Minnesota's Role in the Civil War Focus of New History Center Exhibit
“Minnesota and the Civil War” opens March 2, 2013 and is part of the Society’s multi-year Civil War commemoration.
The Civil War divided the United States, left more than 750,000 dead and resulted in the release of 4 million enslaved people. A volatile mixture of political divisions, personal beliefs and economic disparities exploded into war in 1861, and lasted four bloody years. Through it all, Minnesotans played key roles.
“Minnesota and the Civil War,” March 2 - Sept. 8, 2013, is an exhibit that draws on the stories of men eager to enlist, like 15-year-old Charley Goddard who lied about his age in order to fight; Minnesotans in battle, including the heroic actions of the First Minnesota Regiment at Gettysburg and the capture of the battle flag of the 28th Virginia Regiment; and personal experiences in the war, especially well told by the Christie brothers, whose numerous letters and diary entries are among the great treasures of the Minnesota Historical Society.
There are also stories about enslaved people like Eliza Winston who was brought to Minnesota by her owner, but who on arrival sought to gain her freedom; Frances Clayton, who dressed as a man in order to fight alongside her husband; and Minnesota’s claim to the first soldier to enlist and the last surviving Union veteran. These stories and more are profiled in the Exhibit Experience pages in this press kit.
Told through more than 170 artifacts, letters, diaries, memoirs and reminiscences, the exhibit captures the personal impact of this tumultuous period. “As a state, Minnesota played an important role in this nation-defining war,” observed Stephen Elliott, Minnesota Historical Society director and CEO. “We will portray the incredible personal sacrifices, on the battlefield and in military service as well as on the homefront, that so deeply affected families and communities in Minnesota and, the nation. The war kept intact the nation whose guarantees of personal liberty and opportunities for security and success we enjoy today.”
Visitors can explore the exhibit on opening day while enjoying live music from the Civil War era and arts and crafts from noon to 4 p.m. Two larger family day programs will be offered in May and July:
Civil War Family Day
Saturday, May 4, 2013 • Noon–4 p.m. • $6-11, MHS members FREE.
Hands-on activities, music, demonstrations and an appearance by nationally-known Lincoln actor, Fritz Klein.
Monday–Thursday, July 1–4, 2013 • Times & prices vary
A four-day commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and the fall of Vicksburg. Activities include a re-enactment and military encampment, a lecture by historian Richard Moe, soldier tributes, Civil War era music, games, fashion and an ice cream social.
The Society’s multi-year commemoration of the Civil War continues through 2015 and includes public and educational programs, publications, collections, videos and online content which can be accessed at www.mnhs.org/civilwar. To learn more about the Society’s commemoration of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, visit www.usdakotawar.org. In addition, beginning in January 2013, follow along as Society staff tweet about events of the Civil War as they unfold @MNCivilWar.
"Minnesota and the Civil War" is funded in part by the Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.