then occupying a strongly entrenched position on the Tallahatchie River, below Waterford, Mississippi. This movement was made to reinforce the army under General Grant, then moving down the line of the Mississippi Central Railroad, with Vicksburg as its objective point. General Sherman succeeded in crossing the Tallahatchie, and by outflanking General Price's army, compelled him to evacuate his formidable works and retreat towards the south. The combined forces under General Grant pressed forward in pursuit of the enemy. His forward movement was suddenly checked, however, by the bold and successful raid of a force of the enemy's cavalry, under command of the rebel General Van Dora, which succeeded in reaching and capturing General Grant's base of supplies at Holly Springs, thus compelling the abandonment of the expedition and the falling back of the army to the line of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. The Twenty-seventh Iowa, while participating actively in all the preparations of the troops with which it was associated on this expedition did not come into actual conflict with the enemy and suffered no casualties except from sickness, and the capture of eleven of its men--who were in hospital--by a band of rebel cavalry. The men were paroled, however, and returned to the regiment the next day.
On December 31, 1862, the regiment, with other troops, was making a forced march to reinforce the troops under General Sullivan at Lexington, Tennessee. The men were without tents or shelter of any kind and suffered intensely from exposure to the inclement weather. At the close of the year 1862 the regiment had lost 69 men, who had either died or been discharged as the result of sickness, while nearly 200 more were lying in hospitals, the victims of disease, many of whom subsequently died or were discharged on account of disability. It was the common experience of new regiments, in the first few months of their service, disease claimed a far greater number of victims than the bullets of the enemy.
On January 1, 1863, the Twenty-seventh Iowa reached Lexington, after its long and arduous march, only to find that it was too late to participate in the conflict, General Sullivan having succeeded in defeating the rebel forces under General Forrest without the aid of reinforcements. The combined Union forces immediately marched in pursuit of the retreating rebels, but did not succeed in overtaking them, the rebel General Forrest having safely effected the crossing of the Tennessee River at Clifton, and, upon the arrival of the Union troops at that place, the pursuit was abandoned. The Twenty-seventh Iowa then returned to Jackson, Tennessee, where for the greater portion of the time, it remained, performing the duties of provost, picket and train guards, until June 2, 1863. During this long period there were several short expeditions into the surrounding country for the purpose of gathering supplies, but there is no record of any portion of the regiment having come into contact with the enemy. The post at Jackson was an important one, however, and the regiment was performing important service while on duty there. The most notable event during this period was the moving of the regiment by rail to Corinth, Mississippi, early in February, 1863, which place it occupied as a garrison, while the troops which had been stationed there made a successful expedition to Tuscumbia, Alabama, under command of General Dodge. The regiment was relieved from this duty and returned to Jackson on February 28th. During the month of May the regiment was engaged in guarding the line of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, from one to four of its companies being stationed at different points along the line. When Jackson was evacuated, in the early part of June, the regiment was conveyed by rail to Grand Junction, thence to LaGrange, from which place it marched to Moscow, on June 6th, and again entered upon the duty of guarding the line of the Mississippi Central Railroad. At this time Lieutenant Colonel Jed Lake was placed in command of the important post at LaGrange, which was a distributing point for army supplies. On July 19th, Colonel Gilbert was placed in command of the Third Brigade, Third Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, with his headquarters at La Grange, and the command of the Twenty-seventh Iowa devolved upon Major Howard. On August 15th, Colonel James M. True, of the Sixty-second Illinois Infantry, returned from leave of absence and resumed command of the brigade, relieving Colonel Gilbert, who resumed command of his regiment.
On August 20th, the Twenty-seventh Iowa, with its brigade, marched to Memphis and on August 24th, the brigade was detached from its division and conveyed by transports to Helena, Arkansas, from which place it marched to Brownsville, where it joined the Army of Arkansas, commanded by Major General Steele. On September 10th, the brigade moved with General Steele's army against Little Rock and assisted in the capture of that important post. As the brigade was held in reserve, and only the battery belonging to it becoming engaged, none of its regiments sustained any loss. The regiment was stationed at Little Rock until November 15th, performing camp and picket guard duty, when it was moved by rail to Devall's Bluff. Colonel True's regiment the-- Sixty-second Illinois-- remained at Little Rock and Colonel Gilbert again assumed command of the brigade, leaving Lieutenant Colonel Lake in command of the regiment. Upon arriving at Devall's Bluff, the regiment with its brigade embarked on transports, moved down the White River to its mouth and thence up the Mississippi to Memphis, where it again went into camp just south of the city and remained there until January 28, 1864.
