The 22nd Iowa: a brief history


The  22nd Iowa was composed of seven companies of men credited to Johnson County, with three additional companies from Jasper, Monroe and Wapello counties.  The men gathered and drilled at Camp Pope in Iowa City in late summer 1862.   Colonel William M. Stone of Marion County, who had distinguished himself in action with the 3rd Iowa Infantry, took command, supported by Lt. Col. Harvey Graham of Johnson County. The 22nd first did some hard campaigning in Missouri -- suffering many losses from disease --  before joining Gen. Grant's army for the Vicksburg campaign of April through July 1863. 

Early service

The regiment was in the lead of Gen. Grant's Army of the Tennessee, as that force crossed the Mississippi River into Mississippi the night of 30 April-1 May 1863.  The 22nd thereafter was in or near the thick of the fighting at Port Gibson (1 May), Champion Hill (16 May) and Big Black River Bridge (17 May)  - all Union victories.

(Plaque at the site of Camp Pope, Iowa City)


Day of Decision

The regiment's assault on the defenses of Vicksburg on 22 May proved to be its ultimate challenge.  Alone among dozens of attacking federal units, it penetrated the Rebel defenses, at a fortification called the Railroad Redoubt.  Without timely and adequate reinforcements, the tenuous hold earned by the 22nd could not last, and the  survivors of the attack eventually stumbled back to their lines.  More than eighty percent of their number had been killed, wounded or captured - one of the highest casualty rate for one unit in one action in the entire war.   

"A deep washout was almost filled with the wounded, and dead.  In some places they had huddled together, evidently to aid each other, and had died in bunches.... Stumbling over dead bodies, wounded men crawled into camp at all hours of the night, weak from the loss of blood..." 
(Vanishing Footprints, p. 125)

(Detail from the lost Vicksburg Panorama painting, showing the 22nd at the Railroad Redoubt)

West to Texas

After weeks of tedious, dangerous siege,  Vicksburg's defenders capitulated to Grant on July 4. The regiment rested only briefly before campaigning further in Mississippi.  After that came a transfer to the command of Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks in Louisiana and the Texas Gulf Coast, where  weather proved as much a challenge as the occasional Confederate.   In the meantime, the 22nd's commanding officer, Col. Stone, sought and won Iowa's governorship, becoming Iowa's second "War Governor."   

Return to the seat of war

By late spring 1864, the regiment was on the move again, to Virginia, where it joined the 24th and 28th Iowa infantry regiments as the only Hawkeye units to fight in the Old Dominion. The 22nd suffered heavy casualties at the battles of Third Winchester on 19 September, Fisher's Hill on 22 September, and Cedar Creek on 19 October. In all those actions, the 22nd helped turn the tide after initial setbacks and contributed to Union victories that cleared the Shenandoah Valley of serious Rebel resistance.

(Col. and Gov. William Milo Stone)

The War winds down

The pace of life slowed after Cedar Creek. The Spring of 1865 found the regiment involved in occupation duty in the Carolinas and Georgia, where the residents' initial hostility sometimes turned to friendliness towards the Iowans. The men of the 22nd played the part of goodwill ambassadors as best they could, and found some common ground with their former enemies.   

Home at last

After frustrating delays, the 22nd was formally mustered out in Savannah on 25 July 1865, and by August the regiment was back among friends and family.  The 22nd's journey over three years and thousands of miles was over.  Its wartime sacrifice of 114 battle deaths entitled it to a place among William Fox's "Fighting 300" regiments.

The 22nd began regular reunion meetings in 1886, and its members maintained an active regimental organization well into the 20th Century...never forgetting the comrades they had lost.

(Pvt. Joseph D. Halbrook of Company "D", who died of wounds received at Third Winchester on 19 September 1864. Courtesy of Todd Pederson.)