Posts Tagged ‘Soldier’

Image

Capt Rufus R Dawes, CO K, 6th Wisconsin Volunteers

Mr. Dawes is quite a remarkable man. Forever cemented in the histories of the Iron Brigade, the affections of Mauston, WI natives, the leadership of the 6th Wisconsin, and the spirit of the “Lemonweir Minutemen,” Dawes wasn’t even a Badger by birth.

Like everyone else in early 1861, Dawes got swept up in the excitement of Lincoln’s call for Volunteers. Dawes, who happened to be in Mauston, Wisconsin with his father on extended business at the time of the firing on Fort Sumter, chose to raise a company of volunteers right there, rather than return to his home town of Marietta, Ohio to do so.

In a letter to his sister dated May 4, 1861, Dawes writes: “I have been so wholly engrossed with my work for the last week or I should have responded sooner to your question: ‘Are you going?’ If a kind Providence and President Lincoln will permit I am. I am Captain of as good, and true a band of patriots as ever rallied under the star-spangled banner.”

He’d get to lead them under that banner, too. At 2nd Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, and while covering the retreat of the Army after Chancellorsville. All the while, he lead from the front while enjoying an uncanny ability to come through battles unscathed, bringing to mind suggestions of the fortunes of Wyatt Earp and Captain Richard Winters, who had both had plenty of opportunities to die in fire fights but had escaped all of them unharmed.

“My Dear Mother,” he wrote home after Antietam, “I have come safely through two more terrible engagements with the enemy, that at South Mountain and the great battle of yesterday. Our splendid regiment is almost destroyed. We have had nearly four hundred men killed and wounded in the battles. Seven of our officers were shot and three killed in yesterday’s battle and nearly one hundred and fifty men killed and wounded.”

By Gettysburg, Dawes was a Lt. Colonel, leading the 6th Wisconsin in the absence of Colonel Edward Bragg, who was convalescing in Washington after being kicked in the foot by a horse. Here, he’d lead the regiment in the famed railroad cut charge, escaping unharmed while leading the 6th in capturing the entire 2nd Mississippi Regiment.

On July fourth, the day after the third day of Gettysburg, Dawes wrote to his fiance’, “The Sixth hast lost so far one hundred and sixty men. Since the first day we have lost only six. O, Mary, it is sad to look now at our shattered band of devoted men. Only four field officers in the brigade have escaped and I am one of them.”

Examining this last statement, there are typically three officers per company: a Captain, a 1st Lt, and a 2nd Lt. There are ten companies. 30 officers, ranked Captain or lower, plus the Colonel, Lt. Colonel, Major, and the Adjutant of each regiment. Since there were four regiments in the brigade, we’ll multiply the numbers by four and come up with 136.

Out of 136 field officers, the Iron Brigade had only four that were fit for duty on July 4, 1863. It would be most interesting to see what was going on in Lt. Colonel Dawes mind while he was drinking his coffee and writing his report in the rain on that day… which happened to be his 25th birthday, by the way.

Whether or not Dawes believed that he was being spared for higher purpose or not is not chronicled, but he certainly gave Providence credit for his survival. He’d lead the regiment again and again and again, at The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor.

To his wife, June 8, 1864, he wrote: “We came down here today, and are located on the left flank of our army, and we are at last out from under the fire of the enemy… it is impossible for one who has not undergone it, to fully understand the depression of spirits caused by such long, continued, and bloody fighting and work. Colonel (Edward) Bragg said yesterday: ‘Of all I have gone through, I cannot now write an intelligent account. I can only tell my wife that I am alive and well. I am too stupid for any use.'”

Dawes’ three year enlistment came up soon after. He would indeed go on to big things… including a stint in congress representing the 15th Ohio District.

In August of 1865 Dawes’ son, Charles G Dawes was born. He’d serve as Vice-President of the United States during the Coolidge administration


Source: 

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

Advertisements

Image

Lt. Julius Waldschmidt, CO G, 19th Indiana Infantry Regiment.

Born in Wetzlar, Germany on February 20, 1836, Waldschmidt immigrated to America in the 1850s, settling in Elkhart, Indiana. Mustering in as a sergeant on July 29, 1861, he would be one of the many who made the leap from enlisted man to officer during the war. At his post throughout the campaigns of 1862 and 1863, Waldschmidt would be among the few who remained unharmed after the battle of Gettysburg… a battle that saw the 19th Indiana take 73% casualties.

Wounded at the battle of Wilderness in May of 1864, Lt. Waldschmidt would muster out of the 19th Indiana that fall, accepting a Captain’s commission in the 152nd Indiana Regiment in March of 1865. He’d serve out the war in this capacity, mustering out as a Major on August 30, 1865 in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

After the war, he’d spend many years in Goshen, Indiana, where he served as a deputy United States Marshall. He died on January 31, 1918 in South Bend, Indiana.

