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Ozzy

Jack Slaymaker

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Born in 1835, Jonathan S. Slaymaker grew up in York, Pennsylvania; after completing his education he took employment with the railroads, and being a quick study, was elevated to position of civil engineer. Sent to Davenport, Iowa to assist with construction of the first bridge across the Mississippi River, Slaymaker arrived too late: the bridge was nearing completion, leaving him nothing to do. However, when that first bridge was knocked down just a few weeks later (by the misadventure of steamer Effie Afton), Jonathan Slaymaker was on hand to assist with planning and construction of the second bridge.

At the time of the emergency at Fort Sumter, Jack Slaymaker was still in Davenport, having found employment as City Engineer (engaged in the planning and construction of the streets of that expanding city); and he was active with the City Fire Department, and its militia unit (both under direction of Robert Littler.) With the President's call to arms, Slaymaker and Littler attempted to join the 1st Iowa Infantry (which was initiated at Dubuque), but were too late. The decision was taken by Governor Kirkwood to admit all the men unlucky to miss out on the 1st Iowa (the State's quota) into State Military service... hence the 2nd and 3rd Iowa regiments were formed and available when President Lincoln made his second call a few days after his first. All three Iowa regiments were sent to Keokuk, and trained together at Camp Ellsworth.

Jonathan Slaymaker and Bob Littler accompanied the 2nd Iowa (under command of Samuel R. Curtis) to Missouri in June 1861 to guard railroads; when Curtis was promoted to Brigadier General in July, James Tuttle became Colonel of the 2nd Iowa; and Jack Slaymaker was promoted to Captain of Company C (Bob Littler was Captain of Company B.) The regiment missed out on the operation against Belmont due to illness of hundreds of the unit's soldiers; and the 2nd Iowa was still in Missouri during Grant's campaign against Fort Henry (deliberately held back, due to a report of 'unseemly conduct' by soldiers of that regiment.) However, during the Fort Donelson operation, Grant was in need of every regiment that could be spared, so the 2nd Iowa was sent by steamer into the Cumberland River, and the troops disembarked a few miles downstream of the Confederate fort on February 14, and marched to the ring of Federal besiegers, joining Lauman's Brigade, of C.F. Smith's 2nd Division, at the far left end (adjacent to rain-swollen Hickman Creek.)

The next day, in response to the break-out attempt and assault against McClernand, U.S. Grant ordered C.F. Smith to 'Take that Fort.' The 2nd Iowa was installed as the lead regiment in the action; and with General Smith at one end of their line, and Colonel Jacob Lauman at the other end, the regiment advanced towards the outer works (while Confederate defenders tried desperately to resume their positions in those works and hold off Smith's attack.) Just before reaching the first line of entrenchments, Captain Slaymaker was struck in the leg by a Confederate minie ball, and brought down. He continued to shout encouragement while bleeding out, within sight of the hand-to-hand combat taking place in front of him. Finally removed to the rear, it was discovered that Jonathan Slaymaker had died from 'an exploded pocket knife' (in his pocket, and struck by the minie ball; the pieces sent as fragments into his upper thigh.)

A popular officer, the men of the 2nd Iowa took up a collection and sent his body back to Davenport for burial.

One man's story from Fort Donelson...

Ozzy

 

References:  Iowa genweb  http://iagenweb.org/civilwar/books/logan/mil302.htm  (History of the 2nd Iowa)

http://ir.uiowa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1840&context=annals-of-iowa   (Annals of Iowa: obituary of Captain Jack Slaymaker) Vol. 1864 no. 2 pp. 283-5)

wikipedia

 

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Found a sketch of Captain Jonathan Slaymaker in Frank Leslie's Illustrated, volume 13, page 357 -- Ozzy.

Slaymaker.jpg

 

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