The Second Minnesota Infantry Regiment and Its Role in the Civil War
The famous 2nd Minnesota Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment that served in the Union Army during the American Civil War.
Formation and Muster:
The 2nd Minnesota Infantry Regiment was formed at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, and mustered in by firms for three years of service commencing June 26, 1861, under Colonel Horatio P. Van Cleve’s command. Companies A and B mustered on June 26, 1861; Companies D and E mustered on July 5, 1861; Companies F and G mustered on July 8, 1861. And Company K mustered on August 23, 1861.
The regiment was assigned to the following brigades and divisions during the Civil War:
- L. McCook’s Brigade, Army of Ohio, to December 1861.
- 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Army of Ohio, to September 1862.
- 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, III Corps, Army of Ohio, to November 1862.
- 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, Center, XIV Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to January 1863.
- 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, XIV Corps, to October 1863.
- 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, XIV Corps, to June 1865.
- 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, XIV Corps, to July 1865.
- Muster Out:
- The 2nd Minnesota Infantry mustered out of service on July 11, 1865.
Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Major Battles and Contributions:
- Battle of Mill Springs: The regiment fought in its first battle on January 19, 1862, at Mill Springs, Kentucky.
- Battle of Perryville: The regiment played a minor role in the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, on October 8, 1862.
- Battle of Chickamauga: The regiment played a significant role in the Battle of Chickamauga on September 19-20, 1863, holding their position in the face of repeated attacks and helping to delay the Confederates.
- Battle of Missionary Ridge: The regiment played a crucial role on November 24, 1863, capturing two cannons and contributing to a stunning Union victory.
- Atlanta Campaign: The regiment participated in the Atlanta Campaign in 1864.
- Dakota War of 1862: The regiment also played a role in the Dakota War of 1862, including the Battle of Wood Lake.
- On Wednesday afternoon, November 25, 1863, the Second Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment engaged during one of the Civil War’s extremely dramatic assaults. They had been fighting the Battle of Missionary Ridge, one of many essential battles they were involved in during their two decades of service in the Union Army. This battle would end up being the most important in the history of this regiment.
Patriotism in Minnesota went high level when the Civil War started in the spring of 1861. More men answered the call to arms compared to the youthful state needed. These additional men did not have long to wait. The demand for other troops arrived in June 1861, and by August 2, Minnesota Volunteers Infantry was marshaled into federal service. The first six companies garrisoned forts all through the country while the rest of the regiment trained and assembled in Fort Snelling. By early October, the whole regiment gathered at Fort Snelling and was ready for the battle.
On October 14, excited crowds gathered as Colonel H. P. Van Cleve paraded his Second Minnesota through the streets of St. Paul. Then the regiment departed for Louisville, Kentucky, in which the guys became part of the Army of Ohio.
The regiment’s first test of conflict came on January 19, 1862, at Mill Springs’s battle (Logan’s Crossroads), Kentucky. During the battle, the Second took place against a rail fence as a Confederate line approached through the mist and fog. The Minnesotans didn’t find the enemy troops lying closer, on the floor just on the other side of the fence. Hand-to-hand fighting resulted, together with the Second gaining the upper hand. Their fight in the fence was a portion of the first critical Union triumph in the west.
For the following eighteen months, the Second campaigned mostly in the territories of Kentucky and Tennessee. The regiment participated in a minor role at the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, on October 8, 1862. In November, the guys joined the Union Army of the Cumberland.
From the late summer of 1863, the effort to control Chattanooga And eastern Tennessee led to some of the war’s heaviest fighting. On September 19-20, Second Minnesota conflicted together with Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee at the Battle of Chickamauga in northern Georgia. On the second calendar day of the battle, a federal strategic error caused a Confederate breakthrough, which spanned half of the Union army from the area. Second, Minnesota and its companions took up a defending spot to postpone the Confederates. They held their place in the face of repeated attacks from mid-afternoon until dusk. This courageous defense gained their corps commander, Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, the nickname “the Rock of Chickamauga.” The conflict was a Confederate triumph.
The Federals withdrew to Chattanooga, and Bragg’s Army took Position on the town’s peaks, such as Lookout Mountain southwest of town and Missionary Ridge to the east. In mid-October, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker came west with a separation of the Union Army of the Potomac. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant came to assume overall control of the Union armed forces. He offered Gen. Thomas command of the Army of the Cumberland. In mid-November, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman came with his Union Army of Tennessee.
On November 24, 1863, Hooker’s armed forces assaulted and defeated the Confederates on Lookout Mountain. The following day, the Federals advanced on the critical Confederate line-up on top of Missionary Ridge. Gen. Grant offered the Army of the Cumberland a passive part in the center while Hooker’s and Sherman’s troops were ready to do all of the actual fighting on the edges. These attacks were delayed, and Thomas’s men were ordered to attack the Confederate works’ first line. Second, Minnesota led its Brigade in catching this Spot. Soon afterward, Gen. Grant observed in amazement as the Cumberland’s full Army, without orders, attacked the primary Rebel line beneath the ridge. A stunning Union success resulted. The Minnesotans captured two cannons in the climax of the attack.
