Captain Erwin Shelly
Fifth Iowa Volunteer Cavalry
Erwin Y. Shelly was thirty-four year old resident of Saint Paul, Minnesota when he was appointed a First Lieutenant on November 4, 1861. He was promoted to Captain of Company K on February 1, 1862. With the rest of the Minnesota volunteers he was transferred to service in Minnesota on February 25, 1864.
Following his discharge in 1865, Shelly returned to his original profession, as a printer. In a collection of articles from the Daily Pioneer Press which was published under the title Reminiscences of Pioneer Days in Saint Paul, there is an interesting biography about Shelley. It says, in part:
Capt. Shelly was a member of the old Pioneer guards, and when President Lincoln called for men to suppress the rebellion the old patriotism was aroused in him, and he organized, in company with Major Brackett, a company for what was afterward known as Brackett's battalion…
Apparently, Shelly performed his civilian duties with dignity and professionalism. But he was not self-serving. And the biographical entry ends on a somber note, saying, "Captain Shelly was almost painfully modest, seldom alluding to the many stirring events with which he had been an active participant… Political preferment and self-assurance keep some men constantly before the public eye, while others, the men of real merit, who have spent the best part of their lives in the service of their country, are often permitted by an ungrateful community to go down to their graves unhonored and unsung."