Thus far the Twenty-seventh Iowa had a most remarkable experience as compared with that of most of the other infantry regiments from its State. It had been in the service over fifteen months, had faithfully obeyed every order and performed all the duties in which it had been assigned, but so far, had not come into direct conflict with the enemy; and yet its losses had been heavy;--aggregating more than twenty-five per cent of the number borne upon its rolls when it first took the field. Nine of its commissioned officers had resigned, while 64 of its enlisted men had died of disease, 193 had been honorably discharged on account of being disabled by sickness for further service, and 4 had deserted. At the close of the year 1863, the reports show that the regiment had 22 commissioned officers and 486 enlisted men present for duty; total 508. Some of the absentees were at home on furlough, but by far the larger number were sick in hospitals. A good many of these recovered and subsequently rejoined the regiment.
On January 28, 1864, Colonel Gilbert received orders to embark with his regiment. The transport which conveyed the Twenty-seventh Iowa was accompanied by a large fleet, all being heavily loaded with troops, with orders to report to General Sherman at Vicksburg. Upon its arrival at Vicksburg the Twenty-seventh Iowa was assigned to the Second Brigade, Third Division, Sixteenth Army Corps and, on February 3, 1864, took up the line of march towards the interior of the State of Mississippi, upon one of the most notable and successful expeditions of the war. A division of cavalry led the advance of General Sherman's army and had frequent engagements with the enemy's cavalry, which constituted about all the fighting that was done during the expedition, the rebel forces, under the command of General Polk, not being strong enough to make a stand and risk a general engagement. At Meridian, Mississippi, (the objective point of the expedition.) immense quantities of supplies for the rebel army were captured and destroyed together with many locomotives and cars. Many miles of railroad track were also destroyed, and the damage thus inflicted upon the rebel army was very great. During the march the troops lived mainly off the country through which they passed, having started with but ten days rations for the entire army. The army returned to Vicksburg on March 4th, having been gone over thirty days, and marched over three hundred miles. During the greater part of the time General Sherman was cut off from communication with General Grant and the War Department in Washington. It was a new and bold military experiment, and its complete success demonstrated the feasibility of that later splendid achievement of General Sherman--the march from Atlanta to the Sea.
In strong contrast with the success which had marked the Meridian Expedition, the Twenty-seventh Iowa was now about to enter upon another which, notwithstanding the valor and fortitude displayed by the regiment and the other troops with which it was associated, was destined to prove a failure on account of the incompetency of the General in command. He was provided with a splendidly equipped army and had all the elements of success placed at his disposal, but, being totally lacking in the essential qualities of a great military leader and unwilling to act upon the advice and suggestions of his subordinates officers, several of whom were capable of assuming the chief command and successfully conducting the campaign, the operations of his army resulted in a series of discouraging defeats.
On March 10, 1864, the Twenty-seventh Iowa, with its brigade and division, embarked on transports at Vicksburg and were conveyed to the mouth of Red River and thence to Simsport, on the Atchafalaya River, where the troops disembarked. The Second Brigade was composed as follows: The Fourteenth, Twenty-seventh and Thirty-second Iowa Infantry and the Twenty-fourth Missouri Infantry, and was under the command of its senior officer, Colonel William T. Shaw, of the Fourteenth Iowa. At 6 A.M. on the morning of March 14, 1864, the brigade was ordered to take the advance in line of march towards Fort De Russy, twenty-eight miles distant. The march was conducted with great vigor and, late in the afternoon, the brigade arrived at the town of Marksville, two and one-half miles from the fort. At that point Colonel Shaw was ordered to leave one regiment of his brigade to act as rear guard for the army, and the Twenty-seventh Iowa was detailed for that duty. The regiment was thus prevented from participating in the attack upon the fort until just previous to its capture. After describing the fight which had occurred prior to the time the general assault was ordered, Colonel Shaw says in his official report:
A general assault was now determined on, and I was ordered to advance my brigade, when I heard heavy firing on the left. Colonel Gilbert, commanding Twenty-seventh Iowa, had now arrived and, as my skirmishers of the Fourteenth Iowa had exhausted their ammunition, I ordered him to advance with his regiment to the ground occupied by them. The heavy firing at this time commenced on the left and the command forward was given, to all the regiments except the Twenty-fourth Missouri, to which I had already dispatched my Aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Berg, with the order, but just before his arrival the regiment was ordered forward and led in person by Brigadier General Mower, commanding division. The advance was, however, nearly simultaneous with the whole brigade, the different regiments arriving at nearly the same time at the works of the enemy. The Twenty-fourth Missouri, led by General Mower in person, has the honor of being the first of my brigade to plant their colors upon the walls of the fort, and as far as my observation went, the first that were raised on the works of the enemy. At 6 P.M. the enemy had surrendered. My command had in twelve hours marched twenty-eight miles, been delayed two hours in building a bridge, fought two hours, stormed and assisted in capturing Fort De Russy--a good day's work.
