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Recently Acquired Confederate Shirt and 1906 Cavalry Uniform Speak to Expanded Military Stories at Historic Fort Snelling


(Photos courtesy Curtin family)

The Minnesota Historical Society recently acquired a Confederate shirt used to bind the wound of a Minnesota soldier.

On the second day of the Battle of Nashville, Dec. 16, 1865, Henry L. Mills, a sergeant in the 7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry was shot in the leg. In an effort to staunch the bleeding Mills grabbed this shirt from a fallen Confederate soldier. The shirt remains stained from Mills' blood. Mills mustered out at Fort Snelling, returning to St. Paul where he recovered and lived to age 92.

While MNHS has many Civil War items in the collection, any item that survived the battlefield is rare.

In addition, the staff at Historic Fort Snelling recently received a donation of a US Cavalry uniform worn by Grover Cleveland Cooper in 1906 when he was stationed at Fort Snelling. Though born in Virginia, Cooper spent many years at Fort Snelling where he was a member of the Bareback Squadron which performed horse-riding showmanship. The uniform is currently being considered for accession to the MNHS collection. Unaccessioned items are often used in programs at historic sites.

Both items will be on display at Historic Fort Snelling in the coming years. They represent some of the expanded stories being shared at the site including stories of the military beyond 1820 and of the Dakota, African Americans, Japanese Americans, women and more.

Visitors can explore some of these new stories this summer with an $8 grounds pass. Historic Fort Snelling is open Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 4 to Sept. 4, 2021, and on select Saturdays in September and October. Learn more at

Historic Fort Snelling Revitalization

This summer construction crews will wrap up work on a new visitor center that will house a 4,000-square-foot exhibit, cafe, store and community gathering spaces. Landscape work will continue through fall with the creation of spaces for outdoor learning, reflection and commemoration. A grand reopening is planned for 2022. Learn more at

(Photos courtesy Curtin family)

About the Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota's past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state's stories and connects people with history. Visit us at


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