Hardly any other unit of the Civil War would achieve such lasting fame as the so-called "Iron Brigade" of Wisconsin and Indiana. Its three Wisconsin and one Indiana regiments fought with a ferocity that made them stand out from other units, and suffered losses hardly equaled in any other unit. Indeed, so heavy were its causalities that the unit existed for only two years. The Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry was mustered into United States service on June 11, 1861, for "three years or during the war," in answer to President Lincoln's call dated May 3, 1861, for "500,000 men." The regiment was formed largely of Irish and other immigrants and suffered 33
percent losses at Second Manassas in 1862, and nearly 60 percent in that whole campaign. Going into Gettysburg the following year, it numbered almost 1,800; after the battle only 600 were left. The battle in Pennsylvania virtually destroyed the original brigade. The men of the 2nd Wisconsin, like their drummer seen here, wore dark blue frock coats, and dark blue trousers, with the black Hardee hat, their regimental number encircled by the infantryman's brass bugle. Known as "The Black Hat Brigade," the regiment returned to Madison, Wisconsin, on June 18, 1864, and was mustered out of the military service of the United States on July 2, 1864.
Below: When forming for a dress parade, members of a company or regiment usually placed musicians to their right.
Union Drums and Bugle
The photo shows regulation drums from New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts regiments, together with a regulation bugle. As explained earlier, such instruments had a purpose that was as much military as entertainment. All union drummers had distinctive white support straps that made them instantly recognizable. A drum and band major was entitled to wear a white baldrick. This ran from the right shoulder to the left hip and was about twice as wide as a support strap. During postwar decades, civilian musicians adopted the baldrick and it was widely used by them.
When forming for a dress parade, members of a company or regiment usually placed musicians to their right. These specialists, made up of half a dozen or more trained musicians were all-important to the infantry, their instruments being used to convey order on the march or battlefield, and to keep marching men in cadence. Each drummer was required to master at least fifteen general drum rolls plus two dozen sets of rhythms with which they guided men on the march and in combat. In a regiment, the drummer usually had a role secondary to those of men who used wind instruments.
Union General Officers' Uniforms and Equipment
A general officer's rank was designated by the number of stars on his shoulder straps: one star - brigadier-general; two stars - major general; three stars - lieutenant general. Another consistent device was the use of black velvet to line the sleeve cuffs and collar. Regulations specified a buff sash, but many chose to wear maroon sashes, while the swords and sword belts were a matter of personal choice, and some of them were particularly elaborate.
2 Warren's corps badge
3 Warren's forage cap
4 Shoulder strap of Maj. Gen. Mulholland
5 Mulholland's sash
6 Sherman's frock coat
7 Frock coat of Brig. Gen. C. P. Herring
10 Model 1850 sword
11 General's sword belt
12 General Sherman's sash
13 and 14 Sash and belt of Gen. J. F. Reynolds
15 Sword belt of Maj. Gen. Robert Patterson
17 Cased epaulettes
18 Shoulder straps of Brig. Gen. James Nagle
19 Gold pin of Maj. Gen. Robert Anderson
20 Gold pin of Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan
21 Sheridan's saber
22 Sword of Maj Gen. James B. McPherson
23 Sword of Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott
24 Militia sword of Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas
25 and 26 Thomas' dress chapeau and box
27 Sash of Maj. Gen. Truman Seymour
28 Boxed dress epaulettes
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