HISTORY OF THE OLD THIRD IOWA
A military organization was formed at Council Bluffs, Iowa, in 1859 for the purpose of affording protection to the settlers of northwestern Iowa and the portions nearest Iowa of those states that bound the great land of corn. Protection was necessary, for not far to the north were the Sioux Indians, not far to the east and north were the Sac and Foxes, not all peacefully inclined in those days. But mere tribes of Indians were not the only reasons why western Iowa and its contingent territories decided upon a military defense. Men of a paler race, a race which it pleases us most of the time to call white, wandered without the law in those lands. Protection from them also was needed and so the company at Council Bluffs was formed.
The old organization was kept alive so that today we can trace the
regiment without difficulty to meetings for drill in the days when young men
wore whiskers. In 1888 it was
decided that more compactness was needed in the state military force of Iowa, so
a merger of the Third Iowa Regiment and the Fifth Iowa Regiment of Infantry was
arranged. The whole became the
In 1898, war again descended upon the country.
A call for volunteers was made. The
services of Iowa’s guardsmen were ready and offered.
On April 26, the call into service for the Iowa soldiers came. On May 30,
they ceased being state troops, and entered into Federal Service as the 51st
Iowa Volunteers. On November 2,
1899, Iowa had the opportunity to welcome her boys of the Old Third Iowa back
into civil life after they had helped win for their flag.
The 51st Iowa Volunteers once more became the Third Regiment
In June 1916, war with Mexico was at hand, and the call came for
soldiers. Nine months they served
giving protection to Uncle Sam’s southern boundaries.
Early in 1917, the regiment returned again to its home state, but the
country was drifting closer towards the greatest war the world ever knew, World
War I. On April 6 when America
declared war upon Germany, the officers of the National Guard of Iowa at once
began the work of getting their units ready for the part they would be called
upon to play. On August 5, they
were formally drafted by a proclamation of the President into the federal
service. No longer would they be
known as the Third Iowa Infantry. The
regiment was to be enlarged to 3,705 men, and entered into the formation of the
168th Infantry. They would become a part of the Rainbow Division.
The 168th Infantry men were at Lorraine, at the St. Mihiel
Drive, the Champagne Defense, the Chateau Thierry Drive, the Argonne Offensive,
the Drive to Sedan, and the Occupation of the Rhine.
Many of them are buried in France.
The history and pictures of the men who died before they reached the battle line are herein described. We honor their memory whose heroic deaths fill the pages of the book, “The Price of Our Heritage.”
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