Saturday, August 27, 2011

Disastrous Blaze Strikes Brook Park

From The Kanabec County Times, September 10, 1936:

A disastrous fire swept through a part of Brook Park village late Wednesday night, the damage being estimated at from ten to twenty thousand dollars. The fire, which started in a shed adjoining the B.J. Kelsey store, on a corner of the main street, spread to the store and wiped out the whole corner, consisting of two places of business and one dwelling house to the south of the store. Three families were made homeless, and although there was time to carry much of the merchandise from the store and the household goods out into the street, breakage and fire caused almost a total loss to the entire contents.

The telephone office, located next door to the store, was wiped out, and the only communication with the village for several days was over the railroad telephone lines.

The fire was discovered about 11:30 p.m. and a call sent out for the fire departments of surrounding villages. The Pine City fire department came and arrived in time to keep the fire from spreading further. The absence of wind helped the fire fighters but the structures, all old frame buildings, burned like matchwood, and sparks for a time threatened the entire village, while buildings across the wide street smoldered and smoked.

The village has no water system or modern fire fighting equipment.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Disgraceful Affair

From the Pine County News, October 14, 1876:

Mr. J.W. Mills, who has been a resident of Rock Creek, Pine County, for the past two years, or at least his family has, has been in the habit of abusing his wife and children in a most shameful manner. Last spring he left home for the purpose of a final separation, but after staying away all summer, he drifted back last week and visited his wife, who lives at that place, and commenced his abuse upon her. She sent one of her children to the neighbors to inform them of her treatment, and several men called, took Mr. Mills by the ear, led him out, and told him to depart from town and not show himself there again. He left on the first train. In the evening, the citizens held a public meeting, and, after discussing the subject fully, signed the following paper, which effectually shows the feelings toward the family.


We, the undersigned, citizens of Rock Creek, have resolved ourselves into a committee to assist and aid Mrs. J.W. Mills and her two children to live comfortably through the coming winter, as far as we are able, in the way of clothing and provisions.

Chas. Gill, President
W.H. Gray, Clerk
O. Hewson
May Hewson
Cecil B. Burger
C.W. Gill
A.C. Burger
Fred L. Sherburn
S.M. Hewson
Mrs. M.E. Gray
Mrs. F.A. Webber

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Old Joe's Road

Long ago, no one remembers exactly when, a man named Joe lived out east of Sandstone on a lonely country road. Joe had a wife and five children. He also had a violent streak.

One night, something in old Joe must have cracked. Perhaps he got angry. Maybe he was poor and worn out and desperate. In any case, something drove Joe to the breaking point. He murdered his wife and their five children and then killed himself.

This sad story might have been lost to time, but something very strange happened after Joe and his family died. People traveling down old Joe's country road began to see things, a strange light moving in the darkness. At first they may have thought they were seeing a lantern carried by some hunter or farmer out for a nighttime stroll. But no one ever answered their calls, and no one lived nearby. A few brave souls approached the mysterious light, trying to discern what might be out there in the wilderness. As they stealthily moved forward, edging closer and closer, they would suddenly find themselves plunged into pitch darkness as the light disappeared, seemingly snuffed out like a candle. Sometimes the light exhibited another strange phenomenon. It would unexpectedly split into seven parts.

Some said that old Joe was still carrying his lantern, looking for his murdered family. Others added that perhaps he had found them.

The years went by, but the mysterious light continued to shine on Old Joe's Road, as the lonely stretch of gravel came to be known. Many generations of Sandstone residents have parked on a low hill along this country lane in hopes of catching a glimpse of the “spook light.” Most of them haven't been disappointed. Some have been terrified, others amused. Some firmly maintained that old Joe's spirit was walking. Others rolled their eyes and announced that the light was no more than swamp gas or willow-the-wisp, although a University of Minnesota study team examining the light declared that they had no idea what it was and walked away scratching their heads.

