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The Battle Flags of Minnesota

Sent home after the Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment’s national color became the first battle flag to be displayed in a state capitol building.  That battle-scarred flag became a vivid reminder of Minnesota men’s bravery and sacrifices made that day on the battlefield.  It was the start of an honored tradition to display battle flags in Minnesota’s statehouse. 

On Flag Day, June 14, 1905, historic battle flags carried by Civil, U.S.-Dakota, and Spanish-American War veterans, were the focal point in the parade from the second State Capitol in downtown St. Paul to the new Capitol building.  For the veterans, this transfer of their regiments’ colors was a poignant reminder of the pride and honor they felt while actively serving their country.  For many of the aging men that marched behind their flags in the parade, it would be the last public event they would attend that recognized the role they played in U.S. and Minnesota history. 

From the battlefields to the displays in the Capitol rotunda, the flags used in the Civil, U.S.-Dakota, and Spanish-American Wars have been honored and cherished relics for generations of visitors and each has a special story to tell.