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Roster and Record of Iowa Troops In the Rebellion, Vol. 6
By Guy E. Logan
HISTORICAL SKETCH
SOUTHERN BORDER BRIGADE
(State Militia)
Inseparably connected with the history of the operations of the Iowa troops who were
never mustered into the service of the United States, but who performed service of
inestimable value on the southern border of the State, is the record of those companies
composed of men whose homes were constantly in danger in the early days of the War of
the Rebellion. Living as they did in the counties bordering upon the State of Missouri,
they were compelled to organize far self protection. Rumors which proved to be well
founded—that armed bodies of citizens of the slave holding State of Missouri were being
formed for the purpose of invading the State of Iowa, kept the inhabitants of those border
counties in a constant state of excitement and apprehension. Under the direction and
command of Lieutenant Colonel John Edwards, Aide Camp to Governor Kirkwood, the
various companies, which had been hastily organized, were concentrated into camps, and
were held in readiness to move promptly across the border, and to resist any attempt of
the rebel forces to invade the State of Iowa and plunder the homes of her citizens. The
prompt and determined action thus taken undoubtedly saved the people of that part of the
State from the horrors of invasion.
In the meantime, the Union men in the State of Missouri were placed in a most
desperate situation. They were engaged in a fierce and relentless war with their rebel
neighbors. They were being driven from their homes, and their property confiscated for
the use of the rebel army They had appealed to their loyal neighbors across the border in
Iowa to aid them in their fight for existence, and they did not appeal in vain. In his report
to the Governor, (dated at Pleasant Plains, Iowa, July 28, 1861,) Colonel Edwards states
that he had sent to Keokuk and Burlington for two pieces of artillery, and that he was
about to start with the forces under his command to reinforce the troops under Captain W.
C. Drake of Corydon. then stationed at Allenville, on the border of Ringgold County,
Iowa, with the purpose of moving across the line to the support of the loyal Missourians,
under Colonel Cranor. The following brief extracts, from the report of Colonel Edwards,
will serve to show the condition of affairs on the southern border at that time:
. . . . . Captain Cranor, of Gentry County, Mo., had sent to Captain Drake for
assistance, as the rebels were fortified on Grand River, reported to be from eight to
twelve hundred strong, with three pieces of artillery. Colonel Cranor had under his
command about three hundred Union Missouri men, badly armed, and over one hundred
Iowans who had volunteered under him. I dispatched a messenger to the various armed
companies within reach, ordering them to march and concentrate at Allenville,
immediately, also at Chariton. I also sent a messenger to Captain Drake to ascertain more
minutely the facts as to the condition of affairs in his vicinity. I started for Captain
Drake's camp, but was met twenty five miles this side by the returning messengers whom
I had sent the day before. They confirmed the intelligence brought me the day previous.

 

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On reaching Captain Drake's camp, I ascertained that messengers had just arrived from
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Colonel Cranor's command, conveying the information that the belligerents—then within
four miles of each other—had made a treaty of peace. . .
The "treaty of peace" referred to proved to be but a hollow mockery It was simply a
temporary truce, which served to prevent the armed forces from becoming engaged in
battle at that time, but did not put au end to the depredations to which the property of
Union citizens was subjected. Continuing his report, Colonel Edwards says:
. . . . . The secessionists in that region are more bold than before, and have recommenced
mustering under the military laws of the State, which are obnoxious to the Union men
and to which they will not submit. The Union men are indignant and mortified at the
terms of' the treaty. Many have become disheartened—have abandoned their homes and
their crops, and are leaving the State. The same feelings have taken hold of many families
on the border, in Iowa I have seen families who, abandoning everything to the fates, have
returned to friends in other states. The loyal men of both States, separated merely by an
imaginary line, have the same sympathies in a common cause. When the rebels of
Missouri seek to injure the property and destroy the lives of Union men of that State,
appeals for aid are made to friends and neighbors in Iowa nor do they appeal in vain. The
arming and military parades made by our companies along the border, at most points
have produced salutary effects. It strengthens and inspires the Union men of Missouri,
and carries over to them the neutrals and a great many terror stricken secessionists. At
least fifteen hundred citizens of Iowa left their harvest fields and families and rushed into
Missouri to the relief of the Union men. These citizens were armed in every conceivable
manner, and were without officers, system or drill. . . . . The loyal men of Missouri ex
press their gratitude to the people of Iowa, for their timely aid and support on every
trying occasion, everything they possessed was cheerfully offered free of charge, to
render our citizens as comfortable as possible. I know several gentlemen who not only
fed hundreds of Iowa citizens and their horses, daily, for a week at a time, but spent
hundreds of dollars—sometimes their last dollar—in this benevolent manner. On account
of the excitement and constant alarm along the border, our citizens lost much valuable
time, by frequent hurrying to arms; therefore a vast amount of grain was lost on the
fields....
