On this day in 1863, Rufus Dawes (Julia's nephew) again wrote to Mary B. Gates. She had agreed to correspond with him, believed him to be sincere, and he tried to express his hope that she might some time in the future find him worthy. Here is part of his letter:
I will tell you once when I thought of you. It would sound very silly to any one else and may to you.
Shortly after the battle opened at Antietam our colonel was shot. I succeeded to the command, becoming with my life and honor responsible for the good conduct of my regiment. You have heard the story how we were broken to pieces and driven back in confusion, more than half of our numbers bleeding or dying on the field. Orders, exhortations, entreaties were in vain to rally my men, overcome with a terrible fear of Death.
I took the Wisconsin state flag in my hand and swinging it over my head, and calling every man from Wisconsin to follow me, I turned back into the open field. When I took that color in my hand I gave up all hope of life. It did not occur to me as possible that I could carry that flag into the deadly storm and live. Four men had fallen under it. I felt all the burning throng of thoughts and emotions that always come with the presence of death. I had no right to think of you then. I would have died with your name on my lips.
Notwithstanding what you have said I shall look anxiously for an answer to this letter. . . . .
R. R. D.
P. S. I write this on a soldier's desk, a drum head. I am on duty as field officer of the Picket.