General Elliott W. Rice, Mahaska County, Iowa 1878

Was born in Alleghany City, Pennsylvania, November 16, 1835. The year following his parents moved to Martinsville, Belmont county, Ohio, where he was raised; he was educated at the old Lancasterian academy, Wheeling, Virginia, and at Franklin college, Ohio; came to this county in September, 1855, and studied law in his brother's (General Samuel A. Rice), office and afterward, in the spring of 1858, graduated at the law school of the University of Albany, Albany, New York, and was then admitted to the bar in the Supreme Court of that State; returned to Oskaloosa and commenced the practice of his profession in partnership with his brother, and continued in successful practice until the war commenced, when he enlisted as a private soldier in Major McMullin's company, of the Seventh Iowa Infantry, and was mustered into the service at Burlington, in July, 1861. At the time of muster in McMullin's company had more than the full complement of 101 men, and was given the position of honor in the regiment, that of color company; Capt. McMullin, and Lients. Smith and Ream, also claimed for the company one of the field officers of the regiment, and recommended Rice, who had been appointed sergeant by McMullin, for Major. After the regiment entered the field, Governor Kirkwood sent Rice his commission, and he at once entered upon his duties in the advanced position. This was on the first of August, 1861. On the Seventh of November following, that regiment went into Grant's first battle, the battle of Belmont, and achieved a fame that will last as long as history; C company bore the colors that was confided to it by the noble ladies of Oskaloosa, and which had become the regimental flag. Many of Mahaska county's grandest men went down on that field, battling for them. The colonel of the regiment, Lauman, was wounded; and carried from the field. The lieutenant colonel was killed by the side of the major. The adjutant was captured, and the command of the regiment fell upon Major Rice, who had already lost one horse, and was badly wounded, he took his command, charged through the enemies line, and covered the retreat of the troops back to the boats, three miles up the river. After the battle the regiment remained a while at Bird's Point, Mo., then was sent to Benton barracks, St. Louis, to recruit its deceminated ranks; Rice was taken by his brother to his old Ohio home, and before he had recovered from his wound, rejoined his regiment at St. Louis, and started with it in January, 1862, on the Tennessee campaign; was on duty at the capture of Fort Henry, but his regiment was not engaged as that capture was a naval victory. At Fort Donelson his regiment supported the grand old Second Iowa, which made the charge that carried the works. All field officers wore ordered to dismount on the charge, and Rice was told by his Colonol that he would have to remain in the rear, and he was unable to make the charge but Rice brought his crutches into service, claimed that he had more leg's than Lauman, and went in with his troops. After this battle Colonel Lauman was promoted, and Rice was made colonol of his regiment, and Captain James W. McMullin of this county was commissioned major of the regiment. After Donelson the regiment went to Pittsburg Landing, and engaged in the battle of Shiloh, and wreathed its fame with additional laurels, familiar to Iowa and the country; then on to Corinth, the siege there, the summer camp, discipline and drill. The old Seventh here gave its entire attention to "recruiting within its own ranks," as Rice called it, getting back the men that were absent, "wounded,"" sick," "detached service;" he made a "raid" on his surgeon, whom he claimed was the best in that army-Dr. Lake, now of Indianola, and told him to cut down that sick report, "cure the men under his treatment, and return them to duty; Dr. Lake did so, and under sanitary arrangements established at that camp, the Seventh Iowa had fewer men sick and more for duty, in proportion to its roster, than any other regiment in the army. This attracted the attention of Gen. Ord, com- inanding the garrison of Corinth; he sent for Rice, told him of the fact, and issued a general order, calling attention to the fact. Commending Rice and his surgeon, and comparing his regiment with the Fiftieth Illinois In- fantry, which at that time was reporting nearly thirty-three per cent of its men sick, while the Seventh had less than two per cent. Rice is proud of this order and well he may be; he is loud in his praise of Dr. Lake, and says that to him all the credit is due. From Camp Montgomery the regiment marched to the battle of Inka, in September, 1862, but was not engaged; re- turned to camp and remained until the 2d of October, when it was hotly engaged in the two days second battle of Corinth, and lost nearly one-third of all the men on its battle roster, among them Captain Benton K. Smith, brother of Hon. Wm. T. Smith. General Rice relates of him that he, Rice, was sitting on his horse talking to Smith, who was sitting on a stump, when the enemy burst from