Wednesday, July 15, 2015

T. Park Coin and his map of Camp Lauman

We're getting ready at the museum this week for next Tuesday's ice cream social --- this year with a Civil War theme. There will be, in addition to free ice cream, live music from the Civil War era as well as a special display of war-related artifacts from the Lucas County Historical Society collection.

Some of these items, because of their fragility, are rarely seen --- including this map, hand-drawn by T. Park Coin, of Camp Lauman. It is the only known image (and actually we're the only ones who know about it) of the encampment on high ground just west of Burlington where the 34th Regiment, Iowa Voluntary Infantry, assembled and was mustered into federal service during the fall of 1862.

I wish this photo was better, but I took the snapshot through glass and during the last 150 years or so, some of the inks used have faded and the paper has yellowed. Still, everything drawn still is legible and it remains in remarkably good condition (right click and open in a new window to view more detail). I've also converted the image to grayscale and tried to enhance it a little.

The map depicts the quarters of the regiment's 10 companies grouped around a parade ground with regimental quarters to the west. A formation seems to have been drawn in at the top, the vertical slashes representing men of the various companies aligned behind regimental officers, including Chariton's Lt. Col. Warren S. Dungan, second in command. Col. George W. Clark was the commander. Cooking grounds, guard posts and a variety of other details are included, plus a few calligraphic flourishes.


The 10 companies of the 34th Regiment were raised in the south of Iowa during the summer of 1862 --- three in Lucas, four in Warren, two in Decatur and one in Wayne counties --- following President Lincoln's July 2, 1862, call for 300,000 3-year enlistments. Gov. Samuel Kirkwood then ordered the 34th to assemble at Camp Lauman during August and September of 1862 --- the last company and the commanding officer, Col. George W. Clark, arrived on Sept. 17. The regiment, 951 men rank and file, was mustered into federal service on Oct. 15.

Warren S. Dungan, who went on after the war to practice law in Chariton into his 90s, serve as Iowa lieutenant governor and found the first Lucas County Historical Society, was instrumental in recruiting efforts across the region and arrived at Camp Lauman as the elected captain of Company K. He was commissioned, however, as lieutenant colonal, second in command of the regiment. Thomas Park Coin, Chariton attorney and school teacher, was one of his privates in Company K.

At Camp Lauman, the men of the 34th were issued arms and accouterments, clothing and camp and garrison supplies, participated in daily drills and then, on Nov. 22, embarked down the Mississippi to Helena, Arkansas.

The precise location of Camp Lauman has been lost, but it generally is believed to have been located near another encampment, Camp Warren, on high ground west of the city, perhaps in an area used as a fair grounds.

The 34th would be plagued by disease throughout its existence --- and more than 600 of the 951 men were stricken with measles during their stay at Camp Lauman. Civilians from the city and surrounding countryside reportedly helped to save the day in this instance, volunteering to help care for the stricken troops.


The artist, T. Park Coin, was an Indiana native, born Sept. 10, 1835, in Carroll County. Orphaned at age 13, he spent the remainder of his boyhood with an uncle in Cass County and was educated at the Camden Seminary. He commenced to teach school at age 16, alternating between months in the classroom and months completing the seminary program.

Park came to Wapello County, Iowa, during the fall of 1856 to take charge of the Blakesburg schools and married there on April 9, 1857, Rebecca Johnston.

Shortly thereafter, the Coins came to Chariton where he taught, served as principal and studied law with James Baker. Admitted to the bar in 1859, he was practicing law in Chariton at the time of his enlistment during 1862 as a private in Company K.


The 34th Regiment arrived in Helena just in time to get caught up in a smallpox epidemic --- and to participate in Sherman's disastrous expedition against Vicksburg and the capture during the following January of Arkansas Post.

The regiment then was ordered to escort some 6,500 captured secessionist troops upriver by boat to Chicago, plagued again by disease.

By the time the war was over and final losses tallied, the record shows that only one officer and 11 men of the 34th were killed in combat, but 2 officers and 244 enlisted men died of disease. Others were sent home in the hope they might recover there; some did, many others died and are not carried of official records as fatalities of the war.

Park himself was stricken as the 34th came back downriver from Chicago to St. Louis during February of 1863. "My regiment was entirely broken down," Col. Clark reported later. "The officers and men were nearly all sick."

Park was one of those men discharged at St. Louis and sent home to Chariton that spring because physicians were unsure he ever would recover, or if he did, be strong enough to serve again.

He did recover, however, and during 1864 moved his family from Chariton to Boone County where he resumed teaching and served as county superintendent of schools from 1872-1876.

In 1879, the Coins headed west to Superior in Nuckolls County, Nebraska, where he practiced law until 1884, served a two-year term as county judge and finally returned to education, working as teacher and principal until his death on Nov. 7, 1890. He is buried in Superior's Evergreen Cemetery behind a military tombstone that records his service in Co. K, 34th Iowa Volunteer Infantry.


Mark next Tuesday's ice cream social on your calendars, please. All buildings on the museum campus --- Stephens House, Lewis Building, Otterbein Church, Puckerbrush School, Pioneer Log Cabin, Pioneer Barn and Blacksmith Shop --- will open for tours at 5:30 p.m. The display of Civil War-related artifacts will be located in the commons room of the Lewis Building. Don't forget to look around the museum gardens, too.

We'll start serving ice cream in the Pioneer Barn at 6 p.m. and at 7 p.m., Sharon Seuferer and Carol Oliver will present a program of live Civil War-era music on the patio. Everything is free. In case of rain, we'll soldier on. The concert will be moved into the barn.

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