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in the American Civil War
|Eighth Iowa Infantry. Cols., Frederick Steele, James L. Geddes; Lieut.
- Cols., James L. Geddes, John C. Ferguson; Majs., John C. Ferguson, Joseph Andrews. This
regiment was organized in the latter part of the summer of 1861, and was mustered in Sept.
5. Soon after its organization it went to St. Louis, from which place it moved to
Syracuse, where it joined Fremont's army in pursuit of Price's forces and operated in
southwestern Missouri, losing heavily through sickness. It returned to Sedalia in November
and remained there until ordered to join Grant's forces in Tennessee the following spring.
Col. Steele was appointed brigadier-general and Lieut. - Col. Geddes succeeded to the
command, Maj. Ferguson being commissioned lieutenant-colonel, and Capt. Joseph Andrews of
Co. F was made major. The regiment participated in the battle of Shiloh, fighting 10 hours
on the first day, repelling attack after attack, and, with the battery which it was
supporting, inflicting terrible punishment upon the enemy. It was the last to leave the
advanced line of the army, being surrounded as it attempted to withdraw and compelled to
surrender. Out of 650 men engaged, it lost 64 killed, 100 wounded, and 47 missing. The
8th, 12th and 14th Ia. formed four-fifths of the little force that held back ten times its
numbers at the close of the first day at Shiloh, giving Buell time to bring up his forces
and snatch victory from defeat. Entirely cut off, they fought until they could fight no
longer, and threw down their arms only to see many of their number shot down in cold blood
after they had surrendered as prisoners of war. The officers above the rank of lieutenant
were sent to Selma, thence to Talladega, returned to Selma soon afterward, three months
later to Atlanta, thence to Madison until Nov. 7, when they were sent to Libby prison,
Richmond, and were paroled a week later at Aiken's landing. The lieutenants and enlisted
men were sent to various prisons in Alabama and suffered the miseries and privations so
common to southern prisons. A few of the 8th who escaped capture went into the "Union
Brigade," a consolidated regiment rather than a brigade, and took part in the
Tennessee and Mississippi campaigns, distinguishing itself at Corinth. The regiment was
reorganized at St. Louis early in 1863 and made an expedition to Rolla, after which it
joined Grant's movement upon Vicksburg. It took part in the battle of Jackson,
participated in the assault at Vicksburg on May 22 and also in the siege. It accompanied
the army to Jackson, and after the evacuation there engaged in the pursuit of the enemy.
It then went into camp at Vicksburg where Lieut. -Col. Ferguson died of disease. A short
march to Brownsville was the only movement of interest until early in November, when the
regiment moved to Memphis, thence to Lagrange and Pocahontas, where it remained until
ordered to Vicksburg to take part in the Meridian raid. Soon after that event most of the
command reenlisted and visited Iowa on veteran furlough. Returning to Memphis, it
performed provost guard duty during 1864 and the early part of 1865, its most notable work
being the repulse of Forrest, who made an attack on the city Aug. 21, 1864, the regiment
being assisted by the "Gray-beard" regiment from Iowa. Early in March, 1865, the
regiment moved to New Orleans and proceeded to Mobile bay, where it took part in the
assault upon Spanish Fort and captured several hundred prisoners. This assault was made by
a brigade commanded by Col. Geddes. Maj.- Gen. Steele, the former colonel of the 8th, won
high praise for the manner in which he conducted his part of the siege of Mobile, and
Geddes' assault on Spanish Fort was conceded to be the most brilliant performance of that
campaign. The regiment moved to Montgomery shortly after and served until mustered out.
The original strength of the regiment was 921; gain by recruits 106; total 1,027.
Regimental history taken from "The Union Army" by Federal Publishing
Company, 1908 - Volume 4
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