The Iron Brigade Association, formed in 1880 at Milwaukee by veterans of the 2nd, 6th, 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan Infantry Regiments and Battery B, 4th U.S. Light Artillery, is again accepting members.
The membership was opened all individuals interested in the celebrated brigade when two sons of Iron Brigade veterans — William H. Upham of Milwaukee and James F. Sullivan of New Port Richey, Florida — in 1990 issued a call for a “Reunion of the Iron Brigade Association.”
Brigade veterans in 1897 gave membership to their children and grandchildren.
The last official reunion of the Iron Brigade Association was held in October, 1997, as part of the 50th anniversary of the Civil War Round Table of Milwaukee. It featured such Civil War authors and scholars as Alan T. Nolan, John Y. Simon, Alan Gaff, Kent Gramm and Scott Hartwig.
Talks by the authors and a recreation of the 1885 reunion of the Iron Brigade Association using a script written from newspaper accounts highlighted the program.
The Iron Brigade Association became affiliated with the MCWRT in 1990 when two sons of Iron Brigade veterans turned operations of the organization over to the Round Table.
The 1990 meeting was the first formal gathering of the veterans’ association in more than a half century and came more than 129 years after the fathers of the two men marched off to war. Other descendants of men who served with the celebrated brigade also attended.
At the 1990 reunion, Sullivan and Upham gave the MCWRT authority to keep an official roster of Iron Brigade Association members and hold Iron Brigade reunions.
Sullivan is the son of Sgt. James P. Sullivan of Company K, 6th Wisconsin Infantry, and Upham’s father was William Upham, who signed on with Company F of the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry.
Both men recalled their fathers’ pride in helping save the Union. “I believe that this renewal of interest in the Civil War is presaging a more or less revival of patriotism,” said Sullivan, who was born in 1901 when his father was 60. The elder Sullivan died in 1906.
“The war was the high point in their lives in many respects,” Upham said of his father and other members of the Iron Brigade. He said his father and other veterans “talked constantly” of the war.
The Iron Brigade received its name from Union commander Gen. George B. McClellan as the brigade fought its way up South Mountain in Maryland on Sept. 14, 1862.
“they gave a glamour and a display both fearful and entrancing”