Tales from Shiloh Past
The following article appeared in the Daily Iowegian by Brad Clark.
Our southern Iowa reenactors have been to a number of events and, as the members of Battery C, 3rd Iowa Light Artillery have drilled together and traveled together, they have shared many stories. Sitting around the campfires at the end of the day tends to draw out the tales. Many are the usual campfire stories – some are not. I will share a most curious Civil War story.
One of the reenactors, Joe S. Crookham, a retired letter carrier from Oskaloosa, had a great-great uncle named Jefferson G. Crookham who served in the Civil War. Crookham was born in 1830 in Jackson, Ohio. By the late 1840’s he moved to Mahaska County in Iowa. When the Civil War broke out he joined the 7th Iowa Infantry Volunteers, a unit that also had a number of volunteers from Centerville, in July of 1861.
Another reenactor, William L. Shoup of Allerton, had a great-great uncle named Francis Asbury Shoup who served in the Civil war. Francis Shoup was born in 1834 near Laurel, Indiana. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1855 and served in the First United States Artillery. He left the Army in 1860 to become a lawyer in Indianapolis and serve as a leader in the local Zouave militia. When the Civil War started, he moved to Florida to fight for the Confederacy. He had no slaves but did have an admiration for the South.
At the Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862, Jefferson Crookham was a Sergeant with Company C, 7th Iowa Infantry Regiment. His regiment was part of Tuttle’s Brigade which was in Brigadier General W.H.L. Wallace’s Division. During the battle, Tuttle’s Brigade established a position along the Sunken Road – the landmark that has become synonymous with the Battle of Shiloh. This put the 7th Iowa the middle of the line at the Hornet’s Nest, the bloody violent center of the whole battlefield.
Major Francis Shoup was also at the Battle of Shiloh serving as chief of artillery under Major General William J. Hardee. He was part of the Confederate attack that hit the right side of the Federal line commanded by General Sherman. During the course of the battle, Shoup and Crookham were separated by less than a half mile. Death was all around both men but they managed to live through the Battle of Shiloh.
Our story continues… Reenactor Bruce Clark of Centerville and correspondent Brad Clark had a 3rd cousin (4 times removed) and correspondent Seth Clark 3rd cousin (5 times removed) named George Powell Clarke, one of many family members who served during the war. George Clarke was born in 1844 in Decatur, Mississippi. When the Civil War broke out, he answered the call to Confederate service and enlisted in the 36th Mississippi Infantry Regiment.
Months after the Battle of Shiloh, Jefferson Crookham was promoted to 1st Sergeant in the Union Army and served at the Battle of Corinth, Mississippi. This was about twenty miles south of Shiloh. It was here where he came within a half mile of meeting with George Powell Clarke and the 36th Mississippi Infantry. Unfortunately for Crookham, he was wounded in the thigh during the battle on October 3rd, 1862.
Jefferson Crookham recovered from the wound and in 1864 was promoted to Captain of Company A, 7th United States Colored Troops Artillery. He served in the Federal occupation of Memphis, Tennessee, until the end of the war. After the war, he returned to Iowa and lived in Oskaloosa where he was a lawyer. He died in 1912 and is buried in Oskaloosa.
Francis Shoup was later promoted to brigadier general and fought in the battle to defend Atlanta from the onslaught of General Sherman’s army. After the war, Shoup became a professor at the University of the South and the University of Mississippi. Shoup was also an Episcopal rector and wrote books about mathematics and metaphysics. He died in Columbia, Tennessee in 1896.
George Powell Clark continued to fight in the Mississippi and Georgia campaigns. He was captured in December 1864 in a battle near Nashville, Tennessee, and spent the remainder of the war in Camp Douglas, the Federal prison camp in Chicago. He later wrote a series of newspaper articles recalling his war experiences entitled Reminiscence and Anecdotes of the War for Southern Independence. He died in Meridian, Mississippi in 1918.
One hundred fifty years later family members and thousands of others came in peace. This time the Shiloh battle was a large-scale outdoor historical reenactment. The roar of the cannons and rifle fire reminded all of the horrible violence that happened on those fields. And at the end of the day, we all were at campfires telling tales.