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Tweeting the Civil War

Follow Minnesotans as they tweet about their experiences during the Civil War in real-time, 150 years later.

Through diaries, letters and other first-hand accounts, learn about the real life struggles of soldiers, their families and others caught up in the war.

Follow all the characters at @MNCivilWar or choose individuals to follow. Additional characters will be added as the story unfolds.

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Events

The reenactment began on Jan. 1, 2013, the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and continues to the anniversary of the end of the Civil War in 2015. The following major events will be tweeted:

1863 (2013)
  • Jan. 1, 1863
    Emancipation Proclamation
  • April 30-May 6, 1863
    Chancellorsville
  • May 19-July 4, 1863
    Vicksburg
  • July 1-3, 1863
    Gettysburg
  • July 13-16, 1863
    New York Draft Riots
  • Sept. 18-20, 1863
    Chickamauga
  • Nov. 23-25, 1863
    Chattanooga
1864 (2014)
  • May 1-Sept. 2, 1864
    Atlanta
  • Nov. 15-Dec. 21, 1864
    March to the Sea
  • Dec. 15-16, 1864
    Nashville
1865 (2015)
  • Feb.-March 1865
    Carolinas Campaign
  • Apr. 9, 1865
    Lee’s Surrender
  • Apr. 14-15 1865
    Lincoln’s Assassination
  • Apr. 18, 1865
    Johnston's Surrender
 
 

Historical Characters

James Madison Bowler Image
Husband. Father. Soldier. Serving in 3rd MN Volunteer Regiment and 113th U.S. Colored Infantry. Miss my wife @LizzieBowler and daughter in Nininger, MN. Based on letters compiled in Go If You Think It Your Duty by Andrea R. Foroughi.

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James Madison Bowler was born in Lee, Maine on Jan. 10, 1838. Before serving in the Third Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment and the 113th U.S. Colored Infantry, the 23 year old taught school in Nininger City, Minnesota where he met 20 year old Elizabeth ("Lizzie") Caleff. During the Civil War he wrote to Lizzie about his experiences as a soldier. After the war, they settled in Bird Island, Minnesota and took up farming. He later became the state dairy commissioner and ran for lieutenant governor.
Elizabeth Caleff Bowler Image
Wife/Mother/Daughter. Keeping the home fires burning in MN while my hubby @MadisonBowler fights. I’d rather have a husband at home than a pen pal. Based on letters compiled in Go If You Think It Your Duty by Andrea R. Foroughi.

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Elizabeth Caleff Bowler was born on Sept. 9, 1840 on the east coast. Newlyweds "Lizzie" and James Madison Bowler corresponded during the four years of the Civil War while he fought with the Third Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment and she held down the fort in Nininger, Minnesota. According to Andrea R. Foroughi's book, Go if you Think it Your Duty, the Bowlers courted, married, became parents and bought a farm all within the backdrop of the Civil War. Afterward the war, Lizzie and Madison eventually settled in Bird Island where they raised eight children.
Isaac Taylor Image
Fighting next to my brother @HenryTaylorMN in the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry through thick and thin, even Gettysburg... Based on diary entries compiled in The Last Full Measure by Richard Moe.
 

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Isaac Taylor was born on Jan. 23, 1837 in Rowe, Massachusetts and grew up farming in Fulton County, Illinois. He graduated from an academy in Prairie City, Illinois. In 1858, after graduating from Burlington University in Iowa, he returned to Illinois to teach school. When his brother, Henry Taylor, joined the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Isaac took a teaching position in Morrison County, enlisting himself soon after. The brothers fought side by side.
Henry Taylor Image
School teacher from Morrison County, MN. Fighting alongside my brother @IsaacTaylorMN in the 1st MN Reg't. Based on diary entries compiled in The Last Full Measure by Richard Moe.
 

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Henry Taylor was born on Aug. 3, 1838 in Rowe, Massachusetts and grew up farming in Fulton County, Illinois. Like his brother Isaac, he graduated from an academy in Prairie City, Illinois and attended Burlington University in Iowa. Upon graduation in 1859, he took a teaching position in Morrison County, Minnesota. In 1861 he enlisted as a private in Company E of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Henry was promoted to sergeant on Jan. 1, 1863 and was mustered out after his three year enlistment. Ten months later he re-enlisted in Hancock's Veteran Corp. as a lieutenant. He fought alongside his brother, Isaac Taylor.
Matthew Marvin Image
Went from working as a clerk in Winona, MN to fighting the Confederates with the 1st MN Reg't. Based on diary entries compiled in The Last Full Measure by Richard Moe.
 

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Matthew Marvin was born on Sept. 21, 1838 in Connaston, New York. His family later moved to St. Charles, Illinois. He was 22 years old and working as a clerk in a Winona, Minnesota leather goods store when he enlisted as a private in Company K of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment on April 29, 1861. By end of war Matthew held rank of First Sergeant.
Charles Goddard Image
Lied about my age to join the 1st MN Reg't. Won't let a little thing like my age keep me in Winona! Based on diary entries compiled in The Last Full Measure by Richard Moe.
 

