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1ST MINNESOTA

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ABOUT US

Within the Midwest Brigade the 1st MN is composed of two companies, Company C and Company K.


Company C is the oldest company within the brigade. It was formed in Spring of 2020 out of the remnants of two other companies. The members of the 1st Minnesota Company C have been playing War of Rights for several years together and are known for their coolness and devastating rifle fire that can decimate an enemies line. Company K is the newest company to join Midwest Brigade. Company Ks priority is to build their company up and get some recruits.

The 1st MN promotes a mostly laid back atmosphere but plays hard to win the day. We drill once a week and play events on the weekend.

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HISTORY OF THE FIRST MINNESOTA

The 1st Minnesota Volunteers were the first body of troops raised by the state for Civil War service, and it was among the first regiments of any state offered for national service. The regiment quickly filled with enthusiastic men from all parts of Minnesota and was one of the few regiments that received training by a qualified officer. By July, 1861 the regiment had been sent east and fought with distinction at the battle of Bull Run. The regiment participated in all the major campaigns of the Army of the Potomac through the fall of 1863 and a portion of the command called the First Battalion was present at Appomattox, the final battle of the war.

The regiment won a reputation as a hard-fighting regiment, particularly after its dramatic, sacrificial action at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. 

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1ST MINNESOTA AT ANTIETAM

The very same Col. Willis Gorman who delivered the report at Bull Run was promoted to Brigadier General by the time the Battle of Antietam broke out in 1862. After this battle, Brig. Gen. Gorman delivered a very similar report to his superiors which, again, makes note of the heroics of the 1st Minnesota Infantry. According to Brigadier General Willis Gorman's report, he and the men of the fifteenth Massachusetts along with the 1st Minnesota led by a Col. Sully were toe-to-toe with the Confederate forces. When the Confederate troops made an unseen and sudden attempt to flank Gorman, the 1st Minnesota turned to hold the line.


Brig. Gen. Gorman reports the following: “After moving a short distance farther, his forces were perceived moving to our right, when the First Minnesota faced toward him and delivered another fire, which again checked his movement. The position of the First Minnesota was more favorable, owing to the formation of the ground. The coolness and desperation with which the brigade fought could not be surpassed, and perhaps never was on this continent. The First Minnesota Regiment fired with so much coolness and accuracy that they brought down several times one of the enemy’s flags, and finally cut the flag-staff in two.”

The men of the 1st Minnesota were making a name for themselves. These men had already proven themselves at Bull Run in the previous year, and continued to fight with unmatched vigor. After the Battle of Antietam, their bravery had been proven by their performance in the bloodiest day of American history.

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THE 1ST MN AT GETTYSBURG, JULY 2ND

The 1st Minnesota made it to the battlefield early in the morning on July 2. The depleted companies, sporting 20 to 40 men out of their original 100, spent the morning building fires to brew coffee as their assignments came in. During the day’s fighting, the bulk of the regiment was stationed on Cemetery Hill to support an artillery battery. Behind a slight rise, the regiment could only tell the course of the battle from the intensity of musket fire and the direction the sounds came from. The soldiers had a better vantage point later on when they were ordered forward, and watched the battle in the peach orchard between General Daniel Sickles’ forces and a much stronger force of Confederate men.


The battle turned to a rout as Sickles’ men ran past the 1st Minnesota. The 1st Minnesota stood firm when Gen. Hancock rode up, failed to rally Sickles’ troops and surveyed the situation. Reserves were running to fill the gaps in the line, but time was needed to halt the Confederate advance. “My God, are these all the men I have here?” Hancock asked after surveying the situation, then turned to the regiment’s leader, Col. William Colvill. “Advance, Colonel, and take those colors.”


In his report afterward, Capt. Henry Coates of the First Minnesota wrote: “To check them, we were ordered to advance, which we did, moving at double quick down the slope of the hill, right upon the rebel line. The fire we encountered here was terrible, and although we inflicted severe punishment upon the enemy and checked his advance, it was with the loss in killed and wounded of more than two-thirds of our men who were engaged."

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The charge of the Minnesota soldiers stopped the Confederate advance and the regiment opened fire, taking cover in a brook’s low banks and brush. Taking heavy casualties from Confederate bullets, the 1st Minnesota held the line until reinforcements pushed the Confederates back.

They had given Hancock his five minutes, plus five more for good measure, but the casualties were staggering. Of the 330 men at Gettysburg, more than 70 percent were killed or wounded.


Three battlefield monuments honor the 1st Minnesota. An urn placed in the National Cemetery in 1867 was the first memorial to Gettysburg. In 1893, the main monument to the regiment was placed on Hancock Avenue and a smaller monument is less than a mile north.

“I had no alternative but to order the regiment in,” Gen. Winfield Hancock wrote about the battle. “Troops had been ordered up and were coming on the run, but I saw that in some way five minutes must be gained or we were lost … I would have done it if I had known every man would be killed. The superb gallantry of those men saved our line from being broken. No soldiers on any field, in this or any other country, ever displayed grander heroism.”

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THE 1ST MN AT GETTYSBURG, JULY 3RD

The decimated regiment—which now included its Companies C and F—was posted only 300 yards from the “Angle” when Pickett's Charge began. At the height of battle they drove squarely into the flank of the Confederates who had pierced the Union line, fighting with the same fierce determination that marked their charge the evening before. Amidst the chaos, Pvt. Marshall Sherman captured the colors of the 28th Virginia Infantry and later received a Medal of Honor for his heroic feat. The regiment sustained 45 more casualties.​

"At daybreak the next morning the enemy renewed the battle with vigor on the right and left of our line with infantry, and about 10 a.m. opened upon the center, where we were posted, a most severe fire of artillery, which continued without intermission until 3 p. m., when heavy columns of the enemy's infantry were thrown suddenly forward against our position."

"They marched resolutely in the face of a withering fire up to our lines, and succeeded in planting their colors on one of our batteries. The point of attack was to the right of our position, and held by the Second Brigade of our division (Second Division, Second Army Corps). As the enemy approached, we were moved by the right flank to oppose them, firing upon them as we approached, and sustaining their fire, together with the fire of batteries which they had brought up to within short range. The fighting here was desperate for a time. At length the regiment and others closed in upon the enemy, and nearly the whole of the rebel force which remained alive were taken prisoners. About 500 were captured by this regiment; also the colors of the Twenty-eighth Virginia Regt., taken by Private Marshall Sherman, of Company C.*

"The enemy did not recover from this repulse, and the battle was now won. The entire regiment, excepting Company L, was in this last fight. This company had been detached as sharpshooters, to support Kirby's battery, where it did very effective service. Every man in the regiment did his whole duty."

When given the opportunity to speak about the regiment after the war, both General Hancock and U.S. President Calvin Coolidge were unrestrained in their praise. Hancock placed its heroism highest in the known annals of war and ascribed unsurpassed gallantry to the famed attack. Emphasizing the critical nature of the circumstances on July 2 at Gettysburg, President Coolidge considered, "Colonel Colvill and those eight companies of the First Minnesota are entitled to rank as the saviors of their country."

 

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