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Joseph McRoberts - Civil War Soldier
Posted by: Roger Wright (ID *****5516) Date: March 13, 2009 at 09:51:07
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JOSEPH WARREN MCROBERTS, son of Peter McRoberts and Margery Smith, enlisted into Company G of the 14th Iowa Infantry from Tama County Iowa in January 1864.

Joining him was his brother-in-law PHILEMON BEECHER WILLEY, son of Waitman Willey and Rebecca Coulsen. Joseph's brother William McRoberts married Philemon's sister Martha Willey.

A few months after their enlistment Joseph and Philemon went with their regiment on the 1864 Red River campaign to seize Shreveport Louisiana. They participated in the taking of Fort deRussy and in several smaller battles and finally in the harsh battle of Pleasant Hill, in which, although it ended in a Union victory, many of their company were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. The campaign was abandoned and Union forces withdrawn much to the anger of the lower officers and the enlisted men.

The regiment was next sent to Jackson Mississippi where it went on a campaign through Oxford, Towncreek and Tupelo. finally they went to Missouri to protect key bridges and railroads from guerrillas working under rebel General Price.

In November 1864 the three year enlistments of most of the men of the 14th expired. The newer recruits who remained behind were consolidated and reorganized into three companies. Joseph and Philemon were placed in Company A of the 14th Iowa Residuary Battalion. The Residuary was stationed at Camp Butler near Springfield Illinois when the news came in that President Lincoln had been murdered in Washington, which placed them in the right place at the right time to participate in the cermonies and duties involved in Lincoln's funeral and burial. Some of the men of the 14th served as honor guards standing at the bier when Lincoln's body lay in state at the Illinois statehouse, while others stood guard at the cemetery afterwards. McRoberts and Willey would have been witnesses to these dramatic historic events.

After the War Joseph married and moved to Woonsocket South Dakota, where he raised his family and is buried. Philemon later lived in Chicago where he was murdered in what may have been a robbery or mugging. Philemon is buried with his parents in Toledo, Tama County Iowa.

Here is their information from the roster of Company G, 14th Iowa Infantry:

McRoberts, Joseph Warren. Age 30. Residence Toledo, Tama County, nativity Indiana. Enlisted January 2, 1864. Mustered January 23, 1864. Promoted Seventh Corporal June 1, 1864. --Consolidated into Company A, Residuary Battalion Fourteenth Infantry. Promoted Second Corporal January 26, 1865. Mustered out August 8, 1865, Davenport, Iowa.

Willey, Philemon Beecher. Age 30. Residence Toledo, Tama County, nativity Ohio. Enlisted January 5, 1864. Mustered January 23, 1864. -- Consolidated into Company A, Residuary Battalion Fourteenth Infantry. Promoted Seventh Corporal February 1, 1865; Sixth Corporal July 3, 1865. Mustered out August 3, 1865, Davenport Iowa.

Recently a book has been published containing a diary written by the Company G soldier who originally recruited McRoberts and Willey, along with a full volume of letters from other men of Company G, giving almost a day by day first hand account of what the men of the Company experienced through the War. Both McRoberts and Willey are briefly mentioned. Anyone interested in these men and their military service, or those interested in good first hand accounts of the Civil War, can find the book at

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