Biography of R. W. Rosenberger
Iowa County, IA Biographies





R. W. Rosenberger, a retired farmer who has taken up his abode in Ladora, was born near Tiffin, Ohio, August 10, 1841, a son of Anthony and Elizabeth (Shaul) Rosenberger, who were natives of Virginia, but removed to Ohio at an early period in the history of that state. There they were married and continued to reside until the early '50s. In 1851, accompanied by his family, the father journeyed across the country with team and wagon to Iowa county, Iowa, but in the same fall drove back to Ohio, where he continued to reside until 1853. He then brought his family to this county, taking up his residence on a quarter section of land in 'Hartford township which had been given him by his fathe, J. A. Rosenberger, who had entered the property on a Mexican land warrant. Upon the farm which he developed and improved Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Rosenberger continued to reside until called to their final rest. They were the parents of nine children, of whom four are yet living.

R. W. Rosenberger pursued his education in one of the old time log schoolhouses and received ample training in farm work under the direction of his father. At the age of twenty one he enlisted at Marengo, Iowa, on the 15th of August, 1862, for service in the Union army, becoming a member of Company E, Twenty fourth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, under command of Captain Leander Clarke and Colonel E. C. Byam. The regiment rendezvoused at Camp Strong at Muscatine, Iowa, and thence went to St. Louis, where they changed boats and proceeded to Helena, Arkansas. Later they participated in the Oakland and Coldwater expeditions and in various skirmishes in Mississippi. Afterward they went down the river to Milliken's Bend opposite Vicksburg and from that point to Grand Gulf, where for six hours they bombarded the rebel batteries. They failed to quiet the enemy's guns, however, so they were landed below on the Louisiana side and marched against the place, while the gunboats passed down the river to Brainsburg, Mississippi. This was on the 30th of April, 1863. The troops were taken across the river to the Mississippi side and were given five days' rations and one hundred rounds of cartridges. The Twelfth Division, Thirteenth Army Corps, to which Mr. Rosenberger belonged, consisted of the Eleventh, Twenty fourth, Thirty fourth, Forty sixth and Forty seventh Indiana Regiments, the Fifty sixth Ohio, the Twenty fourth and Twenty eighth Iowa, the First Missouri, the Sixteenth Ohio Battery and the Twenty ninth Wisconsin Regiments. After marching all night they ran across the rebels just before daylight. While preparing their breakfast the Confederates charged upon them and Mr. Rosenberger says he left his bacon in the frying pan on the fire. They fought all day and lay in battle line all night and the next day they marched for ward and took possession of Port Gibson. The battlefield was Called Magnolia Hills. Mr. Rosenberger was one of the number detailed to return to the battlefield to gather up arms and bury the dead. They gathered up the muskets and, laying the butts all one way, piled rails on them and burned them. There was some loud cracking when the guns that were still loaded became heated and were discharged. One broken cannon which they could not move from the field they buried, and above it put up a marker "Sergeant Dawson," so that the rebels would not dig it up. They also gathered up the knapsacks which they had thrown into the fence corners when they went into the fight. They joined the regiment at Rocky Springs, Mississippi, and their next engagement was at Champion's Hill, on the 16th of May, on which occasion one hundred and eighty five men were killed, wounded and taken prisoners. Mr. Rosenberger was wounded in the leg in the charge on Waddell's Alabama Battery, which the Twenty fourth Iowa took at the point of the bayonet, but were driven back and later were retaken, fighting over the same ground three times during this terrific charge. Major Ed Wright of the Twenty fourth Iowa was wounded. A rebel prisoner carried the Major down the hill to Mrs. Champion's house, where a hospital had been established. In quoting from James R. Slack's report of the part his brigade took in this battle he says: "Thus ended this unequal, terrible and sanguinary conflict, which in point of terrific fierceness and stubborn persistency finds but few parallels in Civil war history. For two long hours my brigade held in check fully three times their number and I hesitate not in saying had they not so gallantly and determinedly resisted, the fortunes of the day might have been turned from glorious triumph into defeat."

