Second Regiment, Minnesota Volunteer Infantry

Metal powder flask

The Second Minnesota Infantry served in the Army of the Ohio and Army of the Cumberland and participated in battles throughout the South including Mill Springs (January 1862), Corinth (October 1862), and Missionary Ridge (November 1863).  The regiment also served in Gen. William T. Sherman’s campaigns in Atlanta (May – September 1864) and the Carolinas (January – March 1865).

The following manuscript collections are organized by military unit and alphabetized by the last name of the soldier. Each collection title is followed by the soldier's company and regiment number in parentheses, if applicable. Descriptions are brief and may be incomplete. Follow the links below to the Minnesota Historical Society's online catalog and finding aids for full descriptions.

  • 2nd Minnesota Veteran Volunteer Infantry Survivors' Association Records, 1864 - 1919.
    Statements of returns, muster rolls, and other official papers, particularly from Companies D, E, F, G, and H.
  • 2nd Minnesota Infantry Regiment Letter Book, U.S. War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, September 18, 1861 - August 22, 1862.
    Copies of official letters from Colonels Horatio Van Cleve and James George. Covers training and deployment on the Minnesota frontier through the Mill Springs Campaign and subsequent operations in Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama.
  • Biographical data on Charles Luther Alden, 1900, 1914, [ca. 1918]. (C, 2nd)
    Alden prepared his reminiscences in 1918.
  • John Reed Beatty Papers, 1858 - 1924. (H, 2nd)
    Letters of Lieutenant, later Captain Beatty document campaigns of the Regiment and Beatty’s views of the war, “copperheads”, slavery and family relationships.  Includes many letters written in 1861 at Fort Snelling, where Beatty served as Regimental adjutant.
  • Biographical Data on William A. Bennett, 1863. (A, 2nd)
    Photocopies of letters from Regimental officers recommending Bennett for commission.
  • Judson Wade Bishop and Family Papers, 1819 - 1973. (A, 2nd)
    Correspondence and papers documenting Bishop’s service as a captain and later colonel of the Regiment.
  • Solon K. Cheadle and Family Papers, 1864 - [ca. 1961]. (E, 2nd)
    Corporal Cheadle’s 1864 diary and letters by and to him are included in the collection.
  • James C. Christie and Family Papers, 1861 - 1865.  (Alexander Christie, A, 2nd)
    Letters from a teenage Alexander cover his service as a recruit at Fort Snelling and briefly with the Regiment in 1865.  Collection includes letters from his sister Sarah Jane Christie and their father James.
  • Jeremiah C. Donahower Papers, 1853 - 1919. (E, 2nd)
    Includes Captain Donahower’s detailed and frequently humorous hand-written narrative of his company’s service, plus related military papers.
  • Thomas Downs Civil War Diary and Related Papers, 1861 - 1865, 1910, 1948. (E, 2nd) 
    Private, later Corporal and Sergeant Downs’ 468-page somewhat enhanced typescript of his 1861 to 1865 diaries covers the Regiment’s service in detail.  Also photocopies of photos, some service information and an 1863 manuscript diary.
  • Michael Roush Dresbach Letters and Reminiscence, [undated] and 1864- 1865. (C, 2nd)
    Corporal Dresbach’s 66 letters from January 1864 through July 1865 describe Sherman’s  campaigns in Georgia and the Carolinas, as does his later reminiscence of service.
  • Thomas Fitch Diary, 1861 - 1863, 1878 - 1879. (A, 2nd)
    Diary entries from June 1861 through September 1863 document daily activities in detail.
  • Rhoda J. Emery and Family Papers, 1840 - 1993. (James George, Clinton  Cilley, C, 2nd)
    Collection includes a manuscript history of the career of James George as Regimental colonel, and some of his Mexican War correspondence.  A single letter from Lieutenant  Cilley describes the Battle of Mill Springs.
  • William Riley Haskins Papers, [undated] and 1863 - 1927. (K, 2nd)
    Reminiscence documenting experiences following his capture at Chickamauga include details of prison life, especially Andersonville.  Two letters to his father are included.
  • Perry A. Honeywell Letters, December 1, 10, 1861. (K, 3rd)
