After the 30th Indiana Infantry was organized, companies of volunteers from the northeast Indiana’s Tenth Congressional District joined the war effort at Camp Allen in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and were mustered into the Union forces November 22, 1861 by Lt. Howard Erskine Stansbury as the 44th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Commanded by Colonel Hugh B. Reed.
The 44th regiment left Ft. Wayne by train and made brief stops at Indianapolis, Terre Haute and Evansville, Indiana, before it was ferried across the Ohio River to Henderson, Kentucky where the unit reported December 2, 1861 to Gen. Thomas L. Crittenden in Buell’s Army of the Ohio. After being assigned to Gen. Cruft’s Brigade by Buell, the troops camped at Calhoun, a small town seated in the Kentucky mud on the Green River.
Companies G and K were left behind to guard Henderson while the rest of the regiment was steamboated up the Tennessee River to Ft. Henry, arriving too late to participate in that battle on February 6, 1862. Instead of disembarking the boat, the troops were sent back down the Tennessee to the Ohio and then via the Cumberland River to Ft. Donelson where they were placed on the Union center with Division Commander Lew Wallace.
The Rebels made a desperate effort to escape (February 14, 1862) the fort by a sortie on Union lines, hoping to break through them. The 8th and 11th Missouri together with the 44th Indiana Infantry met the Confederate troops head-on. They struggled, and the rebels were forced back. Not only did the Union troops endure the battle but also the harsh Tennessee weather with no fires allowed plus an insufficient supply of blankets and clothing. Their loss was three killed plus six died of wounds and 37 wounded.
The worst was yet to come for the 44th Indiana after the rebel surrender at Ft. Donelson. They walked overland about 15 miles to Fort Henry and were then transported by steamer up the Tennessee River to Pittsburg Landing where they engaged in the bloody Battle of Shiloh. While at breakfast on the morning of April 6, 1862, gunfire ruined the stunning sunrise. As the cannon roared along Prentiss’s division, the drummer boys sounded a long drum roll, and the 44th was rushed to the front and placed along an old sunken road, facing southwest. An officer said they fought like iron men and from then on the name ‘Iron 44th’ stuck.
Losses at Shiloh: 21 killed plus 12 died of wounds and 177 wounded out of the 474 it took into the fight.
From Shiloh until October 1863, the histories of the 44th and the 30th Indiana are almost identical. They were companions on the march, in camp and on the battlefield. They marched with the army from Shiloh to Corinth, Tennessee, skirmishing several times along the way then left Corinth and pursued the enemy on foot as far as Booneville, Mississippi.
The Iron 44th left Booneville to march with Buell’s army into southern Tennessee. When Bragg and his rebel army moved northward, the 44th followed across the Cumberland Mountains reaching Louisville, Kentucky, September 26, 1862. The regiment actively pursued Bragg as far as Wild Cat, Kentucky, then marched back southward and went into camp near Nashville.
From August 20 through December 1, 1862, the 44th marched over 725 miles, averaging ten miles per day without tents or shelter.
The 44th marched with the Army of the Cumberland toward Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where it participated in the Battle of Stones River on December 31, 1862, through January 2, 1863, sustaining losses of nine killed plus ten died of wounds, 52 wounded, and 25 missing, making a total loss of 86.
After remaining in camp near Murfreesboro for some months, it trudged with Van Cleve’s division of Rosecrans’ army across the Cumberland Mountains to Chattanooga, going by way of McMinnville, Dunlap, Jasper, Bridgeport, Shell Mound and Whiteside. It participated in the Battle of Chickamauga on September 18-20, 1863, and on the 22nd of that month, in connection with the 39th Indiana, fought the enemy again at Mission Ridge. In these engagements, the regiment lost four killed plus one died of wounds, 59 wounded, and 20 missing, making a total of 83.
About the middle of October 1863, it was assigned to provost duty at Chattanooga and while on this duty the regiment reenlisted in January 1864 and returned to Indiana on veteran furlough, reaching Indianapolis on the 26th of January, 1864.
Returning to the field it was again placed on provost duty at Chattanooga. In July 1865, the 316 remaining recruits of the 68th and 72nd Indiana (of Wilder’s Lightning Mounted Brigade) were transferred to the 44th and 299 continued in service until its muster out on September 14, 1865.
The 720 soldiers returned home reaching Indianapolis on the 17th of September in command of Colonel James Curtis with 37 officers and 693 men. Of these, 216 were original 44th Indiana enlisted men, of whom 34 returned as commissioned officers, 110 as non-commissioned officers, and 72 as privates.