During my continuous preliminary research about the Black Hat Brigade, I came across a source that will aid me through my paper. This secondary source is an essay written by Lance J. Herdegan on the military expedition of the Iron Brigade. Although this source alone isn’t sufficient enough to sustain a whole research paper, Herdegan gives a list of books he used to finish his essay. Lance J. Herdegen is Chair of the Wisconsin Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission which gives me confidence in using his work to further my own research.
One of the key findings from this essay is something I sought after during assignment 3, the meaning behind the Hardee hat that represented this brigade. I came to find that most of the symbolism behind the chord, and the horn(bugle) helps to distinguish Infantry troops. I had my suspicion that the chord was meant for this because I earned my Infantry Blue Cord 3 years ago. However, in most of the pictures I found of this hat, the color had faded from the chord. This unit also being known as “The Black Hat Brigade”, meant that they were famous for wearing the Hardee hat more than other units. I can only assume that this was to instill esprit de corps among the ranks. Something that is invaluable within a profession that is so demanding and can explain how the Iron Brigade earned its name.
This unit earned its names through being ruthless and was explained as being “made of iron”. The success of the brigade was a direct result of the leaders who commanded it. The essay by Herdegan states that the first Brigade Commander Was General Rufus King Of Milwaukee. General Rufus King was named after his grandfather which was a part of the continental congress and a signer of the U.S Constitution. American patriotism must run through the family because King left an appointment as Minister to the Papal States to give his services to the Wisconsin Governor.
The significance in the structure of this Brigade is that it is the only all-Western infantry brigade in the Army of the Potomac And even contained a unit out of Detroit, the 24th Infantry. I found a blog post on the cite “history revived” that gives me good information on these Michigan native warriors. The Iron Brigade had a key role in the 1st day of Gettysburg and helped in the Union victory during the battle. The Iron Brigade was able to push back the confederate advance and allow the federal army to gain a key position on high ground located south of Gettysburg. This however came with a high cost, the Iron Brigade having 1,153 out of 1,883 men injured, dead, or missing. This first day of battle was ultimately the end of the Iron Brigade.
The 24th Michigan joined the Iron Brigade after the Battle of Antietam. Specifically, this unit suffered one of the highest casualty rates during the Civil War. When they returned to Detroit after the war, less than 200 of the original 1,026 men returned. These facts make me wonder the cause for so much death. Was it the fact that they fought as though they were iron, or unfortunate circumstances? There was also another unit within the Army of the Potomac named “The Iron Brigade”. However, with my research so far I have found much of highlight is made up of the first division, first corps comprised of the 2nd, 6th, 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, and 24th Michigan.
Working Thesis – The Iron Brigade earned its spot as the fiercest unit within the Army of the Potomac. I will be exploring this fame as a direct cause of the men who fought, or the sacrifices they made during the war.
This contains the roster of all the Wisconsin Units which made up a majority of the Iron Brigade.
Since the downfall of the Iron Brigade happens during the first day of Gettysburg, this source is a diary from a soldier during the battle.
http://essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/the-iron-brigade.html– Secondary Source
This source is written by a credible author and is a great resource for most of information on the Iron Brigade. This source also contains a list of books I could use that were wrote specifically on the Iron Brigade.
http://www.historynet.com/union-iron-brigade-1861-65.htm– Secondary Source
This source gives a brief outline of the efforts made by the Brigade during the Civil War. It was an easy way to find the casualty rates for the Brigade.
This source contains interesting information that pertains specifically to the 24th Michigan.
This source can help me better understand the life of a soldier within the 24th Michigan.
https://www.in.gov/iwm/files/indianaincivilwar.pdf– Secondary Source
This source is specific to the one Indiana unit within the Iron Brigade, the 19th Indiana.
Another source that I can use to confirm the death toll of the Iron Brigade and also contains unique facts about the unit. It has a list of the different commanders and the times they commanded.