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Rufus Dawes is also the name of the protagonist in the Australian novel For the Term of his Natural Life.
Rufus Robinson Dawes
[[Image:150px|center|200px|border]]General Rufus Robinson Dawes
Personal Information
Born: July 4, 1838(1838-07-04)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: August 2, 1899 (aged 61)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Nickname: {{{nickname}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Brevet Brigadier General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Battles: American Civil War
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Rufus Robinson Dawes (July 4, 1838 – August 2, 1899) was a military officer in the United States Army during the American Civil War. He was noted for his service in the famed Iron Brigade, particularly during the Battle of Gettysburg. He was a post-war businessman, Congressman, and author, and the father of four nationally known sons, one of whom served as Vice President of the United States.

Civil War[]

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Dawes organized a volunteer unit from Mauston in June and was soon elected captain. Company K was mustered into the 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, which served for the first months of the war on guard duty in Washington, D.C.. In June 1862, Dawes was promoted to major. He served with his regiment at the Battle of Groveton and at Antietam and Fredericksburg In March 1863, Dawes received a promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel and served in the Chancellorsville Campaign.

During the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, Dawes led a counterattack on Joseph R. Davis's Confederate brigade of Mississippians, many of which were sheltered in an unfinished railroad cut west of town. He forced the surrender of over 200 enemy soldiers. He later served that year in the Mine Run Campaign. During a furlough, Dawes returned to Ohio and married Mary Beman Gates (1842–1921), a New Englander, on January 18, 1864. Returning to the Army of the Potomac, he served at the Battle of the Wilderness and the Siege of Petersburg. In July 1864, Dawes was offered the full rank of colonel, but declined the promotion. He mustered out of the army on August 10, 1864, following the fights at Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor.

Some of Dawes letters are available to researchers.[1]

Post-bellum career[]

Dawes returned home to Marietta and entered the lumber business. On March 13, 1865, he was awarded the rank of brevet Brigadier General. In August of that year, his son Charles Gates Dawes was born, a future Vice President. In July 1867, Rufus C. Dawes was born at the family home. He would become a well respected businessman and lawyer, being awarded Chicago's Most Distinguished Citizen Award" in 1934. A third son, Beman Gates Dawes, would later serve as a Congressman from Ohio, and Henry May Dawes would be a powerful banker who would serve as Comptroller of the Currency for the United States under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Rufus and Mary Dawes also had two daughters. In 1869, the Dawes built an impressive mansion in the Italianate style.

Dawes also served on the Board of Trustees of Marietta College from 1871 until his death, 28 years later. He was also a Trustee for Ohio’s Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. Dawes was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1881 as a representative from the 15th Congressional District. A Republican, he served for one term before losing his bid for re-election because he voted against the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (Sortland 1958: 4). In 1890, he published a well-received account of his Civil War career, Service with the 6th Wisconsin Volunteers. This memoir was republished in Madison, Wisconsin by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Civil War Centennial Commission, in 1962. His reputation as an orator and his influential voice for the establishment of diplomatic relations with Persia prompted President William McKinley to offer Dawes the position of Minister to Persia in 1897, a post he declined due to failing health.

Dawes died two years later in Marietta, Ohio and was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery.

Dawes was elected to Marietta College's Hall of Honor in 2003.

See also[]

32x28px United States Army portal
32x28px American Civil War portal


  • Congressional Biography
  • Sortland, R. A. (1958). Charles G. Dawes: Businessman in Politics. Unpublished manuscript, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH.
  • University of Southern Mississippi, McCain Library and Archives - Dawes letter collection
  • Herdegen, Lance J., "Those Damned Black Hats!" The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign, Savas Beatie LLC, October 2008.

Template:Start box |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States House of Representatives |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
George W. Geddes |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|U.S. Representative from Ohio's 15th Congressional District
1881-1883 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Adoniram J. Warner |-


da:Rufus R. Dawes