Realizing the necessity of maintaining a permanent force of State troops along the
southern border, Colonel Edwards exercised the authority given him by the Governor,
and proceeded to thoroughly organize the companies, and to bring them up to a good
state of efficiency in drill and discipline. In his official report he makes the following
statement, showing the conditions then existing, and his efforts to establish a military
system, under which more prompt and effective service could be rendered:
In view of apprehended outbreaks, sooner or later, on the borders of Ringgold and
Taylor Counties, I have ordered into camp at this place those companies which have
received marching orders, and are already on the way to the scene of difficulty. For the
reasons before stated, coupled with the news of our late reverses at Manassas Junction,
the rebels here and elsewhere will be inspired with new vigor. I came into camp last night
with three companies; the rest will follow today` and tomorrow. I have commenced
systematizing every department of the service, placing the most competent men in the
various positions. The strictest discipline will be adopted and drill performed as in the
United States service. Every arrangement necessary for the comfort and, health of the
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soldiers will be carried out. The most rigid economy will be practiced, and an exact
account rendered of every cent of expense incurred. The times are such that the people
demand that something be done at once and effectively. We are so situated on the border
that, when we are called upon to act, we must act at once. Heretofore we have had no
system, and if called into action our men were liable to be cut oft by the enemy and by
one another. . . . . I will keep out scouts for the next ten days, In the vicinity where danger
will be most likely to occur. I will be ready to strike at a moment's notice. . . . . The
principal design of the secessionists in the northern part of the State of Missouri is to
keep up the excitement there as much as possible, in order to divert attention from
Governor Jackson's operations in the southern part of the State. They will do all in their
power to harass Union men in both States. . . . .
About the time these militia organizations were being perfected—as shown in the
foregoing extract—the Fourth Regiment of Iowa Volunteer Infantry was in rendezvous at
Council Bluffs, and, in accordance with instructions from Governor Kirkwood, Colonel
Grenville M. Dodge marched with eight companies of his regiment, for the purpose of co
operating with the Iowa Militia in the defense of the border counties, and, if found
necessary, to cross the line into Missouri and reinforce the loyal Missourians,
commanded by Colonel Cranor. In his official report to the Governor, Colonel Dodge
states, that he proceeded with his command to a point thirteen miles north of the Missouri
line, where he was met by his scout—Sergeant Teal—who had been in the rebel camp
near Gentryville, Mo., and found them about six hundred strong, occupying a good
position, but poorly armed and equipped. The Sergeant confirmed the report of the truce
(or compromise), and stated that the rebels had apparently disbanded and returned to their
homes. At the close of his report, Colonel Dodge made the following statement:
There is no doubt but great excitement exists on both sides of the line. My scout
canvassed pretty thoroughly all the counties of northwest Missouri, and found that the
rebels of that section were fearing an invasion from Iowa equally as much as the people
of southern Iowa were from Missouri. The rebel camp was made chiefly for the purpose
of drilling their forces, in order that when Jackson came (Which was confidently
anticipated), they might be ready to assist him in driving the Union men out of North
Missouri. Gentry and Nodoway Counties are now nearly vacant; crops are neglected and
farms for miles deserted. On breaking up their camp but very few— say one hundred
eighty—appeared to ratify the compromise, the balance scattering, sinking their field
pieces in the river, and burying their small arms. I am fully persuaded that arms
distributed in our border counties, to at least one company in each county, will render
everything safe, as the Union forces in North Missouri are now stronger than the rebels.