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Charles Goddard was born in Union County, Pennsylvania on May 14, 1845. In 1852, he moved to Winona, Minnesota. When he was only 16 years old, he enlisted as a private in Company K of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment on April 29, 1861. He served until mustered out on May 5, 1864. He returned to Winona to farm, but died of consumption on December 9, 1868 at the age of 23.
Edward Walker Image
Born in 1840 in Massachusetts; moved to Minnesota to be a machinist in Clearwater before serving as a corporal in Company D of the 1st Minnesota. Based on diary entries compiled in The Last Full Measure by Richard Moe.
 

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Edward Walker was born in 1840 in Massachusetts. He moved to Clearwater, Minnesota to work as a machinist before serving as a corporal in Company D of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
Robert Hickman Image
I escaped slavery in Missouri and led my group of Pilgrims to freedom in MN. One day I'll preach at the Pilgrim Baptist Church in St Paul we'll start together. The narrative in Hickman's tweets is based on modern secondary sources and newspaper accounts of the time.
 

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Born into slavery in Boone County Missouri in 1831, Hickman worked as a rail splitter and preacher before planning an escape to the North with his family. While Hickman could read and write, he left no written account of his life to quote directly in Twitter. There are conflicting accounts of certain dates and details in his life, but it is certain that Hickman brought a group of enslaved people calling themselves the ‘Pilgrims’ up the Mississippi River during the Civil War. They arrived in St Paul, where Hickman and his group soon founded Pilgrim Baptist, the first African American church in Minnesota. The narrative in Hickman's tweets is based on modern secondary sources and newspaper accounts of the time.
Jane Grey Swisshelm Image
Opinionated editor of the St. Cloud Democrat. Abolitionist. Calling it like I see it. Jane's tweets are based on her letters and newspaper articles.

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Jane Grey Swisshelm was born in Pennsylvania in 1815. Jane was a staunch abolitionist and a crusader for women's rights. In 1848 she started the Pittsburg Saturday paper, garnering a national following. In 1857 she left an unhappy marriage and moved to Saint Cloud, Minnesota with her daughter. There, she started the St. Cloud Visitor, then the St. Cloud Democrat. After the war, she traveled and eventually settled back in Pittsburg, where she died in 1884. Jane's tweets are based on her letters and newspaper articles.
Thomas Christie Image
Irish Born, Minnesota defending. Joined the 1st MN Light Artillery with my brother @WillChristieMN. Based on letters compiled in Brother of Mine by Hamp Smith.

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Thomas Christie was born on Jan. 21, 1843 in Sion Mills, County Tyrone, Ireland. Thomas moved to the United States in 1846, where he settled with his family on a farm in Clyman Township, Wisconsin. His father sent Thomas to help with his brother William's farm in Minnesota. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War he enlisted with William in the First Minnesota Light Artillery in Oct. 1861. After the war, Thomas surveyed land for the Winona and St. Peter Railroad Company near Winona, Minnesota and attended Beloit College. He married Carmelite Sarah Brewer in March 1872. He was a missionary and educator in Turkey from 1877 to 1920. Thomas died in California on May 25, 1921.
William Christie Image
Fighting the good fight for Minnesota in the 1st MN Light Artillery with my brother @TomChristieMN. Based on letters compiled in Brother of Mine by Hamp Smith.

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William Christie was born on Dec. 18, 1830 in Dundee, Scotland. William lived in Ireland for a short time before moving to the United States in 1846, where he settled with his family on a farm in Dodge County, Wisconsin. By 1856 he was farming in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War he sold the farm and enlisted with his brother, Thomas, in the First Minnesota Light Artillery in Oct. 1861. On Dec. 30, 1865, William married his cousin, Mary Bell Aimer and in Feb. 1866 he bought a farm near Saint Charles, Minnesota. He and Mary had 11 children, only seven of which reached adulthood. William died on Sept. 19, 1901.
Alfred Gales Image
Escaped a life of slavery in Arkansas; enlisted with the 3rd MN Reg't. as a cook. Once this war is over, I’ll start a new free life in Minnesota. Alfred's tweets are based on primary and secondary sources including Doug Larson's Minnesota History article "Private Alfred Gales: From Slavery to Freedom."

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Alfred Gales was born into slavery around 1838 in Raleigh, North Carolina. He worked at a plantation in Clarendon, Arkansas until he escaped and joined the Third Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment as a cook in Aug. 1863. After the war, he returned to Minnesota with the rest of the regiment to start a new life, including changing his name to Albert Miller. Miller settled in Saint Paul, worked as a whitewasher and married Narcissa Washington. His tweets are based on modern biographies and records of the time.
Edward Bassett Image
Born in Connecticut, moved to Morristown, MN in 1855 to farm. Served in Company G of the 1st MN Infantry Reg't and Battalion L of the 1st MN Heavy Artillery. Based on diary entries compiled in The Last Full Measure by Richard Moe.

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Edward Bassett was born in New Haven, Connecticut on Dec. 21, 1841. He moved to Morristown, Minnesota in 1855 to farm. In 1861, Edward enlisted as a private in Company G of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment on April 29, 1861. When he was mustered out after his three year enlistment, he re-enlisted in Battalion L of the First Minnesota Heavy Artillery.