Jacob G. Lauman


Jacob G. Lauman was in his late forties when war broke out. Despite his age, he immediately set about raising and organizing companies for the Federal army. A native of Burlington, Iowa, Lauman was commissioned colonel of the 7th Iowa Infantry Regiment on July 7, 1861. Under Lauman’s command, the 7th Iowa fought in its first battle on the shores of the Mississippi River during the Battle of Belmont on November 7, 1861. Despite being wounded in the leg, Lauman continued with Gen. U. S. Grant’s army as it mobilized to gain control of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. The 7th Iowa participated in the next phase of Grant’s plan, the attacks on Forts Henry and Donelson, in February 1862. Federal gunboats arrived at Fort Henry on February 6 and began shelling the partially flooded fortification. Confederate command recognized the force could not hold the fort for long and began retreating to Fort Donelson. By the time the 7th Iowa reached Fort Henry, the Confederate forces there had abandoned the place so immediately that they left “bread baking in the ovens and meat cooking,” wrote Lauman to his wife. The total number of casualties for both sides is estimated to be 119. On Thursday February 13, Lauman and his brigade (which he had been given command of following the Battle of Fort Henry) formed a line of battle and advanced toward the enemy’s outer works under a blistering bombardment of canister and grape shot. They had fought their way to the enemy’s breastworks only to run out of ammunition and fall back. The engagement resulted in an overwhelming Federal victory. Just three days after the unconditional surrender of Confederate forces, Lauman informed his brother that they had already transported roughly 8,000 prisoners to northern prison camps. “Such a lot of humanity I never saw before—all butternut color,” wrote Lauman. “But they can shoot, as many of our boys can testify,” he concluded.

  • Raised and organized Union troops, commissioned Colonel
  • Participated in attacks on Forts Henry and Donelson, given command of brigade after Fort Henry