Hollis Rutter was born in Cuba, New York in 1842. He enlisted in the 2nd Iowa Cavalry on August 4, 1862, at age 19. He was 5 feet 7 inches tall, with brown hair, black eyes, and a dark complexion. The 2nd Iowa Cavalry left Iowa for Benton Barracks in St. Louis in December of 1861. The regiment was in St. Louis for 60 days, during which time an epidemic swept through the regiment, killing 60 men. If you were going to die in the Civil War, disease was most likely going to be the cause.
The regiment fought in the battles of New Madrid and Island #10 in Missouri in March and April of 1862, armed only with sabers and pistols. Due to supply problems, which were common in the early part of the war, Private Rutter and the rest of the regiment didn’t receive any rifles until the summer of 1862. The regiment next saw combat in May of 1862, at the battle of Corinth, Mississippi. The regiment also took part in the failed Central Mississippi campaign of November and December of 1862.
After spending the winter in La Grange, Tennessee, Private Rutter and the 2nd Iowa next took part in one of the most brilliant cavalry exploits of the war, which came to be known as Grierson’s Raid. General U.S. Grant was making an effort to take the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on the Mississippi River. He sent 1,700 hand-picked men, led by Colonel Benjamin Grierson, on a raid through the middle of Mississippi, in an attempt to deceive the Confederates and draw Confederate troops away from Vicksburg. The raid was a stunning success, and Grant was able to besiege the city, leading to the surrender of Vicksburg on July 4th, 1863. Among the men chosen for the raid was Private Rutter and the 2nd Iowa Cavalry. They spent 2 straight weeks in the saddle, seldom stopping to rest or eat, with Confederate troops never more than a few miles behind them, and fighting running battles almost every day.
But the non-stop combat and fatigue took its toll on many of the men, including Private Rutter. At the conclusion of the raid, he was sent to a hospital in Memphis, and diagnosed as “ deranged and insane.” Today, we would call this condition battle fatigue, or shell shock. Private Rutter spent 4 months in the hospital, and recovered enough to rejoin his regiment in September of 1863.
The 2nd Iowa Cavalry and Private Rutter took part in the decisive battles of Franklin and Nashville, Tennessee in 1864, and was mustered out of service in October of 1865 in Selma, Alabama. The 2nd Iowa had lost 269 men from battle and disease during its 4 years of combat.
Mr. Rutter returned to Iowa and married Miss May Hinton in 1866. He became a farmer and the father to 9 children, one of whom was a son named William Sherman Rutter. He lived in Iowa until 1905, when he moved with his wife to San Francisco. The great San Francisco earthquake struck on April 18th, 1906, leaving over 250,000 people homeless, including the Rutter family. Mr. Rutter and his wife moved to Westminster in 1907, and there he died on October 2nd, 1914, at age 72. He is buried in Magnolia Memorial Park.