the woods on a magnificent charge. "Bent" rose up and said enthusically, "that is the way I like to see them come," and "two minutes afterward that noble and gallant boy was dead." This charge of the enemy on the 4th was the last one made, and was met by the Seventh and Second Iowa in a counter-charge, and ended the second battle of Corinth. Mahaska county knows all about it; her boys were there. Rice looked after his men while living, and did not neglect them dead. He carefully had them buried, in separate graves, and their graves marked with name, company and regiment. This duty he imposed as a special service on the late William Johnson, of this county, who was fife-major of his regiment, and son-in-law of Judge Rhinehart. This care and thought- fulness have been of great service to the war department, in collecting the remains of the government's dead heroes for interment in the national cemetery. Few, if any, of Rice's soldiers are in "unknown" graves. Af- ter this battle of Corinth the Seventh pursued the flying rebels as far south as Rienzi, then was sent to the outpost, Boneyard. From this latter place Colonel Rice was sent to Bethel, Tennessee, with his regiment, the Forty- third Ohio, a portion of the Eleventh Illinois Cavalry, and a Michigan battery, and took command of the post and district, giving the most of his time to watching the army of the rebel general Bragg, on the north side of the Tennessee river. From Bethel he was sent to Lagrange, Tennessee, and took command of the post, and disposed his troops along the railroad between Memphis and Corinth. In addition to the command of the post he was assigned to the command of the brigade composed of the Second and Seventh Iowa, Fifty-second Illinois, and Sixty-sixth Indiana. While here the rebel general Chalmers, with a strong force, attacked one of Rice's regiments, the Sixty-sixth Indiana, stationed on the railroad at Collierville. After several hours' hard fighting the enemy was repulsed, and Rice, with the Second and Seventh Iowa and Fifty-seventh Ohio, followed him several miles below Holly Springs, Mississippi. The grand movement from Chattanooga to Atlanta and the sea had been determined upon. Rice was ordered, with his brigade, to Pulaski, Tennessee. Enroute there the old Seventh "veteranized," and returned to Iowa on a thirty days' furlough. It was everywhere received with patriotic demonstrations of appreciation. At the expiration of the furlough the regiment rendezvoused at Keokuk, and waited for a steamer. This was in February, 1864. One night, while enjoying a pleasant party at Captain Conn's, a steamer came whistling down the river. The party was soon broken up, and the troops hurried on board the boat. Major McMullin was left behind to pick up the stragglers, and the regiment started on its renewed effort to crush the rebellion. Arriving at St. Louis in a snow storm, the colonel directed Lieutenant-Colonel Parrott to get the regiment in line on the wharf, and not allow officers or men to go up town until he should return after reporting to the post commander there. Reporting, he was informed that he would have to go into barracks, and wait for transportation. He replied, "Give me an order, and I will find transportation." This was given him, he proceeded to the wharf, and found a government chartered boat loaded with grain for Memphis. Without consulting the captain, a detail of men was put on board, re-arranged the grain sacks so that the troops could find comfortable quarters, and put them aboard before the captain could get up town and get an order against the proceeding. The steamer captain and post Q. M. arrived at the boat only in time to find their old regiment comfortably fixed, ready for Cairo. These steamers were chartered at high prices by the government. They carried only such freight and troops as they were obligated to under orders. Rice knew this, and he claimed that that boat was better garrison quarters than he could find at Benton or Jefferson, where they had already had sufficient experience. Of course the regiment was not ordered off the boat, but in two hours after arriving at St. Louis it was steaming rebelward. At Cairo the same thing occurred. This boat was going to Memphis. The regiment was enroute back to Pulaski, via Nashville. General Reed, of this State, was in command at Cairo. He informed Rice that he would have to go into quarters there, and wait for transportation. These men knew each other well. Rice knew that there were two boats at the wharf, loaded to the guards, for Nashville. He asked an order to divide his troops between the two boats, and that the order should not be revoked upon the application of the captains of the boats. It was given him, and an hour found his troops moving comfortably up the Ohio for the Cumberland river and Nashville. At the latter place they arrived at daylight. Finding a train loaded with commissary stores for the south, they took the top of the train, and in the afternoon landed at their old Pulaski camp. General Sweeny, commanding the post, met them at the depot, and, on being informed that the regiment only