Archive for July 2nd, 2011

1st Minnesota Infantry (4)

On July 2, 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg was in its second day, and the Army of the Potomac was desperately holding to its ground, trying to prevent a rout like the one the previous day that had driven them through the town in panicked retreat. The Union line collapsed under bloody fighting in the Peach Orchard, and Confederates were pressing hard on the lines on Cemetery Ridge. When Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, Commander of the Second Corps, looked for reinforcements to throw against the advancing Confederate troops, only the 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment was immediately available.  Knowing the cost would be dear, Hancock ordered a charge, and the Minnesotans fixed bayonets and marched double quick down the hill against a force that was estimated to be 4 times larger than their own.

1st Minnesota Infantry

Every man realized in an instant what that order meant – death or wounds to us all, the sacrifice of a regiment to gain a few minutes’ time…
-Lieut. William Lochren, 1st Minnesota Infantry

1st Minnesota Infantry (5)

Two hundred and sixty-two men charged. 215 fell as casualties, forty of those dead and never to rise again. The 82% casualty rate brought the 1st Minnesota an unfortunate recognition: a number of scholars have concluded it was the highest percentage loss of men to a Union regiment in the Battle of Gettysburg and the war. The sacrifice of the 1st Minnesota achieved its goal of buying the Union time to bring up reinforcements and strengthen the line.

1st Minnesota Infantry (3)

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