In 1864 Second Minnesota undertook part in the Atlanta Campaign and trooped with Sherman to the ocean. At the end of the war, the Second returned to Minnesota and was released on July 20, 1865. They had won their place In antiquity at Chickamauga and at the storming of Missionary Ridge.
Battle of Wood Lake
The Battle of Wood Lake in MN Yellow Medicine County was a struggle from the Dakota War of 1862 in the month of September. Through that time, in the Dakota War of 1862, the Sioux offensive had slowed substantially, and the Minnesota forces were starting to implement a strategy articulated by Governor Alexander Ramsey. Ramsey’s method, implemented by Colonel Henry Hastings Sibley and frontier commander Charles Eugene Flandrau, had the intentions to free European-American settlers held captive by the Indians and also to”exterminate” or push the Dakota” forever beyond the boundaries of this state.”
In early September, Sibley tried to negotiate a Settlement with Chief Little Crow, believing that the Dakota has to be growing tired of the war. Little Crow returned with an explanation of why the Indians began the war and hinted that he would consider discussions about some United States prisoners being held captive. Sibley reacted by refusing to negotiate and demanding Little Crow’s surrender. Little Crow declined to concede, and the terms were set for another battle.
Sibley’s first trip from Fort Snelling, which Comprised 1400 troops, took almost nine days to reach Fort Ridgely. In Fort Ridgely, Sibley postponed further, to the frustration of settlers and others who desired quick action versus the Indian uprising. Mrs. Jane Grey Swisshelm, a St. Cloud newspaper editor, penned, “For God’s sake, set some live man in command of the force versus the Sioux & let Sibley have 100 guys or thereabout for his undertaker’s corpse.” The postponement has been caused, in part, by the lack of expertise of the recruits as well as the lack of necessary supplies, like firearms, ammunition, and horses. These supplies finally attained Sibley’s forces amongst September 11 and September 14. On September 19, the troops started their march up the Minnesota River valley.
The soldiers camped east of Lone Tree or Battle Lake, a little Lake depleted by a creek flowing northeast to the Minnesota River, about five miles north of Echo, Minnesota. Since Sibley’s guide thought the lake was Wood Lake (about three and a half kilometers to the west), the conflict is misnamed. Third Minnesota camped across the crest south of the creek, and sixth Minnesota was adjacent to the little lake. Seventh Minnesota was in the ideal rear supporting the creek’s ravine. Trenches partially enclosed all units along with the wagon train and artillery.
Little Crow intended to ambush the soldiers the next morning. As strung out across the street, the troops are in a long, poorly defended column if they were marching. In the morning, a few soldiers in the Third Minnesota regiment in several wagons left camp early searching for food by the Upper Sioux Agency near present-day Rock Valle Church. A few of the wagons weren’t on the street and were led straight at several Little Crow’s guys as they lay in the grass; they needed to get up and fire. This began the fight, and veteran troops from the Third Regiment recently returned from fighting Confederates from the south, and ran to help their comrades, aided by the Renville Rangers. They advanced about a half-mile from the camp before both flanks were jeopardized. Sibley ordered Lt. Colonel William R. Marshall, along with six companies and an artillery piece, to progress and repel the Indians on the right flank. Major Robert N. McLaren directed his men around the lake to defeat an attempted flanking attack on the line’s left end. The battle took about two hours, during which a cannonball killed Chief Mankato.
The battle was a decisive victory for America, with heavy casualties inflicted on the Dakota. For his role in the struggle, Sibley received a promotion to Brigadier General. Due to the high losses and Chief Mankato’s death, the conflict was fought by the Sioux in the uprising. Subsequently, the influence of the pacifist chiefs increased. They arranged for the launch of European Americans held captive by the Sioux and the surrender of many of the Dakota in Camp Release.
Because of the shortage of troops in Minnesota during the Dakota War of 1862, units were frequently dispatched in a piecemeal fashion when they could be shaped. A few companies and detachments were assigned to other regiments. Units participating include the 3rd Minnesota Infantry, 6th Minnesota Infantry, 7th Minnesota Infantry, 9th Minnesota Infantry, 10th Minnesota Infantry, Citizen Soldier components, and Militia as the”Renville Rangers,” and an artillery unit with a 6-pound weapon.
In 2010 the battle website was registered on the National Register of Historic Sites as the Battlefield of Wood Lake Historic District for having State-level significance under Archaeology/Historic-Aboriginal, Archaeology/Historic-Non-Aboriginal, Ethnic Heritage/Native American, and Military. It was elected as the final engagement of the Dakota War of 1862, a watershed period for Minnesota and the Dakota people. For Embodying early commemoration efforts of 1907–1910, culminating in the rock monument. The Civil War Trust (a branch of the American Battlefield Trust) And its partners have obtained and maintained 240 acres of the Wood Lake battlefield.
The Second Minnesota Infantry Regiment played a significant role in the Civil War, participating in several major battles and campaigns. Its involvement in the Dakota War of 1862 also demonstrated the regiment’s versatility and impact beyond the traditional Civil War battles. The preservation of battlefields such as the Battle of Wood Lake ensures that the sacrifices and contributions of the regiment and its soldiers are not forgotten.