Subsequent events proved that the fear of the rebels of northwest Missouri, of an
invasion from Iowa, was well founded. The First Regiment, Western Division, Iowa
Volunteer Militia, under command of Colonel John R. Morledge, made three expeditions
into the State of Missouri, the last of which extended to the city of St. Joseph, which was
evacuated 'by the rebel forces upon the approach of the Union troops. Colonel Morledge,
in his official report to Governor Kirkwood, gives a detailed account of these expeditions,
in the last of which five or six of the enemy were killed, and two rebel flags and many
prisoners were captured. During the progress of the last expedition, the number of Union
troops was constantly augmented by the accession of loyal citizens of Missouri, who had
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joined the column at different points along the line of march and, upon arriving at St.
Joseph, the number had increased to four thousand. The rebel forces retreated in the
direction of Lexington, and subsequently joined the rebel army under command of
General Price. At the conclusion of his report, Colonel Morledge says:
St. Joseph looked desolate, and as though she had been despoiled of all her goods.
Whole blocks of business houses were closed up, many of which had been broken open
and robbed of all or nearly all their contents, by the rebels in their flight through the city
two days before.
Colonel Morledge remained in camp at St. Joseph for three days, and then returned
with his regiment to Iowa.
Adjutant General N. B Baker, in his report, published in 1863, (Vol. 1, page xv,)says:
The General Assembly at the Extra Session, 1862, with almost entire unanimity
directed the organization of the Northern and Southern Border Brigades. As these
organizations are of great interest to the State, I have inserted in the Appendix their
rosters—Northern marked (B), and Southern marked (C). These rosters show that the
number of men enlisted in the Northern Border Brigade was two hundred fifty, and in the
Southern Border Brigade seven hundred ninety four. In the Appendix, marked (K), will
be found reports of Colonels Edwards, Dodge and Morledge, relating to the difficulties
on the southern border, in 1861, and the Governor's instructions in relation to the
organization of the Southern Border Brigade, in 1862.
The following order was issued by Adjutant General Baker, soon after the passage of
the act by the General Assembly:
ADJUTANT GENERAL'S OFFICE,
DAVENPORT, Oct. 8, 1862.
General Orders No. 98: Under the law of the last session of the General Assembly,
Chapter 17, entitled an Act to provide for the better protection of the southern border of
this State, the Governor has ordered that four battalions of troops, for the purpose
indicated in said law, be forthwith raised, to be numbered and located as follows:
First Battalion to be composed of troops raised in the counties of Lee and Van Buren.
Second Battalion will be composed of troops from the counties of Wapello, Davis and
Appanoose.
Third Battalion will be composed of troops from the counties of Wayne, Decatur and
Ringgold.
Fourth Battalion will be composed of troops from the counties of Taylor, Page and
Fremont.
These battalions will constitute the Southern Border Brigade. The companies
composing these battalions will be designated by this Department alone.
By order of Commander chief.
N. B. BAKER, Adjutant General of Iowa.
Reference has been made—in the foregoing part of this sketch—to the reports alluded
to by Adjutant General Baker, embracing the period from the commencement of the
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troubles on the southern border to the date of the organization of the Southern Border
Brigade. It will be noted that, in his letter of instructions in relation to that organization,
Governor Kirkwood practically adopted the suggestions made by Colonel Grenville M.
Dodge, in the concluding portion of his report, heretofore quoted in this sketch. The letter
gives a clear view of the conditions then existing in that part of the state, and is, therefore,
here quoted in full, as follows:
EXECUTIVE OFFICE, Iowa, Sept. 11, 1862.
W. W. THOMAS,
CORYDON, Wayne Co., Iowa.
SIR: A law has passed the. General Assembly authorizing the organization in your
county, and the other border counties, of a company of men for home defense against
guerrilla bands from Missouri. The law will soon be published, and you will be able to
see its provisions and learn its objects. I desire you 'o enlist the company for your county.
I am informed that in some of the border counties there are men whose loyalty is
doubtful, and whose sympathies are with the rebels. Such men must not be admitted into
the company. I will not, if I can avoid it, be Instrumental in placing the public arms in the
hands of any man whose devotion to the Government in this hour of peril is doubtful I do
not mean by this that none but Republicans shall be enlisted. I only mean just what I say,
that your company must consist of open, known, unconditional supporters of the
Government and of the Union, and I hold you responsible, if you accept this service, that
you enlist none others. Your company can consist of not less than eighty, nor more than
one hundred, men, all told. When you have enlisted the minimum number, you will call
the men together and have them elect one Captain and one First Lieutenant, and report
the names to the Adjutant General who will issue commissions. The men are enlisted to
act as mounted men, when their services may be needed, and each man must furnish his
own horse, saddle, bridle, blankets and clothing. It is not intended these men should all be
on constant service. A few men from each company will daily act as scouts, and the
others are to be at home, holding themselves as minute men. Please also report to me at
Iowa City your action in this matter. I trust you will feel It to be your duty to do this
work, and to do it firmly and thoroughly. It is for the defense of your own county, and the
service should be promptly performed. If, for any reason, you cannot act in this matter,
please hand this authority, indorsed by you, to some man who will do it in the manner
herein set forth and report his name and post office address to me immediately.
