Independence Day is right around the corner and it always leads me to recall some of the memorable ways that I have experienced this special day. One story that is at the top of the list involves me walking in on a burglary in progress happening at our small-town hardware store.
I was too young to realize that the store wasn’t actually open when I walked in right behind burglars. I was looking for those red cap gun tapes, and I knew right where they were – in the back of the store. By the time I got to the back, it didn’t take me long to put it together that most of the lights were turned out and there didn’t seem to be a person working. Making a long story short, I calmly walked out of the store while the two burglars looked dumbfounded at me.
I promptly hopped on my bike and flew home where I alerted my dad. The would-be burglars were caught later that evening.
Another time, my brother and I were delivering Sunday papers on a rural route when the tire on the van blew, sending us into the ditch and totaling the van. We came out OK.
Later we played our instruments on a haywagon in a parade in Melrose. Other memories include watching fireworks over Bay Lake from a pontoon with friends; standing up at the parade in Brainerd to applaud Bataan Death March survivors as they rode by on a float; participating in a mass water fight at the Ward Springs parade; and bringing my family down to Lions Park for the amazing celebration in Elk River.
It turns out that there were some local men, 150 years ago, that spent Independence Day in a very different way, and would have had quite the story to tell in their day.
This year marks the 150th Commemoration of the Battle of Gettysburg, and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to go to Gettysburg with the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force. My friend and fellow photographer, Doug Ohman and I will be documenting the Task Force’s journey.
When I committed to going on the trip, I started doing my research on Gettysburg, and that involved watching movies and reading books on the subject, the usual stuff. I love to learn about new things, so this new adventure was more like a challenge to learn as much as I could about the Battle of Gettysburg and other aspects of the Civil War in a few short months.
I am a World War II and history buff, and what I find is that I’m not that interested in war and tactics, but what I find really interesting is the stories of everyday people and how they answered the call, persevered in the most horrible of circumstances and, for those that survived, the way in which they continued on with their lives and passed on their stories to the next generation so that we will not forget.
Doug and I went about searching Minnesota cemeteries, specifically for grave markers of members of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry that served at Gettysburg. I also focused on individuals wounded at Gettysburg who are buried locally. You probably know that we have many Civil War veterans buried in the area, but did you know that we have several wounded Gettysburg survivors buried in the area? There may be some that I haven’t discovered yet, so if you are reading this and know more about this, let me know.
Anson R. Hayden was one of those men. Hayden was a survivor of Bull Run. He was later wounded on July 2 at Gettysburg during the now-famous charge by the First Minnesota.
After he finished his three-year enlistment, Hayden came back to Minnesota and became a lumberman like so many other war veterans of the time. He also served in the Minnesota State Legislature.
Hayden married twice. His first wife, Mary E. Donnelly died in childbirth at the age of 18. The baby did not survive. Mary is buried in Elk River. Nine years later, Hayden married Delia Goodbout in Elk River. They had four children: Ada, Ida, and twins, Dora and Cora. Sgt. Anson Hayden died at his home in Anoka in 1885. He was 50 years old and is buried in Elk River.
Oscar Woodward was 18 years old when he enlisted and just two years later he was killed at Gettysburg, just before the charge. His home town is recorded as Elk River. Woodward is buried in the Minnesota section of the Gettysburg National Cemetery.
Joseph McDonald was a bachelor, farming in Otsego before the war. While not wounded at Gettysburg, he was there for the repulse of Pickett’s Charge on July 3. He was also involved in action at Edward’s Ferry and was wounded at the Battle of Savage Station. McDonald is buried in Otsego.
In a grave located near Joseph McDonald’s, a man named Leonard Snow is buried. Snow was not at Gettysburg, as he was discharged four months earlier because of a wound he received at Savage Station. I thought it was worth mentioning because he was a member of the First Minnesota, and after the war he lived in Otsego area, mainly in Elk River.
One other Otsego connection that I came across was a man named George W. Bartlett. Bartlett was wounded on July 2 at Gettysburg, but survived his injuries and returned to live in Otsego until 1878. He then moved to Milbank, S.D., and is buried there.
Just to our north, there are two men buried in Princeton that I want to mention. One is Jonas R. Hill, who was wounded in both legs on July 2 at Gettysburg. After the war, he settled in Princeton and was a lumberman for most of the rest of his life. The other man is Charles H. Rines, who enlisted as an 18-year-old; his family had moved to Princeton in 1856. Rines was wounded in the side five times during the famous charge on July 2. After the war, he moved back to Princeton and opened a General Mercantile Store, and later entered the lumber business. Rines is also buried in Princeton.
I mention a lot of battle names and places here in the hope that if you are not familiar with them, you will look into them and learn a little piece of this history where some of our local soldiers fought to preserve the United States.
Blog posts will document trip
We will be leaving on our adventure with the Task Force to Gettysburg on Sunday, and I plan to write blog posts – with photos documenting the trip.
I hope that you will join me on this adventure by following along on my blog at http://jaygrammond.wordpress.com. My hope is that this story has inspired you to learn more about the Battle of Gettysburg and those soldiers that fought to protect our freedom. — Jay Grammond