June 9, 1900
Where Adjt. Gen. Baker Drilled Camp McClellan.
Its Story is Tersely Told.
The G.A.R. Will Read With Pleasure the Records of Iowa's Forty-eighth Infantry, Her
Ninth Cavalry and Fourth Artillery Regiments.
By F.J. B. Huot.
When Abraham Lincoln called for troops Iowa responded with 57,000 men all told. These
were divided into 48 infantry, 9 cavalry, 4 artillery and 1 colored regiment. In all the
important events which transpired from 1861 to 1865 by which the southern confederacy was
routed the Iowa troops took part. Their drum beat was heard everywhere from the Potomac
and the river which flashes down the Shenandoah valley, as Phil Sheridan did on his 23
mules neck-or-nothing ride to Wichester, to the Rio Grande, or the Brazos, and everywhere
they rendered the same faithful and devoted service. There were two Iowa regiments
actively engaged in policing the state against Indian out-breaks during the time of the
prosecution of the war. These regiments, too, are deserving of the highest praise.
Davenport Did Proudly.
Davenport did her share. She gave her offerings in the heart's blood of Lieutenant
Colonel August Wentz who fell at Belmont, Mo., on Nov. 7, 1861, during the first year of
the war and also Captain Jonathan Slaymaker, who perished at Fort Donelson, Feb. 16, 1862.
Together with Scott county she helped to recruit in all about 22 companies, and has in
sacred memory enshrined the names of 277 heroes who died to save the Union.
Davenport Furnished Four Camps.
When the shot fired upon Major Anderson at Fort Sumter was hear in Davenport on Dec. 26,
1860, Davenport anxiously awaited the call for volunteers. She threw open to the United
States her fair grounds which were then located north of Thirteenth street and extending
to Locust street, and lying between Perry street and Farnam street to be used as drill
grounds for the raw recruits, or "rookies." This first camp was christened
"Camp Lincoln" in honor of the great war president and emancipator and later
re-christened Camp "Joe Holt." So it was popularly known. This tract was made
use of for drill purposes, being an entirely level piece of grounds and capable of easily
mobilizing a regiment. At Camp Joe Holt the cavalry were drilled.
The second camp furnished was called "Kinsman's Camp," or "Camp
Kinsman," and was located northeast of the city where the Soldiers' Orphans'
Home now is.
It was at "Camp McClellan," however, that the chief army rendezvous in Scott
county was situated.
Another camp of some importance was that of Camp Hendershot, located adjacent to the
present Orphans' Home. Camp Roberts, a fourth camp was located upon the present site
of the pumping plant of the Davenport Water company west of Harrison street and north of
Thirteenth street. This camp was named after a general.
At Camp Joe Holt (Camp Lincoln) the cavalry uniformly drilled, although the rendezvous
properly was at Camp McClellan.
Camp McClellan Tract.
The tract of level and rolling land situated east of East Davenport and at that time east
of the present Mound street, was an ideal place for a place of encampment. On the high
ground was excellent drilling grounds and furthermore the site was directly across from
the Rock Island arsenal and commanded a view of the wide sweep of the rapids.
The tract was owned by a certain Thomas Russel Allen, who was a resident of St. Louis,
where the Jefferson Barracks were situated. It consisted of over 300 acres, and permission
was readily obtained to convert it into a place of encampment of the recruits awaiting
orders to go to the front. Accordingly the site was taken into temporary possession during
the summer of 1861 by the United States government and retained until the last mustering
out ceremony had been accomplished five years later. Adjutant General Baker of the regular
army was commissioned to take charge of the camp, which was named Camp McClellan in honor
of "Little Mac," General George B. McClellan, who then was one of the foremost
militarists in the federal ranks.
The Barracks are Built.
The first thing to be done was to construct the barracks Contractors T. W. McClelland and
Hornby, the latter long since dead, was given the contract. They erected a dozen frame and
battended (sic) structures with suitable bunks, together with a mess room, a commissary
building, a canteen and officers quarters. Traces of these old barracks still remain and
less than a dozen years ago there were two of these still cumbering the tract at the
Davenport and LeClaire road, otherwise called the Lost Grove Road.
As many as a thousand recruits have been at Camp McClellan at one time, and when in drill
the sight was interesting. The merchants did a thriving business during those days, and
the folks who resided in the LeClaire commons-then called the "Patch," situated
where the Un. N. Roberts warehouse now is-had ready sales for the bread, pies, cakes and
chickens which they baked and reared. A Mrs. Miley, who came to the "Patch" to
live with only the mite spoken of in scripture, reaped a modest fortune from the sale of
pies to the soldier boys. Of course, there were foraging parties at times, abut such
depredations, when discovered, were promptly punished.
The Camp As It Is Today.
At the present day the veterans who will visit Davenport upon the occasion of the G.A.R.
functions of next week will find the camp greatly changed. The western portion of it is
occupied by a lumber yard and kindling wood racks, while a modern trolley car runs
alongside almost the site of the company's streets. The hill, however is yet
topographically intact, although towards the north of the old drilling grounds are several
farm houses with well tilled acres adjoining all achieved in the space of 35 years.
Quarries have been opened upon the southeastern portion of the tract and the Lindsay &
Phelps saw mill has gnawed its way through millions and millions of feet of logs since
last the picket and the sentry halted the wayfarer where now the hum of the saws are
heard. Modern brick paving has also encroached upon the southern or river side of the
The "camp" has not changed ownership. A life estate was left by the owner in
1861-1865 to his widow Ann R. Allen, who died several years age and bequeathed the
remaining 214 acres to her heirs, who are scattered from St. Louis to Philadelphia and
Paris. The tract even now is in litigation for alleged paving indebtedness to the city of
List Adm: *IA-CIVIL-WAR
ACC Scott Co, IAGenWeb Project