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3rd Iowa Infantry
in the American Civil War

Regimental History
Third Iowa Infantry. — Cols., Nelson G. Williams, Aaron Brown; Lieut.- Cols., John Scott, Matthew M. Trumbull, James Tullis, Jacob Abernethy; Majs., William M. Stone, Aaron Brown, G. W. Crosly. This regiment was organized at Keokuk in May and June, 1861. and was mustered in June 8 and 10. It left the state June 29, without its field officers, going to Hannibal, Mo., thence west without knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, cartridge-boxes or ammunition, its only equipment being empty muskets. Two companies stopped at Chillicothe, one at Grand River bridge and the others at Utica, where Col. Williams joined the regiment and the commissions arrived for the lieutenant- colonel and major. On July 8, three companies under Capt. Herron formed a junction at Monroe with a detachment of Col. Smith's command and were engaged at Hager's woods, retreating to find the train in flames, the track destroyed and themselves surrounded. Reinforcements from Palmyra rescued the little command and soon after the whole regiment arrived. Headquarters were established at Chillicothe, where seven companies were stationed, the others engaging in railroad guard duty near. On Aug. 12 the regiment proceeded to Macon in command of Lieut. -Col. Scott, and from there to Kirksville, where it was joined in a few days by Gen. Hurlbut with the 16th Ill. On the 30th the column moved to Shelbina in pursuit of Green, and there took the train for Brookfield, which was reached on Sept. 3. In the meantime Col. Williams received orders for a movement south of the road, and with the 50 well men of the 3d in camp, 60 who had been on duty at St. Joseph, and the convalescent invalids, he proceeded to Hannibal, secured the remnants of six companies of the 2nd Kan. (just returned from Wilson's creek) and a company of Missouri cavalry, the entire force numbering less than 700 men. Leaving the railroad at Shelbina, the command marched to Paris, from which Col. Williams ordered a retreat after one day's stay. Attacked at Shelbina on Sept. 4, he continued the retreat by rail. Gen. Pope arrived at Brookfield at this time and took charge of affairs. Gen. Hurlbut, whose campaign had consisted chiefly of proclamations, and Col. Williams were ordered to St. Louis in arrest. The regiment was engaged at Blue Mills landing, where Lieut. -Col. Scott's command, consisting of 500 of the 3d, about 70 home guards, and a squad of artillery with one 6-pounder gun, was ambushed, but retired in good order to Liberty at nightfall, with the gun which had been brought off by hand. It met at that point Col. Smith's command, which had been expected earlier in the day. The little force of about 600 had repulsed 4,000 of the enemy, but had lost 118 in killed and wounded, of whom 94 were of the 3d Ia. Joining Sturgis' force at Wyandotte, it remained until Oct. 18, when it moved up the river to Iatan, thence across the state to Quincy, Ill., then to St. Louis, and remained there until after Christmas, when it was ordered out in detachments for railroad guard duty on the North Missouri railroad. Col. Williams was released from arrest, and about the last of February resumed command. On March 3, 1862, the regiment was assigned to Brig.-Gen. Hurlbut's command, moved with it to Pittsburg landing and participated in the battle of Shiloh. It was under terrific fire and after the other troops were cut off, when the enemy turned the flanks of the Iowa brigade on the first day, it cut its way through the enemy's lines, Maj. Stone in command being captured. It was engaged in the siege of Corinth and after the evacuation went into camp, engaged in the repair of the railway and made a march to Holly Springs. It remained at Memphis from July to Sept. 6, when it moved to Bolivar. It was engaged at the Hatchie river, carrying the bridge by a desperate charge at the crisis of the battle and losing nearly 60 out of 300 engaged. Returning to Bolivar, it joined the march south in November, but returned and went into camp at Moscow, where it remained from the middle of Jan., 1863, until in March when it moved to Memphis. Col. Williams and Lieut.-Col. Trumbull having resigned, Maj. Brown was commissioned colonel, Capt. James Tullis became lieutenant-colonel, and Lieut. G. W. Crosly was appointed major. While on the way to Vicksburg the boat was fired on near Greenville, Miss., but the regiment speedily dislodged the enemy. It took position in the trenches on May 25 and was actively engaged until the capitulation of Vicksburg. It took part in the assault at Jackson, where it behaved with great gallantry and sustained heavy loss. It went into camp near Natchez but returned to Vicksburg in December and went into winter quarters near the Big Black. Here over 200 reenlisted as veterans, wore furloughed home after the Meridian expedition, and the non-veterans under command of Lieut. -Col. Tullis, joined the Red River expedition. On their return they were ordered home for muster-out. The veterans returned to Cairo, Ill., where they joined the 17th corps and moved with it to join Sherman's command for the Atlanta campaign. Soon after, the officers whose term of service had expired left for home, and the veterans and recruits were consolidated into a battalion of three companies, Lieut. Jacob Abernethy of Co. F being recommended as lieutenant-colonel. At the battle of Atlanta the battalion was destroyed, Abernethy was slain, Capt. Griffith mortally wounded, and a large proportion of the command killed, wounded or captured, though the men fought with the desperation of despair for the colors, and when almost wiped out, the few remaining tore up the flag, divided the pieces and brought the shreds with them on their return. The survivors were assigned to the 2nd Ia. and served with it through the Carolina campaign.

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

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