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Historic Fort Snelling

National Historic Landmark

Mailing Address:
200 Tower Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55111
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Memorial Day Weekend-Labor Day:
Tue-Sat 10 am-5 pm
Sun Noon-5 pm

*Open Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day
10 am-5 pm

Sept-Oct:
Sat 10 am-5 pm

Admission

  • $11 adults
  • $9 seniors and college students w/ID
  • $9 active military w/ID and their family
  • $6 children ages 6-17
  • Free for children age 5 and under and MNHS members
  • Free parking

 

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612-726-1171

2014 Sep 16

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Civil War Letters

President Abraham Lincoln and General George McClellan on the
battlefield at Antietam, 1862. (Location No. E425.12 p10, Negative
No. 22858)

In 1861, two brothers, having just purchased a farm in Southern Minnesota, enlisted in the First Minnesota Battery of Light Artillery. Although neither expected a long tour of duty, William and Thomas Christie served in the First Minnesota Battery through June 1865. Their younger brother, Alexander, enlisted in an infantry regiment in fall 1864.

All three brothers were excellent writers, and each wrote extensively while in the Army. Their letters, full of revealing observations on war, society, and contemporary politics, are contained within the James C. Christie and Family papers at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Selected letters written by Alexander Christie
while stationed at Fort Snelling

Christie Civil War Letter: January 24, 1865

Date: January 24, 1865
Author: Alexander Christie
Addressee: Sarah J. Christie
Description: Alexander writes to explain life at Fort Snelling and the group of new recruits.

Excerpt:

The Barracks, which receive the euphorius appellation of "The Pen" are irregular rows of lumber buildings which with the parade ground cover 5 or 6 acres in extent, the whole surrounded by boards 14 or 15 ft long set up endways....

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Christie Civil War Letter: February 16, 1865

Date: February 16, 1865
Author: Alexander S. Christie
Addressee: David Christie
Description: Alexander describes the food available in camp, and gives an overview of drills and leisure time.

Excerpt:

After "Reveille" we make a rush for the cook houses, distant about one hundred yds. where after much "harmonious confusion" and swearing on the parts of these so disposed, we a last are all seated and there get our day...

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Christie Civil War Letter: February 19, 1865

Date: February 19, 1865
Author: Alexander S. Christie
Addressee: Sarah J. Christie
Description: A Fort Snelling chapel service leaves Alexander breathless; he writes still in a state of excitement.

Excerpt:

and that the effect on his audience was far greater than I expected it could be. The fact is, it took all I could do to Keep the tears from running down my cheeks, and there were many that who found it impossible to do so.

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Christie Civil War Letter: February 23, 1865

Date: February 23, 1865
Author: Alexander S. Christie
Addressee: David Christie
Description: Alexander writes about his friends in camp, and also mentions the use of mules in the Army.

Excerpt:

There is nothing more amusing than to witness a struggle for supremacy between a mule & a driver. Get one of these animals once mad and there is no act of vengeance within its power at which it will hesitate, sometimes kicking some...

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