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First Minnesota Light Artillery- Civil War : Overview

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"Narrative of the First Battery of Light Artillery," by Lieutenant Henry S. Hurter.
Chapter in Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, vol. 1, pp. 640-649; followed by the Roster of the First Battery, pp. 650-653. 
St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2005. 
MNHS call number: Reading Room E 515 .M66 2005

"Light Artillery," In Minnesota in the Civil War: An Illustrated Historyby Kenneth Carley, pp. 104-105.
St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2000. 
MNHS call number: Reading Room E 515 .C2 2000, also available for purchase.

William Z. Clayton Papers, 1862-1946. 
 Includes Captain Clayton's letters to his family documenting his experiences and the role of the battery during the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, the siege of Vicksburg and the Atlanta Campaign. Also included are a copy of the muster-out roll for the battery and a photograph of the battery's battle flag. 
MNHS call number: See finding aid in the library (P2199).

James C. Christie and Family Papers, 1823-1949.
The letters of Thomas Christie and William Christie to their father and siblings. Articulate and thoughtful observers of the war, the brothers' letters provide detailed and colorful descriptions of Army life and combat experiences as well as thoughtful reflections on the war and its meaning. 
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid, also available on microfilm (M539).
Selected letters are also viewable online on the Civil War Letters of the Christie Family.


Much has been written about the First Minnesota Infantry and its well-deserved place in Civil War history, but the experience of that famous unit was not typical. The great majority of Minnesota soldiers served in the Western theatre of the war taking part in battles from Mill Springs, Kentucky, to Sherman's March through Georgia and the Carolinas.

One of the best examples of Minnesota units serving in the West was the 1st Minnesota Light Artillery. Formed in the fall of 1861, the battery saw its first action at the bloody battle of Shiloh, where they played an important part in the defense of the "Hornets' Nest". They saw more hard fighting at Corinth, Mississippi, and as part of the Army of the Tennessee, they endured the long campaign to capture Vicksburg. Later the battery joined General Sherman's forces in the Atlanta Campaign and his famous "March to the Sea." The Minnesotans continued with Sherman's forces through the Carolinas to the final battle of the war at Bentonville, North Carolina. They also participated in the Grand Review of the major Union armies in Washington, D.C., following the war's end.

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