Monday, September 17, 2012

Wednesday, Sept. 17, 1862

George shot some squirrels.  I took one to Mrs. Burgess who is not well.  Talked over the possibility of a raid from Jenkin's cavalry.  We hope to be spared a visit from his robber band.  Col. Mulligan has been ordered away from Parkersburg.  Col. Lightburn has arrived at the Ohio river with his train of six hundred wagons and is crossing the river near Ravenswood.  The enemy are reported to be working their way down the Kanawha, in force.  If so, a battle may be expected near Pt. Pleasant.  They may, however, turn toward Parkersburg.  If so, our scouts will report them.  Very severe fighting in Maryland.  Gibbon's brigade was in the fight of Sunday at South Mountain.  They moved to a gorge in the mountain and got into action about dark, fighting until nine o'clock.  They drove the enemy a mile, lost 120 killed and wounded; when they were relieved, (all except the 6" Wisconsin who lay upon their arms all night) by Summer's corps who held the position during the night.  Gen. Reno a gallant and loyal officer was killed.  Our anxieties for Rufus are constant.  We can only trust that the same divine hand which has kept him heretofore will guard him still.
The paroled Union soldiers are to be formed into regiments and sent to fight the Indians in Minnesota.  
I called to see Mrs. G. W. Bailey this morning.
Harpers Ferry has fallen into the hands of the rebels.  The 87 O. V. I. were there.

Peggy's comments:
Rufus Dawes, Julia's nephew, helped raise Company K of the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers shortly after Lincoln's first call for troops.  In May 1861 he was officially mustered in and was soon after he was elected Captain.  For more than a year, Rufus had been camped near Washington, D. C. with the Army of the Potomac.  But during the summer of 1862, he and his men were on the march.  On August 23, he was under fire from the rebels while supporting a battery near Rappahannock, near Warrenton, Virginia.  There was fierce fighting and the Union army slowly retreated.  Five days later in Gainesville, Virginia, Rufus was in another fierce battle.  He wrote in his journal:
Our one night's experience at Gainesville had eradicated our yearning for a fight. In our future history we will always be found ready but never again anxious.
The Second Battle of Bull Run occurred two days later on August 30.  The Union troops had been slowly advancing when they broke rank and began a confusing retreat.  The Sixth Wisconsin held fast.  They did not have orders to retreat, but it soon became obvious that all other regiments had done so.  Colonel Bragg ordered face front and slowly back away.

Rufus was back near Washington when he learned that McClellan was in charge of all the troops, taking over for General Pope, who had been sent to Minnesota to respond to the Indian wars.  The news was well received as the troops had not liked General Pope.

Rufus' regiment was again engaged in battle on September 14 at South Mountain and then on September 17 at Antietam, near Sharpsburg, Maryland.  As they marched toward the village of Sharpsburg, the rebels began to fire and Colonel Bragg was shot.  Rufus was handed the command and fought in the horrific battle in the cornfield.  Rufus took the flag in hand and rallied the troops to follow him--he did not expect to survive, but miraculously, he survived uninjured.

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