Skip to Main Content

Civil War Military Units from Minnesota: 1st Minnesota Battery of Light Artillery "Munch's Battery"

1st Minnesota Battery of Light Artillery "Munch's Battery"

1st Battery Minnesota Light Artillery: 
Organized in October, 1861 from companies recruited in New Ulm, Pine City and Winona. The new battery was commanded by Emil Munch. In November, 1861 they were sent to Benton Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri for training.  The following March the battery was ordered to join General Grant's Army of the Tennessee at Pittsburgh Landing, TN. There they were assigned to the Sixth Division. A few weeks after joining Grant's army the First Minnesota Battery fought in the battle of Shiloh, and earned distinction for its action in helping to hold the "Hornet's Nest" position, a key to the eventual Union victory. In the following months the 1st Minnesota Battery joined in the siege and capture of Corinth Mississippi, and in the fall of 1862 took part in heavy fighting at the Battle of Corinth. During the winter of 1862 - 1863 they were stationed at Lake Providence, Louisiana.

The following spring, along with the rest of the 17th Army Corps they took part in Grant's campaign against Vicksburg particularly in the siege of that city. Following the fall of Vicksburg in July, 1863 they were part of the garrison occupying the town. In the summer of 1864 the 17th Army Corps joined Sherman's forces in north Georgia for the campaign to capture Atlanta.

The First Minnesota Battery took part in the fighting at Big Shanty, Kennesaw Mountain, and Ezra Church. After the fall of Atlanta they were part of Sherman's "March to the Sea" and the following year they were part of the campaigns in South Carolina and North Carolina.  Their last battle was near the very end of the fighting at Bentonville, North Carolina. Following the surrender of Johnston's Army and the end of the war, the 1st Battery with Sherman's army marched north through Richmond, Virginia to Washington, D. C. where they took part in the final Grand Review on May 25, 1865. The battery mustered out at Fort Snelling July 1, 1865. 

Brother of Mine: the Civil War letters of Thomas and William Christie, edited by Hampton Smith.
St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2011
MNHS call number: Reading Room E515.8 1st .C47 2011
My Dear Companion: The Civil War Letters and Journal of Corporal Albion Otis Gross of the First Minnesota Battery of Light Artillery, January 1, 1864 to June 10, 1865. edited by Robert W. Meinhard.
Photocopy of a typescript manuscript based on the Civil War journal and letters of Albion Otis Gross, as transcribed, arranged, and edited by Meinhard who supplemented Gross’ papers with an introduction and commentary identifying individuals and elaborating on events during the war. He also drew a map indicating the route traveled by the battery. Gross’ letters give graphic and frank details about life in the army, describing the activities of the battery and its personnel. He comments on conditions such as the food, physical comforts, and military life. Gross also writes about the conduct of the men, such as their drunkenness, looting, and language; the condition of the countryside and its inhabitants; and the competence of the military leaders.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P2323).
Reuben Farnum Civil War letters, 1864-1865 
Farnum’s letters to his wife Roxanna during his Civil War service with the First Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery, in Mississippi, Georgia, North and South Carolina, describing military and camp life, maneuvers, and battles.
MNHS call numberSee the finding aid in the library (P36).

Minnesota Light Artillery Battery, 1st, Muster Rolls and Historical Data, 1864-1906
Muster rolls (7 items, 1864-1865), announcements of reunions (6 items, 1891-1906), a historical sketch of the unit by Robert Monahan (4 pp., undated), and a map of the battle of Shiloh, April 6, 1862, showing the battery’s location.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P1257). 

Minnesota Light Artillery Battery, 1st, Company Morning Reports and Record, 1861 Dec.-1865 June.
The morning reports consist of rosters and narrative accounts, which include descriptions of the battery’s participation in the battles of Shiloh and Corinth, the siege of Vicksburg, the Atlanta campaign, and Sherman’s march to the sea. The battery record (through Oct. 1863) lists names, enlistment dates, place of residence, and remarks on individual promotions, discharges, desertions, and deaths.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P1903). 

Joseph M. Allen Letters, 1862-1863
Photocopies of letters to his family in Ohio from a Civil War soldier in the First Minnesota Battery of Light Artillery (1862-1863). They describe the battery and its movements and activities, especially in the Battle of Corinth, Mississippi (Oct. 9, 1862), where he was wounded. Other letters describe his subsequent illness and death from dysentery.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P1465). 

William Z. Clayton Papers, 1862-1864
Papers related to a Maine native who moved to Minnesota and served in the Civil War as a sergeant and later as the commanding officer of the First Minnesota Light Artillery. The bulk of the collection consists of letters (1862-1864) from Clayton to his parents, wife, and siblings, which document his personal experiences and the role of his battery during the battles of Shiloh and Corinth (1862), the Siege of Vicksburg (1863), and the Atlanta Campaign (1864). The battery’s original muster out roll (1864) and photographs of its flag and a captured Confederate flag are also included.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P2199). 

Emil Munch Papers, 1861-1865
Correspondence, orders, and other papers pertaining to Munch’s Civil War service, including captain of the First Minnesota Battery of Artillery in Tennessee and Mississippi (1862); his retirement from field service because of wounds and his later appointment as brigadier general of the Fifth Brigade, Minnesota State Militia (1863); his responsibility for the fortification of Minnesota frontier settlements (1863) after the Dakota Conflict; his service as captain in the Veteran Reserve Corps (Invalid Corps) stationed at Camp Douglas, Illinois (1863-1865); and his appointment (1865) as major of the First Minnesota Volunteer Heavy Artillery.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Winston W. Cheatham and Family Papers, 1830-1905
Largely letters (1864-1865) from James Major Cheatham during his Civil War service with the First Minnesota Battery, describing troop movements, camp life, foraging and destruction in the South, the siege and capture of Atlanta, and William T. Sherman’s march through Georgia and capture of Savannah.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (A/.C514).

James C. Christie and Family Papers 1823-1975
The papers document the lives of James Christie and his wives, Eliza Gilchrist, Elizabeth Reid, and Persis Noyes; their children, William Gilchrist, Thomas Davidson, Sarah Jane, Alexander Smith, and David Bertie; Sarah’s husband, William Long Stevens; and their daughter Elizabeth and her husband, Robert H. Monahan; William’s children, Buell V., Estella B., Frank W., and Charles Edwin; and other family members. Letters from William, Thomas, and Alexander (1861-1865) document their Civil War service in the Southeast and along the Mississippi River with the Minnesota 1st Light Artillery (Thomas and William)  and 2nd Minnesota Infantry (Alexander).
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Search MNHS Resources

MNHS Reference Staff

reading room bookshelves


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

Library Hours:
Thursday to Saturday: 10am to 4pm
Sunday to Wednesday: Closed

More Information on Visiting the Library


Contact Us:


Email Us

Visit our Main Website

Gale Family Library • Minnesota Historical Society • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300
Hours and More InformationEmail us