8th Regiment Infantry










Field & Staff/NCO Staff

Organized at Davenport August and September, 1861. Left State for St. Louis, Mo., September 25. Attached to Dept. of Missouri to March, 1862. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, Army of Tennessee, to April, 1862. 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, Army of Tennessee, to July, 1862, and District of Corinth, Dept. of the Tennessee, to November, 1862. 1st Brigade, District of Corinth, 13th Army Corps (Old), Dept. of the Tennessee, to December, 1862. Davenport, Ia., to January, 1863. District of St. Louis, Mo., Dept. of the Missouri, to April, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 15th Army Corps, Army of Tennessee, to December, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 16th Army Corps, to June, 1864. Unassigned, District of Memphis, Tenn., District of West Tennessee, to February, 1865. 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 16th Army Corps, Military Division West Mississippi, to August, 1865. Dept. of Alabama to April, 1866.

SERVICE.--Moved to Syracuse, Mo., October 15, 1861. Fremont's Campaign against Springfield, Mo., October 21-November 8. Duty at Sedalia, Mo., until March, 1862. Expedition to Milford, Mo., December 15-19, 1861. Action at Shawnee Mound, Milford on the Blackwater, December 18. (Cos. "E" and "K" detached to guard train to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, November 21, 1861, and duty on Border until March, 1862. Rejoin Regiment at Sedalia.) Moved from Sedalia to,St. Louis; thence to Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., March 11-21. Battle of Shiloh, Tenn., April 6-7. Most of Regiment captured. Men confined at Macon, Ga.; Officers at Selma, Ala., and Madison, Ga. Paroled October 18, 1862. Exchanged November 10, 1862, Those not captured attached to Union Brigade and participated in advance on and siege of Corinth, Miss., April 29-May 30. Duty at Corinth until August. Moved to Danville, Miss., August 15, and duty there until October. Battle of Corinth October 3-4. Pursuit to Ripley October 5-12. Duty at Corinth until December 18. Ordered to rejoin Regiment at Davenport, Iowa, December 18. While en route participated in the defense of Jackson, Tenn., December 20, 1862, to January 4, 1863. Arrived at Davenport January 7, 1863. Regiment reorganizing at Davenport, Iowa, and St. Louis, Mo., and duty at Rolla, Mo., until April, 1863. Ordered to Young's Point, La., April 9. Duty there and at Duckport until May 2. Moved to Join army in rear of Vicksburg, Miss., May 2-14. Mississippi Springs May 13. Jackson, Miss., May 14. Siege of Vicksburg May 18-July 4. Assaults on Vicksburg May 19 and 22. Expedition to Mechanicsburg May 26-June 4. Advance on Jackson, Miss., July 5-10. Siege of Jackson July 10-17. At Bear Creek until October. Expedition toward Canton, Miss., October 14-20. Bogue Chitto Creek October 17. Moved to Memphis, thence to Pocohontas, Tenn. Duty there and guarding Memphis & Charleston railroad until January 31, 1864. Moved to Vicksburg, Miss., February 1-6. Expedition to Canton February 25-March 4. Red River Campaign March 10-May 22. Fort DeRussy March 14. Henderson's Hill March 21. Campti March 26 and April 4. Grand Ecore April 5. Battle of Pleasant Hill April 9. Retreat to Natchitoches April 22-23. Cane River Crossing April 23. Cloutiersville April 23-24. At Alexandria, La., April 27-May 13. Bayou La Mourie May 6-7. Retreat to Morganza May 13-20. Mansura May 16. Yellow Bayou May 18-19. Moved to Vicksburg, Miss.; thence to Memphis, Tenn., May 20-June 10. Lake Chicot, Ark., June 5-6. Provost duty at Memphis until February, 1865. Repulse of Forest's attack on Memphis August 21. Moved to New Orleans, La., February, 1865. Campaign against Mobile and its Defenses March 7-April 13. Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely March 26-April 8. Fort Blakely April 9. Capture of Mobile April 12. March to Montgomery, Ala., April 13-22. Provost duty there until August and at Tuscaloosa and Selma until April, 1866. Mustered out April 20, 1866.

Regiment lost during service 4 Officers and 98 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 4 Officers and 170 Enlisted men by disease. Total 276.

