Minnesota delegation heads to Gettysburg battlefield

BY JONATHAN YOUNG - Sun Post Newspapers

A row of men dressed in Union-blue Civil War uniforms stood at attention in the Governor’s Reception Room at the Minnesota State Capitol June 25, while Gov. Mark Dayton solemnly seated himself at a desk and picked up a pen.

Gov. Mark Dayton presents a commemorative flag to Civil War re-enactor 1st Sgt. Jefferson Spilman, of Richfield, during a June 25 ceremony at the State Capitol.

Gov. Mark Dayton presents a commemorative flag to Civil War re-enactor 1st Sgt. Jefferson Spilman, of Richfield, during a June 25 ceremony at the State Capitol.

Gov. Mark Dayton signs a proclamation declaring Minnesota Courage at Gettysburg Recogntion Day during a June 25 ceremony at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Gov. Mark Dayton signs a proclamation declaring Minnesota Courage at Gettysburg Recogntion Day during a June 25 ceremony at the Minnesota State Capitol.

After signing the proclamation before him, he rose, and one of the men in uniform raised a bugle to his lips. As the music played, Dayton turned, shook the hand of 1st Sgt. Jefferson Spilman, of Richfield, and handed him a commemorative flag.

The signing ceremony marked the governor’s proclamation of July 2, 2013, as “Minnesota Courage at Gettysburg Recognition Day” and served as the official send-off for a delegation of Minnesotans traveling to Pennsylvania to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle.

Spilman and his fellow soldiers, members of the 1st Minnesota Regiment of Civil War re-enactors, were part of the delegation. Other delegates included elected officials, members of the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force and private citizens interested in history.

During the send-off ceremony, Dayton recalled the valor of the 1st Minnesota Regiment, which was ordered July 2, 1863, to charge into a situation where it was vastly outnumbered in order to buy a few minutes of time for Gen. Hancock to move troops into position. Dayton asked Minnesotans to pause on the 150th anniversary of the charge and think about its meaning.

“May we all, on that day, take a moment to reflect on the heroism, the sacrifices, and use that as a model for our own endeavors in the years ahead,” he said.

The June 25 send-off marked the beginning of a series of commemorative events in Minnesota and Pennsylvania scheduled for the following week and a half.

Thirty-nine members of the Minnesota delegation to Gettysburg departed the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul by bus June 30. While in Pennsylania July 1-3, the delegation participated in speeches, tours and ceremonies to honor the role Minnesotans played in the pivotal battle. The activities were organized by the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force and the Minnesota Historical Society. For more coverage and photos of the week’s events in Gettysburg, go to ECMgettysburg150.
wordpress.com and check next week’s paper.

Back in St. Paul, the Minnesota History Center hosted a lecture by historian Richard Moe July 1 and a night of music to honor the fallen July 2. The James J. Hill House in St. Paul hosted an event called “Surviving the Civil War” July 3.

Thursday, July 4, is the Gettysburg Anniversary Commemoration Family Day at the History Center, located at 345 W. Kellogg Blvd. The event is noon to 4 p.m. and includes re-enactors, dance, ice cream, an 1860s fashion showcase and more. The event is included in the price of History Center admission, which is $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and college students, and $6 for children ages 6-17. For more information, visit minnesotahistorycenter.org.

Contact Jonathan Young at jonathan.young@ecm-inc.com

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