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.