The motto of Company “A” 49th Iowa Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Welcome to the Internet home of “The Governor’s Own Iowa Rifles” of Company “A” 49th Regiment of Iowa Volunteer Infantry, Sons Veteran Reserve (SVR) Honor Guard Unit for the Department of Iowa, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW).
This all-volunteer ceremonial unit is made up of participants from e very corner of the state of Iowa (and we even have one member from the People’s Republic of China). We have a total combined strength of twenty-four Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers who portray a United States Army Regimental Color Guard of the American Civil War (per 1863 US Army Regulations for Regulars). We currently are the largest serving SVR Unit in Iowa and are among the largest in the nation. We currently have three men who are “in-processing” and are expected to join the ranks for their probationary enlistment period of one year’s duration within the next few weeks.
Our standards are high and our expectations are exacting, so we are not for everyone. But, as you can see from our calendar of events, we are an extremely active and vibrant presence in the growing “Civil War Community” and as we enter the Sesquicentennial events of the next few years, we anticipate being even more active.
We are not, in the traditional sense, “re-enactors” (although some of our members do belong to clubs formed for the purposes of taking part in various and sundry events related to that hobby). Instead, we are an organization of military historians who share ancestral lineage with those who served in the Federal forces of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, and Revenue Cutter Services during the American Civil War, 1861-1865, and who are dedicated to performing certain “missions” in commemoration of their service to the nation.
This Regiment was formed for the specific purpose of providing a highly disciplined, historically accurate, Civil War era Honor Guard for the Department Commander of the SUVCW; and, to work along-side State and national Veterans groups, active military units like the Army National Guard and the United States Marine Corps Reserve in support of their undertakings; and to raise funds through solicitation from the public to facilitate the repair/restoration/ and or replacement of Iowa Civil War Monuments across the State and Nation. We have also undertaken as a “mission” the locating and registration onto a National Database the final resting place of all identifiable Civil War Veterans who rest under Iowa’s sod.
In addition to these goals, we stridently support the Iowa State Historical Society’s “Honor the Colors; the Iowa Battle Flags Project”. This website is the on-going chronicle of our activities in support of these goals that we have set for ourselves. You can judge for yourselves whether or not we have been successful in our pursuit of these endeavors.
Organizations like ours exist because a few dedicated individuals, sharing common interests in preserving at least a portion of our Nation’s heritage, devote literally hundreds of hours and considerable financial resources to telling the stories of the sacrifices of our ancestors so that we might enjoy the freedoms that we hold dear today.
When you think about the fate that would surely have befallen this country, and an entire race of people who were struggling to cast off the bonds of the horrific institution of human slavery, had NOT our own great-grandfathers stood up and stepped forward the potentialities are staggering.. No other event in the history of this nation took us closer to falling into the abyss than did the American Civil War. No other social phenomena of our Republic had greater potential of landing this country in the dustbin of history as just another failed attempt at liberty than those four long and terrible years. Our ancestors knew it, and we know it.
We declared to the world in 1776 that we would be different; and, we vowed to the world that we would be a place where each man could live his life in freedom and equality, and free of foreign tyranny. We pledged “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” to these vows. And, we fought a long and difficult War of Revolution to make good on those avowals. A war that no odds maker in the world would have given us anywhere close to equal odds of winning. But we did.
Yet when we emerged from that war and began our journey among the nations of men, we still allowed a dark and sinister tyranny to stain the honor of this nation when we refused to follow the lead of every other civilized country on the planet by the renunciation and abandonment of the institution of slavery. It was a shame that would bear terrible fruit over the first three-quarters of a century of our existence; and it would nearly destroy us.
If this nation was to fulfill its own espoused promise embodied in the words of our own “Declaration of Independence” and “Bill of Rights” that supposedly told the world who we were and what we believed to be the natural condition of man, the American Civil War was inevitable, and it was unavoidable. And six-hundred and twenty-eight thousands of us would perish in the all-engulfing flames of war over the course of our national nightmare.