Among the officers to whom Colonel Shaw tenders special thanks, for prompt obedience to his orders and efficient service in the action at Fort De Russy, are Colonel Gilbert and Captain Granger, of the Twenty-seventh Iowa, the later being a member of his personal staff. (War of the Rebellion Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 34, part 1, pages 352 to 354 inclusive). Owing to the fact that the regiment did not rejoin the brigade until just before the surrender of the fort, the only casualty sustained was one man very severely wounded, who died a few days later from the effect of the wound.
That part of the Red River campaign, in which the detachments from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Army Corps--acting independently under the command of that able and energetic officer, Major General A. J. Smith -- were engaged had thus commenced with most favorable results. A strong fort with its entire garrison had been captured after a brief engagement, in which only two brigades of the Sixteenth Corps participated, with a total loss of thirty-eight in killed and wounded. Had General Smith then succeeded to the chief command of all the troops, there is every reason to believe that equally good results would have marked the subsequent progress of the campaign.
After dismantling Fort De Russy and effectually destroying it as a work of defense, the troops again embarked and moved to Alexandria, Louisiana, which place was quickly evacuated by the rebel forces upon the approach of the transports. General Smith had received orders to land his forces at Alexandria and there await the arrival of Major General Banks (the Commander-in-Chief of the expedition), with his troops. Upon arrival of General Banks the combined forces moved forward, General Smith's troops taking the advance, and reaching Grand Ecore April 3d. On April 7th, General Banks' troops took the advance, on the road towards Shreveport, leaving General Smith and his troops in the rear of the transportation trains of the cavalry and of the Thirteenth and Nineteenth Corps. The roads were bad and the trains moved slowly. On the night of April 8th, General Smith's command went into camp about two miles from Pleasant Hill. During the afternoon of the 8th, heavy cannoning had been heard in front, indicating that the troops in advance had become engaged with the enemy. General Smith sent one of his staff officers forward, with the request that he be permitted to pass the trains, with a portion or all of his command, and join in the engagement, but he received no order to do so. He soon afterwards learned that the cavalry and the Thirteenth Army Corps had met a heavy force of the enemy, about eight miles beyond Pleasant Hill, and had been defeated, with loss of nearly half of the corps and all their artillery and wagons, and that the enemy had only been checked by the coming of night and the Nineteenth Corps.
On the morning of April 9th, by permission of General Banks, General Smith moved forward with his command to Pleasant Hill, and formed in line of battle to meet the attack of the enemy. In the meantime, the remnant of that portion of General Banks' army which had been defeated and driven back by the enemy had been ordered to proceed with the trains to Grand Ecore, leaving on the field, to meet the attack of the exultant and victorious enemy, only a part of the Nineteenth and two divisions of the Sixteenth Corps. In the hard fought battle which ensued, the Twenty-seventh Iowa bore a conspicuous part and improved the opportunity to place itself in the forefront of Iowa's gallant fighting regiment. It had marched and toiled and had endured great hardships, but up to this time had never participated in a great battle, and now was called upon to go into action against great odds, to meet the enemy flushed with victory, and, with its brigade and division, to retrieve the disaster of the previous day and save the army from an overwhelming defeat. In his official report of the conduct of his troops in the battle of Pleasant Hill, General Smith makes the following statement: "The opinion of Major General Banks, as to the action of the command and its results may be gathered from his own words to me on the field, just after the final charge, when, riding up to me, he remarked, shaking me by the hand: 'God bless you, General; you have saved the army.' " War of the Rebellion Official Records. Series 1, Vol. 34, Part 1, pages 309, and full report of Major General A. J. Smith, pages 304 to 312 inclusive.
