Thursday, September 8, 2011

Minnesota American History

Since we are on this Civil War theme, let us remember sacrifice of the Minnesota Volunteers. Nearly half the eligible male population in Minnesota fought in the Civil War. It was the first state to send volunteers. All regiments performed heroically at times, but one should never forget on the 1st Minnesota Volunteers.

During the second day of fighting at Gettysburg the 1st Minnesota Regiment was ordered to charge the the advancing Confederates in order to provide more time for reinforcements to arrive. If the Confederates were successful, the Union line would be broken and the battle won. Greatly outnumbered the 262 men charged. As it says on the memorial at Gettysburg:
The order was instantly repeated by Col Wm Colvill. And the charge as instantly made down the slope at full speed through the concentrated fire of the two brigades breaking with the bayonet the enemy's front line as it was crossing the small brook in the low ground there the remnant of the eight companies, nearly surrounded by the enemy held its entire force at bay for a considerable time & till it retired on the approach of the reserve the charge successfully accomplished its object. It saved this position & probably the battlefield. The loss of the eight companies in the charge was 215 killed & wounded. More than 83% percent. 47 men were still in line & no man missing. In self sacrificing desperate valor this charge has no parallel in any war.
The 83% casualty rate is the largest loss by any surviving unit  in American History.

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