Mr. Rosenberger was left on the battlefield to fall into the hands of the rebels under General Joseph E. Johnston. They were very short of provisions there, the only things that they could get to eat being some sheep, very poor ones at that, and some goslings which were found on a pond near by, and of the latter they made soup. General Grant sent a wagon train with supplies for their relief. Mr. Rosenberger and four others made their escape by concealing themselves on these wagons when they returned, his comrades in the adventure being John Miller, William Meyers, Leonard Houghton and John R. Serin, who was at one time postmaster of Marengo and also a member of the legislature from Iowa county. All these men are now deceased save Mr. Rosenberger. The men went on the wagon to Vicksburg and thence were taken to Yazoo river, where they were put on a hospital boat and sent to Memphis, Tennessee. They threw away their ragged, bloody clothes and put on the hospital gown, and Mr. Rosenberger marched up the street to the hospital with his gown on, walking on crutches. He was placed in Ward C of Overton Hospital at Memphis, and when he recovered from his wound he was put to work in the kitchen under the charge of some Sisters of Charity. From that point with the troops he proceeded to Madisonville, just across the lake from New Orleans, and later went on the Red River expedition under General Banks to Burwick Bay or Brasher City. The next point in progress Was Alexandria, Louisiana, and from there they proceeded to Sabine Crossroads, which place the Confederates called Mansfield. There fifteen hundred Union soldiers were captured, among them being Mr. Rosenberger, who was sent to Tyler, Texas, where he was held for five months. One night when in the courthouse at Tyler, Texas, as a prisoner, he heard a familiar voice and met a boyhood friend whom they had always called Curley. He had been reared in Hancock county, Ohio, and Mr. Rosenberger in Seneca county. On comparing notes they discovered they had both been named Rufus after Rufus Reed, a dry goods merchant. Mr. Rosenberger remained as a prisoner at Hempstead, Texas, for three months and for two days at Houston and at Galveston. At the latter place he was put on a rebel boat and two miles out on the gulf was exchanged to one of the Union boats and landed in New Orleans, December 31, 1864. On the 21st of January, 1865, they were put on board the steamship Nightingale and after seven days and nights spent on the Atlantic were landed in New York city, proceeding thence to Philadelphia and on to Baltimore and Annapolis, where Mr. Rosenberger was granted a furlough with leave to return home on a visit. He was at home when Lee surrendered on the 9th of April, which was Easter Sunday of 1865. On Monday he started for St. Louis and was at Benton Barracks when Lincoln was assassinated. There he was made postmaster of the camp for paroled prisoners, who were at that point put on board the steamer Canada and started for the north. During the last two years of the war Mr. Rosenberger kept a diary, the last page of which, dated May 25th, reads: "Left Quincy, Illinois, arriving at Camp McClellan, Davenport, about nine o'clock, passing Muscatine during the night. I went down town and met men of the Thirty seventh Iowa. They were mustered out today." On the 26th he left Davenport and started for home, but his discharge papers were not signed until August 8, 1865.

When the war was over Mr. Rosenberger at once became identified again with the agricultural development of his adopted county. He purchased eighty acres of land in Sumner township and following his marriage, in January, 1866, took up his residence thereon, continuing to actively engage in farming and stock raising for many years, although he is now living retired in Ladora. He still owns fifty acres of land in this county and ten acres in Texas, in addition to a fine residence and four lots in Ladora.

Mr. Rosenberger was married in 1866 to Mrs. Ellen Weisebecker, who was in her maindenhood Miss Terry and who resided in the state of New York in her youth. They became the parents of six children: William H., who has passed away; Rhoda M., the wife' of Frank Park, now of Decker, Canada; Charles E., of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Minor H., who is living in Decker, Canada; Frank G., of Rupert, Idaho; and one who died in infancy. The wife and mother passed away in 1897 and was laid to rest in the Ohio cemetery. Mr. Rosenberger was again married, in 1899, to Mrs. R. M. Leasure, who was in her maidenhood Rachel Goodwin. Her father, a native of Virginia, and her mother, a native of Mary land, removed to Ohio, where they lived for many years and where both passed away. They were the parents of six children.

