Minnesota History: Building A Legacy

New Legacy-Funded Exhibit and Initiatives Feature Minnesota’s Mark on the Civil War

Minnesota and the Civil War


Visitors to “Minnesota and the Civil War,” a new exhibit opening at the Minnesota History Center March 2, will learn about Minnesota’s many important contributions and connections to the war.


Minnesota was the first state to commit volunteer troops to fight for the Union and more than 25,000 Minnesotans fought in the war. It is their stories from the battlefield as well as stories from the homefront about immigrants, women and freed and enslaved AfricanAmericans that spring to life in the exhibit.

“Minnesota and the Civil War” is supported by $646,572 from the Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

“A lot of people don’t know how big a role Minnesota played in the war. Our soldiers were crucial at Gettysburg and other battles. But the exhibit will also show how the war affected individuals on a very personal level.”
~ Ian Lilligren, assistant exhibit developer

Many stories in the exhibit come from firsthand accounts like letters, diaries and newspapers. When the war broke out in 1861, the Minnesota Historical Society had already been collecting and preserving stories and artifacts for 12 years. “Minnesota and the Civil War” showcases 170 artifacts, including the 28th Virginia Infantry battle flag captured by the First Minnesota at Gettysburg.


Legacy funds are also allowing the Minnesota Historical Society to create a broad range of opportunities to help students, teachers and the general public learn more about the Civil War and the role Minnesota played. Initiatives include public programs, videos and online content at www.mnhs.org/civilwar, where visitors will find links to events, videos, Minnesota Historical Society Press publications, art, photos and artifacts from the Society’s collections and other resources related to the war.


A direct appropriation of $100,000 from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund (ACHF) is enabling the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the war. In addition, a $7,000 Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant (funded by the ACHF through the Society) has made it possible for the task force to create a website, mncivilwar150.com, to increase Minnesotans’ awareness of the war and of community-based commemorative events.