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Iowa's National Guard

The history of the Iowa National Guard is the story of Iowa itself, not alone in the participation in all wars since the Territory was organized, more than a century ago, but in the progress of the state, its agricultural and economic difficulties, and its wonderful development The Guard proudly boasts that it is as old as Iowa. The office of Adjutant General was created by the Territorial Legislature in 1839, but the first official commission of record was that of Adjutant General Lee, in 1851.

In his first annual message to the legislature on November 12, 1838, Governor Robert Lucas advocated an efficient and disciplined militia, urging that appropriate laws be passed giving the militia "a perfect organization, so as to render prompt and efficient defense." It is to the everlasting credit of the ensuing militia, officially known as the Iowa National Guard, that it has always been ready for any emergency, in war or peace times; that it has invariably been composed of fine, stalwart men, and efficient, capable officers.

Iowa-Missouri War Fizzled.

Few citizens, aside from the historically-minded, know that Iowa and Missouri were on the verge of war, in 1838 and 1839, because of a boundary line dispute arising over whether the Des Moines rapids were in the Des Moines or the Mississippi river, where the Des Moines enters it, below Keokuk. The dispute culminated in the effort of Missouri to collect taxes from settlers in southeastern Iowa, who claimed they lived in Iowa and not in Missouri. The Governors of Iowa and Missouri issued counter proclamations and the feeling was tense for a time. Finally the situation became so critical that Governor Lucas directed a mobilization of a portion of the Iowa militia. A motley force of 1,133 men and 42 officers mobilized in the disputed territory. The Missouri militia mobilized across the disputed boundary line. The two forces glared at each other, went through drills and made every preparation for war. For some reason, unknown to later historians, the Missourians adopted the "show me" attitude and suddenly returned to their homes, to be shown in peace around their hearthstones. When the Iowa militiamen discovered this masterful retreat on the part of their enemies, they, too, returned to their homes and the war was over.

Later on, the Iowa legislature memorialized Congress to compensate the officers and men for their services. A committee of Congress recommended the payment, lessening the glory of the affair by reporting that "there was a greater number of generals and other officers than were necessary to command the men." A sum of $14,500 was finally agreed upon, but there is no record of its ever having been appropriated.

One Company in Mexican War.

When the call came for soldiers to take part in the war with Mexico, in 1846, the Iowa militia was practically nonexistent. Governor James Clarke issued a proclamation to the "citizen soldiery of Iowa" and as a result a regiment was raised, but never called into service as such. Four independent companies were mustered into the service of the United States, but only one company saw active service.

About the time of the Spirit Lake massacre, in 1857, a force of militia known as Captain H. B. Martin's Company for the Defense of the Northwestern Frontier was organized, principally around Hamilton and Webster counties, with a few recruits from the lake region. This company remained on duty at the lakes for four or five months, and in the fall of the following year, 1858, was ordered into service again and remained along the frontier until the following spring.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Iowa was called upon to furnish one regiment of militia for immediate service. Two regiments, known as the Northern Border Brigade and the Southern Border Brigade, were organized, the former consisting of 257 officers and men, the latter 794 officers and men. Both brigades protected the state's borders from invasion, by Indians on the north and rebellious Missourians on the south.

Seventy-six Thousand Two Hundred Forty two Iowans in Union Army.

During the Civil War, Iowa organized 48 regiments of infantry, nine regiments of cavalry, one regiment of African infantry and four batteries of light artillery. A total of 76,242 men were recruited in Iowa and served all or part of the duration of the war. Of these 13,001 lost their lives, either in battle casualties or through disease.

A recently published Historical Annual of the Iowa National Guard gives this brief, but important, review of the early Civil War activities of the state troops:

"Early in April, 1861, ten companies of militia which had volunteered their services to the Governor of Iowa to fight for the cause of the Union were consolidated into the First Infantry and early in May of the same year reached their designated rendezvous at Keokuk. Here they were mustered into the service of the United States on May 14, 1861. The First Infantry was the first regiment of Iowa soldiers to engage in combat. The time had come for Iowa soldiers to receive their baptism of fire. Thus far no Iowa man had ever met foeman in battle.

