According to "Roster and Record of Iowa Troops In the Rebellion, Vol. 1" By Guy E. Logan,Governor Kirkwood sent the following message to Lincoln's Secretary of War:
"Your telegraphic dispatch informing me that two more regiments of volunteers were required of this State, reached me on the 17th inst. I immediately ordered the ten companies selected as the Second Regiment to rendezvous at Keokuk by the 25th inst., there to be mustered into the service of the United States. I have also selected the companies to form the Third Regiment, and I have sent orders to them to rendezvous at the same place by the 3d of June proximo at furthest. I hope both regiments will be promptly at Keokuk by the time named. The want of telegraphs and railroads in the interior of our State causes delay in the transmission of orders and the movement of troops, or these regiments would be at the place of rendezvous much sooner.
Col. Samuel R. Curtis, a member of Congress from the First district of Iowa, resigned that office to accept a commission as Colonel of the Second Iowa Infantry. He was a graduate from the Military Academy at West Point, but had many years before resigned from the army to engage in civil engineering. Upon taking command of his regiment, he at once proceeded to instruct the officers and men in the details of their duty as soldiers. So promptly and well was this instruction given, and received, that the Second Regiment was the first to take the field, the First following but one day later, and the Third but a few days thereafter. On the 13th day of June, 1861, Colonel Curtis received a telegram from General Nathaniel Lyon ordering him to at once move the troops under his command into the State of Missouri, with specific instructions to take military control of the lines of the Hannibal and St. Joseph and North Missouri Railroads."
Within 56 hours, the 2nd Iowa Infantry had taken control of the Missouri railroads stretching from Hannibal to Saint Joseph, Missouri, an incredible military accomplishment by Colonel Curtis who was later promoted to Brigadier General and Major General and would defeat the Confederate Army at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas as Commander of the southwest Army.
"The Second Iowa Infantry thus began its military career under an able leader whose influence and example was an inspiration to the splendid officers who subsequently became its commanders succeeding each other in vacancies caused by promotion, by death on the battlefield, and by disabling wounds. The regiment rendered important service during the campaign in the summer of 1861 and most of the winter of 1862. The principal points from which it operated were as follows: St. Joseph Mo.; United States Arsenal, St. Louis, Mo.; Bird's Point, Mo.; Ironton, Mo. Pilot Knob, Mo.; Jackson, Mo.; Fort Jefferson, Ky.; Benton Barracks, St. Louis; Military Prison, McDowell's College, St. Louis. Leaving the last named station on the 10th day of February, 1862, the regiment was transferred by boat to Fort Donelson, Tenn., where it participated in the siege and capture of that stronghold and opened the way for the passage of the Union troops up the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers."
Fort Donelson was the first full-fledged battle that the Second Iowa Infantry would see.
"The compiler of this history has before him the original telegram from Major General H. W.
Halleck, addressed to Adjutant General N. B. Baker of Iowa, dated at Department Headquarters, St. Louis, February 19, 1862, which reads as follows:
The Second Iowa Infantry proved themselves the bravest of the brave. They had the honor of leading the column which entered Fort Donelson.
Colonel Tuttle then goes on to mention by name those who especially distinguished
themselves by coolness and bravery in the assault upon the fort. Of those in the most responsible positions, he mentions Lieutenant Colonel Baker, Major Chipman and Adjutant Tuttle, and says of them:
They were gallant to perfection. Lieutenant Colonel Baker had a ball pass through his cap
and come out near his temple, Major Chipman was among the first to fall severely wounded,
while cheering on the men of the left wing, and refused to be carried from the field, but waved his sword and exhorted the men to press forward. Captains Slaymaker and Cloutman fell dead at the head of their companies before they reached the entrenchments. Near them fell Lieutenant Harper. His death was that of a true and brave soldier. Captains Cox, Mills, Moore and Wilkins were at the head of their companies, marked examples of gallantry and efficiency. Lieutenants Scofield, Ensign, Davis, Holmes, Huntington, Weaver Mastic, Snowden and Godfrey—in fact nearly all of my officers, commissioned and non-commissioned— deported themselves nobly throughout the engagement, Sergeant Major Brawner deserves very honorable mention for his gallant conduct. Surgeons Marsh and Nassau also deserve the highest praise for their skill and untiring devotion to the welfare of the wounded. Dr. Nassau was particularly noticed for his bravery on the field, taking off the wounded during a heavy fire from the enemy. I cannot omit in this report an account of the Color Guard. Color Sergeant Doolittle fell early in the engagement pierced by four balls, and dangerously wounded. The colors were then taken by Corporal Page of Company B who soon fell, dead. They were again raised by Corporal Churcher of company I who had his arm broken just as he entered the entrenchments, when they were taken by Corporal Twombly of company F, who was almost instantly knocked down by a spent ball, but he immediately rose and bore them gallantly to the end of the fight. Not a single man of the Color Guard, but himself, was on his feet at the close of the engagement.
Thus, in its first great battle, so important in its results, the Second Iowa Infantry bore such a
conspicuous part as to be accorded the post of honor by being placed in the vanguard of the troops who took possession of the stronghold they had fought so bravely to subdue. The news of the splendid manner in which they had sustained the flag of their country was heard with glad acclaim, mingled with mourning for the gallant dead, throughout the State of Iowa, and served as an inspiration to those who were rallying to the defense of their country, and eagerly waiting for the opportunity to take the places of their fallen comrades."
In April, the Second Iowa Infantry would be present at the Battle of Shiloh.
"The two regiments of Tuttle's command—the Second and Seventh Iowa— which had
escaped capture, reinforced by fragments of other regiments, constituted an important part of the line of last resistance at Shiloh on the 6th of April, and again the regiment occupied a post of honor. On Monday, the 7th, the Second Iowa was placed under the orders of General Nelson and made a bayonet charge in a most gallant manner, the enemy giving way before them. It will thus be seen that the regiment well sustained at Shiloh the record it had made at Donelson."
Next they were sent to Corinth Mississippi where 108 of the 320 who fought, were killed.
"After the battle of Corinth, the regiment, now decimated in number by its heavy losses in
battle, continued in active service in the states of Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia, during the fall, winter, spring and early summer of 1862 and 1863, and contributed its full share to the success of the operations against the enemy, up to, and culminating in, the fall of Atlanta and the march to the sea, and on to Washington. During this period of its service, it participated in the following engagements: Little Bear Creek, Alabama, November 28, 1862. Town Creek, Ala., April, 1863. Resaca, Ga., May 14 and 15, 1864. Rome Cross Roads May 16, 1864."
Between July 7, 1862, and December 16, 1862, Orange Mansfield would be promoted to Corporal (July 7) Sergeant ( September 4) and Second Lieutenant (December 16).
Orange mustered out of service after completing his three year enlistment in May of 1864. The Second Iowa would March to the sea and then to Washington DC, before returning to Davenport, Iowa, where it was disbanded on July 20, 1865.
Last week, I found two books that mentioned the Second Iowa Infantry and ordered them both. Hopefully they will provide more detail on the service of this brave group.