The Civil War comes to Cedar Rapids


This past weekend (July 13-14) the Civil War came to Cedar Rapids, Iowa… and so did President Abraham Lincoln.  The fields around Seminole Valley Farm Museum were over-run with soldiers in blue and grey uniforms.  It was time for a Civil War Reenactment!


We generally do not think about Iowa when we think of the Civil War.  No major battles were fought here.  However, the state was deeply impacted by the war.  Iowa sent 75,797 Union soldiers to the war – this gave the state the distinction of sending more troops per-capita than any other Northern state.  In addition, Iowa fielded the 37th Regiment that earned the nickname “the gray beards” … a regiment made up of men with ages in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.  This is not a typo –  there were men over 80 years of age in the 37th Infantry Regiment.  Over 13,000 Iowans died during the war and many more were wounded.

Iowa also supplied an unknown number of soldiers to the Confederate cause and had a number of Southern sympathizers called Copperheads.  August 1, 1863, a Copperhead meeting in Keokuk County led to a clash between those loyal to the Union and the Copperheads.  A minister with Southern sympathies was shot and it looked like a war was brewing in Iowa.  Governor Kirkwood sent troops to the area and quickly put down the trouble.


The large open fields just north of the Cedar River provided a near perfect location for the reenactment at Cedar Rapids.  Dense woods surrounded the fields so, as the spectators watched the action, there were no modern structures to clutter the reenactment scene.  Many of you will remember the Cedar River from the flood of 2008.  Water covered this entire area and did major damage to Cedar Rapids.  But, in July 2013 the weather was flawless.


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