Mr. Rosenberger is a republican, has served as assessor for three terms, justice of the peace for ten years and as a member of the school board for ten years. He has also served upon the city council and is an important factor in the public life of his city. Fraternally he belongs to Lodge No. 148, I. O. O. F., of Marengo, and has filled all of the offices therein, and both he and his wife hold membership in Lodge No. 406 of the Rebekahs at Ladora. Both are also identified with the Methodist Protestant church. Mr. Rosenberger was also one of the organizers and the first commander of Bricker Post, No. 145, G. A. R., at Ladora, and he is now serving as a member of the staff of Colonel David J. Palmer, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. He has traveled quite extensively. During the war and since he has been in all the southern states except Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas, and he has been in all the western states except Montana and Wyoming, making two trips to the Pacific coast. He has attended the Grand Army encampments at Salt Lake City, St. Louis, Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Minneapolis twice, Washington (D. C.) twice, and San Francisco, and he went from Cleveland to Buffalo, where he was on the night that President McKinley died. He visited Niagara Falls and the Pan American Exposition and has attended the expositions in Omaha, Chicago and St. Louis. He has ever been deeply interested in the progress of his country and has kept in touch with the trend of modern thought and advancement, being at all times as true and loyal in citizenship as when he followed the stars and stripes on the battlefields of the south.

The desire after a lapse of many years to revisit the scenes either of a great joy or sorrow is almost universal and it actuated Mr. Rosenberger to make a trip to Vicksburg, Mississippi. On the 12th of November, 1926, he started south with some of his old army comrades, including Captain J. J. Coats, of the Twenty eighth Iowa Infantry, J. N. Shedenhelm, M. S. Shaull and I. D. Hall of his company. They purchased tickets for Vicksburg in order that they might visit the scenes with which they had become so familiar in 1863 during Grant's memorable campaign in that Gibraltar along the Father of Waters. They were in company with General G. M. Dodge, Governor Cummins and Charles A. Clarke, of Cedar Rapids, and Captain Merry, of the Vicksburg Park Commission, and many others who were on their way south to attend the dedication of the monuments at Vicksburg, Shiloh, Andersonville and Chattanooga. The Iowa Memorial is an exceptionally fine monument, erected at a cost of one hundred thousand dollars. The party proceeded to Bolton, twenty miles east of Champion's Hill, to the old battle ground where forty three years before Mr. Rosenberger was wounded. One ball passed through his left thigh and one through his musket stock. After looking over the battlefield they proceeded to where had stood the Champion home and the hospital under the brush sheds where the wounded lay. Three nights after the battle Mr. Rosenberger left the place with a wagon train under a flag of truce. On this trip south the party visited Mrs. Champion, then eighty one years old, who still owned the plantation where the battle was fought and was at that time the only surviving member of the family, the rest having died of yellow fever several years before. She said she had a presentiment the night before that some of the northern folks would call on her that day, and sure enough, they had come. From her house had been taken an old mattress, on which John R. Serin and Mr. Rosenberger lay when taken from the improvised hospital. Comrade Charles Longley, of Company C, belonging to the same regi ment, and then secretary of the Park Commission, living in Vicksburg, was well acquainted with Mrs. Champion and asked her if she missed anything after the battle. She said: "Yes, indeed, I missed everything. I left three servants and all my provisions there on going to my brother in law in Alabama, and when the battle was over and I returned my servants were gone, also the provisions, my house burned down, and two long trenches of dead Yankees buried on my lawn." Then Mr. Longley pointed to Mr. Rosenberger and said: "There sits a Yankee that stole your feather bed." Mr. Rosenberger then told her he didn't take the bed but found it in a wagon and would willingly pay for it then, but she refused the money. He then gave her his badge given him by the state of Iowa for the dedication exercises at Vicksburg the day before. He told her to take it in memory of one of the wounded Yankees that rode away from her plantation. She accepted the gift with thanks. She has now been dead for four years.

From:
History of Iowa County, Iowa
And its People
By: James C. Dinwiddie
Vol II
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1915


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