Davis County – When the War came to Iowa


The October reenactment in Davis County, Iowa, offered a reminder of Iowa’s tumultuous past during the Civil War.  Iowa sent over 76,000 men into the war and had the distinction of having the highest percentage of its male population between the ages of 15-40 serve during the war – this includes North and South.  13,000 of those who served died of wounds or disease.


The Davis County event was especially significant for Iowa in a truly unique way. 

Today, we all know of Iowa as one of the early primary states in the selection of a president.  How can we forget – every four years presidential candidates and reporters invade the state!  But as crazy as modern politics can be, they are tame when compared to 1864.  Back then, the war between the states raged and Abraham Lincoln was running for re-election.  On October 12, 1864, Confederates riding up from Missouri, made their furthest incursion into Union territory.

In the Davis County raid the Confederates looted, kidnapped, and murdered in hopes of preventing Abraham Lincoln’s re-election.  Iowa was a union state but along the southern border of the state, near the Missouri border, there were a number of Iowans who were pro-slavery Confederate sympathizers.  Missouri had a number of guerilla bands rampaging about and some of their actions were more as outlaws than soldiers. 


Lieutenant James “Bill” Jackson led twelve heavily armed Missouri Partisan Rangers in the October raid into Davis County.  His Confederate partisans dressed in Union uniforms as they rode into Iowa and, when the dust settled, three local citizens were dead.  In the end, their efforts failed.  Abraham Lincoln was re-elected President.  And, in 1865, the Confederacy lost the war.


5 thoughts on “Davis County – When the War came to Iowa

  1. Thanks for your comment… I have some distant cousins in Mississippi and I have been there several times over the years. Iowa has a number of re-enactments but they are not as large as some of the big famous battle re-enactments held in the South. I have been to a number of them and also to the battlefield parks. I guess I find history interesting. Oskaloosa and Ottumwa are very close to Davis County. There are also larger reenactments in Keokuk and Cedar Rapids that are not too far away for them. Keokuk is along the Mississippi River so it is a nice place to visit. Again, thanks for checking out my blog.

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