The official report of the brigade commander, Colonel William T. Shaw, describes very fully the part taken by the brigade, and by each of the regiments of which it was composed, in the battle of Pleasant Hill. Limitation of space will permit only the quotation of such portions of the report as have reference to the Twenty-seventh Iowa and the positions occupied by the brigade during the battle which are given as follows:
...At 10 A.M. April 8th, 1864, I was ordered to report with my brigade consisting of the Fourteenth, Twenty-seventh and Thirty-second Iowa Infantry and the Twenty-fourth Missouri Infantry to Major General Banks. By him I was ordered to proceed with my command to the front and report to Brigadier General Emory, which I did at about 10:30 A.M. General Emory ordered me to relieve Brigadier General McMillan, who was posted on the left of the Mansfield road and at right angles to it, in a dense thicket, which an old field in front, dotted over with small pines. About 100 yards to his front, and on his right were four guns of the Twenty-fifth New York Battery. Brigadier General Dwights command was posted on McMillan's right and diagonally to his rear. On the right of the New York battery was a ridge which completely commanded McMillan's, whole line and the town, and which also covered the approach of the enemy. I therefore deemed it proper to occupy this ridge with the Twenty-fourth Missouri Infantry, and relieve General McMillan with the balance of my brigade. This was accordingly done, and General McMillan retired. This left a gap on my left, and also threw my right beyond General Dwight's support, but with this disadvantage , I considered the position better than the one occupied by the troops I had relieved. At this time General Smith came up, to whom I pointed out the position of my forces, which was approved, except that he ordered me to move my main line farther to the right, which brought three companies of the Fourteenth Iowa in and on the right of the Mansfield road; this, consequently, left a greater gap on my left. General Emory was aware of the change by my brigade, but I cannot learn that he gave any orders for a corresponding change of Dwight's brigade. General Emory at this time left the front and I saw no more of him till after dark that night. These dispositions had brought Dwight's brigade in the rear of my second regiment, and nearly perpendicular to my line of battle. At this time my skirmishers were heavily engaged, and an attack appeared imminent. I deemed it prudent to consult with General Dwight, as General Emory had left that part of the field, and I could neither find him, or any of his staff....
Continuing his report, Colonel Shaw states that he went along the line until he came to the place where General Dwight's brigade flag was located, but failed to find that General or any member of his staff. In the meantime, the skirmishers in front of Colonel Shaw's brigade were being driven back and he found it necessary to reinforce them. As yet the main line of the enemy had not advanced to the attack, although the skirmish line had been engaged for a considerable length of time. At 3 P.M. the enemy's skirmishers had passed to the right of Colonel Shaw's brigade, and the situation was becoming critical. At this juncture Colonel Shaw succeeded in finding General Dwight, who appeared to understand the danger of the exposed position and the necessity of holding it. He promised to send the necessary support; but, instead of doing so, withdrew his troops still farther to the rear. At about 4 P.M. General Stone--Chief of Staff to General Banks--rode to the front to examine the positions of the troops. Colonel Shaw rode with him along his brigade line, showing the changes that he had made since relieving General McMillan and the necessity for a corresponding change in General Dwight's line, which General Stone approved, saying to Colonel Shaw : "Your position is well chosen; it is admirable; it could not be better. I will see that your flanks are properly supported, for this position must be held at all hazards." The General then rode to the rear, presumably to give the necessary orders to General Dwight, but , if the order was given, it was not obeyed, as no support came and Colonel Shaw was left alone with his brigade to hold the most important position on the field. The enemy had been maneuvering all the afternoon behind his heavy lines of skirmishers and had succeeded in fully developing the positions of the Union forces and finding the best points against which to direct his attack. The desperate conflict which followed is thus described by Colonel Shaw, in the continuation of his report:
