Civil War Union Brevet Brigadier General, US Congressman. An 1860 graduate of Marietta College on Marietta, Ohio, right after the Civil War began with the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter, South Carolina in April 1861, he joined with a number of young men to recruit a company to join the fight to preserve the Union. The unit was mustered in as Company K, 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry on May 3, 1861, and Rufus Dawes was commissioned its Captain and commander. Later in the year the regiment was brigaded with the 2nd and 7th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantries, and the 19th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and, later in the war, the 24th Michigan Volunteer Infantry to form what would become famed as the “Iron Brigade”. The brigade saw extensive action in the 1862 Battles of Second Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. In June 1862 Rufus Dawes was promoted to Major of the regiment, and to Lieutenant Colonel in March 1863. At the May 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville he assumed command of the regiment when Colonel Edward S. Bragg was wounded. He led the 6th Wisconsin at the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where his performance in command on the 1st Day of the battle (July 1) would gain him a place in Civil War legend. On that day his men arrived with the rest of the brigade after Union cavalry had been heavily engaged with Confederate infantry west of the town. Deployed near Chambersburg Pike, he led his men, along with the 95th New York Volunteer Infantry, in a counterattack on Confederates at an unfinished railroad cut. There his men captured over 200 rebels of Brigadier General Joseph R. Davis’ brigade who they trapped in the cut, losing half of the 6th Wisconsin’s men in the process (Corporal Francis A. Wallar of the 6th Wisconsin’s Company I would wrench away the flag of the 2nd Mississippi Infantry from it’s colorbearer in the action, and would be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for the act). He then led the unit’s retreat to the ridges south of Gettysburg after the Union positions were outflanked by a superior number of Confederates, The next day, July 2, 1863, he led his men in another counter charge against oncoming Confederates, this time on the slopes of Culp’s Hill. The move caught the attacking Rebels by surprise, and succeeded in driving them from the hill. Rufus Dawes would lead his men through the next year of the war, receive a promotion to full Colonel in July 1864, and would be honorably mustered out on August 10, 1864. On March 13, 1865 he was brevetted Brigadier General, US Volunteers for “meritorious services during the war”. After the end of the conflict he built a successful lumber business in Marietta, and was elected as a Republican to represent Ohio’s 15th Congressional District in the United States House of Representative, serving from 1881 to 1883. He would pass away in his hometown of Marietta in August 1899. Today, the 6th Wisconsin Infantry Monument in Gettysburg National Military Park, located next to the railroad cut off Chambersburg Pike west of the town. One of his sons, Bemen Gates Dawes, would serve as a United States Congressman from 1905 to 1909. Another son, Charles Gates Dawes, would serve as the 30th United States Vice President in the administration of President Calvin Coolidge.
Bio by: RPD2