The Museum Collections Department preserves nearly 1,000 artifacts relating to the Civil War and Dakota Conflict including uniforms and equipment, personal items, firearms, artillery, edged weapons, flags, musical instruments, and medical equipment. The collections represent all branches of service, and include items from non-Minnesota Federal units and the Confederate States Armies. Many of the artifacts are related to an identified regiment and/or an individual. The edged weapon collection contains more than 100 items such as swords, sabers, knives, bayonets, lances and pikes. Highlights include Confederate bowie knives, a pike point associated with John Brown’s 1859 raid of Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, and swords from five U.S. Army generals. There are nearly 40 period firearms including muskets, shotguns, Colt revolvers, and carbines manufactured by Sharps, Burnside Rifle Company , and Massachusetts Arms.
More than 300 buttons, badges, and medals include commemorative items from Minnesota regiments, the Grand Army of the Republic, Sons of Union Veterans, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Women’s Relief Corps. The flag collection includes national colors presented to the First Minnesota Volunteers, a U.S. Sanitary Commission banner, and a 28th Virginia Regiment flag captured by the First Minnesota Volunteers at Gettysburg. Military clothing and accessories include uniforms, headgear, boots, sashes, sword and waist belts, hat cords, and sword knots. Highlights include the uniform coat of a First Minnesota Volunteer, clothing made by a Minnesota prisoner of war, and a rare rain cap worn by an officer of the Fourth Minnesota Regiment. The equipment collection contains cartridge boxes, cap pouches, haversacks, canteens, saddles, bridles, spurs, cookware, mess gear, hardtack, sewing kits, knapsacks, blankets, mirror cases, and tents. The Civil War collection also contains the steering wheel and bell of the U.S.S. Minnesota, which witnessed the battle between the ironclads U.S.S. Monitor and C.S.S. Virginia.
The Minnesota Historical Society is making detailed information about its collections of historical artifacts, photographs and art works available via the Web. In the future, you will be able to search a database for a description of each item and view images of many.
The objects from the Civil War Collections represent a sample of the broad spectrum of items that will be available and are now accessible via PALS, the Society's online catalog. Each description contains a link to an image of the object.
Infantry colonel's wool uniform frock coat, 1861-1865. (6233.2.a)