Perhaps old Joe still does haunt his old home east of Sandstone. Perhaps his family walks beside him. Maybe the light on Old Joe's Road will even shine tonight.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Wiberg Family

C.J. Wiberg, his wife, Francis, and their children, Alice (in her father's arms), Nellie, Frederick, and Arthur, posed beside their home on the shores of Grindstone Lake.  Mr. Wiberg was the manager of the Schwyzer farmstead on the east side of Grindstone Lake around the turn of the twentieth century.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Sad Accident

From Sandstone's Pine County Courier, January 3, 1895:

"The report of a terrible accident that is characteristic of the dangerous side of life in lumbering camps reached this place early this morning. The unfortunate occurrence happened at Wm. O'Brien's camp about nine miles south of town, of which George Colby is foreman. At about five o'clock last evening, just before the time for returning to camp, Wm. Ruley, a sawyer, was killed by having a large pine tree fall directly across his body. The crush was complete and death instantaneous. Mr. Ruley was an unmarried man about 23 years of age, who has always lived with his parents about five miles west of Taylors Fall. His body was taken to Hinckley to be carried home for interment."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The First Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery: Pine County's Contribution to Saving the Union - Part 5

The monument honoring the First Minnesota's valor at Shiloh

A view from the Hornet's Nest

The Shiloh National Cemetery

(Photos courtesy of the National Park Service.)

Friday, August 5, 2011

The First Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery: Pine County's Contribution to Saving the Union - Part 4

          The First Minnesota remained on active military duty for the remainder of the Civil War. The battery participated in the siege and battle of Corinth, Mississippi, contributing significantly to the victory of the Union forces. (33) The unit also “stood up to its work nobly” during the siege of Vicksburg and helped the Union capture the city. As the Union troops moved east, the First Minnesota traveled with them, taking part in the campaign and battle of Atlanta, the battle of Ezra Church in Georgia, Sherman's March to the Sea, and the Battle of Cheraw in South Carolina. (34) Throughout its term of service, the First Minnesota behaved valiantly under the pressure of battle, its soldiers bravely doing their duty to the best of their ability. On May 24, 1865, the battery participated in the Grand Review in Washington, D.C., celebrating the final Confederate surrender and Union victory. The Civil War was over, and the men of the First Minnesota were ready to go home. They were officially mustered out of military service on June 30, 1865, and sent by train back to Minnesota, where they were given a “warm and hearty reception” by their fellow citizens. (35)
          The members of the First Minnesota from Pine County returned to their civilian lives at different times and in diverse ways, and their post-war lives followed a variety of paths. Captain Emil Munch returned to the First Minnesota after being wounded at Shiloh, but because of the severity of his injuries, he found himself unequal to the strenuous nature of active military duty. He resigned as captain of the First Minnesota in December of 1862 and returned to Minnesota where he joined the Fifth Brigade, Minnesota State Militia, as a brigadier general. In this commission, he helped fortify settlements in western Minnesota after the 1862 Dakota Conflict. Munch joined the Veteran Reserve Corps in August of 1863 and spent the rest of the war at Camp Douglas, Illinois, guarding military prisons and performing court martial duty. After the war, Munch briefly returned to Chengwatana. Over the years, he served as Deputy State Treasurer and State Treasurer and operated lumber and milling businesses in Afton, Minnesota. Emil Munch died August 30, 1887. (36) William Eppel died at St. Louis on June 20, 1862; he is buried in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. (37) William Fenkner was mustered out of the First Minnesota on December 17, 1864, along with several of his comrades, after completing his term of service. (38) He moved to Wright County, Minnesota, after the war and apparently married and had children. William died in the late 1870s, and is buried in Delano, Minnesota. Joseph Gray was mustered out with the rest of his unit on June 30, 1865, but no further records exist to show what happened to him after the war. Lieutenant Henry S. Hurter returned to Chengwatana after the war. In 1870, he was still farming there. He had married his wife, Kate, in 1866, and they had a four-year-old adopted daughter named Ada. By 1880, the family was living in St. Paul, where Henry worked as a bookkeeper. In the mid-1880s, Henry moved his family to Washington, D.C., to take a job as a government clerk. When the Minnesota Legislature appointed a Board of Commissioners to prepare and publish a record of Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, Henry wrote a thorough narrative of the First Minnesota's service. Henry Hurter never moved back to Minnesota. He died May 7, 1912, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Because of Charles A. Johnson's all-too-common name, it is difficult to trace his activities after the war. A pension index shows that he married a woman named Betsey and claimed to be an invalid in 1886. According to this record, he died early in 1905. Paul Munch resigned from the First Minnesota in September of 1862 and was officially discharged from service in April of 1863. After his time in the military, Paul moved to Franconia in Chisago County where he engaged in the milling business. He married and had a large family. The 1900 census shows Paul living in Pine City, and he died in Pine County on July 26, 1901. He is buried in Franconia Cemetery in Chisago County next to his wife, Carolina, and several of their children. (39)
          About 1907, the Minnesota legislature appointed the Minnesota-Shiloh Monument Commission to design and erect a monument to the First Minnesota in the Shiloh National Military Park. The commission hired sculptor John K. Daniels of St. Paul to design the piece, which was constructed by the P.N. Peterson Granite Company for a total cost of $4,000. The monument, which was placed on the site of the Hornet's Nest, features a life-sized bronze statue of an artilleryman, a tall base of Minnesota granite, and a plaque that reads as follows:


