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Civil War Military Units from Minnesota: Sharpshooters


At the beginning of the Civil War the U.S. government authorized the creation of two regiments of Sharpshooters.  These were intended to be light infantry recruited from men "experienced with the rifle by hunting and inured to hardship by a life on the frontier" to act as scouts and skirmishers. Two companies of sharpshooters were raised in Minnesota.  

The 1st Company of Sharpshooters was recruited by Captain Francis Peteler, a veteran of the Mexican War and entered service on October 5 1861.  They were sent to Washington D. C. and joined the Second Regiment of U. S. Sharpshooters serving with the Army of the Potomac.  They were involved in most of the major campaigns in the East serving on outpost duty and as skirmishers.  These include the Second Battle of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and Appomattox. The company mustered out of service in July, 1865.

The 2nd Company of Sharpshooters was recruited to be part of the First Regiment of U.S. Sharpshooters, Bredan's, by Capt. William F. Russell.  The company entered service March 20, 1862 and left for Washington, D. C. in April.  They served with the 1st Regiment of Sharpshooters until the end of May when they were officially attached to the 1st Minnesota Regiment, where they became an 11th  company, sometimes referred to as Company "L".  They remained with the First Minnesota until the fall of 1863 participating in all of its major battles including Fair Oaks, Antietam and Gettysburg.  In November, 1863 the company was assigned as headquarters provost guard for 2nd Division 2nd Army Corps. They remained with the 2nd Division through the major battles of the Army of the Potomac in 1864, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor and finally the siege of Petersburg.  The company was formally mustered out on March 19. 1865 near Petersburg though a number of its men reenlisted with the 1st Minnesota Battalion.  

The Most Dangerous Set of Men, by Richard Pindell.
In Civil War Times Illustrated. Vol. 32, no. 3 (July/Aug. 1993).
MNHS call number: E461 .C562 v.32:3

Narrative of the Second Company of Sharpshooters, by Josiah Blodgett Chaney. 
Minnesota in the Civil and Indian wars, 1861-1865, v. 1, p. [513]-518.
MNHS call number: E515.5 1stC

History of First Company Sharpshooters of Minnesota
Compiled for History of Minnesota Troops by A. Wright. F. Peteler. Minneapolis, Oct. 15, 1889."--P. 10.
MNHS call number: E492.7 .W94

[Letter] 1864 July [to] Joseph S. Alldritt, Excelsior, Minnesota
Letter from Edwin Alldritt, Private of Company A, 2nd U. S. Sharpshooters Regiment, to Joseph S. Alldritt, Excelsior, Minnesota. The eight-page letter, titled Memoranda of July 1864, is a day-by-day account of Alldritt’s experience in Berdan’s Regiment, including details of skirmishes and the Battle of the Crater in Petersburg, Virginia.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P2739).

Owen Evans Letters, 1862-1863
Evans, a member of the Minnesota Sharpshooters, describes troop movements by the Army of the Potomac in Virginia (March 1862, December 1863) and Civil War battles near Fredericksburg (May 1862).
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P240).

Company A Records, 1861-1865
Copies of regimental orders; lists of officers; register of men transferred, discharged, and deceased; and morning reports of the company.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (BG4/.U587/2nd A). 

Joseph C. Dickey and Family Papers, 1860-1935
The Civil War letters of Joseph Dickey contain descriptive information on camp life, illnesses, army food and quarters, comments on the war and its military leadership, and on battles and skirmishes. Dickey was stationed in Washington, D.C., and in various areas in Maryland and Virginia. One letter (Nov. 23, 1862) describes the battle of Antietam in detail. There are only a few letters written in 1865, and they describe the last battles near Richmond, Virginia.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P1685). 

G. Merrill Dwelle and Family Papers, 1835-1916
Correspondence, genealogical notes, and memorabilia of the Dwelle family, primarily concerning Merrill’s service in the Civil and Dakota wars with the Second Company, Minnesota Sharpshooters (1861-1863) and the Third Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery (1863-1866). Dwelle’s letters and a diary for these years give considerable information on campaigns of the Second Company in Virginia and Maryland; his stay in a hospital near Frederick, Md. (1862-1863); and army life, marches, and battles of the Third Battery during the Sully and Sibley expeditions against the Dakota Indians (1863-1864).
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (A/.D989). 

Mahlon Black Papers, 1841-1905
Service records of an officer in the Second company of Minnesota sharpshooters.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P3046). 

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