History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/Marcellus M. Crocker
MARCELLUS M. CROCKER, lawyer and soldier, was born in Johnson County, Indiana, February 6, 1830. With his father's family he came to Jefferson County, Iowa, in 1844, where he attracted the notice of Shepherd Leffler, who was a member of Congress living at Burlington. When Crocker was sixteen years of age he had acquired an education. Leffler and General A. C. Dodge, who was a United States Senator, joined in securing him the appointment of cadet in the Military Academy at West Point. He entered upon his military education, but the death of his father made it necessary for him to leave the Academy before he could graduate. It was in the fall of 1849 when he returned home to look after the affairs of his father's estate that he entered the office of Judge Olney and took up the study of law. In the course of two years he was admitted to the bar and began practice at Lancaster, in Keokuk County. In the spring of 1854 he removed to Des Moines and entered into partnership with D. O. Finch. In 1857 he and P. M. Casady became partners in the practice of law and soon after J. S. Polk became a member of the firm. Mr. Crocker became in a few years one of the most prominent and successful lawyers in central Iowa. He was attending court at Adel when the news of the firing on Fort Sumter was received. He returned to Des Moines and made a thrilling address at a war meeting. From this time forward he was an uncompromising Union man, supporting Lincoln's administration, although he had been a firm Democrat from boyhood. He at once began to raise a company for the war, which became Company D of the Second Volunteer Infantry, of which he was commissioned captain. He won rapid promotion and in October, 1862, was commissioned Colonel of the Thirteenth Infantry. In the winter following he was promoted to a Brigadier-General. He took an active part in the battles of Shiloh and Corinth, and in the latter commanded a brigade which was composed of the Eleventh, Thirteenth, Fifteenth and Sixteenth Iowa regiments and became one of the most famous of the Army of the Tennessee. He was promoted to Major-General and placed in command of the Seventh Division of the Seventeenth Army Corps, which fought most gallantly with heavy loss at the battles of Jackson and Champion's Hill. In this campaign under the eye of General Grant, that great chieftain pronounced Crocker “competent to command an army.” In 1863 he came home on sick leave. While in Des Moines the Republican State Convention was in session, and there was a movement inaugurated to nominate him for Governor. But he declined the honor with the remark: “If a soldier is worth anything he cannot be spared from the field; if he is worthless, he will not make a good Governor.” His last active service in the Civil War was with Sherman in the march to the sea, where his health began to fail. Early in the summer he was transferred to a command in New Mexico where it was hoped the climate would be beneficial to him. But he was already stricken with a fatal malady and in June, 1865, he went to Washington where he was prostrated with sickness, but lingered until August 26, when he passed away at the early age of thirty-five.