1st Minnesota at Gettysburg

At Gettysburg there is a monument to the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry and the charge that it made on the second day of  Gettysburg.  On the monument there is the following inscription:

On the afternoon of July 2, 1863 Sickles’ Third Corps, having advanced from this line to the Emmitsburg Road, eight companies of the First Minnesota Regiment, numbering 262 men were sent to this place to support a battery upon Sickles repulse.

As his men were passing here in confused retreat, two Confederate brigades in pursuit were crossing the swale. To gain time to bring up the reserves & save this position, Gen Hancock in person ordered the eight companies to charge the rapidly advancing enemy.

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. Among the severely wounded were Col Wm Colvill, Lt Col Chas P Adams & Maj Mark W. Downie. Among the killed Capt Joseph Periam, Capt Louis Muller & Lt Waldo Farrar. The next day the regiment participated in repelling Pickett’s charge losing 17 more men killed & wounded.

Incredibly the 82% loss is only the second highest loss in one engagement in the Civil War for a regiment, the top place going to the 1st Texas infantry loss of 82.3% at Antietam.

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Published in: on March 27, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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2 Comments

  1. Words fail. From the accounts I’ve read, the regiment was on a rise when they were given the order and could see perfectly well what they were being asked to do.

  2. Words fail me too Adam. In the face of such courage I can only stand in awe.


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