Our history, and theirs: A word from John Lundstrom

Reader John Lundstrom writes to add a related note to John Hinderaker’s post “Our history, andi theirs.” He writes:

I’ve been a devoted reader of Power line for years and was most interested in your post. I was gratified to see your reference to the glorious First Minnesota and your citing of Wayne Jorgenson’s excellent Every Man Did His Duty.

Knowing of your association with Minnesota, I take the liberty to note another Minnesota regiment whose men, I believe, also did their duty. This year the Minnesota Historical Society published my book One Drop in a Sea of Blue: The Liberators of the Ninth Minnesota. It deals with the Ninth’s experiences in three largely unknown stories of the Civil War.

The first concerns an incident in Missouri in November 1863 where 38 men of the Ninth responded to the plea of an escaped slave and held a train at gunpoint to reunite the man with his family who were being rushed out of state to be sold. The men were arrested, confined and charged with mutiny, but the case was later dropped.

The rest of the book follows the men and their regiment in the disastrous defeat at Brice’s Crossroads (June 1864) and the horrific experiences of the 235 Minnesotans who were captured there and sent to Andersonville and other prisons. Over 60 percent of them died in Rebel captivity or shortly thereafter.

One of the 38 “Liberators” (as I call them in the book) was my great-great uncle, who died in November 1864 in the prison camp at Florence. He is the reason why I wrote the book. A scholar who read the manuscript for me was a retired historian with the state of Missouri, and he remarked that this was the first Civil War book he had ever read where the Radical Republicans were actually the heroes.

John B. Lundstrom
Curator Emeritus of History, Milwaukee Public Museum


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