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James Lorraine Geddes

GEDDES, James Lorraine, soldier, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, 19 March, 1827 ; died in Ames, Story County, Iowa, 21 February, 1887. In 1837 he was brought by his father, Captain Alexander Geddes, to Canada. At the age of sixteen he returned to Scotland, but soon sailed for India, where, after studying for two years at the British military academy in Calcutta, he enlisted in the Royal horse artillery, serving seven years under Sir Hugh Gough, Sir Charles Napier, and Sir Colin Campbell. He passed through the Punjaub campaign, was present at the battle of Kyber Pass, and ascended the Himalayas with the last-named officer in the expedition against the hill tribes. For his services he was rewarded with a medal and clasp. At the end of ten years he returned to his home in Canada, and was commissioned colonel of a cavalry regiment; but he soon resigned from the army, emigrating to Iowa in 1857, and settled at Vinton, Benton co. At the beginning of the civil war he gave up his place as a teacher, and in August, 1861, enlisted as a private in the 8th Iowa regiment. He was rapidly promoted captain, lieutenant colonel, and colonel, being ultimately brevetted brigadier-general in the volunteer service, 5 June, 1865. At Shiloh he was wounded and fell into the hands of the enemy, remaining a prisoner until early in 1863, when he was exchanged and again saw service under General Grant at Vicksburg and under General Sherman at Jackson, Mississippi In October. 1863, he was placed in command of a brigade and ordered to Brownsville, Texas. Subsequently he was made provost marshal of Memphis, and by his exertions the City was probably saved from capture by the Confederate General Forrest. During the Mobile campaign he commanded a brigade, and to him is due the capture of Spanish Fort. The defenses of that work were considered impregnable; but on one side ran a ravine, beyond which was a bluff. This vulnerable point was soon discovered by General Geddes, who pushed his men up the ravine, over the bluff, and into the enemy's works, being actually in possession before the commandant of the fort had learned the fact, or it had become known to General Geddes's superior officer. After the war he had charge of the blind-asylum at Vinton for several years, took part in the organization, and for fifteen years shared in the management of the Iowa College of agriculture at Ames, Story County, serving at different times as vice-president, professor of military tactics, treasurer, and land-agent. General Geddes wrote several war-songs, which were set to music and became widely popular. Among them were "The Soldier's Battle-Prayer" and " The Stars and Stripes."

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