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Gettysburg Civil War casualty from Stillwater gets gravesite tribute

STILLWATER, Minn. (AP) — Curiosity connected Civil War re-enactor Ken Martens to Civil War veteran Louis Muller, a Stillwater infantry captain whose death 150 years ago in the Battle of Gettysburg is getting fresh attention.

Martens, a historian, made it his mission to shed light on Muller's short life and has spiffed up the soldier's gravesite. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that Martens will honor Muller in a Tuesday evening graveside ceremony on the anniversary of his death at one of the war's most notable clashes.

"I want to bring Louis Muller's sacrifice back to public attention," Martens said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect with our nation's history on a local level. Louis understood what liberty meant, and he made the sacrifice to preserve it. It just doesn't seem right that he should remain alone."

Muller, a Swiss immigrant who settled in Stillwater as a clerk, was a volunteer in the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry who rose to the rank of captain by the time he died of a shot to the head.

Brent Peterson, executive director of the Washington County Historical Society, said the commemoration Tuesday helps connect a faraway, long-ago war to the area.

"It's not something that is just in the history books," he said.

The Stillwater cemetery wasn't Muller's first resting place. His body was buried and marked where he fell on the battlefield, but later disinterred and returned to Minnesota. It was delivered to Stillwater in a procession led by Gen. Henry Sibley.

Martens began researching Muller after visiting St. Michael's Cemetery with other war re-enactors following a Memorial Day parade 20 years ago. They had trouble locating Muller because his original grave marker had gone missing and a substitute had sunken into the ground.

Martens worked through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to have a new marker made and paid $125 to have it installed this spring.

"I had a deep Civil War curiosity," Martens said. "The strange thing is, I don't have any Yankees in the family; they're all Confederates. I'm a displaced Southern boy up here."