G.A.R. Post No. 101 - Clear Lake, Iowa
The Tom Howard Post, No. 101, of the Grand Army of the Republic, was organized Oct. 15, 1872 with the name in honor of Lieut. Thomas Howard of the 32nd Iowa. He was a gallant soldier from Clear Lake, who was killed at the battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana on April 9, 1864.
"The old soldiers of Clear Lake have held a preliminary meeting and will organize a post of the G.A.R. with the above name. No more appropriate title could be found for this company of veterans than that of brave Tom Howard. The writer of this and the brave lieutenant were borne off the bloody battlefield of Pleasant Hill together, on that terrible evening of April 9, 1864; poor Tom shot through the bowels and the writer through the thigh. We lay side by side until long into the night on a grass plat in front of one of the houses of the village, and were then removed to a pig pen [sic] or cow shed which had been created into a hospital, and we were there separated, never to meet again. The brave Howard knew that his was a mortal wound, but not a murmur escaped his lips, while his bright young life was ebbing slowly away, and our conversation was foreign to the horrors of war. The 32nd Iowa contained scores of good and brave men, but none braver, better or more beloved than Lieut. Tom Howard of Company B. When the army retreated he was left in the hands of the rebels, and his body lies buried in the pine clad hills of Louisiana, but his noble spirit has received a better reward, and the boys of the Lake are to be commended for the selection of so good a name to designate their post."
This article was published in one of the Cerro Gordo County papers after the preliminary meeting held for the organization of the post.
Edwin Nichols Shares His Memories of the Battle of Pleasant Hill
Edwin C. Nichols came to Cerro Gordo County in 1854 with fellow settler Oscar Stevens. Nichols, a member of Company B of the 32nd Iowa, recorded the following in his journal:
"On the ninth of April of 1864 was a call at about 3 A.M. took our coffee and hard-tack, and while waiting for something better to do a pack of cards was brought out by someone, and we sat down to a game of poker. The stakes were grains of corn, not representing any particular value. When the day was ended I was the only one of the ten in the game that answered the role (sic) call.
As we went to the place assigned to us in the extreme front, on the road to Mansfield, we met many of the troops that had been driven back the previous afternoon. They encouraged us by expressions of sympathy, advice, and prophecy; telling us that those who lived to return would travel faster on the return trip. And that we had better send our word to our sweet-hearts now, while able to do so, and much more of the same sort.
We took our position, and soon saw many signs of an approaching battle. The noise, smoke, and smell of powder burning made me wish that the general and command would make it necessary to have a bottle of water of the Atlantic Ocean, and would detail me to bring it. I am sure I could've gotten ready to start within thirty-days!
After the skirmish line was called in I felt that it was the other fellow who was in danger. All through the day we expected an attack at any moment, but about four o'clock the fire of the skirmishers and sharp-shooters slacked up, and many of us began to think the enemy was retiring. Just then Colonel Scott passed along the line, and when near our company said, 'Boys, if they come today they will be here within a half an hour.'"
Soon after this journal was written, Nichols was discharged after three years of dedicated service due to physical disability. He ventured back to Clear Lake and continued with his pre-war farming career.
"...that from these honored dead we take increased devotion that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion..." -Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 1863