Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The 17th Iowa Volunteer Infantry

Posted 15 November 2011 08:00 AM PST
The Seventeenth Iowa Volunteers
  The companies making up this regiment were raised chiefly in the counties of Lee, Van Buren, Des Moines, Wapello, Decatur, Polk, Jefferson, Washington, Appanoose, Marion, Dallas and Warren. It was mustered into the service on the 16th of April, 1862, with 935 men. Its first field officers were John W. Rankin, colonel: David B. Hillis, lieutenant-colonel and Samuel M. Wise, major. It was sent to join General Halleck's army at Corinth, in May, and joined in the pursuit of the confederate army. At the battle of Iuka the regiment was engaged and thrown into confusion, for which it was censured by General Rosecrans, as many believe, unjustly. Colonel Rankin resigned on the 3d of September.
  On the 3d and 4th of October was fought the battle of Corinth, in which the Seventeenth took an active part, and fought with great bravery. Smarting under the unjust censure cast upon them at Iuka, the men went into this battle with a determination to wipe out the stigma, which they did most effectually. At a crisis of the battle, when the rebels had forced their way into Corinth, the Seventeenth made a splendid charge upon the advancing column and after a sharp conflict drove it back in confusion.
  After the victory was won, General Sullivan, commanding the brigade in which the Seventeenth Iowa served, wrote to Governor Kirkwood as follows: "I have the honor to present to you the colors of the Fortieth Mississippi regiment, captured by the Seventeenth Iowa on the battlefield of Corinth, in a gallant charge on the advancing columns of the enemy, which the Seventeenth alone met, broke and pursued. I have never led braver men into action than the soldiers of the Seventeenth proved themselves in the desperate and bloody battle of Corinth." The colors were captured by Corporal John King, of Company G, from Marion county.
  General Rosecrans, in a general order, said: "The Seventeenth Iowa infantry by its gallantry on the battlefield of Corinth, charging the enemy and capturing the flag of the Fortieth Mississippi, has amply atoned for its misfortune at Iuka, and stands among the honored regiments of this army. Long may they wear with unceasing brightness the honors they have won."
  The loss of the regiment on the field of Corinth was twenty-five. Ingersoll says: "The Seventeenth inflicted as much damage upon the enemy as any regiment at Corinth, and received less damage in return." Lieutenant-Colonel Hillis was now promoted to colonel of the regiment, and Capt. Clark R. Wever to lieutenant-colonel. For several months the Seventeenth was employed in Tennessee and Mississippi, joining General McPherson's army in February, 1863. It shared in the hard marches, severe battles and glorious victories of Grant's Vicksburg campaign. At Jackson and Champion Hill it fought bravely and lost heavily. Colonel Hillis had resigned in. May and Lieutenant-Colonel Wever was now colonel, Major Archer, lieutenant-colonel, and Capt. John F. Walden, of Company F, was major of the regiment.
  The Seventeenth participated in the Chatanooga campaign and fought bravely at Lookout Mountain, where it lost fifty-seven men. In April, 1864, the regiment re-enlisted as veterans to the number of 479. In July, the regiment occupied Tilton. Two companies were captured near Dalton after exhausting their ammunition in a brave defense. On the 13th of October the garrison at Tilton was assailed by overwhelming numbers. Lieutenant-Colonel Archer made a heroic defense until his blockhouse was rendered untenable by artillery, when he was forced to surrender. Colonel Wever was in command of a brigade at Resaca when he was attacked by Hood’s army. He had but about seven hundred men and four pieces of light artillery. He defended the post with great energy all day, and at night was reinforced by 500 cavalry. Colonel Wever spent the night strengthening his position, and early in the morning the attack was renewed; but further reinforcements came, and General Hood finally retreated as General Sherman’s army came in sight. Colonel Wever received warm commendations from Sherman and Howard for his brave and successful defense. When the Seventeenth was captured at Tilton, Captain Horner and some forty men of the regiment only remained in the service, and were disbanded in August, 1865.
SOURCE, Benjamin F. Gue, Biographies And Portraits Of The Progressive Men Of Iowa, Volume 1, p. 102

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