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As the Union line
reeled back on July 2 - 262 men
of the 1st Minnesota charged Confederates advancing over the low ground
ahead, and saved the day. They suffered 82 percent casualties - believed to be the
highest regimental loss in any battle, in proportion to the number
engaged, in modern history.
On the afternoon of
July 2 1863, Sickles third corps having advanced from this line to the
Emmitsburg Road. Eight Companies of the First Minnesota Regiment,
numbering 262 men, were sent to this place to support a Battery upon
Sickles repulse. As his men were passing here in confused retreat, two
Confederate Brigades in pursuit were crossing the swale. To gain time
to bring up reserves and save this position. Gen Hancock in person
ordered the eight Companies to charge the rapidly advancing enemy. The
order was instantly repeated by Col Colvill and the charge as instantly
-made down the slope at full speed through the concentrated fire of the
two Brigades breaking with the bayonet the enemy's front line as it was
crossing the small brook in the low ground. There the remnant of the
eight companies nearly surrounded by the enemy, held it's entire force
at bay for a considerable time and till it retired on the approach of
the reserve. The charge successfully accomplished its object. It saved
this position and probably the battlefield. The loss of the eight
companies in the charge was 215 killed and wounded, more than 83
percent, 47 men were still in line and no man missing. In self
sacrificing desperate valor, this charge has no parallel in any war.
Among the severely wounded were Col Wm Colvill, Lt Col Charles P Adams,
and Major Mark W Downie. Among the killed Capt Joseph Periah, Capt
Louis Muller, and Lt Waldo Farrah. The next day, the regiment
participated in repelling "Pickets Charge" losing 17 more men killed
First Regiment Minnesota Vol's -1st Brigade - 2nd Div - 2nd Corps
April 29 1861-- May 4 1864
Bull Run - Balls Bluff - Berryville - York Town - West Point - Hanover Court House - Fair Oaks - Peach Orchard - Savage Station White Oak Swamp - Glendale - Halvem Hill - 2nd Halvern Hill - Vienna - South Mountain - Antietam - Charlestown - Ashbys Gap - Fredricksburg - Marye's Heights - Haymarket Gettysburg - Auburn - Bristow Station - Mine Run and numerous skirmishes
Ron Houghtelin Owatonna Minnesota Feb 6 2003.