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Minnesota sent some 25,000 men to fight for the Union during the Civil War. Some of these soldiers faced heated combat at Shiloh, Gettysburg, and Missionary Ridge, while others had relatively peaceful - though still vital - duty guarding railroads in Kentucky and Tennessee. Many also took part in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, fought here on Minnesota soil.
The Minnesota Historical Society houses a diverse and surprisingly rich collection of information on the American Civil War. The Society was already an active collecting institution when the war began in 1861, so it was a logical repository for both personal and government documents.
Many letters, diaries and reminiscences found their way into the collections over the years. More recently, official state records, particularly those of the governor and the adjutant general, have been added. In addition to these unpublished resources, the Society has an extensive collection of published primary and secondary sources—including regimental histories, published diaries, and official sources—many dating from the years just after the war.
The diversity of the materials and the many ways in which they came to the Society over the past century create challenges for researchers. This guide is meant to give you a start and to point out some of the strengths and weaknesses of our collections.