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4th Iowa Infantry
in the American Civil War

Regimental History
Fourth Iowa Infantry.— Cols., Grenville M. Dodge, James A. Williamson; Lieut.-Cols., John Galligan, James A. Williamson, George Burton; Maj., William R. English. This regiment was organized at Council Bluffs in the summer of 1861. Cos B and E were mustered in at Council Bluffs on Aug. 8; A, C, D, F, G and H at Jefferson barracks, St. Louis, Aug. 15, and I and K at St. Louis on the 31st. A threatened invasion across the border at the south led to the detaching of about 200 men from among the companies that had reached Council Bluffs and sending them to the scene of trouble. The determined appearance of this and similar bodies from other points drove the marauders from the state and the men returned to camp. The last week of August the regiment proceeded to St. Louis, thence to Rolla, where it remained until Jan., 1862, making an expedition to Licking, Texas county, where it dispersed a body of the enemy and captured a number of cattle, horses and mules. Gen. Curtis arrived in December to take command, and while receiving him in military style Col. Dodge's pistol was accidentally discharged, inflicting a painful wound in his thigh which incapacitated him for some time. On Jan. 23, 1862, the regiment left Rolla for the purpose of giving battle to Price, then at Springfield. Col. Dodge commanded the brigade to which the regiment was attached, and Lieut. -Col. Galligan commanded the regiment. It was in a skirmish at Springfield on the evening of Feb. 12, but the enemy left during the night without offering battle. At Pea ridge a short time later the regiment won high praise for its valor, and lost in killed, wounded and captured nearly half the number taking part. Col. Dodge was promoted to brigadier-general and was succeeded by Adjt. James A. Williamson. Lieut. -Col. Galligan having resigned Capt. Burton of Co. D was appointed lieutenant-colonel. On April 5 the army marched to Batesville, thence toward Little Rock but was compelled to return on account of the shortage of supplies. In June it was at Jacksonport in a half starved condition, having lived on such scanty supplies as it could pick up in the country. A supply train reached there with only enough to give short rations for a week; and to escape actual starvation it marched 100 miles to Clarendon to find the troops and supplies gone, compelling it to march to Helena, which place was reached on July 14. While at this point the regiment engaged in several minor expeditions and brought in quantities of cotton, horses and supplies. On Dec. 20 the regiment proceeded to Vicksburg with Sherman's army to join Grant's advance on that place, and was in the disastrous attack on Chickasaw bluffs where it moved without support upon an open point, carried the first line of works and held them under a murderous fire while waiting for help that never came. It fell back in perfect order but with sadly depleted ranks, losing 112 in killed and wounded out of 480 engaged. Gen. Grant afterward ordered that "First at Chickasaw Bayou" be placed on its colors, an honor accorded, it is said to but one other regiment— the 13th regulars— during the war. Col. Williamson was wounded several times and Lieut. -Col. Burton led the regiment in the campaign against Arkansas Post, where it took an active part in the front line. On Jan. 23, 1863, it went into camp in the swamp below Vicksburg and spent two months there, then moved to Greenville, the enemy being met and driven several times, and large quantities of supplies picked up. It then returned to Milliken's bend; took part in the movement on Jackson; was one of the first regiments to enter that place; returned to Vicksburg and was engaged at Haynes' bluff on May 18. In the siege of Vicksburg it was almost constantly under fire and lost about 80 in killed and wounded. It took part in the siege of Jackson and accompanied the pursuit of Johnston as far as Brandon. It then went into camp near the Big Black river, where it remained until the middle of September when it embarked for Memphis, moved thence to Corinth and marched to Iuka, from which point it was ordered to Cherokee Station, Ala., where it was in repeated engagements with the enemy, until October. It then joined Sherman's army at Eastport and proceeded to Chattanooga, where it arrived Nov. 23 and took position with Hooker at Lookout mountain. On the morning of the 25th it moved to Rossville gap with two other regiments, turned the enemy's left and took a strategic position, from which it took part in the battle that followed. It was engaged at Ringgold where it held an important position against heavy odds and saved two railroad bridges. It then moved to Bridgeport, Ala., and from there to Woodville, where it went into camp. The regiment reenlisted on Jan. 1, 1864, and visited Iowa on a furlough in March. Rejoining the army on May 1, it joined in the Atlanta campaign, and was in nearly every battle and skirmish of that movement. At Atlanta July 22, its brigade made a gallant charge with other regiments, retaking De Gress' famous battery of 20-pounder Parrott guns, the skirmishers of the 4th being the first to reach it. The regiment having been reduced to less than 200 men it was put in the command of Maj. Nichols, who was commissioned lieutenant-colonel. It took part in the pursuit of Hood, and later in the march to the sea. From Savannah it marched through the Carolinas; was heavily engaged at Bentonville; moved to Raleigh, thence to Washington, where it took part in the grand review; was then ordered to Louisville, where it remained on provost duty until mustered out in July, 1865. A correspondent of the New York Tribune spoke of its brigade as "one of the bravest, truest, and most tenacious fighting brigades" in the service. The regiment's original strength was 940; gain by recruits, 244; total, 1,184.

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

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