Olmsted County, Minnesota


Olmsted County's War Record

The firing on Fort Sumter by the rebels, the 12th of April, 1861, was the opening of the War of the Rebellion, lasting through four of the most tragically eventful years of the nation's history, four long years, during which the war and its events were the daily life of the country. The State of Minnesota sent more than half of its voting population to the war. Olmsted County's war record was highly creditable to its patriotism. Governor Ramsey made the first tender of troops to President Lincoln and Minnesota was called upon for one regiment, but such was the loyalty of its citizens that nearly two regiments volunteered under the first call. The greatest enthusiasm in behalf of the firing on Fort Sumter by the rebels, the 12th of April, the Union was aroused throughout the county, meetings were held, enlistments were volunteered and companies formed. Though the population of the county was but 12,000, it furnished during the four years of the war 1,250 volunteers.

The First Minnesota Regiment was, as was to be expected, raised chiefly in St. Paul and the larger and contiguous towns, and only a few individual enlistments in it were from Olmsted County. The first organized action in the county was in June, 1861, when Company B of the Second Regiment was recruited with William Markham, captain; Daniel Heaney, first lieutenant; Abram Harkins, second lieutenant. The regiment did distinguished service. It was conspicuous in the battle of Mill Springs, one of the first Union victories, and at Chickamauga repulsed one of the most desperate rebel charges of the whole war.

At Mill Springs:
Hyrcanus C. Reynolds and John B. Cooper, of Olmsted County, were killed
Milo Crumb and Andrew Drieske mortally wounded
Captain Markham, Justus B. Chambers and John Etzell were also wounded.

At Chickamauga the Olmsted County killed were:
Curtis L. Cutting
Samuel D. Calvert
Ambrose H. Palmer
Samuel Taylor
Flavius J. Crabb
John L. Kinney
A. V. Doty
Greenville Farrier were mortally wounded

Captain Harkins lost his arm.
George A. Baker was captured and sent to Andersonville and
Ashley W. Wood was captured and died while a prisoner.

At Mission Ridge, Benjamin F. Talbot was killed.

Colonel George, at a reunion of the regiment several years after the war, said: "The Second never misunderstood an order, never charged the rebels without driving them, was never charged by the rebels but the rebels were repulsed, and never retreated under the fire of the enemy."

Col. William Markham was born in the State of New York in 1824. He and his brother, Matthew Markham, were sailors off the coast of Alaska in 1842 and 1843. They left the ship and went to California in 1845, and on the breaking out of the Mexican war they shipped in a United States man-of-war. At the close of that struggle they were returned to the United States. The ship in which they served brought the first shipment of gold from California to New York. The brothers went to Oshkosh, Wisconsin and from there came to Rochester in 1858, where they engaged in bricklaying and building.

Colonel Markham passed through the battle of Mill Springs with distinguished coolness and gallantry, and resigned from the Second Regiment and was appointed major of the Ninth Regiment and became its lieutenant-colonel. He participated with his regiment in the severe fighting that characterized the battles of Guntown, Tupelo and Nashville. He served till the end of the war and everywhere deported himself as a good soldier and a brave man. He returned to Rochester and lived there about a year and removed to Kansas, where he died in October, 1866. He was a very intelligent man and in his social intercourse displayed much originality of character and a rare degree of companionableness.

Daniel Heaney was a native of the Isle of Man. He came to Rochester from Indiana in 1855 and became the chief clerk in the store of John R. Cook. He for a while was also part proprietor of a store at Durango, now New Haven. Not long after leading his company in the battle of Mill Springs he became adjutant to Colonel Van Cleve and was later commissioned as quartermaster and continued in that service till the close of the war, when he returned to Rochester. He was an enthusiastic horseman and introduced the Kentucky stock in Olmsted County. He built Heaney's block, the largest store building in Rochester, and was chiefly instrumental in establishing the fair grounds and race track. He was liberal and generous and exceedingly popular. He met with financial reverses "and is now living at the Minnesota Soldiers' Home.

