Private James Coombs

Fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry
Fifth Iowa Volunteer Cavalry

James Coombs was a twenty-eight year old resident of Fairfield, Iowa when he answered the call to preserve the Union. He enlisted on August 15, 1862 in Company H of the Fifth Iowa Infantry. Since he had enlisted during the second year of the war, he had not yet completed his three years of service when the regiment was consolidated with the Fifth Iowa Cavalry. Coombs transferred to Company I of his new regiment. He was in good company, since the majority of Fifth Iowa Infantry soldiers had joined him by reenlisting to continue their service alongside the cavalry veterans. Coombs mustered out of the army just a few weeks prior to the rest of his regiment, on June 17, 1865 at Nashville, Tennessee.

Following the war he was one of seven hundred and thirty-nine Union veterans who gathered for a reunion in Unionville, Missouri. The Unionville Republican reported on September 25, 1889 that three hundred and forty-six in attendance had served in Missouri regiments while one hundred and seven represented Iowa units. Festivities included numerous speeches, a parade, and the reenactment of a battle. Among the men attending the commemoration was another veteran of the Fifth Iowa Cavalry, George Haenall. It is likely that despite their having served in two different companies, these fellow veterans of the Fifth encountered one another at the reunion and recounted many of their most noteworthy memories of service in this distinguished regiment.

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