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Authors, Reenactor, Archivist and Historian Will Present ‘Minnesotans in the Civil War’ Series at Hennepin County Libraries Beginning Dec. 3
Minnesota was far from Civil War battlefields but Minnesotans played significant roles in the fight against the Confederate States’ secession and slavery. To educate area residents about American history on the 150th anniversary of the war, Hennepin County Library will present “Minnesotans in the Civil War,” a free program series, Dec. 3-Feb. 26 at eight libraries. Registration is required.
Programs are “Pale Horse at Plum Run,” “An Interactive Experience,” “Letters From Local Brothers,” and “General William LeDuc.” The programs are funded by Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
Minnesotans in the Civil War: Pale Horse at Plum Run
Hennepin County Library – Wayzata
Monday, Dec. 3, 6:30–7:30 p.m.
Register online or call 612-543-6150.

Hennepin County Library – Pierre Bottineau
Thursday, Dec. 13, 6–7 p.m.
Register Online or call 612-543-6850.

Author Brian Leehan will discuss “Pale Horse at Plum Run,” his Minnesota Book Award-winning history of the First Minnesota regiment’s heroic contributions at the Battle of Gettysburg, the most significant battle of the Civil War.
“The American Civil War was an extension of the American Revolution and its unresolved issues as manifested in our Constitution,” Leehan, a former Star Tribune researcher, archivist, and staff writer, said. “The Civil War is the best argument one can make that history is not some dry, dusty field of study about things that happened, and people who lived, long ago. The issues that ignited the Civil War are as fresh as today’s news headlines and the rantings of certain bloggers and politicians.
“The Battle of Gettysburg was a pivotal engagement in the Civil War,” Leehan continued. “It marked ‘the beginning of the end’ for the Confederacy. The First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry was the only regiment from Minnesota to fight in that battle. The regiment played a major role in keeping the Union line from being broken on the second day of the battle, and paid a terrible price for their valor.
“Much mythology about the regiment and its fight at Gettysburg has grown over the intervening 150 years,” Leehan said. “Through deep and meticulous research, I was determined to strip away the mythology and give as accurate and detailed a telling of the story as possible. Much of the story is told with first-person quotes and insights from those who fought the battle. In addition to the book’s text, four appendices and copious endnotes help give the reader a detailed, intimate experience of the battle, the period, the people, and the historian’s process of research and analysis. In this period of the Civil War’s sesquicentennial, ‘Pale Horse at Plum Run’ is an opportunity for every Minnesotan to learn what an earlier generation of Minnesotans did to help save our country.”
Minnesotans in the Civil War: An Interactive Experience
Hennepin County Library – Washburn
Saturday, Jan. 26, 1-3 p.m.
Registration is required, begins Dec. 29. Register online or call 612-543-8375.
Hennepin County Library – Ridgedale
Tuesday, Feb. 19, 7-9 p.m.
Registration is required, begins Jan. 22.  Register online or call 612-543-8800.
What was it really like to be a soldier during the Civil War? Get a better understanding of daily life and the consequences of war through stories, artifacts, uniforms, equipment and interactive drills presented by Arn Kind, a member of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
Kind is an elementary school teacher in Mankato with more than 30 years’ teaching experience. The First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, a reenactment group based out of Fort Snelling, is noted for its authenticity and has appeared in many documentaries and historical feature films, such as “The Blue and the Gray,” “North and South,” “Glory,” “Gettysburg,” “Dances With Wolves,” and “Gods and Generals.”
Kind’s lively reenactments of history have been presented in classrooms at the elementary, high school, and college level, at summer camps and festivals.
“The artifacts I have are hands-on materials such as flags, weapons, uniforms, equipment, pictures,” Kind said. “Some are originals from the war, such as my cavalry sabre, but most are historical reproductions of originals. Because they are reproductions, audience members can handle them.”
Kind also is creator of Fort Union Civil War Camp, a summer program where students ages 11-17 become Union Army recruits for a week.
Minnesotans in the Civil War: Letters From Local Brothers
Hennepin County Library – Plymouth
Tuesday, Jan. 29, 7-8 p.m.
Registration is required, begins Dec. 31.  Register online or call 612-543-5825.
Hennepin County Library – St. Anthony
