Discharge document

Discharge and Promotion

On May 19, 1863, Wilson DeGarmo was 1st Sergeant of Captain John Dillon's Company H, 33rd Regiment, 2nd Brigade of Iowa Infantry Volunteers in the 13th Division, XIII Army Corps. On May 20, 1863, he was a lieutenant.

The discharge document above records part of the process. It states that he was discharged on the Twentieth day of May, 1863, at Helena, Arkansas, by reason of promotion. It also records that he was first enrolled on Aug. 9, 1862, "to serve three years or during the war."

Wilson DeGarmoThe document also tells us a little bit about Wilson DeGarmo. He was born in Ohio County, Virginia, 29 years before. He was five feet, 8 1/2 inches high, "sandy complexion, gray eyes, sandy hair, and by occupation, when enrolled, a farmer."

The document is signed by Samuel A. Rice, the colonel commanding the brigade.

The note in red ink is dated April 23, 1891, and appears to be about benefits.

DeGarmo was quickly promoted to 1st Lieutenant. A Muster-in Roll document, too large to reproduce, shows that Samuel Kirkwood, governor of Iowa, approved his promotion on July 27, 1863, to take effect Jan. 1, 1864. The document itself is dated Jan. 27, 1864. The signatures include that of Lt. Col. Cyrus H. MacKay, the regiment commander.

Shortly after DeGarmo's promotion from sergeant, the 33rd Iowa fought in the Battle of Helena, Ark. A Confederate force led by Maj. Gen. Sterling Price attacked Union fortifications on July 4, 1863, in an attempt to relieve pressure on Vicksburg. The Confederates were repelled by Helena's defenders, under the command of Brig. Gen. Frederick Salomon.

The 33rd was one of three Iowa regiments -- the 29th, 33rd and the 36th -- engaged in the battle, and it suffered the heaviest casualties of the Union forces: 19 killed, 50 wounded and and 16 missing. Total Union casualties in the battle were 57 killed, 146 wounded and 36 missing. Total Confederate casualties were 169 killed, 659 wounded and 786 missing. Allan McNeal's Sept. 27, 1863, letter indicates that Gen. Price's force was thought to be in bad shape after the battle.

DeGarmo was wounded severely on April 30, 1864, in battle at Saline River, according to the 1911 book, "Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion," p. 175. (citation provided by Bill DeGarmo.)

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Comments may be addressed to Larry Pearson, lpearson@pobox.alaska.net