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The Civil War Collection

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Two methods of searching are possible: retrieval based on keywords (e.g. sword, carbine, flag) in the descriptions of objects, OR browsing by type of item (e.g. ammunition, weapons, Civil War era flags).

About the Collection

frock coat surgical instruments ship's wheel

Minnesota sent some 25,000 men to fight for the Union during the Civil War. Some of these soldiers faced heated combat at Shiloh, Gettysburg, and Missionary Ridge, while others had relatively peaceful – though still vital – duty guarding railroads in Kentucky and Tennessee. Many also took part in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, fought here on Minnesota soil.

lester swordThe Minnesota Historical Society preserves nearly 1,000 objects relating to the Civil War and the U.S.-Dakota War. The collection represents all branches of service, and includes items from non-Minnesota Federal units and Confederate forces. Pieces range from firearms and swords, to uniforms, to personal equipment. Many of the objects are identified to specific individuals or military units.

Collection Hightlights

  • log mortarBattle flag of the 28th Virginia Regiment captured by the 1st Minnesota Regiment at Gettysburg
  • Frock coat worn by a member of the 1st Minnesota Regiment
  • Sword carried by Colonel Henry C. Lester of the 3rd Minnesota Regiment
  • Surgical instruments used by the surgeon of the 5th Minnesota Regiment
  • Log mortar used by the 7th Minnesota Regiment
  • Body armor privately purchased by an officer with the Quartermaster’s Department
  • Ship’s wheel and bell of the USS Minnesota – a witness to the battle between the ironclads USS Monitor and CSS Virginia.
  • Collection of 58 battle flags representing Minnesota Regiments in the Civil and Spanish-American Wars.

The objects in the Civil War collection represent a sample of the variety of items accessible through the growing “Search the Collection” catalog.

Further Research

ship's bell VA flag body armor