For students of the American Civil War, the name Rufus Dawes will be forever associated with the famous Iron Brigade of the Union Army-that hardy and courageous assembly of regiments from the western states whose steadfastness in the thickest of battlefield conflicts earned them their descriptive nickname. Born in 1838, Dawes was just 23 years old when the Civil War broke out and he became a captain in the 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, the regiment he would, in time, come to famously command. Dawes was always an ardent and aggressive battlefield commander. He served with the regiment at Groveton, Antietam, Fredericksburg and through the Chancellorsville campaign. At Gettysburg he notably led the counter-attack on Davis's Confederate brigade sheltering in a railway cutting and there took some 200 prisoners. Dawes served at Mine Run, the Wilderness Campaign, the sieges of Petersburg and Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor in 1864. Worn out physically and mentally, Dawes was mustered out after three years of the most intensive combat-he was just 26 years old. The following year he was promoted to brevet brigadier general. This book, Dawes' own account of his regiment of 'Black Hats' of the Iron Brigade, is an acknowledged classic of the period.
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