History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/Voltaire P. Twombly
VOLTAIRE P. TWOMBLY is a name that will ever stand prominent on the “roll of honor” among the heroic young soldiers of Iowa who, in the War of the Rebellion, brought imperishable renown to the “Hawkeye State.” Mr. Twombly was born near Fannington, Van Buren County, on the 21st of February, 1842, and received his education in the common schools, finally taking a course in a commercial college at Burlington in 1865. As a boy of nineteen he enlisted under the first call for volunteers, after the firing on Fort Sumter and was mustered into the United States service as a private in Company F, Second Iowa Volunteer Infantry, on the 27th of May, 1861. October, 1861, young Twombly was promoted to seventh corporal and detailed as color bearer. At the Battle of Fort Donelson, the first great Union victory, the Second Iowa was pronounced by Major General Halleck, to have “proved itself the bravest of the brave,” and had the honor of leading the column which first entered Fort Donelson. In one of the most brilliant charges of the war the Second Iowa swept everything before its resistless charge, losing forty killed and one hundred sixty wounded. As the storm of shot and shell rained on the advancing column, Sergeant H. B. Doolittle who was bearing aloft the colors, fell pierced with three bullets; Corporal G. S. Page caught up the flag and soon fell shot through the head; Corporal J. H. Churcher seized the trailing banner and bore it forward but he was shot through his arm; Corporal H. E. Weaver sprang forward and held aloft the stars and stripes, but soon fell mortally wounded; then Corporal J. W. Robinson, without a moment's hesitation seized the fatal flag and waved defiance to the enemy, when he too was shot down; then Corporal Twombly caught it up and on swept the invincible Iowa regiment through a deadly storm of missiles, never stopping to fire a shot, when down went the flag again, as its youthful bearer was prostrated by a partially spent ball; the next moment he was on his feet bearing aloft the colors, as with a mighty rush the regiment mounted the enemy's earthworks and fired its first volley into the ranks of the terrified and panic stricken enemy. The day was won, and the “unconditional surrender” came the next day. Twombly was promoted to lieutenant for his heroic conduct on the bloody field of Donelson, having carried the colors in the terrible Battle of Shiloh. At Corinth he was severely wounded and again at Jonesboro, in August, 1864. In June he was promoted to adjutant of the regiment and in November he became captain of Company K and in 1865 was acting Inspector-General in the Fifteenth Army Corps. He was in Sherman's “march to the sea” and was at the final surrender of the Confederate army under General Joseph E. Johnston, which substantially ended the war. He was at the “Grand Review” of the Union armies at Washington, D. C., on the 24th of May, 1865, and was mustered out on the 12th of July, 1865. In 1880 he was elected treasurer of Van Buren County and at the close of his second term was nominated by the Republican State Convention for State Treasurer and elected, serving by reëlections, three terms, to 1891.