The Iron Brigade
Last Civil War Soldier in Sauk County
The recent dedication by the Iron Brigade, Camp #15, for a Last Soldier marker was placed at the grave of Henry Alexander, the last Civil War soldier to be buried in Sauk County, Wis. A soldier in Co. K, 49th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Alexander died in 1946. That dedication took place at the Westfield German Methodist Episcopal Church and Cemetery located at Rock Elm Road and County Highway D, southwest of Rock Springs, Wisconsin.
Two relatives of Henry Alexander are standing by his grave, along with a representative of Camp #15 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.
The Wisconsin State Journal
February 1, 1946
Last Baraboo GAR Veteran, Alexander, Dies at age of 99
Taps sounded today for Henry Alexander, last Baraboo veteran of the Civil War, when the veteran, 99 years old, died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. W.W. Biege, in Baraboo.
In failing health for many months he had taken part in the Memorial Day parade in Baraboo last May, riding in a car as command and sole member of the Joe Hooker post of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) in this city.
His last trip to any gathering of men with whom he had fought was in 1938, when he journeyed to Gettysburg to attend a reunion of the men in blue and gray commemorating the Battle of Gettysburg.
Came to U.S. at Age 4
Born in Germany, Mr. Alexander came to the United States with his parents when he was 4, landing at Pittsburgh. The family engaged passage on an Ohio River steamer and debarked, after going up the Mississippi, at Prairie du Chien. From there the family came overland to the town of Wesfield, near Baraboo.
He was one of 23 young men who lived within 2 miles of the Old Brick church in the town of Westfield who enlisted in the northern army during the Civil War. Included in the group were two of his brothers, Corp. John who fought with the Iron Brigade and who fell at Antietam, and Peter, who was wounded at Ft. Barkley, and died at a Memphis hospital.
Sons, Daughters, Survive
Mr. Alexander, who fought with the 49th Pennsylvania Infantry, is survived by five sons, John L., town of Greenfield; Will and Percy, town of Westfield; Alvin, Baraboo, and Philip, Hillsdale, and two daughters, Mrs. Biege and Mrs. Emma Davidson, Hillsdale.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the Schneible-Dyrud funeral home with the Rev. James Austin, Lyons Church of God officiating and burial in the Westfield Cemetery.
Henry Alexander enlisted on April 6, 1865, in Co. K, 49th Pennsylvania Infantry. He mustered out on July 15, 1865, in Hall's Hill, VA.
Honor Plaque Installed
A plaque honoring the famed Iron Brigade, one of the most lauded units in the Civil War, was dedicated Saturday, July 14, 2018, at a wayside veteran’s memorial just off U.S. Highway 12 north of Sauk City, Wis.
Camp #15 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) unveiled the plaque in a ceremony at the Wisconsin Veterans Memorial, just north of the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and Sauk County Highway PF. U.S. 12 was named the Iron Brigade Memorial Highway by the Wisconsin Legislature in 1993.
The dedication included an honor salute with Civil War muskets. Bob Koenecke, the commander of Camp #15 and the SUVCW’s Iron Brigade Memorial Highway officer for Wisconsin, was the driving force behind the plaque’s design and location.
“The casualties in the Iron Brigade were among the highest in the Civil War,” Koenecke noted as Camp #15, based in Wind Lake, Wis., launched plans for the plaque last summer. “This plaque is a fitting tribute to the men of those five regiments who sacrificed so much to preserve the freedoms and liberties we enjoy as Americans today.”
The Iron Brigade was made up of the Second, Sixth and Seventh Wisconsin Infantry Regiments, the Nineteenth Indiana Infantry Regiment, and the Twenty-fourth Michigan Infantry Regiment. The Brigade earned its nickname when it “stood like iron” in 1862 against heavy Confederate forces in the opening round in what became the battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in U.S. history.
Iron Brigade casualties ranked among the highest of the war. The Second Wisconsin suffered the greatest percentage loss of the entire Union Army, and during the course of the war, the Seventh Wisconsin had more men killed in battle than any other Union regiment.
Invited guests to the dedication include noted Civil War author Lance J. Herdegen who has written half a dozen books on the Iron Brigade, Executive Director, Paul Wolter of the Sauk County Historical Society, and Curt Mueller and David Landsverk of Mueller Sports Medicine. Mueller is the founder of Mueller Sports Medicine in nearby Prairie du Sac and furnished the Wisconsin Veterans Memorial with a Vietnam-era Huey helicopter, an Air Force fighter jet, and a Model 60 Army tank.
The plaque reads:
US Highway 12 - IRON BRIGADE - MEMORIAL HIGHWAY
Highway 12 is dedicated to the Brave Soldiers of the Iron Brigade who fought in the great Civil War 1861 - 1865. The Iron Brigade became one of the most celebrated units of the war. Of its five regiments, three came from Wisconsin: The Second, Sixth, and Seventh Wisconsin Volunteer infantry. The two other regiments were the Nineteenth Indiana and the Twenty-fourth Michigan. Together these units ranked among the most gallant and effective of the 3,559 regiments of the Union Army. The Iron Brigade earned its nickname during its first campaign at South Mountain in Northern Virginia in the Fall of 1862. It thereafter fought in all major campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, the Unions principal force in the Eastern theater of war. Battles of Second Manassas, Antietam, Gettysburg and Spotsylvania were recorded on the Iron Brigades Colors. Iron Brigade casualties ranked among the highest of the war. The Second Wisconsin suffered the greatest percentage of loss of the entire Union Army, and during the course of the war, the Seventh Wisconsin had more men killed in battle than any other Union Regiment.
Placed by Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.