Records of the fledgling Minnesota state government (Minnesota became a state in 1858) provide significant information about how the state recruited and supported troops for the Civil War, document the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, a bloody war within a war, and portray the less dramatic events of a burgeoning frontier state.
The State Archives collection is arranged by branch of government (executive, judicial, legislative), and by state and local government agency. The records preserved in the State Archives collection are described in the on-line library catalog (PALS). More detailed information and inventories may be found in the State Archives inventory notebooks located in the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center.
Adjutant General Records
An act of Congress dated May 8, 1792, required each state to appoint an adjutant general to oversee and administer its militia. The new state of Minnesota created this office in 1858. The adjutant general was to be appointed by the governor to a seven-year term as inspector general of the state's militia.
The records of the Minnesota adjutant general document the creation of the state's Civil War units and provide information on the men who served in them.
The records series within this record group most relevant to the Civil War are the following:
- Military Service Records, Civil and U.S. Dakota Wars, dated 1858-1925 (bulk dated 1861-1865):
Includes allotment rolls for soldiers who chose to send home a portion of their pay, correspondence, regimental registers/day books and morning reports, volunteer record slips, recruiting reports, returns/lists by military units, hospital lists and letters, and related records. Information may be found about men who served in Minnesota military units, including: age at enlistment, date mustered in, rank, promotions, wounds, death, etc. This data appeared in published form in the 1866 Annual Report of the Adjutant General.
- Muster Rolls, dated 1861-1865
Muster-in, muster-out, and descriptive rolls for Minnesota companies, portions of companies, and individuals who served in the Civil War, accompanied by correspondence and related documents. A detailed inventory is available in the State Archives inventory notebooks located in the Gale Family Library.
- Compiled rosters of Minnesota Civil War Regiments, dated circa 1865 and circa 1915:
Compilations of service information on individuals who served in Minnesota regiments during the Civil War and the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, and on some soldiers in the Federal army who enlisted from Minnesota.
- Military Service Cards, dated circa 1860-1945:
Service record cards for persons who entered federal military service via the Minnesota National Guard and its predecessor, the Minnesota State Militia. They include army, navy, marines, foreign service, naval militia, surgeons and nurses, home and state guards, and cemetery burials. They cover the period from the Civil War through World War II. Information recorded: name, service number, where and when enrolled, age or birth date, residence, birth place, dates and places of service, service unit, rank or rating, where and when discharged, next of kin (World War II), and (for Home Guards) civilian occupation.
- Pension Registers and Indexes, dated 1878-1949:
Registers of pension claims filed by veterans of military service, or their dependents, who resided in Minnesota at the time the claim was made. The entries are mainly for veterans of the Mexican War (1848), the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War; however, some claims from World War I and II are also included.
- Records of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, dated 1861-1865:
Includes a descriptive book, morning reports, a letter book, post guard reports, proceedings of the regimental council, medical records, and miscellaneous reports of the regiment.
- Quartermaster Records of Captain Norman K. Culver, Company B, 5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, dated 1862-1865:
Documents kept by Captain Culver, primarily while Company B was
stationed at Fort Ridgely (March-December 1862). Culver served as acting assistant quartermaster and acting assistant commissary of subsistence for the post of Fort Ridgely, responsible for military supplies, transportation, animals, fuel, forage, and food. A small number of documents follow Culver’s service with Company B as it participated in battles in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Louisiana (December 1862 - July 1863).
- Orders and Circulars, dated 1858-1986:
Includes one volume containing information on the military expedition to the southern Minnesota frontier (September-October 1862), lists of scouts from Wright and Stearns counties (July 1863) and independent scouts (October-December 1863).
This record group documents the actions of the executive branch of state government and thus includes information on a wide range of activities affecting Minnesota's involvement in the war against the Confederacy, and the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 as well. Some of the relevant series include:
- Executive journals, dated 1858-1915:
Including copies of official acts, appointments, pardons, and messages to the legislature; communications to and from the national government; letters from the governor to officers commanding Minnesota regiments and reports from those units to the governor. Especially interesting are letters and telegrams to the War Department, the secretary of war, and the U.S. adjutant general about Minnesota's role in the war.
- Governor's records, dated 1858-1865:
The majority of the official records of the governor's office include letters received, appointments, accounts, and reports. The series is arranged by term and then by record type and subject.
There is a wealth of information here on the state's role in the war, on issues such as the appointment of officers to posts in Minnesota regiments, support for families of soldiers, procurement of equipment and supplies, the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, Minnesotans in Confederate prison camps, reports of sick and wounded men from Minnesota regiments, and correspondence with federal military and civilian officials. Information about financing railroads, encouraging immigration, and other nonmilitary topics are also documented in the governors’ records.