The First Minnesota monument was dedicated on April 10, 1908, and still stands on the battlefield as a reminder of and tribute to the brave men of the First Minnesota who fought so valiantly at Shiloh and throughout the Civil War. (40)

33. Ibid., 644-645.
34. Ibid, 645-648.
35. Ibid., 649.
36. “Emil Munch: An Inventory of His Civil War Papers at the Minnesota Historical Society,” Minnesota Historical Society, (accessed July 19, 2011); W.H.C. Folsom, Fifty Years in the Northwest (St. Paul: Pioneer Press Company, 1888), 341.
37. Hurter, 650.
38. Ibid.
39. The information on the veterans of the First Minnesota comes from a variety of primary sources including censuses, grave markers, city directories, muster lists, and pension index cards.
40. “Civil War Memorial Commission Shiloh Monument Commission: An Inventory of Its Report,” Minnesota Historical Society, (accessed July 21, 2011); Timothy B. Smith, This Great Battlefield of Shiloh: History, Memory, and the Establishment of a Civil War National Military Park (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2004), 138; Jim Miller, “1st Minnesota Battery Light Artillery Monument: Shiloh National Military Park,” Civil War Notebook, (accessed July 21, 2011).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The First Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery: Pine County's Contribution to Saving the Union - Part 3

          A little past five o'clock on the morning of Sunday, April 6, 1862, the men of the First Minnesota heard gunshots. At first, they were not concerned, thinking that their pickets were firing the signal that they had been relieved of duty. The unit continued its task of cleaning up the camp for Sunday inspection. (13) By seven, however, Munch and his men knew that something significant was going on. Several officers had left General Prentiss' headquarters and were dashing in the direction of the gunfire. The Eighteenth Wisconsin infantry quickly followed. By half past seven, the First Minnesota received the order to move forward toward a clearing known as Spain field. (14) Lieutenant Henry Hurter of Chengwatana explained what happened next:

"Without rations, without baggage of any kind, leaving our knapsacks packed in our tents...we left the camp under orders to proceed to the front, following the four guns of the Fifth Ohio. We had not proceeded over three-quarters of a mile when the latter pulled out to the left of the road and commenced to get into battery. We formed on the right of the road, but before we had unlimbered, the rebels, whom we saw skulking through the woods, opened on us, and one man (Stinson) fell shot through the neck, while three others (Lammers, Davis and Blood) were wounded." (15)

In spite of the casualties, the First Minnesota hurried into position and fired the first artillery shots of the day. (16) The battle began in earnest with the two artillery units rapidly launching canister rounds across Spain field even though they were under heavy musket fire from the Confederates. The Union infantry could not hold the line and began to withdraw until the two batteries stood alone without a single infantryman to support them. (17) First Lieutenant William Pfaender recalled, “...very soon, instead of being covered by our infantry, we were left behind alone covering the retreat of our running protectors.” (18) Captain Munch and the Fifth Ohio's Captain Hickenloper recognized their precarious position and ordered a retreat. The Fifth Ohio had already lost two of its guns to the Confederates and made a wild dash for safety behind Prentiss' lines. The First Minnesota followed quickly under intense fire. One driver was wounded and veered to the side. His gun became stuck between two trees, and its carriage broke. The driver and gun were soon rescued and pulled off to safety. Captain Munch's horse was shot out from under him, and Munch himself was hit in the thigh by a musket ball as he was trying to unbuckle his saddle. His injury was severe enough to put him out of commission for the rest of the battle, and Lieutenants Pfaender and Peebles took over command. (19)
          The First Minnesota reformed its battery near their original campsite, facing a log house and barricades constructed by the Confederates. From here they resumed their fire. One of the center guns was soon disabled when a shell jammed in it. Several men, including Henry Hurter, moved the gun off the battlefield to the rear, hoping to swap out the disabled gun for the one with the broken carriage. These men did not rejoin the battle. (20)
          Soon the First Minnesota's new position was nearly overrun. As Prentiss' infantry once again retreated, the Confederates pressed closely on the battery, which continued to fire as long as it could. (21) A short time later, the First Minnesota was forced to retreat amidst the chaos of fleeing Union soldiers and attacking Confederates. Lieutenant Pfaender, unwilling to surrender, rode out to seek an officer for further orders. He found General Prentiss, who was trying to rally his shaken troops. Prentiss ordered Pfaender to reform the First Minnesota on an elevated piece of land facing an open field. A Missouri battery set up immediately to the First Minnesota's left, and the two units were prepared for action by about eleven o'clock. (22) Historian Ronald E. McRoberts describes what happened next:

