Lieutenant Joseph S. Rich
Fifth Iowa Volunteer Cavalry
The descendants of Lieutenant Joseph S. Rich have preserved one of the rarest of treasures… a photograph of the veteran mounted while on garrison duty at Fort Donelson, Tennessee. It is even dated, April 20, 1863. Most contemporary wartime photos were taken in studios, and many of these are simply bust images of the troopers. This image, taken before he was commissioned, reveals his NCO chevrons, which are barely visible. The setting reveals one which would have been extremely familiar to his fellow members of the Fifth Iowa Cavalry.
Rich was a resident of Omaha, Nebraska, although he had originally come from Massachusetts. He enlisted on October 2, 1861, and his leadership potential was quickly recognized. He was promoted Company Quartermaster Sergeant on March 12,1862 and First Sergeant on December 1, 1862. Prior to his reenlistment at the end of the regiment's initial three-year enlistment, he was promoted to Second Lieutenant on April 5, 1864. He became the company's First Lieutenant on July 14, 1864. He transferred to the Fifth Iowa Veteran Cavalry Consolidated on August 8, 1864. Unfortunately, Rich was not able to remain with his friends until the war's end, as he was discharged for disability on January 10, 1865.
We are extremely grateful to Ken Buck for providing this photograph of Lieutenant Rich, who resides somewhere in his family tree.