reached Nashville that morning, exclaimed: "Great God.! the Fiftieth Illinois has been there for a week, trying to get transportation! "Of course there was a great deal of growling by officers and men about this, what they called, "forced march," but all were delighted when they found that they had made the trip from Keokuk to Pulaski before another regiment, belonging to the same command, could get from Nashville to the same place. On arriving at Pulaski, Rice again assumed command of his old brigade, the regiment going on to Prospect, a little place on the Elk river, a few miles below there. The last of April, 1864, the troops, except a small garrison, left for the grand rendezvous at Chattanooga, preparatory for the grand campaign against Atlanta. Rice's Brigade entered upon this memorable campaign with a zest. It was his troops that effected the crossing of the Oostanaula river at Lang's Ferry, and with his own brigade, Welkin battery, and the Michigan battery, he attacked Walker's rebel division, entrenched on the hill, and drove it from its position, the other two brigades of the division afterward reported to him, and he held this lodgment in the rear of the enemy's position, which was at Resaca, and they compelled the evacuation of that place. This was one of the most complete and important successes of the Atlanta campaign, and was appreciated as such by General Sherman. Major McMullin here commanded the 7th Iowa, and was highly complimented for his good judgment and bravery by General Rice. At Dallas, his command was hotly engaged in a magnificent mid-night defensive battle. A severe rain and thunder storm was raging, and the whole of General Logan's Corps. and General Sweeney's division, of Gen. Dodge's Corps, were engaged. Not one inch of ground was given, but the enemy was completely repulsed and routed, leaving the dead in our hands. On went the victorious troops to Kensaw Mountain, Big Shante, Kickajack creek, across. the Chattahoochee river to the investment of Atlanta. On the 22d of July, when the gallant McPherson, commander of the Army of the Tennessee, was killed, Rice's brigade, together with the other troops of Gen. Dodge's command, met a terrific assault made by Gen. Hardee's rebel troops, repulsed the enemy, made a counter-charge taking possession of the field in his front, burying the dead rebels, and capturing, besides prisoners, over six hundred stand of new English Enfleld rifles. After this battle these troops marched around from the left in rear of our grand army, to position on the right, and were again engaged in the other great Atlanta battle on the 28th of July, but were not in the heat and front of the battle as they were on the 22d. After these battles, and while his troops were still in front of Atlanta, Rice received his promotion as Brigadier-General, retained his old command, and with it went on the world renowned march to the sea. There was very little active fighting on this campaign. Railroads were destroyed and the enemy dislodged wherever fonud. Skirmishing was only amusement for Rice's boys; he said they enjoyed it about as much as they would a fox chase. Savannah was captured in December, and presented to the country by General Sherman as a Christmas present. The troops remained there until the last of January, when they started on the march through the swamps. of South Carolina, crossing from Georgia into that State at Listen Ferry, about fifty miles above Savannah. The boys said the treason of that State was perfectly natural; that the very ground over which they marched was treacherous, and they had to "corduroy" the whole State as they went. They marched through Columbia where there was a great fire, the origin of which is in dispute; marched away under its smoke in the direction of Goldsboro, engaging in a little fight at Lyncher Creek with General Wade Hampton's troops, which results as usual. From Goldsboro, via Raleigh, General Rice moved his command with General Logan to give General Joe Johnson battle. The news of the fall of Richmond was received and Johnson surrendered to General Sherman. The last battle fought by General Rice's troops was at Bentonville, North Carolina, and was not regarded as severe, as but few troops were lost. After the surrender of Johnson the whole army marched via Richmond to Washington City, passed in grand review before the country and the representatives of the civilized world. Rice was promoted to Brevet-Major-General "for gallant and distinguished services during the war." He took his troops to Louisville, Ky., where they were mustered out of the service and sent to their respective homes in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa, after having made a record that each and every one of his men is proud of, and their country appreciate, and history records. After the army was disbanded. Rice was the unanimous choice of the Soldiers' Convention, at Des Moines, for Governor of the State, but he declined the nomination, or to be a candidate before the Convention, and has never desired political position.


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