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17th Iowa Infantry
in the American Civil War

Regimental History
Seventeenth Iowa Infantry. Cols., John W. Rankin, David B. Hillis, Clark R. Wever; Lieut.-Cols., David B. Hillis, Clark R. Wever, S. M. Archer; Majs., Samuel M. Wise, John F. Walden. This regiment was organized at Keokuk in March and April, 1862; moved to St. Louis where it remained for two weeks, when it embarked for Hamburg, Tenn.; reached there on May 7 and marched at once for Corinth, where it was engaged in the siege; joined in the pursuit of the enemy on the evacuation, and on its return went into camp at Clear creek. On Aug. 15, with its division, it moved to Jacinto and established an outpost, from which it accompanied several short expeditions. It took part in the battle of Iuka, joined in the pursuit of the enemy, returned to Jacinto and remained in camp until Oct. 2, when it moved again to Corinth. Here during the following two days, smarting under an unmerited rebuke at Iuka, the 17th fought with bravery and determination unsurpassed by that of any regiment in the field; at first with its brigade, but finally wherever it could find a force to oppose. At the crisis of the battle, when Davies' division had given way and the enemy had gained the town, threatening to sweep everything, the 17th made so fierce a charge that the victorious enemy was arrested in his forward movement, turned back and finally put to flight, the regiment capturing a stand of colors and putting out of action more of its opponents in killed and wounded, than it had in line. Gen. Rosecrans, who had censured the regiment at Iuka, issued orders, in which he said that he could not forbear "to give pleasure to many, besides the brave men immediately concerned, by announcing in advance of the regular orders, that the 17th Ia., by its gallantry in the battle of Corinth, charging the enemy and capturing the flag of the 40th Miss., has amply atoned for its misfortune at Iuka, and stands among the honored regiments of this command." The loss was slight, its movements being made with so much celerity that the enemy had no time to inflict serious damage. Early in November the regiment moved to Davis' mills; from there to Moscow, Tenn., and took charge of a forage train of nearly 200 wagons, which it filled with supplies from the enemy's country and brought into camp. On Dec. 24 it reached Lumpkin's mills and accompanied the division to Memphis in guard of a train of more than 600 wagons, constantly skirmishing with guerrilla bands. The regiment was next assigned to duty at Bray's station as railroad guard and remained until assigned to the 17th corps, which it accompanied to Memphis. On March 2 it moved to Grand lake but returned to Helena and accompanied Quinby's expedition against Fort Pemberton. In April it proceeded in the direction of Vicksburg; engaged in the work of building roads and preparing the way for the advance of the army; was in the battle of Raymond; in the front brigade of Crocker's division at Jackson, fighting bravely and losing one-fourth its numbers by an enfilading fire, which it sustained without flinching; double-quicked 3 miles at Champion's hill, and threw itself into the fray with such vigor as to win the commendations of Grant himself. It captured nearly 200 prisoners, a battery, a stand of colors, and with the 10th Mo. and the 10th Ia. turned the balance in the favor of the Union arms. At Vicksburg it remained in the trenches until the capitulation. At the explosion of the mine at Fort hill on June 25, the 17th was one of the regiments assigned to the duty of holding the works. It encamped at Vicksburg until Sept. 9, when it moved to Helena, thence to Memphis, and accompanied Sherman's army to Chattanooga. It was engaged at Missionary ridge, where it fought until nearly surrounded and lost 57 in killed, wounded and captured. It marched as far as Graysville, Ga., in pursuit, then to Chattanooga, and moved to Bridgeport, Ala., thence to Huntsville, where it remained until spring engaged in guarding foraging trains and scouting. Nearly every man reenlistcd April 1, 1864. The regiment joined the division at Stevenson on June 22 and moved toward Atlanta, but was detailed for guard and patrol duty between Dalton and Resaca for the protection of the line of communications, and passed the summer in this dreary work. Cos. H and I were attacked at a water-tank 2 miles from Dalton by some of Wheeler's cavalry in August but defended themselves against a heavy force until 10 o'clock of the following day, when their ammunition gave out and artillery being brought into play against them they surrendered. The men were paroled and allowed to return to Tilton, the headquarters, two days later. The paroles were not recognized and the men were placed on duty at once. Dalton had been captured, and Tilton was threatened, but not attacked until Oct. 13, when a corps compelled the garrison to surrender after a determined defense, 270 men holding off this heavy force from early morning until almost 3 p. m. and only surrendered when their ammunition was almost gone. Col. Wever was in command of a brigade at Resaca, where he was attacked by a heavy force, but his 750 men held the place from noon till night. Some 1,200 men came in during the night as reinforcements and put up so vigorous a fight that Hood could not carry the place and was compelled to retire on the approach of Sherman's army in the afternoon. A force of 500 men, guarding bridge timbers 3 miles north, was attacked by a large force and compelled to surrender after a desperate fight. Some 30 men under Capt. Horner escaped capture at Tilton and were sent home on furlough, being accompanied by a few who made their escape from their captors. On their return they took part in the campaign of the Carolinas. Those captured were hurried off to southern prisons, but were exchanged toward the close of the war. The regiment was mustered out in the early part of Aug., 1865. Its original strength was 889; gain by recruits, 67; total, 956.

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

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