Historians (with the luxury of distant observation, and focusing through the lenses of their personal biases) still argue the details of who was right and who was wrong; was it about slavery or was it purely the old “states rights” alibi? The much distinguished poet, author and historian, Robert Penn Warren, in his monumental work entitled, “The Legacy of the Civil War” (Bison Books, University of Nebraska Press, 1998, reprint of his 1961 copyright) admirably and ably argues both perspectives and cautions us to not “buy too deeply” into either the “Great Alibi” or the “Treasury of Virtue” points of view. Both are true and both are untrue, depending upon one’s own perspective.
But some things connected with that greatest of American wars are beyond question, and it is with these that I wish you to give consideration.
Looking at the war from the perspective of descendents of the men and women who struggled through it, we see around us in every city and small town of this country the physical monuments to their struggles. They are there on our courthouse squares in the body of those old canons. They are there in the statues of long-dead soldiers, sailors and marines who fought that war. They are there in the crumbling gravestones in seldom visited cemeteries; row upon row, upon row of no longer white, no longer straight, and often no longer legible markers over the final resting places of those whose service to this nation should entitle them to better.
But we live in times that do not lend themselves well to the preservation of our history. At times, it seems that our “Social Networks” have replaced our “Society” and that if anything is not measured in megabytes or pixels it is of little importance to us.
Economic realities of the past couple of years have seen our various and sundry governmental entities on the brink of apparent collapse and unable to fund anything in the way of historic preservation. Some government bodies are even exploring legal ways of trying to renege on the pension plans of retirees who devoted their lives to public service. We are told repeatedly that here simply is no money to fund any restoration or preservation efforts.
So, what are we to do? A philosopher (whom I regretfully fear I can no longer name) once wrote, “We shall probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those that we destroy” or allow to crumble away.
The 49th Iowa Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment exists to attempt to do what we can to preserve and restore monuments to those who served this nation through its darkest days. We try desperately to raise funds through donations from citizens like you to repair monuments and replace gravestones in order to try to ensure that these edifices to the sacrifices of our ancestors are not allowed to simply disappear. We think this to be important work. And we need your help to continue to do it.
If you are visiting this website, and taking the time to read this over-long article, then we know that you too believe this to be important work.
If you live in Iowa, we would love to have you join together with us through active participation in our Regiment…we need lots of Corporals and Color Sergeants. If you live outside of our area, or do not have an interest in joining our Regiment, you can still play a crucial role in what we do. By sending us a dollar or two in donation, you can help to insure that we can continue to take part in these vitally important historic preservation activities.
We pledge to you that every cent that we take in goes directly into the Monuments Restoration Fund or helps to support the Iowa Battle Flags Project that you have read about on this website. Not ONE red-cent goes into the pockets of any member of this Regiment. On the contrary, I would venture to say that each man whose photos you see on this site wearing the uniform of the Federal Army circa 1863 spends close onto one thousand dollars of his own money to look like that. And, our ladies who help us in our activities spend like amounts of their own monies on their historically accurate period clothing as well.
We are a not-for-profit organization under Federal Tax laws found in chapter 501.c.4 of the Internal Revenue Code and as such are approved as an entity that can accept tax-deductible gifts. Under Federal Law we are strictly forbidden from making a “profit”.
So, if you believe what we are doing is worthwhile, please consider donating to our cause. You can be of enormous assistance by sending whatever you can to help us continue to do this important work. Those who wish to donate can send funds directly to us by personal or corporate checks (no cash, please) to the address shown below. Please make your checks payable to “The Iowa Rifles”, and mail your donations to:
The Iowa Rifles P.O. Box 12073 Des Moines, Iowa 50312
Last year (2010) one and one-quarter MILLION people visited this website to see who we are and what we do. If only 1% of those people had contributed as little as $1.00 to assist us in our efforts we could have done so much more, and there is much out there for us to do.
With the approaching Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, we feel that it is doubly important that we do what we can where and when we can, and we are counting on the fact that you will feel as we do and assist us by making a donation. Whether you choose to donate or not, please know that we thank you for your interest in our cause; your time in reading of our activities on this website; and, your consideration of becoming somehow personally involved in what we do. And, we most fervently hope that you will continue to visit these pages.
Yours, most sincerely, on behalf of the Regiment,
David M. Lamb 1/Lt., Commanding The Governor’s Own Iowa Rifles