A few minutes before 5 o'clock the enemy opened heavily on me with artillery, which was replied to feebly, for a few minutes, by the Twenty-fifth New York Battery, when they limbered up and disgracefully left the field, leaving on caisson and one gun in the road, which were drawn off by Lieutenant Buell of my staff. At the same time General Dwight fell entirely out of my sight to the rear. While my battery was leaving, a dash was made by the enemy's cavalry to capture it, but they were so well received by the Fourteenth Iowa and Twenty-fourth Missouri that not a single man escaped. Their leader, Colonel Buchel, falling dead in the ranks of the Fourteenth Iowa. This attack was followed by their infantry, which advanced in two lines, extending beyond both my right and left. They advanced steadily and in good order across the open field in my front, until they got within easy range; then my whole line opened upon them, stopping their advance but not preventing them from replying vigorously to my fire, causing heavy loss. My men held their ground; keeping up a steady and well directed fire, which soon compelled their first line to fall back in disorder. In the meantime, fighting had commenced on my left, and our line to my left had fallen back, so as to enable the enemy to pass in rear of my left. They had also passed around my right and were firing on my flank, when their second line advanced, and I was again engaged along my whole front. At this time I received an order from General Smith to fall back as the enemy was getting in my rear. My staff officers having all been dispatched to different officers for support, and being myself on the right of my brigade, I had to ride to the left in rear of my brigade to give the order to withdraw. The brush and timber were so thick I could scarcely see ten paces as I passed down the line. I gave the order to Colonel Gilbert, Twenty-seventh Iowa, to fall back as soon as the regiment on his right should commence retreating. I then pushed on to give the necessary orders to Colonel Scott, Thirty-second Iowa, when I met the enemy's forces entirely in his rear, preventing me from communicating with him. I was therefore compelled to leave him to act without orders. Hurrying back to the right, I found the Twenty-fourth Missouri had been compelled to change its front to receive the attack from the right; also that the enemy was pressing my front with overwhelming numbers....I therefore considered it necessary to give the orders to fall back to the three regiments with which I could communicate... My men had fought well, holding their ground till ordered to retire, and, although my loss was three times that of any other brigade on the field, they were still in such condition that the commanding General saw fit to give them the responsible post of covering the retreat of the army, which commenced at 1 o'clock the next morning, and was accomplished in safety....I cannot speak too highly of my regimental commanders.... Of Colonel Gilbert, Twenty-seventh Iowa, and his regiment, I can say they did their whole duty. Although they had never been under fire before, they gave their fire with the coolness and precision of veterans, and fully sustained the reputation of Iowa soldiers. Colonel Gilbert, although wounded early in the action, remained in command of his men until the fighting ceased.... The long list of killed and wounded, amounting to nearly 500, shows the desperate valor with which my men fought...." (War of the Rebellion Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 24, Part 1, pages 352 to 353 inclusive, Report of Colonel William T. Shaw, Brigade Commander.)
The official report of Colonel Gilbert, showing the part taken by and the conduct of his regiment in the battle of Pleasant Hill, embodies substantially the facts stated in the report of the brigade commander, from which the foregoing quotations were made. His description of the bold and reckless charge of rebel cavalry, early in the engagement, the terrible slaughter which ensued, when the gallant riders and their horses went down like grass before the scythe, and the tremendous fire under which the first line of the enemy's infantry melted away, coincides with that of Colonel Shaw, and its reproduction here would only involve repetition. Colonel Gilbert highly commends the conduct of his regiment and, at the close of his report, says: "I would like to mention the names of some of the officers and soldiers who distinguished themselves, but all conducted themselves so bravely and so well that I refrain from mentioning any save Captain J. M. Holbrook, Company F, who after having received a severe wound, led his company with distinguished gallantry until a second severe wound was received, and the regiment had reformed in the rear of the supporting column. (War of the Rebellion Official Report Records, Series 1, Vol. 34, Part 1, page 363. Report of Colonel James L. Gilbert). The loss of the regiment in this engagement was 4 enlisted men killed, 65 wounded, 14 missing in action (either killed or taken prisoners) and 5 commissioned officers wounded; total 88. The loss of the four regiments composing the brigade was as follows: Fourteenth Iowa, 89; Twenty-seventh Iowa, 88; Thirty-second Iowa, 210; Twenty-fourth Missouri, 96; Total 483. (War of the Rebellion Official Report Records, Series 1, Vol. 34, Part 1, page 313. Tabulated Return of Casualties, First and Third Divisions, Sixteenth Army Corps, Pleasant Hill, Louisiana). The greater loss of the Thirty-second Iowa is accounted for by the fact that it did not receive the order to fall back, and, becoming entirely isolated from the brigade, was compelled to fight its way through the enemy's lines. The Twenty-seventh Iowa had in this, its first, battle established a record for bravery and efficiency commensurate with that of the other splendid regiment of its brigade. Its subsequent history will show how well it maintained the honor it had won.