To the courtesy of some of the surviving officers of the gallant Eighth Iowa, the author is indebted for material for this sketch, Judge Ryan having prepared one dating from its organization to the battle of shiloh, and Col. Bell having completed the same to the mustering out of the regiment.  The Eighth was mustered into the service at Davenport, in September, 1861.  Frederick Steele was made colonel, James L. Geddes, lieutenant colonel, and John C. Ferguson, major.  Several of the companies had already been away four days in Northern Missouri, to aid against the Rebels.  September 24th, at 11 P. M., the boys were aroused by the appearance of Adjt.-Gen. Baker with the orders to march next day for St. Louis--an order received with wild demonstrations of joy.  Preparations for the march lasted all night.  It is a query what they were packing all this time, having neither arms, uniforms, nor camp or garrison equipage, except a few iron camp kettles.  At 4 o'clock in the morning, the regiment, with all its "plunder," appeared at the wharf and waited with impatience to be received on board the "Jenny Whipple," which steamer bore it to St. Louis.  At Keokuk, arms were supplied, "Belgian muskets"--and such muskets!  Uneven caliber, some crooked barrels, locks out of repair! The boys called them "pumpkin slingers" and pronounced the crooked barrels adapted to shooting around hills. At St. Louis, the Eighth marched to Benton Barracks where drilling was vigorously pursued. Every orderly sergeant will bear testimony with the first adjutant that the most exasperatinq duty was the " morning reports." Col. Steele not having taken command, Lt.-Col. Geddes took his place. The clothing and camp and garrison equipage were distributed in the following generous manner: Being drawn by the regimental quartermaster, they were deposited in a pile on the parade ground, and each company commander directed to march his men to the place, where they were supplied. Company officers made no requisitions and the quartermaster took no receipts. It is needless to add that the quartermaster had difficulty in settling his accounts with his department.

October 15th, came marching orders. The knapsacks of these young recruits, marching out on that first campaign, were swelled out with their contents till they resembled pack peddlers. The first issue of hard tack had nearly created insurrection. Some of the boys sent for their officers, exhibited this " staff" on which they afterward learned to lean, and protested that they would not submit to such treatment. How many lessons were yet to be learned by the volunteer!

The regiment left St. Louis on flat cars, with rations of " hard tack and the historic " sow bosom." On the trip it rained almost continuously. To cook the meat on the train was impossible. It had to come, and as well now as later! So it was on this trip that the men learned to eat their pork raw with their hard tack. Later, those men learned to bless their stars when they had it to eat. The regiment moved via Jefferson City to Syracuse. Now Col. Steele had command. Being a regular army officer with high ideas as to discipline, the colonel found much to contend with in drilling his young Iowa volunteers. Here, Secretary of War Cameron reviewed the troops. It was the first " review " for the Eighth, and like the other volunteers just from home, they were more intent on reviewing than on being reviewed. The sensitive ones recall that Col. Steele was not elated with the appearance of his regiment at that time.

October 21st, the regiment started for Springfield. Each company was allowed two six mule teams with three for regimental headquarters. Company mess chests contained tin plates, cups, spoons, knives and forks for each man. Tents, axes, hatchets and the knapsacks of the weak were piled into these wagons till they could hold no more. The third day brought the regiment to Warsaw, on the Osage river, with rations exhausted. After one day without supplies, the regiment crossed the Osage and spent five days in a memorable camp called " Pommedeten," subsisting upon fresh beef and unbolted wheat, without salt for either. The supply train then arrived, and "hard tack" and its companion piece were no longer despised. On the 30th, the regiment resumed its route. Lt.-Col. Geddes was in command. Col. Steele having been assigned to the command of a brigade. A messenger from Fremont, at Springfield, brought intelligence that Price was threatening an attack on that place. At early dawn, a forced inarch was undertaken for its relief, and 38 miles marched. At daylight the march was resumed and continued to within four miles of Springfield. But a large portion of the men did not reach camp that night. They were strewn along the line of march for miles. Knapsacks, with their contents, lined the road.

