Minnesota officials and history buffs are heading to Gettysburg to honor the charge that gave the state a place in the history of the Civil War.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed a proclamation and delivered a flag to a member of the group, which is participating in ceremonies in Gettysburg, Pa., to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battle. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and State Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City will be leading the group.

General Richard Nash, head of the Minnesota National Guard, said the charge by the 1st Minnesota infantry regiment on July 2, 1863, bought precious time for the Union army, even though it came at a cost of more than 80 percent casualties. 

"That possibly saved the nation," he said.

A proclamation by Gov. Mark Dayton says the 1st Minnesota "sustained an extremely high number of casualties .. in preserving a key defensive position for the Union line during the Battle of Gettysburg."

The delegation will "honor the memory of Minnesotans" involved in the bloody, three-day war, often described as a turning point for the north in the Civil War, the proclamation states. The group will lay a wreath at the Minnesota memorial erected on the grounds.

Ritchie said the Minnesota delegation will be an "eclectic bunch," including young people who wrote Abraham Lincoln essays and won seats for themselves and chaperones on the bus along with  re-enactors who are dedicated to reliving the Civil War era.

Dayton was asked whether he has given any thought to the state of Virginia's interest in a battle flag captured by Minnesota soldiers at Gettysburg. He said he strongly opposed returning the flag, "taken in battle at the cost of blood of Minnesotans. ... It's a closed subject."


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