Early on the morning of April 10, 1864, General Banks ordered a retreat to Grand Ecore, during which the Twenty-seventh Iowa with its brigade was placed in position of rear guard. From Grand Ecore the retreat was continued to Natchidoches, and thence to Alexandria. The enemy had followed closely, and Colonel Shaw's brigade occupied the post of danger in the rear. From Alexandria the brigade was sent below the town and occupied a position near Governor Moore's plantation, where it had frequent skirmishes with the enemy. On May 13th Alexandria was evacuated, and the army began its retreat down Red River. On May 18th the Twenty-seventh Iowa, with its brigade, still acting as the rear guard of the army, again came into conflict with the enemy, at the battle of Old Oaks, Louisiana. In his official report of the part taken by his regiment in this battle, Colonel Gilbert, After describing the preliminary movements and positions of his regiments, says:
"At 3:00 P.M. we were ordered to move by the left flank at a double quick about 500 yards, when we formed a line perpendicular to our former line, and at this point were subjected to a very heavy fire from the small arms of the enemy, but in about fifteen minutes succeeded in repulsing him. We then changed front again by moving by the right flank and filing right, and remained in this position nearly half an hour, when we were ordered to advance. We moved forward about 1000 yards through a heavy piece of timber, driving the enemy before us, but, as we came out on the open ground, the enemy opened on us with grape and canister, forcing us to retire. We fell back to our former position in good order, considering the roughness of the ground and the thickness of the underbrush. We staid in this position about half an hour, when we were ordered to fall back by the flank nearly half a mile, where we lay until sunset. We were then ordered back to the position occupied by the regiment the night before, where we lay all night. The loss of the regiment was 3 killed and 14 wounded. Officers and men of my command behaved with the greatest coolness and bravery. Where all did so well it is useless to particularize. (War of the Rebellion Official Report Records, Series 1, Vol. 34, Part 1, page 364.)
In his report of this engagement, Colonel Shaw states that his brigade captured nearly three hundred prisoners, and that the loss to the enemy in killed and wounded was also heavy. He also states that while his brigade and two others--of General Smith's command--were fighting the enemy in the rear, the balance of the army, lay quietly three miles distant, leaving these three brigades to fight the battle alone. (War of the Rebellion Official Records; Series 1, Vol. 34, Part 1, page 359). On May 19th the brigade lay in line of battle all day and until 2 A.M. of the 20th, when it again took up the line of march and on the 22d, reached the mouth of Red River, where it embarked on transports and was conveyed to Vicksburg, arriving there May 24, 1864. The operations of the Twenty-seventh Iowa and the troops with which it was associated on the Red River campaign will ever stand conspicuous in military history, for true devotion to duty and that noble spirit of sacrifice which was shown under circumstances of the most discouraging character. No troops displayed greater heroism, in the face of repeated disaster, during the War of the Rebellion.
The regiment remained at Vicksburg until June 5th, when it again embarked, with its brigade and division, and proceeded up the river to Greenville, Mississippi, at which point, and on the opposite side of the river at Point Chicot, Arkansas, the rebel General Marmaduke, with a force of infantry and artillery, was endeavoring to blockade the river, and had inflicted much damage by his attacks on the federal transports. Disembarking his troops on the Arkansas side of the river on June 6th, General A. J. Smith marched rapidly against the main forces of the enemy, under command of General Marmaduke, and, in the engagement which ensued at Ditch Bayou, the enemy was defeated and driven from the field with heavy loss. In this engagement Colonel Gilbert was in command of the brigade (Colonel Shaw being absent) and Major George W. Howard commended the Twenty-seventh Iowa. In his official report, Major Howard states that his regiment occupied a position on the left of the line but little exposed to the fire of the enemy, and sustained no casualties. (Report of Adjutant General of Iowa, 1865, Vol. 2, page 1179). It held its place in the line of battle, however, and , as always, obeyed every order and acquitted itself with honor.
