During the Civil War the United States military relied on the states to furnish the majority of troops for the Army. Each state was given a quota of troops of a particular type to recruit for national service. Recruitment was done on a local level with the states authorizing recruiting officers to raise a company within a community. These officers were often elected or appointed to command the company they recruited and frequently were prominent figures within the town or county.
Newly recruited companies were sent to the place of rendezvous, Fort Snelling, where they were organized into regiments or batteries, depending on their branch of service. Once a unit was organized, it was officially accepted into national service and the soldiers were "mustered" into the Army as Volunteer troops.
In all, Minnesota sent 11 Infantry Regiments plus one Infantry Battalion and two Companies of Sharpshooters, two Regiments and two Battalions of Cavalry, three Batteries of Light Artillery and one regiment of Heavy Artillery into Federal Service. These totalled about 25,000 men. Given that the state's population in 1860 was only 172,023 individuals, this number represented a high percentage of men eligible for service.
Minnesota in the Civil War, An Illustrated History, by Carley Kenneth.
St. Paul, Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2000.
This is a new edition of a much earlier work with added text and illustrations. The book provides a good overview of the service of a number of Minnesota units.
MNHS Call number: Reading Room E 575 .C2 2000, also available for purchase.
Watch this quick video tutorial about Military Service Records at the MNHS library.
Gale Family Library
Minnesota Historical Society Library
Located on the Second Floor of the Minnesota History Center
345 West Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Thursday to Saturday: 9am to 4pm
Sunday to Wednesday: Closed