MN Guard Honors Gettysburg Soldiers 03 Jul 13

One hundred fifty years after the historic Battle of Gettysburg,

the Minnesota National Guard honored the Soldiers who fought during

that pivotal time of the American Civil War.

On the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg,

Minnesota Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Richard C. Nash, traveled to

Gettysburg to pay tribute to Minnesota’s First Volunteer Infantry

Regiment. As the leader of the Minnesota National Guard, the state’s

volunteer military force, Nash took part in a series of events

recalling the actions at Gettysburg and the valiant efforts of the

First Minnesota.

Yesterday (Tuesday), beginning at the Gettysburg museum, Nash

retraced the steps of the First Minnesota troops on the second day of

battle at Gettysburg in 1863. He met with Alabama Adjutant General,

Maj. Gen. Perry G. Smith at Plum Run or “Bloody Run”. It was there

where two confederate brigades from Alabama and Mississippi stormed

through the broken federal line and the Union Army needed a few

minutes before their reserves would arrive. The First Minnesota, with

262 men, was the nearest unit. When ordered to counter-charge the

confederates, Col. William J. Colvill, the commander of the regiment,

replied, “to the last man.”

Following an exchange of gifts, both Adjutant Generals marched

through the Valley of Death on the land their predecessors fought on.

Together they arrived at the First Minnesota Memorial Monument on

Hancock Avenue where a rededication was held.

Today’s (Wednesday) events include a visit to an area reserved

specifically for Soldiers of the First Minnesota at the Gettysburg

National Cemetery. State and commemorative 150th anniversary flags

will be placed on First Minnesota graves, showing that the great

history of Minnesota’s First Volunteer Infantry Regiment is not

forgotten.

In 1861, when President Lincoln called for 75,000 troops to

support the Union Army in battle, Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey

was the first to commit troops from his state. When he returned to

Minnesota from Washington, it took less than two weeks to obtain 1,009

volunteers to answer the call.

The First Minnesota participated in several battles throughout

the Civil War. In 1861, they were heavily engaged at the First Battle

of Bull Run, as well as the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. In May of 1862,

the First Minnesota became part of the First Brigade, Second Division,

Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac. As a part of this Corps, the

First Minnesota participated in the Peninsula Campaign, the Seven Days

Battle, and Antietam in Maryland where they sustained heavy losses.

These battles paled in comparison to the fighting which occurred

at Gettysburg, where the First Minnesota was crucial to the future

success of the Union Army. During this second day of fighting at

Gettysburg, troops of the First Minnesota charged the Confederates,

securing the Federals position on Cemetery Ridge, which became

essential to winning the battle. At the outset, the Soldiers of the

First Minnesota were outnumbered approximately four-to-one and

suffered casualties of nearly 82 percent. To this day, that casualty

rate stands as the largest loss by a surviving military unit in a

single day’s engagement during the Civil War.

One hundred fifty years since the First Minnesota entered federal

service, Minnesota’s volunteer force has slowly transformed into the

Minnesota National Guard we know today. “Today’s citizen-soldiers and

airmen continue to play integral roles whenever the U.S. finds itself

in conflict, ensuring that the legacy of the First Minnesota lives

on,” said Nash.

 

(Photo: Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Richard

Nash and his counterpart, Alabama Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Perry

Smith meet on the Plum Run ravine, the sight of the deadliest battle

in Gettysburg, to exchange gifts during the 150th Anniversary of the

battle to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the First Minnesota

Volunteer Regiment, July 2, 2013. Photo by Master Sgt. Daniel Ewer)