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16th Iowa Infantry
in the American Civil War

Regimental History
Sixteenth Iowa Infantry. Col., Alexander Chambers; Lieut.-Cols., Addison H. Sanders, John H. Smith, Josiah T. Herbert; Majs., William Purcell, Peter Miller. This regiment was organized at Davenport and was mustered in at intervals between Dec. 10, 1861, and March 24, 1862, seven companies at Davenport, one at Keokuk and the last at Benton barracks, St. Louis. The incomplete regiment left the state the first week in March for Benton barracks, from which point it moved on the completion of its organization to Pittsburg landing and was one of those regiments which were sent into the most exposed position at Shiloh without having had any experience in warfare and assigned a place without a brigade formation. Its loss was heavy but its action was excellent, despite some confusion. After the battle it was made a part of the "Iowa" brigade; took part in the move upon Corinth and at the close went into camp. Near the close of July it accompanied the army to Bolivar, Tenn., where it remained until the middle of September, engaging in scouting, foraging and short expeditions having a few skirmishes. It participated at the battle of Iuka and received Gen. Rosecrans' highest praise for its performances. Again returning to Corinth, it was engaged in the battle there two weeks later, where Lieut.-Col. Sanders was severely wounded and Maj. Purcell took command. It joined in the pursuit but returned 10 days later and remained until Nov. 1, when it moved to Grand Junction to take part in the movement against Vicksburg, which failed through the loss of Holly Springs with its supplies. The regiment moved to Holly Springs, thence to Lafayette and Memphis, which place was reached on Jan. 3, 1863. A week later it embarked for Young's point, thence to Lake Providence where it remamed with its brigade until ordered to Vicksburg. While there Maj. William E. Strong, inspector-general of the 17th army corps, said of its brigade: "Iowa may well be proud of the 3d brigade. Since I have been a soldier it has happened that I have seen many brigades of many different army corps, both in eastern and western armies, but never have I seen a brigade that could compete with this Iowa brigade." Moving to Vicksburg the regiment was constantly under fire during the siege, then went into camp until called to take part in the expedition to Monroe, from which it returned, worn out by the most fatiguing movement ever made without purpose or result. It took part in the Meridian raid in Feb., 1864, and returned to Vicksburg, where it reenlisted as a veteran regiment. It was given a furlough home in April, returned in June, and accompanied Sherman's army through Georgia; was engaged at Acworth, Kennesaw mountain, Nickajack creek, before Atlanta, losing more than 50 in killed and wounded in less than 30 minutes July 21, and the next day it fought with great bravery; charged the batteries and lost 65 men; then held its position until completely surrounded and being entirely without ammunition, was compelled to surrender, after killing or wounding a number of the enemy equal to its own numbers. Two companies of the 13th sent to reinforce it were also captured. The prisoners were sent to Andersonville, with the exception of the officers, who were sent to Macon, thence to Charleston and later to Columbia. The men were exchanged on Sept. 22, but the officers remained in prison much longer. A few escaped, among them Capt. J. H. Smith, who was afterwards appointed lieutenant-colonel in place of Lieut.-Col. Sanders, resigned. About 100 men and officers answered roll-call on July 23, but their numbers were increased by the return of the sick and wounded, the total force soon after numbering nearly 200. The regiment moved in the march to Savannah, accompanied the army through the Carolinas, and was in a number of engagements connected with that campaign, the last being at Cheraw on March 2, 1865. It then marched to Washington, was in the grand review, and was mustered out at Louisville in July, 1865. Its original strength was 910; gain by recruits, 9; total, 919.

Regimental history taken from "The Union Army" by Federal Publishing Company, 1908 - Volume 4

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