State Civil War Contingent Heads to Gettysburg to Share Minnesota's Story

For immediate release

Release dated: 
June 28, 2013
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen • Marketing and Communications • Minnesota Historical Society • 651-259-3148 •

Randal Dietrich • Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force • 651-259-3113 •

State Civil War Contingent Heads to Gettysburg to Share Minnesota's Story

State legislators, authors, historians, students, part of group heading to historic battlefield for 150th anniversary programs, July 1-3

"'Charge those lines!' commanded General Winfield S. Hancock. Every man realized in an instant what that order meant—death or wounds to us all," recounted Lieutenant William Lochren, years after fighting in the battle of Gettysburg.

But the soldiers, members of the First Minnesota Infantry, stood strong in the face of fear. It was their courage that helped hold the Union line on the second day at Gettysburg. On the third day, the First Minnesota helped repel Pickett's Charge at Cemetery Ridge. The outcome of the battle changed the course of the war.

Minnesota’s Civil War Commemorative Task Force, chaired by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and State Representative Dean Urdahl, is leading a delegation to the Gettysburg National Battlefield in Pennsylvania for the 150th anniversary commemoration, July 1-3, 2013. The group will participate in related anniversary events and will share the important story of Minnesota’s role in the battle and the larger story of the Civil War.

"Minnesota soldiers fought in nearly all of the war’s campaigns and major battles, but at Gettysburg, the First Minnesota’s sacrifice has become legendary,” said Steve Elliott, director and CEO of the Minnesota Historical Society. “Visiting the battlefield, where so many Minnesotans lost their lives or were injured, brings home the pivotal role these brave young men played in determining the outcome of the American Civil War and the future of the nation."

The group, numbering 90, includes State Representatives Dean Urdahl, Mike Benson, Mary Murphy, State Senator Roger Reinert, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and U.S. Representative Betty McCollum. Also attending are Major General Richard C. Nash of the Minnesota National Guard, Elliott, and a number of authors, educators, students and history buffs.

During the visit, the group will retrace the steps of the First Minnesota Regiment including a rededication ceremony for the monuments to the First Minnesota at Gettysburg and at Cemetery Ridge, where representatives will lay a wreath.

Student bloggers are also traveling to the Gettysburg battle site. Finalists from the MHS "Dear President Lincoln" student writing contest will blog about their experiences. The contest asked students to write an essay replying to President Lincoln’s immortal 1863 address.

Civil War Resources
The Minnesota Historical Society is pleased to provide a wide array of resources for Civil War enthusiasts, members of the media and the general public. Visit for the latest news and events. Plus, explore our collections of objects, books, letters, photographs and art; follow Minnesotans as they tweet about their experiences during the Civil War in real-time, 150 years later; read the Civil War Daybook; explore the latest Civil War articles posted in MNopedia and watch videos.

Read more about Minnesota’s role at the battle of Gettysburg.

Minnesota’s role in the Civil War is told through an artifact rich exhibit, “Minnesota and the Civil War,” on view at the Minnesota History Center through Sept. 8, 2013.

"Minnesota and the Civil War" is made possible by the Legacy Amendment through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.

About the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force
The mission of the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force is to promote and share the rich history of the American Civil War and Minnesota’s connection to it. Find out more at

With support from the Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, the task force oversees the development of statewide, balanced activities commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War and Minnesota’s involvement in it and the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. Activities are intended to expand the understanding and appreciation of the significance of the Civil War and result in a long-term public benefit.

The task force, created by an Executive Order from Governor Mark Dayton, is co-chaired by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and State Representative Dean Urdahl and comprises state legislators, citizens and a Minnesota Historical Society staff person.

About the Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, the Society preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.