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Wisconsin in the Civil War

Captain Attempts Capturing Rebels Single-Handedly

General Edward S. Bragg recalls Captain Dennis Dailey, of Company G, 6th Wisconsin Regiment, who attempted to seize an entire Confederate brigade by himself. The incident happened August 22 or 23, 1864, during the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia.

While chatting with Gen. Bragg at the Pfister [Hotel in Milwaukee] one day, as he is always wont to tell an army story, we spoke of Captain Dailey, Sixth Regiment. "Oh, he was a brave fellow," said the little general. "Down near the yellow tavern in Virginia at one time, just as I was on the point of ordering my men to move around by the left in the enemy's rear, Captain Dailey, of the Sixth Wisconsin, who had charge of the provost guard that day and was sitting on his horse behind a clump of trees some distance from me, caught sight of the rebels' front. A braver man or a less discreet one in battle never lived. Without waiting for orders or considering consequences he put spurs to his horse and, dashing across the few rods that lay between us and the unsuspecting rebels, rode up to the colors of the foremost regiment, seized the staff and with an audacity that seemed more sublime the more you think of it, said 'Gentlemen, you are my prisoners.'

"The color bearer and the men about him were dumbfounded. They merely looked at Dailey in silent wonder, but just then [Confederate] Col. Haygood galloped up, saying: "What is this G-d d-d Yankee doing with our colors?' As he spoke he drew his pistol and fired. The ball struck Dailey on the hip and he fell from his horse. We could not fire until he went down; for we might kill him. Before we had time to make a move that whole brigade seemed to melt into the air. Ranks were broken without a word, and the stunted brush seemed to swallow up Haygood and his men in a twinkling. They seemed to have learned it from the partridge. We never could get our men to do it successfully, somehow. Dailey afterwards became lieutenant-colonel. I believe," said the little general, "he was the only man who ever rode out single-handed to capture a whole brigade of veteran troops."

Source: Aubery, Cullen B. "Echoes from the marches of the famous Iron Brigade : unwritten stories of that famous organization," page 53.

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General Edward S. Bragg during the war.
General Edward S. Bragg during the war.

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General Edward S. Bragg (center) in a studio portrait with General Lucius Fairchild (left) and General John Gibbon (right), all of the Iron Brigade.
General Edward S. Bragg (center) in a studio portrait after the war with General Lucius Fairchild (left) and General John Gibbon (right), all of the Iron Brigade.

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