"The regiment left Keokuk on the 13th day of June, 1861, and was transported by boat down the Mississippi to Hannibal, Missouri, thence by railroad to Macon City and Renic. They then marched across country to Boonville, a distance of 58 miles, in less than two and a half days. This was an extraordinary march inasmuch as the regiment was composed of green men with little training and fresh from their homes and firesides. As an element of General Lyon's command, the little army took up the march toward Springfield.

Civil War Participation.

"On August 10, 1861, the Confederate Army was on Wilson's Creek, ten miles away. The force consisted of some 14,000 well-armed and well-disciplined troops and 10,000 irregular troops. The Union force, of which the Iowa regiment was a part numbered approximately 5,000. In spite of the overwhelming odds General Lyon decided to march and attack the enemy directly in front. The march was accomplished through the hours of darkness.

The first streaks of dawn were ushered in with the rattle of musketry. The first real battle, in the West, for the preservation of the Union, had begun. Foot by foot General Lyon's forces yielded ground to superior numbers, but finally were successful in stemming the advance of the Confederates.

"Shelby Norman, a fair-haired boy of seventeen, one of the first to enlist in Iowa, was the first to lose his life. He was a member of Company A, First Iowa Infantry, in this engagement, out of a total enrollment of 999, the regiment suffered 160 casualties.

"But one organization, Crocker's Iowa Brigade, fought through the entire war and retained its organization. This brigade was composed of the 11th, 13th, 15th and 16th Infantries. It participated in the memorable "march to the sea," as well as many other famous battles of the Civil War."

General James Rush Lincoln Originates Guard.

Credit for having originated what is generally known today as the Iowa National Guard, supplanting the loosely-knit or even disconnected units of former days, is widely given to the late General James Rush Lincoln, who, for many years, was in charge of military affairs at Iowa State College, at Ames. General Lincoln organized a unit at Booneville which was, in many ways, the parent of the Guard of today. Another man to whom great credit is given for Guard activities in the post-Civil War and pre-Spanish-American War is General Grenville M. Dodge of Council Bluffs, who served as a Major General in the war between the states.

In the report of the Adjutant General of Iowa, dated January 1, 1873, a roster of the organized militia companies then in existence is included for the first time. The majority had been organized between 1871 and 1873; nineteen in all. In 1876 the militia was organized along regimental lines; seven six-company regiments, a batallion at the State University of Iowa, twelve battery regiments of field artillery, and three unattached organizations. This arrangement continued until 1893, when the seven regiments and miscellaneous organizations were consolidated into two brigades of two regiments each; the regiments being the First to Fourth, inclusive.

Four Regiments in Spanish-American War.

Following the declaration of war with Spain, on April 23, 1898, President McKinley issued a call for 125,000 volunteers. On April 25 the Governor of Iowa ordered ail organizations of the four regiments to proceed to Camp McKinley, at Des Moines. These four regiments were mustered into the Federal service and re-designated the 49th, 50th, 51st and 52d Iowa Infantry Volunteers.

The 49th was sent to Jacksonville, Florida, on June 14, 1898, and was mustered out at Savannah, Georgia, on May 13, 1899.

The 50th was sent to Jacksonville, Florida, on May 24, 1898, and was mustered out at Des Moines on November 30, 1898.

The 51st was sent to San Francisco, California, on June 14, 1898, and from there to the Philippines, where it participated in many campaigns in the Philippine insurrection. It was mustered out, at San Francisco on November 2, 1899.

The 52d was sent to Chickamauga Park, Georgia, on May 31, 1898, and was returned to Des Moines and mustered out on October 30, 1898.

Company M, 7th Infantry Immunes, a Negro organization, was formed. It left Des Moines, July 17, 1898, for Jefferson Barracks and was later transferred to Kentucky. Later it was brigaded with Regular Army troops and saw service in Cuba, returning to Des Moines in March, 1899, to be mustered out.

