Minnesota in the Civil War
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Minnesota Military Units
- 3 Researching a Civil War Ancestor
- 4 Minnesota Records
- 5 Federal Records
- 6 Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)
- 7 Unit Histories
- 8 Soldiers Home Records
- 9 Battles in Minnesota During the Civil War
- 10 Other Source Material
- 11 References
Minnesota was a relatively new state with a small population at the time of the Civil War, but it contributed a substantial number of troops to the Union forces during the war. About 22,000 Minnesotans served; 2,500 died in the war. Minnesota formed 11 infantry units, 4 cavalry units, 4 artillery units, and an unassigned volunteer unit.
Minnesota Military Units
Most units were numbered, however, some were named. See the table below for lists of the regiments, battalions, batteries, and unassigned companies.
The information in the lists of Minnesota Military Units comes from the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors web site. This web site can also be searched by the name of a soldier.
Researching a Civil War Ancestor
An article with suggestions and sources for researching a Civil War ancestor in Minnesota is:
- Baker, Mary Hawker. Tracing Civil War Ancestors in Minnesota. Minnesota Genealogist 28 (fall 1997): 98–100. St. Paul, Minnesota: The Society. (Family History Library book 977.6 B2mg.)
Names of most of those who served are included in:
- Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, 1861–1865. Two Volumes. St. Paul, Minnesota: Pioneer Press, 1890–93. (Family History Library book ].)
- Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, 1861–1865. 2d ed. Two Volumes. St. Paul, Minnesota: Pioneer Press, 1891. (Family History Library .)] Volume 1 includes the history of each regiment and regimental rosters listing soldiers’ names, ages, dates of service, and remarks about their service, including whether transferred, wounded, captured, or killed. Volume 2 consists of correspondence and battle reports, arranged chronologically. Indexes at the end of each volume list only some officers and major events. A more complete index to both volumes is at the Minnesota Historical Society.
- Minnesota Adjutant General’s Report of 1866. Roseville, Minnesota: Park Genealogical Books, 1997. (Family History Library book 977.6.) The report lists 26,088 names of men who served during the Civil War period, including citizen soldiers who served in local militias. It gives name, age, state or country of birth, dates of service, and remarks, and is arranged alphabetically. Family history researchers should look at both.
1890 Census Veterans Schedules
1890 Census Veterans Schedules - The "Special Schedules of the Eleventh Census (1890) Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War" (NARA M123) are available online for the state of Minnesota. The schedules list Union veterans and their widows living in Minnesota in 1890. For more information on the 1890 Veterans Schedules see Union Census Records.
The index to the federal service records of Union volunteers from Minnesota is:
- United States. Adjutant General’s Office. Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Minnesota. National Archives Microfilm Publication M0546. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, [1965?]. (On 10 Family History Library films beginning with 821930.)
- An index to volunteers in the 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment. Includes some personal histories and photos.
For a statewide Civil War database search see the Dalby Database.
For more information on service records see Union Service Records.
Civil War Pension Index Cards - An Index to Pension Applications of veterans who served in the US Army between 1861-1917 is available on FamilySearch. Each card gives the soldier’s name, application and certificate numbers, state of enlistment, and might include rank and death information. The majority of the records are of Civil War veterans, but the collection also includes records for veterans of the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, the Indian Wars, and World War I. For more information see Union Pension Records.
The index to Union pension records for all states is described in United States Military Records.
Names and residences of some persons receiving federal pensions can be found in:
- List of Pensioners on the Roll, January 1, 1883: ...as Called for by Senate Resolution of December 8, 1882. Volume 4. 1883. Reprint. Arvada, Colorado: Ancestor Publishers, 1990. (Family History Library fiche 6334560.) No circulation to Family History Centers. The list includes more than 4,000 names of Civil War or War of 1812 veterans or the name their widow. Arranged by county names in alphabetical order, then by post office addresses in alphabetical order; persons’ names are not in any particular order. Information includes the pensioner’s name, post office address, reason for pension, amount of money received each month, and date the pension was originally awarded. Unindexed.
Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)
In 1890, about 40 percent of the Civil War veterans were members of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). The descriptive books of each GAR post usually indicate each member’s name, age, rank, birthplace, residence, occupation, and enlistment and discharge information. The descriptive books and other records of many GAR posts are at the Minnesota Historical Society.
An important inventory for finding Civil War military histories in Minnesota is:
Civil War Unit Histories:The Union—Midwest and West. (Part 4.) Bethesda, Maryland: University Publications of America, 1993. (Family History Library book 973 M2cwu pt.4.) The library has the large microfiche collection described in this guide. Use the library catalog to find individual items. This may include correspondence, diaries, memoirs, and regimental histories published before 1920. The guide shows the unit name, counties where it was raised, author, title, publication information, number of pages, and source repository. This guide also includes an author index and a major engagements index.
Soldiers Home Records
Records of the state operated soldiers home in Minneapolis are found in the Minnesota State Historical Society Library. They include resident admission and discharge records, history of residents’ military service, and clinical records.
Battles in Minnesota During the Civil War
- Redwood Ferry, August 18, 1862, battle with the Santee Sioux. The CivilWarAlbum.com site includes brief history.
- Fort Ridgely, August 20-22, 1862, battle with the Santee Sioux The AmericanCivilWar.com site includes brief history and photos of the area.
- Birch Coulee, September 2-3, 1862, battle with the Santee Sioux. The CivilWarAlbum.com site includes brief history and photos of the area of Birch Coulee.
- Wood Lake, September 23, 1862, battle with the Santee Sioux The AmericanCivilWar.com site For additional photos, brief history and links to related sites, see the CivilWarAlbum.com site, Battle of Wood Lake, MN.
- The AmericanCivilWar.com,Minnesota Civil War Map of Battles shows the location of Fort Ridgely and Wood Lake.
Other Source Material
Dalby, John, Minnesota Civil War Soldiers, is an index of these soldier's. It gives name, rank, and induction date. It may also give discharge date, residence, and age. The index is at Ancestry.com ($) (accessed 28 February 2011).
Pompey, Sherman Lee. Minnesota Union Soldiers Buried in the Mill Springs National Cemetery, Pulaski County, Kentucky. Eugene, Oregon : Western Oregon Genealogical Research Library, 1978. Available at Library of Congress.
Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)
Grand Army of the Republic founded in 1866 - 1956, was the largest veteran’s organization in the country after the Civil War. It was a fraternal organization members were veterans of the Union Army, US Navy, Marines and Revenue Cutler Service who served in the American Civil War. The group supported voting rights for black veterans, and lobbied the U.S. Congress to establish veterans' pensions. In 1890 the membership was 490,000.
In 1888 there were 165 posts and 8,026 members in the state of Minnesota
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
With the death of the last member of the Grand Army of the Republic the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War was formed.
- National Park Service, The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System: (accessed 28 February 2011).
- CivilWarAlbum.com, Battles of Birch Coulee and Redwood Ferry, MN (accessed 28 February 2011)
- American Civil War.com Fort Ridgely Minnesota, (accessed 28 February 2011]
- American Civil War.com, Wood Lake, Minnesota, (accessed 28 February 2011]