Stephen M. Dicken, 14th Iowa Infantry, spent the war looking for his big brother James, among clumps of Confederate prisoners. The reunion had to wait until the fighting was over.
James, Stephen, and their siblings were born in Illinois. Their parents were natives of Kentucky. In 1855, when James was 14, his family moved to a farm in Bremer County, Iowa.
James later moved to Jackson County, Missouri. In June 1862, he enlisted in Captain Overstreet’s Company, Grinstead’s Regiment. It became Company D, 33rd Arkansas Infantry. Stephen and another brother enlisted in Iowa regiments.
On April 9, 1864, James was at Pleasant Hill, Louisiana. His skirmish line entered the woods in mounting darkness, heading toward Federal troops. The Confederates were ordered back. In the confusion, James was captured.
Union guards were surprised to recognize a Confederate P.O.W. who used to live in Bremer County. Stephen had no such luck, since James was soon paroled and rejoined his unit.
Among Confederate allies
As the war was ending in the East, James was in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). This was the site of the Confederacy’s only allies: the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole nations.
James served under a Cherokee, General Stand Watie. James was stationed in the Choctaw Nation.
In May 1865, the tribes learned that Lee had surrendered a month earlier. Twenty-five-year-old James deserted and headed toward his Missouri home. Mid-way, he decided to surrender, so he headed toward Ft. Scott in southeast Kansas.
As James trekked, the Choctaw Nation surrendered on June 19, and Stand Watie followed suit on June 23.
He left his mark
James reached Fort Scott and surrendered on July 11, 1865 – three months after Appomattox. He swore to “forever oppose secession, rebellion, and the disintegration of the Federal Union.” He couldn’t sign his name, so he left his mark.
After the war, James visited his family in Bremer County. He moved to Paris, Texas, in 1873, and fades from the scene.
Postscript: A request for help
This story lacks details that could make it richer. If you know any family stories about James M. or Stephen M. Dicken, or if you have family letters or diaries from that time, would you please contact me? Thanks for thinking about this!