Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Remarkable 3rd Iowa Cavalry

The past few days, I’ve been on a tour of several trans-Mississippi battle sites with a new Civil War friend. I’ve noticed how some of the units, not surprisingly, served in multiple trans-Mississippi battles. Others, though, participated in a trans-Mississippi battle and then exited to another theater of war. One unit that caught my attention was the 3rd Iowa Cavalry that fought at the battle of Pea Ridge in early March 1862 and then reenters the scene at the battle of Mine Creek in September 1864.

Frederick H. Dyer’s A Compendium Of The War Of The Rebellion (1908) contains short histories of nearly every Union unit. Printed in two columns, most of these histories are no more than a column in length. However, the history of the 3rd Iowa Cavalry takes up nearly an entire page; these remarkable troopers certainly spent the war on the move. They were severely battered at the battle of Pea Ridge losing 24 killed, 17 wounded, and 9 missing. Some of their soldiers were scalped at Pea Ridge, and it is believed that some of their wounded were murdered there. The 3rd Iowa Cavalry continued to serve in the trans-Mississippi for a time but went on to participate in the Vicksburg campaign and a number of actions in the western theater. The men returned to the trans-Mississippi to defend against Price’s Missouri Raid in the fall of 1864. These Iowans were among the soldiers that made the greatest cavalry charge west of the Mississippi—perhaps I should reword that because it was one of the most spectacular cavalry charges of the war. This charge by well-armed Union cavalrymen mangled a Confederate cavalry force along Mine Creek in Kansas. In a future posting, I’ll include some photographs from the week of touring including more about Mine Creek.

If you are interested in more information about the 3rd Iowa Cavalry, check out the following web sites:

3rd Iowa Cavalry: Although this site doesn’t appear to be up-to-date, it does have rosters, photographs, and other information about the regiment.

State Historical Societyof Iowa: photographs of battle flags of the 3rd Iowa Cavalry are available for viewing


  1. "Cavalrymen of the Third Iowa"
    Available on Amazon or Kindle

  2. I've been rooting around the 3rd Iowa Cav. (and all of Edward Winslow's brigade) for my own research on Indian Territory. The 3rd is briefly in IT in pursuit of Price in November, 1864. I thought I'd share a digitized diary of the 3rd held in Little Rock and the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. Most of the diary focuses on late 1863-64.

    The diary is digitized at:

    Totally unrelated, but I'm very much looking forward to your upcoming book on the 1IHG!

  3. Thanks so much for letting me know about the diary that has been digitized. If you don't mind me asking, what Indian Territory topic are you researching? My book about Albert Ellithorpe and the 1st Indian Home Guards was great fun to do, and I'm hopeful that it will be of use to other scholars.