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From Blue Mills to Columbia

Cedar Falls and the Civil War

Kenneth L. Lyftogt

Publication Year: 2007

Historian Kenneth Lyftogt introduces us to the volunteer soldiers of the Pioneer Grays and Cedar Falls Reserves infantry companies and in turn examines Iowa’s role in the Civil War. Many of these soldiers served the Union for the duration of the war, from the early fighting in Missouri to Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Sherman’s destructive marches through Georgia and the Carolinas. Their letters home are Lyftogt’s primary sources, as are editorials and articles published in the Cedar Falls Gazette.

Published by: University of Iowa Press


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p. v

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p. vii

This book began as my M.A. thesis in history at the University of Northern Iowa. The thesis was the 1989 recipient of the university's Outstanding Thesis Award. I am very much indebted to the members of my thesis committee, Alvin...

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1. A Town on the Cedar

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pp. 3-11

A young army explorer named Albert Lea led a troop of cavalry through the valley of the Cedar River in 1835. The Cedar, known originally as the Red Cedar, was the key waterway in northeast Iowa, and Lea was much impressed at what he saw. He wrote that...

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2. The Pioneer Greys

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pp. 12-24

The enthusiastic speeches made at the Cedar Falls railroad celebration had emphasized the grains, wools, and other goods that would soon be carried out of the valley. Those who made the speeches could not know that the guns at faraway Fort Sumter had created a new demand. There would soon be another more immediate and more precious cargo shipped out on the rails-volunteer soldiers for the Union armies....

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3. Missouri

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pp. 25-38

Early in the morning on 8 June 1861, the Key City arrived in Keokuk. The steamboat's passengers, the Pioneer Greys, the Union Guards, and the Washington Guards, were the last companies that would make up the 3d Iowa Volunteer Infantry. The military camp was located just north of town, not far from the Mississippi River.l The 1st and 2d Iowa...

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4. Home in Cedar Falls

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pp. 39-45

By the fall of 1861, the war had grown into the largest conflict the nation had yet experienced, and it would not be decided quickly or by the few volunteers called in April and May. President Lincoln had had to call for more troops that summer. Iowa's share was six more regiments of infantry...

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5. Shiloh

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pp. 46-59

In both eastern and western theaters of the war, the fall of 1861 was a much-needed period of recovery and reorganization. The Army of the Potomac, which had all but turned into a frightened mob at its first battle, Bull Run, was placed under a new commander, George B. McClellan. General McClellan had graduated from West Point, served in the Mexican War, and had...

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6. The Cedar Falls Reserves

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pp. 60-78

The significance of the battle of Shiloh was not immediately clear, and the appalling cost in human lives shocked the nation. The victory carried with it no finality, only the promise of a longer, deadlier struggle. The Confederate army had not been destroyed. In fact, it had been reinforced at Corinth by Van Dom's Arkansas troops and was as dangerous as the...

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7. Vicksburg

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pp. 79-89

After the capture of New Orleans in the spring, Vicksburg, Mississippi, remained the last Southern bastion on the Mississippi River. Confederate guns on the bluffs on the east side commanded the river, and the high, steep banks were ideal for infantry defense. It was not a city that could be captured easily....

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8. A Third Summer

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pp. 90-102

While the Emancipation Proclamation had made slavery a primary issue of the war, it was the war itself that forced many Northerners to consider black people as human beings and not just Southern slaves. Many Iowans had never met or known black people and had never seen the institution..

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9. Chattanooga

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pp. 103-114

Union triumphs at Gettysburg and Vicksburg showed the people of the North that victory was possible, providing they were willing to continue paying the bloody cost. The Southern capital of Richmond had not been captured, and there were half a dozen Confederate states that had not...

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10. Atlanta

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pp. 115-133

T he 1863 winter enlistments and draftees had added thousands to the ranks-5,906 had come from Iowa1-but there were still not enough soldiers. Recruiting efforts continued through the winter and into 1864. Two new drafts were threatened, and Governor Stone forbade eligible males...

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11. Marching Through Georgia

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pp. 134-144

When General Hood left Atlanta, he took his army north along the same route that had been fought over all summer. Hood hoped that by tearing up Sherman's much-needed and hardwon railroad and endangering the Union garrisons from Chattanooga to Atlanta he could force the...

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12. Triumph and Tragedy

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pp. 145-161

The destructive march through Georgia had proven that the deep South was vulnerable. The long campaign against Richmond seemed to be coming to a conclusion as well. General Grant and the Army of the Potomac had cornered Lee's army at the city of Petersburg, Virginia, where it had been starving behind miles of trenches for four months....

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pp. 162-166

The Cedar Falls troops did not all muster out at once and arrive home in one victorious parade. They remained in their different regiments for varying lengths of time, depending on when they had been mustered into service. The soldiers who had been sworn in before 1 October 1862 were...


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pp. 167-178


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pp. 179-181


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pp. 183-191

E-ISBN-13: 9781587296727
E-ISBN-10: 1587296721
Print-ISBN-13: 9781587296116
Print-ISBN-10: 158729611X

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2007

Edition: University of Iowa Press pbk. ed.

OCLC Number: 216935141
MUSE Marc Record: Download for From Blue Mills to Columbia

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Subject Headings

  • Iowa -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • Iowa -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Social aspects.
  • Cedar Falls (Iowa) -- History, Military -- 19th century.
  • Cedar Falls (Iowa) -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Social aspects
  • Cedar Falls (Iowa) -- History -- 19th century.
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