Two batteries of Light Field Artillery were organized in Des Moines, but were mustered out without ever leaving the state. A company of the 12th United States Volunteer Signal Corps was organized in June, 1898, and served in signal duty in Macon, Georgia, until December 18, 1898, when it sailed for Cuba.

Five thousand, eight hundred and fifty-nine officers and enlisted men served in the Iowa National Guard organizations during the Spanish-American War.

Iowa Guard Enters World War.

In 1915 the four regiments of the Iowa National Guard were re-designated the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Infantry and at the same time the 1st Iowa Cavalry and the 1st Iowa Field Artillery were organized. After service at various points in Texas they were returned to their home stations.

Upon declaration of war with Germany, on April 6, 1917, the existing militia organizations were called into service and recruited to war strength. The 3rd Infantry, Iowa National Guard, was selected as a unit of the 42d (Rainbow) division. It was later re-designated the 168th Infantry and received its baptism of fire on March 5, 1918; the only regiment, as such, which participated in combat in France. The National Guard history referred to already adds "many individuals of other units were sent overseas and saw active service with the organizations to which they were assigned."

World War Service Record.

The 1st Infantry, Iowa National Guard, was sent to Camp Cody, New Mexico, and re-designated the 133d Infantry. The 2nd Infantry and the 1st Iowa Cavalry were also sent to Camp Cody, where they were broken up and assigned to other units of the 34th Division. The 1st Iowa Field Artillery was first sent to Fort Logan H. Roots, Arkansas, and later to Camp Cody, where it was re-designated the 126th Field Artillery. An ammunition train, two hospital companies and two ambulance companies became part of the 109th Sanitation Train, 34th Division.

The 168th Infantry, serving overseas in the 42d (Rainbow) division participated in combat as follows:

Luneville sector (Lorraine), Baccart sector (Lorraine), Esperance-Souaine sector (Champagne), Champagne-Mame, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel Essey-Pannes sector (Lorraine) and Meuse-Argonne, all in 1918, and gave splendid account of itself.

The 34th Division arrived overseas in 1918 and as a whole saw no combat service, "although some of the components and a great number of its individuals were engaged. The Division was skeletonized and its components were scattered to other organizations; some units remaining intact and the personnel of other units being used as replacements."

In addition to this splendid record of service on regular battlefields the Iowa National Guard has been called on, in peace times, by various governors, to maintain order or see that laws were obeyed and to strengthen local officials.

Peacetime Calls on National Guard.

The Guard was first called out to preserve the public peace in 1873, to prevent a prize fight at Council Bluffs.

Other services were as follows:
July, 1893: Rendered aid and preserved order, cyclone at Pomeroy.
November, 1893: Prevented an attempted lynching of prisoner confined in jail of Taylor county.
January, 1894: To prevent the debarking of the Pacific coast contingent of Coxey's army, which floated down the Des Moines river to Keokuk.
April and May, 1894: Duty in connection with preserving of order at coal strike at Oskaloosa and Cincinnati.
July, 1894: Duty in connection with railway strike at Sioux City.
April, 1895: Preserving law and order at coal mine strike at Centerville and Cincinnati.
June, 1903: Suppressing a riot at Dubuque.
April and May, 1911: Preserving law and order with the button cutters' strike at Muscatine.
November, 1919: Duty in connection with I. W. W. activities, Sioux City.
November, 1921: Preserving law and order in connection with packing house strike, Ottumwa.
September to November, 1931: Duty at Cedar, Henry, Des Moines and Jefferson counties in connection with preserving law and order incidental to the Farm Holiday activities; generally known as the Cow War.
April and May, 1933: Duty at Denison and LeMars in connection with preserving law and order incidental to the Farm Holiday activities, under proclamation of martial law.
July, 1936: Aid to civil authorities in connection with disastrous fire at Remsen.
July, 1938: To preserve law and order, in connection with Maytag washing machine strike at Newton.
October, 1938: To preserve law and order at Sioux City in packing house strike.

Iowa in the World War.

The statistical story of Iowa's participation in the World War is interesting and astounding. It is difficult to realize, especially for the younger generation, the vast number of men whom Iowa, along with the other states, put into uniform, gathered into camps, drilled, equipped and either sent overseas or held in readiness for replacement.

