Redfield’s Company “H” 39th Iowa Infantry: Civil War

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Colonel James Redfield (1824-1864)
After the call for volunteers came from the White House, James Redfield of Wiscotta, Iowa, became lieutenant colonel of Company H of the 39th Iowa Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. (I’ve read that only single men were accepted as volunteers, but Redfield was a family man, as were Collin Marshall and Elwood Elliott who served with him, and who also lost their lives–see below.)
Redfield was born in New York on March 27, 1824. Iowa still wasn’t a state when Redfield graduated from Yale in 1845, and for a time, served in the office of Secretary of State in New York.
He moved to Iowa in 1855, settling in the town of New Ireland where he purchased a large tract of land with his brother, Luther, and a Mr. Moore. Soon afterward Moore became his father-in-law as he married Achsah Moore on May 7, 1856.
Mr. Redfield and his wife settled in nearby Wiscotta. They had three children–Thomas, Martha, and Mary.
James Redfield served in several capacities in different offices in the county. He was elected an Iowa State Senator from a district which, at that time, consisted of Dallas, Adair, Cass, Guthrie, Audubon, and Shelby Counties. Because the Civil War intervened, Redfield served only one term in the Iowa Senate.
President Lincoln had called for 75,000 volunteers. Iowa’s quota was 950 men, or one regiment of soldiers. Three times that many volunteered on the first Iowa call.
Redfield raised a company of soldiers, most of whom were ex-Hoosiers like himself. He was elected captain and, upon the organization of a regiment, the 39th Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment, he was elected its lieutenant colonel.
After training, the 39th was sent to Eastern Iowa where they boarded steamboats and headed south to join the fight. Redfield was wounded twice. First he was shot in the foot, then later in the leg, but he refused to leave his post. His life ended soon after when he was shot through the heart during the battle of Allatoona Pass, Georgia on October 5, 1864. Age 40.
Someone wrote about him, “Of rare powers of speech, engaging manners, and cultivated tastes, which gave additional charm to his manly and soldierly character, his death will be deeply mourned by his friends, and will prove a loss to his adopted state.”
Redfield’s body was returned to Dallas County, where he had left a widow and three children. He is buried in the Wiscotta Cemetery, where a Civil War Monument marks his grave. “Founder of yonder town,” is carved on one side of the monument.
A plaque in the Redfield Park commemorates where Company H of the 39th Iowa Volunteer Infantry mustered to head off to war, leaving families behind.
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Redfield’s widow, Acsah, outlived her husband by 43 years, passing away on June 5, 1907. A gown gifted to Achsah Redfield while her husband was in the legislature is featured in the Redfield Museum.
Lt. Col. Redfield is also remembered on the storyboard that accompanies the Dallas County Freedom Rock at Minburn.
Main source: Cecil E. Charles, Palladium-Item & Sun Telegram, Richmond, Indiana, 1965.
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Collin Marshall
Collin Marshall was born in 1826, probably in Wayne County, Indiana, the son of Miles and Martha (Jones) Marshall. He married Sarah June (Sally) Mills, and had moved to Dallas County, Iowa, before the war broke out.
He joined Company H 39th Iowa Infantry at Redfield, Iowa.
Collin (3)

On July 4, 1863, the 39th Regiment was encamped at Iuka Springs, Mississippi, guarding a corral of cattle destined for the army. Collin’s sister, Minera (Marshall) Thornburg, related the sad news to relatives in Indiana: “I must first tell of the death of Coll. He was shot in the afternoon of the 4th, inst., while riding out about a mile from camp, by a company of Guerillas, some eight or ten in number, who lay hid, then halloed to surrender and fired a volley at the same time, two balls passing through the breast and one through the neck. His horse was wounded also. He raised his hand for them not to shoot, but they only wanted his life.”

Lieutenant Collin Marshall, age 36, was killed  at Corinth, Mississippi. They sent to Memphis for a coffin, had his body embalmed, and started it home two days later accompanied by his brother Bob.

Ten days later, Bob arrived in Redfield without the coffin. He got as far as Eddyville, Iowa, eighty miles from home, but there was no freight service from there. He had his brother buried temporarily, then came on alone.

