On July 3, 1863, the Confederate army led by General Robert E. Lee attacked the Union army. Battle of Gettysburg. Among them was the 28th Virginia Infantry Regiment. On the other side, the Union defenders included the 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment.
When the dust cleared, Minnesota had control of the “battle flag” of the 28th Virginia Infantry Regiment, the Confederate rebel flag we all know and hate today. Now, 160 years later, the two countries are still fighting over the black flag.
The Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania was not only the bloodiest battle of the Civil War (and the bloodiest three days in American military history), but it also changed everything. Lee’s ill-fated attack on the north, designed to destroy most of the Union army and force their leadership to let the rebel states go, failed miserably, marking the beginning of the end of the war.
On the third day of the battle, the 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment, famous for fighting in almost every major event of the war, was ordered to charge one Confederate flank as the rebels pushed back to Cemetery Ridge at that time. Pickett’s tree. During this battle, 70% of Minnesotans were killed, wounded, or captured. And in the middle of the whole plot, a game of flag killing took place. This great story by Katy Sawyer in The Washington Post back in 2000—really worth reading—it says “[i]in the heat and desperation of war… the flag was the thing they put first. It had to be pretty cool. ” Many people lost their lives because of the pieces of cloth.
The biggest drama surrounding the flag on the Minnesota side:
William Lochren, in his “Narrative of the First Regiment, Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars,” recalled that “our last guard, who was then carrying our tattered flag, was shot through the arm, and the flag bearer cut in half.” . Cpl. Henry D. O’Brien of Company E immediately seized the flag and the remaining staff.” O’Brien, carrying a broken staff and a torn flag, “with his courage and fury sprang to the front at the first sound of the word, and rushed to the line of the enemy, and keep it plain. any other type. . . The results were electric.” To a man, Minnesota first came out to defend its flag.
O’Brien was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. The Virgins fought for their flag just as fiercely:
Sgt. John Eakin carried the battle colors of the 28th Virginia to the wall. He was hit three times. The private caught hold of the flag and was immediately shot. Col. Robert Allen took the flag and was wounded and died instantly. He managed to give it to Lt. John Lee who climbed the wall and shook it. A gunshot hit the flag, knocking it out of his hands and onto the ground. He grabbed it, climbed back over the wall and fell down injured, but continued to swing.
The Virginia flag was finally captured by Pvt. Marshall Sherman, and although the details are disputed, he earned his Medal of Honor for his capture.
And all of this could be history, except Virginia really wants the Confederate battle flag back. There is always the issue of “heritage,” and one young man unsuccessfully argued that returning the flag would help us “come together as Americans” in the year 2000. This flag does not really fit.
Minnesota claims the flag was won on the battlefield at an incredible cost in blood, and is theirs.
Minnesota is not wrong.
President Grover Cleveland supported his return in 1887, even the governor of Virginia at the time, a Confederate soldier, said that the flag “is the property of the victors” and that the country did not need to “be shaken again by pieces of bunting that mean nothing now.” Even Jefferson Davis, the short-lived Confederate president, agreed that battle flags were for the victors.
Congress then tried to return the banners in 1905, during the Spanish-American War, but Minnesota proudly declared it lost.
In the 1960s, when southern states incorporated the rebel flag into their state flags, new demands arose. “Minnesota refused. In a respectful exchange of letters, the history director said the 1st Minnesota’s charge at Gettysburg — in which its 262 men captured six times its number — was one of the state’s proudest moments. report Roanoke time. “The 28th flag represents that sacrifice, he wrote: ‘I honestly believe it has more historical value if it remains in Minnesota than if it goes back to Virginia.’
Virginia tried lawsuits, “inter-museum loans” (as in case anyone fell for it), several legal rulings, and even tried to draft the US Army, all thankfully to no avail. I really liked Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura answer to one of the petitions: “We took it. This is making our heritage.” When Gov. When Mark Warner (now a United States senator) asked for it in 2003, fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty said, “They’re not getting it. … Virginia.”
Pawlenty, a Republican, tried for president in 2012. Today, I bet he’ll bring back the flag to please the MAGA racists.
The story of Minnesota’s Confederate battle flag has resurfaced in recent years as the Black Lives Matter movement forced a new reckoning on the label of racism. It is no longer displayed publicly because this time there is no meaning to place it in its proper place. Minnesota would not show a sign of racism. Instead, it would be to celebrate how it helped defeat, at great cost, the forces of apartheid. And racists wouldn’t care either way.