Governor Gathers an Army

Time Frame: 1861

Iowa's governor gathered men for the Union Army in 1861. But he couldn't get guns from Washington.
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“The Civil War,” The Iowa Heritage: Program # 5, Iowa Public Television, 1977.

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Governor Kirkwood doubted that he could raise a regiment of 1,000 men needed for immediate action. When 10,000 Iowans volunteered he was stunned. About one-half of the eligible men in the state took part in the war in one form or another. And the Governor’s biggest job was finding enough arms and ammunition. Governor Kirkwood and a number of leading citizens pledged their personal property to borrow money for supplies.

Dear Mr. Secretary of War,

I can raise ten thousand men in this state in twenty days, but the state has not any arms. Our first regiment has been in drill a week. It has tents and blankets, but no arms. I ask for nothing but arms. We have the men to use them.

The answer from Washington: No. A regiment of eager soldiers and no guns.


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