Iowa History Daily: On April 6, 1862, Mayor Robert Dott of Anamosa, along with many of his fellow volunteers in the 14th Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry, found himself “in the thick of the fray” at the Battle of Shiloh during the American Civil War. According to accounts, Sergeant Dott grabbed a musket and jumped into the action along with the other Iowa Volunteers. Confederate forces took Dott, as well as many other Iowans, prisoner in the aftermath of the battle. For six and a half months Dott remained a prisoner of war at Macon, Georgia, before his eventual release.
Born in Fifeshire, Scotland in 1824, Robert Dott headed for America at the age of nineteen in 1843. He initially spent several years in Illinois before ultimately arriving in Anamosa in 1848. A pillar of the community, Dott engaged in business, served as a justice of the peace, worked at the Auditor of Jones County for three terms, before being elected mayor. When the American Civil War started, the 37 year old Dott answered the call on December 1, 1861.
The Fourteenth Regiment of the Iowa Volunteer Infantry came into existence with a proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1861. The regiment arrived in St. Louis on February 5, 1862, before catching a steamer to Fort Henry. By February 12, the regiment marched on Fort Donelson, where they served as a part of the Fourth Brigade commanded by J.C. Lauman of the Seventh Iowa Infantry. The short siege eventually resulted in the surrender of the Confederate fort.
In mid-March 1862, the Fourteenth passed through Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River, combined with the Second, Seventh, and Twelfth Iowa under the command of Colonel James M. Tuttle of Farmington. A part of General Ulysses Grant’s forces, the Union army went into camp and built strength in order to attack Corinth. Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston made other plans, opting instead to try to smash Grant’s forces with the 44,000 soldier Army of Mississippi. By the evening of April 5, the armies started to exchange static gunfire across established pickets.
At dawn, Johnston’s Confederate force stormed the southernmost portion of the American position, and intense fighting centered at Shiloh Church. As the day unfolded, the Fourteenth eventually fell themselves well in advance of other forces, completely encircled and receiving fire from three directions. Eventually out of ammunition, the Fourteenth surrendered around 6:00 p.m. after a hard day of fighting. 273 Iowans died in the battle, but Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnson also died on April 6th. General Pierre G.T. Beauregard assumed command of the rebels, and retired his forces at the end of the day. Overnight, Union Major General Don Carlos Buell’s Army of Ohio, swelling the Union forces to over 54,000 men. At dawn, the future American President led the counterattack which ultimately led to a Union victory.
Despite the victory, Dott and the other men of the Fourteenth found themselves captured behind enemy lines. Transferred to Macon, Georgia, the men languished until provided with a parole release and sent through Confederate lines to Annapolis, Maryland. Following their return behind Union lines, the military sent the men to Benton Barracks at St. Louis, where they were regularly exchanged on November 19, 1862. Dott continued to serve in his role as commissary sergeant until his official discharge on March 21, 1863. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar