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With the outbreak of the American Civil War, the northwestern state of Wisconsinmarker raised 91,200 soldiers for the Union Army, organized into 53 infantry regiments, 4 cavalry regiments, a company of Berdan’s sharpshooters, 13 light artillery batteries and 1 unit of heavy artillery. Most of the Wisconsin troops served in the Western Theater, although several regiments served in Eastern armies, including three regiments within the famed Iron Brigade. Eleven thousand Wisconsin men were killed and thousands more were severely wounded or disabled.

Approximately 1 in 9 residents (regardless of age, sex or qualification for service) served in the army, and, in turn, half the eligible voters served. Wisconsin was the only state to organize replacements for troops that had already been fielded, leading northern generals to prefer to have some regiments from the state if possible.

A number of Wisconsin regiments were distinguished, including three that served in the celebrated Iron Brigade— the 2nd Wisconsin, 6th Wisconsin, and 7th Wisconsin. All were noted for their hard fighting and dashing appearance, being among the only troops in the Army of the Potomac to wear Hardee hats and long frock coats. They suffered severely at the Battle of Gettysburgmarker in July 1863. The 8th Wisconsin, another hard-fighting regiment, was often accompanied into battle by its mascot, Old Abe, a bald eagle.


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