Minnesota, as a State, was only three years old when Alexander Ramsey, our first governor happened to be in Washington lobbying for railroad expansion across the Big River, when the shots at Fort Sumter rang out. He immediately rushed to the War Department when the telegraphed news became known throughout the city. It was there that he was to be the first governor to volunteer troops to rush to the defense of the nation’s capital. The First Minnesota Volunteer Regiment was thus there from the beginning at Bull Run to Gettysburg and beyond. Today, at the Wasiojas Civil War Days, we would see a small reenactment of that regiments decisive role in the pivotal battle of the Civil War.
A potentially fatal crack had developed in the Unions defensive line as several thousand screaming rebels rush through the opening. In reserve behind the battle line the 1st Minnesota Volunteers were approached by General Hancock "who are these troops?" "Minnesota 1st" their leader Colonel Colville replied. With that Hancock pointed down the slope towards the onrushing enemy troops and ordered a charge. Fixing bayonets and knowing the attack was suicidal but a few moments relief might give Hancock time to shore up the defense they did as order. It worked but at a high cost indeed. Of some four hundred men only 40 escaped unscathed. It was the highest single casualty rare of any major unit in the Civil War.
We joined the crowd gathering in the football stands along the highway looking toward a farmstead, woods and a valley to the south.