"For hours the Confederates dashed against this line, attacking again and again, pounding the Union positions with the accompaniment of artillery. Each time the attack was repelled. The losses of the Confederates were great, and it became difficult for their officers to rally their men and lead them to renewed attack. Twice rebel batteries were placed in the timber at the further edge of the field to dislodge the Union artillery, but before they were able to get the range, the First Minnesota silenced them. The left section of the battery, under Lieutenant Peebles, bore the brunt of the battle. Several times it repelled determined rebel charges. It was badly cut up, but inflicted terrible losses on the enemy by mowing them down with canister at close range. To the Confederate survivors of one charge, the stinging blasts of Union artillery seemed like facing a swarm of hornets, and they termed the Union stronghold, 'the Hornet's Nest.'" (23)

All afternoon, brigade after brigade of Confederate infantry charged across the open field toward the position of the First Minnesota, who held strong and repulsed each attack. The Confederate forces soon tired and became less and less willing to attempt frontal assaults on the Hornet's Nest. Confederate commanders decided to try another approach in their attempts to dislodge the Union artillery. Part of the Union force had already begun to fall back about mid-afternoon; the soldiers were simply exhausted, but this withdrawal had dangerously exposed the flank of the First Minnesota. (24)
          About five o'clock, the First Minnesota noticed that they were actually receiving fire from the rear. The Confederates had surreptitiously made their way through the gap left by retreating Union infantry to attack Union artillery from another angle. General Wallace, the commander currently in charge, gave the order to retreat. The First Minnesota quickly obeyed, dashing through the last gap in the Confederate lines with the enemy's infantry making vigorous attempts to cut them off. The battery swung around on a piece of high ground, formed quickly, and fired canister at the approaching Confederates, who drew back enough to allow the First Minnesota to make their escape. (25) The First Minnesota had suffered several casualties, including Privates Colby Stinson, Ole Taxdahl, and Richard Tilson, who were killed; Corporals C.S. Davis and George Lammers, who were mortally wounded; Captain Emil Munch, Lieutenant Ferd Peebles, and Sergeants William Clayton and Jesse Conner, who were severely wounded; and several others who were slightly wounded. (26) The unit did manage to stay together and reach safety behind Union lines with all its guns still in its possession, but General Prentiss, the unit's commander during most of the battle, was captured along with over two thousand other Union soldiers. (27)
          The Union set up a new battle line along the bluffs of the Tennessee River with the First Minnesota forming on the army's left flank in support of a battery of heavy artillery siege guns, which were prepared to check any further Confederate advances. (28) The Confederates, however, were exhausted and running out of ammunition, and while they tried to rally and attack the new Union position, they were driven back by the First Minnesota and other Union batteries who had lined up along the bluffs. (29) As night fell, the battle ended for the day, and Union soldiers made their camp at the battle line.
          The second day of the Battle of Shiloh was quite different from the first. Lieutenant Pfaender reported early in the morning to General Ulysses S. Grant to present his battery as ready for service. He was instructed to remain in position and be ready to enter into active duty. The order never came. Twenty thousand fresh Union troops had arrived during the night, and while the Confederates fought hard to retain the ground won the previous day, they were forced back, and by two o'clock, the Confederate commander, General P.G.T. Beauregard, ordered his army to withdraw, leaving the Union victorious. The First Minnesota was never called to participate in the second day's battle, probably to their great relief. (30)
          In the midst of the chaos of battle, the First Minnesota's role in the Battle of Shiloh went without proper recognition for many years. In an 1888 lecture in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, General Prentiss acknowledged this oversight and asserted that “it was mainly due to the excellent work done by this battery that the 'Hornet's Nest,' with it comparatively small force of men, held out for so long against the overwhelming numbers of the enemy.” (31) Indeed, the First Minnesota's success in repelling charge after charge of Confederate soldiers prevented the Confederates from overrunning the Union lines, allowed Union infantry to retreat to safety more than once, and inflicted significant damage on the Confederate forces, weakening them and limiting their effectiveness against the Union stronghold along the Tennessee River bluffs. “One thing is sure,” wrote Lieutenant Henry Hurter, “and I defy anyone to deny the truth, that had the forces...not stood up so heroically and valiantly to their task, nothing would have prevented Beauregard and his hosts from the execution of his threat to drive us into the Tennessee.” (32)

