Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia began to move north from its base in Fredricksburg on the Rappahonnock River on June 1st, 1863 on its second invasion of the Union.
A few days later Joseph Hooker ordered the the Army of the Potomoc to move from its base in Falmouth. During the month of June over 150,000 men were on the march.
The First Minnesota Regiment started marching from their camp on June 15th. During this march Charles Goddard wrote two letters to his mother in Winona and Matthew Marvin added to his two diaries, one bound and the other loose leaf. These documents provide sources for historians to explore the thoughts and actions of ordinary soldiers during this historic march.
Matthew Marvin's diaries on the Company K page reveal that preparations for this march were underway earlier and that they had made a false start on the 14th. Marvin's diaries provide some details about Company K's participation in this difficult march. Company K marched on 11 of the next fourteen days, averaging about 14 miles per day. On two days they made extended marches, 30 miles on June 15th and 31 miles on June 29th. The packs they carried weighed 40 to 50 pounds.
List the items that Goddard discusses in his letters and you get an idea of the broad interests soldiers had. Goddard is not reluctant to make a judgment but he seems to balance his criticism based on his knowledge of events.
Do the letters and diary provide clues about the attitude of the Minnesota soldiers. Were they ready for battle? Were they eager for battle?
Is it possible to tell from these documents that this regiment is a battle-seasoned veteran unit?
How did the weather contribute to the difficulty of the march? Was the weather more important to Goddard or Marvin? After June 18th the heat wave broke.
Try and reconstruct the incident involving the soldiers and the sutler. It resulted in a confrontation with the Adjutant General and could have lead to tragic consequences. What does this incident reveal about these veteran soldiers? What does it reveal about leadership among the officers and the enlisted men--who had their respect and confidence? What is their attitude toward the Provost Marshall versus their Corps officers? Marvin writes that "clubs trump other corps." this is a reference to Corps insignia--look at the painting of the July 2 Minnesota charge against Wilcox's Brigade.
On the march they passed the old battlefield of Bull Run. What comments did Goddard and Marvin write about what they saw--and what they were thinking? What time of day/night were they marching through this area?
How would you describe these soldier's readiness for battle on the eve of Gettysburg?