The Civil War In Pipestone

Posted: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 at 10:10 am
By: Doug Lund
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I have always been fascinated by The Civil War.

I’m not so much interested in the precise battle strategies or exact dates, times and locations of each engagement but rather in the mind set of those men who did the actual fighting. How could they be convinced to take up arms and fire upon a fellow American whose ancestors fought side by side with their own less than 90 years earlier?

I enjoy reading the letters and diaries of both Yankee and Confederate soldiers..most of whom seem more concerned about the weather, not getting sick and receiving letters from home than achieving glory in battle. But, when the time came to take the field and do their duty, they didn’t hesitate even though there was a very good chance an enemy bullet or shell would find their mark and rip them to pieces.

When my cousin, Grouse and I talked about attending Civil War Days in Pipestone last Saturday I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. To be honest, I suspected those who partake in these reenactments are mostly guys who like to dress up in uniforms and play war games just like we all did as kids. Instead, we found a lot of dedicated enthusiasts from all over the country who take pride and pleasure in preserving that era of American history in a very realistic way for both entertainment and education.

Why Pipestone?  No Civil War battles were ever fought in Minnesota but after the war lots of veterans settled in Pipestone and in 1886 it was the site of an encampment of the Southwest Minnesota Grand Army of the Republic that lasted for several days and drew ten thousand visitors to the area.

Although the state was just three years old when the Civil War broke out, Minnesotans were among the first to volunteer for service and paid an enormous price in preserving the union through their gallantry and sacrifice at places like Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Fredricksburg, Antietam and Gettysburg where 262 men of the First Minnesota Volunteers were ordered to charge a much larger rebel force in order to buy time for the Union to bring up reinforcements. The suicide charge, as it came to be known, resulted in 82 percent casualties: the largest loss by any unit in any war then or since.

Artist depiction of the suicide charge at Gettysburg ordered by General Hancock. He asked the Minnesota boys to buy him five minutes to bring up reenforcements. They gave him ten but at a terrible cost.

Artist depiction of the suicide charge at Gettysburg ordered by General Hancock. He asked the Minnesota boys to buy him five minutes to bring up reenforcements. They gave him ten but at a terrible cost.

Confederate encampment. No motels for these folks..they stay in the tents.

Confederate encampment. No motels for these folks..they stay in the tents.

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Reenactors answer questions and demonstrate the rebel yell.

Reenactors answer questions and demonstrate the rebel yell.

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Pipestone radio personality, Mylan Ray, has been a part of Civil War Days since the first one in 1989. He cuts a fine figure as a Union officer.

Pipestone radio personality, Mylan Ray, has been a part of Civil War Days since the first one in 1989. He cuts a fine figure as a Union officer.

I had the honor of meeting President Abraham Lincoln aka Max Daniels voted best Lincoln impersonator in the country

I had the honor of meeting President Abraham Lincoln aka Max Daniels who was once voted best Lincoln impersonator in the country

The battle staged just South of the Hiawatha pageant amphatheater is very realistic.

The battle staged just South of the Hiawatha pageant amphatheater is very realistic.

And, when all three cannon are blasting away..very very loud.

And, when all three cannon are blasting away..very very loud.

It's not only men who dress up in period clothing for the two day event.

It's not only men who dress up in period clothing for the two day event.

Pipestone’s next Civil War Days won’t be until 2012 and you can bet I’ll be back.  I might even wear an appropriate costume  for the occasion. I wonder if I can find a uniform in size three X.

6 Comments

  1. Mylan Ray says:

    Nicely done. Thanks for coming and sharing your photos!

  2. Mike H says:

    Great stuff Doug! Thank you for answering my questions about the event!

  3. Dave Renli says:

    Doug I am sorry you didn’t make it down to visit me as the CS Commander at Pipestone. Just to let you know. I have uniforms and accoutrements for you any time you want to put on the Blue or the Grey. Thank you for such a favorable blog and if you or any of your readers are interested in learning more about what we do and why we do it, I am willing to share information.

  4. FOSH says:

    Doug I am still waiting for a blog on Favre’s return.

  5. Kay says:

    Missed you at the Turner County Fair last nite. Was hoping to see you perform with Mogen’s Heroes!

  6. Mick Myers says:

    Saw the KELO Sunday night show with you and Hemmingsen where you talked about blogs and making digital images… then today we see your work from the Pipestone Civil War Days event. Nice Job!

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