13. Hurter, 640.
14. Ibid.; McRoberts, 3.
15. Hurter, 640.
16. Ibid, 642
17. McRoberts, 3-4.
18. Pfaender.
19. McRoberts, 4.
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid.
22. Ibid., 5; Hurter, 642-643.
23. McRoberts, 5.
24. Ibid., 6.
25. Ibid.
26. Hurter, 644.
27. Ibid, 643; “Benjamin Prentiss,” Wikipedia, (accessed July 18, 2011).
28. McRoberts, 6-7.
29. Ibid., 7.
30. Ibid.
31. Ibid.
32. Hurter, 641.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The First Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery: Pine County's Contribution to Saving the Union - Part 2

          The new unit, clad in new Union uniforms, left almost immediately for St. Louis, Missouri, where they were quartered in Benton Barracks. In January of 1862, the First Minnesota transferred to the arsenal to receive their weapons and prepare for active service. (7) Already, the men of the First Minnesota were realizing that war was not as glorious and heroic as they might have thought. In their two-month stay at St. Louis, the unit lost seven men. Stephen Emery and Mathew Wechsler died January 17, 1862; William P. Woodcock died January 25, 1862; Henry C. Hoppen died January 30, 1862; and Daniel Meyers died February 3, 1862. (8) These men most likely died from one of the many diseases that ran rampant in military camps. Their fellow soldier Hermann Gillermann drowned at St. Louis on March 10, 1862, and bugler Henry Rippe must have decided that military life was not for him. He deserted his unit on January 10, 1862. There is no record of his capture or return. (9)
          In March, the First Minnesota boarded the steamer Himalaya and traveled down the Mississippi River to Cairo, Illinois. They continued their journey up the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, and on March 18, they landed at Savannah, Tennessee. They were immediately sent to Pittsburg Landing, or Shiloh, Tennessee, to join General William Tecumseh Sherman's troops. On April 4, they were transferred to General Benjamin Prentiss' division and set up camp near the Fifth Battery, Ohio Light Artillery. (10) The Union forces spent much of their time drilling. They knew that the Confederates were close by, but since battle did not seem imminent, Union commanders took no “precautionary measures” like digging defensive trenches or sending out pickets and cavalry patrols to watch for an attack. (11)
          Union leaders probably should have been more wary about the situation, especially since they had been striving for months to gain and keep control of major rivers and supply lines in Kentucky and Tennessee. In February, General Ulysses S. Grant launched an attack on the Confederate stronghold Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and won a decisive victory. He then pressed on toward Fort Donelsen, where he laid siege against Confederate forces. The Union proved stronger than the Confederates, who surrendered unconditionally in mid-February. Grant seemed to be on his way to dominating the region. Confederate regional commander General A.S. Johnston was not about to let that happen if he could help it. He regrouped his forces a few miles away at Corinth, Mississippi, and lured Grant down the Tennessee River toward him. Grant set up camp at Pittsburg Landing, but he made a huge mistake. He failed to recognize Johnston's plan. (12)

7. McRoberts, 2.
8. Hurter, 650-652.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid, 640; McRoberts, 2.
11. William Pfaender to Alexander Ramsey, 1862, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul; Kenneth C. Davis, Don't Know Much About the Civil War (New York: HarperCollins, 1997), 224.
12. Kelly Knauer, ed., The Civil War 1861-1862: An Illustrated History (New York; Time Home Entertainment, 2011), 62-67.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The First Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery: Pine County's Contribution to Saving the Union - Part 1

