RUFUS R. DAWES
Perhaps the most famous unit in the Army of the Potomac was a brigade of hard fighting Westerners from Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana, called the Iron Brigade for their fierce tenacity in combat. In a term of glorious service which began at the battle of Groveton just preceding Second Bull Run, the Iron Brigade's greatest fight was on McPherson Ridge on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg on 1 July. This selection was taken from The Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers by Colonel Rufus R. Dawes, skipper of the 6th Wisconsin.
When General James S. Wadsworth's division of the first army corps marched toward Gettysburg on the morning of July first, 1863, the sixth Wisconsin was the last regiment in the order of march for the day. The brigade guard, two officers and one hundred men, marched immediately behind us, which accounts for their assignment to the regiment for duty when we became involved in battle. The column moved on the Emmitsburg Road. Three hundred and forty officers and enlisted men marched in the ranks of the regiment. All were in the highest spirits. To make a show in the streets of Gettysburg, I brought our drum corps to the front and had the colors unfurled. The drum major, R.N. Smith, had begun to play "The Campbells are Coming," and the regiment had closed its ranks and swung into the step, when we first heard the cannon of the enemy, firing on the cavalry of General Buford. The troops ahead turned across the fields to the left of Gettysburg, toward the Seminary Ridge. We stopped our music, which had at least done something to arouse the martial spirit of old John Burns, and turned to engage in the sterner duties involved in war. When the head of the regimental column reached the crest of Seminary Ridge, an aide of General Meredity, Lieutenant Gilbert M. Woodward, came on a gallop with the order, "Colonel, form your line, and prepare for action." I turned my horse and gave the