Lt. Frank A. Haskell, 6th Wisconsin Infantry

Posted: March 14, 2014 in Civil War
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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Lt. Frank A Haskell (1828-1864), Adjutant, 6th Wisconsin Infantry.

Haskell, a Vermonter by birth, was a Dartmouth graduate who was practicing law and drilling a militia unit in Madison, Wisconsin when the Civil War began. Quick to offer his services to his country, Haskell was commissioned as 1st Lt and served as the 6th Wisconsin’s Adjutant for nearly a year. Known for his attention to detail and commitment to excellence, the 6th owed much of its discipline to the efforts of Haskell.

In April of 1862, Haskell’s experience and professional bearing caught the attention of the Brigade’s new commander, General John Gibbon, who made Haskell his new aide-de-camp. Haskell would apply his trade in fine fashion, serving at the General’s side through the Northern Virginia Campaign and the Maryland Campaign, when the Iron Brigade would earn its metallic nickname.

Having followed Gibbon when the General was promoted to command of the 2nd Division of I Corp, Haskell served in that capacity until Gibbon received a wound in the Fredericksburg Campaign, after which Gibbon was replaced. Gibbon would recover. This time, Haskell followed Gibbon when he was named commander of the 2nd Division, II Corp.

Gibbon’s division would see action at Chancellorsville, and then again at Gettysburg, where they would bear the brunt of the attack that would become known as “Pickett’s Charge.” Haskell, after Gibbon went down with another wound, admirably led the men of the division against the assault.

A few weeks after the Battle, Haskell wrote the account of what he had experienced at Gettysburg to his brother Harrison in Portage, Wisconsin. Haskell’s account would be published in 1898 as “The Battle of Gettysburg.” This account was hailed by Bruce Catton as “One of the genuine classics of Civil War literature.”

In November of 1863, Haskell would accompany Gibbon back to the Gettysburg Battlefield for the dedication of the National Cemetery. Both men would bear witness to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

On February 9th, 1864, Frank Haskell was appointed Colonel of the 36th Wisconsin Infantry. On June 3rd, after the commander of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, II Corps, Colonel Henry Boyd McKeen was killed, Haskell took command of the brigade. A few minutes later, he would be killed by a bullet through the temple as he led the brigade in the final assault at Cold Harbor, Virginia. He was 35 years old.

Upon receiving news of Haskell’s death, General Gibbon lamented, “My God! I have lost my best friend, and one of the best soldiers in the Army of the Potomac has fallen!” Gibbon wrote to his wife that he had planned on promoting Haskell to a field command after the battle.

Frank Haskell is buried in Silver Lake Cemetery in Portage, Wisconsin.

SOURCES:

Photo is public domain.

“Service with the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers,” by Rufus Dawes, 1890

“The Iron Brigade,” by Alan Nolan, 1961

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Comments
  1. praw27 says:

    Thank you for these posts about the brave soldiers of the civil war! Im a bit of a civil war buff and I find these very interesting!

  2. Tom Schultz says:

    I read Haskell’s account of Gettysburg many years ago, and I agree with Catton that it was well worth reading. Of course, I make it my policy to agree with Bruce Catton as often as possible. What a writer!

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