          This year marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, a conflict that divided the nation and claimed over 600,000 lives. After years of hostility over states' rights and the spread of slavery, Abraham Lincoln's election was the last straw for disgruntled Southern states. South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860. Ten other states soon followed to form the Confederate States of America. On April 12, 1861, shots were fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, and the two nations, which only a few months before had been one, were officially at war.
          Pine County was still young and wild when the Civil War began. Organized in 1856, two years before Minnesota became a state, Pine County boasted a population of 91, according to the 1860 federal census, and all of these people lived in or near the county seat of Chengwatana. Chengwatana, located at the outlet of Cross Lake, began as the site of a logging dam built by Elam Greeley in 1849-1850. After several failed attempts to build a village, the Robertson Company, a group of land speculators led by Daniel A. Robertson, purchased the site in 1856 and sent its agent, Herman Trott, to take over efforts to settle the area. Trott tried his best. He platted a town, carved out streets, founded a general store, and improved the few meager buildings already present, including a sawmill, blacksmith shop, carpenter shop, stable, and “hotel.” He also applied to the Minnesota territorial legislature to organize Pine County. The project was plagued with difficulties from its inception; buildings burned, the bridge over the Snake River collapsed, a national financial panic dramatically decreased land values, and several residents moved away. In 1860, after the blacksmith shop had burned to the ground, Trott wrote to his employer, “It seems...this place is doomed. We only have a distant hope for the future.” (1)
          Chengwatana's troubles did not prevent its citizens from getting caught up in the patriotic rhetoric that accompanied the outbreak of the Civil War. “Save the Union!” was the cry sounded throughout the Northern states. One resident of Chengwatana, Emil Munch, decided to actively answer that call. Emil Munch was born in Prussia in 1831 and immigrated to America in 1849. He settled in Taylors Falls first, but by 1860, he was in Chengwatana, working as a carpenter and miller, investing in land, and serving as a member of the Minnesota Legislature. (2) In the summer of 1861, Munch traveled to St. Paul to volunteer his services in forming and leading a military unit. Governor Ramsey gratefully appointed him a captain and sent him home to recruit volunteers. (3) Munch returned to Chengwatana and called a meeting, hoping to inspire his neighbors to join him in this adventurous effort to save the Union. Several young men accepted his offer. William Eppel, age 21; William Fenkner, age 25; Joseph Gray, age 25; Henry Hurter, age 30; Charles A. Johnson, age 22; and Paul Munch, age 27, left with Captain Munch a few days later. (4) The group marched south through Taylors Falls, Stillwater, and St. Paul until they reached Fort Snelling where they met up with twenty-five men from New Ulm under the leadership of William Pfaender. When Governor Ramsey indicated Minnesota's need for a battery of light artillery, Munch and Pfaender decided to form their men into such a unit. They were joined by a group of men from southern Minnesota led by Ferd E. Peebles and together formed the First Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery with 156 men. The unit, which was mustered into service on November 7, 1861, elected Munch as captain and Pfaender and Peebles as first lieutenants. (5)
          At this point it might be helpful to pause briefly to examine the function of a battery of light artillery. Technically labeled “mounted artillery,” units like the First Minnesota were part of the military's field artillery division and were assigned to operate in support of infantry forces on the battlefield. They were mobile units that could transport their weapons from place to place as the situation demanded. Ironically, most men in mounted artillery batteries did not ride horses. Officers were literally mounted on horseback, and “drivers” rode or led the six-horse teams that towed cannons and other equipment, but the rest of the soldiers walked or, if there was a need for speed, grasped the “limber” (a two-wheeled vehicle that carried ammunition) and hung on. Field artillery units used several different types of cannons; the First Minnesota operated two 12-pound howitzers and four brass rifled 6-pound guns. Howitzers and 6-pound rifled guns weighed a hefty 750+ pounds apiece and fired everything from explosive shells to solid shot to canister (metal containers filled with lead or iron balls that sprayed out over a large area when fired). Artillerymen had the challenging jobs of transporting, loading, firing, and maintaining these weapons, often in the heat of battle and under heavy fire from the enemy's artillery and infantry. (6) Munch and his men were volunteering for a highly dangerous, extremely strenuous task.

1. Douglas A. Birk, “A Preliminary Historical and Archaeological Survey of the 'Old Chengwatana' Locale, Pine County, Minnesota,” Institute for Minnesota Archaeology Report of Investigations 34 (1988): 11-18.
2. Jim Cordes, Pine County...and Its Memories (North Branch: Review Corporation, 1989), 223; Birk, 18.
3. Ronald E. McRoberts, “First Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery at the Battle of Shiloh,” The Heritage of the 151st Field Artillery 2 (n.d.): 2.
4. Henry S. Hurter, “Narrative of the First Battery of Light Artillery,” in Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars 1861-1865, Vol. 1 (St. Paul: Pioneer Press Company, 1890), 650-651.
5. McRoberts, 2.
6. James Morgan, “'Mounted But Not Mounted': The Confusing Terminology of Artillery,” (accessed July 15, 2011); “Field Artillery in the American Civil War,” Wikipedia, (accessed July 15, 2011); “Civil War Artillery,” Civil War Academy, (accessed July 15, 2011).