The best way to get the view is to look at the picture for the entire nation first. In the office of the Adjutant General, in the State House at Des Moines, will be found the complete record.

The number of enlisted men in the United States army on November 11, 1918, was 4,000,000; the number of officers 200,000. Of American soldiers in France there were 2,084,000; and of these there were 1,390,000 in active service.

7,450,200 Total Dead.

The total number of men in the Allied armies was 42,188,810. Opposed to them were 22,850,000; making a grand total, in all armies, of 65,038,810 under arms. In round numbers this was more than one-half the population of the United States and its islands, territories and possessions.

During the war the Allies lost 3,100,200 men in battle deaths; the Central Powers lost 4,350,000; a grand total of 7,450,200 human lives sacrificed to the horrible god of war.

The number of wounded Allied army troops was 12,831,004; that of the Central Powers was 8,388,448; a grand total of maimed and crippled of 21,210,425; ten times the population of the state of Iowa.

Iowa Registrants 523,478.

The total number of men registered in Iowa for service, and possible service, during the World War, was 523,478, more than one-fourth the entire population of men, women and children. This grand total was divided as follows:

Class of June 5, 1917, aged 21 to 31, both inclusive 217,914
Class of June-August, 1918, age 21 21,671
Class of September 12, 1918, ages 18 to 45, not previously registered 283,893
Total 523,478

The total number of officers, men and women from Iowa in World War service is placed at 114,213, divided as follows:
In the army; 96,726 enlisted men, 4,975 officers, 611 nurses.
In the marines, 1,044 enlisted men, 30 officers.
In the navy; 10,211 enlisted men, 515 officers, 40 nurses, 42 yeomen.
Cadets at West Point, 20.

These Iowa soldiers came from every walk of life.

The Adjutant General reported to the Governor that of the men drafted in Iowa, 51.7 per cent were farmers and farm laborers. Moreover, many of this classification were excused by local and state draft boards, inasmuch as they were needed at home to produce foodstuffs for the men under arms.

The figures of the United States War department do not coincide with those of the Adjutant General of Iowa, due partially to additions and cancellations in the Federal lists. The Secretary of War says that Iowa furnished 92,000 men for various branches of the Army, and 10,000 for the Navy; a total of 102,000; as against 75,242 furnished for the Army and Navy during the Civil war, and 6,500 during the war with Spain.

The Adjutant General of Iowa comments: "This total of 102,000 does not take into consideration the large number of men, principally laborers from cities and towns, who removed to industrial centers to work in shipyards, munition plants and other factories furnishing war necessities," The number of these is estimated by the Iowa State Labor Commissioner as between 10,000 and 12,000. This same authority reported a record of 2,754 men whose railroad fares were paid through the employment service from points in Iowa into war activity points outside of Iowa.

When the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, Iowa had about 35,000 more men classified as physically examined and ready to entrain for mobilization camps, Iowa was one of the four states which was ready to promptly fill calls for trained men; the other states being Utah, Nevada and Wisconsin, Other states were far behind and many of them, particularly the southern states, never completed the physical examination of their registrants.

Had the war continued, Iowa would have, by December 15, 1918, completed classification and physical examination of the second series of September registrants, men between 37 and 45, and would have had about 60,000 men ready for entrainment to the various camps.

A few figures showing the terrific cost of the World War to the United States and the world may not be amiss, particularly as war talk occurs again every little while.

For a period of twenty-five months between April, 1917, through April, 1919, the war cost the United States more than $1,000,000 an hour, or $21,850,000,000. During the first three months, war expenditures were at the rate of $2,000,000 a day. During the next year they averaged more than $22,000,000 a day. For the final ten months of the period the daily total reached $44,000,000. The total war costs of all nations were about $186,000,000,000, of which the United States and the Allies spent two-thirds, and the enemy one-third.

Well may the question be asked: What Price Glory?

[State of Iowa Official Register, 1939-1940; transcribed by cddd]


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