Very respectfully,
SAMUEL J. KIRKWOOD.
Similar letters were addressed to James H. Summers, Decatur City, Decatur County;
Charles W. Lowrie, Keokuk, Lee County; John R. Morledge, Clarinda, Page County; E.
S. Hedges, Sydney, Fremont County; D. W. Dixon, Ottumwa, Wapello County; R. A.
Moser, Lexington, Taylor County; Joseph Dickey, Farmington, Van Buren County; H.
Tannehill, Centerville, Appanoose County, H. B. Horn, Bloomfield, Davis County;
Thomas Ross, Mount Ayr, Ringgold County
Supplementing the foregoing instructions of the Governor, Adjutant General Baker,
under date of October 14, 1862, issued an order which reads as follows:
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In order that the Southern Border Brigade shall not be an unnecessary expense to the
State, it is directed that not more than ten men shall be detailed for special service from
any company in any battalion, unless there be an actual invasion, and then the additional
force must be ordered out by the Major of the battalion; and in every case full report must
be made to the Governor, with a statement of the facts upon which the additional force
was ordered into the field, and the officer making the order will be held responsible for
the correctness of his statements and actions. 6
The wisdom of the action taken by the Governor, ill thus creating all efficient and
adequately strong force upon the southern borders of the State, was subsequently
demonstrated most fully by the better conditions which existed in that vicinity, from the
time the organization was established until the close of the war It is true that the
inhabitants of that part of the State did not at any time, while the great struggle was going
on, enjoy the feeling of complete immunity from danger which was held by those whose
homes were farther away from the scene of strife. They had—in addition to contributing
their full quota to the regiments at the front—to maintain the militia organizations, from
their own numbers, and for their own protection. The burdens of war therefore rested
more heavily upon the people of those border counties than upon those who lived in the
interior of the State.
The report made by Colonel Edwards—at the special request of General Baker—
gives such a complete summary of the operations of the Iowa State troops On the
southern border and in the State of Missouri, that the compiler deems its quotation
appropriate to the completion of this historical sketch. It is therefore quoted in full, as
follows:
SPRINGFIELD, Mo., December 24, 1862.
N. B. BAKER, Adjutant General, State of Iowa.
SIR: In compliance with your request of the 7th inst., to furnish you a brief statement
of the expedition under my command, which marched into the State of Missouri during
the month of September, 1861, I have the honor to report that, as Aide-de Camp to his
Excellency. Governor Kirkwood, I had charge of the border between the States of Iowa
and Missouri, from the east line of Appanoose County to the west line of Taylor County.
The Civil War, which then convulsed the people of Missouri, raged with great violence in
the northern Part of the State, loyalists and rebels striving for the ascendancy. The bitter
feelings engendered between them often broke out in open hostilities, which more or less
involved the peace and security of the citizens of Iowa residing near the border. The
rebels, acting on the offensive, were the first to arm and unite themselves into bands, to
compel the loyalists either to unite with them or take the other alternative of leaving the
State; hence thousands, abandoning their homes, fled to Iowa for refuge. During the
month of August, Colonel Patten of Gentry, and Colonel Sanders of Andrew County,
Mo., were engaged in organizing large bands of rebels in the northern part of that State,
near the Iowa line, with the threatened intention of invading Iowa, to supply their
commands with horses, principally then to unite their forces under General Sterling Price,
at that time advancing from Arkansas upon Lexington, Mo. BY a previous understanding
between Governor Kirkwood and General Pope, who was at that time in command of
northern Missouri, I was authorized, in case of any emergency that might arise, to march
such of the troops of Iowa, as had been assigned to me, into Missouri, to assist the
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struggling loyal citizens of that State, and, if possible, to Prevent an invasion by the
rebels into Iowa.