Lieut. John L. Gaskill, who enlisted from High Forest in 1861, was promoted to second lieutenant in 1864 and served till the end of the war, when he returned to Olmsted County.

Samuel A. Miller enlisted in Company B, and in 1863 was transferred to Company E, First Kentucky Light Artillery, and promoted from second lieutenant to captain. He was born in Ohio in 1840 and came with the family of his father, Lewis Miller, to Haverhill Township in 1858 and moved to Rochester in 1860. He learned the trade of a painter. After the war he was twenty-three years a commercial traveler and has since lived in Rochester. He is now truant officer of the Board of Education.

Company K of the Third Regiment was recruited in November, 1861, and was composed largely of Olmsted county men. It was officered by Mark W. Clay, captain: James L. Hodges, first lieu tenant; Cyrene H. Blakely, second lieutenant.

Captain Clay was discharged in December, 1862, and Lieutenant Hodges became captain. Eben North was promoted to second lieu tenant in October, 1864, and afterwards to first lieutenant of Company G.

In November, 1861, the regiment was sent to Louisville, and while there measles became epidemic in the regiment. Of Company K, George W. Russell, James L. Bundy and Samuel Northrop died. After doing provost duty at Nashville they were sent to Murfreesboro. In July, 1862, the unfortunate surrender of the regiment by Colonel Lester to General Forrest took place. The officers were taken south and the privates sent to McMinnville, Tennessee, and paroled. Captain Mills and Lieutenant Hodges escaped and got into the Union lines after severe experiences. The regiment after its return to St. Louis was engaged in the protection of the frontier against the Sioux in Minnesota and Dakota and did gallant service. The regiment' was again ordered South in November, 1863 and was in active service till the end of the war, in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, and acquitted itself creditably.

The following members of the Third Regiment from Olmsted County died in the service:

Grover B. Lansing
Amos Lisher
John Bump
Alpheus W. Bulen
William J. Corpe
Joshua C. Hartshorn
Martin Webster
Ira Andrus
John J. Campbell
Samuel Crumb
Robert Fulton
Frederick Gilbert
Christian Mark
Benjamin K. Moren
Charles W. Moon
William F. Scott
Roswell Stanton
John Snyder
Henry Ward
Edward R. Williams
Charles H. Weston*

* Drowned

Capt. Mark W. Clay was a native of New Hampshire. At the age of sixteen he worked two years in a shoe factory and then became a bookkeeper in Boston. His health broke down and he came west. He located in Oronoco village in 1855 and opened a shoe shop, which developed into a store, and was in that business when he went into the army. On his return from the army he again went into the mercantile business and was successful. His frame store building burning down, he erected the brick store and hall which is the largest business house in the village. Among his other enterprises he issued a paper for more than a year, inventing and building his own cylinder press, the cylinder being an old roller from the flour mill. He was postmaster in 1861 and for several years after the war. He was chairman of the township supervisors and clerk and treasurer. He was a very active and enterprising business man and popular socially. He removed to Hutchinson, Minnesota, became prominent in Odd Fellowship, and was elected grand master of the State. He died several years ago. Capt. James L. Hodges was a farmer; one of the early settlers of Marion township. He returned to Olmsted County after the war, but removed to Arkansas. He was of good education and energetic and active in local affairs.

Capt. Cyrenus H. Blakely was a native of Vermont, born in 1837. He came to Rochester in 1859 and was one of the publishers, with his brother David, of the Rochester Post. He was commissioned as captain and commissary. He returned to Rochester after the war, but removed to Chicago and established one of the largest printing establishments in that city. He died in 1898. He was an able business man and of fine social qualities'.

Lieut. Eben North was one of the earliest settlers of Pleasant Grove Township, being a farmer. He came from New England. He returned to Pleasant Grove after the war and was a farmer there for a number of years and moved, a few years ago, to California, where he is now living. He held the office of town super visor in Pleasant Grove and was highly esteemed.

