A Civil War Journal


Winona 1851-1861 
        Dakota Era
        Pioneer Era
        Eve of  War

Road to Gettysburg
        Company K

July 1, 1863
       Company K

July 2, 1863
        The Historians
        Company K

July 3, 1863
        Company K

July 4, 1863
        Company K



             Jane Ely
             Charles Ely



NYC & Brooklyn
        Company K

1ST Minnesota & 20th Maine

Acknowledgements & Credits

St. Patrick's Day,
March 17, 1863

Company K Roster

User's Guide


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A Civil War Journal

Company K, 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment

At Gettysburg July 1-4, 1863


Winona County Historical Society
Education Project


 This web site journal presents the battle of Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863 and its aftermath in the words of the men from Winona County's Company K who were at the center of this significant battle of the Civil War . Letters written by Alfred Carpenter, Jane Ely (mother of Charles) Charles Ely, Charles Goddard, William Lochren, and Matthew Marvin as well as a lengthy account of the battle by Alfred Carpenter and portions of Mathew Marvin's Diary are transcribed from the original manuscripts. The original letters and manuscripts are located in the History Center, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota and the Archives, Winona County Historical Society, Winona, Minnesota. Brief biographies of the authors of the letters are included with, in some cases, photographs in the Manuscript Section of this web site. Also included in this web site journal are contemporary official documents and reports on the battle; newspaper articles; photographs and drawings; and 19th and 20th century articles on the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment's role in this great battle.


The primary objective of this journal is educational. We believe that primary sources provide the best evidence for analyzing and understanding historical events. Original sources are difficult to for students to obtain and often too fragile to handle. The Web offers the opportunity for students (of all ages) easier access to original documents and sources. To assist students to focus on the documents and to relate them or put them in perspective, we are including questions which will guide students in their study of this micro-history of the Battle of Gettysburg.

This web site seeks is to portray the lives and actions of ordinary soldiers from Winona County  prior to, during, and after this epic battle.  The web site is more interested in the social history of the battle rather than the military aspects of this event. We are interested in how the men from Company K got to Gettysburg from their base along the Rappahannock River in the summer of 1863.  The observations about events of the march from their base in Falmouth, Virginia to Pennsylvania they wrote about in their letters and diaries reveals much about the men of Company K and we think reflects the experience of  ordinary soldiers in this historic event.  Reading the letters and diary allow students to better understand how these soldiers thought about and experienced the battle.  Students can determine if these soldiers were ready for the task that confronted them and how they responded. Careful reading of these documents allows us to understand better how these men from a new state west of the Mississippi got along with each other.  After two years of war and many battles they had become veteran soldiers and their shared experiences created a bond that made them a familial community--they were brothers.  

The attitude 1st Minnesota Regiment soldiers had toward Pennsylvanians was not similar to the historian's consensus interpretation.  We would like to know if these attitudes were held by other soldiers who passed that way.  

Some of the letters and diary entries written and documents that appeared in the days after the battle disclose  events on the Winona home front that offer students an opportunity to study the relationship between those who remained in Winona and the soldiers of Company K.

The 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment

The 1st Minnesota was one of the outstanding regiments of the Civil War.  It played a critical role in the Battle of Gettysburg along with other  famous regiments like the 20th Maine and the 140th New York.  On the second day of the battle this regiment stopped the advance of Wilcox's Brigade.  The regiment suffered an 82 percent causality rate. See The Historian's View.

The Manuscripts

The letters and diaries that make up a significant portion of this site are transcribed from the original handwritten documents. Our goal is to transcribe these documents verbatim. In some cases we were unable to determine a word or phrase, this is signified by an ellipsis . . . in cases where we were not sure of a word or phrase our best opinion/guess is included in brackets [best opinion/ guess].

Site Description   

This site is divided into an introductory section on Winona and other five sections which tell the story of the men of Company K at the Battle of Gettysburg and conclude with Charles Goddard's search for the company and the First Regiment in New York City. The story is told through primary sources, letters, diaries, newspaper articles, photographs and reports. Additional sections beyond the "story" are: Winona 1851-1861; 1st Minnesota and 20th Maine St. Patrick's Day, 1863, Company K Roster and a Manuscript page which contains letters and diary entries as well as the complete letters and reports which were excerpted in the story. There are also additional letters, diary entries and newspaper articles. 

Each section deals with one subject. For example, July 2 focuses on the famous First Regiment charge which occurred at dusk on that day and was one of the major contributions to the Union victory. The gallant charge of these men against an enemy force which outnumbered them six to one is certainly comparable to the magnificent deeds of the 20th Maine in its ultimate significance. The section's sub-pages cover this action as seen by historians, participants and the official records. 

The July 4th page briefly describes the situation on the battlefield and then through eyewitness accounts and reports. A story in the local paper describing a July 4th outing raises a number of issues, in particular the apparent contrast between the home front (in Gettysburg and Winona) and the battlefront. Questions for consideration are offered to guide the students' study of the topic(s). More evidence on these issues is found (or soon will be) in the manuscript pages. The manuscript pages contain the complete reports excerpted in the individual pages e.g. Alfred Carpenter's long letter describing the battle, written on July 30th. These pages contain many letters and newspaper articles not used in the individual pages. References are made in some questions to assist students in finding the location of the appropriate documents.

New information about the Irish Brigade with an image of a newly discovered battle flag appears on the St. Patrick's Day page along with a letter and a diary entry describing how two Winona soldiers viewed this famous fighting force.


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Comments, Questions, Complaints: bcrozier@smumn.edu

1998 Winona County Historical Society,160 Johnson Street, Winona, MN 55987