Milton P. Goodell in the Civil War

“And so at the hour of midnight, the Union Army began their march eastward, leaving in their haste, four hundred of the most badly wounded, some in improvised hospitals and other scattered over the great field uncared for.”

Thus, the fate of Sergeant Milton P. Godell.

Milton P. Goodell was the second son of Joel Charles Goodell and Elmina Brigham and the brother of Lois Emerette Goodell Totten, great-grandmother of Bernard Hancock.  At the time of his enlistment,  22 August 1862, Milton was living in Cero Gordo County, Iowa, he was 25 years old and single. He was given the rank of 5th Corporal in B Company of the Iowa 32nd Infantry Regiment and later promoted to full 4th Corporal on 11 September 1862. He was again promoted to full 5th Sergeant on 28 Dec 1863. The men of Company B were from the rural counties of Iowa and numbered just more than 400.

The Iowa Companies of the 32nd Infantry Regiment assembled at Fort Franklin near Dubuque, Iowa and mustered into service 6 Oct 1862. The difference in dates because of anticipation of the call.  Captain John Scott was appointed by Governor Kirkwood as Colonel of the Thirty-second Infantry. There was an aggregate of 925 men and officers in the regiment at the date of the muster.

On 16 Nov 1862 the regiment embarked on transports and were conveyed to St. Louis, Missouri. Company B along with six other companies of the Thirty-second were then conveyed to New Madrid, Missouri under the command of Colonel John Scott. Upon arriving at New Madrid Colonel Scott assumed command of the post. It did not take him long to discover that prior to his arrival, disloyal men had been favored and protected; that large amounts of merchandise of all description had been distributed from New Madrid and had gone beyond Union lines into possession of those who were engaged in armed rebellion. Negroes, who had escaped and sought protection of the Union solders had been returned to slavery. The most active of the rebel sympathizers was a man who was not a naturalized citizen of the united States, and who claimed the protection of the British government. The General in command of the Department listened to the protests of those who wanted to have Colonel Scott removed from the command of the post for lack of his sympathy for the rebels  and – strange as it may appear – seemed inclined to grant their request. Missouri history in the Civil War is very interesting.

On the 17th and 18th of January 1863 the six companies including Company B were conveyed to Columbus, Kentucky and went into camp and remained until January 1864. Garrison duty and daily drills were the principal of the day. The companies were then moved to Vicksburg for the battle of Shiloh (Pittsburgh Landing.)

On March 9, 1964 the Thirty-second Iowa embarked on transports along with Regiments from Missouri, Illinois and New York and proceeded to the mouth of the Red River.

From a marker near Clear Lake, IA regarding the battle at Pleasant Hill:

The Battle of Pleasant Hill can be considered as day two of the Battle of Mansfield, or Sabine Cross Roads. Due to the single, narrow road available for advance the Union Army, consisting of infantry, cavalry and supply and medical wagons, was strung out over many miles. A.J. Smith’s Division of the 16th Corps, of which the 32nd Iowa Infantry Regiment was part of the Second Brigade under Col. W.T. Shaw, was assigned the last position in the column behind the rest of the army.

The head of the column ran into Confederate resistance south of Mansfield at Sabine Cross Roads on April 8th. About 4 p.m., after a couple hours of positioning and skirmishing, a Confederate assault was launched. The Federal line, outnumbered two-to-one due to the strung out nature of the column and order of march, soon collapsed into retreat. That retreat was turned into a near-rout when the retreating men collided with their own supply train. Finally, a rearguard action halted the Confederate pursuit. When darkness fell, Banks ordered the defeated army to regroup at Pleasant Hill.

600px-Battle_of_Pleasant_Hill_-_History_of_Iowa

On the night of April 8th, the 32nd Iowa went into camp near the town of Pleasant Hill, expecting to continue the march the following morning. They were about 20 miles behind the head of the column and only vaguely aware of the fight far from the front. During the night, thousands of terror-stricken men fleeing the disaster near Mansfield stampeded through the encampment. The division was put under arms just after midnight.

At 10 a.m., the four regiments of Shaw’s Brigade (including the 32nd Iowa) was ordered to the extreme front and placed at a right angle to the Mansfield Road about 1½ miles west of Pleasant Hill. The 32nd held the extreme left of the brigade. Two other Iowa regiments (the 27th and 14th) lined up beside it near the road and the 24th Missouri Infantry Regiment lined up north of the road. While the brigade held the center of the line, significant gaps on both sides left the unit somewhat isolated and greatly so after the battle began and supporting units on both sides of the brigade fell back.

The Confederate attack began about 5 p.m., concentrating against the center and Union left. The Federal forces on the left were flanked and they were forced to retreat. Soon the battle was in full force well behind Shaw’s Brigade. The two Iowa regiments and the Missouri regiment were pulled back, but the order never reached Col. Scott, leaving the 32nd Iowa alone, soon surrounded, and fighting in three directions at once. For another two hours, the battle raged before rallying Union forces drove the Confederates back to their original line and the 32nd Iowa was among friendly forces again.

The 32nd entered the battle with 469 men able to carry a weapon. Col. Scott reported that he lost 210 men killed, wounded or missing in the battle.

The evening, after the battle, General Banks held a war council and decided that retreat was the only option for the Federal forces. Interestingly, Confederate forces believed that they had been defeated by the Federals and they too began their retreat at daylight. Due to loss of wagons, medical supplies and previous orders to clear the roads in case a retreat was needed, all of the Union wounded were left behind and tended to by the residents of Pleasant Hill and some Union physicians who allowed themselves to be taken as prisoners of war by the Confederate forces. Those of the 32nd Iowa who died on the field of battle or of their wounds were buried in Mansfield, Pleasant Hill or near where they received care. Some of those individuals were later disinterred and reburied at the National Cemetery in Alexandria, Louisiana, many in unmarked graves. Other burial locations were never found and the final resting places remain unknown.

Total Forces
Union 25,000 · Confederate 11,000
Casualties
Union 3,980 · Confederate 3,976

From the report of the adjutant General to the Governor of Iowa:

32 Infantry Regiment – Page 302

Sergeant Milton P. Goodell – Wdd & Cap (wounded and captured) – April 9, 1864 Pleasant Hill, LA

Sergeant Milton P. Goodell – Died – May 9, 1864, Pleasant Hill, LA

Thirty-Second Infantry Regiment

38 killed

116 wounded

56 missing (most were found to have been killed)

Total 210 – 50% of the Regiment

Karen Parsons and I continue to do research to find the burial place of Sergeant Milton P. Goodell. However, it is possible he is buried in a grave as unidentified in Louisiana. Some family researchers believe he was transported to Andersonville Prison in Georgia and died there. I have found no reference in any lists that he died at Andersonville. I don’t think it makes sense for him to be transported to Georgia to be imprisoned because he died within a month of being wounded; the battle was west of the Mississippi; the Rebels were being pushed out of their camps by heavy Union attacks and they also left most of their wounded on the fields of battle. But, we will keep looking for Milton P. Goodell.

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