Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Civil War History Forum

This past weekend, I was able to attend a Civil War presentation at the Fillmore County Historical Society Museum in Fountain, MN. There were two Civil War re-enactors and another historian there to talk about the role that MN Volunteers and particularly those from Southeast Minnesota.

Each man talked about a different group or individual that had ties to this part of the state. I learned a lot of interesting facts.

1. In the 1860 census, when MN was just two years old as a state, just over 25,000 white males between the ages of 16-39 lived in the state. Over the course of the Civil War, MN sent over 24,000 volunteers to the Union Army. By percentage, MN sent the more soldiers than any other state, and they sent the first volunteers when Abraham Lincoln put out the call. The First Minnesota turned the tide at Gettysburg.

2. The city of Chatfield, MN lost more men in a single engagement on a single day than any single town in Minnesota. Chatfield lost 19 men at the battle of Redwood Ferry near the Lower Sioux Indian Reservation, August 18th, 1862.

3. Minnesota is the only state to fight two civil wars at the same time. While the eyes of the nation were turned to the war in the South, the Sioux Indians--pushed to the limits by starvation and broken treaties--launched attackes against whites in southwest Minnesota. More than 400 settlers were killed, and the Indian Wars of the Great Plains began.

One of the men who spoke was Michael Eckers (You can find his website HERE.) He was terrific! One thing he said was that he loved coming to speak to a group who was there by choice because of their interest in history. A lot of his speaking engagements are in schools where he has a captive audience, but they are usually convinced history is a druge and a bore. History a bore??? Anathema!

After the presentation, I got to see the sword of Captain Judson Bishop, who led his troops in battle at Chickamauga in Georgia. Three days after the battle (where Union troops lost over 300 soldiers) Capt. Bishop wrote to his sister that he has survived the battle unscathed, but that his sword scabbard had taken two direct minie ball hits. I got to put my fingers into the dents on the scabbard and really experience history. How cool is that?

This is a picture of Judson. Didn't he have awesome hair? LOL!

I love talking history with people who are passionate about history.

How about you? Do you love history? If not, what subject do you like best?

Oh, and here's a bonus odd fact about the Civil War. Did you know that Denmark has the most American Civil War Re-enactors per capita than any other country in the world? What's up with that, Danes?


  1. Love history. My town sometimes participates in CW re-enactments. The troops bivouac in farmers' fields around town. Driving you'll see signs pointing the way North ---> or South ---> Capt. Bishop was a right good lookin' fella.

  2. I'm not a history buff, sorry! But I do love reading historical romances and learning about historical facts through them. Just can't handle reading a history book for the life of me, although I must say the Bible always makes me think historically!

    I found it interesting this year while judging the historical romance category. I found myself googling a lot to confirm that certain things in the entries were in fact authentic to that era. Man that set of entries took a long time to do as google worked hard for me. Have a new appreciate for historical romance writers, always knew they had to do far more research than I have to with writing contemporary, but wow, you guys really do have your hands full!

    Going to Chapters today to see if they carry Heartsong Presents. I'm hoping so!

  3. I wouldn't say I love history but I do find facts like this intriguing. You crack me up! Seems like you're always going to stuff like this :)

  4. I love research and learning cool facts such as those you shared in your post. What's even more fun is figuring out how to work some of them into my stories without boring the readers.

    That's some do Judson had. =)

  5. I never liked history too much until I taught it for five years in a Christian high school. Then it came alive for me, as I tried to make it fun for teens. And...

    The Civil War era is my favorite time period in U.S. History!

    So glad you got to take this "field trip."

    I think Danes must like to fight!LOL!

  6. One of my sons is a super history buff. Because of him I've digested many an odd fact. ;)

  7. Ha! I love his hair. Sounds like a really great presentation.

    I've been on a Civil War kick, too. I think I had to get close to 40 to have the maturity to truly appreciate Civil War history. It's not for kids, that's for sure. Too bloody and sad. My friend just loaned me Shelby Foote's three volume history. I will have to sample it in little pieces, as I don't have time for 2000 pages right now!

  8. CJ, that is too funny. How "South" can you be in New England? LOL

    Eileen, I love to learn my history by reading novels, but I'm like you. If it is fiction, I double-check the facts before believing it.

    Jessica, I love going to museums and history forums. I always learn something new, and that is so addicting to me. :)

  9. Keli, I do the same thing, always trying to imagine a fictional context for the facts. I'm always wondering about what the people who lived those events were thinking and feeling.

    Jeanette, maybe that's it. The Danes just like to fight. Or dress up. :)

    Tana, yay for history-loving offspring! I love to hear about youngsters with an appreciation and interest in history. I heard from a professor of history that top corporations in the US are recruiting history majors for leadership positions. Learning from the past is a great skill for managing the future.

  10. Rosslyn, Shelby Foote! I have long wanted to read that 3 vol. set. But you're right 2K pages at one whack...not so much. I would need to take it in shorter doses so I could digest it and keep everything in order in my head.