Unit History – 1st Minnesota Infantry

10 07 2022

Cols., Willis A. Gorman, Napoleon J. T. Dana, Alfred Sully, George N. Morgan, William Colville; Lieut.-Cols., Stephen Miller, Charles Powell Adams; Majs., William H. Dike, Mark W. Downie. This regiment, organized at Fort Snelling in April, 1861, was mustered into the three months’ service April 29, and the three years’ service May 10. On May 28 Cos. B and G, were ordered to Fort Ridgely to relieve the regulars at that point. Co. A was sent to Fort Ripley for similar service, for which point Co. E also started June 6. On June 1o Cos. C and D started for Fort Abercrombie. On the 14th the regiment was ordered to Washington, and the above six companies were recalled. The regiment left the state June 22 and went into camp at Washington on the 26th. It was ordered to Alexandria in July and brigaded with others in Heintzelman’s division. It fought like a veteran regiment at Bull Run, repulsed two charges unaided, but was compelled to fall back for want of support, losing 180 in killed, wounded and prisoners, the heaviest percentage of loss suffered by any regiment in that battle. It returned to Washington and on Aug. 2, marched for Camp Stone near Edwards’ ferry, where it was engaged in picket duty and drill work. On Oct. 1, Col. Gorman was appointed brigadier-general, being succeeded by N. S. T. Dana. The regiment engaged in some skirmishing near Edwards’ ferry, was in the battle at Ball’s bluff, and served as rear-guard in the night retreat across the river. On Jan. 16, 1862, Gen. Sedgwick assumed command of the division. Late in February the regiment left for Harper’s Ferry, then moved to Charlestown and on March 10, to Berryville, where Cos. B and K acted as skirmishers, aided to dislodge a body of cavalry and hoisted the flag on the court -house. Col. Dana was promoted to brigadier-general and Col. Sully took command on March 13. On the 15th the regiment camped on Bolivar heights, but returned to Washington a week later, thence to Alexandria and on the 29th moved toward Yorktown. It engaged in a skirmish at West Point and in the battle at Fair Oaks. It was joined by the 2nd Co. Minn. sharpshooters, Capt. W. F. Russell, on June 3, and was on picket duty during most of the month. It was engaged in the Seven Days’ battles, after which it encamped at Harrison’s landing. On July 22 it was reviewed by Gen. McClellan and pronounced to be one of the two model regiments. It moved to the rear of Malvern hill in August, its division driving the enemy from the field. It was then recalled from the Peninsula and formed the rear-guard at Chantilly, being under fire for some time. It fought at South mountain and at Antietam, formed the right line of the brigade at the opening of the action, but in the subsequent movements it was left without support on either flank. However, it held its position until ordered to retire, but lost 147 in killed and wounded. It then marched to Bolivar heights, where it went into camp, and in October joined in a reconnaissance to Charlestown, where a heavy force was dislodged. It then crossed the Shenandoah and moved towards Fredericksburg, where it held a steady line under heavy fire during the engagement. It was engaged at Chancellorsville and joined the movement toward Gettysburg in June. On July 2, while supporting a battery at Gettysburg, with but 262 men, it charged two brigades which had routed Sickles’ forces, drove them back and held its position until reserves came up and relieved it. Nearly every officer was killed or wounded and of the gallant 262 who went into action 215 lay on the field, 47 were in line, and not a man missing. Of this magnificent charge, Gen. Hancock said: “There is no more gallant deed recorded in history.” The percentage of loss was without an equal in the records of modern warfare. The following day Cos. C and F which had been detached for other duties, rejoined the regiment and it charged a portion of the advancing Confederate column, assisting in the capture of a large number of the enemy. It marched to Harper’s Ferry, thence to Kelly’s ford on the Rappahannock, and was sent to New York city in August to assist in quelling the draft riots. It returned to Alexandria in September, and in October was in the hot engagement at Bristoe Station, where it captured 322 prisoners, 5 cannon and 2 stands of colors. It was in the Mine Run campaign in November, was then in camp at Stevenburg until Feb. 5, 1864, when it was ordered to Fort Snelling and was mustered out April 29, 1864. Several having reënlisted as veterans, the time of recruits not having expired, and new recruits offering themselves, a battalion of two companies was formed, known as the 1st battalion Minn. infantry. The battalion left the state May 16, 1864, for Washington and from there went to White House on the Pamunkey river, where it was assigned to the 1st brigade, and division, and army corps. It moved to Petersburg; participated in the assault on June 18; drove the enemy’s skirmishers from their lines; was in the skirmish as on the Jerusalem plank road, the assault at Deep Bottom, the battle at Reams’ station, and the sharp encounter at Hatcher’s run in October. It was then in winter quarters until spring, being joined by recruits, forming Co. C. The new company joined in a successful charge on the enemy’s rifle-pits the morning after its arrival, in the final assault at Petersburg, and in the various actions in which the 2nd corps was engaged up to the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, after which the battalion was sent to Louisville. It was mustered out at Fort Snelling July 15, 1865.

From The Union Army, Vol. 4, pp. 98-99