Minnesota in the Civil War: An Illustrated History

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9780873513876: Minnesota in the Civil War: An Illustrated History
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From the opening shots at Bull Run until silence fell over Appomattox, the young men of Minnesota were active combatants in the nation's epic struggle.

Minnesota in the Civil War draws upon the Minnesota Historical Society's vast collections of soldiers' diaries and letters, as well as contemporary newspaper accounts, rare photographs, drawings, maps, uniforms and equipment, to create a vivid picture of daily life. What emerges are vivid, haunting images of the heaviest and deadliest fighting—Bull Run, the Hornet's Nest at Shiloh, Antietam, Chattanooga, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Nashville, Sherman's march to the sea—but also the overwhelming loneliness and tedium of war. Amid the mud and monotony, the endless days of drilling interrupted by short spurts of intense fighting, these young men reflect, often eloquently, on their mortality and the persistent fear that they will never again see their loved ones.

Every page contains moments of simple compassion: a Tennessee woman who gives her best quilt to a Minnesota boy to disguise his uniform behind enemy lines, a young private struggling for the right words to tell his mother that his brother has been killed at Gettysburg. And images of unspeakable brutality: the savagery of the surgeon's tent or the slow torture of prison life in Libby and Andersonville. Here, too, are many forgotten aspects of the war from the Red River expedition and the Mobile Bay expedition to the eight-hundred-mile pursuit of Confederate General Sterling Price through Arkansas and Missouri to the second war on the homefront as the Dakota Indians took up arms in August 1862.

Beginning with the famous Civil War paintings on display in the Minnesota State Capitol, author Kenneth Carley narrates the story of the Minnesota regiments and their sacrifices to the Union cause. The result is a multi-dimensional picture of Minnesota's contribution to the Civil War. From the first eager volunteers of the First Minnesota to the final bugle calls as troops were mustered out at Fort Snelling, Minnesota in the Civil War is a tribute to both the daily courage Minnesota's soldiers had to gather and the valor they showed on battlefields across the country in the name of preserving the Union.

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About the Author:

Kenneth Carley is the author of The Sioux Uprising of 1862 (MHS Press) and was for thirteen years the editor of Minnesota History, the journal of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Richard Moe (Foreword) is author of The Last Full Measure: The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers and president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Brian Horrigan (Introduction and Epilogue) is curator at the Minnesota Historical Society and co-author of Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Past

Visions of the American Future.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Light Artillery

The First Battery of Minnesota Light Artillery mustered in at Fort Snelling, November 21, 1861. After being sent south, they received their guns—two twelve-pound howitzers for use at close range and four brass rifled Parrott guns for long range. The battery proceeded to Shiloh, Tennessee, where it drilled. It faced its first action on April 6-7 at the battle of Shiloh in that part that became know as the Hornets’ Nest.

Two brothers, William G. and Thomas D. Christie, enlisted in the First Battery. William wrote home to their father on April 15, 1862, describing the scene at the Hornets’ Nest.

"I suppose you have heard of the great battle on the 6th and 7th of this month. You will be proud to know that we were in the front of the battle, and that our Battery did its duty nobly and well. On Sunday morning [April 6] very early the enemy drove in our pickets. At 7 o’clock we were ordered to the front. Nobody thought it was to be anything more than a skirmish; we supposed that soon we should be back again in camp. . . . The bullets were pouring upon us like a hail-storm. Just as soon as we got our guns into position we began to give them our compliments with shell and canister. But we had not been there long when the regiments that were supporting us broke and fled; they had suffered terribly in a few minutes. So we had to get out of that place as fast as we could. . . . At about 10 o’clock we were again ordered forward and took our position . . . Our 4 guns were all right; we got a high compliment from Gen. [Benjamin] Prentiss; he said he was ‘proud of the Minn. Batt! ery.’ I tell you we raked down the rebels to some purpose; you would have thought so if you had seen the ground there after the battle. After some hours of this work and the repulse of several attacks, the enemy . . . crept up through the heavy brush and timber, and suddenly poured upon us a terrible fire. Ten of our horses were instantly killed. Of the men, No. 3 on our gun and No. 4 on the howitzer were shot dead. Lieut. [F. E.] Peebles was shot through the throat; Sergeant [William] Clayton in the thigh; Sergeant [Jesse] Conner in the side; Joe Jonson [Joseph Johnson] , an old friend of mine in Minn., was shot through arm and shoulder. Our two slain heroes, [Ole] Taxdahl and [Richard] Tilson, fell with their faces to the foe. The balls flew fast and furious. Both my horses were killed while I was holding them. Not a horse belonging to the other gun was left alive. In the two gun-detachments every man but one was hit."

From Minnesota in the Civil War: An Illustrated History by Kenneth Carley. Published 2000 by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. Pages 104-105.

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