The Civil War and Minnesota!

My great-grandfather George Angus Barclay mustered into the Civil War a year after his brother Alexander Barclay.  Their father John Barclay also served for a very short time as a carpenter, which was his occupation.   They all served out of Minnesota.  

In the Logsled to Snowmobiles book written by the town of Pine River for their bicentennial in 1973, it is implied that George and Alexander entered military service together.  This did not happen.  Alexander went in first in Sept 1861 and George followed him a year later.  There father served much later in the war.  

“…and together they enlisted on August 15, 1862 in the Union Army! pg. 104 Logsleds to Snowmobiles.  

The date of August 15, 1862 is correct for George’s enlistment.  He mustered in at Fort Ridgely  It was two days before the Dakota Indian uprising began!  (See the Wikipedia article link given below.) 

I worked at a local community college in years past and a coworker of mine had retired from the Army.  He had served in the Quartermaster’s Department and was a Civil War buff.  We sat down and I showed him the records I had received and he studied them.  He told me:   

First, I was lucky to get the Civil War service and pension files for a lot of the more common soldiers did not get recorded.  Apparently my ancestors had skills that were needed. 

Secondly, George might have been too young and small to enter with Alexander, who was about 19 years old in 1861 when he mustered in.  George maybe needed to mature physically or get some skills?  My great-grandfather was not a big man as you will see.  George would be 18 in 1862 and that might have been why he was delayed although I am aware that younger boys were in this war.  It is fun to speculate.  

Back in 2001 I had the good fortune to travel to Minnesota and visit the state.  I became a member of the Minnesota Historical Society and they offer admission to various historical sites among them are Fort Ridgely and Fort Snelling.  

Fort Ridgely, Minnesota


Fort Ridgely Museum


I was told that the farmers in the area took away the stones to use in their houses and fields after the Civil War.  These stones had been used to build the barracks and other buildings at Fort Ridgely.  The only remains are the outlines of the buildings in the ground so that is why you don’t see anything except the museum and monument.  The museum has a lot of wonderful exhibits and one in particular was the soldiers’ uniform.  I have often wondered what happened to George’s coat and was told he probably worn it till it wore out.  

They also have exhibits about the Dakota Indian uprising.  I asked if George would have received any training and the volunteer at the museum told me that he probably was just dumped into the fight fresh.  The monument you see in the first photo has the names of the soldiers that didn’t survive the conflict imprinted on it.  

Wikipedia has some very interesting information about this conflict:  

The Fort Ridgely volunteer also got excited and looked George up in his records and found him.  

“George became a wagoner with Company A, Ninth Volunteer Infantry. pg. 104 Logsleds to Snowmobiles. “ 

This statement is true about George’s service in the Civil War but he was in company “I” not “A.”  He was a wagoner and he did serve and survived.  A lot of men did not for my coworker friend told me that it was a cruel war.  

I was very fortunate to order the civil war service and pension records for George, Alexander and John Barclay before The National Archives (NARA) increased the cost.  In my opinion it is worth it.  I have learned so much about my ancestors from these files.  

I will describe the Civil War experiences of these three men in the following posts.

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