ST. PAUL, Minn. — A contingent of 90 Civil War buffs, elected officials and others from Minnesota is headed next week to Pennsylvania to help mark the 150th anniversary of the battle at Gettysburg, but some involved got an early send-off Tuesday from Gov. Mark Dayton.
Gov. Mark Dayton hosted a handful of Civil War re-enactors at the Capitol and signed a proclamation as he reflected on his state's role in the conflict. The First Minnesota Infantry Regiment was deeply involved in the Gettysburg fight and suffered significant casualties.
Minnesota officials have been marking key points in history of the Civil War, which began in 1861 and ended in 1865.
The Minnesota History Center is midway through a six-month exhibit putting the state's presence in the war in context. The 5,000-square-foot exhibit includes letters, diaries and other testimonials from Minnesotans who lived during the war. The display runs through early September.
Among the state's prized artifacts is a blood-stained, bullet-pierced Confederate flag from a Virginia regiment — one that state has tried repeatedly to reclaim either on a temporary or permanent basis.
Dayton said he won't relinquish it over under any circumstances.
"It was taken in a battle with the cost of the blood of all these Minnesotans. It would be a sacrilege to return it to them. It's something that was earned through the incredible courage and valor of the men who gave their lives and risked their lives to obtain it," Dayton said. "As far as I'm concerned it is a closed subject."
Civil War re-enactor Arn Kind, a retired Mankato school teacher, said another Minnesota never regained a flag one of its regiments lost in an earlier battle during the war.
"The last I heard that belongs to a Texas ranger, but you don't hear us crying about it," Kind said.