Monday, Feb. 4, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Registration is required, begins Jan. 7.  Register online or call 612-543-6075.
Experience the Civil War as related by two Minnesota brothers in their letters sent home when Hampton Smith, reference librarian at the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS), discusses his book, "Brother of Mine: The Civil War Letters of Thomas and William Christie."
William Christie was born in Scotland and Thomas in Ireland, and they immigrated with their family to Wisconsin about 1850. The brothers were residents of Olmsted County, Minn., when both enlisted in the First Minnesota Light Artillery.
In their correspondence, William and Thomas describe their experiences in major battles and the everyday life of a Civil War soldier, as well as offer commentary on war in general.
The letters are part of “a multi-generational family collection spanning a century of time and including a wide range of locations, from Scotland to Wisconsin, Minnesota and Turkey,” Smith said. “As a librarian and archivist at the Minnesota Historical Society, I recognized the unusual quality of the letters of the Christie family, particularly the Civil War letters of Thomas and William Christie. I brought these fascinating letters to the attention of the editors at MHS Press and they agreed to publish them.”
Smith also has contributed articles about the Civil War to several magazines, including Minnesota History.
Minnesotans in the Civil War: General William LeDuc
Hennepin County Library – Nokomis
Saturday, Feb. 9, 1-2:30 p.m.
Registration is required, begins Jan. 12. Register online or call 612-543-
Hennepin County Library – Brookdale
Tuesday, Feb. 26, 7-8:30 p.m.
Registration is required, begins Jan. 29. Register online or call 612-543-
Learn about the extraordinary Civil War experiences of General William LeDuc, an early Minnesota settler and a quartermaster in the Union Army, at presentations by historian Jessica Bierbrauer, Dakota County Historical Society manager of the LeDuc Historic Estate, a house museum built and owned by the LeDuc family and located in Hastings.
“The Civil War was the prominent historical event taking place in the United States 150 years ago and it forever changed the country,” said Chad Roberts, executive director of the Dakota County Historical Society. “Exploring the events of the war through the personal story of one accomplished participant of the war provides a specific and engaging perspective on the war. LeDuc was the definition of a renaissance man and citizen soldier; his story includes the typical, common experiences of soldiers serving in the war but also unique experiences that touch on slavery, emancipation, service to the country, and the ingenuity brought to the war effort by pioneers.
“Attendees will get a chance to see and handle authentic items from the war, an experience that helps bring to life an event that tore apart our entire nation and that cannot be truly conveyed by the written word.”
Those items include belt buckles, uniform buttons, a boot, silverware, a toothbrush, an artillery shell, ammunition, and other items.
Before joining the army, LeDuc was a lawyer, land speculator, and entrepreneur. “He established the first railroad in Minnesota, owned a quarter of Hastings, operated a stationary store in St. Paul and a ferry in Hastings, helped build the first Wabasha Street bridge, platted the original city of West St. Paul, and owned and operated a mill in Hastings that is still operating today,” Roberts said.
“During his service in the war, he used his ferry and steamboat experience to help create ‘The Cracker Line,’ a salvaged steamboat that brought food and ammunition to a besieged Union Army during the Battle of Chattanooga. The Cracker Line ensured the besieged army didn’t have to surrender, and shortly thereafter Union General Ulysses Grant broke the siege.”
Roberts added, “LeDuc served with Sherman on his infamous ‘March to the Sea.’  In an unusual turn, he helped the leading citizens of Atlanta preserve some of their possessions. He was invited back to Atlanta after the war as a hero for his actions – a truly unique circumstance given his position in the Union Army.
“During his service, LeDuc met and hired an escaped slave, George Daniels, who would later come to Minnesota and work for LeDuc,” Roberts said. “At the end of the war, LeDuc was brevetted as a general and discharged, essentially an honorary title fairly commonly given to officers that had served with distinction.”
For more information about the “Minnesotans in the Civil War” series: www.hclib.org. Click on Events & Classes, then type Minnesotans in the Civil War in the search box under the calendar on the right.  Programs are listed on the website 12 weeks in advance.

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