The end of this month marks the 150th anniversary of the start of one of the biggest battles of the American Civil War: the Second Battle of Bull Run, otherwise known as Second Manassas. Many know of this enormous battle, but few know the story about the fight that started it - or the prominent role Wisconsinites played in it.
The fight at Brawner Farm, or Groveton as it was also called, took place on August 28th and featured several brigades that were part of a division led by none other than General Rufus King. You may recognize the name - he has a high school named after him here in Milwaukee. That's because he was an influential Wisconsinite - a member of the 1848 Wisconsin constitutional convention, part owner of the Milwaukee Sentinel, and political leader. At the outset of the Civil War, King was authorized to raise up a Wisconsin regiment - what would later become the Iron Brigade.
King was later promoted to command the division that included the Iron Brigade - and that would see its first action at Second Bull Run when it met a surprise attack by Confederate forces under Stonewall Jackson. But it’s the story of the Iron Brigade - at that point only known as the Black Hats under the command of Brigadier General John Gibbon – that we bring you today.
Lake Effect's own Civil War contributor and Pewaukee resident, historian and teacher Thomas Martin Sobottke tells the story of the 2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin volunteer regiments among the Black Hats who fought so courageously during this battle.
Sobottke is the voice and brains behind our Iron Brigade and Beyond: Wisconsin in the Civil War series, produced by Stephanie Lecci. Sobottke is also the author of the book, Across That Dark River: The Civil War Memory, published by Moving Train Books LLC.