Chapter 11

by Christopher Rudolph © 2015

Chapter 11 – This poem, Lt. Colonel Rufus Dawes at Gettysburg, 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.

rufusdawesbigger  Lt Colonel Rufus Dawes

Chapter 11 – Lt Colonel Rufus Dawes at Gettysburg – July 1st, 1863

 

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 12

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