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First Minnesota Light Artillery- Civil War : Primary Sources: Archives & Records


Joseph M. Allen Letters, 1862-1863. 
Lt. Allen's letters describe the battery's training and early actions, particularly the battle of Corinth. Other letters describe his death from dysentery in 1863.
MNHS call number: See finding aid in the library (P1465).

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 the capture of Savannah.
MNHS call number: See finding aid in the library (A/.C514).

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).

Civil War Diary, 1862-1895
Typed transcription of a diary written by Thomas Gordon of Winona, Minnesota, covering the years 1862-1865, while a private with the First Minnesota Light Artillery during the Civil War. Gordon eventually mustered out as a sergeant. Transcribed by Inez Gordon McPherson, 1979.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P2881). 

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.

Reuben Farnum Civil War Letters, 1864-1865. 
Letters from Farnum to his wife, Roxanna, describes his service with the Battery including the Atlanta campaign, Sherman's March through Georgia, and the army's march through South Carolina and North Carolina.
MNHS call number: P36

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. 
A photocopy of a typescript manuscript based on the letters and diary of Private Gross, from the Vicksburg campaign through the end of the war. 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 finding aid in the library (P2323).

Emil Munch Papers, 1832 - 1887. 
Correspondence and papers relating to the Civil War service of Captain Munch, the battery's first commanding officer. 
MNHS call number: See finding aid in the library (P57).

Government Records

Minnesota. Office of the Adjutant General. 

  • Annual and Biennial Reports, 1860-2017. 
    The reports contain detailed returns from Minnesota units in the field, including muster rolls, casualty lists, and general and specific orders. 
    MNHS call numberDigital Finding Aid
  • Civil War Muster Rolls, 1861-1865. 
    Muster-in, muster-out, and descriptive rolls for Minnesota volunteer units. Some rolls are for individuals, others for the entire battery. They also include "under-cooks of African descent." 
    MNHS call number: See finding aid in the library (Adjutant General: Civil War Regimental Muster Rolls: Minnesota Light Artillery Battery 1).
  • Military Service Records, Civil War, 1861-1915. 
    These records include official communications between units in the field and the Minnesota Adjutant General. They include information on casualties, resignations, appointments, and desertions, as well as action reports. 
    MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Minnesota. Governor.
This archives series includes Appointments and Correspondence of the Governor relating to Minnesota units. These files may contain information on the appointment of officers, as well as official reports from unit commanders. Letters from Federal officials concerning Minnesota units may be found here as well.

  • Records of Governor Alexander Ramsey, 1860-1863.
    Includes accounting records; records concerning both civil and military appointments; letters received; records relating to pardons and other criminal matters; and petitions. There is substantial documentation of military affairs, especially concerning Minnesota regiments in the Civil War, and the Dakota Wars of 1862-1863. 
    MNHS call numberDigital Finding Aid
  • Records of Governor Henry A. Swift, 1863-1864.
    Records relating to civil and military appointments; letters received; attorney general’s opinions; records relating to pardons; and reports of the state prison. Most of the records appear to concern either the Dakota Wars of 1862-1863 or Minnesota regiments in the Civil War. 
    MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid
  • Records of Governor Stephen Miller, 1864-1865.
    Includes records relating to civil and military appointments; letters received; attorney general’s opinions; and records relating to pardons. Matters relating to the Civil War predominate.
    MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

United States. Army.

  • Minnesota Light Artillery Battery, 1st. Company Morning Reports and Record, 1861 Dec.-1865 June.
    This manuscript collection contains the official daily returns of the battery listing the number of men sick, wounded, missing or away on leave. The record also includes notes on the battery's movement and specific information on individual soldiers. 
    MNHS call number: See finding aid in the library (P1903).
  • Muster Rolls and Historical Data, 1864-1906.
    Muster rolls (1864-1865), including the battery's muster-out roll with descriptions of each individual's place of enlistment and a list of men who died, with cause and place of death. There are separate listings of supernumeraries—cooks, teamsters, etc.—including escaped slaves. Other records include an anotated map of the battle of Shiloh, showing the battery's locations during the battle, information relating to post-war reunions (1891-1906) and a 4-page historical sketch of the battery by Robert Monahan, a descendant of the Christie brothers. 
    MNHS call number: See finding aid in the library (P1257).

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