Railroad Cut

Railroad Cut

Chapter 7 – This poem, Railroad Cut, focuses on the heroic actions of the 6th Wisconsin, 95th NY, 14th Brooklyn, at the Railroad Cut on July 1st, 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg. The 95th NY, and 14th Brooklyn had been separated from the rest of General Lysander Cutler’s Brigade by Confederate General Joseph Davis’ Brigade. Davis was the nephew of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy. Joseph Davis led men from North Carolina and Mississippi. The 6th Wisconsin arrived to help The 95th NY, and 14th Brooklyn give support to Cutler’s decimated regiments. Lieutenant Colonel Rufus Dawes led the 6th Wisconsin, which was one of the Iron Brigade Regiments under the command of General Solomon Meredith. Colonel Fowler led the 14th Brooklyn, and Major Pye led the 95th New York.

  • It is interesting to note that Rufus Dawes was the Great Grand Son of William Dawes. Remember it was William Dawes that along with Paul Revere warned of the British troop movements towards Lexington and Concord in 1775.

by Christopher Rudolph © 2015

Railroad Cut  Lt Colonel Rufus Dawes

Chapter 7 – Railroad Cut – Day 1


The Iron Brigade arrived

In time to give General Buford support

But one Iron Brigade Regiment

To him did not report


The 6th Wisconsin Regiment

Had different orders

To march down the Cashtown Road (Chambersburg Pike now U.S. 30)

North moving forward


Led by a brave Lt. Colonel

His name was Rufus Dawes

General Lysander Cutler needed support

No time for them to pause


Cutler’s men were being attacked

By Davis’ brigade from North Carolina and Mississippi

Rebels outflanking and dividing

Decimating them viciously


The 6th Wisconsin halted

On the side of the Cashtown Road (Chambersburg Pike now U.S. 30)

Placed muskets on a rail fence aimed

They violently explode


The Rebel line swayed and bent

Seemed to have them beat

They took off running away

In a wild frenzied retreat


But Dawes couldn’t see

Through thick wafts of smoke

The Rebels dropped down into a railroad cut

Their line not really broke


Dawes men rushed forward

Soon met by streaking minié balls

Rebels shooting from their cover

Many bloody wounded did fall


Rebel muskets now unloaded

Downing about a score

Killed climbing over a fence

Was brave Captain John Ticknor


The 95th New York Regiment

Gallantly moved in left to assist

Led by Major Pye

All taking quite a risk


With them further left

Brooklyn’s 14th Regiment

Commanded by Colonel Fowler

With 95th they went


Caught out in the open

They must all attack or die

Dawes ordered his Iron Men to charge

So did Colonel Fowler and Major Pye


So, 1000 Union soldiers

Made a dash across a field

Straight for the railroad cut

Where 1700 Confederates were concealed


The rebels unleashed a barrage

Of hot zinging streaming lead

The field now littered everywhere

With Union soldiers falling dead


Several bloody times

Union colors dropped upon the ground

Quickly picked up by another

The colors did rebound


Then brave James Kelly

Corporal from Company B

Opened his woolen shirt

He wanted Dawes to see


He pointed to a bullet whole

In his barren sweaty chest

“Tell my folks I died a soldier”

Then he breathed in his last breath


The men continued to rush forward

Came to the edge of the railroad cut

Wild fighting got hand to hand

Bayonets pierced through Rebel guts


Firing down into the ditch

At range point blank

To the bottom of the railroad cut

Rebel dead and wounded sank


Yet Rebel colors still waved

Corporal Eggleston tried to seize

Shot the moment his hand touched it

Killed he fell down to his knees


Private Anderson was furious

That his comrade was shot dead

Swung his musket at the Rebel’s skull

Brains exploded from his head


Then into this deadly melee

Rushed Corporal Francis A. Waller

He grabbed and held the rebel flag

Yanks whooped and did holler


Lt. Colonel Rufus Dawes demanded

“All your muskets you must drop

Do so immediately now

Or you’ll all be quickly shot”


A Confederate Commander stepped forward

Without saying a word

Handed Dawes his sword

Victory to him conferred


The Rebels all dropped their muskets

There was no room to run

Now totally overwhelmed

The battle for them was done


700 Rebels captured or killed

The rest got away

They’d catch up with them later

To fight another day


For now they must give support

On Seminary Ridge to Battery B

Marching off to guard and protect

The 4th US Artillery


But Confederate troops were advancing

Arriving in strength sweeping down

Swarming in from north and west

Union retreated to hills south of town


Go to Chapter 8

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“Christopher Rudolph exercises his study of the Confederacy’s invasion of Pennsylvania to create a poem. He relates the story of the campaign and Battle of Gettysburg with insight and care for detail. It will appeal to the student and the enthusiast.” –  Donald J Frey – Civil War Author, Longstreet’s Assault – Pickett’s Charge, In The Woods Before Dawn, The Adventures of Daniel Buchwalter in the Western Army, and others.

A “Monumental piece.” Janet Morgan Riggs – President of Gettysburg College

“Excellent, and a great way to get students interested in history! It’s extremely creative, and a great approach to teaching.” – Diane Zazzali DeBella – Writing Professor at University of Colorado

 “I loved it. Quite a tour de force.” – Judy Hammer – High School English and Drama Teacher

This battle was fought for three days from July 1st to July 3rd, 1863. It is estimated that there were over 50,000 casualties in the two armies fighting (28,000 from the Confederate Army and 23,000 from the Union Army). It was the bloodiest battle of the entire Civil War.

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by Christopher Rudolph © 2015

Chapter 1 – Army of Northern Virginia

Chapter 2 – Army of Potomoc

Chapter 3 – Colonel Chamberlain

Chapter 4 – General Buford

Chapter 5 – The First Shot

Chapter 6 – Buford Day 1

Chapter 7 – Railroad Cut

Chapter 8 – Chamberlain Day 1

Chapter 9 – Buford Night 1

Chapter 10 – Chamberlain Day 2

Chapter 11 – General Longstreet

Chapter 12 – Charge of 1st Minnesota

Chapter 13 – Charge of 20th Maine

Chapter 14 – Little Round Top

Chapter 15 – Culp’s Hill

Chapter 16 – Longstreet Night 2

Chapter 17 – Chamberlain Day 3

Chapter 18 – Longstreet Day 3

Chapter 19 – East Cavalry Field

Chapter 20 – Pickett’s Charge

Chapter 21 – Bloody Angle

Chapter 22 – The Aftermath

Chapter 23 – The End

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