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Book Release: Fort Snelling and the Civil War

By Stephen E. Osman

For Information: Call: 651-222-0701 Email:

One hundred fifty years ago, our state offered the first volunteers to defend the Union in the fight against slavery. Every Minnesota soldier passed through historic Fort Snelling to the fighting. Using detailed research and first-hand accounts, Stephen E. Osman’s new book, Fort Snelling and the Civil War, tells the stories of the men and women who created a community in the old Fort.

“Here is the finely-grained and authoritative history of Fort Snelling during the Civil War-era that it has long deserved. Osman offers a history that is carefully told, wonderfully illustrated with contemporary photographs and maps, and enlivened with the voices of the fort’s military and civilian inhabitants, its prisoners, and visitors. In Osman’s capable hands, we learn the fort’s important role in the story of wartime militarization, as the site of the horrific reprisals and internment of indigenous people following the 1862 uprising, and as a destination for enslaved people seeking freedom. It is an enlightening, painful, and engaging history that will appeal to scholars and general readers alike.” —Leslie A. Schwalm: Professor of History and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies, University of Iowa and author of Emancipation’s Diaspora: Race and Reconstruction in the Upper Midwest

Fort Snelling and the Civil War explores the role of Fort Snelling as a major military post in Minnesota, and its transformation during the Civil War and the U.S.-Dakota Conflict of 1862 that followed. The Fort eventually expanded to include several large camps of Native Americans, massive stock yards, huge warehouses, and secure barracks for draftees before reverting to a supply depot in 1865.

Beautifully illustrated with more than 100 photos and 7 maps, it is a book that belongs on the shelf of anyone who is interested in the people and places that made Minnesota history, as well as those who are devotees of Civil War history and re-enactment, or are explorers of historic sites. The book will appeal to professional historians, Civil War devotees and students of all ages.

Author Stephen Osman says, “Fort Snelling was an integral part of our national history, but has been overlooked. This book tells some of the stories of the 24,000 men (and a few women) who passed through Fort Snelling on their way to Union Army service during the Civil War, a period that dramatically changed Fort Snelling. The U.S.-Dakota Conflict of 1862 and its aftermath accelerated Fort Snelling’s transformation even more. This book does not retell the story of that; instead it reports what war meant to Fort Snelling’s soldiers and civilians.”

He goes on to explain, “Today Fort Snelling belongs to the state of Minnesota. Only by learning about the Historic Fort in all its grandeur and about its trials during the Civil War can we begin to understand what it was like for the men and women who were there in the 1860s.”

Ramsey County Historical Society President Chad Roberts, “Fort Snelling and the Civil War greatly expands our understanding of the history of not only the Fort, but of our community and the individuals who lived in the region. Wonderfully engaging and beautifully illustrated, this book is a pleasure to read and provides insights that will enlighten all readers, from experienced professional historians, to students first learning about this time period and our community. It is a unique offering that doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. We are proud to add it to our catalog.”

In Praise of Fort Snelling and the Civil War:

“How needed and welcomed this book is. For the first time (and probably the last time for years to come because of its inclusiveness), this volume tells everything there is to know about the post. Stephen Osman has collected a mass of manuscript and photographic material. He has crafted a story as easy to read as it is informative to history-lovers at every level.” —James I. “Bud” Robertson Jr. Professor emeritus Virginia Tech University and noted Civil War author

“As the most significant historic site in Minnesota, Fort Snelling has long needed a historian to tell its important story. Stephen Osman has more than met that challenge and he has here offered us a narrative that is fulsome and compelling and filled with intriguing photographs and details. No one knows more about the Fort and its history than Osman, who has spent years interpreting its story for countless visitors. He’s especially good on its role in training 24,000 Minnesotans to fight in the Civil War and as a base of operations for the Dakota Wars. Minnesotans who love their history will find this book a rewarding read. I highly recommend it.” —Richard Moe Author of The Last Full Measure—The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers and President Emeritus, National Trust for Historic Preservation

About the author Stephen E. Osman

Stephen Osman managed Historic Fort Snelling for over three decades and actively researches, speaks and writes about Minnesota’s role in the Civil War and the U.S. Dakota War of 1862. Osman served with the US Army Reserve in Psychological Operations at Fort Snelling, and has served on the boards of the Minnesota Military Museum, the Friends of Fort Snelling, the Twin Cities Civil War Roundtable, among others. He is the author of numerous articles, and Fort Snelling: Then and Now (2011).

Fort Snelling and the Civil War is available in trade-size softcover, with 16 chapters, source notes, bibliography, index, more than 100 photos and 7 maps in 336 pages from the Ramsey County Historical Society... Order here



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