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Minnesotans honor state regiment's role at Gettysburg

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Minnesota state officials are marking the 150th anniversary of the battle at Gettysburg, a key point in the Civil War in which Minnesota soldiers played a significant role, the Associated Press reports.

A group of about 90 Civil War buffs and others from the state are on their way to Pennsylvania to mark the anniversary, and Gov. Mark Dayton gave the group an early sendoff Tuesday, the AP reported.

Gettysburg, the war's bloodiest battle with 51,000 casualties, was the inspiration of President Lincoln's famous address.

The Minnesota History Center has collected a number of descriptions of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment's role in the battle. Among them:

"The First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment was the first in the nation to answer President Abraham Lincoln's call for troops in 1861, and they courageously served with great distinction. The 262 men of the First Minnesota played a heroic but tragic role at the Battle of Gettysburg. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning "Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era," James McPherson wrote, 'The 20th Maine and the 1st Minnesota achieved lasting fame by throwing back Confederate attacks that came dangerously close to breakthroughs. . . . The Minnesotans did the job, but only 47 of them came back.' "

The history center is marking the battle with a four-day special exhibit July 1-4. The events include a lecture by Richard Moe, author of "Last Full Measure: The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers. The center notes that Moe has described the regiment as made up of both native U.S. born and immigrants, and included farmers, loggers, clerks, students and lawyers who served in most major battles in the eastern theater during the first three years of the war.

The history center has an expansive exhibit that includes letters, diaries and other testimonials from Minnesotans who lived during the war. It runs through Sept. 8.

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