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Many Civil War vets buried here

By Staff | May 22, 2011

A couple of years ago I wrote about a Civil War soldier from Faribault County and mentioned that he was buried in Riverside Cemetery in Blue Earth.

A Register reader sent me a note which thanked me for the story but also included some words of chastisement.

“I hope you don’t think he is the only Civil War veteran who is buried in the county,” she wrote. “There are others.”

Including, of course, one of her ancestors.

I wrote back to her and said I was just focusing on this one veteran’s story, but acknowledged there were more.

The truth was, I actually had no idea how many Civil War veterans are buried in Faribault County.

Turns out, there are a lot. Keep reading to find out the exact number.

Now, one would think that most of the soldiers in the ‘War Between the States’ came from areas such as New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania for the Union, and Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia for the Confederacy.

And, you would be right.

But, the relatively new state of Minnesota sent an unusually high percentage of its male population to go fight in the war.

In fact, 26,717 volunteers from the state enlisted and went to the war. Considering there were only 170,000 people listed as living in Minnesota during the war years of 1861-1865, that is a significant number.

The men were in 11 infantry units, five cavalry units and four artillery units.

They made a significant impact on the war. History shows the Minnesotans were a key to the Battle of Gettysburg, which turned out to be the key to the Union’s eventual victory.

In fact, the largest war memorial monument at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg is dedicated to a regiment from Minnesota.

They were ordered to charge against an overwhelming larger number of Confederate soldiers.

They knew it was necessary, but also knew the odds of any of them surviving were minimal, if not non-existent.

But, to a man, they followed the order.

Out of the 262 men who charged, 215 fell on the field of battle. The 47 left in the line never waivered and stood their ground.

They bought precious minutes for the Union officers to regroup their troops, and the tide of the battle turned.

Men from Faribault County served their country well during the war. A lot of local men.

There were 436 listed on the rolls for the Minnesota units which saw action in the Civil War.

According to Dave Hanson, the county’s Veterans Service Officer, there are 408 Civil War veterans buried in the cemeteries of Faribault County.

That is a much larger number than I had ever imagined.

All of these veterans have a grave marker – now that one for James Mead has finally been installed after a delay of 95 years.

Local history buff A.B. Russ was researching the story about James Mead and learned he was buried in Riverside Cemetery.

However, when Russ went to the cemetery to locate the grave, he was surprised there was not a marker.

The Mead family had a monument there, with various family members listed; including James’s father, mother and siblings.

But, no mention of James on the family stone. And, no Civil War marker noting the spot where he was buried. Only a small Bronze Star flag holder marked the exact location – and it actually was off by about 10 feet.

Now that oversight has been corrected.

Next on Hanson’s agenda is all of the other Civil War veterans’ gravestones.

Many are very old and were not made of the best material to start with. They are eroding and crumbling away, with many becoming unreadable. Others are slowly sinking into the turf.

Hanson is already petitioning the government for some new markers. It will be interesting to see how far he gets on this new mission.

It only took a little over a year for him to convince the Veterans Affairs office to do one Civil War marker.

What’s another 407 of them?