6th Wisconsin Co. C

The Prairie du Chien Volunteers

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Origin of the Title "Iron Brigade"

General McClellan told General John B. Callis of Lancster, Wis., at the Continental Hotel in Philadelphia when his grand reception was given there, what he knew of the origin of the cognomen "Iron Brigade." Said he: "During the battle of South Mountain my headquarters were where I could see every move of the troops taking the gorge on the Pike (National Road). With my glass I saw the men fighting against great odds, when General Hooker came in great haste for some orders. I ask him what troops were those fighting on the Pike? His answer was: 'General Gibbon's Brigade of Western men.' I said, 'They must be made of iron.' He replied, 'By the Eternal they are iron. If you had seen them at Second Bull Run as I did, you would know them to be iron.' I replied, 'Why, General Hooker, they fight equal to the best troops in the world.' This remark so elated Hooker that he mounted his horse and dashed away without his orders. After the battle, I saw Hooker at the Mountain House near where the Brigade fought. He sang out, 'Now General, what do you think of the Iron Brigade?' Ever since that time I gave them the cognomen of Iron Brigade."
(from the program of the 1900 reunion of the Iron Brigade Association in Chicago)

The Iron Brigade obtained their distinctive uniform shortly after Brig. Gen. John Gibbon assumed command in 1862. Gibbon was a regular Army officer, and greatly improved the brigade with regular drill and training. He also issued the black Hardee hats and gaiters to set the Iron Brigade apart and give the men a sense of pride.

Iron Brigade Colors

Gen Lysander Cutler
General Lysander Cutler

Rufus Dawes
Rufus Dawes

The prominent Commanders of the Iron Brigade include Brig. Gen. Rufus King, Brig. Gen. John Gibbon, Brig. Gen. Solomon Meredith, Brig. Gen. Lysander Cutler, and Brig. Gen. Edward S. Bragg. Brig. Gen. King was in command until Brig. Gen. Gibbon assumed command in May of 1862. Brig. Gen. Gibbon commanded the brigade at Gainesville, Second Bull Run, South Mountain and Antietam. Brig. Gen. Meredith commaned them at Gettysburg, and Brig. Gen. Cutler was in command at the Wilderness.

The Iron Brigade sustained the heaviest loss in proportion to its numbers of any in the Civil War. At Second Bull Run, the brigade lost 148 killed, 626 wounded, and 120 missing; total 894, out of about 2000 engaged. At Gettysburg, they lost 162 killed, 724 wounded, and 267 missing; total 1,153 out of 1,883 engaged (61 per cent). Most of the missing were either killed or wounded. The 2nd Wisconsin lost 77 per cent, while the 24th Michigan lost 80 per cent of its number. The battle at Gettysburg essentially destroyed the Iron Brigade. In July of 1864 the 2nd Wisconsin and 19th Indiana mustered out when their terms expired, and the 24th Michigan was transferred to another command. The 6th and 7th Wisconsin regiments served to the end of the war.


  Killed of Died of Wounds
2nd Wisconsin Infantry
6th Wisconsin Infantry
7th Wisconsin Infantry
19th Indiana Infantry
24th Michigan Infantry
Total during the war
6th Wisconsin Monument
6th Wisconsin Monument at the Railroad Cut


"In proportion to its numbers the Iron Brigade sustained the heaviest loss of any brigade in the Civil War."

"The Iron Brigade loss at Gettysburg 1,153 out of 1,885 engaged, or 61%."

"It was to the Iron Brigade more than to any other that the nation owes its salvation at Gettyburg."

Co. I 7th Wisconsin
Co. I of the 7th Wisconsin. Co. C of the 6th Wisconsin would have looked very similar

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