As a young state, Minnesota proved its worth to the country by volunteering to fight in the Civil War.

The Civil War broke out in 1861, just three years after Minnesota joined the Union as its newest state. The country had been divided for decades over the issue of slavery and its spread, as well as over differences in population, economy, and industry. After Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860, eleven Southern states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederacy. On April 12, 1861, Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, and the Civil War officially began.

When President Lincoln called for troops from the North to preserve the Union, many Minnesotans were eager to join the cause. Around 25,000 Minnesotans served in some capacity during the Civil War – about half the eligible male population in the state.

"Everyone is in the army, as will be, for what I see, before this war will close."

Jennie Allen to her aunt, 1864

These photographs are portraits of some of the Minnesota men involved in the Civil War. Click through the slideshow to see their faces, and click on each image to learn more about these soldiers – their ranks, divisions, and fates.

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