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In Their Own Words: The Civil War As Seen by Washington County Soldiers
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Company B of the First Minnesota Volunteer Regiment, composed of 101 men from Washington County, was sworn iinto the Army of the United States on the morning of April 29, 1861. The regular army on that day counted about 14,600 men. It was the first regiment to answer Lincoln’s call for volunteers to defend the United States.
By May of 1865, four years later, over 2.9 million men had enlisted in the Union Army. More than 618,000 of them died, by best estimates, some on the battlefield, some later of their wounds, and even more of disease.
Fifty Unions regiments suffered more than half their men killed or wounded in a single battle, and at least 14 lost more than two-thirds. In the famed charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War, casualties were about 37 percent; the First Minnesota lost 82 percent at Gettysburg.
None of the men who took the oath that April could have imagined this.
This is the story, in their own words, of some of those soldiers. There is a teenage private, adn there is a colonel, a carpenter and a painter, those who came back and those who didn’t. None of them had seen anything like this war, but here is the way they saw it as it happened to them.