A previous attempt to post this was, I fear, unsuccessful. Here is a second attempt:
I spent the better part of Saturday morning looking through microfilm from the Keokuk Daily Gate City newspaper at the Keokuk Public Library. I was able to find articles from December 1861-March 1862 relating to the 15th Iowa. Some are very short, others are rich with detail. I’ll post some of the more interesting ones now. I have transcribed these as best I can and any errors not of the period are unintentional.
27 December 1861: “The City Rifles will be at the Estes House Hall promptly at 8 o’clock this evening for the presentation of a sword to Major Belknap. The occasion will be one of much interest.”
28 December 1861: “There was a Dress Parade last night for the first time in a week, the spectators were not numerous owing to the cold weather.” There is also an article about the sword presentation; apparently the sword “…is a specimen of beautiful workmanship, ordered from Boston…”
3 January 1862: The men of Company E pass a resolution tendering “…our warmest thanks to the Ladies of Danville and vicinity, Des Moines county, for the sumptuous New Year’s dinner so kindly sent us…” Also on that day the paper prints a letter from H. Beckman to the officers and attendants of the military hospital and also to Company D, thanking them for the attentions paid to his son who died at the hospital on Christmas Day.
7 January 1862: “Yesterday about noon Constable Hendrickson was seen in full chase after a soldier who had illegally taken some hats from Voorhies’ hat store—when last seen they were going full tilt out Johnson street.”
9 January 1862: “It is well known that there is or has been a great deal of sickness in the 15th regiment, and that several deaths have occurred. As is usual, and might have been expected in the absence of frequent official reports, highly exaggerated rumors have got abroad in regard to the number of dead. For the sake of the regiment and the friends of the soldiers it would be well to publish accurate reports frequently. If the Surgeon or officers think thus, we will cheerfully give them the use of our columns for this purpose.” (NOTE: Newspaper accounts of soldier deaths in the 15th during this time in Keokuk cite pneumonia, measles, and typhoid as the primary causes.)
13 January 1862: The 15th was paid off today. According to the paper the funds were in Treasury Notes and gold and silver for change under five dollars. “The soldiers and officers felt good. So did the sutler. So did several other people.”
15 January 1862: A notice is placed in the paper advertising a military ball by permission of Lt. Col. Dewey; all in the regiment will be in attendance and admission is 50 cents. Doors open from 7pm-1am.
16 January 1862: Company H, 42 men, were paid about $546 and sent home $400. Company G, Captain Cunningham, with 100 men received on average $20 per man and sent home $2,050.
17 January 1862: Company E, Captain Hutchcraft, 96 men drew $2500 and sent home $2000. Also, Col. JW Rankin of a different regiment arrived from St. Louis stating that horses were forthcoming. It can be presumed that, at that point, limited commerce with St. Louis was happening.
17 January 1862: “As several persons in Keokuk have, at times, purchased of the soldiers, clothing, blankets, and other property furnished them by the United States, it is deemed best to caution them as to the unlawfulness of this proceeding, and to inform them of the penalty to which they are liable…” it can be presumed that the 15th was engaged in this in some manner.
22 January 1862: The privates of Company B write a letter to the paper thanking a group of young ladies who came into camp at 9pm and serenaded them with “The Red, White, and Blue”, the “Star Spangled Banner”, and “Home, Sweet Home”.
23 January 1862: The “High Privates” of the regiment write a letter to the paper critical of their officers. Apparently a dance was held in Keokuk on the 22nd that only the officers were to attend; the privates write “…they (the privates) take this method of enquiring whether they are not as ‘good a set of men’ as ever prepared to open ranks? and would furthermore modestly express the opinion that officers elected by us are not the men to put on such exclusive airs…”
27 January 1862: A letter from Company B expresses “…unqualified gratitude…” to a Mrs. Schuler and the other German ladies of the city for presenting to every member of Company B pin-cushions. It would follow that the men representing Company B would all have similar/identical pin cushions.
28 January 1862: “Yesterday morning a large number of soldiers of Camp Halleck went through a performance not laid down in the “Revised Tactics”—They not only might have been, but actually were, seen loading up a big sled with a quantity of fresh beef, which they and some of the officers alleged was not good. The sled being loaded, a procession of about one hundred fifty soldiers, more or less, headed by drum and fife, playing “The Dead March”, started on the march. In the sled was one lone man with face covered, holding a long pole, on the end of which was tied a piece of the meat. As the procession moved along, the soldiers in rapid succession ran up to the sled and made a noise like the carrion crow whereat, of course, the man in the sled was dreadfully annoyed and was kept busy beating off the “crows”. This performance was continued all around the square once or twice, and then they marched off to a certain meat shop, broke in the door, and hung up the meat on all the hooks in the shop. Whereupon they all retired feeling they had done a good thing…” An investigation by Lt. Col. Dewey establishes the beef as “first-rate and perfectly sound”.
6 February 1862: Company E presents “…a sword, of superior quality…” to Captain Hutchcraft. The inscription read: “Presented to R.W. HUTCHCRAFT by Co. E, 15th Reg. Iowa Volunteers”.
7 February 1862: “A concert will be given at the Chatham Square Methodist Church this evening…The proceeds will be applied to the purchase of supplies for the Hospital, and to procure for the 15th Regiment such articles, necessary in care of sickness, as are not supplied by the government…” “We learn from Quartermaster Pressell, who arrived in town yesterday with eight teams for army supplies, that the forces of Col. Moore and Lieut. Col. Woodyard have been united…” It follows that, based on this account, some sorts of equipments were delivered to Keokuk on/about this day.
14 February 1862: “At dress parade last evening an order was read directing that a private of Company I should be drummed out of camp for stealing goods at Clagett’s store.”
20 February 1862: Large celebration in Keokuk celebrating Fort Donelson. The 15th paraded through the streets cheering, preceded by the Hose Company.
24 February 1862: The regiment attended a celebration for Washington’s birthday where Washington’s Farewell Address was read aloud. That afternoon the regiment’s organization was concluded and Col. Hugh T. Reid was sworn in as colonel. The regiment numbers 1025.
25 February 1862: According to the paper this day was the first time the regiment engaged in battalion drill. Also, “Some of the boys of the 15th regiment ‘cleaned out’ a little doggery on the corner of 4th and Johnson streets on Saturday night last.”
28 February 1862: “Col. Hugh T. Reid appeared in command of his regiment for the first time at dress parade on Wednesday evening. We notice that the battalions, under the efficient and persevering drill of Major Belknap, are rapidly improving in the tactics. In watching the various evolutions it is easy to perceive who among the subordinate officers, are thorough disciplinarians. Discipline will tell.”
14 March 1862: “The boys at Camp Halleck had great sport last evening at making feints to run the guard. A whole battalion or less with hootings and yelling, would run at the guard and as the bayonet was presented, suddenly dodge off to the next guard, and so they “goed it” in a most exciting manner. No lives lost."
19 March 1862: “The 15th Regiment was out in full force last night, giving its last dress parade in this city. Every man carried his knapsack, and a most soldierly appearance was presented. The Jeannie Deans and Warsaw will be here this morning, and one or both will take off the 15th Regiment."
Hopefully this is of interest and useful. I intend to do some further digging in two weeks or so and if anything else can be discovered in Keokuk I will do my best to find it.