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Commentary: It's time to remember all of our Civil War veterans

Today I am writing about the Civil War generation in Minnesota and the importance of remembering their service and sacrifice.

This Memorial Day weekend the state Civil War Commemoration Task Force will honor 150 Minnesota Civil War veterans with a special flag for their gravesite, as part of a Civil War Soldiers Recognition Project. The task force intends to eventually provide one of these flags for all Civil War soldiers buried in Minnesota. Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, is co-leader of this effort.

Minnesota is currently remembering its 150th anniversary of the Civil War through 2015. The war had an impact in this state with more than 25,000 Minnesotans serving.

This war also had a major impact on west central Minnesota where the Dakota Conflict erupted in August 1862, resulting in significant deaths on both sides.

It is important to remember the contribution of Civil War soldiers serving from Minnesota and other states. I remember with pride three Civil War veterans in my family history. My maternal line includes William F. DeLaittre of Maine and George F. Matthews of Iowa. My paternal line includes Peter Parson of Iowa.

My great-great-grandfather DeLaittre was a Maine native and in 1856 first served in the U.S. Army in Minnesota. In 1861 back in Maine, he mustered into the Army as a corporal. In late June 1862 serving with the Maine 7th Infantry, he was wounded during in the Battle of Savage's Station in Maryland. Due to his hand injury, he was mustered out in January 1863 and returned to Maine. He later moved to Little Sauk, near Sauk Centre, and then Farm Island Lake, near Aitkin. He died in 1904 and is buried at Bay Lake Cemetery near Deerwood.

My great-great-grandfather Matthews was born in northern Ontario, Canada, and immigrated to northeast Iowa before the war. In August 1862, he joined the Iowa 32nd Infantry Regiment and fought in various campaigns, including the Siege of Vicksburg and the Battle of Pleasant Hill in northwest Louisiana. After the war, he returned to his rural Frederika, Iowa, home, later became a U.S. citizen in 1868 and then about 1894 moved to Poplar Township in Cass County, Minn. He lived there until his death in 1914 and is buried in the Poplar Community Cemetery.

My paternal great-great-uncle Parson emigrated in 1853 from Sweden to northeast Iowa with his parents, because his father did not want his sons to serve in the Swedish Army. In August 1862, he joined the Iowa 35th Infantry Regiment and served in numerous campaigns, including the Siege of Vicksburg and the Battle of Pleasant Hill in northwest Louisiana. He was killed in action on April 9, 1864, at Pleasant Hill, where he was buried. This was the same battle my great-great-grandfather Matthews also fought at.

If you have ancestors from the 1860s, do a little research to see if you have a Civil War veteran in your past.

It has been 150 years since the Civil War began. Nearly 1.5 million served in the Union Army and 1 million served in the Confederate Army. About 200,000 soldiers died from wounds in the Civil War and another 400,000 soldiers would die from disease.

It is only right we remember and honor the service and sacrifice of all Civil War veterans.

Take time to remember on Memorial Day all those who have sacrificed in the service of our country. And remember their families as well.

To learn about Minnesota's Civil War 150 project, visit: or the Facebook link at:

Kelly Boldan is the editor of the West Central Tribune and a family history researcher.