Gen. Fremont was now relieved, and about November 4th Springfield was evacuated. The Eighth took up line of march for Sedalia. The terrible forced marching and the lack of proper rations began now to show their results in sickness and death, which continued through the winter. Five men died on the return march. About November 21st, Companies E and K were detached and sent as escort for a wagon train and drove of 1,200 cattle destined for Fort Leavenworth. These companies spent the entire winter on the border. They returned to Sedalia about March 1, 1862, and then mustered as many men fit for duty as all the remaining eight companies, among whom sickness and death had made alarming havoc. Some of the convalescents in the hospital were poisoned by pies bought from a rebel woman. March 11th, 1862, the regiment was ordered to St. Louis and thence to Pittsburg Landing. On the Tennessee river the boat was fired into by Rebels and two men killed and three wounded. Arriving about March 21st the Eighth was attached to Sweeny's brigade. In the battle of Shiloh, April 6th, It bore a conspicuous part, fighting with heroism and endurance, till surrounded and cut off, together with the Twelfth and Fourteenth Iowa it was compelled to surrender. The regiment endured a six months imprisonment in the South--the enlisted men at Macon, Georgia and the officers, for the most part, at Selma, Alabama, and Madison, Georgia.  The latter were paroled at Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia,  October 16th, 1862; the enlisted men being paroled a short time previously. All were sent to St. Louis.

The Eighth Iowa was reorganized at St. Louis, during the winter of 1862-63, and was sent to Rolla. It returned in the spring and was ordered to join Grants forces near Vicksburg, where about April 1, 1863 it was assigned to the Third brigade, Third division. Fifteenth army corps commanded by Gen. W. T. Sherman. May 2d, it moved, with its corps, around Vicksburg, and crossing at Grand Gulf, moved by way of Port Gibson and Raymond to Jackson, Mississippi, where it took part in the assault on that place. It assisted in destroying the railroads, and then moved with Its corps to Vicksburg. It was in the bloody assault of May 22d, and served through the entire siege. After the fall of Vicksburg, July 4th, the regiment with its corps, moved under Sherman in pursuit of Johnston, and joined in the second siege and battle of Jackson. When Jackson was evacuated it joined in the pursuit and the fight at Brandon. Sherman's army now set out for Chattanooga, the Third division of the Fifteenth corps being left to guard the railroad. The Eighth Iowa was stationed at Pocahontas, Tennessee, from about October 30th to January, 1864. During this time re-enlistment for veteran service took place. "

January, 1834, the Third division took part in Sherman's raid into the interior of Mississippi. That campaign closed, the non-veterans of the Eighth regiment joined the Red river expedition under Gen. A. J. Smith while the veterans went home to Iowa on furlough. After 30 days stay they returned South. At Memphis, Tennessee, under Lt.-Col. Bell, the regiment performed the difficult service of provost guard. Col. Geddes being provost marshal of the district of West Tennessee, commanded by Gen. C. C. Washburn. During the summer of 1861. at Memphis, the Eighth Iowa was inspected by Gen. Marcy, Inspector General, U. S. A. He requested Lt.-Col. Bell to drill the regiment through the park and streets, and after thorough inspection said to him: " I have inspected the Army of the Potomac and all the troops in the Northwest, and your regiment has done what no other regiment has. It is fully equal to any regiment in the regular army. It is a wonder to me how you have learned it." Well may the gallant Eighth have been gratified with this unusual tribute to its soldierly acquirements!  August 21st, 1864, occurred the brilliant repulse of Forrest's cavalry winning the highest recognition from the city of Memphis. Again in January, 1865, when the Eighth Iowa was ordered to New Orleans, the citizens of Memphis manifested, in a marked manner, their regard for this gallant regiment.

The Eighth camped for a time on the old battle field eight miles below New Orleans, and then took passage for Mobile.  It moved with Canby's army against Spanish Fort. In the reduction of that stronghold, the regiment, led by Col. Bell, won the first honors. After the fall of Mobile, the Eighth was ordered to Montgomery, Alabama, and was assigned to provost duty. This city had been the scene of imprisonment for some of the regiment, now revisiting it under such widely different circumstances. In the autumn the regiment was sent to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and during the winter to Selma. April 20, 1866, it was mustered out of the United States service. It had been nearly five years in the field, and was the last volunteer regiment from Iowa to leave the government service.

Its first colonel, Frederick Steele, was made brigadier general in February, 1862, and major general November 29, 1862. His successor, Col. Jas. L. Geddes, who was wounded and imprisoned at Shiloh, served again, after his release, with distinction, and was brevetted brigadier general June 5, 1865.

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