DAVID ZEHRUNG, son of Johan Adam Zehrung and Christine Bruner, enlisted into Company G of the 14th Iowa Infantry, from Tama County Iowa.
His company fought bravely at Fort Donelson and also at the heroic stand at Shiloh now remembered as the "Hornets' Nest". When the Confederate forces attacked the Union army gathered around Shiloh church at Pittsburg Landing Tennessee they caught Generals Grant and Sherman off guard and unprepared. The southern army was able to overwhelm most of the Union regiments who stood up to fight them. At the Hornets' Nest a stiff line of stubborn resistance formed that halted their advance and provided Grant the time to reorganize his scattered army into a final line of defense and to reinforce his army overnight. The delay at the Hornets' Nest broke the southern momentum and probably saved the careers of both Grant and Sherman, who later went on to win the War and preserve the Union.
The bravery of these men who held their ground saved Grant's army at the cost of their own lives and freedom. Late in the day the men of the Hornets' Nest were finally surrounded and almost out of ammunition, were forced to surrender. As Grant made his plans for the next day's victory, these men, including David Zehrung, were taken prisoner and sent to POW camps in the deep south.
Captured with him was his brother-in-law JOSEPH A SHANKLIN, son of James Shanklin and Eliza Allen. David Zehrung was married to Joseph Shanklin's sister Sarah.
David and Joseph were imprisoned at Camp Oglethorpe in Macon Georgia. After a few months they were releasd on parole to await official exchange but David's health was in bad shape. David Zehrung was later discharged for disability.
Joseph Shanklin returned to his regiment and was promoted to Lieutenant. During the Red River campaign in Louisiana, he fought at Fort deRussy and at Pleasant Hill where almost two years to the day of the battle of Shiloh, he was killed in action.
His body was not recovered and is probably buried in an unmarked grave, although a memorial marker with his name stands in Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo, Tama County Iowa alongside the graves of his sister and two brothers. Before the War Joseph had been a student at Grinnell college and his name was later inscribed onto a memorial plaque in the campus chapel.
After the War David Zehrung farmed in Nebraska where his family is found in the 1880 census. His mother-in-law Eliza Shanklin, Joseph Shanklin's mother, lived with David's family. David died in 1888 and was buried, alone, at St. Anselmo Nebraska. His widow and children then moved on to the Portland Oregon area.
Here are these men's entries in the company roster:
Zehrung, David. Age 28. Residence Tama County, nativity Ohio. Enlisted October 12, 1861. Mustered November 2, 1861. Missing in action April 6, 1862, Shiloh Tennessee. Discharged for disability March 31, 1863.
Shanklin, Joseph A. Age 19. Residence Toledo, Tama County, nativity Indiana. Enlisted October 9, 1861, as Second Corporal. Mustered November 2, 1861. Promoted First Sergeant January 25, 1862. Missing in action April 6, 1862, Shiloh Tennessee. Promoted Second Lieutenant January 7, 1863. Killed in action April 9, 1864, Pleasant Hill Louisiana.
Recently a book about the 14th Iowa Infantry Company G has been published by the small town museum of Traer Iowa near where these men lived. The book contains a diary and a full volume of letters written by the men of this company, including a few from Joseph Shanklin himself. It also has accounts of Joseph's death, and a picture of Joseph, taken in 1863 in St. Louis with three of his companions after their release from the POW camp.
Descendants of the Zehrung and Shanklin families, or anyone interested in first person accounts from the Civil War can see this book at the museum website at:
The book is 288 pages, 8x11, with photographs, maps, an index and a very nice dust cover. Except for the footnotes it is all first person accounts from the soldiers themselves. These ordinary men were heroes and deserve to be remembered. I am not a member of these families nor associated with the museum but if I were a member of the family, I would want to know this book exists.
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