Role of 11th Iowa Infantry at Vicksburg

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Pr Palmer

Mar 30, 2019
I have been reading with great interest the diary of Downing's Civil War Diary, who was a sergeant in the 11th Iowa Volunteer Regiment, Co E (regiment and company as my gr-gr-grandfather). When I was reading the section on the Siege of Vicksburg, there were countless entries of the 11th Iowa taking turns with two or three other companies for picket duty. So, given that, would it be accurate to say that the 11th Iowa's involvement there was more in a "support" /"reserve" capacity?
That is the impression I'm left with. My daughter in particular (also a CW history fan, of sorts) was asking about how heavily her ancestor's company was engaged. The 11th Iowa was certainly heavily engaged at Shiloh and in other places, but here it's not quite so clear. Any "experts" on Vicksburg care to chime in?

Link to Downing's Diary: []
Dec 31, 2010
Kingsport, Tennessee
The 11th Iowa was certainly heavily engaged at Shiloh
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Shiloh after battle report:

Report of Lieut. Col. William Hall, Eleventh Iowa Infantry.

SIR: A have the honor to report the part taken by the Eleventh Regt.
Iowa Volunteers in the action of the 6th and 7th instant as follows:
At between 7 and 8 a. m. on the 6th instant I received orders from you
to form my regiment, consisting of an aggregate of 750 officers and
men, and march them in close column about 200 yards to the front and
there await orders, which I did. In about half an hour I received orders
from you to march about one-fourth of a mile to the left and there form
as a reserve. On arriving at the place indicated I immediately deployed
in line of battle. In a very few moments I received orders from
Maj.-Gen. McClernand to advance to the front, which I did at a
double-quick for a distance of over a quarter of a mile, my right resting
on a pond and supporting Dresser's battery, my left resting along a road
and on another battery. I had scarcely got into position before the enemy
appeared on force, and I opened fire immediately, throwing them into
confusion. They soon reformed and opened on me a very destructive
fire of musketry and artillery, which I sustained for nearly two hours,
during which time my loss in killed and wounded was very severe.
Maj. Abercrombie, who commanded the right with and who rendered
me the most gallant and efficient aid, here received a severe wound in
the head, which necessitated his retiring from the field, remaining,
however, during the time above mentioned. My horse was here shot
under me, and I received while on foot a slight wound in my left ankle.
A large force of the enemy appearing on my right and apparently
endeavoring to turn it, I received orders to retire, which I did, forming
about 100 yards from the left of the regimental parade ground with
Companies A, B, C, E, G, H, and K, the left wing and Company C
retiring in good order. Companies D, F, and I, while retiring, were
exposed to a most galling fire of artillery and musketry, which sweep
the open space through which they had to go, and were thrown into
confusion and did not form. I immediately received orders from
Maj.-Gen. McClernand to take my position about 50 yards in
advance, where I remained under cover for a short time until the enemy
approached quite close, I fired and advanced at doublequick, driving
them before me and capturing a standard from the enemy.

When about 50 yards in the rear of my position, supporting Dresser's
battery, in the morning, I received report from the commanders of
companies that the men were out of ammunition, which fact I
immediately reported to Maj.-Gen. McClernand in person, and held
my position until I was re-enforced, when I received orders from
Gen. McClernand to retire and procure ammunition. Before I issued
the order to retire the troops ordered to occupy my ground broke in
confusion, throwing my men into temporary disorder, but they rallied
and formed at my camp, where I learned that my ammunition had been
taken to the river half an hour before, and I could not learn, after
repeated inquiries, where I could procure any, and the fire becoming
very hot, I retired until I received ammunition, and was joined by part
of Companies D, F, and I. While issuing ammunition I received orders
from Maj.-Gen. Grant to advance immediately, and
ordering Companies B and C, who were armed with rifles and were
then unable to procure cartridges of a suitable caliber, to remain until
they procured them and rejoin the regiment, I immediately moved
forward, taking the first road to the left, until I found a line, and formed
on its right, opening fire on the enemy, where I remained until ordered
to retire and form on the left of a battery of heavy guns placed behind
corn sacks. I held that position until I received orders from Gen.
Grant to advance and deployed skirmishers and feel of the enemy. I
advanced some hundred yards or more, deploying Company A, Capt.
Grant, with instructions to find the enemy, and remained until the
batteries in my rear opened fire, when I returned to the rear of the
batteries, and remained until ordered to advance and support a battery
placed on the left of the heavy guns before mentioned. Here I detailed
12 men from Company G and ordered them to take charge of two
12-pounder howitzers which I found without officers or men, and which
they used with good effect. I remained in this position until the enemy
were repulsed and during the night.

On the morning of the 7th I received orders from Gen. Grant to
move out on the main road leading from the river and to take the first
road leading to the left, and to advance until I found the line. After
marching about a mile and a half I found a heavy gun which was
playing upon the enemy. Immediately formed on its left in support and
remained until ordered to move to the right and front, where I formed
in line of battle, when I received orders from Gen. Hurlbut to
advance and deploy skirmishers to the left and front. I immediately
advanced, deploying Company B to the left and Company A to the
front. The firing after some time becoming more remote, I recalled my
skirmishers and remained in line of battle until ordered to return to my

With but few individual exceptions all my officers and men conducted
themselves with the greatest gallantry. I make special mention of
Capt. John C. Marven, of Company K, who rose from a sick bed, not
having been able to do duty for ninety days.

Respectfully submitted.

Lieut.-Col. Eleventh Regt. Iowa Volunteers, Comdg.

Lieut. C. CADLE, Jr.,
A. A. A. G., First Brig., First Div., Army of the Tennessee.

Source: Official Records: Series I. Vol. 10. Part I, Reports. Serial No. 10

Report of Maj. Charles Foster, Eleventh Iowa Infantry.

Near Fox's Plantation, June 29, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith the following report of the
action of my command this day at Messinger's Ferry:

In accordance with your orders and instructions, received of Col.
Alexander Chambers, I marched at 10 a.m. With four companies Eleventh
Iowa Infantry, viz, Companies F, G, H, and I; a small squad of the
Eleventh Illinois Cavalry (Gen. McArthur's body guard in part), and
two pieces of the Tenth Ohio Battery, under Lieut. Newcomb, to Big
Black River, near the old Messenger's Ferry. (on our arrival we found
the enemy's cavalry pickets posted behind an old corn-crib near the
crossing on the eastern side of the river, and also in the timber beyond
and to the left of the corn-crib, in numbers nearly equal to our own
force. Our cavalry and Company F, of the infantry, were deployed as
skirmishers at once near the bank of the river, and our artillery planted
on the hill, about one-third of a mile to the rear of the infantry, and
after some skirmishing, with the aid of well-directed shots from the
artillery, we drove the enemy back from their first position, and I saw
nothing of them after 4 p.m. At 5 p.m. I sent back all our force, save
two companies of infantry, to induce the enemy to cross over to us if
possible, having first concealed the two Companies, but in vain. At 6 p.m.
We returned to camp without any loss. The officers and men of my command
all behaved well.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Maj., Commanding.

Lieut. O. D. KINSMAN,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Third Brig., Sixth Div., Seventeenth A. C.

Source: Official Records
[Series I. Vol. 24. Part II, Reports. Serial No. 37.]

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