Chapter 7

Iron Brigade at Gettysburg

Written by Christopher Rudolph © 2015

Chapter 7 – This poem, “Iron Brigade at Gettysburg” focuses on the actions of the Iron Brigade and Confederates during  the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1st 1863. The regiments of the Iron Brigade dealt with in this chapter are the 24th Michigan, 19th Indiana, 2nd and 7th Wisconsin. The actions of the 6th Wisconsin are dealt with in Chapter 8. For the Confederates, this chapter covers the actions of General Jame’s Archer’s Brigade as well as the 26th North Carolina Regiment of General James Pettigrew’s Brigade. For the most part, the 1st day of battle at Gettysburg was won by the Confederates. Even though the Iron Brigade (Black Hats) was made up of the toughest Union soldiers, they were totally overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of tenacious Confederates on the battlefield that day. The 6th Wisconsin, one of the Iron Brigade Regiments did however achieve a victory within this overall loss. By the end of the first day of battle, all the Union troops were forced to retreat. The Iron Brigade fought a heroic delaying action that allowed for the Union to withdrawl to two hills south of town. So, although they lost the first day of battle, they did manage to secure the high ground that allowed the Union to have the tactical advantage for the remainder of the battle.

Iron Brigade at Gettysburg Iron Brigade Black Hats

Chapter 7 – Iron Brigade at Gettysburg – July 1st, 1863


Splashing across the stream

The bottom of Willoughby’s Run

James Archer’s Brigade moved forward

Under the mid-morning sun


Out of the stream predators

From Alabama and Tennessee

Looking to decimate and defeat

The Union Cavalry


But the Iron Brigade arrived

The Mid Westerners were here

To greet them boldy

Made many Rebels swear


19th Indiana

24th Michigan

2nd and 7th Wisconsin

Let the battle begin!


At the edge of Herbst Woods

Arrived Sergeant Peck

Holding Michigan’s 24th colors

Shot right in the neck


Confederate bullets ripping

Zipping zapping galore

Colors quickly picked up

By Corporal Charles Bellore


24th pressed forward

With loaded raging guns

Archer’s men withdrew

Back to Willoughby’s Run


The 13th Alabama

Now getting overlapped

Forced back to Herr’s Ridge

Where they were now trapped


For Colonel Henry Morrow

Swept around towards the rear

Leading the Michigan 24th

Rebels were in panic and fear


200 Confederates

Who failed to early run

Were captured quickly

The battle for them done


Archer himself

A prisoner now

Taken to General Abner Doubleday

For a little pow wow


“Good morning Archer

Good to see you”

Prewar acquaintances

One Gray now one Blue


“I see you had

To give up the fight

Well, you tangled with the Iron Brigade

Now you’ve felt their might”


Back at the battlefield

It was already high noon

Even though lull in the air

Couldn’t celebrate too soon


For the Confederates

Were coming with blazing guns

Enormous Army arriving

Under the blistering sun


Iron Brigade Commander

Brought his men back

General Solomon Meredith

Sensed an upcoming attack


Back from Willoughby’s Run

A compact line formed

Inside Herbst Woods

Bracing for the Rebel swarm


24th Michigan in the middle

7th Wisconsin right

19th Indiana left

They prepared for the fight


2nd Wisconsin had suffered

The heaviest casualties high

Moved back to the rear

To form a 2nd line nigh


Rebels raging returned

Under General Pettigrew

Back to Herr’s Ridge

Tenacious Tar Heel crew


Heading straight

South of the Cash Town Road (Chambersburg Pike now U.S. 30)

Into Herbst woods

The battle then explode


The 26th North Carolina

Entered the fray

Largest Confederate Regiment

843 soldiers Gray


Led by the Boy Colonel

Only 21 years old

Henry King Burgwyn

The battle did unfold


Before they reached the stream

At Willoughby’s run

Already five color guards dead

Sacrificed under the sun


Five more Flag Bearers

Were quickly killed

Stamper, Kelly, Thomas, Vinson, Marley

Still over the banks rebels spilled


But in the Herbst woods

Camouflaged in the shade

Were mighty Black Hats

The Union’s Iron Brigade


The Confederates approached

Totally possessed

Screaming that Rebel yell

Forward they pressed


Colonel Morrow told the 24th

To hold their shots

Until just 40 yards away

Rifles fired lead hot


A devastating volley

Into the Tar Heels blast

But Iron Brigade still overwhelmed

Rebel numbers too vast


The Iron Brigade fell back

24th Colors still carried by Bellore

Shot right in the head

Wolverines lost one brave more


Deep in the woods now

Standing toe to toe

Two proud regiments

Stared into the eyes of their foe


The Boy Colonel out in front

Bravery always war tests

Grabbed the Rebel Colors himself

Shot right in the chest


Private Frank Honeycutt

Then yelled the Rebel Yell

Picked up the flag swirling

Shot dead he too fell


Rebel Lieutenant Colonel Lane

Not at all done yet

Took over command

“Let’s give them our bayonets!”


But the Colors on the ground

Lay their weeping

Nobody holding the Colors

Wanting safekeeping


Then Rebel Lieutenant Blair said

“No man can hold those colors alive”

Any one of us touches it

Just won’t survive”


Lane concurred but yelled

“North Carolinians follow me”

Picked up the flag

They charged with fury


Totally overwhelmed

24th Michigan pulled back

To a third line of defense

Rebels continued to attack


On the new line

24th’s colors were held

By Private August Earnest

Until shot and filled with lead


Colonel Morrow himself

The Colors now held

Wolverines dying fast

So many were felled


The left flank compromised

They had to pull back

To safety of Seminary Ridge

They quickly back tracked


Surging still forward

North Carolina’s 26th did trek

Lane still carrying the Colors

Until shot right in the neck


Union Colonel Henry Morrow

Up the slopes fled

Carrying his regiment’s flag

Until shot right in the head


Behind a barricade of rails

Captain Edwards now in command

The 24th Michigan

Still bravely made their stand


Tar Heels climbing fast

They charged up the hill

Yanks held their fire

Getting ready for the kill


The Union line then unleashed

A devastating attack

Balls and fragments whirled

Driving the Rebels back


Once again Rebels charged

Driven bloody back again

By the 24th Wolverines

Iron Men from Michigan


But their numbers were too many

Even for the Hats of Black

Time now for them was through

Now time to pull back


So, they headed southeast

Through Gettysburg’s streets

Fought a great delaying action

While Union troops retreat


Back south beyond the town

They found two solid hills

Culp’s and Cemetery

Where they all dug in for the kill


Go to Chapter 8

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