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 Iron Brigade
Wisconsin's "Black Hat" Brigade

last updated 02/28/2007

 

2nd Wisconsin, 6th Wisconsin, 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan, Bttry B - 4th US Art.

 

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"Less is More"

The word "more" is intended to reflect the terrible losses in men of the Iron Brigade.  The common (and overused) phrase "Less is More" can be applied to the Black Hat Brigade with considerable irony.  Bruce Catton in his book Mr. Lincoln's Army wrote of the 2nd Wisconsin, "Over the length of the war, [the 2nd Wisconsin] was to win the terrible distinction of having a higher percentage of its enrollment killed in action than any other regiment in the United States Army."  The 24th Michigan, in the battle of Gettysburg lost 80% of its men making that the highest percentage of loss for any Union regiment at the battle.  (The 2nd Wisconsin was a close 77%.)*  When the day was done and roll was taken, less meant "more".

Many, many units of that war suffered horrible losses.  Whether from action, accident, capture or disease, the losses were staggering.  To pick one unit and say, "they suffered the most." is a questionable practice in the least.  But many men, all my academic betters,  who have studied this war far more than I, have made many such statements about the these boys of the "West".  

Image of the marker which denotes the 24th Michigan's position on Culp's Hill on days two and three of Gettysburg.  It reads, "24th Regiment Michigan Volunteer Infantry.  Iron Brigade.  Of the 496 men who went into battle on July 1, 1883,  99 answered roll call here on the morning of July 2 - 3, 1863."  Original Photograph by Terrence J. Lemke.

*The Iron Brigade, A military History, Alan T. Nolan,1994