    Two letters dated in December of 1861.  The letters (call number P939: Honeywell, Perry A.) can be viewed at the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center. 
  • Eliza Shattuck Correspondence, 1850 - 1890. (George Lanphear, K, 2nd)
    Family letters describe the death of Corporal Lanphear at Missionary Ridge.
  • Rollin A Lanpher Papers, 1862 - 1865. (D, 2nd)
    Includes Sergeant Lanpher’s 1864 Company D roll book.
  • Brewer Mattocks and Family Papers, 1830 - 1911, 1945, 2007, 2011.
    Includes letters of Regimental Hospital Steward Mattocks describing army medical care,  illnesses and hospital duties.
  • Sewall P. Norton Diary and Related Papers, [undated] and 1865. (K, 2nd)
    Diary recording the movements of Company K during its march from Savannah, Georgia to Washington, D.C. during February and March of 1865. 
  • Georgia Mounts Richardson Papers, 1862 - 1936. (John W. Mounts, D, 2nd) Collection includes letters from Mounts, discharged for disability in September 1862. 
  • Roger M. S. Pease and Family Papers, 1859 - 1876. (Minott Pease, D, 2nd)
    Includes three letters describing the Regiment’s activities in early 1862.
  • Harrington and Merrill Family Papers, 1732 - 1963. (Timothy Pendergast, K, 2nd)
    Includes around 20 letters, most from 1862, from Corporal, later First Sergeant Pendergast.
  • William Wirt Pendergast  and Family Papers, 1816 - 1986. (Timothy Pendergast, K, 2nd)
    Includes around 20 letters, plus Sergeant Pendergast’s journal containing descriptions of Sherman’s campaign in Georgia and the Carolinas.
  • Newton Southworth and Family Papers, 1852 - 1917. (Timothy Pendergast,  K, 2nd)
    Collection includes July 1864 letter from camp at Marietta, Georgia. 
  • Biographical data on Edward K. Perkins and the Perkins Family, 1833, 1862, 1910. (D, 2nd)
    Four letters include detailed accounts of the Battles of Mill Springs and Corinth.
  • Axel Hayford Reed Diaries, 1861 - 1865. (K, 2nd)
    Four diaries of Sergeant, later Lieutenant, Reed include detailed descriptions of the  regiment’s activities, impressions of slavery and army life, and a few hand-drawn maps.  Of note is Reed’s superb firsthand account of the Battle of Chickamauga, at which he won the Metal of Honor.  Most published in Reed’s Genealogical Record of the Reads,  Reeds, the Bisbees, the Bradfords of the United States of America in the line of Esdras Read of Boston and England, 1635-1915.
  • Charles Shedd and Family Papers, 1857 - 1933. (C, 2nd)
    Includes letters describing army life and campaigns in Mississippi, Alabama and  Tennessee.  Shedd died at a Nashville hospital in 1864.
  • John S. Sherburne and Family Papers, 1836 - 1942. (D, 2nd)
    Several dozen letters and typescript transcripts cover July 1861 until September 1863, when  Corporal Sherburne was killed at Chickamauga.  Rich details of campaigning in Kentucky and Tennessee.
  • Billings D. Sibley Papers, 1861 - 1865. (H, 2nd)
    Typescript copies of about 100 letters covering the Regiment's entire service from the perspective of a dummer boy. Originals are at the Blue Earth County Historical Society. The collection (call number A/-S564b) can be viewed in the
    Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center.
  • Moody C. Tolman Papers, 1856 - 1871.
    A collection of memoranda, reports, and invoices originating with Assistant Surgeon Tolman documenting the work of Regimental and 14th Army Corps surgeons.
  • Horatio P. Van Cleve and Family Papers, 1827 - 1970.
    Van Cleve commanded the Regiment until his promotion to brigade command in March 1862.  His papers include biographical information, military papers and commissions.
  • Alexander Wilkin and Family Papers, 1819 - 1864.
    Mexican War veteran Wilkin initially commanded Company A of the 1st Minnesota Infantry.  In September of 1861 he was appointed major of the 2nd.  Correspondence covers September 1861 to August 1862 and includes descriptions of campaigns in Kentucky (particularly Mill Springs), Tennessee, and Alabama.  Wilkin was appointed colonel of the 9th Minnesota and killed in action at Iuka in 1864.

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