SOURCE(S):

* On Many a Bloody Field, Four Years in the Iron Brigade

– 19thindianaironbrigade.com

– South Bend Tribune, February 2nd, 1918

Image

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

Image

George E Finney, Sergeant, CO H, 19th Indiana Infantry Regiment.

Finney, a resident of Elizabethtown, Indiana, would later serve as a Lieutenant and then Adjutant of the 20th Indiana Regiment. Finney would respond to a request from David Stephenson, who had announced to the citizens of Indiana that he was looking for “A complete list of our brave soldiers who have died from sickness or fallen on the battlefield. It is my aim to do justice to the living, and to embalm in the hearts of Indiana’s sons the memory of the patriotic dead who have fallen in defense of our national government.” Finney’s account of the 19th Indiana’s role in the war from its inception until August 1st, 1863 would appear in Stephenson’s “Indiana’s Roll of Honor,” published in 1864. Many minor errors and omissions in the text, however, indicate that someone not familiar with the regiment may have had a hand in editing Finney’s document.

SOURCES:

19thindianaironbrigade.com

“On Many a Bloody Field,” by Alan D. Gaff, 1996

“Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana, Volume 2,” 1865

Photo courtesy of the Indiana State Library

Private James P “Mickey” Sullivan, CO K, 6th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, 1862

What makes a man who has lost several toes and half a foot in combat re-enlist?

The price of thread, for one thing.

Mickey found himself and his comrades under a heavy fire in the rocky terrain at South Mountain on September 14th, 1862. “When the crash came, either a bullet slit in pieces against the stone or a fragment of the boulder hit me on the sore jaw, causing exquisite pain, and I was undetermined whether to run away or swear.” A few moments later, “there was another crashing volley,” causing, ” a stinging, burning sensation in my right foot followed by the most excruciating pain.”

Mickey would lose much of the foot, being mustered out and sent home to Mauston, Wisconsin. He couldn’t sit still for long. Boredom… boredom….

“There was no company, only discharged invalids that had killed half the rebel army, and men growling about the draft, the army, the scarcity of money. The women were growling because they had to pay fifty cents a yard for calico and twenty-five cents for a spool of thread.”

By the end of February, Mickey was back with Company K at Belle Plain, Virginia, having re-enlisted and traveled by railroad and boat to rejoin the company. This was the 2nd of three times he’d sign up with the 6th.

After being shot in the shoulder in the charge on the railroad cut at Gettysburg, Mickey would convalesce long enough to meet his future wife, fall in love, and then sign up again. He’d return to Wisconsin after mustering out in 1865 with his new wife, Angeline, and an infant son.

Sources:

“The Men Stood Like Iron, by Lance Herdegen, 1997

“An Irishman in the Iron Brigade; The Civil War Memoirs of James P Sullivan, Sergt., Company K, 6th Wisconsin Volunteers,” by William J. K. Beaudot and Lance J Herdegen, 1993

“The Iron Brigade in Civil War and Memory,” by Lance Herdegen, 2012

Captain John M. Lindley, 19th Indiana Regiment

Captain John M. Lindley, 19th Indiana Regiment.

Captain Lindley, born April 12, 1831, was a fine example of the top-notch officers put forth by the Iron Brigade. Described by Colonel Samuel Williams as “cool and courageous” in battle, Lindley would competently lead his men on every field on which he was present until mustering out as a Lt. Colonel in October of 1864. He was wounded in the leg at the Battle of Brawner’s Farm and, having been promoted to Major, was wounded again while leading his men in an organized retreat through the town of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, when a ball struck his hand and saber, eventually leading to the amputation of a finger. Another ball grazed his cheek, leaving no permanent damage. Lindley would receive a pension after the war.

Lt. Colonel Lindley would die at the young age of 42 on February 12, 1874. He is buried in the Friends Meeting House Cemetery in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

SOURCES:

“On Many a Bloody Field,” by Alan D. Gaff, 1996

http://www.19thindianaironbrigade.com

http://www.archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com

Photo courtesy of The Indiana State Library

Image

 Quartermaster Captain James S. Drum, 19th Indiana Regiment

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, James Drum moved to Indianapolis as a boy, where he’d become a merchant and enroll in the National Guards, a Capitol City Militia unit. His first¬†official military assignment was in the Commissary at Camp Morton, but he desired a more active assignment and was given a commission as a 1st Lieutenant in the 19th Indiana. Promoted to Captain in early 1863, Drum was transferred to the Commissary Department and assigned to a post in Nicholasville, Kentucky, where he would die of disease later that year.

 

SOURCES:

On Many a Bloody Field: Four Years in the Iron Brigade, by Alan D Gaff

Photo courtesy of the Indiana State Library