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)
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
General Lysander Cutler
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.
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.
of Died of Wounds
6th Wisconsin Infantry
7th Wisconsin Infantry
19th Indiana Infantry
24th Michigan Infantry
Total during the war
Wisconsin Monument at the Railroad Cut
proportion to its numbers the Iron Brigade sustained the heaviest
loss of any brigade in the Civil War."
Iron Brigade loss at Gettysburg 1,153 out of 1,885 engaged, or
was to the Iron Brigade more than to any other that the nation
owes its salvation at Gettyburg."
Co. I of the 7th Wisconsin. Co. C of the 6th Wisconsin
would have looked very similar