In August of 1862, the Civil War continued to rage and the Union began to experience a shortage of soldiers as enlistment rates dropped. Various factors were behind the declining numbers of recruits, including the realization that the war was not going to be quickly won and the remaing civilian men who were torn between enlistment and the need to be at home, especially during the crucial harvest period of late summer and early fall.
Soldiers were needed, though, and President Lincoln passed a draft in early August of 1862, calling for 300,000 men to either volunteer or be drafted. Each state was given a quota to fill based on population.
For Iowa, the number was 10,500 men, between 18 and 45 years old.
By August 29, 1862, as the deadline for volunteering approached, both the Daily Democrat and News and the Davenport Daily Gazette ran the names of the men who were subject to the draft from Davenport and Scott County. The names were alphabetized and broken down into wards and outer townships.
Benefits to volunteering instead of being drafted included a bounty incentive and higher pay (married men could receive $115 and single men $90 as a bounty incentive according to local newspaper advertisements). One could also choose the regiment. Frequently family and friends volunteered together in the hopes of being in the same regimental company. The newspapers frequently reminded gentlemen of these benefits.
Augusts 30th was the last day to volunteer. On September 4th the Daily Democrat and News reported that not only had Iowa met its draft quota through volunteers, but it had surpassed the number with over 21,000 men volunteering for 3 year length of service. There was no need to activate a draft.
It was not only the 18 to 45 year olds men who came out. The “Governor’s Grey Beards” or 37th Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment was comprised of men over 45 not eligible for active service. An estimated 1,000 men joined this company over the course of the war. These men, some well into their 70s and early 80s, gained respect for protecting railroad lines and guarding over 150,000 Confederate prisoners of war.
Based on population statistics from the 1860 United States census, it is estimated that the state of Iowa had the highest percentage of men serving during the Civil War from either the north or the south. 674,913 people lived in Iowa based on that census. 76,242 Iowa men enlisted during the war. Just over 13,000 died while 8,500 were wounded.
The citizens of Davenport, Scott County, and the state of Iowa dedicated themselves to the Union and the war effort. For more blog articles on the Civil War and our numerous resources, please type the key words Civil War into the search engine located on the lower right hand side of the web page.
(posted by Amy D.)