Having fully accomplished the purpose of the expedition, the troops marched to Columbia, Arkansas, and, going aboard transports there, were conveyed to Memphis, arriving there June 10th. The regiment remained in camp at Memphis until June 24th, when, with its brigade and division, it started on the expedition to Tupelo and Old Town Creek, Mississippi. During this expedition the brigade was commanded by Colonel Gilbert, and the regiment by Captain Amos M. Haslip, of company A. On July 14th the enemy was encountered, and again on July 15th. The first engagement was at Tupelo, the second at Old Town Creek. Captain Haslip, in his official report of these engagements, describes the different positions occupied by the regiment, the alacrity and good order with which it moved against the enemy, and at the close of his report of the first day's contest says: "The men made the fight bravely and well." Of the engagement on the second day Captain Haslip says: "We had encamped for the night after a fatiguing march from Tupelo. The enemy approached on the Tupelo road. At 6 P.M. we were ordered out, and participated in the long charge through the woods, across Old Town Creek, and still on across an open field to the brow of the hill on which the enemy had planted their guns, and from which they had shelled our camp. My position was the left center of the Second Brigade, commanded by Colonel James I. Gilbert. Some of the men were overcome and exhausted by the extreme heat." (Report of Adjutant General of Iowa, 1865, Vol. 2, pages 1180, 1181). The loss of the regiment in these two engagements was one killed and twenty-five wounded. Among the wounded was Lieutenant William S. Sims, of Company B. Although the regiment had suffered heavy loss from disease and in battle upon the date of the return to Memphis, from the expedition, its losses had been partially supplemented by recruits and by those who had recovered from wounds or sickness and returned to duty. Under date of July 23d, 1864, Colonel Gilbert reports the aggregate strength 800--35 commissioned officers and 765 enlisted men.
(The history of the operations of the regiment from its muster into service to August 4, 1864, is contained in the report of the Adjutant General of Iowa, 1865, Vol. 1, pages 1170 to 1182 inclusive, compiled by Colonel Gilbert. From August 4, 1864, to August 8, 1865, the history is continued on pages 289 to 294 in the report of the Adjutant General of Iowa for the year 1865, compiled by Lieutenant Colonel Jed Lake. From these histories and other official data, this condensed historical sketch has been compiled).
During the month of August, 1864, the regiment was most of the time on the march with the troops under command of General A. J. Smith on the expedition to Oxford, Mississippi, returning to Memphis on the 30th . There is no record of casualties during the month. On September 5th, the regiment left Memphis, was conveyed to Cairo, Illinois, thence to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, thence by rail to Mineral Point, Missouri, and returned to Jefferson Barracks, on the 29th. On October 2d it marched with the army under General A. J. Smith in pursuit of the rebel army under General Sterling Price. This remarkable march extended to the Kansas line. There is no record of the regiment having come into contact with the enemy during this march, the strong cavalry force taking the advance and doing most of the fighting. At the close of the month the regiment had reached Pleasant Hill, Missouri, on the return march, and from thence marched to St. Louis, where it arrived November 18th. On November 25th, the regiment, with the army under General Smith, embarked on transports and proceeded to Smithland, Kentucky, thence up the Cumberland River to Nashville, Tennessee, where the troops landed on December 1st, marched three miles south of the city and went into camp. On December 15th the Twenty-seventh Iowa, with its brigade and division, advanced with the army under General Thomas to the attack of the rebel army under General Hood. The regiment was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Jed Lake and the official report of that officer describes in detail its movements during the battles of the 15th and 16th. At the beginning of the engagement on the 16th, Captain Hemenway, with company (B), was ordered to take position on the skirmish line, the regiment following in line of battle on the left of the brigade. The subsequent movements of the regiment, during the engagement of the 15th, are thus described by Lieutenant Colonel Lake:
From 2 to 4 P.M. the cannonading was very severe on our right and left, but my regiment was shielded by the woods and hills so that the enemy's artillery was not directed at it. At about 4 P.M. Company B joined us, having been relieved as skirmishers. I received orders from Colonel Gilbert, commanding brigade, to wheel my regiment to the right and in rear of the right of the Fourth Corps. At the same time the charge commenced on the enemy's works. We followed close in the rear of the Fourth Corps till the works were carried, then moved by the right flank to the right and encamped for the night. No casualties.
