Boys of Wasioja, The
Author: Michael Eckers
Publisher: Community News Corporation (2010)
Binding: Paperback, 147 pages
This is the story of 68 men who enlisted early in the Civil War to fight for the Union. Signing up in Dodge County, Minnesota this group included 10 students from a seminary in Wasioja. The book follows these men through their participation in the Western Campaigns. Their defining moment came on the second day at Chickamauga as part of the defense of Horshoe Ridge under the direct command of General George Thomas, the Rock of Chickamauga. Continuing through Missionary Ridge, Atlanta, the March to the Sea and the Carolinas Campaign, the Second Minnesota lays claim to having marched more than 5,000 miles during their four years of service. This story is of the Dodge County men; how they lived, fought and died. It includes information and photos on several of these soldiers and their final resting places.
Winter 2011 Reading List
The story begins in the month of May of the year 1861 in the small, five year old town of Wasioja, Minnesota. Wasioja was the result of the vision of two men: Curtis Moses and James George. In addition to two hotels, the rapidly growing town boasted a new school of higher learning. President Lincoln had just taken office, the economy was recovering from an economic panic and the town was growing. Only the dark clouds of civil war darkened the town’s otherwise bright sky.
An army was being raised to fight the South. Professors Clinton Cilley and James George, and several of the upper division boys, realized that the Union had to be preserved. Minnesota raised two regiments for the Union Army and James George, a veteran of the Mexican War, was commissioned Captain and given command of Company C of the Second Minnesota. Professor Cilley, now a leading sergeant, and twenty-six boys from the school volunteered and enlisted, ten of which were assigned to Company C.
In October 1861, the second regiment was formed and 1,000 “muskets” and thirty-six “swords” marched through the streets of St. Paul under the command of Colonel H.P. Van Cleve. None that marched or watched had any reason to think that only 300 muskets and three swords in the parade would return with the unit.
The author follows Company C through its participation in the Civil War. He manages to capture the rough life of an infantry company and the brutality of battle in brief, concise paragraphs. Chapters 9 and 10 describe the battles of Chickamuga and Missionary Ridge. Newspaper articles, photographs, excerpts from diaries, letters and reports provide the background for the story of a brutal war. The story includes several of the main battles, Sherman’s march through Georgia, South Carolina, and into North Carolina, and ends with the victory parade in Washington, DC in 1865.
The Second Minnesota was formed and later disbanded at Fort Snelling. Of the sixty-eight men from Dodge County assigned to Company C, only twelve were members of the company and discharged when the unit was disbanded.
The author manages to pack a wonderful amount of history and information into a very readable eighty-nine pages and seven appendixes.
The Boys of Wasioja is an excellent addition to any Civil War collection and is a great supplement for students studying the Civil War and American History.
Reviewed by: Lee Boyland (December 2011)