After the men of the Iron Brigade had been in the intense fighting in the Dunker Church/ Cornfield area that opened the battle of Antietam they were able to get some relief and redeploy. Lance Herdegen in his book “The Iron Brigade in Civil War and Memory” describes this phase.
“Bullets, shot and shell, fired by the enemy in the corn-field, were still flying thickly around us, striking the trees in the woods and cutting off the limbs,” observed Rufus Dawes as he marched his regiment back to the trees and halted it in their shade. Next came the grim task of calling the roll to determine the regiment’s “dreadful losses.” The Wisconsin regiment carried 315 officers and men into the battle. Company C drew skirmish line duty that morning and escaped the heaviest fighting with only two casualties of the thirty-five engaged. Of the 280 men who fought in and around the cornfield and on the turnpike, 150 were killed, wounded, or missing. “This was the most dreadful slaughter to which our regiment had been subjected during the war,” Dawes penned in his memoir.
A short time later, the survivors were joined by the wounded Capt. George Ely of Janesville and 18 men from the 2nd Wisconsin. The small contingent brought their flags with them. A short time later the 7th Wisconsin and 19th Indiana, powder-stained and weary, joined the line. “The roar of musketry to the front was very heavy,” said Dawes. It was only perhaps 8: 00 a.m. The long day of battle was just beginning.