Charge of 1st Minnesota

Chapter 13 – Charge of the 1st Minnesota – Day 2

Charge of 1st Minnesota by Christopher Rudolph ©

Chapter 12 – This poem, Charge of 1st Minnesota, focuses on how this regiment, led by Colonel Colvill, saved the Union center line on the 2nd Day of the Battle of Gettysburg. A gap had formed in the line due to General Sickles advancing his men about three quarters of a mile forward out into a Peach Orchard. General Winfield Scott Hancock needed more time to move troops over to fill the gap. To stall the advancing Confederate troops he ordered the 1st Minnesota to charge. They were outnumbered more than three to one. Only 47 out of 262 survived. Their heroism, however, bought the Union precious time and Union troops arrived to successfully strengthen the line. The line was never broken.

800px-William_Colvill Colonel William J. Colvill

Union General Sickles

Took his III Corps fleeting

Out to the Peach Orchard

Commanding General Meade was seething


Sickles offered to Meade

To bring his men back

But rebels were already upon them

They must brace for the attack


III Corps had orders to guard

Where the Center Line wound

From Cemetery Ridge crest

Down to that Little Top Round


Now the III Corps stretched too thin

So, on their right flank grew

A widening gap between them

And General Hancock’s Corps II


Sickles’ men were taking a beating

Retreating in disarray

Sickles himself had lost a leg

Not going at all well today


For Confederate Rebels

Were on an offensive quest

To seize the undefended opening

On Cemetery Ridge Crest


This could be disastrous

For the Union line would split

Right down the middle

Whole battle they could lose it


Reinforcements were coming

Hancock needed ten minutes at least five

He looked around for soldiers to fight

Until more fresh troops arrived


Everything was in chaos

Smoke filled the air

Musket balls streaming

Soon Anderson’s brigades would be there


Hancock rode upon some soldiers

Already with fixed bayonets drawn

Guarding Battery C 4th US Artillery

He desperately needing their brawn


Hancock asked Colonel Colvill

In the moment of battle worst

“What regiment is this?”

Colvill replied, “Minnesota’s First!”


“Is this all the men we have?”

So few were the soldiers blue

Colonel Colvill replied

“We are now only two hundred-sixty two”


There was no alternative

Hancock the Superb

Ordered them to charge

That day at Gettysburg


“Advance Colonel, and take those colors!”

All knew their situation

They had just been ordered

On a suicide mission


But without hesitation

They descended towards Plum Run

Bayonets blazing flashing

Outnumbered more than three to one


They staggered the Alabamians

Stopped them in their tracks

Loading and firing and falling

Time now to give it back


But there were too many

Enveloped soon in gray

Still they needed to keep fighting

To keep the rebels at bay


Retreating was not an option

They desperately needed more time

To thwart General Cadmus Wilcox’ men

And save the Union line


Bayonets clashed with bayonets

Rebel yells did scream

Blood gushed and flowed

Forming a rippling reddish stream


Hancock stared in disbelief

He thought they’d last five minutes maybe ten

Still fighting like wild tigers

“These are mighty Minnesotan men”


Hancock then sent orders

The job for them was done

82nd NY reinforcements had arrived

Fall back from Plum Run


Forty-seven finally made their way

Carrying the wounded on their backs

Back to the Union Center Line

They had stopped the Rebel attack


Thermopylae brave heroes

1st Minnesota saved the line

These brave soldiers didn’t die in vain

For they had bought the Union precious time


Go to Chapter 13

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             Charge of the 1st Minnesota


“Christopher Rudolph exercises his study of the Confederacy’s invasion of Pennsylvania to create a poem. He relates the story of the campaign and Battle of Gettysburg with insight and care for detail. It will appeal to the student and the enthusiast.” –  Donald J Frey – Civil War Author, Longstreet’s Assault – Pickett’s Charge, In The Woods Before Dawn, The Adventures of Daniel Buchwalter in the Western Army, and others.

A “Monumental piece.” Janet Morgan Riggs – President of Gettysburg College

“Excellent, and a great way to get students interested in history! It’s extremely creative, and a great approach to teaching.” – Diane Zazzali DeBella – Writing Professor at University of Colorado

 “I loved it. Quite a tour de force.” – Judy Hammer – High School English and Drama Teacher

This battle was fought for three days from July 1st to July 3rd, 1863. It is estimated that there were over 50,000 casualties in the two armies fighting (28,000 from the Confederate Army and 23,000 from the Union Army). It was the bloodiest battle of the entire Civil War.

Battle of Gettysburg Poem

by Christopher Rudolph © 2015

Chapter 1 – Army of Northern Virginia

Chapter 2 – Army of Potomoc

Chapter 3 – Colonel Chamberlain

Chapter 4 – General Buford

Chapter 5 – The First Shot

Chapter 6 – Buford Day 1

Chapter 7 – Railroad Cut

Chapter 8 – Chamberlain Day 1

Chapter 9 – Buford Night 1

Chapter 10 – Chamberlain Day 2

Chapter 11 – General Longstreet

Chapter 12 – Charge of 1st Minnesota

Chapter 13 – Charge of 20th Maine

Chapter 14 – Little Round Top

Chapter 15 – Culp’s Hill

Chapter 16 – Longstreet Night 2

Chapter 17 – Chamberlain Day 3

Chapter 18 – Longstreet Day 3

Chapter 19 – East Cavalry Field

Chapter 20 – Pickett’s Charge

Chapter 21 – Bloody Angle

Chapter 22 – The Aftermath

Chapter 23 – The End

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