Lieutenant John Bailey Towers

Fifth Iowa Volunteer Cavalry

It is commonly said that an army travels on its stomach. And the commissary officers and non-commissioned officers of the Union cavalry played a very important role.

Although a native of St. David, New Brunswick, Canada, for some unknown reason, the beginning of the war found Towers in the Nebraska Territory. Coming from a pro-Union family, he did not attempt to return to the northeast before enlisting. Several of his cousins served in Maine militia units, one dying at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and another falling to pneumonia.

Early in the war Private Towers experienced a painful injury for which he later received a pension. On June 10, 1862, while stationed in Tennessee, Towers was thrown from his horse, which was startled by the accidental discharge of a firearm. His foot was caught in the stirrup, and he was dragged until his boot came off. Unfortunately the boot was only jarred from his foot when his hip painfully impacted a stump. Despite this injury, Towers was committed to remaining in uniform for the duration of the war.

Towers had originally enlisted and was mustered on September 21, 1861 as a private into Company B. That winter, on January 25, 1862, he was promoted to Seventh Corporal within his company. After two years he moved to the Field and Staff of the regiment, with a promotion to Regimental Commissary Sergeant. Shortly before the conclusion of the war, on June 22, 1865, Sergeant Towers was discharged so that he might be commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the Regimental Commissary.

After leaving the Army, John returned to New Brunswick, married a girl from across the border in Calais, Maine. They eventually relocated to Wisconsin, assuming full citizenship in the nation for whose continuing union he had fought.

This information was provided by Bruce Towers, relative of this proud veteran of the Fifth Iowa Volunteer Cavalry. The Fifth Iowa Cavalry site is also indebted to Michael Breeling for sharing the civil war image of Towers, for which he maintains the copyright.

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