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The First Minnesota Infantry Regiment was the first state volunteer unit to offer service in response to President Lincoln's callfor 75,000 troops in April 1861. Recruited from the hardy settlers of the brand new state of Minnesota, the Regiment was musteredinto Federal service at Fort Snelling (which is now in modern St. Paul, MN) on April 29, 1861. The unit received its baptism of fire at Battle of First Manassas, suffering the highest number of casualties on the Union side, and was the last organized group to leave the field. In 1862, the Regiment served in the Peninsula Campaign, and the battles of Antietam, and Fredericksburg.

Officersfrom the 1st Minnesota.
 From left to right in the back row, Capt. Wilson Farrell (Co. C), Lt. Samuel Raguet (Co. I and E), Capt. Louis Muller (Co. B and E), Lt. Charles Zurenberg (Co. A), Captian Henry Coates (Co. A).  
Front row, Major Mark Downie (Co. B, Major, 1st Battalion). (MHS Collection)

The unit's most famous action was at Gettysburg, July, 1863. Vastly outnumbered, the Regiment attacked Wilcox's Alabama Brigade as it was preparing a final push to break the Union line. The First Minnesota with fixed bayonets charged across 200 yards of open ground and stopped the Confederate attack. The Regiment's action saved the center of the Union line, and, perhaps, the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg. The next day, the Regiment assisted in the repulse of "Pickett's Charge", winning two Medals of Honor. In those two days, the Regiment suffered a staggering loss of 80% of its men.

After Gettysburg, the Regiment was sent to New York City to enforce the draft there, then fought at Bristow Station, and participated in the Mine Run campaign. When enlistments expired in 1864, veterans and new recruits formed a veteran battalion that fought in the Petersburg and Appomattox campaigns. The 1st Minnesota Battalion participated in the Grand Review in May 1865 and was mustered out that July.

Sgt. William Irvine with
"The Gettysburg Flag",
August 1863 (MHS Collection)

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