1st Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment (African Descent)








HISTORICAL NOTES:
Term of service three years. Mustered into the service of the United States at Keokuk, Iowa, and Benton Barracks, Mo., of dates ranging from Oct. 11, 1863, to Dec. 4, 1863, by Lieutenant Colonel William N. Grier and Colonel B. L. E. Bonneville, United States Army. Mustered out of service (Sixtieth Regiment United States Colored Troops) Oct. 15, 1865, Devall's Bluff, Ark.

(Subsequently transferred to Sixtieth Regiment U. S. Colored Troops.)

In the official reports of the office of the Adjutant General of Iowa, this organization is referred to under the designation given in the title to this sketch, and also as the "First Infantry (Sixtieth U. S.) A. D. - First Infantry (African Descent)" - the somewhat ambiguous title to the original roster of the regiment." The regiment was organized under special orders from the War Department, bearing date July 27, 1863. At that time there were probably less than fifteen hundred persons of African descent living within the boundaries of the State of Iowa. There was an ardent desire, however, on the part of the Iowa men of negro blood, to assist in accomplishing the defeat of those who were engaged in an attempt which, if successful, meant the perpetuation of human slavery in the Southern States. They therefore gladly embraced the opportunity to enlist as soldiers in the Union army.

In promulgating his order for the organization of the regiment, Adjutant General Baker says:

Most of the men for the regiment, known as the First Regiment of Iowa African Infantry, made their place of rendezvous in this State, and the State authorities exerted themselves in behalf of this regiment. General Orders No. 122 of this Department declared:

I. Whereas, authority has been granted by the War Department to Colonel William A. Pile, to raise a regiment of men of African descent, and, whereas, the rendezvous of said regiment has been fixed at Keokuk, Iowa, it is hereby ordered that the usual facilities for recruiting be furnished in this State, for this purpose.

II. Colonel Pile will report to this Office rolls of all companies raised in this State.

III. Recruiting Officers, with proper authority from the War Department, or from Colonel Pile, can make application for transportation to this office.

IV. Officers recruiting for said regiment will correspond with Colonel Pile, whose headquarters are at Keokuk, Iowa, in relation to the various matters connected with recruiting for said regiment.

V. The regiment will be known as the First regiment of Iowa African Infantry.

Report of Adjutant General or Iowa, 1864, page 198.
Report of Adjutant General of Iowa, 1864, page iv.

Six companies for the regiment were recruited in Iowa, and comprised within their ranks almost every man of African descent in the State who was capable of performing military service. Four companies were recruited in Missouri, but in all the companies appear names of men from adjoining States, as shown by the original roster of the regiment. The aggregate strength of the regiment when its last company was mustered in - December 4, 1863 - was nine hundred eleven men, rank and file. The subjoined roster shows a long list of casualties, mainly from disease. The records give but one instance in which the regiment came into conflict with the enemy, which was at Wallace's Ferry, Big Creek, Ark., July 26, 1864. In that engagement Adjutant Theodore W. Pratt, of Keokuk, Iowa, was killed, and several enlisted men of the regiment were either killed or wounded. The compiler regrets that he has not been able to find the official report of the regimental commander, describing the part taken by the regiment in that engagement, only the returns of casualties being shown by the records. In Dyer's Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, the following summary of the history and service of the "Sixtieth Regiment of Infantry, United States Colored Volunteers," is given:

Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, by Frederick H. Dyer, 1908, page 1733.

It is shown in the foregoing summary that the regiment performed the greater part of its service after its transfer and change of designation. Nevertheless, its history - like that of several other Iowa military organizations in which men from other States enlisted - belongs as fully to the State as that of any of the regiments which were organized within her borders. The records of the First Regiment of Iowa African Infantry constitute a portion of the military archives of the State, and it is therefore given its distinctive place in this work as the only regiment of the Negro race which the State of Iowa sent into the field. It may truly be said of these men that, when the call to arms was extended to them, they responded as freely - in proportion to their numbers - as had the men of other races, and it may also be as truly said that they, of all men, were offered the greatest inducement to enlist, for the time had then come when the success of the Union arms meant the freedom of their race. The regiment was one of the two hundred twenty-four military organizations, composed of men of African descent, which entered the service of the United States and performed faithful and important service in the final suppression of the rebellion. The opportunity to enroll themselves among the Nation's defenders was long delayed, but, when it came, they were found ready and eager to take part in the struggle which ended in the emancipation of four millions of their race from the degradation of human slavery. They proved themselves such capable and worthy soldiers, in time of war, that several regiments of Negro soldiers have since constituted a part of the Regular Army of the United States.

SUMMARY OF CASUALTIES.

Total Enrollment..........................................1153
Killed.....................................................11
Wounded.....................................................2
Died of wounds..............................................1
Died of disease...........................................332
Discharged for wounds, disease or other causes.............54
Buried in National Cemeteries..............................36
Captured....................................................0
Transferred.................................................1

OFFICERS:


ASSIGNMENTS:

The Sixtieth Regiment of Infantry, United States Colored Troops, was organized March 11, 1864, from the First Iowa Colored infantry. Attached to District or Eastern Arkansas, Seventh Corps, Department of Arkansas, to April, 1865; Second Brigade, First Division, Seventh Army Corps, to August, 1865; Department of Arkansas, to October, 1865.
SERVICE:

Post and garrison duty at Helena, Ark., until April, 1865. expedition from Helena to Big Creek, July 25, 1864. Action at Wallace's Ferry, Big Creek, July 26, 1864. Expedition to Kent's Landing, August 11-13. Expedition up White River, August 29-September 3 (Companies C and F). Scout to Alligator Bayou, September 9-14 (detachment). Scouts to Alligator Bayou, September 22-28, and October 1-4. Expedition to Harbert's Plantation, Mississippi, January 11- 16, 1865. (Company C.) Moved to Little Rock, April 8, 1865, and on duty there until August 20th. Moved to Devall's Bluff, thence to Jacksonport, Ark. On duty there and at various points In sub-district of White River, in White, Augusta, Franklin and Fulton Counties, Powhatan on Black River and Batesville, until September. Mustered out at Devall's Bluff, October 15, 1865. Disbanded November 2, 1865.
BIBLIOGRAPHY:

REFERENCES:
REF: Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion
Federal Publishing Company. The Union Army.
Iowa Adjutant General's Office. Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers, Vol. V

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