If fighting had to be done, it was preferable to do it in Missouri, where the trouble
commenced, and to spare our citizens the consequences of an invasion by the enemy. I
was further ordered on arriving at the line, to report to the commanding General I did so,
and my command, while I remained in the State of Missouri, were received as Federal
soldiers. Before I called out the troops under my command, however; a large number of
citizens on the border, on both sides of the line, advised me of the existing state of things;
also Colonel Cranor, commanding the Union forces of Gentry County, Mo. At the
numerous and urgent requests of these persons, and after dispatching messengers to the
scene of difficulty, and satisfying myself as to the truth of the statements made to me, I
ordered out all the troops I could collect and arm—in all between seven and eight
hundred—requiring them to rendezvous at Allenville, near the line. Without camp
equipage or commissary stores, without any previous preparation, in less than one week's
time for organization, I had put my expedition on the march from Allenville. At that time
at least three hundred loyal families of Missouri had been driven out of that State, and
were then encamped on the prairies of Iowa. I found the whole country in a state of great
excitement; no business on either side of the line was being prosecuted; a large number of
families in Iowa had abandoned their crops in harvest time, and fled Into the interior of
the State for safety. A band of rebels, numbering some twelve hundred, were fortified in a
bend of Grand River, about twenty-five miles from the line; several other bands were at
other points near by. I pushed my command on rapidly, when the rebels commenced
retreating, the different bands uniting before reaching St. Joseph, Mo. Before reaching St.
Joseph, I formed a junction with Colonel Cranor, when we were ordered by General Pope
to advance rapidly on that place, the rebels having possession of the city and being
engaged in plundering the citizens. It is estimated that they took seventy five thousand
dollars worth of goods from the loyal citizens of that city.
At the time of my arrival at St. Joseph, there were no Federal forces at that post, or on
the whole line of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad. I was ordered to proceed to
Chillicothe, leaving three hundred of my men at St. Joseph to garrison that post. While I
was at Chillicothe, the surrender of Lexington, under Colonel Mulligan, took place. Mine
were the nearest Union forces to him at the time, and I had but four hundred and fifty
men. After the surrender of Colonel Mulligan, the rebel General Raines advanced upon
Chillicothe with four thousand cavalry and one section of a battery, his pickets being
within fifteen miles of Chillicothe, while Lewis Best, a noted rebel, had a band of three
hundred, ten miles north of the post, to cut off my retreat. I telegraphed to General
Fremont for reinforcements (the telegraph wire west of me being cut). He responded that
I should be reinforced in the morning with one regiment. A repel in the office, named
Jones, looking over the shoulder of the operation, thought it read ten regiments. Mounting
his horse, he rode to the camp of General Raines. whom he informed of the contents of
the telegram. It caused that General to retreat to Lexington, which saved my little band,
the post, and the railroad. Later— reinforcements having arrived, I was relieved, and
ordered to return home with my troops, Such was the excitement of the time that my
command was continually overrun with refugees, seeking safety. I made a forced march
of one hundred miles in four days, subsisting upon the enemy as best we could. I took
forty prominent rebels prisoners, whom I forwarded to St. Louis, and some property,
which was turned over to General Prentis. The men of my command were generally
substantial farmers, a large number of them over fifty years of age. They endured the
fatigue of the campaign with fortitude. Their bravery was tested at several critical
periods; they never flinched or complained of their hard fare. They deserve well of their
Country. These troops served one month.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN EDWARDS, Lieutenant Colonel and Aide Camp,
Commanding Iowa Troops
It will thus be Seen that these hardy sons of Iowa—insufficiently equipped and
without military experience—bravely co operated with the troops who were regularly
enrolled in the Service of the United States, in putting down treason and rebellion in the
State of Missouri. They had enlisted for the purpose of defending their own homes
against invasion and possible destruction, but. when called upon to aid their loyal
brethren on the other side of the border, they nobly responded to the call At the time this
sketch is written—nearly fifty years after the events it described had transpired—a few of
the aged men who belonged to the Southern Border Brigade are still living in their old
homes, and a few of those against whom they contended, across the border in Missouri,
still survive. These men and their descendants are now living in peace and amity under
the Hag of a restored Union. The bitter enmities which existed in those days of strife and
discord are forgotten and the two great Commonwealths of Iowa and Missouri vie with
each other only in their efforts to contribute to the strength, greatness and perpetuity of
the Great Republic to which they belong.'