Originally published 06/30/2013
In the smoky twilight outside Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, several regiments from Alabama were fighting their way down a slope into a rocky creek bed. Union soldiers were fleeing in front of them. The Confederates were almost at their goal -- to completely break the Union line and take a battery of big guns a few hundred yards away at the top of another slope called Cemetery Ridge. But out of the smoke, a line of Minnesotans came running toward them, firing and charging with leveled bayonets. Two major Civil War anniversaries are coming up this week. Given the choice between visiting Vicksburg, Miss., and Gettysburg, Pa., there was never any question of where dignitaries from Minnesota would pay their respects. The fall of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, may have been more important to defeating the South, and several thousand Minnesota soldiers were part of the siege that preceded the city's surrender.