It will thus be seen that the Twenty-seventh Iowa was in its place in the line of battle, ready to engage the enemy, on the first day at Nashville, but was fortunately so placed that it suffered no loss. On the next day, however, it had a different experience, and, while it did not sustain a heavy loss, in proportion to the number engaged, acquitted itself with honor and fully sustained the excellent record it had made in previous engagements. Continuing his report, Lieutenant Colonel Lake says:
On the 16th inst., at daylight we formed in line of battle. My position was on the left center of the brigade. About sunrise, by orders from Colonel Gilbert, we made a half wheel to the right, and moved across in open field, into the Granny White Pike, and then across another field under fire of the enemy's guns, in all about one mile. We were then moved by the right flank about half a mile into a ravine in a cornfield, where we were ordered to lie down. Here the fire of the artillery was very heavy, the missiles from the enemy's battery and our own passing directly over my regiment. One man of Company I was hit in the hip by a spent musket ball while in his position. About 4 P.M. I received orders from Colonel Gilbert to prepare for the charge. At the command "Forward, double quick, march," every man went forward with a will. In passing between a house in our front and some outbuildings, both flanks were thrown back and crowed on the center, but on reaching the open field, about two hundred yards in front of the enemy's works, immediately deployed and went over the parapet in good style. The enemy were doing their best to escape, and we followed them through the woods and across an open field to the foot and up the side of the mountain, until men from the top hung out the white flag in token of surrender. Every man and officer behaved with the greatest gallantry, and it would be unjust to particularize.
The casualties were thirteen enlisted men wounded, two dangerously and most of them severely.
On December 17th the regiment marched in pursuit of the enemy. The pursuit was abandoned at Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, on the 30th. On January 1st, 1865, the regiment marched to Clifton, on the Tennessee River, and, embarking on steamer, proceeded to Eastport, Mississippi, where it arrived on the 5th, disembarked and went into camp. On February 9th, the regiment again embarked on steamer, was conveyed Cairo, Illinois, and thence to New Orleans, where it landed on the 21st and went into camp near the city.
On March 7, 1865, the regiment embarked at New Orleans, on the ocean steamship, Empire City, and was conveyed to Dauphin Island, Alabama, where it remained until the 20th, and was then conveyed to Donelly's Landing, Alabama. On March 25th the regiment, with its brigade and division, again took up the line of march and arrived at Sibley's Mills, near Mobile, Alabama, on the 26th, and went into camp. On April 3d the troops advanced and joined the forces under General Steele, then engaged in the siege of Fort Blakely. The Twenty-seventh Iowa participated in the siege operations from the 4th to the 9th of April, on which latter date it took part in the charge which resulted in the capture of the fort, sustaining a loss of three men wounded. On the 10th, the Second Brigade, Second Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, (The brigade was then under the command of Brigadier General James I. Gilbert, formerly Colonel of the Twenty-seventh Iowa Infantry) occupied Fort Blakely, Major George W. Howard had the honor of commanding the Twenty-seventh Iowa during the siege and capture of the fort, and wrote the official report, in which he highly commended the conduct of the officers and men of his regiment. (Report of Adjutant General of Iowa, 1865, pages 293).
On April 13th the regiment marched towards Montgomery, Alabama, where it arrived on the 27th and went into camp, remaining there and at another camp four miles from the city until July 15, 1865. On July 14th, 122 recruits--who had joined the Twenty-seventh Iowa--were transferred to the Twelfth Iowa. On the 15th the regiment received orders to proceed to Vicksburg, Mississippi, and there report to the commanding officer for muster out and discharge from service. Transportation was provided by steamboat down the Alabama River to Selma, thence by rail to Demopolis, Meridian and Jackson, Mississippi, form which point the regiment marched to Black River Bridge and was conveyed thence by rail to Vicksburg and, embarking there on steamer "Commonwealth," was conveyed to Clinton, Iowa. On August 8, 1865, the regiment was mustered out of the service of the United States at Clinton, Iowa, was there disbanded and the officers and men returned to their homes. During its term of service the Twenty-seventh Iowa marched over 3,000 miles and traveled by steamboat and railroad over 10,000 miles. In the long line of splendid military organizations which the State of Iowa sent into the field during the great War of the Rebellion, none have a record of more faithful and honorable service than its Twenty-seventh Regiment of Infantry Volunteers.
Summary of Casualties: