The Iron Brigade Speaks: These Are Some of the Best Primary Sources on the Famous Fighting Unit

Anybody in search of printed main sources on the Iron Brigade of the West will discover a lot to think about however ought to begin with the basic “Service with The Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers” by Rufus R. Dawes.

It was first printed by Dawes in 1890 at a time when veterans have been trying again on their soldier days. It was reprinted within the Nineteen Thirties by his son, former Vice President Charles Dawes, who added images, after which once more in 1990 by Bob Youthful of Morningside Bookstore. There have been different reprints since then.

A local of Marietta, Ohio, Dawes was dwelling in Wisconsin together with his father in 1861 when elected captain of a brand new volunteer firm known as the Lemonweir Minute Males. It was a reputation prompt not solely by the river close to the place a lot of the enlistees lived, however the truth that Dawes, born on the Fourth of July in 1838, and was the great-grandson of William Dawes Jr., who rode with Paul Revere on the night time earlier than Lexington.

He attended the College of Wisconsin at Madison for a time earlier than graduating from Marietta School in 1860. Within the late Eighties, utilizing his journals and letters, Dawes put in writing with insightful intelligence a memoir of his soldier days at such locations as Antietam, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness.

Nobody wrote higher. Of Antietam he stated: “Males I can’t say fell, they have been knocked out of ranks by the handfuls …. Now could be the pinch. Males and officers of New York and Wisconsin are pushed into a typical mass, within the frantic wrestle to shoot quick.”

There may be additionally a sure humility within the account, similar to his dismissing of his indignant phrases in a quoted letter house as “youthful vapor.” The Dawes memoir is likely one of the most vital of the Civil Conflict.


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One other of my favorites is “An Irishman within the Iron Brigade, The Civil Conflict Memoirs of James P. Sullivan, Sergt., Firm Okay, 6th Wisconsin Volunteers,” (1993), edited by William J.Okay. Beaudot and myself. It’s assortment of warfare tales written by a soldier in Dawes’ Lemonweir Minute Males

He was a “inexperienced horn patriot,” Sullivan proclaimed, and no soldier went off to warfare with a lighter step. He was decidedly Western in method with a brash wit and the conviction he was pretty much as good as any man. He wrote of the warfare, he stated, not solely entertain his outdated comrades, however to “set the file straight.”

Sullivan’s accounts of his experiences at Gainesville (Brawner Farm), Gettysburg, and Petersburg are among the many finest by an enlisted man who noticed a lot motion. He was wounded 4 instances in his 4 years and misplaced a finger whereas constructing a highway of logs.

One other e-book value discovering is “The Second Wisconsin Infantry” (1984), a collection of main accounts edited by Alan D. Gaff. It features a lengthy historical past of the regiment by George H. Otis, one among its commanders, together with letters and recollections by different members of the unit. It’s a pleasant learn.

One also needs to see the extra conventional regimental “Historical past of the Twenty-Fourth Michigan of the Iron Brigade,” by Orson B. Curtis, who misplaced an arm at Fredericksburg and was lively in veteran affairs. It was printed in 1891 and consists of the standard themes of the period — patriotism, comradeship, reminiscences of the fallen and concern for the widows and kids left behind.

One other worthy e-book is “Historical past of the Sauk County Riflemen Often called Firm A, Sixth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry 1861-1865” (1909) by Philip Cheek and Mair Pointon (1909), an uncommon account of a single firm. It was written, stated the authors, for their very own youngsters “and the kids of our outdated comrades.”

To not be ignored is “4 Years With the Iron Brigade, The Civil Conflict Journal of William Ray, Firm E, Seventh Wisconsin Volunteers” (2002), edited by Sherry Murphy and myself, a day-by-day account displaying not solely the boredom of camp life, however the ordeal of Civil Conflict fight.

Wounded at Gainesville (Brawner Farm), once more at Gettysburg, and a 3rd time on the Wilderness, Ray witnessed the Petersburg Mine Explosion on July 30, 1864, writing “Oh, how our boys cursed & damned them & damned the officers for not reinforcing our Courageous fellows when the Rebs would cost on them.”

New main supply materials may also be discovered in additional trendy accounts such because the Savas Beatie tribute reprint of Morningside’s “In The Blood Railroad Lower at Gettysburg: The Well-known Cost by the sixth Wisconsin” (Herdegen and William J.Okay Beaudot 1990 and 2002), “These Dammed Black Hats, The Iron Brigade within the Gettysburg Marketing campaign” (Herdegen 2008), and my very own “The Iron Brigade in Conflict, Reminiscence and Thereafter: The Black Hats from Bull Run to Appomattox and Thereafter(2016).

Of the 5 regiments, solely the sixth and seventh Wisconsin have been nonetheless lively at Appomattox Courtroom Home in 1865. The 2nd Wisconsin went off the military rolls in mid-1864 merely used up and three years of enlistment ended. The nineteenth Indiana was no extra, the veterans first folded into the twentieth Indiana after which the seventh Indiana.

The twenty fourth Michigan was gone to a draft camp at Springfield, Ailing., the place it might assist in the ultimate burial ceremonies for assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. Battery B of the 4th U.S. Artillery, lengthy linked to the brigade, was returned to its function within the common military.

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