2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
The Battle of Gettysburg - Thursday July 2, 1863
The First Minnesota Infantry
"The sacrifice of the regiment, to gain a few minutes' time"

1st Minnesota Monument
"...but the First Minnesota had never deserted any post, had never retired without orders; and, desperate as the situation seemed, and as it was, the regiment stood firm against whatever might come. Just then Hancock, with a single aide, rode up at full speed, and for a moment vainly endeavored to rally Sickles's retreating forces. Reserves had been sent for, but were too far away to hope to reach the critical position until it should be occupied by the enemy, unless that enemy were stopped. Quickly leaving the fugitives, Hancock spurred to where we stood, calling out as he reached us, "What regiment is this?" "First Minnesota," replied Colvill. "Charge those lines!" commanded Hancock. Every man realized in an instant what that order meant--death or wounds to us all, the sacrifice of the regiment, to gain a few minutes' time and save the position. And every man saw and accepted the necessity for the sacrifice; and in a moment, responding to Colvill's rapid orders, the regiment, in perfect line, with arms, at "right shoulder, shift," was sweeping down the slope directly upon the enemy's centre. No hesitation, no stopping to fire, though the men fell fast at every stride before the concentrated fire of the whole Confederate force, directed upon us as soon as the movement was observed. Silently, without orders, and almost from the start, "double-quick" had changed to utmost speed, for in utmost speed lay the only hope that any of us could pass through that storm of lead and strike the enemy. Monument to the 1st Minnesota "Charge!" shouted Colvill as we neared the first line, and with leveled bayonets, at full speed, we rushed upon it, fortunately, as it was slightly disordered in crossing a dry brook. The men were never made who will stand against leveled bayonets coming with such momentum and evident desperation. The first line broke in our front as we reached it, and rushed back through the second line, stopping the whole advance. We then poured in our first fire, and availing ourselves of such shelter as the low bank of the dry brook afforded, held the entire force at bay for a considerable time, and until our reserves appeared on the ridge we had left. Had the enemy rallied quickly to a countercharge, its overwhelming numbers would have crushed us in a moment, and we would have effected but a slight pause in its advance. But the ferocity of our onset seemed to paralyze them for a time, and though they poured in a terrible and continuous fire from the front and enveloping flanks, they kept at a respectful distance from our bayonets, until, before the added fire of our fresh reserves, they began to retire and we were ordered back.

1st Minnesota Monument near the Copse of TreesWhat Hancock had given us to do was done thoroughly. The regiment had stopped the enemy, held back its mighty force, and saved the position, and probably that battle-field. But at what a sacrifice! Nearly every officer was dead, or lay weltering with bloody wounds--our gallant colonel and every field-officer among them. Of the two hundred and sixty-two men who made the charge, two hundred and fifteen lay upon the field, struck down by Rebel bullets; forty-seven men were still in line, and not a man was missing. The annals of war contain no parallel to this charge. In its desperate valor, complete execution, successful result, and in its sacrifice of men in proportion to the number engaged, authentic history has no record with which it can be compared."

Lieutenant William Lochren, 1st MN Infantry
The First Minnesota at Gettysburg,
"Glimpses of the Nation's Struggle."
A Series of Papers Read Before the
Minnesota Commandery of the
Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.
1887-1889 Vol 3., St. Paul: D.D. Merril Co. 1893.

1st Minnesota Urn in National CemeteryAside from wooded markers and other impromptu memorials, the first stone monument erected on the Gettysburg Battlefield still watches over the dead of the great state of Minnesota. This marble urn, set in 1867 in the Minnesota section of the Gettysburg National Cemetery, honors the dead of the only Minnesota regiment to serve during the Battle of Gettysburg. In front of the urn, a single stone notes the count of 52 Minnesota dead who share this ground with over 3,500 other soldiers from the American Civil War.