Presentation cane with hardwood shaft surmounted by a hallmarked gold cap inscribed
in script: “Presented /To/Col. J.W. Jenkens/by 31st Iowa/Infty.” Overall length 32 ½”.
The cane has a modern rubber tip, mild marks and scratches along the shaft, and some
dents and light scratches on the gold handle.
Jeremiah W. Jenkins was born in New York in 1825 and moved to Maquoketa, Iowa, in
the early 1850’s and worked as an attorney. He was elected as a state senator in 1856
and 1858. In the summer of 1862 he was tendered by Governor Kirkwood as lieutenant
colonel of the 31st Iowa Infantry, commanding the regiment through most of its wartime
service because Colonel Smyth was on detached service a good deal of the time.
When Smyth resigned in the fall of 1864 Jenkins took official command of the regiment and
received the rank of colonel on May 11, 1865. The 31st served under Sherman’s
command and fought at Vicksburg, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, and the Atlanta
campaign. Jenkins was wounded multiple times, including at Vicksburg where he was
badly wounded in the leg during an assault on May 22nd, 1863, the wound which likely
prompted the presentation of this cane. He was again wounded by a piece of shell in
the shoulder during an assault on the Confederate works at Resaca, a wound listed as
severe in the period reports of the battle. Despite this severe wound, which pained him
until the end of his life, he retained command of the regiment until it mustered out in
June of 1865. After the war Jenkins moved to Kansas City, MO where he continued to
practice law. He died in Kansas City on June 24th, 1903, reportedly hastened by injuries
sustained when struck with a club during a robbery.