A Civil War Biography

Jacob Gartner Lauman

Lauman was born 20 January 1813 in Taneytown, Maryland. He was educated at the academy in York County Pennsylvania. In 1844 he moved to Burlington, Iowa and engaged in business.

When Abraham Lincoln called for troops Lauman was one of the first to volunteer. He spent time recruiting then was commissioned colonel of the 7th Iowa on 7 July 1861. The 7th Iowa was sent to Missouri where it fought its first action at Belmont, Missouri on 7 November 1861. Lauman was severely wounded but returned to duty and commanded the 4th Brigade of the 2nd Division during the attack on Fort Donelson. He was one of the first to enter the enemy works.

He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on 21 March 1862 and commanded the 3rd Brigade of Stephen A. Hurlbut's 4th Division at Shiloh. Lauman commanded the brigade at Hatchie, Tennessee on 6 October 1862 as part of a detachment of the Army of West Tennessee commanded by Edward O.C. Ord that was sent by William S. Rosecrans to destroy Earl Van Dorn's Confederate Army of West Tennessee as it retreated from Corinth, Mississippi. Ord was severely criticized by many including Lauman, for allowing the Confederates to escape capture or destruction. When Hurlbut was promoted to major general, Lauman took over command of the division.

He commanded the 4th Division, now part of the XVI Corps, during the siege of Vicksburg. On 16 July 1863, during the campaign against Jackson, Mississippi, Lauman misunderstood or misconstrued an order from Ord resulting in severe loss to the 4th Division. Lauman was relieved of his command, many believed as Ord's way of punishing Lauman for speaking out after Hatchie. Ulysses S. Grant sent Lauman east to a command that he found already filled. He was then ordered to Burlington, Iowa to await orders. Orders never came.

His military career ended, Lauman returned to business pursuits and tried in vain to have the circumstances at Jackson investigated. He died in Burlington on 9 February 1867 from complications due to his wound at Belmont. The question of whether he was incompetent and guilty of criminal neglect or the victim of a misunderstanding in orders was never resolved.

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