Dr. Elisha W. Cross was commissioned as assistant surgeon and was promoted to surgeon of the Fourth Minnesota Regiment. He was born in Vermont in 1828, graduated as a physician in 1851 and practiced in Vermont till 1860, when he came to Roches ter and went into partnership with his brother, Dr. E. C. Cross, who had come two years before. They had a large practice. In his military service Dr. E. W. Cross was in the battles of Vicksburg and Lookout Mountain and in the battle of Altoona, where Gen. Corse received the celebrated dispatch from Sherman, "Hold the fort. I am coming," and was in Sherman's march to the sea. After the war he returned to Rochester and resumed the practice of his profession. He was highly esteemed for his courtesy and kindness. He died in 1899, after suffering several years, from a spinal complaint.

Company H of the Sixth Regiment was recruited chiefly in Olmsted County in 1862.

Its officers were:
William K. Tattersall, Captain
Samuel Geisinger, First Lieutenant
William Brown, Second Lieutenant

Lieutenant Geisinger resigned in 1864 on account of disability and Second Lieutenant Brown was made first lieutenant and William M. Evans was promoted from sergeant to second lieutenant. The regiment's first service was in protecting the frontier against the Indians. In 1865 the regiment was sent to Helena, Arkansas, where it sustained many losses from sickness. It was next sent to St. Louis on provost duty, and from there to New Orleans and was engaged in the siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely at the close of the war.

Among the members of the regiment lost by sickness were the following:

Samuel L. Gibson
Morgan L. Bulen
Americus Boright
Daniel H. Crego
John Chappens
Daniel McArthur
David L. Humes
George H. Woodbury
Eliphalet Speed

Lieut. Samuel Geisinger was a native of Canada, born in 1816. His family moved to Ohio in his early childhood. He received an academic education and at the age of twenty-four moved to Indiana, where he was a dry goods merchant twelve years and county treasurer five years. He came to Rochester in 1857, bringing a stock of clothing, and opened a store in a building on Broadway that he had built. After two years service in the army he resigned on account of disability and returned to Rochester and engaged in the drug business in partnership with F. A. Poole, and later with Angelo Newton. He was postmaster for about a year, from 1865. For several years he was proprietor of a large farm adjoining Rochester, but lived in the city. He was enterprising, public-spirited and a prominent member of the community. He died on Memorial Day, 1896.

Lieut. William Brown was a native of Canada, but moved with his parents to the State of New York when two years old and lived there more than ten years, going from there to Wisconsin, where he was treasurer of the city of Ripon, and coming to Olmsted County in 1861, where he worked at his trade, blacksmithing. At the close of his service in the army he resumed his trade in Roches ter, and, in 1867, was elected sheriff and served two terms, being one of the most popular officers the county ever had. In 1876 he engaged in farming in Cascade Township and was very successful. He afterwards moved to Rochester, where he died in 1894. He was of unusual intelligence, of fine social qualities, of the highest honor and most popular.

In August, 1862, O. P. Stearns and Milton J. Daniels, of Rochester, secured, within a few days, 101 recruits, all from Olmsted County. They were mustered in at Fort Snelling as Company F of the Ninth Regiment, with A. M. Enoch as captain; O. P. Stearns, first lieutenant, and Milton J. Daniels, second lieutenant. The regiment was kept in the State for the protection of the frontier against the Sioux Indians till the fall of 1863, when it was sent south.

Captain Enoch was accidentally shot through the breast and resigned. Lieutenant Stearns was commissioned colonel of a colored regiment and Lieutenant Daniels became captain of the company, with A. M. Hall, first lieutenant, and A. J. McMillan, second lieutenant.

The company as part of the celebrated Ninth Regiment, saw much hard service and achieved a great reputation. It had the misfortune of being in the disastrous battle of Guntown, where it acquitted itself with much credit. It shared in the splendid victory of Tupelo and had a conspicuous part in the gallant charges ending in the grand victories of Nashville.

  Olmsted County |Minnesota AHGP 

Source: History of Olmsted County Minnesota, by Hon. Joseph A. Leonard, Chicago, Goodspeed Historical Association, 1910.


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