Minnesota Cavalry

1st Minnesota general's saddle

Cavalry was needed during and after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 to patrol the frontier and to react quickly to threats.  Only Brackett’s Battalion served outside Minnesota and the Dakotas.

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.

Brackett’s Battalion, Minnesota Cavalry 
Companies A, B, and C were mustered in at Fort Snelling in the fall of 1861 as the First, Second, and Third Companies, Minnesota Light Cavalry and were attached to Curtis Horse, an independent regiment of cavalry.  Later re-designated as the Fifth Iowa Cavalry, companies G, I, and K served in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama. Detached from the Fifth Iowa Cavalry in February 1864, companies A, B, and C and a newly-added fourth company were re-designated as Brackett’s Battalion, Minnesota Cavalry and served in Gen. Alfred Sully’s expedition against the Dakota (1864-65).  Mustered out in June 1866, the battalion served longer than any other Minnesota unit.

First Regiment of Mounted Rangers (First Minnesota Cavalry)
The First Minnesota Cavalry Regiment was mustered in at St. Cloud, St. Peter, and Fort Snelling for one year's service between October and December 1862, and the men were mustered out between October and December 1863. The regiment served entirely in Minnesota and the Dakota Territory and participated in the 1863 Sibley Expedition with the Sixth, Seventh and Tenth Minnesota Infantry  and the Third Battery of Minnesota Light Artillery.

  • Order book of Company M, 1862 - 1863. 
    Copies of orders, requisitions, and reports.
  • Horace Austin and Family Papers, 1857 - 1953. (B, 1st MR)
    Austin’s recollections, written in 1898, cover his service as a captain on the Sibley Expedition.  Additionally, two letters from former members of the Regiment describe their service.
  • Diary of the Indian Expedition of  1863. (Oscar Garrett Wall, F, 1st MR)
    Typescript diary covers May 9 - September 29, 1863.
  • Biographical data on Franklin C. Griswold, 1860 - 1921. (G, 1st MR)
    Several letters and transcripts, including graphic letter of the Battle of Birch Coulee.
  • William Larned and Family Papers, 1849 - 1967. (William Horatio, C, 1st  MR)
    Short typescript accounts of Private Horatio and Lieutenant William Larned’s service in  the Regiment, plus William’s Fisk Expedition diary and Horatio’s reminiscences.
  • Paul D. Rosendahl Diaries, 1860 - 1865, 1873 - 1880. (A, 1st MR)
    Three diaries kept during the Sibley Expedition.
  • Thomas R. Stewart Memoirs, 1905, 1909, 1929. (G, 1st MR)
    Typescript of detailed reminiscence including days at Fort Snelling. Features dozens of  humorous anecdotes.
  • Oscar Taylor Military Papers, 1859 - 1863. (D, 1st MR)
    Taylor’s commissions in the Minnesota State Militia and as Captain in the 1st Mounted Rangers, musterout roll for the Mounted Rangers and a diagram of an 1862 Sauk Centre military post.
  • Edwin and Wilfred J. Whitefield Papers, [ca. 1854] - 1918.  (Wilfred Whitefield, D, 1st  MR)
    Microfilm of detailed letters to a lady friend plus a diary (with typescript) of the Sibley Expedition that includes 50 excellent pencil sketches of camp scenes, Minnesota forts  and stockades, and locations on the Expedition. 

Second Regiment, Minnesota Cavalry
Organized in fall 1863, the Second Minnesota Cavalry spent the winter of 1863-1864 on garrison duty at Minnesota frontier posts.  In the summer of 1864, it joined the Eighth Minnesota Infantry, the Third Minnesota Light Artillery, and other volunteer regiments from Iowa and Nebraska in Gen. Alfred Sully’s expedition against the Dakota. The regiment was involved in the Battle of Killdeer Mountain or Ta-Ha-Kouty (July 1864) the largest battle of the campaigns in the Dakota Territory.  The expedition moved as far west as the Yellowstone River before returning to Minnesota in October 1864 for a year of garrison and patrol service at small frontier posts and Forts Wadsworth, Ridgley, Abercrombie, and Ripley.

Hatch’s Battalion, Minnesota Cavalry
Mustered in at Fort Snelling and St. Paul, Minnesota in 1863.  Two additional companies were raised in 1864. The battalion was originally assigned to Pembina, Dakota Territory and remained there until May 1864 when it was moved to Fort Abercrombie and other small posts until mustered out in 1866.

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