Behind all descriptions of historical events are the stories of real people. This is the extraordinary true story of a citizen soldier and the girl he loves, as both become embroiled in the cauldron of our nation’s Civil War.
Rufus R Dawes will emerge from a troubled family background to become an officer in a famous unit thrust into horrific battles in the eastern theater. But before those stirring war scenes, there is the early life of a proud and intelligent descendant of leading Revolutionary War figures, ancestors who helped form the United States, the Northwest Territory, and the state of Ohio.
Rufus will meet beautiful and vibrant Mary Beman Gates and fall in love. But there is separation due to distance and social standing, apparently little reciprocal feeling, and competition by others better situated than he. Can it ever become more than infatuation? The outbreak of war intervenes. Faced with the doubt of his own survival, is it possible to fulfill any dream of a life with Mary?
Mary is a girl with a loving family who becomes a young woman while witnessing many acquaintances and suitors, along with an only brother, march off to war. Tragic battle losses soon mount. Will she—should she—become involved with a soldier whose life is in daily jeopardy far away?
The drama unfolds upon Rufus and Mary, and upon family members and soldiers who experience their own battles, trying to survive while patriotically performing their duty to the nation. Based on many letters and diary entries, most never published, this is a timeless story of love and courage.
Indiana native Steve Magnusen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Purdue University. He served as a registered professional municipal engineer and public works director for Winnetka and Libertyville, Illinois, the latter for twenty-eight years. Steve later joined an engineering consulting firm, assisting many suburban Chicago communities, prior to relocating to Indianapolis. He has been active in the American Public Works Association, serving as president of the Chicago Metro chapter, and chairing APWA’s leadership and management committee. He was named a Top Ten Public Works Leader of the Year in 1997. Steve was commissioned an officer in the U.S. Army through the Purdue ROTC program and served in the reserve component as an infantry and armor officer for fifteen years, leaving service with the rank of major.
A lifelong interest in the American Civil War and the Union army’s Iron Brigade has led him to research the inspiring life of Rufus R. Dawes, the dauntless commander of the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment. To My Best Girl is his first book.