1st Regiment Infantry



The President's call for 75,000 troops, of which Iowa's quota was one regiment, went forth April 15, 1861. Gov. Kirkwood's proclamation calling for the raising of volunteer companies, dates the 17th. In the first of May, the companies sworn in at home, reported at Keokuk, the rendezvous. On the 11th, they elected their field officers, and on the 14th were mustered into the United States service as the First Iowa infantry. John Francis Bates was made colonel, Win. H. Merritt lieutenant colonel and Asbury B. Porter major. June l0th, the regiment, with the Second, was transported to Missouri to engage under Gen. Lyon. It arrived at Macon City and was sent to Renick, fifty miles northeast of Booneville. As the First Iowa approached Renick, horsemen of Jackson's defeated state troops were seen flying in all directions. June 19th, the regiment was marched to Booneville, reaching the Missouri river opposite that point on the 21st. On July 3d, Gen. Lyon brought his army by forced marches to Camp Sigel, ten miles northwest of Springfield. After some days, it marched twelve miles south to Camp McClellan. Six companies of the First, together with other troops, were sent to Forsythe, near the Kansas line. They returned, after dispersing a band of Rebels and capturing prisoners.

August 1st, Gen. Lyon moved his army, and on the 2d, defeated Ben. McCulloch at Dug Springs. The Iowa First acted as skirmishers on the right wing of the army. Lyon pursued the Rebels and on the 4th returned to Springfield. He then planned to surprise the enemy, and the battle of Wilson's Creek ensued. The soldiers of the Iowa First, notwithstanding their term of enlistment had already expired, entered the battle with alacrity and ardor, won for themselves imperishable renown, and established the military honor of their state. They were led in battle by Lt.-Col. Merritt, Col. Bates being incapacitated by illness. The regiment returned home 800 strong. About 600 re-enlisted, many becoming officers in other regiments. Capt. Frank J. Herron of the First Iowa became, later, major general, and Capt. Chas. L. Matthies brigadier general.

Regiment lost during service 1 Officer and 19 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded, and 8 Enlisted men by disease. Total 28.

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Reference: Iowa in War Times, by, S. H. M. Byers.  1888.  W. D. Condit & Co. Des Moines.