Ceremony Honoring Local Ties to Gettysburg

Posted at: 07/02/2013 10:42 PM
Updated at: 07/02/2013 10:50 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- Monday marked the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg. A ceremony was held in Cannon Falls at Lieutenant Colonel William Colvill's gravesite. The first Minnesota regiment commander during the battle of Gettysburg on July 2nd.

It was a historical battle with ties right here in Minnesota. “Minnesota was the one thousand man regiment and it was the very first regiment that was called into action when president Lincoln called for troops in 1861,” said Lieutenant Colonel Simon Schaefer.

Minnesota has the honor of being the first regiment to volunteer for service in the Civil War. “This battalion, the 2nd battalion, 135th infantry, traces the lineage right back to the first Minnesotan, so we teach our soldiers the importance of the history and the lineage and this year is significant, the 150th year,” said LTC Schaefer.

On that night, Colonel Colvill led the Minnesota regiment into battle. “On July 2nd, 1863 he led them on a charge from cemetery ridge down 350 yards to hit 1,600 advancing confederates,” said film director William Semans. 82 percent of them went down, the largest regimental loss in the American military.

Then roughly 60 years later, in Cannon Falls... “ Calvin Coolidge declared what Minnesota did that day, and titled them to be known as the ‘saviors of our nation,’” said Semans.

Still, 150 years since the battle, troops are paying their respects to their fellow soldiers who died that day. “As the current battalion commander, Colonel Colvill would've been my counterpart 150 years ago, so we're here today to honor his service 150 years ago and to show that the regiment is still strong and we honor their sacrifice,"  said LTC. Schaefer.

William Semans has been working on a documentary about this regiment for years. When finished, he hopes to bring a copy of it to The White House.