Their older brother, Calvin (Peet) Marshall drove his team and a wagon to Eddyville, returning home seven days later with Collin’s casket. They buried him “in Masonic style” on a hill at Wiscotta, overlooking the town of Redfield.

Collin

 

Elwood Elliott

Private Elwood Elliott of Redfield, a native Hoosier, mustered into Company H 39th Iowa Infantry in August 1862, age 30. He was captured by Confederate forces at Corinth, Mississippi, on July 7, 1863. He was taken Belle Island Prison in Richmond, Virginia, where died in the squalor of the camp on December 9, 1863. He is buried at Richmond City, Virginia.

Left a widow, Hannah.

George W. Noel

George W. Noel, age 40, of Redfield, was born Kentucky. He enlisted Aug. 11, 1862, as Third Sergeant. Mustered Aug. 25, 1862. Taken prisoner July 7, 1863, Corinth, Miss. Paroled. “Mustered out June 5, 1865, Washington, D. C.”

But he was never heard from after July 7, 1863, when he was captured at Corinth, Mississippi. When he was mustered out, he was mustered out as a missing soldier.

No one knows where he is buried, but there is a marker for him in Wiscotta Cemetery.

Co. H 39 Reg Iowa Vol; KILLED July 4, 1863; Aged 41 ys 2 ms 15 ds”

Gravesite Details George was actually captured on July 7, 1863, at Corinth, Mississippi, and was never heard from again.

More information from Andy Likins about George W. Noel: The Noels moved from Putnam County, Indiana, to Dallas County, Iowa, in 1850.  George W. Noel enlisted in Company H, 39th Regiment Iowa Infantry at Redfield, Iowa, on August 11, 1862.  According to a letter written on May 11, 1863, from Corinth, Mississippi, requesting that Sergeant George W. Noel get a furlough, Capt. J. M. Loomis of his company wrote, “The said George W. Noel has served his country honestly and faithfully since his enlistment and fought bravely at the battle of Parker’s Cross Roads Tenn. Dec 31st 1862 under Col. Dunham Actg. Brig. Gen.  Also did his duty well on the late march to Town Creek, Ala. under Gen. Dodge. … The said George W. Noel is forty (40) years old, six (6) feet high, light complexion, blue eyes, dark hair and by profession a farmer, was born in Scott county, State of Kentucky…”

Several documents state that George W. Noel was taken prisoner on July 7, 1863, at Corinth, Mississippi.  This includes the testimony of Wesley Wright of Dallas Co., Iowa, who was in the same company as George.  George and another soldier were guarding mules and horses in the line of duty when they were taken prisoner by rebel soldiers.  Wright testified that “George W. Noel was either starved or hanged by said rebels.”  On June 5, 1865, with “all prisoners having been released and his not returning home,” George was mustered out in Washington, DC, along with other missing members of his company.  Some of the biographical sketches of George’s sons give other accounts of what might have happened.  Joseph Rice Noel’s biography in “History of Buena Vista County (Iowa)” states that, “[George] was captured at Corinth just prior to the battle at that place.  On the night of the third day after the surrender of Vicksburg, anxious to convey the news of the surrender to his company, he and a comrade named Roop started on the perilous journey but on the way were captured by Quantelle’s forces and as nothing was ever after heard of them it is supposed they were shot by the rebel commander.”  A biography of David Wilson Noel in “Progressive Men of Iowa” relates, “[George] was a member of the Thirty-ninth Iowa, and was captured near Corinth, Mississippi, by the rebels, after which no definite information could ever be obtained concerning his fate.  It was generally accepted belief of the members of his command that he, with six others, were murdered by a band of guerrillas.”  Both George and William Talbert Noel have their names on a grave marker in Wiscotta Cemetery, near Redfield, but it is not known where George was buried and William was buried in Keokuk National Cemetery.

Dulcena (Thornton) Noel was left with six children under the age of sixteen to care for,

(From Roster and Records of Iowa Soldiers; also information from a descendant, Andy Likins.)

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