Alexander Cheney enlisted into Company G of the 14th Iowa Infantry in 1861 at the start of the Civil War. He gave his residence as Davenport Iowa.
After the war the published roster of the regiment said he was born in Germany, but the handwritten original record books of the company say he was born in Three Rivers Canada.
He and his Company fought at Fort Donelson and then at Shiloh, where they formed part of the brave stand now known as the "Hornets' Nest". When Grant's army was surprised with a dawn attack on Sunday April 6 1862, Cheney was among the men who formed up a stiff line of resistance that held the rebel army stalled for several hours until almost sundown. It was long enough for Grant to gather his scattered army and to bring in reenforcements that would give him the second chance to win a major victory the following day. The victory probably saved Grant's career.
The men of the Hornets' Nest, who bought Grant his second chance with their lives and freedom, were ultimately surrounded and forced to surrender after a long day stopping repeated frontal Confederate assaults on their position. They were taken to POW camps in the south.
Alexander Cheney however was shot in the forehead during the fight. His companions checked his body and thought he was killed instantly. Two days later a burial party found him still breathing and alive, left behind on the battlefield when his friends where rounded up into captivity. He even temporarily regained conciousness and the ability to speak. He could describe the battle and his friends leaning over him, even firing at the enemy as they knelt protectively over him, but he had been unable to move or speak or cimmunicate with them.
Several days after the battle, acording to the handwritten Company records, on April 10 Cheney died of his severe head wound. The published roster however, probably in error, says that he lingered several months, finally dying in July. He is buried at Shiloh's Pittsburg Landing National Cemetery
Cheney, Alexander. Age 25. Residence Davenport, Scott County, nativity Three Rivers Canada. Enlisted November 1, 1861. Mustered November 4, 1861. Wounded April 6, 1862, Shiloh Tennessee. Died of wounds April 10, 1862. Buried in Shiloh National Cemetery, Pittsburg Landing Tennessee, Section C, Grave 7. ( Germany ? / July 10 ? )
Does anyone recognize this brave soldier? It would be nice to place him within a family and give him a full identity and to answer the question of his true birthplace, so thta he might properly be remembered and honored.
Anyone seeking more information on Cheney and the 14th Iowa Company G can find a newly published diary and letters written by his companions at www.traermuseum.com . Cheney is mentioned a few times in this new book of first hand accounts. I believe his incredible story is even mentioned in a Time-Life Civil War book. He was a brave man, in a brave company of men, and deserves to be remembered.
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