Return to Home Page Second Wisconsin

Fredericksburg -
December 12 - 15, 1862

These are summaries of the battles. For first hand news reports, note the dates and check our "From the Front" section for more detail.

Oct. 10th, the 24th Regiment of Michigan, Col. Henry Morrow, fresh from home, joins the brigade.

On my return to the army, I found Gen. McClellan had fulfilled his promise by assigning to my brigade a new western regiment- the 24th Michigan - Col. H.A. Morrow - and on the 16th I inspected it. In a letter, dated that day, I said: "I reviewed my new regiment this afternoon and was very much pleased with its appearance. From its bearing I have no doubt it will not be long before it will be a worthy member of the 'Black Hats.'"

At Fredericksburg, in order to have the regiments of the brigade in the same uniform, I had ordered all to be equipped with the regulation black felt hats. In the battle of Gainesville, the men we took prisoners asked who "'Those black hatted fellows were" they had been fighting and after that the men were accustomed to refer to themselves as "The Black Hat Brigade." How or where the name of the "Iron Brigade" was first given I do not know but soon after the battle of Antietam the name was started and ever after was applied to the brigade.

John Gibbons

Oct. 20th break camp at 1 P.M. March through Keedysville in a heavy rain storm. Distance 12 miles. Oct. 27th pass through Pleasant Valley, crossing South Mountain at Crampton's Gap, through Burkittsville and Petersville in Middle Valley toward the Potomac. Eight miles. Oct. 30th cross the Potomac at Berlin and march to Lovettsville, VA. Seven miles. March to Purcellville. Eight miles. Nov. 3rd to Snickersville. Five miles.

Nov. 4th being the day for general election in Wisconsin, polls were opened at each company's headquarters, and vote. Gen. Gibbon being assigned to command Rickert's Division, Col. Morrow, of the 24th Michigan, assumes command of the Brigade.

In the afternoon we march to Bloomfield, four miles.

On the 4th whilst of the march I was sent for by Gen. Reynolds and on reporting to him, he informed me that Gen.-- had been relieved from duty in the army and offered his division to me.

My first feeling was one of regret at the idea of being separated from my gallant brigade and some of this was allowed to appear, upon which Reynolds said: "Well, if you don't want it I will offer it to Gen.--." But I said at once I could not decline higher command and the necessary orders were issued.

The night of Nov 4th. at Bloomfield was a sad one to me for the next morning I was to be separated, not only from my gallant little brigade but from my own battery which usually accompanied the brigade into battle. In the two united, I had the most implicit confidence, always knowing I could depend upon them.

Besides this, I was obliged to leave them under the command of a perfectly new colonel who had never been in a battle and did not as yet know how to command a regiment; for unfortunately the new colonel held a commission senior to that of Fairchild who had been with the Brigade through all its battles. Under these circumstances feeling as averse as if trusting a cherished child in the hands of a strange and inexperienced nurse, I sent for Col. Morrow and tried to prevail on him to waive his rank and allow the command to go to Fairchild, but although a young soldier I found him disposed to cling as tenaciously as an old one to rights of his rank, and he declined to yield.

An application to the division commander had no better effect so that
Col. Morrow took command of my Children and the next morning, I sat on my horse by the roadside and saw my gallant little brigade move, for the last time from my command.

John Gibbons

Nov. 5th march to Rectortown, twenty miles. Nov. 6th to Warrentown, eighteen miles. Nov. 7th remain in camp enjoying a snowstorm. Nov. 9th, Col. Cutler returns, Sixth Wisconsin, having been absent on account of wounds, assumes command by virtue of his rank. Nov. 10th the army is reviewed by Gens. McClellan and Burnside, the former relinquishing his command and Burnside assuming command.

Nov. 11th march to Fayel, six miles. Nov. 17th to Morrisville, ten miles. Nov. 18th to Harwood Church, 10 miles. Nov. 19th and 20th, to Stafford Court House, six miles. Nov. 22nd march to Brooks Station of the Aqua Creek and Fredericksburg Railroad, where we go into camp. Nov. 28th Gen. Sol Meredith, formerly Col. of the Nineteenth Indiana, is ordered to assume command of the brigade. Dec. 5th quite a heavy snowstorm. Dec. 9th break camp, march about three miles southward across the railroad - Potomoc Creek. The whole army is on the move. Dec. 10th change position to the left. Dec. 11th march to near Fitzhugh Crossing two miles. Dec. 12 march to lower pontoon on Rappahannock River and several miles below the city of Fredericksburg, our arms in hand, all night in line of battle. Distance 4 miles.

The brigade took part in the battle of Fredericksburg, December 12 - 15, 1862. Crossing the Rappahannock the 12th of December, with Franklin’s grand division, in the First Division, under General Doubleday, they occupied a very important position, on the extreme left, during the battle, but did not become engaged with the enemy’s infantry, except a little skirmishing with the supports of a battery, and also a brush with a portion of Stewart’s cavalry. A change of position during the battle, exposed the brigade to heavy artillery fire, but their range was inaccurate, and the loss of the brigade was very light. In the monthly reports of the Second Regiment, Corporal Arthur Rangott, of Company F, was reported killed. Ten were wounded.

Military History of Wisconsin, Quinter, 1866

Dec. 14th lay in line of battle. Dec. 15th still remain under arms and about same as two days previous. Scarcely a man but what breaths easier as he touches the north side of the river. Dec. 16th move back on heights, form line of battle. Distance four miles. Dec. 20th march to White Oak Church and bivouac on Buttard's Branch. Distance ten miles. Dec. 23rd. March down near Belle Plaine, landing for the purpose of going into camp. Four miles. From camp we have a pretty view of the Potomac River. We have now reached 1863.